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Title: The Collector - Essays on Books, Newspapers, Pictures, Inns, Authors, - Doctors, Holidays, Actors, Preachers
Author: Tuckerman, Henry T.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Collector - Essays on Books, Newspapers, Pictures, Inns, Authors, - Doctors, Holidays, Actors, Preachers" ***

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  _Author of "Table Traits," "Monarchs Retired
  from Business," "History of Court Fools,"
  "Their Majesties' Servants," &c. &c._


  (_All Rights Reserved._)


  INTRODUCTION BY DR. DORAN              1

  INNS                                  29

  AUTHORS                               65

  PICTURES                              95

  DOCTORS                              120

  HOLIDAYS                             143

  LAWYERS                              176

  SEPULCHRES                           203

  ACTORS                               221

  NEWSPAPERS                           246

  PREACHERS                            280

  STATUES                              308

  BRIDGES                              325


It was one of the conclusions arrived at by Adelung, that the same
language would not maintain itself beyond the limit of a hundred and fifty
thousand square miles; but by means of books the limits of the world alone
are the limits within which language and the enjoyment of it can be
confined. Letters waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole, and printed volumes
carry thoughts that breathe and words that burn over the great oceans from
one quarter of the world to another.

Such a volume is the one now in the hand of the reader. It is freighted
with a dozen pleasant papers or essays, the subjects of which are not
confined to America exclusively. They furnish us with text, and afford
opportunity for illustrative comment.

Profiting by this opportunity, let me commence by observing, in reference
to the opening essay, that the inns and taverns of London underwent a
great change after the death of James the First. The rights of honest
topers were suppressed by his son King Charles, who, for the poor fee of
an annual three pounds sterling, granted licences to tavern-keepers to
sell wines at what prices they pleased, in spite of all statutes to the
contrary! You may fancy how flushed the face of a thirsty Cockney might
become, who, on putting down his eightpence for a quart of claret, was
told by Francis, the drawer, that the price was a full quarter noble, or

Lord Goring, who issued these licences, pocketed a respectable amount of
fees in return. By statute, London had authority only for the
establishment of forty taverns. But what did roystering George Goring care
for statute, since the king gave him licence to ride over it? Taverns
multiplied accordingly, not only in the city but in those 'suburbs,' as
they were once called, fragrant Drury Lane and refined 'Convent Garden.'
With competition came lower prices, however, and the throats of the
Londoners were refreshed, while their purses were not so speedily

Jolly places they became again; but when they not only increased all over
the town, but took to 'victualling,' as it was termed, as well as
'liquoring,' the authorities began to inquire into the matter. With the
claret that was drunk, a corresponding amount of venison was eaten. At the
same time the king's bucks began to disappear, and suspicion arose that
gentlemen in taverns dined off his sacred majesty's deer! A watch was set
to prevent such felonious fare being carried into London from any of the
royal parks, chases, or forests. Still haunches smoked on the boards of
those naughty victualling taverns, and haughty Cockneys, 'greatly daring,
dined'! The stolen bucks were smuggled in over Bow Bridge; and not till
that passage was occupied by representatives of legal authority did the
venison intended for the court cease to find its way into the city.

The drama at this time lingered about Blackfriars and the Bankside.
Bacchus emigrated westward, before Thespis. In 1633, in 'Convent Garden'
and the 'little lane' adjacent, which had then just begun to be called
Russell Street, there were not less than eight taverns and twenty
alehouses. This was thought to be so much beyond the requirements of the
public thirst, that an order was issued to reduce the number of taverns to
two and the alehouses to four. The suburban public cried out against the
drinking privileges of the city, where claret was tapped in taverns and
ale ran from the spigot from before breakfast till after supper-time. The
Council directed the attention of the Lord Mayor thereto, and in 1633
inquiry was made as to how many taverns had been newly opened since the
year 1612. The reply was, 'sixty and one.' In the return it is pleasant to
read of the 'Boar's Head,' as 'an ancient tavern.' Teetotallers will,
perhaps, entertain due regard for 'Bagsishaw Ward,' as being the only one
in the city described as having 'never a tavern within that ward.' But,
then, Basing Hall, or Bagsishaw Ward, was of such small extent as to be
rather contemptuously spoken of by Stowe himself, who calls it 'a small
thing consisting of one street.'

An inhabitant of this ward had, therefore, only to step into the next
street if he wanted a stoup of Bordeaux or a flagon of ale. If he swore
over his liquor he was liable to the penalty of a shilling; and if he went
on his way home noisily, with more claret under his belt than he well knew
how to carry, he might be mulcted of a crown. These fines were distributed
among the poor, so that the more drinking and profanity abounded, the
better for those poor. To be blasphemous was to be on one of the blessed
paths of charity. City chronicles tell of one Richard Dixon, who, having
more of an eccentric compassion for the distressed than regard for
propriety, swallowed his claret, swore a score of oaths, and deposited
twenty shillings with the town clerk for London paupers.

Sober people in the city, however, complained of the increasing number of
inns and taverns. Orders were issued accordingly, and a Boniface here and
there took down his bush at the beginning of the week, but hung it up
again before Saturday. The temperance party furnished a list of 211
taverns, new and old, in the city, in October, 1633. At that time
Shakspeare's and Washington Irving's 'Boar's Head,' in Eastcheap, was kept
by one William Leedes, 'not by any licence from the king's majesty,' but
'as a freeman.' Will Leedes may well have seen Shakspeare, who had not
then been dead a score of years; and we may fancy mine host's guests
discussing the second edition of the _Folio_, which had then been out of
the press not much above twelve months.

In spite of the law for the suppression of certain taverns, these remained
open, and new inns were built. The fashion and delicacy of Drury Lane were
deeply affected by the threatened building of a tavern in that refined
locality, in addition to eleven already existing there. The master of his
majesty's tents, one Thomas Jones, resided in Drury Lane, and he
petitioned the Council to prohibit the above building, as being to the
great prejudice of the royal tent-master 'and other neighbours, being men
of eminent quality.'

The greatest blow at the old taverns was the prohibition of
'victualling.' Tavern-keepers beset the king for licences to cook and
retail meat, 'it being,' says one petition, 'a thing much desired by
noblemen and gentlemen of the best rank, and others (for the which, if
they please, they may also contract beforehand, as the custom is in other
countries), there being no other place fit for them to eat in the city.'
This was in Cheapside; but there was also Will Mead's house in Bread
Street. It had ever been resorted to by citizens and foreigners, on
account of its famous fish dinners. The company had always been
'well-affected,' of the very best quality, too; gentlefolk, who conformed
themselves to the laws made for eating fish upon days appointed. If Will
Mead be not permitted to vend his Lenten fare, then he is 'deprived of his
best way of subsistence, having applied himself and bred up many servants
only for the dressing of fish.' As licence had been given to two vintners
to 'dress and vent flesh,' Will prays for similar licence to dress and
vend fish also. Will was landlord of that very 'Mermaid' of which Mr.
Tuckerman speaks in his first essay--the 'Mermaid' of Ben Jonson, who had
then just closed his dramatic career with _Love's Welcome_--the 'Mermaid'
which, some thirty years earlier, had been kept by the poet's namesake,
Johnson, and which had been a 'Mermaid,' where men of quality took their
wine, as early at least as the time when the Houses of York and Lancaster
were at bloody strife for the crown of 'this our England.'

But, occasionally, men of quality died as well as drank in a London inn. I
am not sure that it was not in this very 'Mermaid' that Richard de Grey,
the sixth Lord Grey of Ruthyn, died, in 1523, an utterly penniless
gambler. His son Henry, from poverty, never assumed any title of honour;
and it was not until the time of his great-grandson, Reginald, that the
honour and fortune were restored of a family of which the present Baroness
Grey de Ruthyn is the representative.

Those old inns had their tragic as well as their gayer aspects. A man was
as likely to die poisoned as ruined by gaming in some of them. For
example, in 1635 eighteen pipes of white wine, belonging to Peter van
Paine, a foreigner, were seized, and Lord Mayor Parkhurst wrote to the
Council that 'in eight of them were found eight bundles of weeds, in four
some quantities of sulphur, in another a whole piece of match, besides in
every cask a kind of gravel mixture, by which mixtures the wines are
conceived to be very unwholesome, and of the like nature with those which
were formerly destroyed.' Peter van Paine must have dealt in a compound of
the quality of modern Hamburg sherry, a compound that would have been
deeply declined by the poorest of those authors who form the subject of
the second essay.

       *       *       *       *       *

Poor Authors! Against no class of men have the acutely-pointed shafts of
satire been more frequently darted. Congreve, who had so little cause to
be ashamed of the name, yet persistently rejected the honour of being
supposed to be one of the brotherhood. When Voltaire visited him, the
French writer expressly stated that the compliment was addressed to the
_author_, and not to merely Mr. Congreve. The latter remarked that he was
a 'gentleman,' and not an _author_. Whereupon the polite Frenchman
rejoined that if Congreve had been only a gentleman, he, the French
author, would never have thought of calling upon him at all.

A wicked wit, some hundred and odd years ago, made the early pages of
_Sylvanus Urban_ lively by inventing a census of surviving English
authors. These he set down in round numbers at three thousand, who had
produced in the preceding year, of abortive works, 7,000; born dead,
3,000; and not one that survived the year itself. Three hundred and twenty
perished by sudden death, and a few thousands went to line trunks, make
sky-rocket cases, hold pies, or were consumed by worms. One thousand of
these literary gentlemen are said to have died of lunacy, a rather greater
number were 'starved,' seventeen were hanged, fifteen committed suicide,
five pastoral poets died of fistula, others in various ways; while a
difference was suggested as to the diet, lives, and deaths of aldermen and
authors in a _zero_, indicating the number of writers who died of

Perhaps one of the most singular reasons for founding a periodical, and
undertaking much of the authorship and editorship, presents itself in the
case of the celebrated French physician, Théophraste Renaudet. He had a
number of nervous, anxious, restless patients, who required little more
than to have their minds drawn from the unprofitable occupation of
dwelling upon the condition of the body. The great doctor did not wish
that the thoughts of his patients should be allowed to dwell very much
upon anything. Books of science, politics, or polemical theology, were not
at all what he required. The romances of the day were stilted, pompous
things, quite as difficult for invalids to read as any of the inflated
treatises on scientific, political, and theological subjects. Renaudet
may be said to have been a pupil of the philosophical school of Hippias.
That self-reliant teacher of Elis maintained that a portion at least of
manly virtue consisted in being able to dispense with the assistance of
other men. Hippias never allowed any man to help him in any matter wherein
he could help himself. He was accordingly his own tailor, shoemaker,
hairdresser, laundress, and cook! How the philosopher looked when he went
abroad, or how he fared when he dined at home, it is at once awful and
amusing to think of! Renaudet did not go quite so far as the Elian; but in
case of his patients failing to find help in others, he took the matter
into his own hands, and founded the _Gazette de France_. It was better, if
not for himself, at least for his patients, than if he had discovered a
new remedy for prevalent diseases. Those pleasant little paragraphs of
news were as so many pleasant fillips to the lazy intelligences of the
nervous. Those fresh supplies of little scandals were as fresh pinches of
rappee to the arid nostril all athirst for dust. Those brief hints and
innuendoes were as gentle titillations, not strong enough to exhaust, but
just sufficient to exhilarate, refresh, and strengthen. Nervous patients
recovered, many who might otherwise have become so did not fall ill, and
every one was delighted with Renaudet's attempt at authorship except his
fellow-practitioners, the most of whom then lived upon the nerves of the
fashionable public.

Renaudet's authorship had a benevolent and unselfish motive. As an example
of audacity in the same line, I know nothing that can compare with a
circumstance which occurred in the middle of the last century. There was
at that time in Oxford an honest watchmaker, named Greene. He was a great
reader and a great admirer of Milton; but, like the artist who had just
finished a painting on a signboard, and contemplated his performance with
a commiserating thought of Titian, and the complacent cry of '_Poor little
Tit!_' so the Oxford watchmaker tapped his forehead, like poor André
Chenier before execution, and thought he had 'something _there_' beyond
any possession that could be boasted of by mortal sons of song.
Accordingly, Greene published a specimen of a new version of _Paradise
Lost_, in blank verse of the watchmaker's own adaptation, 'by which,' he
modestly remarked, 'that amazing work is brought somewhat nearer the
summit of perfection.' Poor Greene's 'summit of perfection' might lead one
to believe that his ideas of improvement were not directed towards Milton
only, but that he wished to give a new version to the old joke, the point
of which lay in 'the height of acme'!

It is a singular fact that one of the best literal renderings of Milton
into a foreign language is one into French by Jean de Diur. It is lineal,
metaphrastic, and literal; consequently you have, as it were, the words of
the song, but only faint, or rather no echoes of the music. Nevertheless,
the patience and conscientiousness of the translator are to be seen in the
fidelity with which he has interpreted the significance of the terms.

Another original phase of authorship may be here recorded, since it is in
connection with Milton. While the Oxford watchmaker was carrying _Paradise
Lost_ to the summit of perfection by his improvements, Landor was carrying
through the press his Essay on _Milton's Use and Imitation of the
Moderns_. The author described the attempt as one hitherto never made in
prose or rhyme. The method by which he sought to prove his case against
Milton was by naming certain authors whom he supposed the poet to have
consulted, and then giving quotations from them to expose Milton's
plagiarisms. The case startled the world only for a while. Competent
defenders of Milton's authorship arose, and they proved that Milton had
not plagiarised from the sources named by Landor, but that the latter had
forged his quotations in order to traduce Milton! The discovery made every
one eager to avoid Landor as a rogue, and to possess his book as a

A French author flung _his_ poisoned dart also at Milton. Voltaire accused
him of taking his epic from an old Italian mystery, the _Adamo_, by
Andréivi. But Milton has had gallant champions in French authors, too.
Their judgment is, that if Milton created his great epic out of the chaos
of the old mystery, he, in a certain sense, resembled the Creator, who,
out of brute clay, created man in the image of the Creator himself.

Cædmon, in Anglo-Saxon, and St. Avitus, in Latin, likewise treated of the
Creation and the Fall, long before Milton. But, as another French author,
M. Guizot, has remarked, 'It is of little importance to Milton's glory
whether he was acquainted with them or not. He was one of those who
imitate when they please, for they invent when they choose, and they
invent even while imitating.' True authorship could not be more happily
defined than under those words; and they may be applied in reference to
another attempt to question Milton's originality, in the statement that he
founded his epic on the old drama _Adamo Caduto_, by Salandra. Moreover,
there is nothing more in common between Milton and his predecessors than
that he selected a subject which _they_ had sung before him. _Their_
tune is on an oaten reed; but Milton sits down to the organ, and billows
of sound roll forth to awe and enchant the world.

In our own country Milton made but 'slow way,' not merely with the general
but with the educated public. Dryden supposed he wrote _Paradise Lost_ in
blank verse because he was unable to do it in rhyme! Johnson depreciated
him by asserting that if he could cut a colossus out of the rock he could
not carve heads upon cherry-stones; as if Milton's briefer poems and
sonnets were unworthy of the author of the great epic! Hannah More united
with Johnson, not only in thinking these briefer poems bad, but in
critically examining _why_ they were so! But there is no end to the
vagaries of authors when judging of other writers. Dryden, in his Essay on
Dramatic Poetry, makes Shakspeare the Homer and Johnson the Virgil of
dramatic composition; but, in his _Defence of the Epilogue to the Conquest
of Granada_, he informs us that Shakspeare abounds in solecisms and
nonsense, in lameness of plot, meanness of writing, in comedy that cannot
raise mirth, and tragedy that cannot excite sympathy; and, most wonderful
of all, placing Shakspeare on a level with Fletcher, he says: 'Had they
lived now they would doubtless have written more correctly'! If you would
know to what correct level Dryden thought Shakspeare might have been
brought, had he had the good luck to live later, the knowledge is
vouchsafed in the assertion that 'the well placing of words for the
sweetness of pronunciation was not known till Mr. Waller introduced it.'
This is quite as bad as the criticism of Addison, who bracketed Lee and
Shakspeare together, accused them of a spurious sublimity, and gave it as
his opinion that 'in those authors the affectation of greatness often
hurts the perspicuity of style'!

These great literary artists understood Shakspeare so indifferently, that
they were unable to picture him truly to themselves or to represent him
naturally to others. Milton called sweetest Shakspeare 'Fancy's child.'
Dryden says his Fancy limped; and Addison hints that his sublimity
rendered him obscure!

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps some among us may be inclined to smile at Mr. Tuckerman's
allusion, in his chapter on PICTURES, to a portrait of 'an American
matronly belle of the days of Washington, by Stewart, which represents the
type of mingled self-reliance and womanly loveliness that has made the
ladies of our Republican court so memorably attractive.' Of the attraction
of the ladies there can be no doubt, but can a Republic care to pride
itself on such an institution as a 'court'? La Rochefoucauld said very
well of royal courts in Europe that they did not render those that tarried
in them happy, but that they prevented those who _had_ tarried at them
from being happy elsewhere. It may be added that there is only one royal
court on record where every one was equal, and that was the proverbially
celebrated 'Cours du Roi Pétaut.' But the equality there led to
inextricable confusion, because every one wished to command and no one
cared to obey. Now, the court of King Pétaut has very much extended
itself. So wide, indeed, are its limits that it may be said to embrace all
society, which has become a grand court where dissimulation and distrust,
splendour without and anxieties within, abundantly prevail. Some one has
compared that tremendous institution called 'Society,' as well as courts
generally, to those magnificent, ill-regulated, gilt clocks to be seen in
France. The exterior is dazzling with beauty, but inside everything is
going wrong.

Among old court fashions of the last century was one of having a portrait
of the eye. Of course this was only of ladies' eyes--eyes that slew the
peace of mortal man,--and the counterfeit presentiment of one of which was
held to be a solace to the memory and a stimulant to hope. Lovers carried
about with them the figure of one of the (presumed) two eyes of their
respective ladies. There was an affected modesty in this fashion; and, if
I may so speak, the mode most prevailed when modesty, or a decent reserve
which might pass for it, was least in fashion.

It has been a disputed question whether painting or poetry was the earlier
born. It would be as difficult to determine whether Calliope wrote heroic
songs before Clio painted heroic deeds. Probably poetry, which preceded
prose in the early festive ceremonies of the human race (bards sang of
high deeds before less gifted men made long speeches about them), was
earlier than painting. The actions of heroes were first fixed on the
artist's imagination by the songs of the bards and the praise of orators.
But there is a prettier theory touching the origin of portrait-painting,
in the story of the youth who drew the outline of the one face he loved by
tracing with charcoal its shadow on the wall, purposely disposed to enable
him to display this primitive effort of art and of affection.

As we may not take all portraits of our ancestors for _veræ effigies_, so
are the portraits of more modern heroes not to be accepted without due
reserve. There was, for instance, a series of _Lives of the British
Admirals_, with illustrative portraits, and Charles Lamb sat for them

Desmahis says, rather saucily, of the ladies (but they must have been
those of his time, and not the general sex), that when they go to have
their portraits taken they wish the artist to be faithless and the
portrait to be a likeness! Steele has similar satire. Clerimont, in the
_Tender Husband_, says that his fancy is utterly exhausted with inventing
faces for his sitters. 'I gave my Lady Scornwell,' he says, 'the choice of
a dozen frowns before she found one to her liking.' I suppose in these
days the fair are not so exacting. In the very ancient days noble sitters
were even more so. It was death to the painter, as well as to his
reputation, if he failed to please a Roman emperor. I shudder when I think
of the artist who received a commission to paint a full-length of Nero. It
was more than life size; it was a hundred and twenty feet high! and there
was possible death in every inch of it.

Michael Angelo had a good idea of the simple dignity of an artist. On
being told of one who painted pictures with his fingers, 'The simpleton,'
said he; 'he had better keep to his pencils.' A picture painted without
pencils is, however, not so curious a fact as publishing a book that never
was written. Mr. Tuckerman's volume reminds me of another set of essays,
which were published in 1844, called _Colloquies Desultory, but chiefly
upon Poetry and Poets_. It is a very agreeable volume of 250 pages, but
not a word of it was really ever written. The clever printer and
publisher, Mr. Lordan of Romsey, set up the types as fast as he mentally
composed the book; and the latter is highly creditable to the author, who,
however, never _wrote_ it! Lord Palmerston respected this ingenious man;
and collectors of singular books keep a good look out for a work that was
published before the author penned a word of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next curiosity to an author who did not write his own book, passing
over the authors who really _did_ write books by other people, is,
perhaps, the physician who scorned to take fees. Mr. Tuckerman has pretty
well exhausted the subject of DOCTORS. Let me notice how few of them
resemble those proto-Christian physicians, Cosmas and Damian, who won the
glorious name of _Anargyri_, or the 'feeless,' because out of their
abundant charity they gave 'advice gratis,' which, it must be said, is a
commodity often worth the price it costs when you get it for nothing.

Those last-named amiable physicians were Arabians by birth, and among
those people some curious ideas still prevail touching the relations
between medical men and patients. When the late Dr. Hogg was travelling
with Lamartine in the East, it was the physician's happiness to cure, of a
very horrible disease, a poor and pious Arab who had been reduced almost
to despair. The cure was slow, but at last it was perfect; and the
gratitude of the Arab to God, the Prophet, and Dr. Hogg was beyond all
bounds. The convalescent waited on his mortal benefactor, and told him
that he was the greatest of the wonders of the world. The _medico_,
fancying the grateful fellow might embarrass himself by overstraining his
means, in order to evince his gratitude, told him that all had been done
for the love of God and the good of a fellow-creature, and that nothing
more was to be said about it. But the Arab had much more to say about it.
'God,' he remarked, 'had conferred upon the Christian doctor a power
beyond that possessed by any other man. The Prophet had permitted him to
find a remedy for the maladies which had beset one of the faithful.
Gratitude, taking the form of cash payment, was therefore indispensable.'
'I need no payment,' said the doctor. 'Just so, Effendi,' replied the
countryman of Cosmas and Damian; 'it is so, I understand it. But the chief
of doctors will not be ungrateful for the power he has been permitted to
exercise. Behold the servant whom he has been allowed to make whole. Let
the Effendi show his thankfulness by bestowing on his servant _bakshish_.'
Between these two extremes of physicians altogether declining fees, and
patients requesting them from physicians as testimonies of gratitude for
cure almost miraculously wrought, modern practice has established itself
on a pretty good basis. But the old theory, yet not the old reality as to
fees, still exists. The _honorarium_ is slipped into the physician's hand
with an air of there being nothing in it, and that unworldly person often
_looks_ like Cosmas and Damian, as if he had taken nothing by it.

A question of health connects itself closely with the subject of the next
essay, on HOLIDAYS. Many a soldier in the noble army of workers owes much
of his health to the keeping of holidays. Mr. Tuckerman regrets that his
country does not take rest and rejoice on some common national holiday at
least once a year. Now, all Christian nations have one that they may
celebrate once a week. But some among us are doing their conscientious
best to turn the joyous festival into a gloomy fast. God granted the
day, but some among us misinterpret the meaning of the grant, obstruct
rest and enjoyment, and only change one sort of labour for another. Let
all the nation go up and praise the Lord; but, for

        'Other things mild Heav'n a time ordains,
  And disapproves that care, though wise in show,
  That with superfluous burden loads the day,
  And, when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.'

The making of a holiday rendered famous for ever a philosopher whose
reputation would not have spread so widely through his philosophy. When
Anaxagoras was dying he was asked if he had any particular desire that
should be fulfilled. 'Ay,' said the Clazomenian, 'on the anniversary of my
death let all the boys have a holiday.' Thence arose the _Anaxagorica_,
festivals in which the boys rejoiced, not that Anaxagoras had died on that
day, but that he had lived during many years of usefulness before it. Mr.
Bright never shook the faith of his own followers so much as when he voted
against the shortening of the hours of labour of women and children in the
cotton mills. The contrast between the ancient and the modern philosopher
is not to the disadvantage of the heathen. But there are some persons who
are averse to much leisure time on working-days, and to any air of
enjoyment on Sundays. A Scotchman, who had gone back to his country after
a long absence, declared after going to kirk that the whole kingdom was on
the road to perdition. 'The people,' he said, 'used to be reserved and
solemn on the Sabbath, but now they look as happy on that day as on any

       *       *       *       *       *

With regard to what is asserted in this volume respecting the judicial and
legal excellence of modern times compared with a past period, the
assertion cannot be admitted without a certain reserve. We may look back
at those old Brehon laws which St. Patrick himself could not amend or even
make more clear, when he attempted to be for them what Coke afterwards was
upon Lyttleton. For instance, if a Brehon judge were to utter an
absurdity--were he, for instance, to say that he was inclined to believe
in the folly of a criminal, which folly had led to crime, and were the
judge to inflict a ridiculously light sentence in consequence, the 'truth
of nature,' as the phrase then ran, would have been violated, and a blotch
would fix itself on the face of the judge for ever!

One might reasonably suppose that no Brehon judge ever exposed himself to
be twice so branded. But human nature is as weak as it is perverse. We
read in the ancient laws of Ireland of a certain Sencha Mac Aililla, who,
the more he was 'blotched,' the wickeder he grew. He seemed to defy the
brand, as others have defied public opinion. He did not care what the law
was. When he had to administer it between a member of his own tribe and
one of another clan, he would decide in favour of his own 'country,' as he
called it, irrespective of law and justice. This exemplary Sencha used to
retire from the judgment-seat daily with three additional fiery blotches
to those he bore the day previous. The monster became so ugly that he was
fain at last to withdraw from the public gaze.

It was the same with the lawyers in those felicitous times. If one
ventured upon a 'Scotch insinuation,' such as deliberately accusing a
witness of forgery, and, on the accusation being immediately shown to be
groundless, pleading that the charge was simply an 'insinuation,'
perfectly professional, on the Brehon nose of such an unworthy lawyer a
carbuncle would establish itself, like a light on a disagreeable object to
help you to avoid it. A Brehon lawyer never even played with a lie but a
pimple started on his tongue and checked his speech. If a Brehon judge
were addicted to the wine-cup, it was as much as his nose, or at least the
end of it, was worth to potter about excess, from the bench. If he lived
an unclean life, and then judicially talked solemn sham to the ignorant
and immoral, a burning St. Anthony's fire, or whatever name it was called
before St. Anthony, overspread his face, and never left it. Nay, there is
record of unjust kings and judges laughing at the commission of crime till
their mouths extended from ear to ear, and remained so for ever after.

It must have been _then_ that divine Astræa bandaged her eyes. Were she to
open them now and glance over the world, she would behold bench and bar
unstained by a blush. Nevertheless, a sigh may be permitted for the good
old Brehon times, when wicked lawyers blushed in spite of themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

In many respects those old times, or their customs, have not so completely
passed away as might be generally thought. In connection with Mr.
Tuckerman's next subject of SEPULCHRES, I may notice those military
funerals at which the horse of the dead rider follows his master to the
grave. There is now no significance in such a matter; but it was once of
very stern reality, and not a mere form. It is now simply a relic of the
times when the steed was slain at the side of the tomb of his defunct
master, a tomb which the horse was destined to share with the departed
soldier. The faithful horse, like the Indian's dog, was to keep him
company in the fields beyond the waters of oblivion. It was a pagan
ceremony, but it did not finally go out till somewhat late in the
Christian era--in fact, not till towards the close of the last century. On
the 13th of February, 1781, there was a military burial at Treves. A
cavalry general, in the service of the Palatinate, a Teutonic knight, and
commander of Lorraine, named Frederick Kasimir, was then and there buried
according to the rites of the Order of Chivalry, of which he was a member.
As soon as the coffin was lowered into the grave, the general's horse was
led up by the officer who had had it in charge during the funeral
procession. An official then advanced, and, by a skilful sweep of a sharp
hunting-knife across the animal's throat, stretched him dead, after which
the dead horse was thrown into the grave on the top of the coffin. It was
a hideous ceremonial, the origin of which dates from the days when
skeleton knights were supposed to require skeleton chargers. The above was
the last occasion on which such a ceremony was performed. The favourite
horse that followed the Duke of Wellington's funeral car, the caparisoned
steed that was but yesterday led after the bier of the dragoon who used to
mount him, were but formalities, the meaning of which is for the most part

There was a period when a grave and much ceremony were thus afforded to
brutes, but when also the grave 'was begrudgingly allowed,' and all
ceremony denied, to men. I allude to the ACTORS, which pleasant
brotherhood forms the subject of Mr. Tuckerman's next essay. This has been
especially the case in France. Thence some erroneously suppose that actors
were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church; whereas the
ecclesiastical authorities at Rome especially protected the Italian
players in Paris from the ban proclaimed by the Gallican bishops against
actors and actresses. In England there has been more liberality of feeling
towards the players. These have had individual clerical enemies, from
Archbishop Grindal down to Dean Close; but they have also had as many
friends, from Archbishop Bancroft down to the present Archbishop of
Dublin, who, amidst groups of actors and a large general public, in
Stratford Church, at the last Shakspeare centenary, gave expression to
wise and loving testimony in behalf of that poor player on whom God
conferred the gifts that made of him the foremost poet of the entire

As between plaintiff and defendant, the opposite cases were succinctly
stated by Dean Close and Mr. Buckstone. The Dean once denounced the
brethren of the drama generally as wicked people. Mr. Buckstone simply
replied that, while there was no crime subject to capital punishment but
that a clergyman had suffered for it, there was no instance of an actor
ever having been hanged for any crime. This is not quite correct, but the
rare exception testifies to the general rule. _One_ actor has been hanged,
and two or three, richly deserved to be; but, speaking generally, they
have been distinguished for the good observance of prudence and the
excellent practice of charity. Lord Southampton described the players at
the 'Blackfriars' as 'married men and of reputation.' Even in Grindal's
days, though there were some among them of equivocal conduct and
character, they were designated as 'those grave and sober actors.'
Burbage's fortune is a proof of their thrift; Alleyn's noble bequests are
so many proofs of his godlike charity. In every path of his life, from St.
Botolph's, Bishopsgate, down to Dulwich College, he has left proofs of a
benevolence which still brings enjoyment to numberless legatees. Alleyn's
letters afford us a glance into the household of a player of the
seventeenth century, and they show that the house was well kept, and that
a spirit of piety sanctified it. So of Betterton; his hand and his heart
were open and liberal. What were Quinn's faults in the light of his
delicate and profuse charity? The same question might be asked in
reference to many other actors. They have not only shown, as the _Tatler_
once said of his dramatic contemporaries, a wonderful benevolence towards
the interests and necessities of each other, but towards those of all who
needed succour. They have played equally well in this respect on and off
the stage, and all that need be added in regard to them may be said in the
quaint words of Sir Thomas Overbury, who remarks: 'I value a worthy actor
by the corruption of some few of the quality, as I would do gold in the
ore; I should not mind the dross, but the purity of the metal.'

Theatrical criticism in early days found no place in our newspapers. Even
as late as the first appearance of Sprangor Barry, in 'Othello' (A.D.
1746), the journalist only recorded the fact, adding, as a sort of
critical notice, that the gentleman got as much applause as could be

An essay on NEWSPAPERS might extend to a folio volume. They have all been
founded on the insatiable appetite that humanity has to know what has
happened to its fellows. The difference is not so great between the
earliest and the latest samples of newspapers. The 'leading article,'
which so often misleads, is comparatively of modern origin; but the Roman
_Acta Diurna_ may be said to correspond with our reports and general
intelligence, chronicling human errors, heroism, and rascality, pillorying
the names of young fellows who had quaffed too deeply of the Falernian,
and noting how the fine imposed on a felonious butcher who gave short
weight was to be devoted to the building of a chapel in the temple of
Tellus for the propagation of the gospel of that deity, and the
reformation of light weights.

If the subject of newspapers _could_ be exhausted in a single essay, it
has been done by Mr. Tuckerman. Of journalism generally, a very summary
phrase of Southey's renders a rather acrid judgment. He had been alluding
to the fact of Marchmont Needham having published the _Mercurius
Britannicus_ for the Parliament, the _Mercurius Pregmaticus_ in the king's
interest, and the _Mercurius Politicus_ in support of Oliver. His
consequent remark was that 'journalists in that age had about as much
probity as in this.' But these _Mercurii_ were something like the
_Moniteur_, the official paper of the predominant power for the time
being. In the latter, 'His Imperial Majesty Napoleon' of one day was 'the
Corsican usurper' of the next. One man may have written both phrases, but
two governments uttered them. The writer was a part of the pen used by a
couple of superior officials, each of whom employed the pen to express
antagonistic sentiments.

There was once a period when the office now performed by a journalist was
occasionally undertaken by the preacher. We learn from old chroniclers
that scarcely an event which very closely affected the public ever took
place without its being shadowed forth from the pulpit. Rufus was in all
probability _not_ slain by Sir Walter Tyrrel; but that he was
treacherously slain cannot be disputed, if the record be true that God's
vengeance against the wicked in high places was a theme very much dwelt
upon by the popular preachers of the day--men who addressed themselves to
the judgments, impulses, and prejudices of the people. In the reign of the
second Edward, contemporary events were employed for illustrative purposes
from the pulpit. The putting away of the king was discussed there under
similitudes, as a matter in a solemn national crisis might now be weighed
and examined more openly in an eloquent leader. The pulpit at Paul's Cross
alone would furnish a thousand illustrations of how the preacher could
deftly mingle politics with religion. Patriotism was then stimulated, in a
time of approaching war, by the priest reciting the 'bede roll' of the
king's enemies, and solemnly cursing every one of them, amidst the popular
acclamation. Church and State met and shook hands, sometimes with a mask
on the face of each, at the trysting-place of Paul's Cross.

But there may be sermons efficiently delivered from other places besides
pulpits. 'Sermons in stones' formed a poet's phrase, which led to another
rendering of the sentiment included in it by a modern poetess. Mrs.
Browning, in her sonnet on Power's Greek Slave, sees a purpose as well as
a beauty in it, and she exclaims--

                      'Appeal, fair stone,
  From God's pure height of beauty, against man's wrong;
  Catch up in thy divine face not alone
  East griefs but West, and strike and shame the strong
  By thunders of white silence, overthrown.'

The image, indeed, is rather a bold one, reminding us of the soliloquy in
a French tragedy, commencing with the observation--'_Quel silence se fait

While directing attention to Mr. Tuckerman's pleasant paper on STATUES, it
may be worth while recording that under the Christian era sculpture was
first employed by a woman, under the influence of gratitude for a
manifestation of the divine mercy. The story is, indeed, only traditional,
but it is ancient, and comes down to us through Eusebius. According to
that historian the woman of Paneas, after having been cured of her
disease, as mentioned in the Gospels, returned to her native place and set
up in one of the streets there an image of the Saviour, with the figure of
herself in the act of adoration. This group of statuary (the material,
indeed, is not mentioned, and the word _image_ sometimes implies
_picture_) was the progenitor of all the effigies of God and the saints
that have since been erected in public highways in order to stimulate the
religious fervour of the passers by. If that alleged proto-group did not
exactly effect this, the story of the grateful woman and her statuary led
to the same result. It _may_ be a mere legend; but even then the legend
itself was in such case invented for the purpose of bringing about the
adoption of the fashion of setting up images challenging the reverence of
all who looked on them, and it was afterwards appealed to as authority,
alike for the fashion and the observance.

Nowhere have statues been erected with greater effect than on BRIDGES.
They who remember the bridge at Prague, over the Moldau, with the statues
and groups of saints, St. John Neoponuck towering over all, will confirm
this fact. The fashion has not been followed in our own country, where
there are some relics, however, of bridge architecture said to be as old
as the days of the Britons. Such are rather fondly said to be the small
red stone arches spanning the streams in some of the Cornish valleys. We
may rest more satisfied, however, with the triangular bridge at Croyland,
which was completed in the year after the island was first called England,
namely, A.D. 830. Whether we can, in the days of Queen Victoria, detect in
the structure any of the stones the laying of which was watched by the
curious Lincolnshire folk in the reign of King Egbert, may be reasonably
doubted. The foundations rather than the superstructure of the original
bridge alone remain. This bridge was of great importance to the monastery
of Croyland, but indeed as much may be said of all bridges and their
vicinities. To build them was a holy work. The title of 'Pontifex'
belonged to the highest of the sacred classes of Rome. 'Pontifex Maximus'
is a designation which the pope himself inherits from the Roman emperors,
and 'Pontificum Coenæ' is a phrase by which we learn from Horace that the
sacred successors of those who erected the Sublician bridge were persons
who, with some care for the souls and well-being of the people, had a
special regard for their own bodies.

Perhaps it was because of this connection between holy men and bridges
that in early English times the keeping of our bridges and of the roads
leading to them was intrusted to hermits, who were in fact the original
toll-takers and turnpike-keepers in England. Old London Bridge, which was
commenced in 1176 and finished in 1209, which was the only bridge at
London over the Thames till that of Westminster was opened in 1738, and
which lasted till the new bridge was inaugurated in 1831 by William the
Fourth, was the work of a holy Pontifex, Peter Colechurch, chaplain of
St. Mary's in the Poultry. The architect found fitting burial place in the
crypt of the chapel of St. Thomas, which stood in the centre of the bridge
itself. Thus the London Bridge which Peter built became his sepulchre and
monument when Peter died.

But it is time that I should be at least as silent as Peter himself, since
Mr. Tuckerman is ready and the stage prepared. The first little piece is
played out, and the curtain now rises to a better sustained drama and to a
finished actor--_Plaudite!_



  'Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,
    Whate'er his fortunes may have been,
  Must sigh to think how oft he's found
    Life's warmest welcome at an inn.'

The old, legitimate, delightful idea of an Inn is becoming obsolete; like
so many other traditional blessings, it has been sacrificed to the genius
of locomotion. The rapidity with which distance is consumed obviates the
need that so long existed of by-way retreats and halting-places. A hearty
meal or a few hours' sleep, caught between the arrival of the trains, is
all the railway traveller requires; and the modern habit of moving in
caravans has infinitely lessened the romantic probabilities and
comfortable realities of a journey: the rural alehouse and picturesque
hostel now exist chiefly in the domain of memory; crowds, haste, and
ostentation triumph here over privacy and rational enjoyment, as in nearly
all the arrangements of modern society. Old Walton would discover now but
few of the secluded inns that refreshed him on his piscatorial excursions;
the ancient ballads on the wall have given place to French paper; the
scent of lavender no longer makes the linen fragrant; instead of the
crackle of the open wood-fire, we have the dingy coal-smoke, and
exhalations of a stove; and green blinds usurp the place of the snowy
curtains. Not only these material details, but the social character of
the inn is sadly changed. Few hosts can find time to gossip; the clubs
have withdrawn the wits; the excitement of a stage-coach arrival is no
more; and a poet might travel a thousand leagues without finding a
romantic 'maid of the inn,' such as Southey has immortalized. Jollity,
freedom, and comfort are no longer inevitably associated with the name;
the world has become a vast procession that scorns to linger on its route,
and has almost forgotten how to enjoy. Thanks, however, to the
conservative spell of literature, we can yet appreciate, in imagination at
least, the good old English inn. Goldsmith's Village Alehouse has
daguerreotyped its humble species, while Dr. Johnson's evenings at the
'Mitre' keep vivid the charm of its metropolitan fame. Indeed, it is quite
impossible to imagine what British authors would have done without the
solace and inspiration of the inn. Addison fled thither from domestic
annoyance; Dryden's chair at 'Will's' was an oracular throne; when hard
pressed, Steele and Savage sought refuge in a tavern, and wrote pamphlets
for a dinner; Farquhar found there his best comic material; Sterne opens
his _Sentimental Journey_ with his landlord, Monsieur Dessein, Calais, and
his inn-yard; Shenstone confessed he found 'life's warmest welcome at an
inn;' Sheridan's convivial brilliancy shone there with peculiar lustre;
Hazlitt relished Congreve anew, reading him in the shady windows of a
village inn after a long walk; even an old Almanac, or Annual Register,
will acquire an interest under such circumstances; and a dog-eared copy of
the _Seasons_ found in such a place induced Coleridge to exclaim, 'This is
fame!' while Byron exulted when informed that a well-thumbed volume of the
_English Bards_ had been seen, soon after its publication, at a little
hostel in Albany. Elia's quaint anecdote of the Quakers when they all ate
supper without paying for it, and Irving's 'Stout Gentleman,' are
incidents which could only have been suggested by a country inn; and as
to the novelists, from Smollett and Fielding to Scott and Dickens, the
most characteristic scenes occur on this vantage-ground, where the strict
unities of life are temporarily discarded, and its zest miraculously
quickened by fatigue, hunger, a kind of infinite possibility of events, a
singular mood of adventure and pastime, nowhere else in civilized lands so
readily induced. It is, therefore, by instinct that these enchanting
chroniclers lead us thither, from old Chaucer to our own Longfellow. Gil
Bias acquired his first lesson in a knowledge of the world, by his
encounter with the parasite at the inn of Panafleur; and Don Quixote's
enthusiasm always reaches a climax at these places of wayside sojourn. The
'Black Bull,' at Islington, is said to have been Sir Walter Raleigh's
mansion; 'Dolly's Chop-House' is dear to authors for the sake of Goldsmith
and his friends, who used to go there on their way to and from Paternoster
Row. At the 'Salutation and Cat,' Smithfield, Coleridge and Lamb held
memorable converse; and Steele often dated his _Tatlers_ from the
'Trumpet.' How appropriate for Voltaire to have lodged, in London, at the
'White Peruke'! Spenser died at an inn in King Street, Westminster, on his
return from Ireland. At the 'Red Horse,' Stratford, is the 'Irving room,'
precious to the American traveller; and how renowned have sweet Anne Page
and jolly Falstaff made the very name of the 'Garter Inn'! In the East a
monastery, in the Desert a tent, on the Nile a boat, a _hacienda_ in South
America, a _kiosk_ in Turkey, a _caffé_ in Italy, but in Britain an inn,
is the pilgrim's home, and one not less characteristic. The subject, as
suggestive of the philosophy of civilization, is worth investigation.

In England and in towns of Anglo-Saxon origin, where the economies of life
have a natural sway, we find inns representative; in London, especially, a
glance at the parlour wall reveals the class to whose convenience the
tavern is dedicated: in one the portraits of actors, in another scenes in
the ring and on the racecourse; here the countenance of a leading
merchant, and there a military effigy, suggest the vocation of those who
chiefly frequent the inn. Nor are local features less certain to find
recognition: a view of the nearest nobleman's estate, or his portrait,
ornaments the sitting-room; and the observant eye can always discover an
historical hint at these public resorts. Heywood, the dramatist, aptly
specified this representative character of inns:--

  'The gentry to the King's Head,
    The nobles to the Crown,
  The knights unto the Golden Fleece,
    And to the Plough the clown;
  The churchman to the Mitre,
    The shepherd to the Star,
  The gardener hies him to the Rose,
    To the Drum the man of war;
  To the Feathers, ladies, you; the Globe
    The seamen do not scorn;
  The usurer to the Devil, and
    The townsman to the Horn;
  The huntsman to the White Hart,
    To the Ship the merchants go,
  But you that do the Muses love
    The sign called River Po;
  The bankrupt to the World's End,
    The fool to the Fortune hie,
  Unto the Mouth the oyster-wife,
    The fiddler to the Pie;

    *       *       *       *

    The drunkard to the Vine,
  The beggar to the Bush, then meet
    And with Sir Humphrey dine.'

Inn signs are indeed historical landmarks: in the Middle Ages, the 'Cross
Keys,' the 'Three Kings,' and 'St. Francis,' abounded; the Puritans
substituted for 'Angel and Lady,' the 'Soldier and Citizen;' the
'Saracen's Head' was a device of the Crusades; and before the 'Coach and
Horses' was the sign of the 'Packhorse,' indicative of the days of
equestrian travel. Many current anecdotes attest the virtue of an old, and
the hazards of a new inn sign; as when the loyal host substituted the head
of George the Fourth for the ancient ass, which latter effigy being
successfully adopted by a neighbouring innkeeper, his discomfited rival
had inscribed under the royal effigy, 'This is the real ass.' Thackeray
cites an inn sign as illustrative of Scotch egotism: 'In Cupar-Fife,' he
writes, 'there's a little inn called the "Battle of Waterloo," and what do
you think the sign is? The "Battle of Waterloo" is _one_ broad Scotchman
laying about him with a broadsword.'

The coffee-room of the best class of English inns, carpeted and curtained,
the dark rich hue of the old mahogany, the ancient plate, the four-post
bed, the sirloin or mutton joint, the tea, muffins, Cheshire and Stilton,
the ale, the coal-fire, and _The Times_, form an epitome of England; and
it is only requisite to ponder well the associations and history of each
of these items, to arrive at what is essential in English history and
character. The impassable divisions of society are shown in the difference
between the 'commercial' and the 'coffee-room;' the time-worn aspect of
the furniture is eloquent of conservatism; the richness of the meats and
strength of the ale explain the bone and sinew of the race; the tea is
fragrant with Cowper's memory, and suggestive of East India conquests; the
cheese proclaims a thrifty agriculture, the bed and draperies comfort, the
coal-fire manufactures; while _The Times_ is the chart of English
enterprise, division of labour, wealth, self-esteem, politics, trade,
court-life, 'inaccessibility to ideas,' and bullyism.

The national subserviency to rank is as plainly evinced by the plates on
chamber-doors at the provincial inns, setting forth that therein on a
memorable night slept a certain scion of nobility. And from the visitor at
the great house of a neighbourhood, when sojourning at the inn thereof, is
expected a double fee. As an instance of the inappropriate, of that stolid
insensibility to taste and tact which belongs to the nation, consider the
English waiter. His costume is that of a clergyman, or a gentleman dressed
for company, and in ridiculous contrast with his menial obeisance; perhaps
it is the self-importance nourished by this costume which renders him such
a machine, incapable of an idea beyond the routine of handing a dish and
receiving a sixpence.

Old Hobson, whose name is proverbially familiar, went with his wain from
Cambridge to the 'Bull Inn,' Bishopsgate Street, London. 'Clement's Inn'
tavern was the scene of that memorable dialogue between Shallow and Sir
John; at the 'Cock,' in Bond Street, Sir Charles Sedley got scandalously
drunk. 'Will's Coffee-house' was formerly called the 'Rose;' hence the

  'Supper and friends expect me at the Rose.'

'Button's,' so long frequented by the wits of Queen Anne's time, was kept
by a former servant of Lady Warwick; and there the author of _Cato_
fraternized with Garth, Armstrong, and other contemporary writers. Ben
Jonson held his club at the 'Devil Tavern,' and Shakspeare and Beaumont
used to meet him at the 'Mermaid;' the same inn is spoken of by Pope, and
Swift writes 'Stella' of his dinner there. Beaumont thus reveals to Ben
Jonson their convivial talk:--

          'What things have we seen
  Done at the "Mermaid"! heard words that have been
  So nimble and so full of subtle fire,
  As if that every one from whom they came
  Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
  And had resolved to live a fool the rest
  Of his dull life.'

The author of _Peter Wilkins_ was a frequent visitor at an hostel near
Clifford's Inn, and Dr. Johnson frequented all the taverns in Fleet
Street. Old Slaughter's coffee-house, in St. Martin's Lane, was the
favourite resort of Hogarth; the house where Jeremy Taylor was born is
now an inn; and Prior's uncle kept an inn in London, where the poet was
seen, when a boy, reading Horace. This incident is made use of by Johnson,
in his _Lives of the Poets_, in a very caustic manner; for, after relating
it, he observes of Prior, that 'in his private relaxations he revived the
tavern, and in his amorous pedantry he exhibited the college.'

There is no city in Europe where an imaginative mood can be so
indefinitely prolonged as at Venice; and in the early summer, the
traveller, after gliding about all day in a gondola, and thinking of
Barbarossa, Faliero, Titian, and the creations of Shakspeare, Otway,
Byron, and Cooper, at evening, from under the arches of St. Mark's Square,
watches the picturesque, and sometimes mysterious figures, and then,
between moss-grown palaces and over lone canals, returns to his _locanda_
to find its aspect perfectly in accordance with his reverie; at least,
such was my experience at the 'Golden Lion.' The immense _salle-à-manger_
was dimly lighted, and the table for two or three guests set in a corner
and half surrounded by a screen; when I raised my eyes from my first
dinner there, they fell on a large painting of the Death of Seneca, a
print of which had been familiar to my childhood; and thus memory was ever
invoked in Venice, and her dissolving views reflected in the mirror of the
mind, unbroken by the interruptions from passing life that elsewhere
render them so brief. The mere fact of disembarking at the weedy steps,
the utter silence of the canal, invaded only by the plash of the
gondolier's oar, or his warning cry at the angle, the tessellated pavement
and quaintly-carved furniture of the bedroom, and a certain noiseless step
and secretive gravity observable in the attendants, render the Venetian
inn memorable and distinct in reminiscence, and in perfect harmony with
the place and its associations.

During the late revolutionary era in Europe, the inn tables of Germany
afforded the most reliable index of political opinion; the free discussion
which was there indulged brought out every variety of sentiment and
theory, as it included all classes, with a due sprinkling of foreigners.
From the old novel to the new farce, indeed, the extremes of public
opinion and the average tone of manners, the laughable _contre-temps_ and
the delightful adventure, are made to reveal themselves at inns, so that
political sects and all vocations are identified with them. To Rip Van
Winkle, the most astonishing change he discovered in his native village,
after his long nap, was the substitution of Washington's likeness for that
of King George on the tavern sign.

The dark staircase, rising from the mule stable of a _posada_, the bare
chambers, wool-knotted mattresses, odour of garlic, and vegetables
swimming in oil, are items of the Spanish inn not likely to be forgotten
by the epicurean traveller. But good beds and excellent chocolate are to
be found at the most uninviting Spanish inns; and the imaginative
traveller enjoys the privilege of sojourning at the very one where Don
Quixote was knighted. In highly-civilized lands, inns have not only a
national, but a professional character; the sign, the pictures on the
wall, and the company, have a certain individuality,--marine in sailors'
inns, pugilistic in sporting ones, and picturesque in those haunted by
artists; the lines of demarcation are as visible as those which separate
newspapers and shops; in the grand division of labour that signalizes
modern life, the inn also has thus become an organ and a symbol. Even
their mottoes and symbols give traditional suggestions, or emblazon phases
of opinion; natural history has been exhausted in supplying effigies;
mythology has yielded up all her deities and institutions; heroes and
localities are kept fresh in the traveller's imagination by their
association with 'creature comforts.' Thus he dreams of Cromwell at the
'Tumble-down Dick,' and of the Stuarts at the 'King Charles in the Oak,'
the days of chivalry at the 'Star and Garter' or the 'Croix de Malta,' of
brilliant campaigns at the 'Wagram and Montmorency,' of woman's love at
the 'Petrarch and Laura,' and of man's at the 'Freemasons' Tavern.'[1]

My host at Ravenna had been Byron's purveyor during the poet's residence
there; and he was never weary of descanting upon his character and the
incidents of his sojourn; in fact, upon discovering my interest in the
subject, he forgot the landlord in the _cicerone_, and gave no small part
of a day to accompanying me to the haunts of the bard. Our first visit was
to the Guiccioli Palace, and here he described his lordship's dinners with
the precision and enthusiasm of an antiquarian certifying a document or
medal; then he took me to the Pine Forest, and pointed out the track where
Byron used to wheel his horse at full gallop, and discharge his pistol at
a bottle placed on a stump--exercises preparatory to his Grecian campaign.
At a particular flagstone, in the main street, my guide suddenly paused;
'Signore,' said he 'just as milord had reached this spot one evening, he
heard the report of a musket, and saw an officer fall a few rods in
advance; dismounting, he rushed to his side, and found him to be a
familiar acquaintance, an agent of the government, who had thus become the
victim to private vengeance. Byron had him conveyed to his own apartment
and placed on a bed, where in half an hour he expired. This event made a
deep impression on his mind; he was dispirited for a week, and wrote a
description of death from a shot, which you will find in his poems,
derived from this scene.' With such local anecdotes my Byronic host
entertained me so well, that the departed bard ever since has seemed to
live in my remembrance rather than my fancy.

Whoever has eaten trout caught in the Arno at the little inn at Tivoli, or
been detained by stress of weather in that of Albano, will not forget the
evidences the walls of both exhibit that rollicking artists have felt at
home there. Such heads and landscapes, caricatures and grotesque animals,
as are there improvised, baffle description.

A well is the inn of the desert. 'The dragoman usually looks out for some
place of shelter,' says the author of _Over the Lebanon to Balbek_; 'the
shadow of a ruin or the covering of a grove of fig-trees is the most
common, and, if possible, near a well or stream. The first of all
considerations is to reach a spot where you can get water; so that
throughout the East the well answers to the old English "Half-way House,"
and road-side "Accommodation for Man and Beast," which gave their cheerful
welcome to the "Tally Ho" and "Red Rover" that flourished before this age
of iron.'

The pedestrian in Wales sometimes encounters a snug and
beautifully-situated hostel (perhaps the 'Angler's Rest'), where five
minutes beside the parlour fire, and a chat with the landlady or her
pretty daughter, give him so complete a home feeling that it is with
painful reluctance he again straps on his knapsack; at liberty to muse by
the ever-singing tea-kettle if the weather is unpropitious, stroll out in
view of a noble mountain or a fairy lake in the warm sunset, or hear the
news from the last wayfarer in the travellers' room; and there is thus
mingled a sense of personal independence, comfort, and solitude, which is
rarely experienced even in the most favoured domain of hospitality. An
equally winsome but more romantic charm holds the roaming artist who stops
at Albano or Volterra, where the dreamy _campagna_ or Etruscan ruins
alternate with groups of sunburnt _contadini_, lighted up by the
charcoal's glow in a way to fascinate Salvator, before his contented gaze;
his portfolio fills up with miraculous rapidity; and the still life is
agreeably varied by the scenic costumes and figures which grace the
vintage or a _festa_. Some humble Champollion could easily add to the
curiosities of literature by a volume gleaned among inn inscriptions--from
the marble tablet announcing the sojourn of a royal personage, to the rude
caricature on the whitewashed wall, and the sentimental couplet on the
window-pane; to say nothing of the albums which enshrine so many tributes
to Etna and the White Mountains--the heirlooms of Abbaté, the famous
_padrone_ of Catania, and Crawford of the Notch.

Sicily is famous for the absence of inns, and the intolerable discomfort
of those that do exist; but mine host of Catania was the prince of
landlords. A fine specimen of manly beauty, and with the manners of a
gentleman, he seemed to think his guests entitled to all the courtesy
which should follow an invitation; he made formal calls upon them, and
gave sage advice as to the best way to pass the time; fitted them out with
hospitable skill and experienced counsels for the ascent of Etna, and
brought home choice game from his hunting excursions, as a present to the
'stranger within his gates.' His discourse, too, was of the most bland and
entertaining description; he was 'a fellow of infinite wit, of most
excellent fancy;' and these ministrations derived a memorable charm from a
certain gracefulness and winsome cordiality. No wonder his scrap-book is
filled with eulogiums, and that the traveller in Sicily, by the mere
force of contrast, records in hyperboles the merits of the 'Corona d'Oro.'
Alas for the mutability of inns and their worthy hosts! Abbaté was killed
by an accidental shot, during an _émeute_ in Catania, in 1848.

The waxed floor, light curtains, and gay paper of a Parisian bedroom,
however cheerful, are the reverse of snug; but in the provincial inns of
the Continent, with less of comfort there is often more historical
interest than in those of England; the stone staircases and floors, and
the scanty furniture are forlorn; and the exuberance of the host's
civility is often in ludicrous contrast with the poverty of his larder. An
hour or two in the dreary _salle-à-manger_ of a provincial French inn on a
rainy day is the acme of a _voyageur's_ depression. The _restaurant_ and
_café_ have superseded the French inns, of whose gastronomic renown and
scenes of intrigue and violence we read in Dumas's historical novels;
romance and tragedy, the convivial and the culinary associations, are
equally prominent. 'Suburban _cabarets_,' observes a popular writer, 'were
long dangerous rendezvous for Parisians;' before and during the Grand
Monarque's reign the French taverns were representative, the army, court,
men of letters, and even ecclesiastics having their favourite haunt:
Molière went to the 'Croix de Lorraine,' and Racine to the 'Mouton Blanc;'
the actors met at 'Les Deux Faisans;' one of the last of the old-school
Parisian landladies--she who kept the 'Maison Rouge'--is celebrated in
Béranger's _Madame Gregoire_; Ravaillac went from a tavern to assassinate
Henry the Fourth; and fashionable orgies were carried on in the 'Temple
Cellars.' It is not uncommon to find ourselves in a friar's dormitory, the
large hotels in the minor towns having frequently been erected as
convents; and in Italy, such an inn as that of Terracina, with its legends
of banditti and its romantic site, the waves of the Mediterranean moaning
under its lofty windows, infallibly recalls Mrs. Radcliffe. In the cities
many of the hotels are palaces where noble families have dwelt for
centuries, and about them are perceptible the traces of decayed
magnificence and the spell of traditional glory and crime. To an
imaginative traveller these fanciful attractions often compensate for the
absence of substantial merit, and there is something mysterious and
winsome in the obsolete architecture and fallen grandeur of these
edifices;--huge shadows glide along the high cornices, the mouldy frescoes
look as if they had witnessed strange vicissitudes, and the imagination
readily wanders through a series of wonderful experiences of which these
old _palazzi_ have been the scene. Here, as elsewhere in the land, it is
the romantic element, the charm of antiquity, that is the redeeming
feature. For picturesque beauty of situation, neatness, and rural comfort,
some of the inns of Switzerland are the most delightful on the Continent,
inviting the stranger to linger amid the clear, fresh, and glorious
landscape, and relish the sweet butter, white bread, and unrivalled honey
and eggs, served so neatly every morning by a fair mountaineer with snowy
cap and gay bodice.

I am a lover of the woods, and sometimes cross the bay, with a friend, to
Long Island, and pass a few hours in the strip of forest that protected
our fugitive army at the Battle of Flatbush; there are devious and shadowy
paths intersecting it, and in spring and autumn the wild flowers, radiant
leaves, and balmy stillness cheer the mind and senses, fresh from the dust
and bustle of the city. Often after one of these woodland excursions we
have emerged upon a quiet road, with farm-houses at long intervals, and
orchards and grain-fields adjacent, and followed its course to a village,
whose gable-roofed domicile and ancient graveyard indicate an old
settlement; and here is a little inn which recalls our idea of the
primitive English alehouse. It has a little Dutch porch, a sunny garden,
the liquor is served from the square bottles of Holland, the back parlour
is retired and neat, and the landlady sits all day in the window at her
sewing, and, when a little acquainted, will tell you all about the
love-affairs of the village; the cheese and sour-krout at dinner suggest a
Flemish origin.

The old sign that hangs at the road-side was brought to this country by an
English publican, when the fine arts were supposed to be at so low a stage
as to furnish no Dick Tinto equal to such an achievement. It represents
the arms of Great Britain, and doubtless beguiled many a trooper of his
Majesty when Long Island was occupied by the English; no sooner, however,
had they retreated, than the republican villagers forced the landlord to
have an American eagle painted above the king's escutcheon. Indeed, it is
characteristic of inns that they perpetuate local associations: put your
head into an Italian boarding-house in New York, and the garlic, macaroni,
and red wine lead you to think yourself at Naples; the snuff, dominoes,
and gazettes mark a French _café_ all the world over; in Montreal you wake
up in a room like that you occupied at Marseilles; and at Halifax the malt
liquor is as English as the currency.

'The sports of the inn yards' are noted often in the memoirs of
Elizabeth's reign. In a late biography of Lord Bacon, his brother Anthony
is spoken of as 'having taken a house in Bishopsgate Street, near the
famous "Ball Inn," where plays are performed before cits and gentlemen,
very much to the delight of Essex and his jovial crew.' And in allusion to
the Earl's conspiracy, the lower class of inns then and there are thus
described: 'From kens like the "Hart's Horn" and the "Shipwreck Tavern,"
haunts of the vilest refuse of a great city, the spawn of hells and stews,
the vomit of Italian cloisters and Belgian camps, Blount, long familiar
with the agents of disorder, unkennels in the Earl's name a pack of needy
ruffians eager for any device that seems to promise pay to their greed or
licence to their lust.' It has been justly remarked by Letitia Landon,
that 'after all, the English hostel owes much of its charm to Chaucer; our
associations are of his haunting pictures--his delicate prioress, his
comely young squire, with their pleasant interchange of tale and legend:'
still less remote and more personal associations endear and identify these
landmarks of travel and sojourn in Great Britain. Scarcely a pleasant
record of life or manners, during the last century, is destitute of one of
these memorable resorts. Addison frequented the 'White Horn,' at the end
of Holland House Lane. When Sir Walter Scott visited Wordsworth, he daily
strolled to the 'Swan,' beyond Grasmere, to atone for the plain fare of
the bard's cottage. 'We four,' naïvely writes the Rev. Archibald Carlyle,
speaking of his literary comrades, 'frequently resorted to a small tavern
at the corner of Cockspur Street, the "Golden Ball," where we had a frugal
supper and a little punch, as the finances of none of the company were in
very good order; but we had rich enough conversation on literary subjects,
enlivened by Smollett's agreeable stories, which he told with peculiar
grace.' And his more than clerical zest for such a rendezvous is apparent
in his notice of another favourite inn: 'It was during this assembly that
the inn at the lower end of the West Bow got into some credit, and was
called the "Diversorium." Thomas Nicholson was the man's name, and his
wife's Nelly Douglas. Nelly was handsome, Thomas a rattling fellow.' Here
often met Robertson the historian, Horne the dramatist, Hume, Jardine, and
other notable men of the Scotch metropolis. To facilitate their
intercourse when in London, they also 'established a club at a
coffee-house in Saville Row, and dined together daily at three with
Wedderburn and Jack Dalrymple.' By the same candid autobiographer we are
informed that, at a tavern 'in Fleet Street, a physicians' club met, had
original papers laid before them, and always waited supper for Dr.
Armstrong to order.' These casual allusions indicate the essential
convenience and social importance of the inn, before clubs had superseded
them in Britain, and _cafés_ on the Continent. A writer, whose _Itinerary_
is dated 1617, thus describes entertainment at the English inns of his
day: 'As soone as a passenger comes to an inne, the servants run to him,
and one takes his horse and walkes him about till he is cool, then rubs
him down and gives him feed; another servant gives the passenger his
private chamber, and kindles his fire; the third pulls off his bootes and
makes them cleane; then the host and hostess visit him, and if he will
eate with the hoste, or at a common table with the others, his meale will
cost him sixpence, or, in some places, fourpence; but if he will eate in
his own chamber, he commands what meat he will, according to his appetite;
yea, the kitchen is open to him to order the meat to be dressed as he
likes beste. After having eaten what he pleases, he may with credit set by
a part for next day's breakfast. His bill will then be written for him,
and should he object to any charge, the host is ready to alter it.' An
Italian nobleman of our own day,[2] his appreciation of free discussion
quickened by political exile, was much impressed with the influence and
agency of the English inn in public affairs. 'Taverns,' he writes, 'are
the forum of the English; it was here that arose the triumph of Burdett
when he left the Tower, and the curses of Castlereagh when he descended
into the tomb; it is here that begins the censure or the approval of a new

Charles Lamb delighted to smoke his pipe at the old 'Queen's Head,' and to
quaff ale from the tankard presented by one Master Cranch (a choice
spirit) to a former host, and in the old oak-parlour where tradition says
'the gallant Raleigh received full souse in his face the contents of a
jolly black-jack from an affrighted clown, who, seeing clouds of tobacco
smoke curling from the knight's mouth and nose, thought he was all on

'A relic of old London is fast disappearing,' says a journal of that
city--'the "Blue Boar Inn," or the "George and Blue Boar," as it came to
be called later, in Holborn. For more than two hundred years this was one
of the famous coaching-houses, where stages arrived from the Northern and
Midland counties. It is more famous still as being the place--if Lord
Orrery's chaplain, Morrice, may be credited--where Cromwell and Ireton,
disguised as troopers, cut from the saddle-flap of a messenger a letter
which they knew to be there, from Charles the First to Henrietta Maria.'

The 'Peacock,' at Matlock on the Derwent, was long the chosen resort of
artists, botanists, geologists, lawyers, and anglers; and perhaps at no
rural English inn of modern times has there been more varied and gifted
society than occasionally convened in this romantic district, under its

The 'Hotel Gibbon,' at Lausanne, suggests to one familiar with English
literature the life of that historian, so naïvely described by himself,
and keeps alive the associations of his elaborate work in the scene of its
production; and nightly colloquies, that are embalmed and embodied in
genial literature, immortalize the 'sky-blue parlour' at Ambrose's
'Edinburgh Tavern.'

Few historical novelists have more completely mastered the details of
costume, architecture, and social habits in the old times of England, than
James; and his description of the inns of Queen Anne's day is as elaborate
as it is complete: 'Landlords in England at that time--I mean, of course,
in country towns--were very different in many respects, and of a different
class, from what they are at present. In the first place, they were not
fine gentlemen; in the next place, they were not discharged
_valets-de-chambre_ or butlers, who, having cheated their masters
handsomely, and perhaps laid them under contribution in many ways, retire
to enjoy the fat things at their ease in their native town. Then, again,
they were on terms of familiar intercourse with two or three classes,
completely separate and distinct from each other--a sort of connecting
link between them. At their door, the justice of the peace, the knight of
the shire, the great man of the neighbourhood, dismounted from his horse,
and had his chat with mine host. There came the village lawyer, when he
gained a cause, or won a large fee, or had been paid a long bill, to
indulge in his pint of sherry, and gossiped as he drank it of all the
affairs of his clients. There sneaked in the doctor to get his glass of
_eau-de-vie_, or plague-water, or _aqua mirabilis_, or strong spirits, in
short, of any other denomination, and tell little dirty anecdotes of his
cases and his patients. There the alderman, the wealthy shopkeeper, and
the small proprietor, or the large farmer, came to take his cheerful cup
on Saturdays, or on market-day. But, besides these, the inn was the
resort--though approached by another door--of a lower and a poorer class,
with whom the landlord was still upon as good terms as with the others.
The wagoner, the carter, the lawyer's and the banker's clerk, the shopman,
the porter even, all came there; the landlord was civil, and familiar, and
chatty with them all.'

Geoffrey Crayon's 'Shakspearian Research' culminated at the 'Boar Head,'
Eastcheap; his story of the 'Spectre Bridegroom' was appropriately related
in the kitchen of the 'Pomme d'Or,' in the Netherlands; and he makes Rip's
congenial retreat from his virago spouse, the 'coin of vantage' in front
of the village inn. Irving's own appreciation of these vagabond shrines
and accidental homes is emphatic; he commends the 'honest bursts of
laughter in which a man indulges in that temple of true liberty, an inn,'
and quotes zestfully the maxim that 'a tavern is the rendezvous, the
exchange, the staple of good fellows.' His personal testimony is
characteristic: 'To a homeless man there is a momentary feeling of
independence, as he stretches himself before an inn fire: the arm-chair is
his throne, the poker is his sceptre, and the little parlour his
undisputed empire.' How little did the modest author imagine, when he thus
wrote, that the poker with which he stirred the fire in the parlour-grate
of the 'Red Lion' would become a sacred literary relic wherewith his
partial countrymen are beguiled of extra fees, while the bard of Avon and
the gentleman of Sunnyside mingle in the reverie of fond reminiscence.

'I went by an indirect route to Lichfield,' writes Hawthorne, in his
English sketches, 'and put up at the "Black Swan." Had I known where to
find it, I would rather have established myself at the inn kept by Mr.
Boniface, and so famous for its ale in Farquhar's time.' Gossip and
gaiety, the poor man's arena and the 'breathing-time of day' of genius,
thus give to the inn a kind of humane scope. Beethoven, wearied of his
palace-home and courtly patronage, and the 'stately houses open to him in
town and country, often forsook all for solitude in obscure inns, escaping
from all conventionalities to be alone with himself.' '_Nous voyons_,'
says Brillat-Savarin, '_que les villageois font toutes les affaires au
cabaret_;' Rousseau delighted in the frugal liberty thereof; and the last
days of Elia are associated with the inn which was the goal of his daily
promenade. 'After Isola married,' writes one of his friends, 'and Mary was
infirm, he took his lonely walk along the London road, as far as the "Bell
of Edmonton;" and one day tripped over a stone and slightly wounded his
forehead; erysipelas set in, and he died.' Somewhat of the attractiveness
of the inn to the philosopher is that its temporary and casual shelter and
solace accord with the counsel of Sydney Smith, 'to take short views,' and
Goëthe's, to 'cast ourselves into the sea of accidents;' and a less
amiable reason for the partiality has been suggested in 'the wide
capability of finding fault which an inn affords.' A genial picture of one
is thus drawn by a modern poet:--

  'This cosy hostelrie a visit craves;
  Here will I sit awhile,
  And watch the heavenly sunshine smile
  Upon the village graves.
  Strange is this little room in which I wait,
  With its old table, rough with rustic names.
  'Tis summer now; instead of blinking flames,
  Sweet-smelling ferns are hanging o'er the grate.
  With curious eyes I pore
  Upon the mantel-piece, with precious wares;
  Glazed Scripture prints, in black, lugubrious frames,
  Filled with old Bible lore:
  The whale is casting Jonah on the shore;
  Pharaoh is drowning in the curly wave;
  And to Elijah, sitting at his cave,
  The hospitable ravens fly in pairs,
  Celestial food within their horny beaks;
  On a slim David, with great pinky cheeks,
  A towered Goliath stares.
  Here will I sit at peace,
  While, piercing through the window's ivy veil,
  A slip of sunshine smites the amber ale;
  And as the wreaths of fragrant smoke increase,
  I'll read the letter which came down to-day.'[3]

As a contrast to this, take Longfellow's 'Wayside Inn,' at Sudbury,

  'As ancient is this hostelry
  As any in the land may be,
  Built in the old colonial day,
  When men lived in a grander way,
  With ampler hospitality;
  A kind of old Hobgoblin hall,
  Now somewhat fallen to decay,
  With weather-stains upon the wall,
  And stairways worn, and crazy doors,
  And creaking and uneven floors,
  And chimneys huge and tiled and tall.
  A region of repose it seems,
  A place of slumber and of dreams,
  Remote among the wooded hills!'

The facilities of modern travel and its vast increase, while they have
modified the characteristic features of the inn, have given it new
economical importance; and, not long since, the American hotel-system was
earnestly discussed in the English and French journals, as a substitute
for the European: the method by which all the wants of the traveller are
supplied at an established price per diem, instead of the details of
expense and the grades of accommodation in vogue abroad. In Paris, London,
some of the West India Islands, and elsewhere, the American hotel has, in
a measure, succeeded. But it is in its historical and social aspect that
we find the interest of the subject; as regards convenience, economy, and
comfort, the question can perhaps only be met in an eclectic spirit, each
country having its own merits and demerits as regards the provision for
public entertainment of man and beast. The inns of Switzerland will bear
the test of reminiscence better than those of any other part of the
Continent; the solitary system of the English inn is objectionable;
discomfort is proverbial in Havannah hotels; the garden-tables and music
in the German hostels are pleasant social features; and, with all their
frugal resources, the farm-stations in Norway boast the charm of a candid
and _naïve_ hospitality which sweetens the humble porridge of the weary
traveller. 'It is scarcely credible,' says an 'unprotected female,' in her
record of travel there, 'that such pre-adamite simplicity of heart still
exists on earth.' In pictures and diaries, the German landlord is always
light-haired, and holds a beer tankard; and the hotels in the British West
Indies, according to a recent traveller, are always kept by 'fat,
middle-aged, coloured ladies, who have no husbands.' Rose, writing to
Hallam from Italy, hints the union of romantic and classical associations
which some of the inns conserve and inspire; that of 'Civita Castellana,'
he remarks, 'is on the classic route from Rome to Florence, and is a type
of the large Italian inns, such as one finds in romances: balconies,
terraces, flowers of the south, large courts open for
post-chaises--nothing is wanting.' When Heine visited Germany, he tells us
how the conservative habits of his fatherland newly impressed him in the
familiar and old-fashioned dishes, 'sour-krout, stuffed chestnuts in
green cabbages, stockfish swimming in butter, eggs and bloaters, sausages,
fieldfares, roasted angels with apple-sauce, and goose.'

In mediæval times, in that part of Europe, from the isolation of inns they
were emphatically the places to find an epitome of the age--soldiers,
monks, noblemen, and peasants surrounded the same stove, shared the
contents of the same pot, and often the straw which formed their common
bed; the proverb was, 'Inns are not built for one.' The salutations,
benisons, and curses; the motley guests, the lack of privacy, the
_trinkgeld_ and stirrup-cup, the murders and amours, the converse and
precautions, the orgies and charities thereof; were each and all
characteristic of the unsettled state of society, the diversities of rank,
the common necessities, and the priestly, military, and boorish elements
of life and manners. But the rarity of any public-house, as we understand
the term, is more characteristic of those times than the incongruous
elements therein occasionally exhibited. 'There seems,' says an ancient
historian, 'to have been no inns or houses of entertainment for the
reception of travellers during the middle ages. This is a proof of the
little intercourse which took place between different nations. The duty of
hospitality was so necessary in that state of society, that it was
enforced by statutes; it abounded, and secured the stranger a kind
reception under any roof where he chose to take shelter.'[4]

On first entering an inn at Havre-de-Grace, I found the landlady taking
leave of the captain of an American packet ship. He had paid his bill, not
without some remonstrance, and his smiling hostess, with true French tact,
was now in the act of bidding so pleasing a farewell as would lure him to
take up his quarters there on the return voyage. She had purchased at the
market a handsome bouquet, and tied it up jauntily with ribbons. The ruddy
sea-dog face of the captain was half turned aside with a look of
impatience at the idea of being inveigled into good-nature after her
extortion; but she, not a whit discouraged, held her flowers up to him,
and smiling, with her fair hand on his rough dread-naught overcoat, turned
full to his eye a sprig of yellow blossom, and with irresistible _naïveté_
whispered,--'_Mon cher Capitaine, c'est immortel comme mon attachement
pour vous_.' It was a little scene worthy of Sterne, and brought the
agreeableness and the imposition of the innkeepers of the Continent at
once before me. One evening, in Florence, I was sent for by a countryman,
who lodged at the most famous hotel in that city, and found him
perambulating his apartment under strong excitement of mind. He told me,
with much emotion, that the last time he had visited Florence was twenty
years before, with his young and beautiful wife. The belle of the season
that winter was the Marchesa ----. She gave a magnificent ball, and in the
midst of the festivities took the young American couple into her boudoir,
and sung to them with her harp. Her vocal talent was celebrated, but it
was a rare favour to hear her, and this attention was prized accordingly.
'You know,' added my friend, 'that I came abroad to recover the health
which grief at my wife's death so seriously impaired; and you know how
unavailing has proved the experiment. On my arrival here I inquired for
the best inn, and was directed hither; upon entering this chamber, which
was assigned me, something in the frescoes and tiles struck me as
familiar; they awoke the most vivid associations, and at last I remembered
that this is the very room to which the beautiful Marchesa brought us to
hear her sing on that memorable evening; the family are dispersed, and her
palace is rented for an hotel; hence this coincidence.'

Among the minor local associations to be enjoyed at Rome, not the least
common and suggestive are those which belong to the old 'Bear Inn,' where
Montaigne lodged. Not only the vicissitudes but the present fortunes of
European towns are indicated by the inns. I arrived at ancient Syracuse at
sunset on a spring afternoon, and dismounted at an inn that looked like an
episcopal residence or government house, so lofty and broad were the
dimensions of the edifice; but not a person was visible in the spacious
court, and as I wandered up the staircases and along the corridors, no
sound but the echo of my steps was audible. At length a meagre attendant
emerged from an obscure chamber, and explained that this grand pile was
erected in anticipation of the American squadron in the Mediterranean
making their winter quarters in the harbour of Syracuse: a project
abandoned at the earnest request of the King of Naples, who dreaded the
example of a republican marine in his realm; and then so rarely did a
visitor appear, that the poor lonely waiter was thrown into a fit of
surprise, from which he did not recover during my stay.

To the stranger, no more characteristic evidence of our material
prosperity and gregarious habits can be imagined than that afforded by the
large, showy, and thronged hotels of our principal cities. They are
epitomes of the whole country; at a glance they reveal the era of
upholstery, the love of ostentation, the tendency to live in herds, and
the absence of a subdued and harmonious tone of life and manners. The
large mirrors and bright carpets which decorate these resorts are entirely
incongruous--the brilliancy of the sunshine and the stimulating nature of
the climate demand within doors a predominance of neutral tints to relieve
and freshen the eye and nerves. It is characteristic of that devotion to
the immediate which De Tocqueville ascribes to republican institutions,
that these extravagant and gregarious establishments in our country are so
often named after living celebrities in the mercantile, literary, and
political world. This custom gives those who enjoy this distinction while
living 'the freedom of the house.' It greatly amused the friends of our
modest Geoffery Crayon, when, encouraged by his affectionate kinswoman
and his friend Kennedy to 'travel on his capital,' under the pressure of
necessity he once thus desperately claimed the privileges of his honoured
name, wherefrom his sensitive nature habitually shrunk. 'I arrived in town
safe,' he writes from New York to his niece, 'and proceeded to the "Irving
House," where I asked for a room. What party had I with me? None. Had I
not a lady with me? No; I was alone. I saw my chance was a bad one, and I
feared to be put in a dungeon as I was on a former occasion. I bethought
myself of your advice; and so, when the book was presented to me, wrote my
name at full length--"from Sunnyside." I was ushered into an apartment on
the first floor, furnished with rosewood, yellow damask, and pier-glasses,
with a bed large enough for an alderman and his wife, a bath-room
adjoining. In a word, I was accommodated completely _en prince_. The negro
waiters all call me by name, and vie with each other in waiting on me. The
chambermaid has been at uncommon pains to put my room in first-rate order;
and if she had been pretty, I absolutely should have kissed her; but as
she was not, I shall reward her in sordid coin. Henceforth I abjure all
modesty with hotel-keepers, and will get as much for my name as it will
fetch. Kennedy calls it travelling on one's capital.'

The extravagant scale upon which these establishments are conducted is
another national feature, at once indicating the comparative ease with
which money is acquired in the New World, and the passion that exists here
for keeping up appearances. It would be useful to investigate the
influence of hotel life in this country upon manners: whatever may be the
result as to the coarser sex, its effect upon women and children is
lamentable--lowering the tone, compromising the taste, and yielding
incessant and promiscuous excitement to the love of admiration; the change
in the very nature of young girls, thus exposed to an indiscriminate
crowd, is rapid and complete; modesty and refinement are soon lost in
over-consciousness and moral hardihood. But, perhaps, the most singular
trait in the American hotel is the deference paid to the landlord: instead
of being the servant of the public, he is apparently the master; and a
traveller who makes the now rapid transition from a New York to a
Liverpool hotel, might think himself among a different race; the courteous
devotion, almost subserviency, in the one case, being in total contrast
with the nonchalance and even despotism of the other. The prosperous
security of the host with us, and the dependence of his guest for any
choice of accommodation, is doubtless the most obvious reason for this
anomaly; but it is also, in a degree at least, to be referred to the
familiarity with which even gentlemen treat the innkeepers. To use a
vulgar phrase, they descend to curry favour and minister to the
self-esteem of a class of men in whom it is already pampered beyond
endurable bounds. No formula of republican equality justifies this
behaviour; and it usually reacts unfavourably for the self-respect of the
individual. Some foreigner remarked, with as much truth as irony, that our
aristocracy consisted of hotel-keepers and steamboat captains; and
appearances certainly warrant the sarcasm. It was not always thus. When
Washington lodged at the old Walton Mansion-house, which had been
converted to an inn, the old negro who kept it was the ideal of a host; an
air of dignity as well as comfort pervaded the house; through the open
upper half of the broad door played the sunshine upon the sanded
threshold; at the head of the long easy staircase ticked the old-fashioned
clock; full-length portraits, by Copley, graced the parlour wall; the old
Dutch stoop looked the emblem of hospitality; no angular figures were
ranged to squirt tobacco-juice; no pert clerks lorded it from behind a
mahogany barricade; but the glow of the windows at night, the alacrity of
the sedate waiter, the few but respectable guests, and the prolonged
meals, of which but two or three partook, gave to the inn the character of
a home. Lafayette wrote to his wife in 1777, while descanting with
enthusiasm upon the simplicity of manners in this country: 'The very inns
are different from those in Europe; the host and hostess sit at table with
you, and do the honours of a comfortable meal; and, on going away, you pay
your fare without higgling.' An English traveller, who visited this
country soon after the Revolutionary War, speaks of the 'uncomplying
temper of the landlords of the country inns in America.' 'They will not,'
says another, 'bear the treatment we too often give ours at home. They
feel themselves in some degree independent of travellers, as all of them
have other occupations to follow; nor will they put themselves into a
bustle on your account; but with good language they are very civil, and
will accommodate you as well as they can. The general custom of having two
or three beds in a room, to be sure, is very disagreeable; it arises from
the great increase of travelling within the last few years, and the
smallness of their houses, which were not built for houses of

It is a most significant indication of our devotion to the external, that
ovations at which the legislators of the land discourse, and eulogies that
fill the columns of the best journals, celebrate the opening of a new
tavern, or the retirement of a publican. The confined and altitudinous
cells into which so many of the complacent victims of these potentates are
stowed, and their habits of subserviency to the rules of the house which
are perked up on their chamber-walls, induced a Sicilian friend of mine to
complain that sojourners at inns in this land of liberty were treated like
friars. The gorgeous luxury of the metropolitan inns is reversed in the
small towns, where, without the picturesque situation, we often find the
discomfort of the Continent.

Under date of March 4, 1634, John Winthrop, first governor of
Massachusetts, records in his journal: 'Samuel Cole set up the first house
of common entertainment' in Boston. According to the famous literary ruse
of Irving and Wirt, Knickerbocker's facetious history and the _Letters of
a British Spy_ were found in the inn-chamber of a departed traveller. Of
old, the American inn, or tavern as it was called, subserved a great
variety of purposes. One of New England's local historians says:--

'The taverns of olden time were the places of resort for gentlemen; and
one consequence was, good suppers and deep drinking. They also performed
the office of newspapers. The names posted on the several tavern-doors
were a sufficient notice for jurors. Saturday afternoon was the time when
men came from all quarters of the town to see and hear all they could at
the tavern, where politics and theology, trade, barter, and taxes, were
all mixed up together over hot flip and strong toddy.

'The taverns served also as places for marketing. During most of the
winter they were filled every night with farmers, who had brought their
pork, butter, grain, seeds, and poultry to market. Most families supplied
themselves through these opportunities, and purchased the best articles at
moderate prices.

'Landlords could not grow rich very fast on country custom. The travelling
farmer brought all his food for himself in a box, and that for his horse
in a bag. He therefore paid only twelve cents for his bed, and as much for
horse-keeping. It was not uncommon to have six days' expenses amount only
to two dollars. Auctions, theatricals, legerdemain, caucuses, military
drills, balls, and dancing-schools, all came in place at the tavern.
Especially, sleigh-riding parties found them convenient.'[5]

'You will not go into one,' wrote Brissot in 1788, 'without meeting with
neatness, decency, and dignity. The table is served by a maiden,
well-dressed and pretty, by a pleasant mother whose age has not effaced
the agreeableness of her features, and by men who have that air of
respectability which is inspired by the idea of equality, and are not
ignoble and base, like the greater part of our own tavern-keepers.' In
1792, Wansey, the commercial traveller already cited, tells us he lodged
at the 'Bunch of Grapes,' in Boston, and paid five shillings a day,
including a pint of Madeira. He had an interview with Citizen Genet and
Dr. Priestley at the 'Tontine,' near the Battery in New York; and saw
Frenchmen with tricolour cockades at the 'Indian Queen,' on the Boston
road;--trivial data for his journal then, and yet now suggestive of the
political and economical condition of the land, whereof even tavern bills
and company are no inadequate test. A sagacious reminiscent informs us
that 'the taverns of Boston were the original business exchanges: they
combined the Counting-house, the Exchange-office, the Reading-room, and
the Bank; each represented a locality. To the "Lamb Tavern," called by the
sailors "sheep's baby," people went to "see a man from Dedham"--it was the
resort of Norfolk County; the old "Eastern Stage-house," in Ann Street,
was frequented by "down-easters," captains of vessels, formerly from the
Penobscot and Kennebec; there were to be seen groups of sturdy men seated
round an enormous fireplace, chalking down the price of bark and lumber,
and skippers bringing in a vagrant tarpaulin to "sign the articles." To
the "Exchange Coffee-house" resorted the nabobs of Essex County; here
those aristocratic eastern towns, Newburyport and Portsmouth, were
represented by shipowners and shipbuilders, merchants of the first class.
Dealers in butter and cheese went to the "City Tavern," in Brattle
Street--a favourite sojourn of "members of the General Court,"--its
court-yard crowded with teams loaded with the best pork from Vermont and
Western Massachusetts, and the "wooden notions" of Yankee rustics. The
last of the old Boston taverns was the once famous "Elm-street House," a
rendezvous of stage-coaches, teams, and transient boarders, which was kept
up in the old style until fairly drawn from the field by "modern
improvements."' Indeed, this slight mention of the functions and fortunes
of inns in the New England metropolis hints, more than a volume of
statistics, the progress of her growth and the cause of her social
transitions; locomotion has completely done away with the local affinities
of the past, and emigration modified the individuality of class and
character which of old gave such special interest to the inn; we are too
gregarious, luxurious, and hurried to indulge in these primitive

At the old 'Raleigh Tavern,' in Virginia--not long since destroyed by
fire,--Patrick Henry lodged when he made his memorable _début_, as a
patriotic orator, in the House of Burgesses; and it was in a chamber of
this inn that he prepared his speeches, and that the great leading men of
the Revolution, in that State, assembled to consult. Some of the inns in
Canada are named after the Indian chiefs mentioned in the earliest records
of exploration by Cartier. At the 'Frauncis Tavern,' in New York,
Washington took leave of his officers, and the 'Social Club,' still famous
in the annals of the city, met. Military men appreciate good inns;
Washington wrote to Frauncis, and Lafayette praised him. One of the latest
of memorable associations connected with the inns of New York, is that
which identifies the 'City Hotel' with the naval victories of the last war
with England. No one who listened to the musical voice of the late Ogden
Hoffman, as he related to the St. Nicholas Society at their annual banquet
his personal memories of that favourite hotel, will fail to realize the
possible dramatic and romantic interest which may attach to such a resort,
even in our unromantic times and in the heart of a commercial city.
Visions of naval heroes, of belles in the dance, witty coteries and
distinguished strangers, political crises and social triumphs, flitted
vividly before the mind as the genial reminiscent called up the men,
women, _fêtes_, and follies there known. A recent English traveller in
the United States, in alluding to the resemblance he discovered to what
was familiar at home, speaks of one relic which has caught the eye of few
as suggestive of the old country. 'There is,' he observes, 'in Baltimore
an old inn, with an old sign, standing at the corner of Eutaw and Franklin
streets, just such as may still be seen in the towns of Somersetshire; and
before it are to be seen old wagons, covered and soiled and battered,
about to return from the city to the country, just as the wagons do in our
own agricultural counties.'[6]

How near to us the record of 'baiting at an inn' brings the renowned!
'After dinner,' writes Washington in the diary of his second visit to New
England, 'through frequent showers we proceeded to the tavern of a Mrs.
Haviland, at Rye, who keeps a very neat and decent inn.' Mendelssohn,
ideal as was his tone of mind, wrote zestfully to his sister:--'A neat,
civil Frenchwoman keeps the inn on the summit of the Simplon; and it would
not be easy to describe the sensation of satisfaction caused by its
thrifty cleanliness, which is nowhere to be found in Italy.' Lockhart,
when an assiduous Oxford scholar, found his choicest recreation in 'a
quiet row on the river, and a fish-dinner at Godstow;' and there is not
one of his surviving associates, says his biographer, 'who fails to look
back at this moment, with melancholy pleasure, on the brilliant wit, the
merry song, and the grave discussion which gave to the sanded parlour of
the village alehouse the air of the Palæstra at Tusculum, or the Amaltheum
of Cumæ.'

It is impossible to conceive any house of entertainment more dreary than
some of the stage-houses, as they were called in New England; the bar-room
with an odour of stale rum, the parlour with its everlasting sampler over
the fireplace, weeping willow, tombstone, and inscription; the peacock's
feathers or asparagus boughs in the chimney, as if in cheerful mockery;
the looking-glass that reflects every feature awry, the cross-lights of
the windows, inquisitive loungers, pie-crust like leather, and cheese of
mollified oak,--all defied both the senses and digestion, and made the
crack of the coachman's whip a joyful alarum.

The inns near famous localities identify themselves to the memory with the
most attractive objects of travel; thus the inn, so rural and neat, at
Edensor, with the marvels of Chatsworth; the 'Red Horse,' at
Stratford-on-Avon, with Shakspeare's tomb; and the 'Nag's Head,' at
Uttoxeter, with Johnson's penance. It was while 'waiting for the train,'
at an inn of Coventry, that Tennyson so gracefully paraphrased the legend
of Godiva; and the sign of the 'Flitch' is associated with the famous
bequest of the traditional patron of conjugal harmony. 'A wayside inn at
which we tarried, in Derbyshire, I fancied must have sheltered Moreland or
Gainsborough, when caught in the rain, while sketching in that region. The
landlady had grenadier proportions and red cheeks; a few peasants were
drinking ale beneath a roof whence depended flitches of bacon, and with
the frocks, the yellow hair, and the full, ruddy features we see in their
pictures; the windows of the best room had little diamond-shaped panes, in
which sprigs of holly were stuck. There were several ancient engravings in
quaint-looking frames on the wall; the chairs and desk were of dark-veined
wood that shone with the polish of many a year's friction; a great fire
blazed in the chimney, and the liquor was served in vessels only seen on
this other side of the water, in venerable prints. It was an hostel where
you would not be surprised to hear the crack of Tony Lumpkin's whip, or to
see the Vicar of Wakefield rush in, in search of Olivia--an alehouse that,
you knew at once, had often given "an hour's importance to the poor man's
heart," and where Parson Adams or Squire Western would have felt
themselves entirely at home.'[7]

Goldsmith has genially celebrated the humble, rustic inn in the _Deserted
Village_, and his own habits confirmed the early predilection. 'His
favourite festivity,' says one of his biographers, 'his holiday of
holidays, was to have three or four intimate friends to breakfast with him
at ten, to start at eleven for a walk through the fields to Highbury Barn,
where they dined at an ordinary, frequented by authors, templars, and
retired citizens, for tenpence a head; to return at six to "White's,"
Conduit Street, and to end the evening with a supper at the "Grecian," or
"Temple Exchange Coffee-house." The whole of the expense of the day's
_fête_ never exceeded a crown, for which the party obtained "good air,
good living, and good conversation."' 'He, Goldsmith, however,' adds
Foster, 'would leave a tavern if his jokes were not rewarded with a roar.'
One of Ben Jonson's best comedies is the _New Inn_, and Southey's most
popular ballad is _Mary of the Inn_. Chaucer makes his Canterbury pilgrims
set out from an inn at Southwark. We all remember the inns described by
Scott. Elliston's 'larks' at the 'White Hart' and 'Red Cow' were comical
episodes, that read like a _vaudeville_. _She Stoops to Conquer_,
_L'Auberge Pleine_, and _The Double-bedded Room_, are a few of the
countless standard plays of which an inn is the scene. 'What befell them
at the Inn,' is the heading of Don Quixote's best chapters, for the knight
always mistook inns for castles. Grammont's adventures frequently boast
the same scene, and it was 'in the worst room of the worst inn' that the
accomplished, and dissolute Villiers died. Foote frequented the 'Bedford'
in Covent Garden, and old Macklin doffed the buskin for the apron and
carver. Philosophers, from Horace at the inn of Brundusium, to Montaigne
noting the furniture, dishes, and prices at the inns where he rested on
his journey into Italy, have found this a most suggestive and
characteristic theme.

In German university towns, the professors frequent the 'Hereditary
Prince,' or some other inn, at evening, to drink beer, smoke pipes, and
discuss metaphysics. The jocose reproof which Lamb administers to the
sentimental donor of _Coelebs_ was--

  'If ever I marry a wife,
    I'll marry a landlord's daughter,
  And sit in the bar all day,
    And drink cold brandy and water.'

Quaintly pious is the allusion of John Winthrop, in a letter--more than
two centuries old--to his father, the first governor of Massachusetts,
when the project of immigration was about to be realized: 'For the
business of New England, I can say no other thing but that I believe
confidently that the whole disposition thereof is from the Lord; and, for
myself, I have seen so much of the vanity of the world, that I esteem no
more of the diversities of countries than as so many inns, whereof the
traveller that hath lodged in the best or in the worst findeth no
difference when he cometh to his journey's end.'[8]

It has been said of Socrates that he 'looked upon himself as a traveller
who halts at the public inn of the Earth.' 'Was I in a condition to
stipulate with death,' writes Sterne, 'I should certainly declare against
submitting to it before my friends, and therefore I never seriously think
upon the mode and the manner of this great catastrophe, but I constantly
draw the curtain across it with this wish, that the Disposer of all things
may so order it, that it happen not to me in my own house, but rather in
some decent inn.' Aaron Burr realized in a forlorn manner Yorick's desire
when, after years of social ostracism, he expired at a tavern on Staten

The beautiful significance of the first incident in the life of Christ is
seldom realized, offering, as it does, so wonderful and affecting a
contrast between the humblest mortal vicissitudes in the outward
circumstances of birth and the highest glory of a spiritual advent: they
'laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.' It
was to an inn that the Good Samaritan carried the traveller who had
'fallen among thieves.' Joseph's brethren rested at an inn on their way to
Egypt; and it was at the 'Three Taverns,' in the suburbs of Rome, that
Paul was met by the brethren. Venerable as are these allusions in sacred
history, the visible token of the antiquity of inns that strikes our
imagination most vividly is the wine-stains on the marble counter in

Falstaff absolutely requires the frame of an inn to make his portrait
intelligible, with the buxom figure of Mrs. Quickly in the background; and
it may safely be asserted that no public house of entertainment has
afforded such world-wide mirth as the 'Boar's Head,' Eastcheap. The freaks
of Tony Lumpkin have their natural scope at an alehouse; and Goldoni's
_Locandiera_ is a fine colloquial piece of real life; even the most
eloquent of England's historians cites the superior inns that existed in
the range of travel there, during the early part of the seventeenth
century, as a reliable evidence of the prosperity and civil advancement of
the nation. These inns are, in fact, the original retreats for 'freedom
and comfort,' whence our pleasant ideas on the subject are derived; they
still exist in some of the rural districts of the kingdom; and the
cleanliness, good fare, and retirement of the old-fashioned English inn,
as well as the freshness and urbanity of the host, wholly justify their
renown. The exigencies of the climate, and the domestic habits of the
people, explain this superiority; where so much enjoyment is sought within
doors, and the national character is reserved and individual, better
provision is naturally made both for the physical well-being and the
privacy of the wayfarer than is required under less inclement skies, and
among a more vivacious and social race.

A most characteristic note of Boswell's is that which records his idol's
hearty encomiums on a tavern, while dining at one in London. Both the man
and the place then combined to realize the perfection of the idea, for
that dim and multitudinous city invites to secluded conviviality; and that
irritable, dogmatic, yet epicurean sage required the liberty of speech, an
absolute deference, and the solid physical comforts so easily obtained at
a London tavern. There he could make 'inarticulate, animal noises over his
food' without restraint; there he could bring only such companions as
would bear to be contradicted, and there he could refresh body and mind
without fear of intrusion from a printer's devil or needy author. Bores
and duns away, a good listener by, surrounded with pleasant viands and a
cheerful blaze, a man so organized and situated might, without
extravagance, call a tavern-chair the throne of human felicity, and quote
Shenstone's praise of inns with rapture. Beneath this jovial appreciation,
however, there lurks a sad inference; it argues a homeless lot, for lonely
or ungenial must be the residence, contrast with which renders an inn so
attractive; and we must bear in mind that the winsome aspect they wear in
English literature is based on their casual and temporary enjoyment; it is
as recreative, not abiding places, that they are usually introduced; and,
in an imaginative point of view, our sense of the appropriate is gratified
by these landmarks of our precarious destiny, for we are but 'pilgrims and
sojourners on the earth.' Jeremy Taylor compared human life to an inn, and
Archbishop Leighton used to say he would prefer to die in one.


  'High is our calling, friend! Creative Art,
    Whether the instrument of words she use,
    Or pencil pregnant with ethereal hues,
  Demands the service of a mind and heart,
  Though sensitive, yet in their weakest part
    Heroically fashioned--to infuse
    Faith in the whispers of the lonely muse,
  While the whole world seems adverse to desert.'

Some of the fondest illusions of our student-life and companionship were
based on literary fame. The only individuals, of the male gender, who then
seemed to us (indiscriminate and mutual lovers of literature) worthy of
admiration and sympathy, were authors. Our ideal of felicity was the
consciousness of distributing ideas of vital significance, and causing
multitudes to share a sentiment born in a lonely heart. The most real and
permanent sway of which man is capable we imagined that of ruling and
cheering the minds of others through the medium of literature. Our herbals
were made up of flowers from the graves of authors; their signatures were
our only autographs. The visions that haunted us were little else than a
boundless panorama that displayed scenes in their lives. We used
continually to see, in fancy, Petrarch beside a fountain, under a laurel,
with the sweet _penseroso_-look visible in his portraits; Dante in the
corridor of a monastery, his palm laid on a friar's breast, and his stern
features softened as he craved the only blessing life retained for
him--_peace_; rustic Burns, with his dark eye proudly meeting the curious
stare of an Edinburgh coterie; Camoens breasting the waves with the
_Lusiad_ between his teeth; Johnson appalling Boswell with his emphatic
'_Sir_;' Milton--his head like that of a saint encircled with rays--seated
at the organ; Shakspeare walking serenely, and with a benign and majestic
countenance, beside the Avon; Steele jocosely presiding at table with
liveried bailiffs to pass the dishes; the bright face of Pope looming up
from his deformed body in the cool twilight of a grotto; Voltaire's sneer
withering an auditor through a cloud of snuff; Molière reading his new
comedy to the old woman; Landor standing in the ilex path of a Tuscan
villa; Savage asleep on a bulk at midnight, in one of the London parks;
Dryden seated in oracular dignity in his coffee-house arm-chair;
Metastasio comparing notes with a handsome _prima donna_ at Vienna;
Alfieri with a magnificent steed in the midst of the Alps; Swift stealing
an interview with Miss Johnson, or chuckling over a chapter of _Gulliver_;
the funeral pyre of Shelley lighting up a solitary crag on the shores of
the Mediterranean; and Byron, with marble brow and rolling eye, guiding
the helm of a storm-tossed boat on the Lake of Geneva! Such were a few
only of the _tableaux_ that haunted our imagination. We echoed heartily
Akenside's protest against the sermon on Glory:

    'Come, then, tell me, sage divine,
      Is it an offence to own
    That our bosoms e'er incline
      Towards immortal glory's throne?
    For with me nor pomp nor pleasure,
    Bourbon's might, Braganza's treasure,
    So can fancy's dream rejoice,
    So conciliate reason's choice,
  As one approving word of her impartial voice.

    'If to spurn at noble praise
      Be the passport to thy heaven;
    Follow thou those gloomy ways;
      No such law to me was given;
    Nor, I trust, shall I deplore me,
    Faring like my friends before me;
    Nor a holier place desire
    Than Timoleon's arms acquire,
  And Tully's curule chair, and Milton's golden lyre.'

In our passion for native authors we revered the memory of Brockden Brown,
and detected in his romantic studies the germs of the supernatural school
of fiction; we nearly suffocated ourselves in the crowded gallery of the
old church at Cambridge, listening to Sprague's _Phi Beta Kappa_ poem; and
often watched the spiritual figure of the 'Idle Man,' and gazed on the
white locks of our venerable painter, with his 'Monaldi' and 'Paint King'
vividly remembered. We wearied an old friend of Brainard's by making him
repeat anecdotes of the poet; and have spent hours in the French
coffee-house which Halleck once frequented, eliciting from him criticisms,
anecdotes, or recitations of Campbell. New Haven people that came in our
way were obliged to tell all they could remember of the vagaries of
Percival, and the elegant hospitality of Hillhouse. We have followed Judge
Hopkinson through the rectangular streets of his native metropolis, with
the tune of _Hail, Columbia!_ humming in our ears; and kept a curious eye
on Howard Payne through a whole evening party, fondly cognizant of _Sweet
Home_. Beaumont and Fletcher were our Damon and Pythias. The memorable
occurrence of our childhood was the advent of a new Waverley novel, and of
our youth a fresh _Edinburgh Review_. We loved plum-colour because poor
Goldy was vain of his coat of that hue; and champagne, partly because
Schiller used to drink it when writing; we saved orange-peel because the
author of _The Rambler_ liked it; and put ourselves on a course of
tar-water, in imitation of Berkeley. Roast pig had a double relish for us
after we had read Elia's dissertation thereon. We associated goldfish and
china jars with Gray, skulls with Dr. Young, the leap of a sturgeon in the
Hudson with Drake's 'Culprit Fay,' pine-trees with Ossian, stained-glass
windows with Keats (who set one in an immortal verse), fortifications with
Uncle Toby, literary breakfasts with Rogers, waterfowl with Bryant,
foundlings with Rousseau, letter-writing with Madame de Sévigné, bread and
butter with the author of _Werther_, daisies with Burns, and primroses
with Wordsworth. Mrs. Thrale's acceptance of Piozzi was a serious trouble
to our minds; and whether 'little Burney' would be happy after her
marriage with the noble _emigré_ was a problem that made us really anxious
until the second part of her _Diary_ was procurable and relieved our
solicitude. An unpatriotic antipathy to the Pilgrim Fathers was quelled by
the melodious pæan of Mrs. Hemans; and we kept vigils before a portrait of
Mrs. Norton, at an artist's studio, with a chivalric desire to avenge her

This enthusiasm for authors was not altogether the result of a literary
idiosyncrasy or local influences; it grew out of a consciousness of
personal obligation. Mrs. Radcliffe, Miss Porter, and Maturin were the
clandestine intimates of childhood; the English poets became the
confidants of youthful sentiment, which met but a cool reception from
those by whom we were surrounded; and when judgment was enough matured to
discriminate the charms of style, a new world opened under the guidance of
Mackenzie and Sterne, Lady Montagu and Sir Thomas Browne. Books are
endeared, like people, by the force of circumstances; ideal tendencies, a
spirit of inquiry, a thirst for sympathy, will often drive minds whose
environment is uncongenial to seek therein what is elsewhere denied; and
when in early life this resource becomes habitual, it is not surprising
that a deep personal feeling should be gradually engendered, and that we
should come to regard favourite authors as the most reliable and dearest
of our companions; and this without an inkling of pedantry or a title to
scholarship, but from a thoroughly human impulse intellectually
vindicating itself. To such a pitch did the feeling once possess us that
we resented any imputation cast upon our chosen authors as if they were
actual friends. We honoured the critic that defended Bacon from the charge
of meanness, and longed to applaud his prowess; we disliked to admit the
evidence that Johnson was dogmatic, and ascribed his arrogance to a kind
of excusable horse-play; we contended that Thomson was not lazy, but
encouraged ease to escape ambition; we grew very warm if any one really
believed Shelley an atheist, and argued that his faith transcended that of
the majority of so-called Christians; we never would admit that Sterne was
heartless, or Moore a toady. We could have embraced Dr. Madden after
reading his _Infirmities of Genius_, and thought the most brave of
Sidney's deeds his _Defence of Poesy_. How we longed to go a-fishing with
Walton, to walk in Cowley's garden, to see Roscoe's library, to hear
Coleridge talk, to feel the grasp of Burns's hand, to drink whisky with
John Wilson, to pat Scott's dogs, to go to the theatre with Lamb, to
listen to D'Israeli the elder's anecdotes, to look on the lakes of
Westmoreland at the side of Wordsworth, and to ride through 'our village'
in Miss Mitford's pony chaise!

The first time we saw an author was an epoch. It was in a church. Some one
whispered, just as the sermon began, that a lady in the next pew was the
writer of a moral tale then rated high in our little circle. We did
nothing the rest of the service but watch and speculate upon this, to us,
wonderful personage. We were disappointed at her every-day look and
attire; there was no fine frenzy in eye or gesture; there she sat, for all
the world like any other lady--mild, quiet, and attentive. We were
somewhat consoled by noting the extreme paleness of her complexion, and a
kind of abstraction in her gaze. Her habiliments were dark and faded; in
fact, as we afterward discovered, she was poor, and her book had been
printed by subscription. Thenceforth, for a long time, we imagined all
female authors were dressed in black, looked pensive, and had no colour.
This illusion, however, was banished, some years later, when we were taken
to a literary _soirée_ where all the female authors were fat, dressed in a
variety of colours, and, instead of being melancholy, had an overwhelming
vivacity that made us realize how the type had changed. By degrees we
became enlightened, and our authormania cooled. In the first place, we
were shocked by seeing a pathetic writer, whose universal tribute was
tears, in a flashy vest; then we encountered a psychologist, whose forte
was sublimity, enacting the part of a mendicant; it was our misfortune to
conduct a bard, whose highly-imaginative strain had often roused our
aspirations, home from a party in a state of inebriety; one author we were
prepared to love turned out a disagreeable egotist; another wearied us by
the exactions of his vanity; a third repelled by intense affectation, and
a fourth by the bitterness of his comments; one, who had written only the
most refined sentiment, proved, upon acquaintance, an acute Yankee; one,
who had sung the beauty of nature, we found to be an inveterate dandy; and
another, whose expressed ideas betokened excess of delicacy, grossly
violated the ordinary instincts of gentle blood.

On one of our earliest visits to ------, the illusive charm attached to
the idea of a female author became, indeed, changed to a horror from which
we have never wholly recovered. We were requested to escort a lady to what
we understood was an ordinary social gathering. After entering a rather
small and somewhat obscure drawing-room, saluting the hostess, and taking
the proffered seat, we were struck with the formal arrangement of the
company. They formed an unbroken row along the walls of the room, except
at one end, at which stood a table surmounted by an astral lamp; and in an
arm-chair beside it, in studied attitude, like one _poséd_ for a
daguerreotype, sat a woman of masculine proportions, coarse features, and
hair between yellow and red, which fell in unkempt masses down each side
of her broad face. She was clad in white muslin of an antiquated fashion.
We noticed that the guests cast looks, partly of curiosity, partly of
uneasiness, upon this Herculean female, who rolled her eyes occasionally,
and smiled on us all with a kind of complacent pity. We ventured, amidst
the silence, to ask our neighbour the name of the gigantic unknown. She
appeared extremely surprised at the very natural question. 'Why, don't you
know? We're invited here to meet her, and, I assure you, it is a rare
privilege. That is Mrs. Jones, the celebrated author of the _Affianced
One_!' At this moment a brisk little woman in the corner, with accents
slightly tremulous, and a manner intended to be very _nonchalant_, broke
the uncomfortable hush of the room. 'My dear Mrs. Jones,' said she, 'as
one of your earliest and most fervent admirers, allow me to inquire if
your health does not suffer from the intense state of feeling in which you
evidently write?' The Amazonian novelist sighed--it was funny to see that
operation on so large a scale,--and then, in a voice so like the rougher
sex that we began to think she was a man in disguise, replied: 'When I
reach the catastrophe of my stories, it is not uncommon for me to faint
dead away; and, as I always write in a room by myself, it has happened
more than once that I have been found stretched, miserable and cold, on
the floor, with a pen grasped in my fingers, and the carpet littered with
manuscript blotted with tears!' The Siddonian pathos of this announcement
sent a thrill round the circle; glances of admiration and pity were thrown
upon the self-immolated victim at the shrine of letters, and other
inquiries were adventured, which elicited equally impressive replies,
until the psychological throes of authorship--particularly in the female
gender--assumed the aspect of an experience combined of epilepsy and
nightmare. The tragic egotism of these revelations at length overcame our
patience; and, leaving our fair companion to another's escort, we slipped
out of the room. A thunder-storm had arisen; the rain was pouring down in
torrents; upon the door-steps we encountered a very pale, thin, little
man, with an umbrella under his arm and a pair of overshoes in his hands.
As we passed, he addressed us in a very meek and frightened voice:
'Please, sirs, is there a party here?' 'Yes.' 'Please, sirs, is the
celebrated Mrs. Jones here?' 'Yes.' 'Please, sirs, do you think I could
step into the entry? I'm Mr. Jones!'

Hastening to our lodgings in another metropolis at twilight, we passed a
dwarf standing on a threshold, who leaped down and caught us by the arm,
eagerly pronouncing our name, and requesting a moment's interview. He led
the way to a little room lighted by a single candle, closed the door, and,
with a quivering impatience of gesture, introduced himself. We remembered
his name at once. He was the author of a feeble imitation of Pope. We
never beheld such an ogre. His little green eyes, ape-like limbs, and
expression indicative of sensitiveness and conceit, in that lone and dusky
cabinet, were appalling. From a cupboard he took down what we supposed to
be a ledger, and, placing it on the table, gave an emphatic slap to the
worn brown cover. 'There,' said he, 'is garnered the labour of years. I
have heard of your enthusiasm for authors, and I will read you specimens
of a poem destined to see the light a twelvemonth hence. Listen!' It was
an epic in blank verse--dreary, monotonous, and verbose. His recitation
was like the refrain of a bull-frog; it grated on the ear and made the
nerves shrink. The candle burned thick; the air seemed mephitic, and in a
little while we were oppressed and fevered as by a glamour cast over our
brain; we looked toward the door and moved uneasily; the green eye was
cast fiercely up from the page, and the tone of the deformed became
malicious. We had heard of his vindictive spirit, and felt as if in the
cave of an imp spellbound and helpless. The complacent hardihood with
which he read on made us inwardly frantic. We thought of the fair being
who waited for us at a neighbouring fireside, of the free air we had
quitted, and we writhed under the infliction. Hours passed; a numb,
half-unconscious sense of misery stole over us, and still the little demon
glared and spouted. 'Words, words, words'--how detestable seemed they
then! At last, in a fit of desperation, we clapped our hand to our
forehead, and murmuring something about a congestive tendency, sprang up,
ran through the hall and out at the door, and looking back, after hurrying
on a few yards, beheld the dwarf, with his enormous book clasped to his
heart, gazing after us with the implacable look of a disappointed savage.

Literature is no more regulated by accident than nature; lucky hits and
the tricks of pencraft are as temporary as all other artificial
expedients. The authors truly remembered and loved are _men_ in the best
sense of the term; the human, the individual informs and stamps their
books with an image or an effluence not born of will or mere ingenuity,
but emanating from the soul; and this is the quality that endears and
perpetuates their fame. Hence Goldsmith is beloved, Milton reverenced, and
the grave of Burns a 'Mecca of the mind.' At the commencement of the last
century there appeared in the _London Gazette_ the offer of a reward of
fifty pounds for the discovery of a certain person thus described: 'A
middle-sized, spare man, about forty years of age, of a brown complexion
and dark brown hair, though he wears a wig, having a hooked nose, a sharp
chin, gray eyes, and a large mouth.' This was Daniel Defoe, the victim of
partisan injustice, for whose rights every schoolboy would fight now, out
of sheer gratitude to the author of _Robinson Crusoe_. Let the writers who
debase authorship into a perversion of history, a sickly medium for
egotistical rhetoric, a gross theft of antecedent labours, a base vehicle
for spite, or a mechanical knack of book-making, realize that they are
foredoomed to contempt, and that character is as little disguised by types
as by costume. The genuine author is recognized at once; his integrity is

It was sunset on the Arno. Far down the river, over mountain ranges where
snow yet lingered, a warm tint, half rose and half amethyst, glowed along
the horizon; beside the low parapet that bordered the street people were
loitering back from their afternoon promenade at the Cascine: here a
priest, there a soldier, now an Englishman on horseback, and then a
bearded artist; sometimes an oval-faced _contadina_, the broad brim of
whose finely-woven straw hat flapped over his eyes of mellow jet; and
again a trig nurse, with Saxon ringlets, dragging a petulant urchin along;
and over all these groups and figures was shed the beautiful smile of
parting day; and by them, under graceful bridges, flowed the turbid
stream, its volume doubled by the spring freshets. I surveyed the panorama
from an overhanging balcony, where I stood awaiting the appearance of a
friend upon whom I had called. Hearing a movement behind, I stepped back
into the _salon_, and found a middle-aged gentleman seated on a divan near
the window. We exchanged salutations and began to converse. He alluded, in
unexceptionable English, to the beauty of the hour. 'I came here from
Geneva,' he said. 'There I work--in Italy I recreate; and it is wonderful
how this country ministers to intellectual repose, even by the very
associations it excites. We feel a dream-like relation with the past, and
enter readily, for a time, into the _dolce-farniente_ spirit of the
people; and then return to task-work invigorated and with new zest.' There
was a bland, self-possessed, and paternal look about this chance
acquaintance that insensibly won my confidence and respect. He was the
image of a wise and serene maturity. His ample brow, his strong physique,
his affable manner, and kindly eye, suggested experience, intelligence,
and benignity. I was certain that he was a philosopher of some kind, and
fancied him an optimist; but the utter absence of pretension and the
simple candour of his address gave no hint of a man of renown.
Accordingly, I soon found myself engaged in a most pleasant, and to me
instructive colloquy. Following up the hint he had thrown out, I spoke of
the difficulty of combining mental toil with health--reverting in my own
mind to our American race of scholars, a majority of whom are confirmed
invalids. 'Ah!' said he, 'there is vast error on this subject. Be assured
that we were intended for intellectual labour, and that there is a way of
making it subservient to health. I will tell you a few rules founded on
experience. Vary the kind of work--let it be research one hour, meditation
another; collation to-day, and revision to-morrow. Do this on system; give
the first part of the day to the hardest study, the afternoon to exercise,
and the evening to social intercourse; let the mind be tasked when the
brain is most vigorous--that is, after sleep; and woo the latter blessing,
not in the feverish hour of thought and emotion, but after the gentle
exercise of the mind, which comes from pastime and friendliness.' I looked
at the hale, contented face of the speaker, about whom no sign of nervous
irritability or exhaustion was discoverable, and asked myself what
experience of mental toil could have led him to such inferences. He looked
like a temperate country gentleman, or unambitious and well-to-do citizen.
He then spoke of the changes he observed upon each successive visit to
Italy, of the climate of Switzerland, and the society of Geneva; then he
referred to America, divining at once that it was my country, and
exhibiting entire familiarity with all that had been accomplished there in
literature. He betrayed a keen sense of enjoyment, recognized a genial
influence in the scene before us, and gradually infected me with that
agreeable feeling only to be derived from what poor Cowper used to call
'comfortable people.' I led him to speak of his own method of life, which
was one of the most philosophical order. He considered occasional travel
and prudent habits the best _hygiène_ for a man of sedentary pursuits; and
the great secret both of health and successful industry the absolute
yielding up of one's consciousness to the business and the diversion of
the hour--never permitting the one to infringe in the least degree upon
the other. I felt an instinctive respect toward him, but at the same time
entirely at home in his company; the gentleman and the scholar appeared to
me admirably fused in, without overlaying, the man. Presently the friend
we mutually expected came in, and introduced me to Sismondi. I was fresh
from his _Italian Republics_ and _Literature of the South of Europe_, and
he realized my ideal of a humane and earnest historian.

Quite in contrast with this tranquil and robust votary of letters was the
appearance and manner of Silvio Pellico. No one who has ever read the
chronicle of his imprisonments can forget the gentle and aspiring nature
just blooming into poetic development, which, by the relentless fiat of
Austrian tyranny, was cut off in a moment from home, intelligent
companionship, and graceful activity, and subjected to the loneliness,
privation, and torments of long and solitary confinement; nor is the
spirit in which he met the bitter reverse less memorable than its tragic
detail--recorded with so much simplicity, and borne with such loving
faith. When I arrived in Turin he was still an object of espionage, and it
was needful to seek him with caution. Agreeably to instructions previously
received, I went to a _café_ near the Strada Alfieri, just at nightfall,
and watched for the arrival of an _abbé_ remarkable for his manly beauty.
I handed him the card of a mutual friend, and made known my wishes. The
next day he conducted me through several arcades, and by many a group of
noble-looking Piedmontese soldiers, to a gateway, thence up a long flight
of steps to a door, at which he gave a significant knock. In a few moments
it was quietly opened. He whispered to the old _serva_, and we tarried in
an ante-chamber until a diminutive figure in black appeared, who received
me with a pensive kindliness that, to one acquainted with _Le Mie
Prigioni_, was fraught with pathos. I beheld in the pallor of that mild
face and expanded brow, and the purblind eyes, the blight of a dungeon.
His manner was subdued and nervous, and his very tones melancholy. I was
unprepared to find, after years of liberty, the effects of his experience
so visible, and felt almost guilty of profane curiosity in having thus
intruded upon his cherished seclusion. I had known other victims of the
same infernal tyranny; but they were men of sterner mould, who had
resisted their cruel fate by the force of will rather than the patience of
resignation. Pellico's very delicacy of organization barbed the arrows of
persecution; and when at length he was released, loneliness, hope
deferred, and mental torture had crushed the energy of his nature. The
sweetness of his autobiography was but the fragrance of the trampled
flower--too unelastic ever again to rise up in its early beauty. A smile
lighted up his brooding expression when I told him of the deep sympathy
his book had excited in America, and he grasped my hand with momentary
ardour; but the man too plainly reflected the martyr. The stifling air he
breathed under the leads of Venice and the damps of his Spielberg cell
seemed yet to weigh upon his soul; no glimmer of the patriotic fire which
beams from Francesca da Rimini, no ray of the vivacious observation that
beguiled his solitude and quickened his pen, redeemed the hopeless air of
the captive poet; the shadow of the power he had braved yet lay on his
form and face; and only the solace of filial love and the consolations of
religion gave hope to his existence.

That is but a vulgar idea of authorship which estimates its worth by the
caprices of fashion or the prestige of immediate success. Like art, its
value is intrinsic. There are books, as there are pictures, which do not
catch the thoughtless eye; and yet are the gems of the virtuoso, the
oracles of the philosopher, and the consolations of the poet. We love
authors, as we love individuals, according to our latent affinities; and
the extent of the popular appreciation is no more a standard to us than
the world's estimate of our friend, whose nature we have tested by
faithful companionship and sympathetic intercourse. He who has not the
mental independence to be loyal to his own intellectual benefactors is as
much a heathen as one who repudiates his natural kin. Indeed, an honest
soul clings more tenaciously to neglected merit in authors as in men;
there is a chivalry of taste as of manners. Doubtless Lamb's zest for the
old English dramatists, Addison's admiration of Milton's poetry, and
Carlyle's devotion to German favourites, were all the more earnest and
keen because they were ignored by their neighbours. In the library, an
original mind is conscious of special and comparatively obscure friends;
as the lover of nature has his pet flower, and the lover of art his
favourite old master. It is well to obey these decided idiosyncrasies.
They point, like the divining-rod, to hidden streams peculiarly adapted to
our refreshment. I knew an old merchant that read no book except Boswell's
_Johnson_, and a black and hump-backed cook whose only imaginative feast
was the _Arabian Nights_.

No one really can, indeed, love authors as a class without a catholic
taste. If thus equipped, how inexhaustible the field! He is independent of
the world. Is he retrospective in mood? Plutarch will array before him a
procession of heroes and sages. Does he yearn for conviviality? Fielding
will take him to a jolly tavern. Is he eager for intellectual communion?
Landor is at hand with a choice of 'imaginary conversations.' Would he
exercise causality? Bishop Butler will put to the test his power of
reasoning. Is he in need of a little gossip by way of recreation? Horace
Walpole will amuse by the hour. Is the society of a sensible woman wanted?
Call in Maria Edgeworth or Jane Austin. Is the bitterness of a jilted
lover in his heart? _Locksley Hall_ will relieve it. Would he stroll in
the forest? Evelyn or Bryant will take him there in a moment. By the
sea-shore? Crabbe and Byron are sympathetic guides. Are his thoughts
comprehensive and inclined for the generalities of literature? Open De
Staël or Hallam.

The relation of authorship to society varies with political influences and
average culture. The class of degraded penwrights so often alluded to by
Fielding, the ferocious quarrels recorded of and by Pope and Johnson with
critics and publishers, are phases of literary life, which, if not
extinct, have become essentially modified with the progress of
civilization. Yet a quite recent quarterly reviewer speaks of this class
of men as 'a kind of ticket-of-leave lunatics;' and modern experiences, if
less dark than old annals of Grub Street, include some quite as remarkable
instances of reckless extravagance in prosperity and barbarous neglect in
adversity. The Bohemian class is confined to no epoch or country. Yet
charming is the group of authors that illustrate and signalize every
period of British history--an intellectual alleviation to the monotony of
fashionable, and the rancour of political life. Every era of French
government also has its brilliant _salon_ of philosophers and poets. Mrs.
Carter and Mrs. Montagu assembled, in their day, as exclusive a coterie as
used to cluster about Dryden's chair, dine with Sir Joshua Reynolds, keep
Burns's birthday at Edinburgh with Scott at the head of the table, rally
at Jeffrey's call, dispute with Hume, chat over Rogers's breakfast,
fraternize with the lakers at Keswick and Grasmere, or pass an evening
with Lamb. From the days of Shakspeare to those of Evelyn and Sydney
Smith, from La Fontaine to Lamartine, from Klopstock to Goëthe, and from
Mather to Channing, every cultivated city abroad and at home has boasted
its author circle, to which kindred tastes ever revert with zest, and
whose traditions as well as 'works' prolong a spell more refined and
memorable than any other social prestige. Weimar, Bordeaux, Florence,
Edinburgh, and Boston, as well as London and Paris, are thus consecrated
by reminiscences of Goëthe, Schiller, Montaigne, Alfieri, Wilson,
Mackenzie, some Concord Sage, or Spanish Historian, some Autocrat, Wizard
of the North, or Ettrick Shepherd of the pen. To have seen Niccolini on
the 'Lung' Arno; Elizabeth Browning at a Casa Guidi window; Rossini, the
historical novelist, at a bookstore in Pisa; Hillhouse under the New Haven
elms; Hawthorne at the Athenæum; Elia at his India-house desk; poor Heine
on his 'mattress grave,' or Freiligrath at his bank-counter, requires but
the perspective of time to be as impressive or winsome an experience as
the first survivors of Pope, Chatterton, Milton, or Burke realized in
rehearsing their personal cognizance of these famous authors. Such is the
instinctive attraction of congenial or eminent authorship. If this subject
were nomenclated and analyzed in the naturalistic way, there is scarcely a
sphere of humanity or a form of character which might not be identified
with or illustrated by authorship; the mad, the mendicant, the
charlatan--combative, contemplative, heroic, and sybarite,--are but a few
of the varieties which literary biography reveals. Their amours, diseases,
profits, calamities, triumphs, quarrels, personal tastes and habits,
domestic life, and most individual traits and fortunes, have been minutely
recorded, so as to form, on the whole, the best and most accessible
psychological cabinet for the student of human nature. Of no other class
of men and women with whom we never had personal acquaintance, do we know
so many details; Chatterton's despair, Young's skull-light, Milton's
organ, Berkeley's tar-water, Coleridge's opium, Swift's lady-loves,
Cowper's hymns and hares, Rogers's table-talk, Scott's dogs, Steele's
debts, Lamb's folios, are as familiar to us as if they appertained to some
neighbour or kinsman. The prisons of Cervantes, Raleigh, Pellico, Hunt,
and Montgomery, have a pathetic charm which no other record of captivity
boasts. Even the self-delusions of authors awaken a considerate interest;
the mistaken judgment of Petrarch and Milton, in regard to the comparative
merit of their writings; and the exaggerated estimate of their own verses
by such able statesmen as Frederic and Richelieu, tend to enhance the
mysteries of the craft and sanction its illusions. But it must be
confessed that the romance of authorship is fast disappearing in its
reality; so numerous have become the votaries of a once rare pursuit, so
common the renown, so universal the practice, that the individual and
characteristic, the curious and interesting elements thereof, are more and
more merged in the commonplace and familiar.

A distinction has often been insisted on between the critical and the
creative in literature; but modern criticism, in its best development, is
essentially reproductive; so intimate, deep, and affluent is its dealing
with authors, that they often are restored in all their vital worth; and
the process has endeared such writers as Lamb, Hazlitt, Carlyle, Arnold,
and St. Beuve, as true intellectual benefactors. Such philosophical and
æsthetic interpreters of authorship have engendered an eclectic
appreciation and enjoyment of authors, and made us what Allston calls
'wide likers.' Hence the prevalence and promise of what may be called a
cosmopolitan, in distinction to a provincial taste, whereby we learn to
value the greatest diversities of style, subject, and character in
literature. Fastidious and severely disciplined minds, indeed, coldly
ignore certain authors, and warmly espouse others; but to a spirit at once
generous and cultivated, sympathetic and intelligent, though a special
charm will invest favourite authors, all of the fraternity who are genuine
have a recognized claim to grateful recognition; and even the unequal and
incongruous development of modern English literature, incident to the
absence of what Matthew Arnold calls 'any centre of intelligent and urbane
spirit,' like the French Academy. Desirable as such a discipline and
standard is in quelling eccentricity and incorrectness, the free and
energetic development, the honest, though sometimes rude, exercise of
authorship in our vernacular, is no small compensation. We confess a
partiality for the richly-diversified phases of mental life thus
induced--an eclectic relish for the varieties of national and personal
characteristics. The artistic French, the meditative German, the practical
English writers, have each their attraction and use; the desultory style
of Richter, the quaint individuality of Lamb, the verbose dignity of
Johnson, the mosaic finish of Gray, the grotesque eloquence of Carlyle,
the flowing rhetoric of Macaulay, Wordsworth's pastoral isolation, Scott's
feudal enthusiasm, Byron's intense consciousness, Shelley's disinterested
idealism, the homely images of Crabbe, and the sensuous luxury of Keats,
are all, in their way and at times, accordant with our mental wants,
congenial to our receptive moods. Why should not we tolerate and enjoy the
various elements of literature as fully and fondly as those of nature and
society? Does it not argue a narrowness of mind inconsistent with genuine
intellectual and moral health to perversely confine our appreciation of
authorship to certain schools, forms, and individuals? Are not the
philosophical, the piquant, the earnest, the playful, the solemn, gay,
impressive, winsome, acute, wise, and humorous traits and triumphs of
written thought as legitimate, in their infinite variety, as means of
human culture, discipline, and pleasure, as the myriad tints and tones of
nature, and the diversities of character and manners? A true lover of
authors will not only find something to enjoy and appropriate in the most
diverse forms of expression and qualities of genius, both in the
literature of power and in that of knowledge as finely discriminated by De
Quincey; but will separate the inspired and the journeyman work of each
author, and do justice to what is genuine while repudiating the
conventional. If what Goëthe maintained is literally true, and genuine
authorship is the reflex of consciousness upon outward life, then all its
spontaneous products must have a vital element of human life, love, and
truth, more or less congenial to all readers of candid, clear, and humane
instincts: for we agree with a liberal and acute critic, when he says that
the gift of literary genius 'lies in the faculty of being happily inspired
by a certain intellectual and spiritual atmosphere--by a certain order of
ideas; of dealing divinely with these ideas, presenting them in the most
effective and attractive combinations, making beautiful works of them.'

It is a new and glorious era in our experience of books when the vital
significance of authorship is heartily realized; dilletantism, excusable
in the novice, gives place to the worship of truth. To write for the mere
sake of writing, to amuse with the pen, becomes in our estimation what it
is--a thing of less interest than the most simple and familiar phenomena
of nature. As life reveals itself, and character matures, we long, above
all, for reality; we perceive that growth is our welfare, and that
earnestness, faith, and new truth are the only joy of a manly intellect.
Then we read to nerve our moral energies, to extend the scope of
perception, and to deepen the experience of the soul: the butterflies of
literature allure no longer; the imitators we pass by; but the deep
thinkers, the original, the brave, lead us on to explore, analyze, and
conquer. 'Literature,' says Schlegel, 'according to the spirit in which it
is pursued, is an infamy, a pastime, a dry labour, a handicraft, an art, a
science, a virtue;' and this diversity is true, not only of authors in
general, but sometimes of the same individual. Many a poet, whose early
utterance was inspired, has degenerated into a hack, a truckster, and a
mercenary penman; and many a youthful dabbler in letters, by some deep
experience, has been matured into the bold advocate or heroic pioneer in
the world of thought.

We soon learn heartily to sympathize with one of the unfortunate originals
of Goëthe's _Werther_, and declare with him,--'I have resolved in future
to take good care how I write anything to an author, save what all the
world may see;' only extending the prudential resolve to
conversation,--for whatever advance has been made in refinement in the use
of language, in the abuse of confidence modern writers are so destitute of
scruples, that the sanctities of life and social intercourse have no
greater or more profane intruder than the author.

Nor is the 'heart of courtesy' the only high quality risked by the
vocation; it almost seems, in vain and unchivalric natures, to sap manhood
itself. Some one has said,--'The man who has learned to read has lost one
portion of his courage; if he writes verses, he has lost a double
portion.' There is a fatal fluency, an arrogant expressiveness, whereby
the robust and honest material of character is, as it were, evaporated in
words; for nothing characterizes the genuine author more than a reticent
tone, an integrity of utterance, which makes it apparent that his
authorship, instead of a graft, is a growth of his best humanity. So
proverbial is the social barrenness of the craft, in its average
conventional scope, that a facetious Florentine barber, in one of the best
of modern historical novels, _Romola_, is quite appropriately made to
say,--'I am sorely afraid that the good wine of my understanding is going
to run off at the spigot of authorship, and I shall be left an empty cask,
with an odour of dregs, like many other incomparable geniuses of my
acquaintance.' All meanness is disenchanting; but selfish economy of
intellectual treasures, and egotistical insensibility to the merit of
others, not only robs the author of all sympathetic charm, but almost
invariably signalizes his essential mediocrity or unfounded pretensions.

Under the two diverse aspects of an inspiration and a career, authorship
thus offers the extremes of attraction and antagonism to candid and
earnest souls; if the spontaneous gift and charm of the former are justly
endeared to all lovers of humanity, the artificial conditions, worldly
motives, and forced relations of the latter, often dispel the illusions
of fame in the realities of vulgar notoriety and mercenary zeal. We can
well understand how a reverent, delicate, and true nature, like Maurice de
Guèrin, shrinks from professional authorship, when the original beauty and
truth of his utterances led his friends to urge that vocation upon him:
'The literary career,' he writes, 'seems to me unreal, both in its own
essence and in the rewards one seeks from it; and, therefore, fatally
marred by a secret absurdity.'

At this moment our vernacular is the only tongue in which men can express
themselves fearlessly; it appropriately enshrines the literature of
freedom. We seldom realize this noble distinction of the English language.
I was half-asleep one afternoon, in the cabin of a steamer in the Bay of
Naples, when suddenly the violent pitching of the vessel ceased, and I
hastened on deck to learn the reason of the change, and found, to my
surprise, that we were returning into the harbour, the captain having
decided that it was too great a risk to venture to sea in such a gale.
Pleasant as was the transition from tossing waves to smooth water, every
traveller in that region who has gone through the business of a
departure--the passport signatures, the tussle with porters, drivers, and
boatmen, the leave-takings, packing-ups, directions at post-office and
banker's, an embarkation in the midst of cries, rushings to and fro,
disputes for gratuities, beggars, missing baggage, attempts to secure a
berth, wringing of hands, waving of handkerchiefs, and, it may be,
embraces at parting,--every traveller, cognizant of this experience, will
understand how vexatious it was, within an hour after this tantalizing
process, to find one's self, in travelling costume, once more in the city
for the afternoon, with no lodging, no appointment, and no sight-seeing to
do. I was not long in resolving to visit once more my old dining-place,
the '_Corona di Ferro_.' At the opposite table to that at which I was
seated, appeared a handsome young man, with a dark, intelligent eye, and a
bearing indicative of spirit and courtesy. Seeing me hesitate over the
_carte_, he suggested a dish which had proved _molto buono_ that day, and
having followed the kindly counsel, we engaged in a desultory chat about
the weather, the opera, the last news from France, &c., and by the time
dessert came on, had established quite a pleasant understanding. At length
he made an inquiry based upon the idea that he was addressing an
Englishman. I corrected the error, and his politeness at once warmed into
enthusiasm at the discovery that he was talking with an American. After
dinner he invited me to his apartments. I found the sitting-room adorned
with pictures and littered with books. Having ordered coffee, we were soon
engaged in a serious discussion of literary subjects, in which my new
friend proved a tasteful votary. He wished for a definite statement as to
the extent of the liberty of the press in the United States. I explained
it; and he became highly excited, paced the room, quoted Alfieri, sighed,
pressed his brow, and at length flung himself into a chair, declaring
that, if it were not for kindred who had claims upon him, he would
emigrate at once to America. To account for his feelings, he showed me a
pile of MSS., the publication of which had been prohibited by the
government censors on account of their liberal sentiment. He then
exhibited several beautiful poems founded on scientific truths, yet
mystically involving great and humane principles--a _ruse_ he had been
compelled to resort to in order to express publicly his opinions. As I
recognized the evidences of genius, watched his chafed mood, and noted his
manly spirit, I felt deeply the crushing influence of despotism upon
authorship, and realized the natural antagonism between poets and kings.

There is no greater fallacy than that involved in the notion of an
essential diversity between an author and his books. Professed opinions do
not reveal the truth of character, but unconscious phases of style, habits
of thought, and tones of expression, like what is called natural
language, make us thoroughly acquainted with the man. Is not Jeremy
Taylor's religious sentiment manifest in the very method of his utterance?
Can we not see at a glance the improvidence and the fascination of
Sheridan in the tenor of his plays? Who would not avouch the honesty of
John L. Stephens after reading his travels? What reverent heart is not
magnetized by the genuineness of devotion in Watts, however crudely
expressed? Is not prudence signified in the very style of Franklin? Are we
not braced with the self-confident frankness of Cooper in the spirit as
well as the characters of his nautical and forest tales? Critics betray
their arrogant temper under the most courteous phrases; a gentleman is
still a gentleman, and a puppy a puppy, on paper as in life; the sham and
the true are equally discernible in print and in society. Montaigne
exhibits his worldly wisdom as plainly in his essays as he ever did in his
acts. It is not, therefore, the insidious but the obvious perils of
authorship that threaten the novice. Lamentable is it to see mediocre men
take up as a vocation either literature or art, for in both a certain
amount of _character_ alone insures respectability; and this is less
requisite in pursuits that do not so openly challenge observation.

One day, I was told a gentleman had called and waited for me in the
drawing-room. As I entered, he was gazing from the window in the shadow of
a damask curtain, which threw a warm tint upon as strongly moulded a face
as I remembered to have seen in one so young. His forehead was compactly
rounded, his hair curly and raven, and his eye dark and luminous. As I
approached, he handed me a note of introduction from a friend, refused the
proffered seat, and wore so earnest and grave an expression that I almost
thought he was the bearer of a challenge. 'Sir,' he began, 'I have come to
you for sympathy in a great undertaking. I wish to be cheered in a
mission, encouraged in a career, advised in an experiment.' There was a
certain wildness in the manner of this sententious address which breathed
of an excited fancy. I expressed a willingness to aid him to the extent of
my humble ability. He drew a thick packet from his coat, and proceeded: 'I
am a native of a little village in a neighbouring State. My father is an
agriculturist, and has endeavoured to render me content with that lot; but
there is something _here_'--and he laid a large red hand on his capacious
breast--'that rebels against the decree. I aspire to the honours of
literature. I long to utter myself to the world. Here is a tragedy and
some lyrics; and I have come to town to test my fortune as an author.' I
saw that he was an enthusiast, and calmly pointed out the obstacles to
success. He became impatient. I enlarged on the healthfulness and wisdom
of a country life, on the precarious subsistence incident to pencraft. His
eye flashed with anger. I urged him to consider well the risk he incurred,
the danger of failure, the advantages of a reliable vocation, the comfort
of an independent though secluded existence. He advanced toward me with an
indignant stride. 'Sir,' he exclaimed, 'I have been misinformed; you are
not the man I took you for; farewell, for ever!' and he rushed from the
house. Six months had elapsed, and I was sitting over a book in my quiet
room one day, when a terrific knock at the door aroused me, and an instant
after the stranger entered and impetuously grasped my hand. 'Sir--my dear
friend, I mean,'--he said, 'I have done you injustice, and I have come to
apologize. For a month after my former interview, I passed a feverish
novitiate, hawking my manuscripts around, deceived by plausible members of
the trade, snubbed by managers, frozen out of the sanctums of editors,
yawned at by casual audiences, baffled at every turn, until worn out,
mortified, and despairing, I went home. The feel of the turf, the breath
of the wind, the lowing of the kine, the very scent of hay was refreshing.
I thought over your counsel, and found it true. I now farm the paternal
acres on shares, write verses during the long winter evenings, lead the
choir on Sundays, am to marry the pride of the village next week, and am
here to beg your pardon, and invite you to my wedding.'

The delectable quality of authorship is its impersonality. Consider a
moment the privilege and the immunity. If we address a multitude or an
individual, the impression may be pleasing or wearisome, but courtesy
requires that it be endured with equanimity. A book is unobtrusive,
silent, objective. It can be taken up or let alone. In it, if genuine,
there is a thought that craves hospitality to be caught in a favourable
mood, as the fallow hillock receives the seed borne on the vagrant wind.
It may take root, and the originator thereof has unconsciously given birth
to an undying impulse or yielded spiritual refreshment. The whole process
is like that of nature,--unostentatious, benign, and of inestimable
benefit; and yet how latent, beyond observation, secreted in
consciousness! All power of expression--whether by means of pen, colour,
or chisel,--all artistic development, is but a new vocabulary that reveals
character. The author and the artist differ from their less gifted fellows
simply in this--that they have more language; the endowment does not
change their natures; if coarse, artificial, vain,--if brave, truthful, or
shallow,--they thus appear in books and marble, or on canvas; and hence it
is that character is the true gauge of authorship, and wins or repels
confidence, respect, and love, in the same proportion as do living men.
'By their fruit shall ye know them.' Therefore authors themselves most
effectually disenchant readers. They are disloyal to their high mission;
they compromise their own ideal, write gossip instead of truth, describe
themselves instead of nature, dip their pens in the venom of malevolence,
corrupt their style with vulgarity, keep no faith with aspiration, truckle
to power and interest, and so bring their vocation itself into merited

How charming, on the other hand, is the spontaneous bard, who sings from
an overflowing and musical nature! There is a court in one of the most
populous quarters of London which rejoices in the name of Spring Gardens.
Doubtless the spot, at one time, was a rural domain; at present, a few
trees peering over a wall, and a retired and quaint look about some of the
brick domiciles that line the street, alone justify the pleasant name it
bears. In one of these houses is the office of the Commissioners of
Lunacy; and there, one winter morning, I had the satisfaction of a brief
_tête-à-tête_ with Procter. His plainly-cut frock-coat, long and black,
his white hair and quiet bearing, made him appear a curate such as
Goldsmith portrayed. It is a curious vocation for a poet--that of testing
the wits of people suspected of being out of their mind,--and a painful
one for a sensitive nature, to inspect the asylums devoted to their use.
But I remembered that Procter's early taste drew him into intimate love
and recognition of the old English dramatists, whose natural element was
the terrible in human passion and woe; I considered the profound
tenderness of his muse, and I felt that even the tragic scenes it was his
duty to witness and to study, were not without a certain sad affinity with
genius. Kean visited madhouses to perfect his conception of Lear; and he
who sings of human weal and sorrow is taught to deepen and hallow his
strain by the misery as well as the amenities of his life. The heart of
courtesy, the mood of aspiration, have not been quelled in Procter by the
stern professional business which is his daily task. They loomed up even
in that dusky office, and kept faith with my previous ideal; but it was
especially in the poet's eye that I read the spirit of his muse; ineffably
mild and tender is its expression, deepening under the influence of
emotion like the tremulous cadence of music that is born of sentiment. I
saw there the soul that dictated 'How many summers, love, hast thou been
mine?' 'Send down thy pitying angel, God!' and so many other lays of
affection endeared to all who can appreciate the genuine lyrics of the
heart identified with the name of Barry Cornwall.

With all its occasional disenchantment, my love of authors imparted a
singular charm to the experience of travel; the lapse of time and new
localities united then to revive the dreams of youth. What a new grace the
first view of the hills of Spain derived from the memory of Cervantes, and
the gleanings in that romantic field of Lockhart and Irving; how rife with
associations was the dreary night-ride beyond Terracina, near the scene of
Cicero's murder; and what an intense life awoke in desolate Ravenna, at
the sight of Dante's tomb! The rustling of dry reeds in the gardens of
Sallust had an eloquent significance; the figures on Alfieri's monument,
in Santa Croce, seemed to breathe in the twilight; the rosemary plucked in
Rousseau's old garden at Montmorency had a scent of fragrant memory; in
the _cafés_ at Venice, Goldoni's characters appeared to be talking, and
Byron's image floated on her waters like a sculptor's dream; in the
Florentine villa Boccacio's spirit lingered; in the Cenci palace Shelley's
deep eyes glistened; in the shade of the pyramid of Cestus the muse of
Keats scattered flowers; on the shores of Como hovered the creations of
Manzoni, and a cliff in Brittany rose like a cenotaph to Chateaubriand;
while the cadence of Virgil's line chimed with the lapsing wave on the
beach at Naples. I thought, at Lausanne, of Gibbon's last touch to the
_Rise and Fall_, and his reverie that night; sought the tablet that covers
Parnell's dust at Chester, craved Montgomery's blessing at Sheffield,
looked for Sterne's monk at Calais, and beheld the crown on Tasso's cold
temples beneath the cypresses of St. Onofrio. Defoe lighted up gloomy
Cripplegate, Addison walked in the groves of Oxford, Johnson threaded the
crowd in Fleet Street, and Milton's touch seemed to wake the organ-keys of
St. Giles. But it is not requisite to wander from home for such

It was a delicious morning in June. I had passed the previous night at a
village on the Hudson; a violent thunder-storm just before dawn had laid
the dust, freshened the leaves, and purified as well as cooled the sultry
air. Attracted by the sweet breath and vivid tints of the landscape, I
determined to walk to a steamboat-landing four miles off, and on my way
make a long-meditated visit to Sunnyside. Taking an umbrageous path that
wound through a shady lane, I sauntered along, sometimes in view of the
crystal expanse of Tappan Zee, sometimes catching a glimpse of the hoary
and tufted Palisades, and again pausing under a majestic elm on whose
pendent spray a yellow-bird chirped and swung, or from whose dense green
canopy a locust trilled its drowsy note. The breeze was scented with
clover and woodbine; sleek cattle grazed in the meadows; amber clouds
flecked a heaven of azure; fields of grain waved like a shoreless lake of
plumes; the maize stood thick and tasselled; the lofty chestnuts shook
their feathery bloom; now and then a solitary crow hovered above, or a
brown robin hopped cheerily by the wayside. It was one of those clear,
serene, luxurious days of early summer which, in our capricious climate,
occasionally unite the gorgeous hues of the Orient with the balm and the
softness of Italy; pearly outlines stretched along the hills, the broad
river gleamed in sunshine, and every shade of emerald flashed or deepened
over the wide groves and teeming farms. As I drew near to Irving's
cottage, the bees were contentedly humming round the locusts, and the
ivy-leaves that clustered thickly about the old gables were dripping with
the tears of night; every bugle of the honeysuckle was a delicate censer,
and the turf and hedge wore their brightest colours; even the old
weathercock, trophy of an ancient colonial Stadt-house, dazzled the eye as
it caught the lateral rays of the sun; the fowls strutted about with
unwonted complacency, and the house-dog bounded through the beaded grass
as if exhilarated by the scene. On the veranda that overlooks the river,
from which it is divided by a little grove, sat our favourite author, with
a book on his knee, the embodiment of thoughtful content. His home looked
the symbol of his genius, and his expression the reflex of his life. They
harmonized with a rare completeness, and fulfilled to the heart the
picture which imagination had drawn. Here was no castle in the air, but a
realized daydream. Sleepy Hollow was at hand; an English cottage, like
that to which poor Leslie brought his angel wife; a Dutch roof such as
covered Van Tassell's memorable feast; the stream up which floated the
incorrigible Dolph; the mountain range whose echoes resounded with the
mysterious bowls, and where Rip took his long nap--all identified with the
author's virgin fame,--gave the vital interest of charming association to
the silent grace of nature; and, above all, the originator of the spell
was there, as genial, humorous, and imaginative, as if he had never
wandered from the primal haunts of his childhood and his fame. That he had
done so, and to good purpose, however, was evident in his conversation.
News had just arrived of a new French _émeute_, and that led us to speak
of the first Revolution; and Irving gave some impressive reminiscences of
his visits to the localities of Paris which are identified with those
scenes of violence and blood. He recurred to them with keen sensibility
and in graphic details. It was delightful thus to commune with a man whose
name was associated with my first conscious relish of native authorship,
and detect the same moral zest and picturesque insight in his talk which
so long ago had endeared his writings. I felt anew the conservative power
of a love of nature and an artistic organization; they had kept thus fresh
the sympathies, and thus enjoyable the mind. Retirement was as grateful
now as when he sought it as a juvenile dreamer; the noble river won as
fond a glance as when first explored as a truant urchin; and the kindly
spirit beamed as truly in his smile as when he mused in the Alhambra, or
walked to Melrose with Scott for a _cicerone_. My authormania revived in
all its original fervour; here were the mellow hues on the picture that
beguiled my boyhood; and the man, the scene, and the author blended in a
graceful unity of effect, without a single incongruity.


  'Look on this picture, and on this.'--HAMLET.

It is not surprising that pictures, with all their attraction for eye and
mind, are, to many honest and intelligent people, too much of a riddle to
be altogether pleasant. What with the oracular dicta of self-constituted
arbiters of taste, the discrepancies of popular writers on art, the jargon
of connoisseurship, the vagaries of fashion, the endless theories about
colour, style, chiaro-oscuro composition, design, imitation, nature,
schools, painting has become rather a subject for the gratification of
vanity and the exercise of pedantic dogmatism, than a genuine source of
enjoyment and culture, of sympathy and satisfaction,--like music,
literature, scenery, and other recognized intellectual recreations. In
these latter spheres it is not thought presumptuous to assert and enjoy
individual taste; the least independent talkers will bravely advocate
their favourite composer, describe the landscape which has charmed or the
book which has interested them; but when a picture is the subject of
discussion, few have the moral courage to say what they think; there is a
self-distrust of one's own impressions, and even convictions, in regard to
what is represented on canvas, that never intervenes between thought and
expression where ideas or sentiments are embodied in writing or in melody.
Nor is this to be ascribed wholly to the technicalities of pictorial art,
in which so few are deeply versed, but in a great measure to the
incongruous and irrelevant associations which have gradually overlaid and
mystified a subject in itself as open to the perception of a candid mind
and healthy senses as any other department of human knowledge. Half the
want of appreciation of pictures arises from ignorance, not of the
principles of art, but of the elements of nature. Good observers are rare.
The peasant's criticism upon Moreland's 'Farmyard'--that three pigs never
eat together without one foot at least in the trough--was a strict
inference from personal knowledge of the habits of the animal; so the
surgeon found a head of the Baptist untrue, because the skin was not
withdrawn somewhat from the line of decollation. These and similar
instances show that some knowledge of or interest in the thing represented
is essential to the appreciation of pictures. Soldiers and their wives
crowded around Wilkie's 'Chelsea Pensioners,'[9] when first exhibited;
French soldiers enjoy the minutiæ of Vernet's battle-pieces; a lover can
judge of his betrothed's miniature; and the most unrefined sportsman will
point out the niceties of breed in one of Landseer's dogs. To the want of
correspondence so frequent between the subject of a picture and the
observer's experience may, therefore, be attributed no small degree of the
prevalent want of sympathy and confident judgment. 'Gang into an
exhibition,' says the Ettrick Shepherd, 'and only look at a crowd o'
Cockneys, some with specs and some wi' quizzing-glasses, and faces without
ae grain o' meaning in them o' ony kind whatsomever, a' glowering,
perhaps, at a picture o' one o' nature's maist fearfu' or magnificent
warks! What, I ask, could a Prince's Street maister or missy ken o' sic a
wark mair than a red deer wad ken o' the inside o' George's Street

The incidental associations of pictures link them to history, tradition,
and human character, in a manner which indefinitely enhances their
suggestiveness. Horace Walpole wove a standard collection of anecdotes
from the lives and works of painters. The frescoes of St. Mark's, at
Florence, have a peculiar significance to the spectator familiar with Fra
Angelico's life. One of the most pathetic and beautiful tragedies in
modern literature is that which a Danish poet elaborated from Correggio's
artist career. Lamb's great treasure was a print from Da Vinci, which he
called 'My Beauty,' and its exhibition to a literal Scotchman gave rise to
one of the richest jokes in Elia's record. The pen-drawing Andre made of
himself, the night before his execution--the curtain painted in the space
where Faliero's portrait should have been, in the ducal palace at Venice,
and the head of Dante, discovered by Mr. Kirkup, on the wall of the
Bargello, at Florence--convey impressions far beyond the mere lines and
hues they exhibit; each is a drama, a destiny. And the hard but true
lineaments of Holbein, the aërial grace of Malbone's 'Hours,' Albert
Durer's mediæval sanctities, Overbeck's conservative self-devotion, a
market-place by Ostade, Reynolds's 'Strawberry Girl,' one of Copley's
colonial grandees in a New England farmer's parlour, a cabinet gem by
Greuze, a dog or sheep of Landseer's, the misty depths of Turner's
'Carthage,' Domenichino's 'Sibyl,' Claude's 'Sunset,' or Allston's
'Rosalie'--how much of eras in art, events in history, national tastes,
and varieties of genius, do they each foreshadow and embalm! Even when no
special beauty or skill is manifest, the character of features transmitted
by pictorial art, their antiquity or historical significance, often lends
a mystery and meaning to the effigies of humanity. In the carved faces of
old German church choirs and altars, the existent facial peculiarities of
race are curiously evident; a Grecian life breathes from many a profile
in the Elgin marbles, and a sacred marvel invests the exhumed giants of
Nineveh; in the cartoons of Raphael, and the old Gobelin tapestries, are
hints of what is essential in the progress and the triumphs of painting.
Considered as a language, how definitely is the style of painters
associated with special forms of character and spheres of life! 'There
certainly never was a painter,' says a traveller in Spain of Murillo,
'who, without much imagination, and telling no story, could yet vision his
eyes with such pure love, and make lips so parting with prayer, as
Murillo; himself a father, he loved to paint the child-Saviour in
conjunction with thin-faced saints.' It is this variety of human
experience, typified and illustrated on canvas, that forms our chief
obligations to the artist; through him our perception of and acquaintance
with our race--its individuality and career, its phases and aspects--are
indefinitely enlarged. 'The greatest benefit,' says a late writer, 'we owe
to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the _extension of
our sympathies_. Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of
amplifying our experience and extending our contact with our
fellow-creatures beyond the bounds of our personal lot.'

'A room with pictures in it, and a room without pictures,' says an
æsthetic essayist, 'differ by nearly as much as a room with windows and a
room without windows. Nothing, we think, is more melancholy, particularly
to a person who has to pass much time in his room, than blank walls with
nothing on them; for pictures are loopholes of escape to the soul, leading
it to other spheres. It is such an inexpressible relief to the person
engaged in writing, or even reading, on looking up, not to have his line
of vision chopped square off by an odious white wall, but to find his soul
escaping, as it were, through the frame of an exquisite picture, to other
beautiful and perhaps idyllic scenes, where the fancy for a moment may
revel, refreshed and delighted. Is it winter in your world? Perhaps it is
summer in the picture; what a charming momentary change and contrast! And
thus pictures are consolers of loneliness; they are a sweet flattery to
the soul; they are a relief to the jaded mind; they are windows to the
imprisoned thought; they are books; they are histories and sermons--which
we can read without the trouble of turning over the leaves.'

The effect of a picture is increased by isolation and surprise. I never
realized the physiognomical traits of Madame de Maintenon until her
portrait was encountered in a solitary country-house, of whose
drawing-room it was the sole ornament; and the romance of a miniature by
Malbone first came home to me when an ancient dame, in the costume of the
last century, with trembling fingers drew one of her husband from an
antique cabinet, and descanted on the manly beauty of the deceased
original, and the graceful genius of the young and lamented artist.
Hazlitt wrote an ingenious essay on _A Portrait by Vandyke_, which gives
us an adequate idea of what such a masterpiece is to the eye and mind of
genuine artistic perception and sympathy. Few sensations, or rather
sentiments, are more inextricably made up of pleasure and sadness than
that with which we contemplate (as is not infrequent in some old gallery
of Europe) a portrait which deeply interests or powerfully attracts us,
and whose history is irrevocably lost. A better homily on the evanescence
of human love and fame can scarcely be imagined: a face alive with moral
personality and human charms, such as win and warm our stranger eyes; yet
the name, subject, artist, owner, all lost in oblivion! To pause before an
interesting but 'unknown portrait' is to read an elegy as pathetic as

The mechanical processes by which nature is so closely imitated, and the
increase of which during the last few years is one of the most remarkable
facts in science, may, at the first glance, appear to have lessened the
marvellous in art, by making available to all the exact representation of
still-life. But, when duly considered, the effect is precisely the
reverse; for exactly in proportion as we become familiar with the
mechanical production of the similitudes of natural and artificial
objects, do we instinctively demand higher powers of conception, greater
spiritual expression in the artist. The discovery of Daguerre and its
numerous improvements, and the unrivalled precision attained by
photography, render exact imitation no longer a miracle of crayon or
palette; these must now create as well as reflect, invent and harmonize as
well as copy, bring out the soul of the individual and of the landscape,
or their achievements will be neglected in favour of the fac-similes
obtainable through sunshine and chemistry. The best photographs of
architecture, statuary, ruins, and, in some cases, of celebrated pictures,
are satisfactory to a degree which has banished mediocre sketches, and
even minutely-finished but literal pictures. Specimens of what is called
'Nature-printing,' which gives an impression directly from the veined
stone, the branching fern, or the sea-moss, are so true to the details as
to answer a scientific purpose; natural objects are thus lithographed
without the intervention of pencil or ink. And these several discoveries
have placed the results of mere imitative art within reach of the mass; in
other words, her prose language--that which mechanical science can
utter--is so universal, that her poetry--that which must be conceived and
expressed through individual genius, the emanation of the soul--is more
distinctly recognized and absolutely demanded from the artist, in order to
vindicate his claim to that title, than ever before.

Perhaps, indeed, the scope which painting offers to experimental,
individual, and prescriptive taste, the loyalty it invokes from the
conservative, the 'infinite possibilities' it offers to the imaginative,
the intimacy it promotes with nature and character, are the cause of so
much originality and attractiveness in its votaries. The lives of
painters abound in the characteristic, the adventurous, and the romantic.
Open Vasari, Walpole, or Cunningham, at random, and one is sure to light
upon something odd, genial, or exciting. One of the most popular novelists
of our day assured me that, in his opinion, the richest unworked vein for
his craft, available in these days of civilized uniformity, is artist-life
at Rome, to one thoroughly cognizant of its humours and aspirations, its
interiors and vagrancies, its self-denials and its resources. I have
sometimes imagined what a story the old white dog, who so long frequented
the 'Lepri' and the 'Caffé Greco,' and attached himself so capriciously to
the brother artists of his deceased master, could have told, if blessed
with memory and language. He had tasted the freedom and the zest of
artist-life in Rome, and scorned to follow trader or king. He preferred
the odour of canvas and oil to that of conservatories, and had more frolic
and dainty morsels at an _al fresco_ of the painters, in the Campagna,
than the kitchen of an Italian prince could furnish. His very name
betokened good cheer, and was pronounced after the manner of the pert
waiters who complacently enunciate a few words of English. _Bif-steck_ was
a privileged dog; and though occasionally made the subject of a practical
joke, taught absurd tricks, sent on fools' errands, and his white coat
painted like a zebra, these were but casual troubles; he was a sensible
dog to despise them, when he could enjoy such quaint companionship, behold
such experiments in colour and drawing, serve as a model himself, and go
on delicious sketching excursions to Albano and Tivoli, besides inhaling
tobacco-smoke and hearing stale jests and love soliloquies _ad infinitum_.
I am of _Bif-steck's_ opinion. There is no such true, earnest, humorous,
and individual life, in these days of high civilization, as that of your
genuine painter; impoverished as it often is, baffled in its aspirations,
unregarded by the material and the worldly, it often rears and keeps pure
bright, genial natures whose contact brings back the dreams of youth. It
is pleasant, too, to realize, in a great commercial city, that man 'does
not live by bread alone,' that fun is better than furniture, and a private
resource of nature more prolific of enjoyment than financial investments.
It is rare comfort here, in the land of bustle and sunshine, to sit in a
tempered light and hear a man sing or improvise stories over his work; to
behold once more vagaries of costume; to let the eye rest upon pictorial
fragments of Italy--the 'old familiar faces' of Roman models, the endeared
outlines of Apennine hills, the _contadina_ bodice and the brigand hat,
until these objects revive to the heart all the romance of travel.

Vernet's sympathies were excited by the misfortunes of a worthy tradesman
of Marseilles, and he attended the sheriff's auction at the bankrupt's
house, where, among the crowd, he recognized a would-be _connoisseur_ in
art, of ample wealth. The painter fixed his eyes upon a dim and mediocre
picture on the wall, and bid fifteen francs; immediately the rich amateur
scented a prize; a long contest ensued, and at length the picture was
knocked off to Vernet's antagonist for so large a sum that the honest
bankrupt was enabled to pay his creditors in full, and recommence business
with a handsome capital. With the progress of civilization pictures have
grown in permanent market value. A Quaker who incurred the reproach of his
brethren for securing a Wouverman for a large sum, was excused for this
'vanity' by his shrewd friends, when he demonstrated to them that he had
made an excellent investment. Literature affords many illustrations of the
romance of the pictorial art, of which, among our own authors, Allston and
Hawthorne have given memorable examples in _Monaldi_ and _Twice-told
Tales_. Unknown portraits have inspired the most attractive conjectures,
and about the best known and most fascinating hover an atmosphere of
intensely personal interest or historical association. Vasari, Mrs.
Jameson, Hazlitt, and other art-writers have elaborated the most
delectable facts and fancies from this vast individual sphere of the

The technicalities of art, its refinements of style, its absolute
significance, are, indeed, as dependent for appreciation on a special
endowment as are mathematics; but the general and incidental associations,
in which is involved a world of poetry, may be enjoyed to the full extent
by those whose perception of form, sense of colour, and knowledge of the
principles of sculpture, painting, music, and architecture are notably
deficient. It is a law of life and nature, that truth and beauty,
adequately represented, create and diffuse a limitless element of wisdom
and pleasure. Such memorials are talismanic, and their influence is felt
in all the higher and more permanent spheres of thought and emotion; they
are the gracious landmarks that guide humanity above the commonplace and
the material, along the 'line of infinite desires.' Art, in its broad and
permanent meaning, is a language--the language of sentiment, of character,
of national impulse, of individual genius; and for this reason it bears a
lesson, a charm, or a sanction to all--even to those least versed in its
rules, and least alive to its special triumphs. Sir Walter Scott was no
amateur, yet, through his reverence for ancestry and his local
attachments, portraiture and architecture had for him a romantic interest.
Sydney Smith was impatient of galleries when he could talk with men and
women, and made a practical joke of buying pictures; yet Newton and Leslie
elicited his best humour. Talfourd cared little and knew less of the
treasures of the Louvre, but lingered there because it had been his friend
Hazlitt's Elysium. Indeed, there are constantly blended associations in
the history of English authors and artists; Reynolds is identified with
Johnson and Goldsmith, Smibert with Berkeley, Barry with Burke, Constable
and Wilkie with Sir George Beaumont, Haydon with Wordsworth, and Leslie
with Irving. The painters depict their friends of the pen, the latter
celebrate in verse or prose the artist's triumphs, and both intermingle
thought and sympathy; and from this contact of select intelligences, of
diverse vocation, has resulted the choicest wit and the most genial
companionship. If from special we turn to general associations, from
biography to history, the same prolific affinities are evident, whereby
the artist becomes an interpreter of life, and casts the halo of romance
over the stern features of reality. Hampton Court is the almost breathing
society of Charles the Second's reign; the Bodleian Gallery is vivid with
Britain's past intellectual life; the history of France is pictured on the
walls of Versailles; the luxury of colour bred by the sunsets of the
Euganean hills, the waters of the Adriatic, the marbles of San Marco, and
the skies and atmosphere of Venice, are radiant on the canvas of Titian,
Tintoretto, and Paul Veronese; Michael Angelo has embodied the soul of his
era, and the loftiest spirit of his country; Salvator typified the
half-savage picturesqueness, Claude the atmospheric enchantments, Carlo
Dolce the effeminate grace, Titian the voluptuous energy, Guido the placid
self-possession, and Raphael and Correggio the religious sentiment of
Italy; Watteau put on canvas the _fête champêtre_; the peasant life of
Spain is pictured by Murillo, her asceticism by the old religious limners;
what English rustics were before steam and railroads, Gainsborough and
Moreland reveal; Wilkie has permanently symbolized Scotch shrewdness and
domesticity, and Lawrence framed and fixed the elegant shapes of a London
drawing-room; and each of these is a normal type and suggestive exemplar
to the imagination, a chapter of romance, a sequestration and initial
token of the characteristic and the historical, either of what has become
traditional or what is for ever true.

The indirect service good artists have rendered by educating observation
has yet to be acknowledged. The Venetian painters cannot be even
superficially regarded, without developing the sense of colour; nor the
Roman, without enlarging our cognizance of expression; nor the English,
without refining our perception of the evanescent effects in scenery.
Raphael has made infantile grace obvious to unmaternal eyes; Turner opened
to many a preoccupied vision the wonders of atmosphere; Constable guided
our perception of the casual phenomena of wind; Landseer, that of the
natural language of the brute creation; Lely, of the coiffure; Michael
Angelo, of physical grandeur; Rolfe, of fish; Gerard Dow, of water; Cuyp,
of meadows; Cooper, of cattle; Stanfield, of the sea; and so on through
every department of pictorial art. Insensibly these quiet but persuasive
teachers have made every phase and object of the material world
interesting, environed them with more or less of romance, by such
revelations of their latent beauty and meaning; so that, thus instructed,
the sunset and the pastoral landscape, the moss-grown arch and the craggy
seaside, the twilight grove and the swaying cornfield, an old mill, a
peasant, light and shade, form and feature, perspective and anatomy, a
smile, a gesture, a cloud, a waterfall, weather-stains, leaves,
deer--every object in nature, and every impress of the elements, speaks
more distinctly to the eye, and more effectively to the imagination.

The vicissitudes which sometimes attend a picture or statue furnish no
inadequate materials for narrative interest. Amateur collectors can unfold
a tale in reference to their best acquisitions which outvies fiction.
Beckford's table-talk abounded in such reminiscences. An American artist,
who had resided long in Italy, and made a study of old pictures, caught
sight at a shop window in New Orleans of an 'Ecce Homo' so pathetic in
expression as to arrest his steps and engross his attention. Upon inquiry,
he learned that it had been purchased of a soldier fresh from Mexico,
after the late war between that country and the United States; he bought
it for a trifle, carried it to Europe, and soon authenticated it as an
original Guercino, painted for the royal chapel in Madrid, and sent
thence by the government to a church in Mexico, whence, after centuries,
it had found its way, through the accidents of war, to a pawnbroker's shop
in Louisiana. A lady in one of our eastern cities, wishing to possess, as
a memorial, some article which had belonged to a deceased neighbour, and
not having the means, at the public sale of her effects, to bid for an
expensive piece of furniture, contented herself with buying for a few
shillings a familiar chimney-screen. One day she discovered a glistening
surface under the flowered paper which covered it, and when this was torn
away, there stood revealed a picture of 'Jacob and Rachel at the Well,' by
Paul Veronese; doubtless thus concealed with a view to its secret removal
during the first French Revolution. The missing Charles First of Velasquez
was lately exhibited in this country, and the account its possessor gives
of the mode of its discovery and the obstacles which attended the
establishment of its legal ownership in England is a remarkable
illustration both of the tact of the connoisseur and the mysteries of

Political vicissitudes not only cause pictures to emigrate like their
owners, but to change their costume--if we may so call a frame,--with
equal celerity: that which now encloses Peale's Washington, at Princeton,
once held the portrait of George the Third; and there is an elaborate old
frame which holds the likeness of a New England poet's grandfather whence
was hurriedly taken the portrait of Governor Hutchinson, in anticipation
of a domiciliary visit from the 'Sons of Liberty.'

There is scarcely, indeed, an artist or a patron of art, of any eminence,
who has not his own 'story of a picture.' Like all things of beauty and of
fame, the very desire of possession which a painting excites, and the
interest it awakens, give rise to some costly sacrifice, or incidental
circumstance, which associates the prize with human fortune and sentiment.

A friend of mine, in exploring the more humble class of boarding-houses in
one of our large commercial towns, in search of an unfortunate relation,
found himself, while expecting the landlady, absorbed in a portrait on the
walls of a dingy back parlour. The furniture was of the most common
description. A few smutched and faded annuals, half-covered with dust, lay
on the centre-table, beside an old-fashioned astral lamp, a cracked
porcelain vase of wax-flowers, a yellow satin pincushion embroidered with
tarnished gold-lace, and an album of venerable hue filled with hyperbolic
apostrophes to the charms of some ancient beauty; which, with the
dilapidated window-curtains, the obsolete sideboard, the wooden effigy of
a red-faced man with a spyglass under his arm, and the cracked alabaster
clock-case on the mantel, all bespoke an impoverished establishment, so
devoid of taste that the beautiful and artistic portrait seemed to have
found its way there by a miracle. It represented a young and _spirituelle_
woman, in the costume, so elegant in material and formal in mode, which
Copley has immortalized; in this instance, however, there was a French
look about the coiffure and robe. The eyes were bright with intelligence
chastened by sentiment, the features at once delicate and spirited; and
altogether the picture was one of those visions of blended youth, grace,
sweetness, and intellect, from which the fancy instinctively infers a tale
of love, genius, or sorrow, according to the mood of the spectator.
Subdued by his melancholy errand, and discouraged by a long and vain
search, my friend, whose imagination was quite as excitable as his taste
was correct, soon wove a romance around the picture. It was evidently not
the work of a novice; it was as much out of place in this obscure and
inelegant domicile, as a diamond set in filigree, or a rose among pigweed.
How came it there? who was the original? what her history and her fate?
Her parentage and her nurture must have been refined; she must have
inspired love in the chivalric; perchance this was the last relic of an
illustrious exile, the last memorial of a princely house.

This reverie of conjecture was interrupted by the entrance of the
landlady. My friend had almost forgotten the object of his visit; and when
his anxious inquiries proved vain, he drew the loquacious hostess into
general conversation, in order to elicit the mystery of the beautiful
portrait. She was a robust, gray-haired woman, with whose constitutional
good-nature care had waged a long and partially successful war. That
indescribable air which speaks of better days was visible at a glance; the
remnants of bygone gentility were obvious in her dress; she had the
peculiar manner of one who had enjoyed social consideration; and her
language indicated familiarity with cultivated society; yet the anxious
expression habitual to her countenance, and the bustling air of her
vocation which quickly succeeded conversational repose, hinted but too
plainly straitened circumstances and daily toil. But what struck her
present curious visitor more than these casual traits were the remains of
great beauty in the still lovely contour of the face, the refined lines of
her mouth, and the depth and varied play of the eyes. He was both
sympathetic and ingenious, and ere long gained the confidence of his
auditor. The unfeigned interest and the true perception he manifested in
speaking of the portrait rendered him, in its owner's estimation, worthy
to know the story his own intuition had so nearly divined. The original
was Theodosia, the daughter of Aaron Burr. His affection for her was the
redeeming fact of his career and character. Both were anomalous in our
history. In an era remarkable for patriotic self-sacrifice, he became
infamous for treasonable ambition; among a phalanx of statesmen
illustrious for directness and integrity, he pursued the tortuous path of
perfidious intrigue; in a community where the sanctities of domestic life
were unusually revered, he bore the stigma of unscrupulous libertinism.
With the blood of his gallant adversary and his country's idol on his
hands, the penalties of debt and treason hanging over him, the fertility
of an acute intellect wasted on vain expedients--an outlaw, an adventurer,
a plausible reasoner with one sex and fascinating betrayer of the other,
poor, bereaved, contemned,--one holy, loyal sentiment lingered in his
perverted soul--love for the fair, gifted, gentle being who called him
father. The only disinterested sympathy his letters breathe is for her;
and the feeling and sense of duty they manifest offer a remarkable
contrast to the parallel record of a life of unprincipled schemes, misused
talents, and heartless amours. As if to complete the tragic antithesis of
destiny, the beloved and gifted woman who thus shed an angelic ray upon
that dark career was, soon after her father's return from Europe, lost in
a storm at sea, while on her way to visit him, thus meeting a fate which,
even at this distance of time, is remembered with pity. Her wretched
father bore with him, in all his wanderings and through all his remorseful
exile, her picture--emblem of filial love, of all that is beautiful in the
ministry of woman, and all that is terrible in human fate. At length he
lay dangerously ill in a garret. He had parted with one after another of
his articles of raiment, books, and trinkets, to defray the expenses of a
long illness; Theodosia's picture alone remained; it hung beside him--the
one talisman of irreproachable memory, of spotless love, and of undying
sorrow; he resolved to die with this sweet relic of the loved and lost in
his possession; there his sacrifices ended. Life seemed slowly ebbing;
the unpaid physician lagged in his visits; the importunate landlord
threatened to send this once dreaded partisan, favoured guest, and
successful lover to the almshouse; when, as if the spell of woman's
affection were spiritually magnetic, one of the deserted old man's early
victims--no other than she who spoke--accidentally heard of his extremity,
and, forgetting her wrongs, urged by compassion and her remembrance of the
past, sought her betrayer, provided for his wants, and rescued him from
impending dissolution. In grateful recognition of her Christian kindness,
he gave her all he had to bestow--Theodosia's portrait.

The indiscriminate disparagement of the old masters which has so long been
the paradox of Ruskin's beautiful rhetoric, Haydon's suicidal devotion to
the 'grand style,' Mrs. Jameson's gracious exposition of religious art,
and the extravagant encomiums which the fashionable painter of the hour
elicits from accredited critical journals, indicate the antagonistic
theories and tastes that prevail; and yet these are all authentic and
recognized oracles of artistic knowledge--all more or less true; and yet,
in a comparative view, offering such violent contrasts as to baffle and
discourage a novice in search of the legitimate picturesque.

So thoroughly identified with the possibility and probability of deception
is the very name of a picture-dealer, that to the multitude an 'Old
Master' is a bugbear;--the tricks of this trade form a staple of Paris
correspondents and travelled _raconteurs_. The details of manufacture in
perhaps this most lucrative branch of spurious traffic are patent; and,
although the legitimate products of world-renowned painters are
authenticated and on record, scarcely a month passes without some
extensive fraud. The amateur in literature, sculpture, and music, is
comparatively free from this perpetual danger; the sense of mystery does
not baffle his enthusiasm; and while the pictorial votary or victim is
disputing about an 'Andrea del Sarto,' or a 'Teniers,' or bewildered by
the conflicting theories of rival artists in regard to colour, tone,
composition, foreshortening, chiaro-oscuro, &c., he enjoys, without
misgiving, the _noi ci darem_ of Mozart, revels over the faded leaves of
his first edition of a classic, or discourses fluently about the line of
beauty in his copy of a Greek statue. 'God Almighty's daylight,' wrote
Constable, 'is enjoyed by all mankind, excepting only the lovers of old
dirty canvas, perished pictures at a thousand guineas each, cart-grease,
tar, and snuff of candle.' The practical lesson derivable from these
anomalous results of 'Pictures' is that we should rely upon our individual
impressions, enjoy what appeals gratefully to our consciousness, repudiate
hackneyed and conventional terms, judgments, and affectations, and boldly
declare with the poet, before the picture which enchants us,--

  'I leave to learned fingers and wise hands
  The artist and his ape, to teach and tell
  How well his connoisseurship understands
  The graceful bend and the voluptuous swell:
  Let these describe the indescribable;
  I would not their vile breath should crisp the stream
  Wherein that image shall for ever dwell;
  The unruffled mirror of the loveliest dream
  That ever left the sky on the deep soul to beam.'

There are heads of men and women delineated hundreds of years ago, so knit
into the mystic web of memory and imagination, so familiar through
engravings, cameos, and other reproductive forms of art, and so identified
with tragic experience, ideal aspiration, or heroic deeds, that the first
view of the originals is an epoch in life; we seem to behold them down a
limitless vista of time, and they appeal to our consciousness like the
faces of the long-loved, long-lost, and suddenly restored. It is as if we
had entered a spiritual realm, and were greeted by the vanished idols of
the heart, or the 'beings of the mind and not of clay,' once arbiters of
destiny and oracles of genius. Beatrice Cenci, through soulful eyes,
infinitely deepened by a life of tears dried up by the fever of intense
anguish, looks the incarnation of beauty and woe--beauty we have adored in
dreams, woe we have realized through sympathy. With the first sight of
that alabaster skin, those lips quivering with pain, those golden locks,
the theme of poets, that corpse-like headband; the fragility, the fervour,
the sensibility, and the chaste, ineffable grace; above all, the soulful
world of terror, pity, and meekness in the lustrous and melancholy orbs,
how familiar, yet how new, how pathetic, yet sublime! The hoary wretch who
called her child, seems lurking somewhere in that hushed and sombre
palace; the brother whose fair brow was lacerated by parental violence;
the resigned mother, the infernal banquet, the prison, the tribunal, the
bloody axe, flit with fearful distinctness between our entranced vision
and the picture; for tradition, local association, Shelley's muse, the
secret pen of the annalist, and the pencil of Guido, combine to make
absolutely real an unparalleled story of loveliness and persecution,
maidenhood and martyrdom. It is but recently that the true history of this
picture has been authenticated. According to Guerazzi, who has minutely
explored contemporary archives, the 'study' from which it was painted,
Ubaldo Ubaldini made from memory, to console his sister for the loss of
Beatrice. He was one of the many artists who loved the beautiful victim,
with the passion of youth and the fancy of a painter; one of the
courageous but inadequate band who conspired to rescue her at the
scaffold;[11] and it was long believed that he died of indignant grief
after the catastrophe. Imagine him with the shadow of that mighty sorrow
upon his soul, his hand inspired by tender recollection, secluded with her
image stamped on his broken heart, and patiently reproducing those
delicate features and that anguished expression--his last offering to her
he so quickly followed into the valley of death! His 'study' fell into the
hands of Maffei Barberini, and furnished Guido Reni the materials for
this, his most effective and endeared creation. Its marvellous, almost
magnetic expression, doubtless gave rise to the belief, so long current,
that he sketched Beatrice on her way to execution; but the later
explanation is more accordant with probability and more satisfactory to
the mind, for such a work requires for the conditions of success both the
inspiration of love and the aptitude of skill. Ubaldini furnished one, and
Guido the other.

Many travellers, especially women, have expressed great disappointment
with the 'Fornarina.' They cannot associate a figure so much the reverse
of ethereal, and charms so robust, with the refined taste and delicate
person of Raffaelo. But such objections are founded on an imaginative not
philosophic theory of love. There never was a genuine artist who, in
matters of feeling, was not a child of Nature; and we have but to
recognize the idiosyncrasies of poet and painter to find a key to their
human affinities. What a peculiar interest we feel in the objects of love
whose affection cheered, and whose sympathy inspired those products of pen
and pencil, which have become part of our mental being! I have seen a
crowd of half-bashful and wholly intent English girls watch the carriage
which contained the obese, yet still fair-haired Countess, whose youthful
charms so long made Byron a methodical hermit at Ravenna; and the
respectable matron who, as a child, was deemed by sentimentalists in
Germany and her own exaggerated fancy the object of Goëthe's senile
passion, was long courted on that account, at tea-drinkings, by foreign
visitors enamoured of _Faust_ and _Wilhelm Meister_. Still more natural is
the sentiment which lures us to earnest acquaintance with the countenance,
on which he who gave an angelic semblance to maternity and caught the most
gracious aspect of childhood used to gaze with rapture; the eye that
responded to his glance, the smile that penetrated his heart, and were
fixed on his canvas. The impression which the 'Fornarina' of the Tribune
instantly gives, is that of genuine womanhood: there is generosity, a
repose, a world of latent emotion, an exuberance of sympathetic power, in
the full impassioned eye, the broad symmetrical bosom, the rich olive
tint; it is precisely the woman to harmonize by her simple presence, and
to soothe or exalt by her spontaneous love, the mood of a man of nervous
organization and ardent temper. There is a tranquil self-possession in the
face and figure which the sensitive and excitable artist especially finds
refreshing--a candid nature such as alone can inspire such a man's
confidence, a majestic simplicity peculiar to the best type of Roman
women, more delightful to the over-tasked brain and sensibilities than the
highest culture of an artificial kind; and there is the fresh,
unperverted, richly-developed, harmoniously-united heart and physique,
which, notwithstanding the modern standard of female charms, is the
normal and the essential basis of honest, natural affinity. I could never
turn, in the Florence Gallery, from the pale, delicately-rounded, ideal
brow, the almost pleading eye, and the cherubic lips of Raffaelo, instinct
with the needs as well as the immortal longings of genius, to the mellow,
calm, self-sustained, and healthful 'Fornarina,' without fancying the
support, the rest, the inexhaustible comfort--in Othello's sense of that
expressive word--which the sensitive artist could find in the cheerful
baker's daughter, the irritable seeker in the serene and satisfied woman,
the delicate in the strong, the gentle in the hearty, the ideal in the
real, the poetic in the practical, the spiritual in the human; and I
contemplated her noble contour, her contented smile, her beaming cheek,
and eye undeepened by the experience that withers as it teaches--yet
soulful with latent emotion, with an ever-increasing sense of her native
claims to Raphael's love.

Musical organizations are especially sensitive to the pictorial spell; the
letters of Mendelssohn indicate how it influenced his development. Writing
from Venice of church services he attended, he says:--'Nothing impressed
me with more solemn awe than when, on the very spot for which they were
originally created, the "Presentation of Mary and the Child in the
Temple," "The Assumption of the Virgin," "The Entombment of Christ," and
"The Martyrdom of St. Peter," in all their grandeur, gradually steal forth
out of the darkness in which the long lapse of time has veiled them. Often
I feel a musical inspiration, and since I came here have been busily
engaged in composition.' And from Florence he writes:--'There is a small
picture here which I discovered for myself. It is by Fra Bartolomeo, who
must have been a man of most devout, tender, and earnest spirit. The
figures are finished in the most exquisite and consummate manner. You can
see in the picture itself that the pious master has taken delight in
painting it, and in finishing the most minute details, probably with a
view of giving it away to gratify some friend; we feel as if the painter
belonged to it, and still ought to be sitting before his work, or had this
moment left.' This personal magnetism about pictures is an authentic
evidence of their vital relation to character, and it is felt often in an
incredible way by the imaginative and susceptible. The same gifted and
generous composer, who thus wrote of Titian and Fra Bartolomeo, speaks of
the impression he received from Raphael's portrait by himself:--'Youthful,
pale, delicate, and with such inward aspirations, such longing and
wistfulness in the mouth and eyes, that it is as if you could see into his
very soul; that he cannot succeed in expressing all that he sees and
feels, and is thus impelled to go forward, and that he must die an early
death;--all this is written on his mournful, suffering, yet fervid

Vandyke's portraits of Charles the First impress the spectator with regal
fanaticism, and a tragic destiny, more than some of the written histories
of his reign. The exquisite hands of Leonardo's 'Gioconde' are as eloquent
of feminine grace and sensibility as the most elaborate description.
Correggio's 'Magdalen,' in the remorseful _abandon_ and beautiful sadness
of its expression, reveals her who 'loved much,' repented, and was
forgiven. Giovanni di Medici, in the Uffizzi Gallery, fulfils to the
imagination the ideal of mediæval Italian soldiership. Stuart's
'Washington' embodies the serene conscience, the self-control, the humane
dignity and birthright of command, which consecrate our peerless chief;
and Delaroche's 'Napoleon Crossing the Alps' perpetuates the intense
purpose and insatiable ambition that won so many battles and died of
anxiety on an ocean-rock. Such instances, which might easily be
multiplied, prove how a single department of art, and that the least
estimated, is allied to history, patriotism, and sentiment, and capable of
touching their secret springs and unveiling their limitless perspective at
a glance. Guercino's 'Hagar' is a biblical poem. Hamlet's filial
reproaches borrow their keenest sting from two 'counterfeit presentments,'
and Trumbull's faithful and assiduous pencil has transmitted the
individualities of our Revolutionary drama. And thus the art of
portraiture, even in its general relations, may become, through
illustrious subjects and rare fidelity, the romance which association of
ideas breeds from reality.

I was never more impressed with the absolute line of demarcation between
the imitative and the inventive, even in the lighter processes of art,
than when examining the graphic series of illustrations of _The Wandering
Jew_. Nature is represented under all forms--the woods, the desert, the
ocean, caves, meadows, and skies; and these fixed elemental features might
be well reflected by mechanical aids, photographed or reproduced through
chemical and optical means; but the true meaning of each picture consisted
in the ever-present shadow pursuing the Wanderer--the form of the Holy One
bowed under his cross: it glimmered in the water, was stamped on the rock,
outlined in the gnarled forest branches, pencilled in the floating vapour,
reflected in the ice-mirrored lake, with a latent and inevitable yet
unobtrusive and apparently accidental omni-presence, as if wrought into
the texture of nature through the creative anguish of conscience--which
emphatically announced an intelligence far beyond all mechanical art, and
interfused the material with the abstract, the imaginative, and the human,
as only genius can. The same thing is evinced by comparing the best
photographs of architecture, figures, or landscapes with the sketch-book
of a genuine artist; in certain points there will be found a special
intelligence and feeling which transcend the most remarkable imitative
truth. How much of this is suggested, for instance, by the mere catalogue
of an album on the table at a Parisian _soirée_: fleurs de Redonté,
chevaux de Carl Vernet, Bedouins d'Horace, aquarelles de Ciceri, petit
paysages de Géniole, caricatures de Grandville et de Monnier, beaux
brigands de Schnetz--'tous chéfs d'oeuvre au petit pied.'

A portrait of little Fritz drumming, in the Berlin Gallery, Carlyle hails,
in his _Life of Frederick the Great_, as 'one tiny islet of reality amid
the shoreless sea of fantasms, Flaying of Bartholomews, Rape of Europas,'
&c. Napoleon was delighted to remember that his mother reclined on
tapestry representing the heroes of the _Iliad_, when she brought him into
the world.

For how long and with what vividness are certain pictures associated with
localities. Gainsborough's 'Blue Boy,' and Reynolds's 'Strawberry Girl,'
are among the salient retrospective images of the English school at the
Manchester Exhibition. We think of Correggio with Parma, Perugino with
Perugia, Fra Angelico with Florence, Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' and
Guercino's 'Hagar' with Milan, Murillo with Seville, Vandyke with Madrid,
Rubens with Antwerp, Watteau with Paris, and Paul Potter's 'Bull' with the

The Dutch school, in a philosophical estimate, is but the compensation
afforded by the romance of art for its deficiency in nature; the element
of the picturesque not found in mountains, forests, and cataracts, the
lowland painters wrought from flowers and firesides; the radiant tulips
and exquisite interiors, the humble but characteristic in life and
manners. To seize upon individuality is the conservative tact of both
painter and poet; whoever does this effectively contributes to the world's
gallery of historical portraits, and keeps before the living the faces,
costume, and actions of bygone races and heroes. Catlin's aboriginal
portraits introduced the American native tribes to Europe; a naturalist
abroad has but to turn over Audubon's portfolio to become intimately
acquainted with every bird whose plumage or song makes beautiful our
woodlands and seashore; the traveller who rests an hour at Perugia may
trace on the walls of a church the original, crude, yet pious expression
which Raphael developed into angelic beauty. Vernet has, by the very
multiplicity of his battle-pieces, signalized on canvas the military
genius of the French nation; the faith which so distinguishes the
fifteenth from the speculation of the eighteenth century is manifest to us
most eloquently in the masterpieces of religious art which yet remain in
peerless beauty to attest the holy convictions that inspired them; and all
that is peculiar in Grecian culture has found no exponent like the statues
of her divinities. Hogarth preceded Crabbe and Dickens in making palpable
the shadows of want, crime, and luxury. The Italian satirist, who endowed
animals with speech and made them represent the absurdities of humanity,
hinted their possible significance less than Landseer who individualized
their most salient traits, or Kaulbach who revealed the brute creation in
the highest intuitive expression. There is a piquant rustic beauty by
Greuze, which embodies and embalms, in its exquisite suggestiveness, the
special claim of naïve brightness and grace that belongs almost
exclusively to French lovable women; and there is a portrait of an
American matronly belle of the days of Washington, by Stuart, which
represents the type of mingled self-reliance and womanly loveliness that
has made the ladies of our Republican court so memorably attractive.


  'Throw physic to the dogs.'--MACBETH.

  'Friend of my life, which did not you prolong,
  The world had wanted many an idle song.'--POPE.

In the moving panoramas of cities are to be seen certain vehicles of all
degrees of locomotive beauty and convenience, from the glossy and
silver-knobbed carriage with its prancing grays, to the bacheloric-looking
sulky with its one gaunt horse, in which are seated gentlemen of a learned
and professional aspect, usually wearing spectacles, and always an air of
intense respectability, or of contemplation and seriousness. They
recognize numerous acquaintances as they pass with a peculiar smile and
nod, and are usually accompanied by 'a little man-boy to hold the horse,'
as the French cook in the play defines a _tigre_. These mysterious
personages rejoice in the title of Doctor--once a very distinctive
appellation, but now as common as authorship and travelling. A moralist,
watching them gliding by amid fashionable equipages, crowded omnibuses,
hasty pedestrians, and all the phenomena of life in a metropolis, would
find a striking contrast between the rushing tide around and the hushed
rooms they enter. To how many their visit is the one daily event that
breaks in upon the monotony of illness and confinement; how many eyes
watch them with eager suspense, and listen to their opinion as the fiat
of destiny; how many feverishly expect their coming, shrink from their
polished steel, rejoice in their cheering ministrations, or dread their
long bills! 'The Doctor!'--a word that stirs the extremest moods, despair
and jollity!

There is no profession which depends so much for its efficiency on
personal traits as that of medicine; for the utility of technical
knowledge here is derived from individual judgment, tact, and sympathy. In
other words, the physician has to deal with an unknown element. Between
the specific ailment and the remedy there are peculiarities of
constitution, the influence of circumstances, and the laws of nature to be
considered; so that although the medical adviser may be thoroughly versed
in physiology, the materia medica, and the symptoms of disease, if he
possess not the discrimination, the observant skill, and the reflective
power to apply his learning wisely, it is comparatively unavailing. The
aim of the divine and the attorney, however impeded by obstacles, is
reached by a more direct course; logic, eloquence, and zeal, united to
professional attainment, will insure success in law and divinity; but in
physic, certain other qualities in the man are requisite to give scope to
the professor. Hence we associate a certain originality with the idea of a
doctor; are apt to regard the vocation at the two extremes of superiority
and pretension, and justly estimate the individuals of the class according
to their capacity of insight and their principles of action, rather than
by their mere acquisitions or rank as teachers. The uncertainty of
medicine, as a practical art, thus induces a stronger reliance on
individual endowments than is the case in any other liberal pursuit.

A philosophical history of the art of healing would be not less curious
than suggestive. The absurd theories which checked its progress for
centuries, the secrets hoarded by Egyptian priests, the union of medical
knowledge with ancient systems of philosophy, the epoch of Galen, the
Arabian and Salerno schools, the reformation of Paracelsus, the brilliant
discoveries which, at long intervals, illumined the track of the science,
and the enlightened principles now realized--if fully discussed--would
form an extraordinary chapter in the biography of man. Herein, as with
other vocations, modern division of labour has concentrated professional
aptitudes. 'L' affluence des postulants,' says Balzac, 'a forcé la
médecine a se diviser en catégories; il y a le médecin qui professe, le
médecin politique et le médecin militant et la cinquième divisions, celle
des docteurs qui vendent des remèdes.'

St. Luke and the Good Samaritan are yet the favourite signs of
apothecaries, confirming the original charity of the art; and in the south
of Europe may still be seen over the barbers' shops the effigy of a human
arm spouting blood from an open vein--an indication of the once universal
custom of periodical depletion. It is now acknowledged that diverse
climates require modified treatment of the same disease; that nervous
susceptibility is far greater in one latitude than another, and that
habits of life essentially individualize the constitution. Indeed, the
widest difference exists in the relation of persons to the doctor; some
never see him, and others must have a consultation upon the most trifling
ailment,--so great is the dependence which can be had upon nature, and so
extreme both the faith and the scepticism which exist in regard to
curative science.

Popular literature is full of hits at the profession. 'Le barbier fait
plus de la moitié d' un médecin,' says Molière, who, in _La Malade
Imaginaire_, has so acutely given the current philosophy of the subject by
satirizing the pedantry and charlatanism of the doctors of his day; 'Nous
voyons que, dans la maladie tout le monde a recours aux médecins;--c'est
une marque de la faiblesse humaine et non pas de la vérité de leur art;'
and of all ailments the hardest to cure is 'la maladie des médecins.'
Imagination has been called by a German philosopher 'the mediatrix, the
nurse, the mover of all the several parts of our spiritual organism.' 'I
have the worst luck of any physician under the cope of heaven,' complains
Sancho Panza; 'other doctors kill their patients, and are paid for it too,
and yet they are at no further trouble than scrawling two or three cramp
words for some physical slip-slop, which the apothecaries are at all the
pains to make up.'

It would seem, indeed, as if the advance of science improved medical
practice negatively--that is, by inducing what in politics has been called
a masterly inactivity; and there is no doubt that no small degree of the
success attending Hahnemann's theory is to be attributed to the
comparative abstinence it inculcates in the use of remedial agents. The
fact is a significant one, as indicative of the want of positive science
in the healing art; and the consequent wisdom of leaving to nature, as far
as possible, the restorative process. Indeed, to assist nature is
acknowledged, by just observers, to be the only wise course; and this
brings us to the inference that a good physician is necessarily a
philosopher; it is incumbent on him, of all men, to exercise the inductive
faculty; he must possess good causality, not only to reason justly on
individual cases, but to apply the progress of science to the exigencies
of disease. It is related of Bixio that such was his zeal for science,
having long wished to ascertain whether a man instinctively turns when
wounded in a vital part, asked his adversary in a duel to aim at one, and,
although fatally hurt, exclaimed with ardour, as he involuntarily spun
round--'It is true, they do turn!'

The comparatively slow accumulation of scientific truth in regard to the
treatment of disease, is illustrated by the fact that not until the lapse
of two thousand years after medicine had assumed the rank of a science,
under the auspices of Hippocrates, was the circulation of the blood
discovered--an era in its history. The fiery discussion of the efficacy of
inoculation, and its gradual introduction, is another significant
evidence of the same general truth. But in our own day the rapid and
valuable developments of chemistry have, in a measure, reversed the
picture. Numerous alleviating and curative agents have been discovered;
the gas of poisonous acids is found to eradicate, in many cases, the most
fatal diseases of the eye; heat, more penetrating than can be created by
other means, is eliminated from carbon in an aëriform state, passes
through the cuticle without leaving a mark on its surface, and restores
aching nerves or exhausted vitality. Vegetable and mineral substances are
refined, analyzed, and combined with a skill never before imagined; opium
yields morphine, and Peruvian bark quinine, and all the known salubrious
elements are thus rendered infinitely subservient to the healing art.
Chloroform is one of the most beneficent of these new agents; and has
exorcised the demon of physical pain by a magical charm, without
violating, in judicious hands, the integrity of nature.

There is a secret of curative art in which consists the genius of healing;
it is that union of sympathy with intelligence, and of moral energy with
magnetic gifts, whereby the tides of life are swayed, and one 'can
minister to a mind diseased.' Fortunate is the patient who is attended by
one thus endowed; but such are usually found out of the professional
circle;--they are referees ordained by nature to settle the difficulties
of inferior spirits; the arbiters recognized by instinct who soothe anger,
reconcile doubt, amuse, elevate, and console, by a kind of moral alchemy;
and potent coadjutors are they to the material aids of merely technical
physicians. 'Who dare say,' asks Rénan, in allusion to the calming and
purifying influence of Jesus, 'that in many cases, and apart from injuries
of a dreaded character, the contact of an exquisite person is not worth
all the resources of pharmacy?' 'It was agony to me,' wrote Hahnemann, 'to
walk in darkness, with no other light than could be derived from books.'
One of his opponents, from this confession, infers the fallacy of his
system; 'the conviction,' he observes, 'is irresistibly forced upon us
that he was not a _born physician_.' If our ancestors were less
enlightened in regard to _hygiène_, and if their physicians were less
scrupulous in tampering with the functions of nature, they had one signal
advantage over us in escaping the inhuman comments, made after every fatal
issue, on the practice and the treatment adopted--no matter with how much
conscientious intelligence. We not only suffer the pangs of bereavement,
but the reproaches of devotees of each school of medicine and of rival
doctors, of having by an unwise choice sacrificed the life for which we
would have cheerfully resigned our own! Somewhat of this occult healing
force might have been read in the serene countenance of Dr. Physic, of
Philadelphia; it predominated in the benevolent founder of the Insane
Asylum of Palermo, who learned from an attack of mental disorder how to
feel for, and minister to, those thus afflicted. The late Preissnitz, of
Graefenberg, seems to have enjoyed the gift which is as truly Nature's
indication of an aptitude for the art, as a sense of beauty in the poet.
But this principle is 'caviare to the general.'

Medicine has lost much of its inherent dignity by the same element, in
modern times, that has degraded art, letters, and society--the spirit of
trade. This agency encourages motives, justifies means, and leads to ends
wholly at variance with high tone and with truth. The gentleman, the
philosopher, the man of honour, and with them that keystone in the arch of
character--self-respect, are wholly compromised in the process of sinking
a liberal art into a common trade. In the economy of modern society,
however, the physician has acquired a new influence; he has gained upon
the monopoly of the priest: for while the spirit of inquiry, by trenching
on the mysterious prerogatives which superstition once accorded, has
retrenched the latter's functions, the same agency, by extending the
domain of science and rendering its claims popular, has enlarged the
sphere of the other profession. To an extent, therefore, never before
known, the doctor fills the office of confessor; his visits yield
agreeable excitement to women with whom he gossips and sympathizes;
admitted by the very exigency of the case to entire confidence, often
revered as a counsellor and friend, as well as relied on as a healer, not
infrequently he becomes the oracle of a household. Privileges like these,
when used with benevolence and integrity, are doubtless honourable to both
parties, and become occasions for the exercise of the noblest service and
the highest sentiments of our nature; while, on the other hand, they are
liable to the grossest abuse, where elevation of character and gentlemanly
instincts are wanting. Accordingly there has sprung into existence, in our
day, a personage best designated as the medical Jesuit; whose real
vocation, as well as the process by which he acquires supremacy, fully
justifies the appellation. Like his religious prototype, he operates
through the female branches, who, in their turn, control the heads of
families; and the extent to which the domestic arrangements, the social
relations, and even the opinions of individuals are thus regulated, is
truly surprising. 'Women,' says Mrs. Jameson, 'are inclined to fall in
love with priests and physicians, because of the help and comfort they
derive from both in perilous moral and physical maladies. They believe in
the presence of real pity, real sympathy, where the look and tone of each
have become merely habitual and conventional, I may say professional.' Yet
a popular novelist, in his ideal portrait of the physician, justly claims
superiority to impulse and casual sympathy as an essential requisite to
success. 'He must enter the room a calm intelligencer. He is disabled for
his mission if he suffer aught to obscure the keen glance of his

The natural history of the doctor has not yet been written, but the
classes are easily nomenclated; we have all known the humorous, the
urbane, the oracular, the facetious, the brusque, the elegant, the shrewd,
the exquisite, the burly, the bold, and the fastidious; and the character
of people may be inferred by their choice of each species. Those in whom
taste predominates over intellect, will select a physician, for his
agreeable personal qualities; while such as value essential traits, will
compromise with the roughest exterior and the least flattering address for
the sake of genuine skill and a vigorous and honest mind. As a general
rule, in large cities, vanity seems to rule the selection; and it is a
lamentable view of human nature to see the blind preference given to
plausible but shallow men, whose smooth tongues or gallant air win them
suffrages denied to good sense and candid intercourse. The most detestable
genus is that we have described under the name of medical Jesuits; next in
annoyance are the precisians; the most harmless of the weaker order are
the gossips; and there is often little to choose in point of risk to 'the
house of life' between the very timid and the dare-devils; in a great
exigency the former, and in an ordinary case the latter are equally to be
shunned. In the _Horæ Subsecivæ_ of Dr. John Brown, we find some apt and
needed counsel to the aspirants for medical success:--'The young doctor
must have for his main faculty, _sense_; but all will not do if Genius is
not there; such a special therapeutic gift had Hippocrates, Sydenham,
Pott, Purcell, John Hunter, Delpech, Dupuytren, Kellie, Cheyne, Baillie,
and Abercrombie. Moreover, let me tell you, my young doctor friends, that
a cheerful face and step and neckcloth and buttonhole, and an occasional
hearty and kindly joke, and the power of executing and setting a-going a
good laugh, are stock in our trade not to be despised.' Brillat Savarin
declares, doctors easily become gourmands because so well received.

In Paris, Edinburgh, and Philadelphia, all the world over, the medical
student is an exceptional character. Their pranks are patent: the rough
ones like to kick up rows, and the more quiet are unique at practical
jokes. Bob Sawyer is a typical hero. If, like the portrait-painter,
doctors are often the playthings of fortune in cities, where the arbitrary
whims of fashion decree success; in the country their true worth is more
apt to find appreciation, and the individualities of character having free
scope, quite original children of Apollo are the result. The name of
Hopkins is still memorable in the region where he practised, as one of the
literary clique of which Humphries, Dwight, and Barlow were members. Dr.
Osborn, of Sandwich, Mass., wrote the popular whaling-song yet in vogue
among Nantucketers. Dr. Holyoke, of Salem, is renowned as a beautiful
instance of longevity; and the wit of Dr. Spring was proverbial in Boston.
The best example of a medical philosopher, in our annals, is that of Dr.
Rush, of Philadelphia; he reformed the system of practice; first treated
yellow fever successfully, made climate a special study, and, like Burke,
laid every one he encountered under contribution for facts. His life of
seventy years was passed in ardent investigation. It is remarkable that
the first martyr to American liberty was a physician; and, before he fell,
Warren eloquently avowed his principles, like Körner in Germany, rousing
the spirit of his countrymen, and then consecrating his sentiments with
his blood. Boylston, the ancestral portraits of whose family are among the
best of Copley's American works, nearly fell a victim to public
indignation for his zealous and intelligent advocacy of inoculation, and
natural science owes a debt to Barton, Morton, and De Kay, which is
acknowledged both at home and abroad. A French doctor has noted the
historical importance of his _confrères_, and tells us Hamond was Racine's
master, Lestocq helped to elevate Catharine to the Russian throne, Haller
was a poet and romancer, Cuvier was the greatest naturalist of his age,
and Murat was a doctor. French _médecins_ have figured in the Chamber and
on the Boulevards.

If by virtue of the philosophic instinct and liberal tastes the doctor is
thus allied to belles-lettres, he is allured into the domain of science by
a still more direct sympathy. To how many has the study of the materia
medica, and the culling of simples, proved the occasion of botanical
research; and hence, by an easy transition, of exploring the entire field
of natural science. Thus Davy was beguiled into chemical investigation;
and Abercrombie, by the vestibule of physiological knowledge, sought the
clue to mental philosophy; while Spurzheim and Combe ministered to a great
charity by clearly explaining to the masses the natural laws of human
well-being. It is an evidence of the sagacity of the Russian Peter, that
he sought an interview with Boerhaäve; for by these varied links of
general utility the medical office enters into every branch of social
economy, and is only narrowed and shorn of dignity by the limited views or
inadequate endowments of its votaries. The Jewish physician preserved and
transmitted much of the learning of the world, after the fall of the
Alexandrian school.[13] Life-insurance and quarantines have become such
grave interests, that through them the responsibility of the physician to
society is manifest to all; that to individuals is only partially
recognized. How Cowper and Byron suffered for wise medical advice, and
what ameliorations in states of mind and moral conditions have been
induced by the now widely-extended knowledge of hygienic laws! Charles
Lamb reasons wisely as well as quaintly in this wise:--'You are too
apprehensive of your complaint. The best way in these cases is to keep
yourself as ignorant as the world was before Galen, of the entire
construction of the animal man; not to be conscious of a midriff; to hold
kidneys to be an agreeable fiction; to account the circulation of the
blood an idle whim of Harvey's; to acknowledge no mechanism not visible.
For once fix the seat of your disorder, and your fancies flux into it like
bad humours. Above all, take exercise, and avoid tampering with the hard
terms of art. Desks are not deadly. It is the mind, and not the limbs,
that taints by long sitting. Think of the patience of the tailors; think
how long the Lord Chancellor sits; think of the brooding hen.'

In literature the doctor figures with a genial dignity; he has affinities
with genius, and a life-estate in the kingdom of letters: witness Garth's
poem of _The Dispensary_; Akenside's _Pleasures of the Imagination_;
Armstrong's _Art of Health_; Cowley's verses, Sprat's life of him, and
Currie's of Burns; Beattie's _Minstrel_; Darwin's _Botanic Garden_;
Moore's _Travels in Italy_; Zimmerman's _Solitude_; Goldsmith's _Vicar_
and _Village_; Aikin's _Criticisms_; Joanna Baillie's gifted brother, and
Lady Morgan's learned husband. Burke found health at the house of the
benign Dr. Nugent, of Bath, at the outset of his career, and married the
daughter of his medical friend. 'Les médecins sont souvent tout a la fois
conseillors, arbitres et magistrats au sein des familles.' The best
occasional verses of Dr. Johnson are those that commend the humble virtues
of Levett, the apothecary.[14] Dr. Lettson wrote the life of Carver, the
American traveller, and his account of that adventurous unfortunate led
to the establishment of the Literary Fund Society. Among the graves near
Archibald Carlyle's old church at Inveresk, where that handsome clerical
and convivial gossip is buried, is that of the sweet versifier, beloved as
the 'Delta' of Blackwood, Dr. Moir, who so genially united the domestic
lyrist and the good doctor; a Delta framed in bay adorns the pedestal of
his monument. Rousseau, an invalid of morbid sensibility, recognizes the
professional superiority of the physician as a social agent:--'Par tous le
pays ce sont les hommes les plus véritablement utiles et savants.' The
_Médecin de Campagne_ of Balzac, and the _Dr. Antonio_ of Ruffini, are
elaborate and charming illustrations of this testimony of the author of
_Emile_. What a curious chapter would be added to the _Diary of a
Physician_, had Cabanis kept a record of his interviews with those two
illustrious patients--Mirabeau and Condorcet. The social affinities of the
doctor prove indirectly what we before suggested, that it is in the
character more than in the learning, in the mind rather than the technical
knowledge, that medical success lies. One of the shrewdest of the
profession, Abernethy, declared thereof,--'I have observed, in my
profession, that the greatest men were not mere readers, but the men who
reflected, who observed, who fairly thought out an idea.' Almost intuitive
is the venerable traditional ideal of the physician; among the aborigines
of this continent, the 'medicine man' was revered as nearest to the 'Great
Spirit.' 'I hold physicians,' said Dr. Parr, 'to be the most enlightened
professional persons in the whole circle of human arts and sciences.' In
our own day, Lever's Irish novels, and in our own country the writings of
Drake, Mitchell, Holmes, Bigelow, Francis, and others, indicate the
literary claims of the profession. Think of Arbuthnot beside Pope's
sick-bed, and the latter's apostrophe:--

  'Friend of my life, which did not you prolong,
  The world had wanted many an idle song;'

of Garth ministering to Johnson, and Rush philosophizing, with Dr.
Franklin, and the friendship of Pope and Cheselden. Bell's comments on
art, Colden's _Letters to Linnæus_, and Thatcher's _Military Journal_, are
attractive proofs of that liberal tendency which leads the physician
beyond the limits of his profession into the field of philosophical
research. The bequest of Sir Hans Sloane was the nucleus of the British
Museum. We all have a kind of affection for Dr. Slop, who, drawn from Dr.
Burton, of York--a cruel, instrumental obstetrician,--is the type of an
almost obsolete class, as the doctor in _Macbeth_ is of the sapient
pretender of all time. As to ideal doctors, how real to our minds is that
Wordsworthean myth Dr. Fell, the physician of Sancho Panza, and the Purgon
of Molière; while Dulcamara is a permanent type of the clever quack, Dr.
Bartolo of the solemn professor, and Sangrado of the merciless
phlebotomist. To think it 'more honourable to fail according to rule than
to succeed by innovation,' is a satire of no local significance, but the
constant creed of the medical pedant. Satirized years ago by the French
comic dramatist, the profession was caricatured the other day by a young
disciple of Esculapius, who in a clever drawing represented the votary of
homoeopathy with a little globule between thumb and finger, engaged in a
kind of airy swallowing; the allopathic patient in an easy-chair is making
wry faces over a large spoonful of physic; the believer in hydropathy sits
forlorn and shivering in a sitz-bath, with a large goblet of water raised
to his lips; while the Thomsonian victim is writhing and nauseating in
anguish; and in the midst a skeleton, with a syringe for a baton, is
dancing in a transport of infernal joy. Southey took a wise advantage of
the popular idea of a doctor, in the genial and speculative phase of the
character, when he gave the title to his last rambling, erudite, quaint,
and charming production. Men of letters accordingly are wont to fraternize
with the best of the profession; and there has always been a reciprocal
interchange between them, both of affection and wit. Thus Halleck tells
us, in _Fanny_,--

  'In Physic, we have Francis and M'Neven,
    Famed for long heads, short lectures, and long bills;
  And Quackenboss and others, who from heaven
    Were rained upon us in a shower of pills;
  They'd beat the deathless Esculapius hollow,
    And make a starveling druggist of Apollo.'

The record of our surgeons in the war for the Union is alike honourable to
their patriotism, humanity, and skill.

Popular writers have indicated the claims and character of the profession,
not only in a dramatic or anecdotal way, but by personal testimony and
observation; and those who have had the best opportunities, and are
endowed with liberal sympathies, warmly recognize the possible usefulness
and probable benevolence of a class of men more often satirized than sung.
The privations and toil incident to country practice half a century ago
are scarcely imagined now. Sir Walter Scott tells us,--'I have heard the
celebrated traveller Mungo Park, who had experienced both courses of life,
rather give the preference to travelling as a discoverer in Africa, than
to wandering by night and day the wilds of his native land in the capacity
of a country practitioner.' Dr. Johnson, a livelong invalid, and not apt
to overlook professional foibles, gives a high average character to the
doctor. 'Whether,' he observes, 'what Sir William Temple says be true,
that the physicians have more learning than the other faculties, I will
not stay to inquire; but I believe every man has found in physicians great
liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusion of beneficence,
and willingness to exert a lucrative art where there is no hope of lucre.'

It is a nervous process to undergo the examination of a Parisian medical
professor of the first class. Auscultation was first introduced by one of
them, Laennec, and diagnosis is their chief art. In their hands the
stethoscope is a divining-rod. So reliable is their insight, that they
seem to read the internal organism as through a glass; and one feels under
Louis's inspection as if awaiting sentence. The laws of disease have been
thoroughly studied in the hospitals of Paris, and the philosophy of
symptoms is there understood by the medical _savans_ with the certainty of
a natural science, but the knowledge and application of remedies is by no
means advanced in equal proportion. Accordingly, the perfection of modern
skill in the art seems to result from an education in the French schools,
combined with experience in English practice; thorough acquaintance with
physiology, and habits of acute observation and accurate deduction, are
thus united to executive tact and ability. And similar eclectic traits of
character are desirable in the physician, especially the union of solidity
of mind with agreeableness of manner; for in no vocation is there so often
demanded the blending of the _fortiter in re_ with the _suaviter in modo_.

The absence of faith in positive remedies that obtains in Europe is very
striking to an American visitor, because it offers so absolute a contrast
to the system pursued at home. I attended the funeral of a countryman a
few days after reaching Paris, and on our way to Père la Chaise his case
and treatment were fully discussed; his disease was typhus fever. Previous
to delirium he had designated a physician, a celebrated professor, who
only prescribed _gomme syrop_. For a week I travelled with a Dominican
friar, who had so high a fever that in America he would have been
confined to his bed; he took no nourishment all the time but a plate of
thin soup once a day, and when we reached our destination he was
convalescent. Abstinence and repose are appreciated on the Continent as
remedial agencies; but they are contrary to the genius of our people, who
regard active enterprise as no less desirable in a doctor than a steamboat

Veteran practitioners have demonstrated that certain diseases are
self-limited, that the art of treating diseases is still 'a conjectural
study,' and avowed the conviction that 'the amount of death and disaster
in the world would be less if all disease were left to itself, than it now
is under the multiform, reckless, and contradictory modes of practice.' A
conscientious student, of high personal character, entered upon the
profession with enthusiastic faith; experience in the use of remedies made
him sceptical, and he resorted to evasion by giving water only under
various pretexts and names. His success was so much greater than that of
his brethren, that he felt bound to reveal the ruse; but continued
thenceforth to assert that, all things being equal, more patients would
survive, if properly guarded and nourished, without medicine than with.

The influence of the mind upon the body is, in some instances, so great,
that it accounts for that identity of superstition and medicine which is
one of the most remarkable traits in the history of the science. Sir
Walter Raleigh's cordial was as famous in its day as Mrs. Trulbery's water
praised by Sir Roger de Coverley. In Egypt, old practitioners cure with
amulets and charms; among the Tartars they swallow the name of the remedy
with perfect faith; and from the Puritan horseshoe to keep off witchcraft,
to Perkins' tractors to annihilate rheumatism, the history of medical
delusions is rife with imaginary triumphs. As late as the seventeenth
century, when Arabian precepts and the Jewish leech of chivalric times had
disappeared, when the square cap and falling beards had given place to
the wig and cane, in some places the mystic emblems of skull, stuffed
lizards, pickled fetus, and alembic gave a necromantic air to the doctor's

The unknown is the source of the marvellous, and the relation between a
disease and its cure is less obvious to the common understanding than that
between the evidence and the verdict in a law case, or religious faith and
its public ministration in the office of priest. The imagination has room
to act, and the sense of wonder is naturally excited, when, by the agency
of some drug, mechanical apparatus, or mystic rite, it is attempted to
relieve human suffering and dispel infirmity. Hence the most enlightened
minds are apt to yield to credulity in this sphere, much to the annoyance
of the 'regular faculty,' who complain with reason that quackery, whether
in the form of popular specifics or the person of a charlatan, derives its
main support from men of civic and professional reputation. Think of Dr.
Johnson, in his infancy, being touched for king's evil by Queen Anne, in
accordance with a belief in its sovereign efficiency, unquestioned for
centuries. Sir Kenelm Digby was as much celebrated in his day for his
recipe for a sympathetic powder, which he obtained from an Italian friar,
as for his beautiful wife or his naval victory; and the good Bishop
Berkeley gave as much zeal to the _Treatise on the Virtues of Tar-water_
as to that on the _Immateriality of the Universe_.

Shakspeare has drawn a quack doctor to the life in Caius, the French
physician, in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, and uttered an impressive
protest against the tribe in _All's Well that Ends Well_:--

    '_King._ But may not be so credulous of cure,
  When our most learned doctors leave us; and
  The congregated college have concluded
  That labouring art can never ransom nature
  From her inaidable estate: I say we must not
  So stain our judgment, or corrupt our hope,
  To prostitute our past-cure malady
  To empirics; or to dissever so
  Our great self and our credit, to esteem
  A senseless help, when help past sense we deem.'

An American member of the medical profession[15] has traced in the great
bard of nature a minute knowledge of the healing art, citing his various
allusions to diseases and their remedies. Thus we have in Coriolanus the
'post-prandial temper of a robust man,' and the physiology of madness in
Hamlet and Lear. The wasting effects of love, melancholy, the processes of
digestion, respiration, circulation of the blood, infusion of humours,
effects of passions on the body, of slow and swift poisons, insomnia,
dropsy, and other phenomena described with accuracy. Cæsar's fever in
Spain, Gratiano's warning, 'creep into a jaundice by being peevish;' the
physical effects of sensualism in Antony and Cleopatra, the external signs
of sudden death from natural causes in Henry VI., and summary of diseases
in Troilus and Cressida, are described with professional truth. How
memorable his Apothecary's portrait! while the medical critic assures us
that, in a passage in _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, the 'accessories of a
sickly season are poetically described,' and that Falstaff admirably
satirizes the 'ambiguities of professional opinion,' while, in Mrs.
Quickly's description of his death, and the dying scene of Cardinal
Beaufort, as well as the senility of Lear, the mellow virility of old
Adam, the 'thick-coming fancies' of remorse, and Ophelia's
aberration--every minute touch in the memorable picture of 'a mind
diseased'--indicate a profound insight, and suggest, as no other poet can,
how intimately and universally the 'ills that flesh is heir to,' and the
vocation of those who minister to health, are woven into the web of human
destiny and the scenes of human life. Who has so sweetly celebrated
'Nature's sweet restorer' and the 'healing touch'? or more emphatically
declared, 'when the mind's free the body's delicate,' and--

              'We are not ourselves
  When nature, being oppressed, commands
  The mind to suffer with the body.'

The memoirs of celebrated men abound with physiological interest; their
eminence brings out facts which serve to vindicate impressively the phases
of medical experience, and the relation of the soul to its tabernacle.
Madden's _Infirmities of Genius_ is a book which suggests an infinite
charity, as well as exposes the fatal effects of neglecting natural laws.
Lord Byron used to declare that a dose of salts exhilarated him more than
wine. Shelley was a devoted vegetarian. Cowper spoke from experience when
he sang the praises of the cups 'that cheer but not inebriate.' Johnson
had faith in the sanative quality of dried orange-peel. When Dr. Spurzheim
was first visited by the physicians in his last illness, he told them to
allow for the habitual irregularity of his pulse, which had intermitted
ever since the death of his wife. George Combe used to tell a capital
story, in his lectures, of the manner in which a pious Scotch lady made
her grandson pass Sunday, whereby, while outwardly keeping the Sabbath, he
violated all the rules of health. Two of the most characteristic books in
British literature are Greene's poem of the _Spleen_, and Dr. Cheyne's
_English Malady_; and another is the history of the _Gold-headed Cane_, or
rather of the five doctors that successively owned it. The cane, indeed,
was ever an indispensable symbol of medical authority. The story of Dr.
Radcliffe's illustrates its modern significance; but the association of
the walking-staff and the doctor comes down to us from mediæval times. 'He
smelt his cane,' in the old ballads, is a phrase suggestive of a then
common expedient; the head of the physician's cane was filled with
disinfectant herbs, the odour of which the owner inhaled when exposed to
miasma. Even at this day, in some of the provincial towns in Italy, we
encounter the doctor in the pharmacist's shop, awaiting patients,--his
dress and manner such as are reproduced in the comic drama, while the
quack of the Piazza is recognized on the operatic stage.

How unprofessional medicine is becoming may be seen in current literature,
when De Quincey's metaphysical account of the effects of opium, and
Bulwer's fascinating plea for the Water-Cure, are ranked as light reading.
To the lover of the old English prose-writers there is no more endeared
name than Sir Thomas Browne, and his _Religio Medici_ and quaint tracts
are among the choicest gifts for which philosophy is indebted to the
profession; while the classical student owes to Dr. Middleton a _Life of
Cicero_. The vivacious Lady Montagu is most gratefully remembered for her
philanthropic efforts in behalf of inoculation for smallpox; and our
Brockden Brown has described the phenomena of an epidemic, in one of his
novels, with more insight though less horror than Defoe.

It is in pestilence and after battle that the doctor sometimes rises to
the moral sublime, in his disinterested and unwearied devotion to others.
It must, however, be confessed that, notwithstanding these incidental
laurels, the authority of the profession has so declined, the _malades
imaginaires_ so increased with civilization, and the privileges of the
faculty been so encroached upon by what is called 'progress,' that a
doctor of the old school would scorn to tolerate the fallen dignity of a
title that once rendered his intercourse with society oracular, and
authorized him with impunity to whip a king, as in the case of Dr. Willis
and George the Third.

'The philosophy of medicine, I imagine,' observed Dr. Arnold, 'is zero;
our practice is empirical, and seems hardly more than a course of
guessing, more or less happy.' None have been more sceptical than
physicians themselves in regard to their own science: Broussais calls it
illusory, like astrology; and Bichat declares 'it is, in respect to its
principles, taken from most of our _materia medicas_, impracticable for a
sensible man; an incoherent assemblage of incoherent opinions, it is,
perhaps, of all the physiological sciences, the one which shows plainest
the contradictions and wanderings of the human mind.' Montaigne used to
beseech his friends that, if he fell ill, they would let him get a little
stronger before sending for the doctor. Louis XIV., who was a slave to his
physicians, asked Molière what he did for his doctor. 'Oh, sire,' said he,
'when I am ill I send for him. He comes; we have a chat, and enjoy
ourselves. He prescribes; I don't take it,--and I am cured.'

'There is a certain analogy,' says an agreeable writer, 'between naval and
medical men. Neither like to acknowledge the presence of danger.' On the
other hand, each patient's character as well as constitution makes a
separate demand upon his sympathy; for in cases where fortitude and
intelligence exist, perfect frankness is due, and in instances of extreme
sensibility it may prove fatal; so that the most delicate consideration is
often required to decide on the expediency of enlightening the invalid. If
it is folly to theorize in medicine, it is often sinful to flatter the
imagination for the purpose of securing temporary ease. A physician's
course, like that of men in all pursuits, is sometimes regulated by his
consciousness, and he is apt to prescribe according to his own rather than
his patient's nature; thus a fleshy doctor is inclined to bleed, and
recommend generous diet; a nervous one affects mild anodynes; a vain one
talks science; and a thin, cold-blooded, speculative one, makes safe
experiments in practice, and is habitually non-committal in speech. Almost
invariably short-necked plethoric doctors enjoy freeing the vessels of
others by copious depletion, and those more delicately organized advocate
fresh air and tonics; the one instinctively reasoning from the surplus,
and the other from the inadequate vitality of which they are respectively
conscious. I knew a doctor who scarcely ever failed to prescribe an
emetic, and the expression of his countenance indicated chronic nausea.

Medicine enjoys no immunity from the spirit of the age. Who does not
recognize in the popularity of Hahnemann's system the influence of the
transcendental philosophy, a kind of intuitive practice analogous to the
vague terms of its disciples in literature; those little globules with the
theoretical accompaniment catch the fancy; castor-oil and the lancet are
matter-of-fact in comparison. And so with hydropathy. There is in our day
what may be called a return-to-nature school. Wordsworth is its expositor
in poetry, Fourier in social life, the Pre-Raphaelites in painting. The
newly-appreciated efficacy of water accords with this principle. It is an
elemental medicament, limpid as the style of Peter Bell, free from
admixture as the individual labour in a model community, and as directly
caught from nature as the aërial perspective of England's late scenic
limner. Even what has been considered the inevitable resort to dissection
in order to acquire anatomical knowledge, it is now pretended, has a
substitute in clairvoyance. Somewhat of truth in this spiritualizing
tendency of science there doubtless is; but fact is the basis of positive
knowledge, and the most unwarrantable of all experiments are those
involving human health.

If the mental experience of a doctor naturally leads to philosophy, the
moral tends to make him a philanthropist. He is familiar with all the ills
that flesh is heir to. The mystery of birth, the solemnity of death, the
anxiety of disease, the devotion of faith, the agony of despair, are
phases of life daily open to his view; and their contemplation, if there
is in his nature a particle either of reflection or sensibility, must lead
to a sense of human brotherhood, excite the impulse of benevolence, and
awaken the spirit of humanity. Warren's _Diary of a Physician_ gives us an
inkling of what varieties of human experience are exposed to his gaze.
Vigils at the couch of genius and beauty, full of the stern romance of
reality, or imbued with tenderness and inspiration, are recorded in his
heart. He is admitted into sanctums where no other feet but those of
kindred enter. He becomes the inevitable auditor and spectator where no
other stranger looks or listens. Human nature, stripped of its
conventionalities, lies exposed before him; the secrets of conscience, the
aspirations of intellect, the devotedness of love, all that exalts and all
that debases the soul, he beholds in the hour of weakness, solitude, or
dismay; and hard and unthinking must he be if such lessons make no
enduring impression, and excite no comprehensive sympathies.

'The corner-stone of health,' says a German writer, 'is to maintain our
individuality intact;' and while the hygienic reformer has lessened the
bills of mortality, personal culture has emancipated society from much of
the ignorant dependence and insalubrious habits of less enlightened


    'And here I must have leave, in the fulness of my soul, to regret the
    abolition and doing away with altogether of those consolatory
    interstices and sprinklings of freedom through the four seasons--the
    _red-letter_ days, now become to all intents and purposes
    _dead-letter_ days.'--CHARLES LAMB.

While we accord a certain historical or ethical significance to our
holidays, we also feel their casual tenure, their want of recreative rest,
of enjoyable spirit, and of cordial popular estimation; and are
irresistibly prompted to discuss their claims as one of the neglected
elements of our national life. It is an anomalous fact in our civilization
that we have no one holiday, the observance of which is unanimous. It is
an exceptional trait in our nationality that its sentiment finds no annual
occasion when the hearts of the people thrill with an identical emotion,
absorbing in patriotic instinct and mutual reminiscence all personal
interests and local prejudices. It is an unfortunate circumstance that no
American festival, absolutely consecrated and universally acknowledged,
hallows the calendar to the imagination of our people. Anniversaries
enough, we boast, of historical importance, but they are casually
observed; events of glorious memory crowd our brief annals, but they are
not consciously identified with recurring periods; universal celebrities
are included in the roll of our country's benefactors; but the dates of
their birth, services, and decease, form no saints' days for the Republic.
How often in the crises of sectional passion does the moral necessity of
a common shrine, a national feast, a place, a time, or a memory sacred to
fraternal sympathies of general observance, appal the patriotic heart with
regret, or warm it with desire! How much of sectional misunderstanding,
hatred, and barbarism culminating in a base and savage mutiny, will the
future historian trace in the last analysis to the absence of a common
sentiment and occasion of mutual pleasure and faith. Were such a nucleus
for popular enthusiasm, such a goal for a nation's pilgrimage, such a day
for reciprocal gratulation our own--a time when the oath of fealty could
be renewed at the same altar, the voice of encouragement be echoed from
every section of the Union, the memory of what has been, the appreciation
of what is, and the hope of what may be, simultaneously felt,--what a bond
of union, a motive to forbearance, and a pledge of nationality would be
secured! Were there not in us sentiments as well as appetites, reflection
as well as passion, humanity might rest content with such 'note of time'
as is marked on a sun-dial or in the almanac; but constituted as we are, a
profound and universal instinct prompts observances wherewith faith, hope,
and memory may keep register of the fleeting hours and months. In
accordance with this instinct, periodical sacrifice, song, prayer, and
banquet, in all countries and ages, have inscribed with heartfelt ceremony
the shadowy lapse of being. Without law or art, the savage thus identifies
his consciousness with the seasons and their transition; anniversaries
typifying vicissitude; the wheel of custom stops awhile; events,
convictions, reminiscences, and aspirations are personified in the
calendar; and that reason which 'looks before and after' asserts itself
under every guise, from the barbarian rite to the Christian festival, and
begets the holiday as an institution natural to man. If the ballads of a
people are the essence of its history, holidays are, on similar grounds,
the free utterance of its character; and, as such, of great interest to
the philosopher, and fraught with endearing associations to the

The spontaneous in nations as well as individuals is attractive to the eye
of philosophy, because it is eminently characteristic. The great charm of
biography is its revelation of the play of mind and the aspect of
character, when freed from conventional restraints; and in the life of
nations how inadequate are the records of diplomacy, legislation, and
war--the official and economical development--to indicate what is
instinctive and typical in character! It is when the armour of daily toil,
the insignia of office, the prosaic routine of life, are laid aside, that
what is peculiar in form and graceful in movement become evident. In the
glee or solemnity of the festival, the soul breaks forth; in the fusion of
a common idea, the heart of a country becomes freely manifest.

Accordingly, the manner, the spirit, and the object of festal observances
are among the most significant illustrations of history. An accurate chart
of these, from the earliest time, would afford a reliable index to the
progress of humanity, and suggest a remarkable identity of natural wants,
tendencies, and aspirations. There is, for instance, a singular affinity
between the Saturnalia of the ancient and the Carnival of the modern
Romans, the sports of the ancient circus and bull-fights of Spain; while
so closely parallel, in some respects, are Druidical and Monastic vows and
fanaticism, that one of the most popular of modern Italian operas, which
revived the picturesque costume and sylvan rites of the Druids, was
threatened with prohibition, as a satire upon the Church. It would,
indeed, well repay antiquarian investigation to trace the germ of holiday
customs from the crude superstitions of barbarians, through the usages
incident to a more refined mythology, to their modified reappearance in
the Catholic temples, where Pagan rites are invested with Christian
meaning, or the statue of Jupiter transformed into St. Peter, and the
sarcophagus of a heathen becomes the font of holy baptism. Gibbon tells
us how shrewd Pope Boniface professed but to rehabilitate old customs when
he revived the secular games in Rome. Not only are traces of Pagan forms
discoverable in the modern holidays, but the mediæval taste for
exhibitions of animal courage and vigour still lives in the love of
prize-fights and horse-racing, so prevalent in England; and the ring and
the cockpit minister to the same brutal passions which of old filled the
Flavian amphitheatre with eager spectators, and gave a relish to the
ordeal of blood. In the abuses of the modern pastime we behold the relics
of barbarism; and the perpetuity of such national tastes is evident in the
combative instinct which once sustained the orders of chivalry, and in our
day has lured thousands to the destructive battle-fields of the Crimea and

Not only do the social organizations devoted to popular amusements and
economies thus give the best tokens of local manners and average taste,
but they directly minister to the culture they illustrate. The gladiator,
'butchered to make a Roman holiday,' nurtured with his lifeblood and dying
agonies the ferocious propensities and military hardihood of the imperial
cohorts. The graceful posture and fine muscular display of the wrestler
and discus-player of Athens reappeared in the statues which peopled her
squares and temples. The equine beauty and swiftness exhibited at Derby
and Ascot keep alive the emulation which renders England famous for breeds
of horses, and her gentry healthful by equestrian exercise. The custom of
musical accompaniments at every German symposium has, in a great measure,
bred a nation of vocal and instrumental performers. The dance became a
versatile art in France, because it was, as it still is, the national
pastime.[16] The Circassian is expert with steed and rifle from the habit
of dexterity acquired in the festive trials of skill, excellence in which
is the qualification for leadership. The compass, flexibility, and
sweetness of the human voice, so characteristic of the people of Italy,
have been attained through ages of vocal practice in ecclesiastical and
rural festivals; and the copious melody of their language gradually arose
through the _canzoni_ of troubadours and the rhythmical feats of
_improvisatori_. The deafening clang of gongs, the blinding smoke of
chowsticks, and the dazzling light of innumerable lanterns, wherewith the
Chinese celebrate their national feasts, are to European senses the most
oppressive imaginable token of a stagnant and primitive civilization; the
festive elements of the semi-barbarism artistically represented by their
grotesque figures, ignorance of perspective, interminable alphabet,
pinched feet, bare scalps, and implacable hatred of innovation, both in
the processes and the forms of advanced taste.

Even the aboriginal feasts of this continent were the best indication of
what the American Indians, in their palmy days, could boast of strength,
agility, and grace. Thus, from the most cultivated to the least developed
races, what is adopted and expressed in a recreative or holiday
manner--what is thus done and said, sought and felt,--the rallying-point
of popular sympathy, the occasion of the universal joy or reverence,--is a
moral fact of unique and permanent interest; on the one hand, as
illustrative of the kind and degree of civilization attained, and of the
instinctive direction of the national mind, and, on the other, as
indicative of the means and the processes whereby the wants are met and
the ideas realized, which stimulate and mould a nation's genius and faith.

The testimony of observation accords with that of history in this regard.
The foreign scenes which haunt the memory, as popular illustrations of
character, are those of holidays. The government, literature, art, and
society of a country may be individually represented to our minds; but
when we discuss national traits, we instinctively refer to the pastimes,
the religious ceremonials, and the festivals of a people. Where has the
pugilistic hilarity of the Irish scope as at Donnybrook Fair?[17] Is a
dull parliamentary speech, or an animated debate at the racecourse, most
vivid with the spirit of English life? Market-day, and harvest-home, and
saintly anniversaries, evoke from its commonplace level the life of the
humble and the princely, and they appear before the stranger under a
genuine and characteristic guise. We associate the French, as a people,
with the rustic groups under the trees of Montmorency, or the crowds of
neatly-dressed and gay _bourgeoise_ at the _Jardin d'Hiver_,--finding in
the green grass, lights, cheap wine and comfits, a flower in the hair, a
waltz and saunter, more real pleasure than a less frugal and mercurial
people can extract from a solemn feast, garnished with extravagant
upholstery, and loaded with luxurious viands. We recall the Italians and
Spaniards by the ceaseless bells of their _festas_ vibrating in the air,
and the golden necklace and graceful _mezzano_ of the peasant's holiday;
the tinkle of guitars, the _bolero_ and processions, or the lines of stars
marking the architecture of illuminated temples, the euphonious greeting,
the light-hearted carol, the abundant fruit, the knots of flowers, the gay
jerkin and bodice, which render the urbane throng so picturesque in aspect
and childlike in enjoyment. The sadness which overhung the very idea of
Italy, considered as a political entity, exhaled like magic before the
spectacle of a Tuscan vintage. The heaps of purple and amber fruit, the
gray and pensive-eyed oxen, the reeking butts, the yellow vine-leaves
waving in the autumn sun, form studies for the pencil; but the human
interest of the scene infinitely endears its still life. Kindred and
friends, in festal array, celebrate their work, and rejoice over the
Falernian, _Lachryma Christi_, or _Vino Nostrale_, with a frank and
_naïve_ gratitude akin to the mellow smile of productive Nature: the
distance between the lord of the soil and the peasant is, for the time,
lost in a mutual and innocent triumph; they who are wont to serve become
guests; the dance and song, the compliment and repartee, the toast and the
smile, are interchanged, on the one side with artless loyalty, and on the
other with a condescension merged in graciousness. It seems as if the hand
of Nature, in yielding her annual tribute, literally imparted to prince
and peasant the touch which makes 'the whole world kin.'

The contrast, in respect of pastime, is felt most keenly when we observe
life at home, with the impressions of the Old World fresh in our minds. We
have perhaps joined the laughing group who cluster round Punch and Judy on
the Mole of Naples; we have watched the flitting emotions on swarthy
listeners who greedily drink in the story-teller's words on the shore of
Palermo; we have made an old gondolier chant a stanza of Tasso, at sunset,
on the Adriatic; our hostess at Florence has decked the window with a
consecrated branch on Palm Sunday; we have seen the poor _contadini_ of a
Roman village sport their silver knobs and hang out their one bit of
crimson tapestry, in honour of some local saint; we have examined the last
mosaic saint exhumed from Pompeii, brilliant with festal rites, and thus,
as an element both of history and experience, of religion and domesticity,
the recreative side of life appears essential and absolute, while the
hurrying crowd, hasty salutations, and absorption in affairs around us,
seem to repudiate and ignore the inference, and to confirm the opinion of
one whose existence was divided between this country and Europe, that 'the
Americans are practical Stoics.'

To appreciate the value of holidays merely as a conservative element of
faith, we have but to remember the Jewish festivals. Ages of dispersion,
isolation, contempt, and persecution--all that mortal agencies can effect
to chill the zeal or to discredit the traditions of the Hebrews--have
not, in the slightest degree, lessened the sanction or diminished the
observance of that festival, to keep which the Divine Founder of our
religion, nineteen centuries ago, went up to Jerusalem with his disciples.
And it is difficult to conceive a more sublime idea than is involved in
this fact. On the day of the Passover, in the Austrian banker's splendid
palace, in the miserable Ghetto of Rome, under the shadow of Syrian
mosques, in the wretched by-way hostel of Poland, at the foot of Egyptian
pyramids, beside the Holy Sepulchre, among the money-changers of Paris and
the pawnbrokers of London, along the canals of Holland, in Siberia,
Denmark, Calcutta, and New York, in every nook of the civilized world, the
Jew celebrates his holy national feast; and who can estimate how much this
and similar rites have to do with the eternal marvel of that nation's

The conservatism inherent in traditional festivals not only binds together
and keeps intact the scattered communities of a dispersed race, but saves
from extinction many local and inherited characteristics. I was never so
impressed with this thought as on the occasion of an annual village _fête_
in Sicily. Perhaps no territory of the same limits comprehends such a
variety of elements in the basis of its existent population as that
luxuriant and beautiful but ill-fated island. Its surface is venerable
with the architectural remains of successive races. Here a Grecian temple,
there a Saracenic dome; now a Roman fortification, again a Norman tower;
and often a mediæval ruin of some incongruous order attracts the
traveller's gaze from broad valleys rich with grain, olive-orchards, and
citron-groves, vineyards planted in decomposed lava, hedges of aloe,
meadows of wild-flowers, a torrent's arid path, a holly-crowned mountain,
a cork forest, or seaward landscape. But the more flexible materials left
by the receding tide of invasion are so blended in the physiognomies, the
customs, and the _patois_ of the inhabitants, that only nice
investigation can trace them amid the generic phenomena of nationality
now recognized as Sicilian. Yet the people of a village but a few miles
from the capital have so identified their Greek origin with the costume of
a holiday, that, as one scans their festal array, it is easy to imagine
that the unmixed blood of their classic progenitors flushes in the dark
eyes and mantles in the olive cheeks. This ancestral dress is the endeared
heirloom in the homes of the peasantry, assumed with conscious pride and
gaiety to meet the wondering eyes of neighbouring _contadini_, curious
Palermitans, and delighted strangers, who flock to the spectacle.

The love of power is a great teacher of human instincts; and despotism,
both civil and spiritual, has, in all ages, availed itself of the natural
instinct for festivals, to multiply and enhance shows, amusements, and
holidays, in a manner which yields profitable lessons to free communities
intent on adapting the same means to nobler ends. The stated pilgrimage to
the tomb of the Prophet is an important part of the superstitious
machinery of the Mohammedan tyranny over the will and conscience; and it
is difficult to conceive now to what an extent the zeal and unity of the
early Christians were enforced by specific days of ceremonial, and by such
a hallowed goal as Jerusalem.

Imperial authority in France is upheld by festive seductions, adapted to a
vivacious populace; and by masque balls, municipal banquets, showers of
bon-bons, and ascent of balloons, contrives to win attention from
republican discontent. Mercenary rulers of petty states, by the gift of
stars and red ribbons, and liberal contributions to the opera, obtain an
economical safeguard. The policy of the Romish Church is nowhere more
striking than in her holiday institutions, appealing to native sentiment
through pageantry, music, and impressive rites in honour of saints,
martyrs, and departed friends, to propitiate their intercession or to
endear their memories.

While the pastimes in vogue typify the national mind, and are to serious
avocations what the efflorescence of the tree is to its fruit--a bountiful
pledge and augury of prolific energy,--it is only when kept as holidays,
set apart by law and usage, consecrated by time and sympathy, that such
observances attain their legitimate meaning; and to this end, a certain
affinity with character, a spontaneous and not conventional impulse is
essential. The Tournament, for instance, was the natural and appropriate
pastime of the age of chivalry; it fostered knightly prowess, and made
patent the twinborn inspiration of love and valour. As described in
_Ivanhoe_, it accords intimately with the spirit of the age and the
history of the times; as exhibited to the utilitarian vision and
mercantile habits of our own day, in Virginia, it comes no nearer our
associations than any theatrical pageant chosen at hap-hazard. What other
species of grown men could, in this age, enact every year, in the
neighbourhood of Rome, the scenes which make the artists' holiday? As a
profession, they retain the instincts of childhood, with little warping
from the world around. But imagine a set of mechanics or merchants
attempting such a masquerade. The invention, the fancy, the independence,
and the _abandon_ congenial with artist-life, gives unity,
picturesqueness, and grace to the pageant; and the speeches, costumes,
feasting, and drollery, are pre-eminently those of an artist's carnival.
It is indispensable that the spirit of a holiday should be native to the
scene and the people; and hence all endeavours to graft local pastimes
upon foreign communities signally fail. This is illustrated in our
immediate vicinity. The genial fellowship and exuberant hospitality with
which the first day of the year is celebrated in New York were
characteristic among the Dutch colonists, and have been transmitted to
their posterity, while the tone of New England society, though more
intellectual, is less urbane and companionable; accordingly, the few
enthusiasts who have attempted it have been unable, either by precept or
example, to make a Boston New Year's day the complete and hearty festival
which renders it _par excellence_ the holiday of the Knickerbockers.
Charitable enterprise, for several years past, in the Puritan city, has
distinguished May-day as a children's floral anniversary; but who that is
familiar with the peasant-songs that hail this advent of summer in the
south of Europe ever beheld the shivering infants and the wilted leaves,
paraded in the teeth of an east wind, without a conscious recoil from the
anomalous _fête_? The facts of habit, public sentiment, natural taste,
local association, and of climate, cannot be ignored in holiday
institutions, which, like eloquence, as defined by Webster, must spring
directly from the men, the subject, and the occasion. Any other source is
unstable and factitious. Of all affectations, those of diversion are the
least endurable; and there is no phase of social life more open to satire,
nor any that has provoked it to more legitimate purpose, than the
affectation of a taste for art, sporting, the ball-room, the bivouac, the
gymnasium, foreign travel, country life, nautical adventure, and literary
amusements; an affectation yielding, as we know, food for the most spicy
irony, from Goldoni's _Filosofo Inglese_ to Hood's cockney ruralist and
_Punch's_ amateur sportsman or verdant tourist. And what is true of
personal incongruities is only the more conspicuous in social and national

When our literary pioneer sought to waken the fraternal sentiment of his
countrymen towards their ancestral land, he described with sympathetic
zest an English Christmas in an old family mansion; and the most popular
of modern novelists can find no more potent spell whereby to excite a
charitable glow in two hemispheres than a _Christmas Carol_. In New as
well as in Old England the once absolute sway of this greatest of
Christian festivals has been checked by Puritan zeal. We must look to the
ancient ballads, obsolete plays, and musty church traditions, to ascertain
what this hallowed season was in the British islands, when wassail and the
yule-log, largess and the Lord of Misrule, the mistletoe bough, boars'
heads, holly wreaths, midnight chimes, the feast of kindred, the anthem,
the prayer, the games of children, the good cheer of the poor,
forgiveness, gratulation, worship--all that revelry hails and religion
consecrates,--made holiday in palace, manor, and cottage, throughout the
land; winter's robe of ermine everywhere vividly contrasting with
evergreen decorations, the frosty air with the warmth of household fires,
the cold sky with the incense of hospitable hearths; when King Charles
acted, Ben Jonson wrote a masque, Milton a hymn, lords and peasants
flocked to the altar, parents and children gathered round the board, and
church, home, wayside, town, and country bore witness to one mingled and
hearty sentiment of festivity. Identical in season with the Roman
Saturnalia, and the time when the Scalds let 'wildly loose their red locks
fly,' Christmas is sanctioned by all that is venerable in association as
well as tender and joyous in faith. It is deeply to be regretted that with
us its observance is almost exclusively confined to the Romanists and
Episcopalians. The sentiment of all Christian denominations is equally
identified with its commemoration, the event it celebrates being
essentially memorable alike to all who profess Christianity; and although
the forlorn description by Pepys of a Puritan Christmas will not apply to
the occasion here, its comparative neglect, which followed Bloody Mary's
reign, continues among too many of the sects that found refuge in America.
There are abundant indications that if the clergy would initiate the
movement, the laity are prepared to make Christmas among us the universal
religious holiday which every consideration of piety, domestic affection,
and traditional reverence unite to proclaim it.

The humanities of time, if we may so designate the periods consecrated to
repose and festivity, were thoroughly appreciated by the most quaint and
genial of English essayists. The boon of leisure, the amenities of social
intercourse, the sacredness and the humours of old-fashioned holidays,
have found their most loving interpreter, in our day, in Charles Lamb.
Hear him:--

    'I must have leave, in the fulness of my soul, to regret the abolition
    and doing away with altogether of those _consolatory interstices_ and
    _sprinklings of freedom_ through the four seasons--the _red-letter_
    days, now become, to all intents and purposes, _dead-letter_ days.
    There was Paul and Stephen and Barnabas, Andrew and John, men famous
    in old times,--we used to keep all their days holy, as long back as
    when I was at school at Christ's. I remember their effigies by the
    same token, in the old Basket Prayer-book. I honoured them all, and
    could almost have wept the defalcation of Iscariot, so much did we
    love to keep holy memories sacred; only methought I a little grudged
    at the coalition of the _better Jude_ with _Simon_--clubbing, as it
    were, their sanctities together to make up one poor gaudy day between
    them, as an economy unworthy of the dispensation. These were bright
    visitations in a scholar's and a clerk's life,--"far off their coming
    shone." I was as good as an almanac in those days.'[18]

And who has written, like Lamb, of the forlorn pathos of the charity boy's
'objectless holiday;' of the 'most touching peal which rings out the old
year;' of 'the safety which a palpable hallucination warrants' on All
Fools'; and the 'Immortal Go-between,' St. Valentine?

The devotion to the immediate, the thrift, the enterprise, and the
material activity which pertain to a new country, and especially to our
own, distinguish American holidays from those of the Old World. Not a few
of them are consecrated to the future, many spring from the triumphs of
the present, and nearly all hint progress rather than retrospection. We
inaugurate civil and local improvements; glorify the achievements of
mechanical skill and of social reform; pay honour by feasts, processions,
and rhetoric to public men; give a municipal ovation to a foreign patriot,
or a funeral pageant to a native statesman. Our festivals are chiefly on
occasions of economic interest. Daily toil is suspended, and gala
assemblies convene, to rejoice over the completion of an aqueduct or a
railroad, or the launching of an ocean steamer. One of the earliest of
these economical displays--in New York, memorable equally from the great
principle it initiated and the felicitous auguries of the holiday
itself--was the celebration of the opening of the Erie Canal, the first of
a series of grand internal improvements which have since advanced our
national prosperity beyond all historical precedent; and one of the last
was the grand excursion which signalized the union by railroads of the
Atlantic seacoast and the Mississippi river. The two celebrations were but
festive landmarks in one magnificent system. The enterprise initiated in
Western New York, in 1825, was consummated in Illinois, in 1854, when the
last link was riveted to the chain which binds the vast line of eastern
seacoast to the great river of the West, and the genius of communication,
so essential to our unity and prosperity, brought permanently together the
boundless harvest-fields of the interior and the mighty fleets of the
seaboard. To European eyes the sight of the thousand invited guests
conveyed from New York to the Falls of St. Anthony would yield a thrilling
impression of the scale of festal arrangements in this Republic; and were
they to scan the reports of popular anniversaries and conventions in our
journals, embracing every class and vocation, representative of every art,
trade, and interest, a conviction would inevitably arise that we are the
most social and holiday nation in the world; on the constant _qui vive_
for any plausible excuse for public dinners, speeches, processions, songs,
toasts, and other republican divertisements. One month brings round the
anniversary banquet of the printers, when Franklin's memory is invoked and
his story rehearsed; another is marked by the annual symposium and
contributions of the Dramatic Fund; a temperance jubilee is announced
to-day, a picnic of Spiritualists to-morrow; here we encounter a long
train of Sunday scholars, and there are invited to a publishers' feast in
a 'crystal palace;' the triumph of the 'Yacht America' must be celebrated
this week, and the anniversary of Clay's birth or Webster's death the
next; a clerk delivers a poem before a Mercantile Library Association, a
mechanic addresses his fellows; exhibitions of fruit, of fowls, of cattle,
of machines, of horses, ploughing-matches, schools, and pictures, lead to
social gatherings and volunteer discourses, and make a holiday now for the
farmer and now for the artisan; so that the programme of festivals, such
as they are, is coextensive with the land and the calendar. All this
proves that there is no lack of holiday instinct among us, but it also
demonstrates that the spirit of utility, the pride of occupation, and the
ambition of success, interfuse the recreative as they do the serious life
of America. The American enters into festivity as if it were a serious
business; he cannot take pleasure naturally like the European, and is
pursued with a half-conscious remorse if he dedicates time to amusement;
so that even our holidays seem rather an ordeal to be gone through with,
than an occasion to be enjoyed. At many of these _fêtes_, too, we are
painfully conscious of interested motives, which are essentially opposed
to genuine recreation. Capital is made of amusement, as of every other
conceivable element of our national life. It is often to advertise the
stock, to introduce the breed, to gain political influence, to win
fashionable suffrages to a scheme or a product of art or industry, that
these expensive arrangements are made, these hospitalities exercised,
these guests convened. Too many of our so-called holidays are tricks of
trade; too many are exclusively utilitarian; too many consecrate external
success and material well-being; and too few are based on sentiment,
taste, and good-fellowship. In a panorama of national holidays, therefore,
instead of a crowd of gracefully-attired rustics waltzing under trees, an
enthusiastic chorus breathing as one deep voice the popular chant, ladies
veiled in _tulle_ following an imperial infant to a cathedral altar, the
garlands and maidens of Old England's May-day, or the splendid evolutions
of the continental soldiery,--we should be most aptly represented by a
fleet of steamers with crowded decks and gay pennons, sweeping through the
lofty and wooded bluffs of the Upper Mississippi, the procession of boats
and regiment of marines disembarking in the bay of Jeddo, or the old Hall,
in whose sleeping echoes lives the patriotic eloquence of the Revolution,
alive with hundreds of children invited by the city authorities to the
annual school festival; for these occasions typify the enterprise at home,
the exploration abroad, and the system of public instruction, which
constitute our specific and absolute distinction in the family of nations.
A jovial eclectic could, notwithstanding, gather traces of the partial and
isolated festivals of every race and country in America;--harvest-songs
among the German settlers of Pennsylvania, here a 'golden wedding,' there
a private grape-feast; in the South a tournament, at Hoboken a
cricket-match, and an archery club at Sunnyside; a Vienna lager-beer dance
in New York, or a vine-dressers' merry-making in Ohio.

If from those holidays which arise from temporary causes we turn to those
which, from annual recurrence, aspire to the dignity of institutions, the
first thing which strikes us is their essentially local character.
'Pilgrim-day,' wherever kept, is a New England festival; 'Evacuation-day'
belongs to the city of New York; the anniversary of the battle of Bunker
Hill is celebrated only in Charlestown; and the victory on Lake Erie, at
Newport, where its hero resided. The events thus commemorated deserve
their eminence in our regard; and patriotic sentiment is excited and
maintained by such observances. Yet in many instances they have dwindled
to a lifeless parade, and in others have become a somewhat invidious
exaggeration of local self-complacency. The latter is the case, for
instance, with the New England Society's annual feast in the commercial
metropolis of the Union. It occasionally tries the patience and vexes the
liberal sentiment of the considerate son of New England, to hear the
reiterated laudation of her schools, her clergy, her women, her codfish,
and her granite, at the hospitable board where sits, perhaps, a venerable
Knickerbocker, conscious that the glib orators and their people have
worked themselves into all places of honour and profit, where the honest
burgomaster used to smoke the pipe of peace and comfort in his generous
portico, his children now superseded by the restless emigrants from the
Eastern States, thus boastfully tracing all that redeems and sustains the
republic to the wisdom, foresight, and moral superiority of their own
peculiar ancestry. The style of the festival is often in bad taste; there
is too little recognition of the hospitality of their adopted home, too
little respect for Manhattan blood; an exuberance of language too
conspicuously triumphant over a race which the best of comic histories
illustrates by the reign of Peter the Silent, so that, at length, a jocose
reproof was administered by the toast of a humorist present, who gave,
with irresistible nasal emphasis,--'Plymouth Rock--the Blarney-stone of
New England.'

It is, however, an appropriate illustration of the cosmopolitan population
of New York, that every year her English, Scotch, Welsh, Irish, French,
German, and Dutch children, after their own fashion, recall their
respective national associations. In point of oratory the New England
Society carries the day, inasmuch as it usually presses into its service
some distinguished speaker from abroad; in geniality, antique customs, and
long-drawn reminiscences, the St. Nicholas excels; at St. Andrew's board
the memory of Burns is revived in song; Monsieur extols his vanished
_Republique_; Welsh harps tinkle at St. David's; 'God save the Queen'
echoes under the banner of St. George; green sprigs and uncouth garments
mark the Irish procession of St. Patrick; and the Germans multiply their
festivals by summer picnics, at which lager-beer, waltzing, and fine
instrumental music recall the gardens of Vienna. 'Thanksgiving-day' is of
Puritan origin, and was designed to combine family reunions with a
grateful recognition of the autumnal harvest. The former beautiful feature
is not as salient now as when the absence of locomotive facilities made it
a rare privilege for the scattered members of a household to come together
around the paternal hearth. The occasion has also diminished in value as
one of clerical emancipation from Sabbath themes, when the preacher could
expatiate unreproved on the questions of the day and the aspects of the
times,--that privilege being now exercised, at will, on the regular day of
weekly religious service. 'Fast-day' has also become anomalous; its
abolition or identification with Good Friday has been repeatedly
advocated; strictly speaking, its title is a misnomer, and the actual
observance of it is too partial and ineffective to have any true

An old town on the north-eastern extremity of an island, the nearest
approach to which overland is from the southern shore of Cape Cod, was
eagerly visited annually, until within a few years, by those who delight
in primitive character and local festivals. The broad plain beyond the
town was long held in common property by the inhabitants as a
sheep-pasture. It may be that the maritime occupations of the natives,
their insular position and frugal habits, imparted, by contrast, a
singular relish to the rural episode thus secured in their lives of
hazardous toil and dreary absence, as sailors and whalemen; but it is
remarkable that amid the sands of that island flourished one of the
heartiest and most characteristic of New England festivals. Simplicity of
manners, hardihood, frankness, the genial spirit of the mariner, and the
unsophisticated energy and kindliness of the sailor's wife, gave to the
Nantucket 'Sheep-shearing' a rare and permanent freshness and charm.
Unfortunately discord, arising from the conflicting interests of these
primitive islanders, at length made it desirable to restore peace by
sacrificing the flocks--innocent provocations of this domestic feud;--the
sheep were sold, and the unique festival to which they gave occasion
vanished with them. We must turn to that most available resource, an old
newspaper, for a description of this now obsolete holiday:--

    '_Sheep-shearing._--This patriarchal festival was celebrated on Monday
    and Tuesday last, in this place, with more than ordinary interest. For
    some days previous, the sheep-drivers had been busily employed in
    collecting from all quarters of the island the dispersed members of
    the several flocks; and committing them to the great sheepfold, about
    two miles from town, preparatory to the ceremonies of ablution and

    'The principal enclosure contains three hundred acres; towards one
    side of this area, and near the margin of a considerable pond, are
    four or five circular fences, one within the other--like Captain
    Symmes's concentric curves,--and about twenty feet apart, forming a
    sort of labyrinth. Into these circuits the sheep are gradually driven,
    so as to be designated by their "ear-marks," and secured for their
    proper owners in sheepcotes arranged laterally, or nearly so, around
    the exterior circle. Contiguous to these smaller pens, each of which
    is calculated to contain about one hundred sheep, the respective
    owners had erected temporary tents, wherein the operation of shearing
    was usually performed. The number of hands engaged in this service may
    be imagined from the fact that one gentleman is the owner of about
    1,000 sheep, another of 700, and numerous others of smaller flocks,
    varying in number from three or four hundred down to a single dozen.
    The business of identifying, seizing, and yarding the sheep, creates a
    degree of bustle that adds no small amusement to the general activity
    of the scene. The whole number of sheep and lambs brought within the
    great enclosure is said to be 16,000. There are also several large
    flocks commonly sheared at other parts of the island.

    'As these are the only important holidays which the inhabitants of
    Nantucket have ever been accustomed to observe, it is not to be
    marvelled at that all other business should on such occasions be
    suspended; and that the labours attendant thereon should be mingled
    with a due share of recreation. Accordingly, the fancies of the
    juvenile portion of our community are, for a long time prior to the
    annual "Shearing," occupied in dreams of fun and schemes of frolic.
    With the mind's eye they behold the long array of tents, surmounted
    with motley banners flaunting in the breeze, and stored with tempting
    titbits, candidates for money and for mastication. With the mind's ear
    they distinguish the spirit-stirring screak of the fiddle, the gruff
    jangling of the drum, the somniferous _smorzando_ of the jews-harp,
    and the enlivening scuffle of little feet in a helter-skelter jig upon
    a deal platform. And their visions, unlike those of riper mortals, are
    always realized. For be it known, that independent of the preparations
    made by persons actually concerned in the mechanical duties of the
    day, there are erected on a rising ground in the vicinity of the
    sheep-field, some twenty pole and sail-cloth edifices, furnished with
    seats, and tables, and casks, and dishes, severally filled with jocund
    faces, baked pigs, punch, and cakes, and surrounded with divers
    savoury concomitants in the premises, courteously dispensed by the
    changeful master of ceremonies, studious of custom and emulous of
    cash. For the accommodation of those merry urchins and youngsters who
    choose to "trip it on the light fantastic toe," a floor is laid at one
    corner, over which presides some African genius of melody, brandishing
    a cracked violin, and drawing most moving notes from its agonized
    intestines, by dint of griping fingers and right-angled elbows.

    'We know of no parallel for this section of the entertainment, other
    than what the Boston boys were wont to denominate "Nigger
    'Lection,"--so called in contradistinction from "Artillery Election."
    At the former anniversary, which is the day on which "who is Governor"
    is officially announced, the blacks and blackees are permitted to
    perambulate the Mall and Common, to buy gingerbread and beer with the
    best of folks, and to mingle in the mysteries of pawpaw. But on the
    latter day, when that grave and chivalrous corps, known as the Ancient
    and Honourable Artillery Company, parade for choice of
    officers,--which officers are to receive their diplomas directly from
    the hands of His Excellency the Governor and Commander-in-Chief in
    open day, and in the august presence of all sorts of civil and martial
    dignitaries,--why, woe to the sable imp that shall _then_ adventure
    his woolly poll and tarnished cuticle within the hallowed
    neighbourhood of nobility!

    'On previous days the sheep had been collected from every quarter of
    the island, driven into the great fold at Miacomet (the site of an
    ancient Indian settlement, about a mile from town), selected and
    identified by their respective owners, placed in separate pens, and
    subjected to the somewhat arduous process of _washing_, in the large
    pond contiguous. After this preparatory ablution, they were then ready
    to "throw off this muddy vesture of decay" by the aid of some hundreds
    of shearers, who began to ply their vocation on Monday morning, seated
    in rude booths, or beneath umbrageous awnings ranged around the
    circular labyrinth of enclosures, wherein the panting animals awaited
    the divestment of their uncomfortable jackets. The space partially
    occupied by the unshorn sheep and their contented lambs, and in other
    spots exhibiting multitudes stripped of their fleece and clamorously
    seeking their wandering young, presented to the eye and ear of the
    stranger sights and sounds somewhat rare.'

We have sometimes been tempted to believe that all illustrious occasions,
men, and things, in this Republic, must inevitably be profaned,--that, as
a compensatory balance to the 'greatest good of the greatest number,'
secured by democratic institutions, there must exist a sacrifice of the
hallowed, aspiring, and consecrated elements of national feeling and
achievement. If there is an anniversary which should compel respect,
excite eternal gratitude, and win unhackneyed observance, it is that of
the day when, for the first time in the world's history, the select
intelligences of a country proclaimed to the nations, with deliberate and
resolved wisdom, the principles of human equality and the right of
self-government, pledged thereto their lives, fortunes, and honour, and
consistently redeemed the heroically prophetic pledge. Subsequent events
have only deepened the significance of that act, and extended its agency;
every succeeding year has increased its moral value and its material
fruits; the career of other and less happy nations has given more and more
relief to its isolated grandeur; and not a day fraught with more hope and
glory lives in the calendar. Yet what is the actual observance, the
average estimation, it boasts among us? In our large cities, especially in
New York, 'Independence' is, by universal consent, a nuisance. It is most
auspicious to the Chinese, from increasing the importation of
fire-crackers. The municipal authorities provide for it as for a lawless
saturnalia; the fire-department dread its approach as indicative of
conflagrations; physicians, as hazardous to such unfortunate patients as
cannot be removed into the country; quiet citizens, as insufferable from
incessant detonation; the prudent, as fraught with reckless tomfoolery;
and the respectable, as desecrated by rowdyism. John Adams, when he
prophesied that the Fourth of July would be hailed, in all after-time, by
the ringing of bells, the blaze of bonfires, and the roar of cannon, was
far from intending, by this programme of Anglo-Saxon methods of popular
rejoicing, to indicate the exclusive and ultimate style of our national
holiday. On its earlier recurrence, when many of the actors in the scenes
it commemorates still lived, there was an interest and a meaning in the
ceremonies which time has lessened. Yet it is difficult to account for the
absence of all that high civilization presupposes, in the celebration of
our only holiday which can strictly be called national; and if the
sympathies of the most intelligent of our citizens could be enlisted, so
as to make the occasion a genuine patriotic jubilee--instead of a noisy
carnival, or a time for political animosity to assert itself with special
emphasis,--much would be gained on the score of rational enjoyment and
American fraternity. As it is, although the 'Hundred Boston Orators' nobly
vindicate the talent and good taste of one city in regard to this
anniversary, and is a most pleasing historical memorial of the occasion,
it cannot be denied that our usual synonyme for bombast and mere
rhetorical patriotism is 'a Fourth of July Oration,' and that Pickwickian
sentiment, pyrotechnic flashes, torpedoes, arrests, bursting cannon,
draggled flags, crowded steamboats, the retiracy of the educated and the
uproar of the multitude, make up the confused and wearisome details of
what should and might be a sacred feast, a pious memory, a hallowed
consecration, a 'Sabbath day of Freedom.' Perhaps the real zest of this
holiday is felt only abroad, when, under some remote consular flag, at the
board of private and munificent hospitality in London, or at an American
_réunion_ in the French capital, distance from home, the ties of common
nativity in a foreign land, and the contrast of uneducated masses or
despotic insignia around, with the prosperous, free, and enlightened
population of our own favoured country, to say nothing of superior festal
arrangements, render the occasion at once charming and memorable.

One of the most noticeable features of American life to a stranger's eye
is the prevalent habit of travel; and although the incessant and huge
caravans that rush along the numerous railways which make an iron network
over this Union are, for the most part, impelled by motives of enterprise
and thrift, yet the common idea of recreation is associated with a 'trip.'
Whether the facilities or the temperament of our country, or both, be the
reason of this locomotive propensity, it is a characteristic which at once
distinguishes the American from the home-tethered German, the Paris-bound
Frenchman, and the locally-patriotic Italian. The schoolboy in vacation,
the college graduate, the bridegroom, the overtasked professional
man,--all Americans who give themselves a 'holiday,' are wont to dedicate
it to a journey. But even this resource has lost much of its original
charm from the catastrophes which have associated some of the most
beautiful scenery of the land with the most agonizing of human tragedies.
In the crystal waters of Lake George, by the picturesque banks of the
Hudson, amid the fertile valleys of the Connecticut, on the teeming
currents of Long Island Sound, have perished, often through reckless
hardihood, always by more or less reprehensible negligence, some of the
fairest and the noblest of our citizens. The statistics of these
melancholy events, which have so often appalled the public, have yet to be
written; but their moral effect may be divined by a mere glance at the
mercenary hardihood and soulless haste that mark our civilization. 'Les
dangers personnels,' says an acute writer; 'quand ils attegnent une
certaine limite, bouleversent tous les rapports et l'oublie de l'espérance
changé presque notre nature.' The zest, too, of a journey in America is
much diminished by the monotonous character of the people, and by the
gregarious habits, the rapid transits, and the business motives of the
_voyageurs_, so that it is only at the terminus that we enjoy our
pilgrimage; there the sight of a magnificent prairie or mountain range,
cataract or mammoth cave, may, indeed, vindicate our locomotive taste, and
the wonders of Nature make, for the imaginative and reverential, a
glorious holiday.

A pleasing feature in the recreative aspect of American life is the
literary festival. It is a beautiful custom of our scholars annually to
meet amid the scenes of their academical education and renew youthful
friendships, while they listen to the orator and poet, who dwell upon
those problems of the times which challenge an intellectual solution and
identify the duties of the citizen with the offices of learning. Within
the memory of almost all, there is probably at least one of these
occasions when the interest of the performances or the circumstances of
the hour lent a memorable charm to the collegiate holiday; when, under the
shade of venerable elms that witnessed the first outpouring of mental
enthusiasm or the earliest honours of genius and attainment, they who
parted as boys meet as men, and the classic dreamer felt himself a
recognized and practical thinker for the people; when the language of
eloquent wisdom or poetic beauty came warm from lips hallowed by the
chalice of fame. Who that listened ever can forget the anniversary graced
by the chaste eloquence of Buckminster, that on which Bryant recited _The
Ages_, or Everett's musical periods welcomed Lafayette to the oldest seat
of American learning? What New England scholar, after years of
professional labour in a distant State, ever found himself once more
within the charmed precincts of his _alma mater_, and surrounded by the
companions of his youthful studies, without a thrill of happy
reminiscence? Yet even these rational opportunities for what should be a
genuine holiday to mind and heart are but casually appreciated. The sultry
period of their occurrence, the irregularity of attendance, and the
precarious quality of the 'feast of reason' provided, have caused them
gradually to lose a tenacious hold upon the affections, while there are
few _habitués_, the majority, especially those who live at a distance from
the scene, and whose presence is therefore especially desirable,--are not
loyal pilgrims to the shrine where their virgin distinction was earned and
their intellectual armour forged. To many, our literary festivals are but
technical ceremonies; to not a few, wearisome forms; associated rather
with fans, didactics, perspiration, and cold viands, than with any social
or intellectual refreshment. The 'lean annuitant' who loved to visit
'Oxford in vacation,' and fancy himself a gownsman, and the ingenious
'Opium Eater' who has recorded the enduring claims of those venerable
cloisters to the scholar's gratitude, enjoyed speculatively more of the
real luxury of academic repose and triumph than is often attained by those
who ostensibly participate in our college festivals; and seldom do her
children go up to the altars of wisdom consecrated by the pious zeal of
our ancestors, with the faithful recognition of the venerable pastor, so
long the statistical oracle of the surviving graduates, who, while his
strength sufficed, cheerily walked from his rural parish to Old Harvard,
to lead off the anniversary psalm, with genial pride and honest

Of our purely social holidays, New Year's day, as observed in the city of
New York, bears the palm. Initiated by the hospitable instinct of the
Dutch colonists, neither the heterogeneous population which has succeeded
them, nor the annually enlarged circuit of the metropolis, has diminished
the universality or the heartiness of its observance. When the snow is
massed in the thoroughfares, and the sunshine tempers a clear, frosty
atmosphere, a more cheerful scene, on a large scale, it is impossible to
imagine. From morning to midnight, sleighs, freighted with gay companions
and drawn by handsome steeds, dash merrily along,--the tinkling of their
bells and the scarlet lining their buffalo-robes redolent of a _fête_;
the sidewalks are alive with hurrying pedestrians who exchange cordial
greetings as they pass one another; doors incessantly fly open; guests
come and go; every one looks prosperous and happy; business is totally
suspended; in warm parlours, radiant with comfort or splendid with luxury,
sit the wives, daughters, sisters, or fair favourites of these innumerable
visitors, the queens of the day; the neglects of the past are forgiven and
forgotten in the welcome of the present; kindred, friends, and
acquaintances all meet and begin the year with mutual good wishes; in
every dwelling a little feast stands ready, encompassed with smiles; and
all varieties of fortune, all degrees of intimacy, all tastes in dress,
entertainment, and manners, on this one day, are consecrated by the
liberal and kindly spirit of a social carnival.

Of associations expressly instituted for the observance of holidays there
is no lack; of days technically devoted to festivity, in the aggregate,
our proportion equals that of older communities; and the legitimate
occasions for pastime and ceremony, social pleasure, or historical
commemoration, are as numerous as is consistent with the industrious
habits and the civic prosperity of the land. The traveller who should make
it his specialty to discover and note the ostensible merrymakings and
pageants of America would find the list neither brief nor monotonous. In
the summer he would light upon many an excursion on our beautiful lakes,
many a chowder-party to the seaside, and picnic in the grove; and in the
winter would catch the shrill echo of the skating frolic. Here, through
pillared trunks, he would behold the smoke-wreaths of the sugar-camp;
there watch laughing groups clustered round the cider-mill or hop-field;
and in woods radiant with autumnal tints, or prairies balmy with a million
flowers, would sounds of merriment announce to him the cheerful bivouac.
Nor have American holidays, even in their most primitive aspect, been
devoid of use and beauty. The once-renowned 'musters' fostered military
taste, and the cattle-shows encouraged agricultural science; with the
increase of horticultural festivals, our fruits and flowers have
constantly improved; regattas and yacht-clubs have indirectly promoted
nautical architecture; school festivals attest the superiority of our
system of popular education; family gatherings, on the large scale
observed in several instances, have induced genealogical research;
historical celebrations have led to the collection and preservation of
local archives and memorials; the Cincinnati Society annually renews the
noblest patriotic sympathies; and the genius for mechanical invention is
proclaimed by the fairs which, every October, bring together so many
trophies of skilful handiwork and husbandry, and recognize so emphatically
the dignity and scientific amelioration of labour. Yet these facts do not
invalidate the general truth that our festivals are too much tinctured
with utilitarian aims to breathe earnestness and hilarity; that they are
so specific as to represent the division rather than the social triumphs
of human toil; that they are too partial in their scope, too sectional in
their objects, and too isolated in their arrangements, to meet the claims
of popular and permanent interests. Our harvests are songless.
Reaping-machines have diminished the zest of autumn's golden largess, as
destructive inventions have lessened the miracles of chivalry. Here and
there may yet convene a quilting-party, but locomotive facilities have
deprived rural gatherings, in sparse neighbourhoods, of their marvel and
their joy; and the hilarious huskings of old chiefly survive in Barlow's
neglected verse:--

  'The days grow short; but though the fallen sun
  To the glad swain proclaims his day's work done;
  Night's pleasant shades his various tasks prolong,
  And yield new subjects to my various song.
  For now, the corn-house filled, the harvest home,
  The invited neighbours to the _husking_ come;
  A frolic scene, where work and mirth and play,
  Unite their charms to chase the hours away.
  Where the huge heap lies centred in the hall,
  The lamp suspended from the cheerful wall,
  Brown, corn-fed nymphs, and strong, hard-handed beaux,
  Alternate ranged, extend in circling rows,
  Assume their seats, the solid mass attack;
  The dry husks rustle, and the corn-cobs crack;
  The song, the laugh, alternate notes resound,
  And the sweet cider trips in silence round.
  The laws of husking every wight can tell,
  And sure no laws he ever keeps so well:
  For each red ear a general kiss he gains,
  With each smut ear he smuts the luckless swains;
  But when to some sweet maid a prize is cast,
  Red as her lips and taper as her waist,
  She walks the round and culls one favoured beau,
  Who leaps the luscious tribute to bestow.
  Various the sports, as are the wits and brains
  Of well-pleased lasses and contending swains;
  Till the vast mound of corn is swept away,
  And he that gets the last ear wins the day.'

Progress in taste and sentiment, however, is already obvious in our
recreative arrangements. There is vastly more of intellectual dignity and
permanent use in the _fêtes_ of the Lyceum than in those of the
training-days and election-jubilees which formerly were the chief holidays
of our rural population; exhibitions of flowers mark a notable advance
upon the coarse diversions of the ring and the race-ground; and, within a
few years, statues by native artists, worthy of their illustrious
subjects, have been inaugurated by public rites and noble eloquence.

A radical cause of the inefficiency, and therefore of the indifferent
observance of our holidays, may be found in our national inadequacy of
expression, in the want of those modes of popular rejoicing and ceremonial
that win and triumph, from their intrinsic beauty. As a general truth, it
may be asserted that but two methods of representing holiday sentiment are
native to the average taste of our people,--military display and oral
discourse. These exhaust our festal resources. Our citizens have an
extraordinary facility in making occasional speeches; and the love of
soldiership is so prevalent that it is the favourite sport of children,
and all classes indulge in costly uniforms and volunteer parades. But the
language of art, which in the Old World lends such a permanent attraction
to holidays, with us hardly finds voice. Had we requiems conceived with
the eternal pathos of Mozart; harmonious embodiments of rural pastime,
like that which Beethoven caught while sitting on a style amid the subdued
murmurs of a summer evening; melodious invocations to freedom, such as
Bellini's thrilling _duo_; were a symphony as readily composed in America
as an oration; tableaux, costumes, and processions as artistically
invented here as in France; were dance and song as spontaneously
expressive as among the European peasantry; had we vast, open, magnificent
temples, free gardens, statues to crown, shrines to frequent, palatial
balconies, fields Elysian for both rich and poor, a sensibility to music,
and a sense of the appropriate and beautiful, as wide and as instinctive
as our appreciation of the useful, the practical, and the comfortable,--it
would no longer be requisite to resort exclusively to drums, fifes,
powder, substantial viands, and speechifying, to give utterance to the
common sentiment, which would find vent in tones, forms, hues,
combinations, and sympathies, that respond to the heart, through the
imagination, and conform 'the show of things to the desires of the mind.'

Other causes of our deficient holidays are obvious. The primary are to be
found in the absorption in business and the dominion of practical habits,
both of thought and action. Enterprise holds Carnival while Poetry keeps
Lent. The facts of to-day shut out of view the perspective of time, or, at
best, lure the gaze forward with boundless expectancy. To rehearse the
fortunate achievements of the past gratifies our national egotism; but the
sensibility and meditation which consecrate historical associations find
no room amid the rush and eagerness of the passing hour. Content to point
to the heroic episode of the Revolution, to the wisdom and justice of our
Constitution, to the caravans that sweep on iron tracks over leagues of
what a few years ago was a pathless forest, to the swiftest keels and most
graceful models that traverse the ocean, to the aërial viaducts that span
dizzy heights and impetuous torrents, to the exquisite vignettes of a
limitless paper currency, to the dignified and consistent maintenance of
usurped law in younger States of the Union, and to the continually
increasing resources of its older members; we are disposed to sneer at the
childish love of amusement which beguiles the inhabitants of European
capitals, and to pity the superstition and idleness which retain, in this
enlightened age, the melodramatic church shows of Romanism. In all this
there is doubtless a certain manly intelligence; but there is also an
inauspicious moral hardihood. If, as a people, we cultivated more heartily
the social instincts and humane sentiments expressed in holiday rites,
life would be more valued, the whole nature would find congenial play, and
our taskwork and duty, our citizenship and our natural advantages, would
be adorned by gracefulness, alacrity, and repose. Quantity would not be so
grossly estimated above quality, speed above security, routine above
enjoyment. We need to win from time what is denied to us in material.
Other nations have in art a permanent and accessible refreshment, which
prevents life from being wholly prosaic; the humblest dweller on English
soil can enter a time-hallowed and beautiful cathedral; the poorest rustic
in Italy can feel the honest pride of a distinctive festal attire; the
veriest clod-hopper in Germany can soften the rigours of poverty by music;
the London apprentice may wander once a week amid the venerable beauties
of Hampton Court; and the Parisian shopkeeper may kindle pride of country
by reading the pictorial history of France at Versailles. It is not the
expensive arrangements, but the national provision, and, above all, the
personal sentiment, which makes the holiday. There was more holy rapture
in the low cadence of the hymn stealing from the Roman catacombs, where
the hunted Christians of old kept holy the Sabbath day, than there is in
the gorgeous display and complex melody under the magnificent dome of St.
Peter's. There was more of the grace of festivity in such a dance as poor
Goldsmith's flute enlivened on the banks of the Loire, than there is in
the grand ball which marks the season's climax at an American
watering-place. In public not less than private banquets, the scriptural
maxim holds true: 'Better is a dinner of herbs _where love is_.' Our
national life is too diffusive to yield the best social fruits. The extent
of territory, the nomadic habits of our people, the alternations of
climate, the vicissitudes of trade, the prevalence of spasmodic and
superficial excitements, the boundless passion for gain, the local
changes, the family separations, and the incessant fevers of opinion,
scatter the holy fire of love, reverence, self-respect, contemplation, and
faith. What a senseless boast, that the United States has thirty-five
thousand miles of railroad,[19] while England claims but ninety-two
hundred, France forty-eight hundred, if against the American overplus are
to be arrayed countless hecatombs of murdered fellow-citizens, and
desolating frauds unparalleled in the history of finance! What a mockery
the distinction of having accumulated a fortune in a few years, by
sagacity and toil, if, to complete the record, it is added that mercenary
ambition risked and lost it in as many months, or the want of self-control
and mental resources made its possession a life-long curse from _ennui_ or
tasteless extravagance! It is as a check to the whirl of inconsiderate
speculation, an antidote to the bane of material luxury, an interval in
the hurried march of executive life, that holidays should 'give us
pause,' and might prove a means of refinement and of disinterestedness. We
could thus infuse a better spirit into our work-day experience, refresh
and warm the nation's heart, and gradually concentrate what of higher
taste and more genial sympathy underlies the restless and cold tide that
hurries us onward, unmindful of the beauty and indifferent to the
sanctities with which God and Nature have invested our existence.

Of natal anniversaries we have in our national calendar one which it would
augur well for the Republic to observe as a universal holiday. Every
sentiment of gratitude, veneration, and patriotism has already consecrated
it to the private heart; and every consideration of unity, good faith, and
American feeling designates its celebration as the most sacred civic
_fête_ of the land. Recent demonstrations in literature, art, and oratory,
indicate that the obligation and importance of keeping before the eyes,
minds, and affections of the people the memory of Washington, are
emphatically recognized by genius and popular sentiment. Within a few
years, the pen of our most endeared author, the eloquence of our most
finished orator, and the chisel of our best sculptors, have combined to
exhibit, in the most authentic and impressive forms of literary and
plastic art, the character and image of the Father of his Country. Copies
of Stuart's masterly portrait have multiplied. A monument bearing the
revered name is slowly rising at the Capital, the materials of which are
gathered from every part of the globe. One of the last and most noble
efforts to renew the waning national sentiment, ere its lapse brought on
civil war, was that of a New England scholar, patriot, and orator who,
despite the allurements of prosperity and the claims of age and long
service, traversed the length and breadth of the Republic, eloquently
expatiating on the character of Washington, retracing his spotless and
great career, and evoking his sacred memory as a talisman to quicken and
combine a people's love. With the large contributions thus secured, and
those gathered by the daughters of the Republic, the home and grave of
Washington has been redeemed as national property. Let the first homage of
a free people be paid at that shrine; and alienated fellow-citizens gather
there as at a common altar: his tomb is thus doubly hallowed. In Virginia
is a sculptured memorial of enduring beauty and historical significance. A
new and admirable biography, with all the elements of standard popularity,
makes his peerless career familiar to every citizen from the woods of
Maine to the shores of the Pacific. One effective statue already ornaments
the commercial emporium, and another is about to be erected in the city of
Boston. These, and many other signs of the times, prove that the
fanaticism of party strife has awakened the wise and loyal to a
consciousness of the inestimable value of that great example and canonized
name, as a bond of union, a conciliating memory, and a glorious watchword.
Desecrated as has been his native State by rebels against the government
he founded and the nation he inaugurated, profaned as has been his memory,
now that Peace smiles upon the land his august image will reappear to
every true, loyal, and patriotic heart with renewed authority, and
hallowed by a deeper love. The present, therefore, is a favourable moment
to institute the birthday of Washington--hitherto but partially and
ineffectually honoured--as a solemn National Festival. Around his tomb let
us annually gather; let eloquence and song, leisure and remembrance,
trophies of art, ceremonies of piety, and sentiments of gratitude and
admiration, consecrate that day with an unanimity of feeling and of rites,
which shall fuse and mould into one pervasive emotion the divided hearts
of the country, until the discordant cries of faction are lost in the
anthems of benediction and of love; and, before the august spirit of a
people's homage, sectional animosity is awed into universal reverence.


    'To vindicate the majesty of the law.'--JUDGE'S CHARGE.

    'Why may not this be a lawyer's skull? Why does he suffer this rude
    knave to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not
    tell him of his action for battery?'--HAMLET.

The miniature effigy of a town-crier, with a little placard on his bell,
inscribed '_Lost--a Lawyer's conscience!_' was a favourite toy for
children not many years ago; and about the same time a song was in vogue,
warbled by a whole generation of young misses, 'all about the L-A-W,' in
which that venerable profession was made the subject of a warning chant,
whose dolorous refrain, doubtless, yet lingers in many an ear. Thus early
is law associated with uncertainty and shamelessness; Messrs. Roe and Doe
become the most dreaded of apocryphal characters; red-tape the clew of an
endless labyrinth; Justice Shallow, with all his imbecility, a dangerous
personage; and human beings, even a friend, transformed by the mysterious
perspective of this anomalous element to a 'party.' The most popular of
modern novelists have found these associations sufficiently universal to
yield good material in 'dead suitors broken, heart and soul, on the wheel
of chancery;' and Flite, Gridley, and Rick, are fresh and permanent
scarecrows in the harvest-field of the law.

From the Mosaic code, enrolled on tables of stone, to the convention which
inaugurated that of the modern conqueror of Europe, law has been a field
for the noblest triumphs and most gross perversions of the human
intellect. No profession offers such extremes of glory and shame. From the
most wretched sophistry to the grandest inference, from a quibble to a
principle, from the august minister of justice to the low pettifogger, how
great the distance; yet all are included within a common pale.

In every social circle and family group there is an oracle--some
individual whose age, wit, or force of character, gives an intellectual
ascendency,--and there are always Bunsbys, to 'give an opinion' among the
ignorant, to which the others spontaneously defer; and thus instinctively
arises the lawgiver, sometimes ruling with the rude dogmatism of Dr.
Johnson, and at others, through the humorous good sense of Sydney Smith,
or the endearing tact of Madame Recamier. These authorities, in the sphere
of opinion and companionship, indicate how natural to human society is a
recognized head, whence emanates that controlling influence to which we
give the name of law. Like every other element of life, this loses
somewhat of its native beauty, when organized and made professional. To
every vocation there belong master-spirits who have established
precedents, and there are natural lawgivers; as in art, Michael Angelo and
Raphael; in oratory, Demosthenes; in philosophy, Bacon. The endowments of
each not only justify, but originate their authority; they interpret truth
through their superior insight and wisdom in their respective departments
of action and of thought; but of the vast number who undertake to
illustrate, maintain, or apply the laws which govern states, a small
minority are gifted for the task, or aspire to its higher functions; hence
the proverbial abuse of the profession, its few glorious ornaments, and
its herd of perverted slaves.

From this primary condition, it is impossible for any human being to
escape; if he goes into the desert, he is still subject to the laws of
Nature, and, however retired he may live amid his race, the laws of
society press upon him at some point; if his own opinion is his law in
matters of fancy or politics, he must still obey the law of the road: in
one country the law of primogeniture; in another, that of conscription; in
one circle, a law of taste; in another, of custom; and in a third, of
privilege, reacts upon his free agency; at his club is sumptuary law; over
his game of whist, Hoyle; in his drawing-room, Chesterfield; now _l'esprit
du corps_; and, again, the claims of rank; in Maine, the liquor law; in
California, lynch law; in Paris, a _gens d'armes_; at Rome, a permission
of residence; on an English domain, the game laws; in the fields of
Connecticut, a pound; everywhere, turnpikes, sheriffs' sales, marriage
certificates, prisons, courts, passports, and policemen, thrust before the
eyes of the most peaceable and reserved cosmopolite--insignia that assure
him that law is everywhere unavoidable. His physician discourses to him of
the laws of health; his military friends, of tactics; the beaux, of
etiquette; the belles, of _la mode_; the authors, of tasteful precedents;
the reformer, of social systems; and thus all recognize and yield to some

If he have nothing to bequeath, no tax to pay, no creditor to sue, or
libeller to prosecute, he yet must walk the streets, and thereby realize
the influence or neglect of municipal law in the enjoyment of 'right of
way,' or the nausea from some neglected offal; the accidents incident to
travel in this country assure him of the slight tenure of corporate
responsibility under republican law; and the facility of divorce, the
removal of old landmarks, the incessant subdivision and dispersion of
estates, indicate that devotion to the immediate which a French
philosopher ascribes to free institutions, and which affects legal as well
as social phenomena. In a tour abroad, he discovers new majesty in the
ruins of the Forum, from their association with the ancient Roman law,
upon which modern jurisprudence is founded; and a curious interest
attaches to the picturesque beauty of Amalfi, because the Pandects were
there discovered. Westminster revives the tragic memories of the State
trials, and seems yet to echo the Oriental rhetoric that made the trial of
Hastings a Parliamentary romance. At Bologna, amid the old drooping
towers, under the pensive arcades, in the radiant silence of the
picture-gallery, comes back the traditionary beauty of the fair lecturer,
who taught the students juridical lore from behind a curtain, that her
loveliness might not bewilder the minds her words informed; and at Venice,
every dark-robed, graceful figure that glides by the porticoes of San
Marco's moonlit square, revives the noble Portia's image, and that 'same
scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk.'

No inconsiderable legal knowledge has been traced in Shakspeare. His
Justice Shallow and Dogberry are types of imbecile magistracy; in the
historical plays, the law of legitimacy is defined; and not a little
judicial lore is embodied in the _Merchant of Venice_ and _Taming the
Shrew_. Lord Campbell wrote a book to prove that Shakspeare, in his youth,
must have been, at least, an attorney's clerk. One of the characters in a
popular novel is made to say that he is never in company with a lawyer but
he fancies himself in a witness-box. This hit at the interrogative
propensity of the class is by no means an exaggerated view of a use to
which they are specially inclined to put conversation; and if we compare
the ordeal of inquiry to which we are thus subjected, it will be found
more thorough and better fitted to test our knowledge than that of any
other social catechism; so that, perhaps, we gain in discipline what we
lose in patience. It is to be acknowledged, also, that few men are better
stocked with ideas, or more fluent in imparting them, than well-educated
lawyers. There is often a singular zest in their anecdotes, a precision in
their statement of facts, and a dramatic style of narrative, which render
them the pleasantest of companions. In all clever coteries of which we
have any genial record, there usually figures a lawyer, as a wit, a boon
companion, an entertaining dogmatist, or an intellectual champion. In
literature, the claims and demerits of the profession are emphatically
recognized; and it is curious to note the varied inferences of
philosophers and authors. Thus, Dr. Johnson says to Boswell: 'Sir, a
lawyer has no business with the justice or injustice of the cause he
undertakes;' and 'everybody knows you are paid for affecting a warmth for
your client.' 'Justice,' observes Sydney Smith, 'is found, experimentally,
to be best promoted by the opposite efforts of practised and ingenious
men, presenting to an impartial judge the best argument for the
establishment and explanation of truth.' 'Some are allured to the trade of
law,' says Milton, 'by litigiousness and fat fees;' one authoritative
writer describes a lawyer as a man whose understanding is on the town;
another declares no man departs more from justice; Sancho Panza said his
master would prattle more than three attorneys; and Coleridge thought
that, 'upon the whole, the advocate is placed in a position unfavourable
to his moral being, and indeed to his intellect also, in its higher
powers;' while it was a maxim of Wilkes, that scoundrel and lawyer are
synonymous terms. Our pioneer _littérateur_, Brockden Brown, whose
imaginative mind revolted at the dry formalities of the law, for which he
was originally intended, defined it as 'a tissue of shreds and remnants of
a barbarous antiquity, patched by the stupidity of modern workmen into new
deformity.' 'In the study of law,' remarks the poet Gray, 'the labour is
long, and the elements dry and uninteresting, nor was there ever any one
not disgusted at the beginning.' Foote, the comic writer and actor,
feigned surprise to a farmer that attorneys were buried in the country
like other men; in town, he declared, it was the custom to place the body
in a chamber, with an open window, and it was sure to disappear during the
night, leaving a smell of brimstone. A portrait-painter assures us he is
never mistaken in a lawyer's face; the avocation is betrayed to his
observant eye by a certain _inscrutable_ expression; and Dickens has
given this not exaggerated picture of a class in the profession:
'Smoke-dried and faded, dwelling among mankind, but not consorting with
them, aged without experience of genial youth, and so long used to make
his cramped nest in holes and corners of human nature, that he has
forgotten its broader and better range.'

A French writer defines a lawyer as 'un marchand de phrases, un fabricant
de paradoxes, qui ment pour l'argent et vend ses paroles;' and another
remarks of the profession that it is a 'vaste champ, ouvert aux ambitions
des honnêtes; une tribune offerte aux subtilités de la pensée et l'abus de
la parole;' while Arthur Helps declares that 'law affords a notable
example of loss of time, of heart, of love, of leisure. I observe,' he
adds, 'that the first Spanish colonists in America wrote home to
Government, begging them not to allow lawyers to come to the colony.'[20]
On the other hand, what an eloquent tribute to the possible actual
beneficence of law is the close of Lord Brougham's memorable speech in its

    'You saw the greatest warrior of the age--conqueror of Italy, humbler
    of Germany, terror of the North,--saw him account all his matchless
    victories poor, compared with the triumph you are now in a condition
    to win,--saw him contemn the fickleness of Fortune, while in despite
    of her he could pronounce his memorable boast, "I shall go down to
    posterity with the Code in my hand!" You have vanquished him in the
    field; strive now to rival him in the sacred arts of peace. Outstrip
    him as a lawgiver whom in arms you overcame. The lustre of the Regency
    will be eclipsed by the more solid and enduring splendour of the
    Reign. It was the boast of Augustus--it formed part of the glare in
    which the perfidies of his earlier years were lost--that he found Rome
    of brick, and left it of marble. But how much nobler will be the
    Sovereign's boast, when he shall have it to say, that he found law
    dear and left it cheap; found it a sealed book, left it a living
    letter; found it the patrimony of the rich, left it the inheritance of
    the poor; found it the two-edged sword of craft and oppression, left
    it the staff of honesty and the shield of innocence!'

'Why may not this be a lawyer's skull?' muses Hamlet, in the graveyard;
'where be his quiddets now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his
tricks? Humph! this fellow might be in 's time a greater buyer of land,
with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double-vouchers, his
recoveries; and this, the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his
recoveries, to have his fine poll full of dirt! The very conveyances of
his lands will hardly lie in this box; and must the inheritor himself have
no more?'

The diversities of the profession in England and America are curious and
suggestive. Already is the obligation mutual; for if in the old country
there are more profound, and elaborate resources, in the new the science
has received brilliant elucidations, and its forms and processes been
simplified. There routine is apt to dwarf, and here variety to dissipate
the lawyer's ability; there he is too often a mere drudge, and here his
vocation regarded as the vestibule only of political life. In England, the
advocate's knowledge is frequently limited to his special department; and
in America, while it is less complete and accurate, he is versed in many
other subjects, and apt at many vocations. 'The Americans,' says Sydney
Smith, 'are the first persons who have discarded, in the administration of
justice, the tailor, and his auxiliary the barber,--two persons of endless
importance in the codes and pandects of Europe. A judge administers
justice without a calorific wig and parti-coloured gown--in a coat and
pantaloons; he is obeyed, however; and life and property are not badly
protected in the United States.'

There can be no more striking contrast than that between the lives of the
English chancellors and the American chief justices: in the former, regal
splendour, the vicissitudes of kingcraft and succession, of religious
transition, of courts, war, the people and the nobility, lend a kind of
feudal splendour, or tragic interest, or deep intrigue, to the career of
the minister of justice; he is surrounded with the insignia of his
office; big wigs, scarlet robes, ermine mantles, the great seal,
interviews with royalty, the trappings and the awe of power invest his
person; his career is identified with the national annals; the lapse of
time and historic associations lend a mysterious interest to his name; in
the background, there is the martyrdom of Thomas à Becket, the speech of
the fallen Wolsey, the scaffold of Sir Thomas More, the inductive system
and low ambition of Bacon, and the literary fame of Clarendon. Yet, in
intellectual dignity, our young republic need not shrink from the
comparison. The Virginia stripling, who drilled regulars in a
hunting-shirt, is a high legal authority in both hemispheres. 'Where,'
says one of Marshall's intelligent eulogists, 'in English history, is the
judge whose mind was at once so enlarged and so systematic; who had so
thoroughly reduced professional science to general reason; in whose
disciplined intellect technical learning had so completely passed into
native sense?' And now that Kent's _Commentaries_ have become the
indispensable guide and reference of the entire profession, who remembers,
except with pride, that, on his first circuit, the Court was often held in
a barn, with the hayloft for a bench, a stall for a bar, and the shade of
a neighbouring apple-tree for a jury-room? The majesty of justice, the
intellectual superiority of law as a pursuit, is herein most evident;
disrobed of all external magnificence, with no lofty and venerable halls,
imposing costume, or array of officials, the law yet borrows from the
learning, the fidelity, and the genius of its votaries, essential dignity
and memorable triumphs. 'Of law, no less can be said,' grandly observes
Hooker, 'than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of
the world.'

The most celebrated English lawyers have their American prototypes; thus,
Marshall has been compared to Lord Mansfield, Pinkney to Erskine, and Wirt
to Sheridan (who was a student of the Middle Temple, though not called to
the bar); imperfect as are such analogies, they yet indicate, with truth,
a similarity of endowment, or style of advocacy. The diverse influence of
the respective institutions of the two countries is, however, none the
less apparent because of an occasional resemblance in the genius of
eminent barristers. The genuine British lawyer is recognized, by the
technical cast of his expression and habit of mind, to a degree seldom
obvious in this country. Indeed, no small portion of the graduates of our
colleges who select the law as a pursuit, do so without any strong bias
for the profession, but with a view to the facilities it affords for
entrance into public life. Some of these aspirants thus become useful
servants of the State; a few, statesmen; but the majority, mere
politicians; and from the predominance of the latter class originate half
the errors of American legislation; for, however much profound legal
training may fit a man of ability for the higher functions of
representative government, a superficial knowledge and practice of law
renders him only an adept in chicanery and the 'gift of the gab;' and it
is easy to imagine how a mob of such adroit and ambitious
partisans--especially when brought together from the narrow sphere of
village life--may pervert the great ends of legislative action. They make
the laws according to their own interests; and there is no prospect of the
reformation demanded in juridical practice, while such a corps form the
speaking and voting majority, and act on what has been justly called the
one great principle of English law,--'_to make business for itself_.'[21]

Two names appear on the roll of English lawyers which are identified with
the worst characteristics of the race--impious, wild, and browbeating
arrogance,--that of Jeffreys, whose ferocious persecution of those
suspected of complicity with Monmouth's Rebellion forms one of the most
scandalous chapters in the history of British courts; and Lord Thurlow,
who, in a more refined age, won the alias of Tiger, for his rudeness,
inflexibility, oaths, and ill-manners, his black brows, and audible
growls. In beautiful contrast shine forth the Law Reformers of England,
whose benign eloquence and unwearied labour mitigated the sanguinary
rigours of the criminal code, and pressed the Common Law into the service
of humanity. Romilly and Erskine have gained a renown more enduring than
that of learned and gifted advocates; their professional glory is
heightened and mellowed by the sacred cause it illustrates.

The trial by jury and _habeas corpus_ are the grand privileges of England
and our own country; the integrity of the former has been invaded among
us, by the abuse incident to making judgeships elective, and by the
lawless spirit of the western communities; while the conviction of such
eminent criminals as Earl Ferrers, Dr. Dodd, and Fauntleroy, prove how it
has been, and is, respected by the public sentiment of England.

'The great expense of the simplest lawsuit,' writes an English lawyer, in
a popular magazine, 'and the droll laws which force all English subjects
into a court of equity for their sole redress, in an immense number of
cases, lead, at this present day, to a very entertaining class of
practical jokes. I mean that ludicrous class, in which the joke consists
of a man's taking and keeping possession of money or other property to
which he even pretends to have no shadow of right, but which he seizes
because he knows that the whole will be swallowed up if the rightful owner
should seek to assert his claim.' The instances which are cited are rather
fitted to excite a sense of humiliation than of fun, at the cruel
injustice of a legal system which expressly organizes and protects

The legal treatises produced in England, in modern times, are wonderful
monuments of erudition, research, and analytical power. The intelligent
lawyer who examines Spence's two volumes on equity, does not wonder his
brain gave way when thus far advanced on his gigantic task. It is this
patient study, this complete learning, which distinguishes the English
lawyer; in point of eloquence, he is confessedly inferior to his Irish and
American brethren, as they are to him in profundity; in the careful and
persistent application of common sense to the hoarded legal acquisitions
of centuries, the great minds of the English bar stand unrivalled. It is,
indeed, the most certain professional avenue to official power. 'Rely upon
it,' says a brilliant novelist, 'the barrister's gown is the
wedding-garment to the British feast of fat things;' and Veron declares
that 'en France, mais en France seulement, un avocat est propre à tout,
tandis qu'un mèdecin n'est jugé propre à rien qu' à hanter les hôpitaux.'

In this country, the lawyers of each State have a characteristic
reputation; the Bar of Boston, as a whole, is more English, that of the
South more Irish, in its general merits. Marshall was an exception to the
eloquent fame of American lawyers born and bred south of the Potomac; his
superiority was logical: 'aim exclusively at strength,' was his maxim; and
'close, compact, simple, but irresistible logic,' his great distinction.
Wheaton's labours in behalf of International, and Hamilton's in that of
Constitutional law, have laid the civilized world, as well as their native
country, under high and lasting obligations.

The popular estimate of a profession is dependent on circumstances; and
this, like every other human pursuit, takes its range and tone from the
character of its votary, and the existent relation it holds to public
sentiment; not so much from what it technically demands, but from the
spirit in which it is followed, come the dignity and the shame of the law.
The erudite generalizations of Savigny belong to the most difficult and
enlarged sphere of thought, while the cunning tergiversations of the legal
adventurer identify him with sharpers and roguery. How characteristic of
Aaron Burr, that he should sarcastically define law as 'whatever is
boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.' In the first cycle of our
Republic, when a liberal education was rare, the best lawyers were
ornaments of society, and the intellectual benefactors of the country. In
that study were disciplined the chivalrous minds of Marshall, Hamilton,
Adams, Morris, and other statesmen of the Revolution. A trial, which
afforded the least scope for their remarkable powers, was attended by the
intelligent citizens with very much the same kind of interest as filled
the Athenian theatre--a mental banquet was confidently expected and deeply
enjoyed. To have a great legal reputation, then, implied all that is noble
in intellect, graceful in manner, and courteous in spirit--it bespoke the
scholar, the gentleman, and the wit, as well as the advocate. When Emmet
came hither with the _prestige_ of inherited patriotism and talents, as
well as the claims of an exile, he found men at the bar whose eloquence
rivalled the fame of Curran and Grattan.

In Scotland, lawyers are eminently identified with social distinction and
arrangements. 'The fact of the substitution of the legal profession for
the old Scottish aristocracy,' says a late review, 'in the chief place in
Edinburgh society, is typified by the circumstance that the so-called
Parliament House, which is on the site of the ancient hall where the
Estates of the Kingdom sat when the nation made its own laws, is now the
seat of the Scottish law-courts, and the daily resort of the interpreters
of the land. The general hour of breakfast in Edinburgh is determined by
the time when the Courts open in the morning; and, dispersed through their
homes or at dinner-parties in the evening, it is the members of the legal
profession that lead the social talk.'

The equality of free institutions was never more aptly illustrated than by
a scene which occurred in a courthouse we used to frequent, in boyhood, in
order to hear the impassioned rhetoric of a gifted criminal lawyer. A
trial of peculiar interest was to come on; the room was crowded with
spectators and officials; the judge, a venerable specimen of the stern and
dignified magistrate, took his seat; the sheriff announced the opening of
the court, and the clerk called over the names of those summoned to act as
jurors. We were startled to hear, among those of grocers, draymen, and
mechanics, the well-known name of an aristocratic millionaire. It was
thrice repeated, and no answer given. 'Has that juror been duly summoned?'
inquired the judge. 'Yes, your honour,' was the reply. 'Let two constables
instantly bring him before us,' said the magistrate. One can imagine the
vexation of the rich gentleman of leisure, when dawdling, in a flowered
_robe de chambre_, over his sumptuous breakfast, to be disturbed by those
rude minions of the law; however, there was no alternative, and he was
obliged to despatch his meal and accompany the distasteful escort. He
entered the court, where a deep silence prevailed, with a supercilious
smile and complacent air of well-bred annoyance. 'How dare you keep the
court waiting, sir?' was the indignant salutation of the judge, who,
perhaps, when last in the gentleman's company, had sipped a glass
delectable of old Madeira to his health. 'I intended to pay my fine and
not serve,' stammered the millionaire. 'And do you suppose, sir, that
wealth exonerates you from the duties of a citizen, and is any apology for
your gross incivility in thus detaining the court for over an hour? No
excuse will be accepted; either take your seat in the jury-box or stand
committed.' Through the silent crowd the luxurious man of fortune threaded
his way, and sat down between a currier and wood-merchant, with whom he
had to listen to the law and the evidence for a fortnight.

The author of the _Lives of the English Chancellors_ refers to the usual
explanation of the origin of the term 'wool-sack,' as intended in
compliment to the staple product of the realm; and adds his own belief
that, in 'the rude simplicity of early times, a sack of wool was
frequently used as a sofa.' In the colonial era of our history, when
ceremony and etiquette ruled the public hall as well as the private
drawing-room, American judges wore the robe and wig still used in the Old
Country. These insignia of authority inspired an awe, before the era of
legal reform and of philosophical jurisprudence, which comported with the
tyrannous exercise of juridical power, when it was little more than the
medium of despotism, and when the calm reproach of Stafford was a literal
truth: 'It is better to be without laws altogether, than to persuade
ourselves that we have laws by which to regulate our conduct, and to find
that they consist only in the enmity and arbitrary will of our accusers.'

The Conveyancer, Writer to the Signet, Attorney, Barrister, and other
divisions of the legal profession, indicate how, in this, as in other
vocations, the division of labour operates in England; while on this side
of the water, the contrary principle not only assigns to the lawyer a
degree of knowledge and aptitude in each branch of his calling, but lays
him under contribution in every political and social exigency, as an
interpreter or advocate of public sentiment; hence his remarkable
versatility and comparatively superficial attainments. In the history of
English law, the early struggles and profound acquirements of her
disciples form the salient points; while in that of America, they are to
be found rather in the primitive resources of justice and the varied
career of her ministers. With regard to the former, our many racy
descriptions of the process of Western colonization abound in remarkable
anecdotes of the unlicensed administration of justice. After the Pioneer
comes the Ranger, a kind of border police, then the Regulator, and finally
the Justice of the Peace. In the primitive communities, when a flagrant
wrong is committed, a public meeting is called, perhaps under an
oak-clump, or in a green hollow, the oldest settler is invited to the
chair, which is probably the trunk of a fallen tree; the offence is
discussed; the offender identified; volunteers scour the woods, he is
arraigned, and, if found guilty, hung, banished, or reprimanded, as the
case may be, with a despatch which is not less remarkable than the fair
hearing he is allowed, and the cool decision with which he is condemned.

There is a peculiar kind of impudence exhibited by the lawyer--it is
sometimes called 'badgering a witness,'--and consists essentially of a
mean abuse of that power which is legally vested in judge and advocate,
whereby they can, at pleasure, insult and torment each other, and all
exposed to their queries, with impunity. It is easy to imagine the relish
with which unprofessional victims behold the mutual exercise of this legal
tyranny. A venerable Justice, in one of our cities, was remarkable for the
frequent reproofs he administered to young practitioners in his court, and
the formal harangues with which he wore out the patience of those so
unfortunate as to give testimony in his presence. On one occasion, it
happened that he was summoned as a witness, in a case to be defended by
one of the juvenile members of the bar, whom he had often called to order
with needless severity. This hopeful limb of the law was gifted with more
than a common share of the cool assurance so requisite in the profession,
and determined to improve the opportunity, to make his 'learned friend' of
the bench feel the sting he had so often inflicted. Accordingly, when his
Honour took the stand, the counsel gravely inquired his name, occupation,
place of residence, and sundry other facts of his personal history--though
all were as familiar to himself and every one present as the old church,
or main street of their native town. The queries were put in a voice and
with a manner so exactly imitated from that of the judge himself, as to
convulse the audience with laughter; every unnecessary word the hampered
witness used was reprimanded as 'beyond the question;' he was continually
adjured to 'tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth;'
his expressions were captiously objected to; he was tantalized with
repetitions and cross-questioning about the veriest trifles; and,
finally, his tormentor, with a face of the utmost gravity, pretended to
discover in the witness a levity of bearing, and equivocal replies, which
called for a lecture on 'the responsibility of an oath;' this was
delivered with a pedantic solemnity, in words, accent, and gesture so like
one of his own addresses from the bench, that judge, jury, and spectators
burst forth into irresistible peals of laughter; and the subject of this
clever retaliation lost all self-possession, grew red and pale by turns,
fumed, and at last protested, until his young adversary wound up the farce
by a threat to commit him for contempt of court.

When Chief Justice Coleridge retired from the bench, his farewell address
deeply affected the members of the bar present: 'These are not your
severest trials,' said he, referring to the more familiar difficulties of
the profession; 'they are those which are most insidious; which beset you
in the ordinary path of your daily duty; those which spring from the
excitement of contest, from the love of intellectual display, and even
from an exaggerated sense of duty to your clients. Gentlemen--especially
my younger friends,--suffer me, without offence, to put you on your guard
against these. We can well afford to bear traditional pleasantries upon us
from without, but we cannot afford that, underlying these, there should
exist among thoughtful persons a feeling that our professional standard of
honour is questionable--that we, as advocates, will say and do in court
what we, as gentlemen, would scorn to do in the common walks of life.
Sometimes, I confess, it seems to me that we lend support to such a
feeling by the lightness with which we impute ungenerous conduct or
practices to each other. Surely no case is so sacred, no client so dear,
that ever an advocate should be called upon to barter his own
self-respect. If that be our duty, our great and glorious profession is no
calling for a gentleman.'

The relation of law to poetry is proverbially antagonistic; and the
attempt to bind imagination to technicalities has usually proved a
hopeless experiment; and yet it is curious to note how many of the
brotherhood of song were originally destined for this profession, and how
similar their confessions are, of a struggle, a compromise, and, finally,
an abandonment of jurisprudence for the sake of the Muses. Ovid, Petrarch,
Tasso, Milton, Cowper, Ariosto, and others, are examples; Scott was
faithful awhile to a branch of the law; Blackstone's only known poem is a
_Farewell to the Muse_; Marshall and Story wooed the Nine, in their youth;
Talfourd deemed it requisite to declare, in the preface to _Ion_, that he
'left no duty for this idle trade,' and Proctor only weaves a song in the
intervals of his stern task as a Commissioner of Lunacy. With philosophy
the law is more congenial: Bacon and Mackintosh are illustrious examples
of their united pursuit. Sir Thomas More wrote verses on the wall of his
prison with a coal, and Addison compliments Somers on his poetry in his
dedication of the _Campaign_. Lord Mansfield's name appears in history a
successful competitor for the Oxford prize poem. Lyndhurst and Denham were
given to rhyme, and Sir William Jones is popularly known by his nervous
lines on _What constitutes a State?_ Lord Jeffrey is one of the most
characteristic modern examples of the union of legal and literary
success,--his taste of the latter kind having, with the aid of a
felicitous style, made him the most famous reviewer of his day, while the
mental traits of the advocate unfitted him to appreciate the ideal, as
they rendered him expert and brilliant in the discussion of rhetoric,
facts, and philosophy.

Its connection with the most adventurous and tragic realities of life
often brings law into the sphere of the dramatic and imaginative. Popular
fiction has found in its annals all the material for profound human
interest and artistic effect. Scott's most pathetic tale, the _Heart of
Mid-Lothian_, _Ten Thousand a Year_, and _Bleak House_, are memorable
examples. The trials of Russell, Strafford, Vane, and other noble
prisoners charged with high treason, have furnished both plot and
incidents for popular novelists. Uriah Heep, Oily Gammon, and Gilbert
Glossin, are familiar types of legal villany. Thackeray's best work,
artistically speaking--_Henry Esmond_--is largely indebted to the State
Trials of Queen Anne's time for its material. Have you ever seen Portia
enacted by a woman of genius? Then has the romance of law been
impersonated for ever to your mind. That demoniac plaintiff, so memorably
represented by Kean, with his haunting expression and voice,--the noble
wife of Bassanio, uttering, in tones of musical entreaty, her immortal
plea for Mercy, and, when it failed to touch the Jew's heart of adamant,
cleaving his hope of vengeance by a subtle evasion,--the joy of Antonio,
the fiat of the judge, the merry reunion and gay bridal talk at Belmont
that night, whose moonlit gladness lives for ever in the page of
Shakspeare,--Queen Katherine's defence, and Othello's argument before
their judges, equally show how effective is a tribunal under the hand of
the poet of Nature; and every barrister of long experience can relate
episodes in his career 'stranger than fiction.'

Although one would naturally turn to the State Trials, _Causes Célèbres_,
_Memoirs of Vidocq_, and similar works, for the dramatic materials
developed by process of law, yet, to the initiated, there is an equal fund
of interest in those researches of the profession which appear to deal
only with technicalities. How many effective situations have playwrights,
and such observers of human nature as Hogarth, drawn from, or grouped
around the formal act of making or reading a Will! There is positive
romance in the task of the Conveyancer, when he traces the title of an
estate far back through the ramifications of family history, often
bringing to light the most curious historical facts and remarkable
personal incidents. Questions of property, of heirship, of fraud, and of
divorce, involve manifold relative facts, that only require the sequence
and arrangement of literary art, to make them dramas. Perhaps no field of
character has yielded types as memorable to the writers of modern fiction
as that of the Law. Think of Balzac's diagnosis of the French statutes
regulating burial and marriage settlements, in his psychological Tales; of
Brass, Tulkinghorn, and Peyton. Libel cases vie with police reports in
unveiling the tragedy and comedy of life. That a trial involves scope for
the broadest humour, or the most facetious invention, is evident from the
Moot Court having become a permanent form of public entertainment in

No profession affords better opportunities for the study of human nature;
indeed, an acute insight of motives is a prerequisite of success; but
unfortunately it is the dark side of character, the selfish instincts,
that are most frequently displayed in litigation, and hence the exclusive
recognition of these which many a practised lawyer manifests. In its ideal
phase, among the noblest--in its possible actuality, among the lowest--of
human pursuits, we can scarcely wonder that popular sentiment and
literature exhibit such apparently irreconcilable estimates of its value
and tendencies. English lawyers of the first class are scholars and
gentlemen. Classical knowledge and familiarity with standard modern
literature are indispensable to their equipment; and such attainments are
usually conducive to a humane and refined character. In the programme
suggested by eminent lawyers for a general training for the Bar, there is,
however, an amusing diversity of opinion as to the best literary culture;
one writer recommends the Bible, another Shakspeare, one English history,
and another Joe Miller, as the best resource for apt quotation and
discipline in the art of efficient rhetoric. Coke was remarkable for his
citations from Virgil. But there is no doubt that general knowledge is an
essential advantage to the lawyer, if he understand the rare art of using
it with tact. The mere fact that the highest political distinction and
official duty are open to the lawyer, ought to incline him to liberal
studies and comprehensive acquaintance with literature, science, and

How distinctly in social life the phases of the legal mind have become, is
evident from such allusion as that of a Quarterly Reviewer, who, in a
political discussion, remarks that 'Mr. Percival was only a poorish _nisi
prius_ lawyer, and there is no kind of human being so disagreeable to the
gross Tory nation;' while De Quincey, with that philosophic benignity
which sometimes inspires his weird pen, observes that 'he had often
thought that the influence of a portion of the acrid humours, which seem
an element in the human mental constitution, being drained off, as it
were, in forensic disputation, raised the lawyer above the average of
mankind, in the qualities that give enjoyment to society.'

The trial of Aaron Burr elicited the most characteristic eloquence of Clay
and Wirt; that of Knapp, the tragic force of statement in which Webster
excelled. Emmet's address to his judges has become a charter to his
countrymen. Patrick Henry's remarkable powers of argument and appeal,
which fanned the embers of Revolutionary zeal into a flame, originally
exhibited themselves in a Virginia courthouse. And if eloquence has been
justly described as existing 'in the man, in the subject, and in the
occasion,' we can easily imagine why the legal profession affords it such
frequent and extensive scope.

The intellectual process by which the advocate seeks his ends is
observable in the best conversation and writing. Almost all good talkers
are essentially pleaders; they espouse, defend, illustrate, or maintain a
question. Many of Lord Jeffrey's reviews are little else but special
pleadings, and Macaulay's most brilliant articles are digests executed
with taste and eloquence; the subject is first thoroughly explored, then
its presentation systematized, and afterwards stated, argued, and summed
up, after the manner of a charge or plea, with the addition of rhetorical
graces inadmissible in a legal case. There is nothing, therefore, in the
peculiar exercise of the faculties which renders law a profession apt to
pervert second-rate minds; the evil lies in the predetermined side, the
logic aforethought--if we may so say,--the interested choice and
dogmatical assumption of a certain view undertaken 'for a consideration.'
'I know some barristers,' observes Thackeray, 'who mistake you and I for
jury-boxes when they address us; but these are not your modest barristers,
not your true gentlemen.'

The special pleading and judicial complacency of Jeffrey--in other words
his lawyer's mind--prevented his recognition of the highest and best
poetical merit. It has been said of the conversation of his circle at
Edinburgh, that it was, 'in a very great measure, made up of brilliant
disquisition, of sharp word-catching, ingenious thinking, and parrying of
dialectics, and all the quips and quiddities of bar-pleading. It was the
talk of a society to which lawyers and lecturers had, for at least a
hundred years, given the tone.'[22]

When from the advocate we pass to the bench, and from the feed barrister
to the philosophical jurist, a new and majestic vista opens to the view.
As in literature, two great divisions mark the legal character: there is
the narrow but thoroughly-informed practitioner, and the comprehensive
judicial mind,--the first only distinguished within a limited bound of
immediate utility and respectable adherence to precedent, and the other a
pioneer in the realm of truth, a brave and original minister at the altar
of justice. Lord Brougham, in his _Sketches of English Statesmen_, has
admirably indicated these two classes. To the former he says, 'The precise
dictates of English statutes, and the dictates of English judges and
English text-writers, are the standard of justice. They are extremely
suspicious of any enlarged or general views upon so serious a subject as
law.' The second and higher order of lawyers are well described in his
portrait of Lord Grant, of whose charges he remarks: 'Forth came a strain
of clear, unbroken fluency, disposing in the most luminous order all the
facts and all the arguments in the cause; reducing into clear and simple
arrangement the most entangled masses of broken, conflicting statement;
settling one doubt by a parenthetical remark, passing over another only
more decisive that it was condensed; and giving out the whole impression
of the case upon the judge's mind,--the material view, with argument
enough to show why he so thought, and to prove him right, and without so
much reasoning as to make you forget that it was a judgment you were
hearing, and not a speech.' Do we not often find, in literature and in
life, counterparts of this picture of a judicial mind? Add to it
discovery, and we have the legal philosopher; intrepid love of right, and
we recognize the legal reformer. To this noble category belong such
lawyers as Mansfield and Marshall, Romilly, Erskine, and Webster. Genius
for the bar is as varied in its character as that for poetry or art. In
one man the gift is acuteness, in another felicity of language; here,
extraordinary perspicuity of statement; there, singular ingenuity of
argument. It is rhetoric, manner, force of purpose, a glamour that
subdues, or a charm that wins; so that no precise rules, irrespective of
individual endowments, can be laid down to secure forensic triumph.
Doubtless, however, the union of a sympathetic temperament and an
attractive manner, with logical power and native eloquence, form the ideal
equipment of the pleader. Erskine seems to have combined these qualities
in perfection, and to have woven a spell both for soul and sense. He
magnetized, physically and intellectually, his audience. 'Juries,' says
his biographer, 'declared that they felt it impossible to remove their
looks from him when he had riveted, and, as it were, fascinated them by
his first glance; and it used to be a common remark of men who observed
his motions, that they resembled those of a blood-horse.'

The tendency to subterfuge in the less highly endowed, is but an
incidental liability; in general, law-practice seems to harden and make
sceptical the mind absorbed in its details. One can almost invariably
detect the keen look of distrust or the smile of incredulity in the
physiognomy of the barrister. Everything like sentiment,
disinterestedness, and frank demonstration, is apt to be regarded without
faith or sympathy. Most lawyers confess that they place no reliance on the
statements of their clients. If you introduce a spiritual hypothesis or a
practical view of any topic, it is treated by this class of men with
ill-concealed scorn. The habit of their minds is logical; they usually
ignore and repudiate those instincts which experience seldom reveals to
them, and observation of life in its coarser phases leads them to doubt
and contemn. But, while thus less open to the gentler and more sacred
sympathies, they often possess the distinction of manliness, of courage,
and generosity. The very process which so exclusively develops the
understanding, and makes their ideal of intellectual greatness to consist
in aptitude, subtlety, and reasoning power, tends to give a certain vigour
and alertness to the thinking faculty, and to emancipate it from morbid
influences. One of Ben Jonson's characters thus defines the lawyer:--

  'I oft have heard him say how he admired
  Men of your law-profession, that could speak
  To every cause and things mere contraries,
  Till they were hoarse again, yet all be law.
  That, with most quick agility, could turn
  And return, make knots and undo them,
  Give forked counsel, take provoking gold
  On either hand,--and put it up.'

And one of Balzac's characters says:--'Savez-vous, mon cher, qu'il existe
dans notre société trois hommes: le prêtre, le médecin, et l'homme de
justice, qui ne peuvent pas estimer le monde? Ils ont des robes noires,
peut-être parce qu'ils portent le deuil de toutes les vertus, de toutes
les illusions. _Le plus malheureux des trois est l'avoué._' When the
question at issue is purely utilitarian, and the interest discussed one of
outward and practical relations, this legal training comes into eminent
efficiency: in a word, it is applicable to affairs, but not to sentiment;
to fact, but not to abstract truth. How evanescent is often a great
lawyer's fame; often as intangible as that of a great vocalist or actor.
Even their eloquence is now rare. Great lawyers are uniformly distrustful
of rhetoric, and their power is based on knowledge. We learn from the son
and biographer of Chief Justice Parsons, that a special reason of his
eminent superiority was that accident gave him early and undisturbed
access to the best law library in America. It has been truly said, that
the eloquence of the bar has become a tradition; 'it is suspected as
impugning sense and knowledge,' and is opposed to the practical spirit of
the age. Yet the advocate, like the poet, is occasionally born, not made,
notwithstanding the maxim _orator fit_. A mind fertile in expedients,
warmed by a temperament which instinctively seizes upon, and, we had
almost said, incarnates, a cause, is a phenomenon that sometimes renders
law an inspiration instead of a dogma. Such a pleader lately lived in one
of the Eastern States. Not only the grasp of his thought, but his
elocution, announced that he had literally thrown himself into the case.
It would be more strictly correct to say that he had absorbed it. The
gesture, the eye, the tone of his voice, the quiver of the muscle, nay,
each lock of his long steel-gray hair, that he tossed back from his
dripping brow, in the excitement of his fluent harangue, seemed alive and
overflowing with the rationale and the sentiment of the cause; his
enthusiasm was real, however it may have originated; and, by identifying
himself with his client, he espoused the argument as if it were vital to
his own interest. Such instances, however, are exceptional; few are the
lawyers thus constituted. Accepting their cases objectively, and
maintaining them by formula, the usual effect is that which Burke
describes in his character of Greville: 'He was bred to the law, which is,
in my opinion, one of the first and noblest of human sciences--a science
which does more to quicken and invigorate the understanding than all other
kinds of learning put together; but it is not apt, except in persons very
happily born, to open and liberalize the mind exactly in the same

Why is the poet's function the noblest? Because it is inspired, not
arbitrarily decreed by the will. Mental activity is grand and beautiful in
proportion as it is disinterested; and it is on account of the almost
inevitable forcing, by circumstances, of a lawyer's mind from the line of
honest conviction into that of determined casuistry, that the moral
objection to the pursuit is so often urged. 'The indiscriminate defence of
right and wrong,' says Junius, 'contracts the understanding while it
corrupts the heart.' Some men, in conversation, affect us as unreal. We
attach no vital interest to what they say, because the mind appears to act
wholly apart--the fusion of sense and feeling, which we call soul, is
wanting; there is no conviction, no personal sentiment, no unselfish love
of truth in what they say; and yet it may be intelligent, erudite, and
void of positive falsity--still it is mechanical; the intellect is _used_,
not _inspired_; willed to act, not moved thereto: this is the
characteristic of legal training, unmodified by the higher sentiments; it
makes intellectual machines, logical grist-mills, talkers by rote; the
rational powers, from long slavery to temporary and interested aims, seem
to have lost magnanimity; their spontaneous, genuine, and earnest action
has yielded to a conventional and predetermined habit. Yet at the other
extreme we see the most lofty and permanent intellectual results. It has
been justly said that the Code Napoleon is even now the sole embodiment
of Lord Bacon's thought--'put them (the laws) into shape, inform them with
philosophy, reduce them in bulk, give them into every man's hand. Laws are
made to guard the rights of the people, not to feed the lawyers.'

Whoever, in the freshness of youthful emotions, has been present at the
tribunal of a free country, where the character of the judge, the
integrity of the jury, and the learning and eloquence of the advocates
have equalled the moral exigencies and the ideal dignity of the scene, and
when the case has possessed a high tragic or social interest, can never
lose the impression thus derived of the majesty of the law. No public
scene of human life can surpass it to the apprehension of a thoughtful
spectator. He seems to behold the principle of justice as it exists in the
very elements of humanity, and to stand on the primeval foundation of
civil society; the searching struggle for truth, the conscientious
application of law to evidence, the stern recital of the prosecutor, the
appeal of the defence, the constant test of inquiry, of reference to
statutes and precedents, the luminous arrangement of conflicting facts by
the judge, his impartial deductions and clear final statement, the
interval of suspense and the solemn verdict, combine to present a calm,
reflective, almost sublime exercise of the intellect and moral sentiments,
in order to conform authority to their highest dictates, which elevates
and widens the function and the glory of human life and duty. Compare with
such a picture the base mockery of justice exhibited by the Inquisition of
old, and an Austrian court-martial of our own day; the arbitrary fiat of
an Eastern official, and the murderous ordeal of the provisional bodies
that ruled during the first French revolution; and it is easy to
appreciate the identity of justly-administered law with civilization and
freedom. 'Justice,' says Webster, 'is the great interest of man on earth.
It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations
together. Wherever her temple stands, and as long as it is duly honoured,
there is a foundation for social security, general happiness, and the
improvement and progress of our race; and whoever labours on this edifice
with usefulness and distinction, whoever clears its foundations,
strengthens its pillars, adorns its entablatures, or contributes to raise
its august dome still higher in the skies, connects himself--in name, and
fame, and character--with that which is, and must be, as durable as the
frame of human society.'


                                'The hills,
  Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the vales,
  Stretching in pensive quietness between;
  The venerable woods; rivers that move
  In majesty, and the complaining brooks
  That make the meadow green; and, poured round all,
  Old ocean's gray and melancholy waste,
  Are but the solemn decorations all
  Of the great tomb of man.'--BRYANT.

The comparatively recent and widely-diffused interest in the establishment
of rural cemeteries in this country is an auspicious reaction of popular
feeling. Never did a Christian nation manifest so little conservative and
exalted sentiment, apart from its direct religious scope, as our own. This
patent defect is owing, in a measure, to the absence of the venerable, the
time-hallowed, and the contemplative in the scenes and the life of our
country; it is, however, confirmed by the busy competition, the hurried,
experimental, and ambitious spirit of the people. Local change is the
rule, not the exception; scorn of wise delay, moderation, and philosophic
content, the prevalent feeling; impatience, temerity, and self-confidence,
the characteristic impulse; houses are locomotive, church edifices turned
into post-offices, and even theatres; ancestral domains are bartered away
in the second generation; old trees bow to the axe; the very sea is
encroached upon, and landmarks are removed almost as soon as they grow
familiar; change, which is the life of Nature, seems to be regarded as not
less the vital element of what is called local improvement and prosperity;
the future is almost exclusively regarded, and the past contemned.

If a man cites the precedents of experience, he is sneered at as a 'fogy;'
if he has a competence, he risks it in speculation; newspapers usurp the
attention once given to standard lore; the picturesque rocks of the rural
wayside are defiled by quack advertisements, the arcana of spirituality
degraded by legerdemain, the dignity of reputation sullied by partisan
brutality, the graces of social refinement abrogated by a mercenary
standard, the lofty aims of science levelled by charlatan tricks, and
independence of character sacrificed to debasing conformity; observation
is lost in locomotion, thought in action, ideality in materialism. Against
this perversion of life the sanctity of death protests, often vainly to
the general mind, but not ineffectually to the individual heart.

When it was attempted to secure the collection of Egyptian antiquities
brought hither by Dr. Abbott, of Cairo, for a future scientific museum to
be established in New York, the representatives--commercial, professional,
and speculative--of 'Young America' scorned the bare idea of exchanging
gold for mummies, sepulchral lamps, papyrus, and ancient utensils and
inscriptions; yet, within a twelvemonth, a celebrated German philologist,
a native biblical scholar, and a lecturer on the History of Art, eagerly
availed themselves of these contemned relics to prove and illustrate their
respective subjects; and the enlightened of Gotham's utilitarian citizens
acknowledged that the trophies of the past were essential to elucidate and
confirm the wisdom of the present. It is this idolatry of the immediate
which stultifies republican perception. Offer a manuscript to a publisher,
and he instantly inquires if it relates to the questions of the day; if
not, it is almost certain to be rejected without examination. The
conservative element of social life is merged in gregarious intercourse;
the youth looks not up to age; the maiden's susceptibilities are hardened
by premature and promiscuous association; external success is glorified,
private consistency unhonoured; art becomes a trade, literature an
expedient, reform fanaticism; aspiration is chilled, romance outgrown,
life unappreciated; and all because the vista of departed time is cut off
from our theory of moral perspective, and existence itself is regarded
merely as an opportunity for instant and outward success, not a link in an
eternal chain reaching 'before and after.'

Sentiment is the great conservative principle of society; those instincts
of patriotism, local attachment, family affection, human sympathy,
reverence for truth, age, valour, and wisdom, so often alive and conscious
in the child, and overlaid or perverted in the man,--for the culture of
which our educational systems, habitual vocations, domestic and social
life, make so little provision,--are, in the last analysis, the elements
of whatever is noble, efficient, and individual in character; in every
moral crisis we appeal to them, as the channels whereby we are linked to
God and humanity, and through which alone we can realize just views or
lawful action. In our normal condition they may not be often exhibited;
yet none the less they constitute the latent force of civil society. To
depend upon intelligence and will is, indeed, the creed of the age, and
especially of this Republic; but these powers, when unhallowed by the
primal and better instincts, react and fail of their end. It is so in
individual experience and in national affairs. The absence of the
sentiments which the pride of intellect and the brutality of self-will
thus repudiate, is the occasion of our greatest errors; to them is the
final appeal, through them the only safety; and their violation was the
precursor of base and bloody treason; their vindication but the renewal
through sacrifice of a normal and vital interest of human society. The
war for the Union has been expiatory not less than patriotic. And the
great lesson taught by these and similar errors is, that the life, the
spirit, the faith of the country had, by a long course of national
prosperity and a blind worship of outward success, become gradually but
inevitably material; so that motives of patriotism, of reverence, of
courtesy, of generous sympathy,--in a word, the sentiments, as
distinguished from the passions and the will, had ceased to be recognized
as legitimate, and the reliable springs of action and guides of life. It
was the repudiation of these which horrified Burke at the outbreak of the
French Revolution; he augured the worst from that event, at the best hour
of its triumph, because it stripped Humanity of her divine attribute of
sentiment, and left her to shiver naked in the cold light of reason and
will, unredeemed by the sense of justice, of beauty, of compassion, of
honourable pride, which under the name of chivalry he lamented as extinct.
He spoke and felt as a man whose brain was kindled by his heart, and whose
heart retained the pure impulse of these sacred instincts, and knew their
value as the medium of all truth and the basis of civil order. They were
temporarily quenched in France by the frenzy of want; they are inactive
and in abeyance here, through the gross pressure of material prosperity
and mercenary ambition. Hence whatever effectively appeals to them, and
whoever sincerely recognizes them, whether by example or precept, in a
life or a poem, through art or rhetoric, in respect for the past, love of
nature, or devotion to truth and beauty, excites our cordial sympathy. In
this age and land, no man is a greater benefactor than he who scorns the
worldly and narrow philosophy of life which degrades to a material,
unaspiring level the tone of mind and the tendency of the affections. If
he invent a character, lay out a domain, erect a statue, weave a stanza,
write a paragraph, utter a word, or chant a melody which stirs in any
breast the love of the beautiful, admiration for the heroic, or the
chastening sense of awe,--any sentiment, in truth, which partakes of
disinterestedness, and merges self 'in an idea dearer than
self,'--uplifts, expands, fortifies, intensifies, and therefore
inspires,--he is essentially and absolutely a benefactor to society, a
genuine though perhaps unrecognized champion of what is 'highest in man's
nature' against what is 'lowest in man's destiny.' And not the least
because the most universal of these higher and holier feelings is the
sentiment of Death, consecrating its symbols, guarding its relics, and
keeping fresh and sacred its memories.

The disposition of the mortal remains was, and is, to a considerable
extent, in England, an ecclesiastical function; in Catholic lands it is a
priestly interest. Indignity to the body, after death, was one of the most
dreaded punishments of heresy and crime; to scatter human ashes to the
winds, expose the skulls of malefactors in iron gratings over city
portals, refuse interment in ground consecrated by the church, and
disinter and insult the body of an unpopular ruler, were among the
barbarous reprisals of offended power. And yet, in these same twilight
eras, in the heathen customs and the mediæval laws, under the sway of Odin
and the Franks, the sentiment of respect for the dead was acted upon in a
manner to shame the indifference and hardihood of later and more civilized
times. With the emigration to America, this sentiment looked for its legal
vindication entirely to the civic authority. With their reaction from
spiritual tyranny, our ancestors transferred this, with other social
interests, to popular legislation and private inclination. Hence the
comparatively indefinite enactments on the subject, and the need of a
uniform code, applicable to all the States, and organized so as clearly to
establish the rights both of the living and the dead, and to preserve
inviolable the choice of disposition, and the place of deposit, of human

The practical treatment of this subject is anomalous. Amid the scenes of
horror, outraging humanity in every form, which characterized the anarchy
incident to the first dethronement of legitimate authority in France, how
startling to read, among the first decrees of the Convention, provisions
for the dead, while pitiless destruction awaited the living! And in this
country, while motives of _hygiène_ limit intermural interments, and a
higher impulse sets apart and adorns rural cemeteries, our rail-tracks
still often ruthlessly intersect the fields of the dead, and ancestral
tombs are annually broken up to make way for streets and warehouses. The
tomb of Washington was long dilapidated; the bones of Revolutionary
martyrs are neglected, and half the graveyards of the country desecrated
by indifference or misuse. The conservative piety of the Hebrews
reproaches our inconsiderate neglect, in the faithfully-tended cemetery of
their race at Newport, R. I., where not a Jew remains to gather the ashes
of his fathers, thus carefully preserved by a testamentary fund. Of late
years elaborate monuments in rural cemeteries have done much to redeem
this once proverbial neglect. They constitute the most sacred adornment of
the environs of our principal cities.

Both the modes and places of burial have an historical significance. The
pyre of the Greeks and Romans, the embalming process of the Egyptians, the
funeral piles of Hindoo superstition, and those bark stagings, curiously
regarded by Mississippi voyagers, where Indian corpses are exposed to the
elements,--the old cross-road interment of the suicide, the inhumation of
the early patriarchs and Christians,--all symbolize eras and creeds. The
lying-in-state of the royal defunct, the sable catafalque of the Catholic
temples, the salutes over the warrior's grave, the 'Day of the Dead'
celebrated in Southern Europe, the eulogies in French cemeteries, the
sublime ritual of the Establishment, and the silent prayer of the
Friends,--requiems, processions, emblems, inscriptions, badges, and
funereal garlands,--mark faith, nation, rank, and profession at the very
gates of the sepulchre. Vain is the sceptic's sneer, useless the
utilitarian's protest; by these poor tributes the heart utters its undying
regret and its immortal prophecies, though 'mummy has become merchandise,'
and to be 'but pyramidically extant is a fallacy in duration;' for, as the
same religious philosopher[23] of Norwich declared, 'it is the heaviest
stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him he is at the end of
his nature;' and, therefore, in the grim Tuscan's Hell, the souls of those
who denied their immortality when in the flesh, are shut up through
eternity in living tombs. How the idea of a local abode for the mortal
remains is hallowed to our nature, is realized in the pathos which closes
the noble and sacred life of the Hebrew lawgiver: 'And he buried him in a
valley of the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knoweth of
his sepulchre unto this day.'[24] Etruria's best relics are sepulchral
urns. Social distinctions are as obvious in the tombs of the ancients as
in their palaces: witness the Columbarium in ruins, and the fresh pit of
the plebeians; the sandy isles of the Venetian cemetery, and Pompeii's
street of tombs. Byron thought '_Implora pace_' the most affecting of
epitaphs; and the visitor at Coppet recognizes a melancholy
appropriateness, in the garden-grave of its gifted mistress.

Natural, therefore, and human, is the consoling thought of the poet, of
the ship bringing home for burial all of earth that remains of his
lamented friend:--

  'I hear the noise about thy keel;
    I hear the bell struck in the night;
    I see the cabin-window bright;
  I see the sailor at the wheel.

  'Thou bringest the sailor to his wife,
    And travelled men from foreign lands;
    And letters unto trembling hands;
  And thy dark freight, a vanished life.

  'So bring him: we have idle dreams:
    This look of quiet flatters thus
    Our home-bred fancies; O, to us,
  The fools of habit, sweeter seems

  'To rest beneath the clover sod,
    That takes the sunshine and the rains,
    Or where the kneeling hamlet drains
  The chalice of the grapes of God,

  'Than if with thee the roaring wells
    Should gulf him fathom deep in brine;
    And hands so often clasped in mine
  Should toss with tangle and with shells.'[25]

Doubtless many of the processes adopted by blind affection and
superstitious homage, to rescue the poor human casket from destruction,
are grotesque and undesirable. Had Segato, the discoverer of a chemical
method of petrifying flesh, survived to publish the secret, it would be
chiefly for anatomical purposes that we should appreciate his invention;
there is something revolting in the artificial conservation of what, by
the law of Nature, should undergo elemental dissolution; and it is but a
senseless homage to cling to the shattered chrysalis when the winged
embryo has soared away:

  'All' ombra de' cipressi e dentro l'urne
  Confortate di pianto, è forse il sonno
  Delia morte men duro?'[26]

Nature sometimes is a conservative mother even of mortal lineaments; in
glacier or tarn, in _tuffo_ and limestone fossils, she keeps for ages the
entire relics of humanity. The fantastic array of human bones in the
Capuchin cells at Palermo and Rome; the eyeless, shrunken face of Carlo
Borromeo embedded in crystal, jewels, and silk, beneath the Milan
cathedral; the fleshless figure of old Jeremy Bentham in the raiment of
this working-day world; the thousand spicy wrappings which enfold the
exhumed mummy whose exhibition provoked Horace Smith's facetious
rhymes,--these, and such as these, poor attempts to do vain honour to our
clay, are not less repugnant to the sentiment of death, in its religious
and enlightened manifestation, than the promiscuous and careless putting
out of sight of the dead after battle and in the reign of pestilence, or
the brutal and irreverent disposal of the bodies of the poor in the
diurnal pits of the Naples Campo Santo. More accordant with our sense of
respect to what once enshrined an immortal spirit, and stood erect and
free, even in barbaric manhood, is the adjuration of the bard:--

  'Gather him to his grave again,
    And solemnly and softly lay,
  Beneath the verdure of the plain,
    The warrior's scattered bones away;
  The soul hath quickened every part,--
    That remnant of a martial brow,
  Those ribs that held the mighty heart,
    That strong arm,--strong no longer now!
  Spare them, each mouldering relic spare,
    Of God's own image; let them rest,
  Till not a trace shall speak of where
    The awful likeness was impressed.'

Yet there are many and judicious reasons for preferring cremation to
inhumation; the prejudice against the former having doubtless originated
among the early Christians, in their respect for patriarchal entombment,
practised by the Jews, and their natural horror at any custom which
savoured of heathenism. But there is actually no religious obstacle, and,
under proper arrangement, no public inconvenience, in the burning of the
dead. It is, too, a process which singularly attracts those who would save
the remains of those they love from the possibility of desecration, and
anticipate the ultimate fate of the mortal coil 'to mix for ever with the
elements;' at all events, there can be no rational objection to the
exercise of private taste, and the gratification of personal feeling on
this point. 'I bequeath my soul to God,' said Michael Angelo, in his terse
will, 'my body to the earth, and my possessions to my nearest kin;'--and
this right to dispose of one's mortal remains appears to be instinctive;
though the indignation excited by any departure from custom would indicate
that, in popular apprehension, the privilege so rarely exercised is
illegally usurped.

The outcry in a Western town, a few years ago, when cremation was resorted
to, at the earnest desire of a deceased wife; and the offence taken and
expressed in an Eastern city, when it became known that a distinguished
surgeon, from respect to science, had bequeathed his skeleton to a medical
college; evidence how little, among us, is recognized the right of the
living to dispose of their remains, and the extent to which popular
ignorance and individual prejudice are allowed to interfere in what good
sense and good feeling declare an especial matter of private concern. Yet
that other than the ordinary modes of disposing of human relics are not
absolutely repugnant to endearing associations, may be inferred from the
poetic interest which sanctions to the imagination the obsequies of
Shelley. Although it was from convenience that the body of that ideal
bard, so misunderstood, so humane, so 'cradled into poesy by wrong,' was
burned, yet the lover of his spiritual muse beholds in that lonely pyre,
blazing on the shores of the Mediterranean, an elemental destruction of
the material shrine of a lofty and loving soul, accordant with his
aspiring, isolated, and imaginative career.[27]

Vain, indeed, have proved the studious precautions of Egyptians to
conserve from decay and sacrilege the relics of their dead. Not only has
'mummy become merchandise,' in the limited sense of the English moralist;
the traffic of the Jews in their gums and spices, the distribution of
their exhumed forms in museums, and the use of their cases for fuel, is
now superseded by commerce in their cerements for the manufacture of
paper; and it is a startling evidence of that human vicissitude from which
even the shrouds of ancient kings are not exempt, that recently, in one of
the new towns of this continent, a newspaper was printed on sheets made
from the imported rags of Egyptian mummies.

Of primitive and casual landmarks, encountered on solitary moors and
hills, the cairn and the Alpine cross affect the imagination with a sense
alike of mortality and tributary sentiment, even more vividly than the
elaborate mausoleum, from the rude expedients and the solemn isolation;
while the beauty of cathedral architecture is hallowed by ancestral
monuments. Of all Scott's characters, the one that most deeply enlists our
sympathies, through that quaint pathos whereby the Past is made eloquent
both to fancy and affection, is Old Mortality renewing the
half-obliterated inscriptions on the gravestones of the Covenanters, his
white hair fluttering in the wind as he stoops to his melancholy task, and
his aged pony feeding on the grassy mounds. Even our practical Franklin
seized the first leisure from patriotic duties, on his visit to England,
in order to examine the sepulchral tablets which bear the names of his

A cursory glance at the most cherished trophies of literature indicates
how deeply the sentiment of death is wrought into the mind and
imagination,--how it invests with awe, love, pity, and hope, thoughtful
and gifted spirits, inspires their art, elevates their conceptions, and
casts over life and consciousness a sacred mystery. The most finished and
suggestive piece of modern English verse is elegiac,--its theme a country
churchyard, and so instinct are its melancholy numbers with pathos and
reflection, embalmed in rhythmical music, that its lines have passed into
household words. Our national poet, who has sung of Nature in all her
characteristic phases on this continent, next to those ever-renewed
glories of the universe has found his chief inspiration in the same
reverent contemplation: _Thanatopsis_ was his first grand offering to the
Muses, and _The Disinterred Warrior_, the _Hymn to Death_, and _The Old
Man's Funeral_, are but pious variations of a strain worthy to be chanted
in the temple of humanity. Shakspeare in no instance comes nearer what is
highest in our common nature and miraculous in our experience, than when
he makes the philosophic Dane question his soul and confront mortality.
The once popular and ever-memorable _Night Thoughts_ of Young elaborate
kindred ideas in the light of Christian truth; the most quaintly eloquent
of early speculative writings in English prose is Sir Thomas Browne's
treatise on Urn-Burial. The most thoughtful and earnest of modern Italian
poems is Foscolo's _Sepolchri_; the Monody on Sir John Moore, Shelley's
Elegy on Keats, Tickell's on Addison, Byron's on Sheridan, and Tennyson's
_In Memoriam_, contain the most sincere and harmonious utterances of their
authors. Not the least affecting pages of _The Sketch Book_ are those
which describe the 'Village Funeral' and the 'Widow's Son;' and the
endeared author has marked his own sense of the local sanctity of the
grave by selecting that of his family in 'Sleepy Hollow,' in the midst of
scenes endeared by his abode and his fame. Halleck has given lyrical
immortality to the warrior's death in the cause of freedom; and
Wordsworth, in perhaps his most quoted ballad, has recorded with exquisite
simplicity childhood's unconsciousness of death; even the most analytical
of French novelists found, in the laws and ceremonial of a Parisian
interment, material for his keenest diagnosis of the scenes of life in
that marvellous capital. Hope's best descriptive powers were enlisted in
his sketch of burial-places near Constantinople, so pensively contrasting
with the more adventurous chapters of Anastasius. If in popular literature
this sentiment is so constantly appealed to, and so enshrined in the
poet's dream and the philosopher's speculation, classic and Hebrew authors
have inscribed its memorials in outlines of majestic and graceful import;
around it the picturesque and the moralizing, the vivacious and the
grandly simple expressions of the Roman, the Greek, and the Jewish writers
seem to hover with the significant plaint--heroism or faith--which invokes
us, with the voice of ages, to

  'Pay the deep reverence taught of old,
    The homage of man's heart to death;
  Nor dare to trifle with the mould
    Once hallowed by the Almighty's breath.'

Perhaps there is no instance of this vague and awful interest more
memorable to the American than when he reads, on some ancient tablet in
the Old World, the burial record of his ancestors.

The monitory and reminiscent influence of the churchyard, apart from all
personal associations, cannot, indeed, be over-estimated; doubtless in a
spirit of propriety and good taste, it is now more frequently suburban,
made attractive by trees, flowers, a wide landscape, and rural peace, and
rendered comparatively safe from desecration by distance from the
so-called march of improvement which annually changes the aspect of our
growing towns. Yet, wherever situated, the homes of the dead, when made
eloquent by art, and kept fresh by reverent care, breathe a chastening and
holy lesson, perhaps the more impressive when uttered beside the teeming
camp of life. To the traveller in Europe it is a pathetic sight to watch
the Norwegian peasants strew flowers, every Sabbath, on the graves of
their kindred, and gives a living interest to the memorials of
Scandinavian antiquity gathered in the museums, whereby, through the
weapons and drinking-cups of stone, bronze, and iron, exhumed from graves,
he traces the origin and growth of that remote civilization. And when time
has softened the most acute and bitter memories of the War for the Union,
what monument to individual prowess, what trophy of patriotic
self-sacrifice will compare, in solemn and elevating pathos, with the
impression derived from the 'national cemeteries' of the battle-field and
the hospital? As Lincoln said of Gettysburg,--'they will dedicate us
afresh to our country, to humanity, and to God.'

When the traveller gazes on the marble effigy of the warrior at Ravenna,
and then treads the plain where Gaston de Foix fell in battle, the fixed
lineaments and obsolete armour bring home to his mind the very life of the
middle ages, solemnized by youthful heroism and early death; when he scans
the vast city beneath its smoky veil--thick with roofs and dotted with
spires,--from an elevated point of Père la Chaise, the humble and
garlanded cross, and the chiselled names of the wise and brave that
surround him, cause the parallel and inwoven mysteries of life and death
to stir the fountains of his heart with awe, and make his lips tremble
into prayer; and, familiar as is the spectacle, the more thoughtful of the
throng in New York's bustling thoroughfare will sometimes pause and cast a
salutary glance from the hurrying crowd to the monuments of the heroic
Lawrence, the eloquent Emmet, the gallant Montgomery, and the patriotic
Hamilton. Those associations which form at once the culture and the
romance of travel are identified with the same eternal sentiment. Next in
interest to the monuments of genius and character are those of death; or
rather, the inspiration of the former are everywhere consecrated by the

                          'Take the wings
  Of morning, and the Barcan desert pierce,
  Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
  Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
  Save his own dashings,--yet the dead are there!'

Nero dug his own grave, lest he should be denied burial, and Shakspeare
guarded his own ashes by an imprecatory epitaph; David praises the men of
Jabesh Gilead who rescue the bones of their king from the enemy. It is a
sweet custom,--that of making little excavations in sepulchral slabs to
catch the rain, that birds may be lured thither to drink and sing. The
Chinese sell themselves in order to obtain means to bury their parents.

We enter a city of antiquity--memorable Syracuse or disinterred
Pompeii--through a street of tombs; the majestic relics of Egyptian
civilization are the cenotaphs of kings; the Escurial is Spain's
architectural elegy; Abelard's philosophy is superseded, but his love and
death live daily to the vision of the mourners who go from the gay capital
of France, to place chaplets on the graves of departed friends;[28] the
grandeurs of Westminster Abbey are sublimated by the effigies of bards and
statesmen, and the rare music of St. George's choir made solemn by the
dust of royalty; deserted Ravenna is peopled with intense life by the
creations of Dante which haunt his sepulchre; Arqua is the shrine of
affectionate pilgrims; the radiant hues and graceful shapes of Titian and
Canova become ethereal to the fancy, when viewed beside their monuments;
St. Peter's is but a magnificent apostolic tomb; and the shadow of
mortality is incarnated in Lorenzo's brooding figure in the jewelled
temple of the dead Medici. Even the dim, half-explored catacombs of Rome
yield significant testimony to the Christian's heart to-day. 'The works of
painting found within them,' well says a recent writer, 'their
construction, the inscriptions on the graves,--all unite in bearing
witness to the simplicity of the faith, the purity of the doctrine, the
strength of the feeling, the change in the lives of the vast mass of the
members of the early church of Christ.'[29]

What resorts are Santa Croce, Mount Vernon, Saint Paul's, and Saint
Onofrio! What a goal, through ages, the Holy Sepulchre! How the dim
escutcheons sanctify cathedrals, and sunken headstones the rural cemetery!
How sacred the mystery of the Campagna hid in that 'stern round tower of
other days,' which bears the name of a Roman matron! The beautiful
sarcophagus of Scipio, the feudal crypt of Theodric, the silent soldier of
the Invalides, the mossy cone of Caius Cæstus, in whose shadow two English
poets[30] yet speak in graceful epitaphs, Thorwaldsen's grand mausoleum
at Copenhagen, composed of his own trophies,--what objects are these to
win the mind back into the lapsing ages, and upward with 'immortal
longings!' We turn from brilliant thoroughfares, alive with creatures of a
day, to catacombs obscure with the impalpable dust of bygone generations;
we pass from the vociferous piazza to the hushed and frescoed cloister,
and walk on mural tablets whose inscriptions are worn by the feet of
vanished multitudes; we steal from the cheerful highway to the field of
mounds, where a shaft, a cross, or a garland breathes of surviving
tenderness; we handle the cloudy lachrymal, quaint depository of
long-evaporated tears, or admire the sculptured urn, the casket of what
was unutterably precious, even in mortality; and thereby life is
solemnized, consciousness deepened, and we feel, above the tyrannous
present, and through the casual occupation of the hour, the 'electric
chain wherewith we're darkly bound.' 'When I look upon the tombs of the
great,' says Addison, 'every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the
epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet
with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with
compassion; when I see the tombs of the parents themselves, I consider the
vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow. When I see kings
lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by
side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and
disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little
competitions, factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several
dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred
years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be
contemporaries, and make our appearance together.' Thus perpetual is the
hymn of death, thus ubiquitous its memorials--attesting not only an
inevitable destiny, but a universal sentiment; under whatever name,--God's
Acre, Pantheon, Campo Santo, Valhalla, Potter's Field, Greenwood, or Mount
Auburn,--the last resting-place of the body, the last earthly shrine of
human love, fame, and sorrow, claims--by the pious instinct which
originates, the holy rites which consecrate, the blessed hopes which
glorify it--respect, protection, and sanctity.

There is, indeed, no spot of earth so hallowed to the contemplative as
that which holds the ashes of an intellectual benefactor. What a grateful
tribute does the trans-atlantic pilgrim instinctively offer at the
sepulchre of Roscoe at Liverpool, of Lafayette in France, of Berkeley at
Oxford, of Burns at Alloway Kirk, and of Keats and Goldsmith,--of all the
bards, philosophers, and reformers whose conceptions warmed and exalted
his dawning intelligence, and became thereby sacred to his memory for
ever! How fruitful the hours--snatched from less serene pleasure--devoted
to Stratford, Melrose, and the Abbey! To realize the value of these
opportunities, the spirit of humanity enshrined in such 'Meccas of the
mind,' we must fancy the barrenness of earth stripped of these landmarks
of the gifted and the lost. How denuded of its most tender light would be
Olney, Stoke Pogis, the vale of Florence, the cypress groves of Rome, and
the park at Weimar, unconsecrated by the sepulchres of Cowper and Gray,
Michael Angelo, Tasso, and Schiller, whose sweet and lofty remembrance
links meadow and stream, mountain and sunset, with the thought of all that
is most pensive, beautiful, and sublime in genius and in woe.


  'All the world's a stage,
  And all the men and women merely players.'

Dramatic talent is far more common than is usually believed. In every
family where decided traits of character prevail, it is spontaneously
exhibited; and no intimate circle of friends in which a perfect mutual
understanding and entire frankness exist, can often meet without an
instinctive development of a propensity and a gift innate in all
intelligent and genial minds; either in the play of humour, in graphic
narrative, in skilful imitation, or the accidental turn of conversation,
the dramatic appears, and we have only to look and listen objectively, to
find the scene and the dialogue 'as good as a play.' Almost every
community has its self-elected buffoons, its volunteer harlequins, and its
involuntary actors, who, carried away by the spur of vanity or the
overflow of enthusiasm, vividly represent either the ludicrous, the
characteristic, or the impassioned in human nature. To the imaginative,
observant, and susceptible, 'all the world's a stage,' and men and women
'merely players;' or, rather, there are times when the aspects of society
thus impress us. There is, too, a dramatic instinct in the very
consciousness of imaginative and impassioned natures, who, to use the
words of a woman of genius, yield to 'un besoin inné qu'elles éprouvent de
dramatiser leur existence à leurs propres yeux.' A national dramatic
language has ever been recognized in the responsive vivacity of the
Italian manners, the theatrical bearing of the French, and the proud
reticence of the Spaniard; these traits are infinitely modified to the eye
of scientific observation; and are the direct and significant language of
temperament, race, and character. It is, perhaps, because the elements of
the dramatic art are thus universal, that its professors are so little
esteemed, unless of the very highest order. It is certainly true of most
of the celebrated performers that they have been unhappy, and averse to
their children adopting the vocation.

To appreciate the significance of elocutionary art, we have but to
consider that all poetry and rhetoric need interpretation. To the
multitude, in its printed or written form, the word of genius is often as
much a sealed book as the notes of a fine musical composition to one
uninitiated as to the meaning of those occult signs of harmony. Wordsworth
gained many converts to his poetical theory by the impressive manner in
which he recited his verses, who would have remained insensible to their
worth if only the force of reasoning had been used. The popularity of many
English lyrics and dramatic scenes is owing to the emphasis given them, in
the memory, by felicitous declaimers. How different is the Church Service,
an old ballad, an oration, the sentiment of Tennyson, the chivalry of
Campbell, or the ardent gloom of Byron, when melodiously and intelligently
uttered: only those who really feel the sense or pathos of a poem, win
others adequately to receive it; and there now lie neglected heaps of
noble verse, the latent music of which has not been vocally eliminated. In
this view, the requisite combination of voice, sensibility, and
intelligence, that constitute a good elocutionist, is an endowment of
inestimable value. Lee, the dramatist, used to read his plays so
effectively that it discouraged the actors from undertaking them; and the
crowds that listen attentively to an able reader of Shakspeare, indicate
the extent of public taste for this unappreciated and rarely cultivated
accomplishment. Kean gave 'a local habitation,' in the minds of thousands,
to Shaksperian inspiration; his surviving auditors are yet haunted by his
tones; his inflections and emphasis sculptured, as it were, with a breath,
upon memory, words that had previously left only a transient impression.
Had we, in our Western civilization, a profession analogous to the
improvisatore of the South, or the story-teller of the East, to make
familiar and impressive the utterance of our poets, they need not fear
comparison with the ancient bards of the people. Tasso and Ariosto are
read to this day, in squares and on quays in Italy, to swarthy and
tattered groups, who applaud a good line as if it were a new candidate for
fame; and, notwithstanding the aversion of the highly intellectual to the
theatre, Shakspeare became domesticated in the English mind through the
interpretation of histrionic genius. It is on account of this vital
connection between literature and elocution, this absolute need of a
popular exposition of what otherwise would never penetrate the common
mind, that the decadence of the Stage is to be regretted, and the
recognition of elocution as a high, graceful, and useful art is desirable.
We have an abundance of critics; we need expositors, artists to embody in
clear, emphatic, and justly-modulated tones, the graces and the thoughts
which minstrel and philosopher have elaborated; this would awaken moral
sympathy, give a social interest to the pleasures of literature, and wing
words of truth and beauty over the world. It is in view of such an office
that the actor rises to dignity; and that such a 'great simple being' as
Mrs. Siddons was consoled, when insulted by an audience, for her
'consciousness of a humiliating vocation;' and that Kean, wayward and
dissolute, recklessly leaping the barrier of civilization, like Freneau's
Indian boy who ran from college to the woods, reappears to the fancy as a
genuine minister at the altar of humanity. Talma's life was coincident
with some of the greatest events of the century; and his social position
is a noble vindication of histrionic genius in alliance with superior
character. Associated with the literary men of his country, and befriended
by her statesmen, his reminiscences are quite as interesting as his
professional triumphs. Intimate with Chenier, David, and Danton, he was
admired and cherished by Napoleon. Like Kean his earliest attempts failed,
and like Garrick he was a reformer in his art. The philosophy of dramatic
personation as regarded by such a man has a peculiar interest. 'Acting,'
he said, 'is a complete paradox; we must possess the power of strong
feeling, or we could never command and carry with us the sympathy of a
mixed audience in a crowded theatre; but we must, at the same time,
control our sensations on the stage, for their indulgence would enfeeble
execution. The skilful actor calculates his effects beforehand; the voice,
gesture, and look which pass for inspiration, have been rehearsed a
hundred times. On the other hand, a dull, composed, phlegmatic nature can
never make a great actor.' Talma's introduction of Kemble's toga in the
Roman plays, his teaching Bonaparte to play king, according to the famous
_on-dit_, his matchless dignity and elocution, his English affinities, his
charming talk, his select circle of friends, his prosperous style of
living, and the new rank he gave his vocation, combine to endear and
elevate his memory.

In an historical view the relation of actors to society, art, letters, and
religion, offers many curious problems: _protégés_ of the State in the
palmy days of Greece, with the purely secular interest attached to the
stage under the Romans it degenerated; yet Cicero profited by the
instructions of Roscius, and gained for him an important suit; and while
Augustus decreed that 'players were exempt from stripes,' later edicts
declared 'that no senators should enter the houses of pantomimes, and that
Roman knights should not attend them in the streets.' Excommunicated by
the Church of Rome in the middle ages, they gave vital scope and
character to Spanish literature by evoking the rich and national materials
of that extraordinary drama of which Calderon and Lope de Vega are the
permanent expositors. Its history shows how, from religious comedies to
historical and social plays, the representatives of the stage in Spain
fostered her intellectual development and only popular culture, 'until
there was hardly a village that did not possess some kind of a theatre.'
The actors at Madrid 'constituted no less than forty companies,' and
'secular comedies of a very equivocal complexion were represented in some
of the principal monasteries of the kingdom.' The conduct of the Spanish
actors, however, according to the same testimony,[31] 'did more than
anything else to endanger the privileges of the drama.' Their personal lot
seems to have been as hard as the worst of their successors; 'slaves in
Algiers were better off.' In France, political, social, and literary life
and labour are often so related to or influenced by the renowned
_artistes_ of the stage, that they figure as an inevitable element in
popular memoirs; nowhere is the influence of the profession so direct and
absolute; and while the rise of German literature and liberalism is
identified with the advent of dramatic genius and the national revival of
the theatre, in England the most distinctive and pervading glory of her
intellectual character and fame is the offspring of this form of letters
and this phase of social recreative art. The biographies of the most
celebrated and endeared authors, from Alfieri to Irving, and from Goëthe
to Wilson, indicate that dramatic entertainments, whether Italian opera or
the English stage in its prime, court-plays at Weimar, or Terry at
Edinburgh, are to them the most available recuperative and inspiring of

It is alike instructive and amusing to trace the dramatic element, so
instinctive and versatile, from the natural language of races and
individuals, through social manners to its organized culmination in art;
and thus to realize its historical significance. The Greek drama has
afforded philosophical scholars the most inspiring theme whereby to
illustrate the culture of classic antiquity. In the mellifluous verses of
Metastasio, the stern emphasis of Alfieri, and the comedies of Goldoni, we
have a perfect reflection of the lyrical taste, the free aspiration, and
the colloquial geniality of the Italians. From Molière to Scribe, what
vivid and true pictures of human life and nature as modified by French
character; while the essential facts of the origin and development of the
British stage, so fully recorded by Dr. Doran, brings it into intimate and
sympathetic contact with all the phases and crises of literature, society,
and politics. In the days of the first Charles the stage 'suffered with
the throne and the church.' Around Blackfriars, Whitefriars, the Globe,
the Rose, Drury Lane, Covent Garden, and the Haymarket, crystallize the
most salient associations of court and authorship; on this vantage-ground
Puritan and Cavalier alternately triumphed; and the genius of England bore
its consummate flower in Shakspeare. Now denounced and now cherished,
to-day patronized by kings, and to-morrow denounced by clergy, the memoirs
and annals of each epoch include the fortunes and the fame of the drama as
one of the most suggestive tests of social transitions. Queen Henrietta
was 'well-affected towards plays,' while South vigorously assailed, and
Bossuet consigned their personators to the infernal regions. The
playhouses, declared a public nuisance by the Middlesex grand jury of
1700, at an earlier and later period were shrines of fashion, nurseries of
talent, and haunts of courtiers. The representative men and women of the
day were dramatic authors, actors, and actresses; each succeeding
generation of poets essayed in this arena, so that a familiar designation
of the ages is borrowed from their leading playwrights, whose works
faithfully mirror the moral tone, the social spirit, and the public
taste. In Alphra Behn's _Oronooko_, Mrs. Centlivres' _Busybody_, Addison's
_Cato_, Steele's _Tender Husband_, Dr. Young's _Revenge_, Gay's _Beggar's
Opera_, Sheridan's _School for Scandal_, Goldsmith's _She Stoops to
Conquer_, Rowe's _Jane Shore_, Farquhar's _Beaux' Stratagem_, and many
other popular plays, we have, as it were, the living voice of ideas,
passions, and sentiments which agitated or charmed the town; and the
robust, earnest individuality of the English race for ever lives in the
profound, impassioned utterance of the old dramatists, as its emasculated
tone is embodied in the comic muse of the Restoration. How vivid the
glimpses of stage influence in the memoirs and correspondence of each era,
in the art and the annals of the nation. Evelyn and Pepys note Betterton's
triumphs; Tillotson learned from him his effective elocution; Kneller
painted, and Pope loved him. The _Tatler_ comments on 'haughty George
Powell;' Jack Lacy still lives in his portrait at Hampton Court. 'The
great Mrs. Barry' is buried in Westminster cloisters; and Mrs. Pritchard's
bust looms up from among those of poets and statesmen in the Abbey, and
recalls Churchill's metrical tribute. Burke, Johnson, Walpole, and
Chesterfield, expatiate on Garrick with critical zest or personal
sympathy. Each great performer creates an epoch of taste or fashion,
feeling or fame. Betterton, Quin, Barry, Foote, Cibber, Garrick, Kemble,
Cooke, and Kean, are names whose mention brings to mind not a transient
histrionic reputation, but a reign,--a social, literary, or national
period, crowded with interesting characters, remarkable achievements, or
special traits of life and manners. Each theatre has its memorable
traditions; each school its great illustrators; audiences, criticisms, the
court, the coffee-house, the journal, derive from and impart to the
theatre a specific influence. The gallantry, the wit, the local manners,
the style of writing, the fashion, that prevail at a given period, are
associated with the stage, the annals whereof, whether in Paris, London,
or Vienna, are therefore invaluable as a reference to historian,
novelist, and artist. 'The Garrick fever,' we are told, 'extended to St.
Petersburg;' 'a dissenting, one-eyed jeweller,' in _George Barnwell_,
brought the domestic drama into vogue; the _Beggar's Opera_ 'made
highwaymen fashionable;' and Ross is still remembered in Edinburgh 'as the
founder of the legal stage.'

There is this great difference between the British and the French stage,
that while the former has achieved the grandest triumphs of tragic genius,
both literary and histrionic, the comedy of the latter has proved a
permanent school of manners, of language, and of art. The patronage of the
government, and the most strict artistic methods and discipline, have
established a standard of acting through the Théâtre Français.
Accordingly, instead of one superlatively clever and a score of
inefficient performers, all the French actors and actresses work together
for a harmonious result; unity of art and of effect, exquisite finish,
scientific aptitude, graces of manner, of utterance, and of expression,
often combine to make the modern French drama the perfection of artificial

The lyric drama has greatly diminished the influence and modified the
character of the stage; and its personal records and associations abound
in romantic and artistic triumphs. The rare and delicate gift of a voice
adapted to this sphere, the temperament, talent, and beauty of the queens
of song, the individuality and power of musical composition, the vast
expense and varied attractions of the Italian opera, its fashionable sway,
and the genius and social interest identified with its history, all
combine to throw a special and significant charm around its votaries and
its record. What a world of emotional and artistic meaning the very names
of Purcell, Pergolesi, Bach, Cherubini, Mozart, and Rossini, Bellini,
Donizetti, Verdi, Beethoven, Mercandante, and other eminent composers,
awakens; and how the memory of their great interpreters haunts the
imagination! Perhaps, in our material age, there is no sphere where fancy
and feeling have found such scope. From the memoirs of Alfieri to those
of our own Irving, it is evident that the most available of inspiring
recreations, for men of thought and sensibility, is the lyric drama; and
from the days of Metastasio at the court of Vienna to those of Felice
Romani's libretto of _La Norma_, words and melody have reproduced, in
vivid and vital grace, the tragic and the naïve in history, sentiment, and
life. Even around imperial careers flit the vocal victors of the hour.
Joseph of Austria, the great Frederic, and the first Napoleon, had their
authoritative or conciliatory skirmishes with a _prima donna_, or an
_impresario_; operatic alternate with diplomatic episodes. Nor is the
social charm and _prestige_ of the lyric drama less apparent in the annals
of kindred genius. At Sophia Arnould's _salon_ the illustrious writers and
statesmen of Paris gladly convened. Goëthe celebrated in verse the
eighty-third birthday of Mara. Sir Joshua painted Mrs. Billington as St.
Cecilia; and Catalani made English tars, rowing her to a frigate, weep as
she warbled the national anthem. The amours, rivalries, luxury, disasters,
adventures, courtly favour, social influence, conjugal quarrels, noble
charities, and artistic triumphs of vocalists, add a new and marvellous
chapter to the annals of dramatic character and fortunes. Lavinia Fanton's
'Polly Peachum' secured the triumph of Gay's _Beggar's Opera_, and the
heart of a duke; of kindred significance is that scene, so exceptional in
English conventional life, and well described by Dr. Burney, where
Anastasia Robinson was acknowledged by Lord Peterborough as his wife. A
cardinal and a cook were the parents of Gabrielli; Pasta's _Medea_ was an
epoch in histrionic art; Malibran's brief and brilliant career revealed
the most versatile woman, as well as original _cantatrice_ of her day;
Sontag's death was a public calamity; Catalani's marvellous vocalization
lacked pathos, because 'she had not suffered;' while Mrs. Woods gained the
same quality from a contrary experience. Madame Devrient was called the
Siddons of Germany; Jenny Lind's _naïve_ song won thousands for the
indigent; and Braham's triumphant tones in singing the triumphs of Israel,
made the audience appear to Lamb as Egyptians over whose necks the Hebrew
chanter rode.

From the time Burbage was lessee of the Globe Theatre, and Shakspeare
performed in his own characters, the morality of an actor's profession and
the stage have been discussed; but that there is no inevitable degradation
in the theatre, is evident from the late wholly successful though
temporary revival of its glory under the auspices of Macready. By
magnificent and complete scenic arrangements, the restoration of mutilated
Shakspearian dramas, efficient companies, the reformation of the house
itself, and especially by combining with the best dramatic authors of the
day, and rigidly maintaining his own self-respect as a member of society,
Macready once more brought together the scattered elements upon which the
character and utility of the stage is based, invested it with the highest
interest, and raised it above the cavils both of severe intellectual taste
and of pure morality. For a brief period it was the centre of graceful
ministries, a high school of art, the handmaid of literature, and the
means of elevating public sentiment and refreshing the most toilsome
minds; works of real dramatic genius were elicited; latent artistic
resources suggested; and the noblest drama in the world adequately
represented. Financial difficulties, incident to the monopoly enjoyed by
patentees, soon put a stop to the laudable enterprise; but the experiment
is as memorable as it was satisfactory. Ronzi shed tears of pleasure when
she found herself the only guest at a nobleman's villa near Florence, to
which she had been invited to a _fête_ sumptuously and tastefully
arranged; it was so rare an exception to the rule of making professional
vocalists contribute to, instead of receiving private entertainment; and
it is a curious fact in the social history of theatrical characters that
the English, notwithstanding their prudery and exclusiveness, first
recognized actors and actresses of merit as companions. Miss Farren is
not the only performer married to one of the nobility. The Earl of Craven
espoused Miss Bromton; Lord Peterborough, Anastasia Robinson; a nephew of
Lord Thurlow, Miss Bolton; and Sir William Becher, Miss O'Neil. One can
readily understand how an intellectual bachelor like James Smith,
accustomed to solace himself for domestic privations by cultivating a
sympathy for the heroines of the mimic world, should lament, as he did, in
apt verse, their appropriation even by noble lovers. He closes a pathetic
record of the kind with this allusion to the union between his prime
favourite, Miss Stevens, and Lord Essex, who seems to have acted on the
advice of the author of _Matrimonial Maxims_, who says, 'If you marry an
actress, the singing-girls are the best:'

  'Last of the dear, delightful list,
  Most followed, wonder'd at, and miss'd
    In Hymen's odds and evens;--
  Old Essex caged our nightingale,
  And finished thy dramatic tale,
    Enchanting Kitty Stevens!'

Boswell's reason for his partiality to players and soldiers was that they
excelled 'in animation and relish of existence.' There is a striking
illustration of the personal sympathy awakened by the profession in
conflict with the judgment that condemns it, as a career, in the life of
Scott. On one of the last days of Sir Walter's life, when, in a bath-chair
at Abbotsford, he was wheeled to a shady place by Lockhart and Laidlaw, he
asked the former to read him something from Crabbe. Lockhart read the
description of the arrival of the Players at the Borough. Sir Walter
cried, 'Capital!' at the poet's sarcasms on that way of life; but asked
penitently, 'How will poor Terry endure those cuts?' and when Lockhart
reached the summing up--

  'Sad, happy race! soon raised and soon depressed,
  Your days all past in jeopardy and jest;
  Poor without prudence, with afflictions, vain,
  Nor warned by misery, nor enriched by gain----'

'Shut the book,' said Scott; 'I can't stand more of this: it will touch
Terry to the quick.' A different but significant tribute to the actual
personal worth of the profession occurs in one of those genial 'imaginary
conversations,' vital with reality of reminiscence and rhapsody, wherein
Christopher North and the Ettrick Shepherd discourse so memorably. The
conduct of Kean in appearing on the stage immediately after a scandalous
intrigue had become public, is reprobated by 'Tickler' as 'an insult to
humanity.' To which the Shepherd replies: 'What can ye expec' frae a
playactor?' 'What can I expect, James?' is the reply; 'why, look at Terry,
Young, Matthews, Charles Kemble, and your friend Vandenhoff; and then I
say that you expect good players to be good men as men go, and likewise

This sympathy with the profession, and vivid interest in some phase or
period of the drama, is an almost universal fact in the experience of
intelligent and sensitive persons. Thackeray's picture of Pendennis
enamoured of an actress in boyhood, is typical of a common episode of
youth; if not in this form, it takes the shape of enthusiasm for a certain
actor or class of plays, or a mania defined as the condition of being
'stage-struck;' while to the philosophical as well as sympathetic of these
early votaries the literature of the drama is a perennial storehouse of
psychological data, and the most vital connecting link between written
lore and actual life--the source of the highest poetry and the most
universal human truth.

In literary biography, the accounts of the manner in which the plays of
Goldsmith, Sheridan, Byron, Mrs. Hemans, Joanna Baillie, Procter,
Talfourd, Hunt, Lamb, and other poets, were brought on the stage,--the
reciprocal good offices of actors and authors, mutually acknowledged,--the
array of intellectual friends convened to grace the occasion, and the
anecdotes and criticism thence resulting,--form some of the most agreeable
episodes in literary biography. Farquhar, Holcraft, Mrs. Inchbald,
Knowles, and others, combined the author and actor; and it was a genial
and noble custom for distinguished writers to contribute prologues and
epilogues;--the interchange of such kindly offices gave, as we have said,
a wide and elevated social interest to the theatre, which had, in a great
measure, passed away before the advent of Kean. Besides the comparative
indifference of the public, he was obliged to contend against both the
prejudices and the refinements of taste--the one opposing all innovation
as to style, and the other repudiating the intensity and boldness of his

The Spagnoletto style of Sandford, and the 'cordage' visible in old
Macklin's face, are traditional. The inimitable pathos of Miss O'Neil, the
tragic beauty of Pasta, the heroic manner of Siddons, the irresistible
humour of Matthews, and Liston's comic genius, had each their distinctive
character; they respectively individualized the art, and, if we range over
the entire gallery of histrionic celebrities, we shall find their fame
based upon as peculiar traits of excellence as that of renowned authors
and painters; and their genius consisting in some quality emphatically
their own--where imitation and art became subservient to, or illustrative
of, an idiosyncrasy.

Impulsive genius seldom receives the credit of artistic study, and its
most effective points are often ascribed to chance inspiration. This is an
error of frequent occurrence in judging of actors; and it is one almost
perversely indulged by the bigoted opponents of the romantic or natural
school. The most effective touches, however, in Garrick, Kean, and other
eminent performers, are easily traced to careful observation or a personal
idiosyncrasy or association. In the very first instruction the latter
received in his art, recourse was had to natural sympathy in order to
perfect his imitative skill. The pathetic intonation with which, even as a
boy, he exclaimed, 'Alas, poor Yorick!' in _Hamlet_, was derived from the
manner in which he habitually spoke of an unfortunate relative who
constantly excited his commiseration; he was instructed to transfer the
tone awakened by real, to the expression of imaginary grief: his manner of
falling on his face was derived from the figure on Abercrombie's monument,
and his fighting with a weaponless arm in Richard was borrowed from the
death-scene of an officer in Spain. The play of _Bertram_, by Maturin, he
is said to have rendered memorable by a single touching benison: all who
once heard his 'God bless the child!' recall it with emotion; it was a
favourite mode of uttering his paternal tenderness at home; hence its
reality. Garrick made a study of an old crazy friend of his in order to
enact _Lear_ with truth to nature; and when Kean was playing in New York,
he accompanied his physician to Bloomingdale asylum for the express
purpose of obtaining hints for the same part, from the manner and
expression of the insane patients. Indeed, those most intimate with Kean,
in his best days, unite in the opinion that he was never surpassed for the
intense and original study of his characters; he brooded over them in the
quiet fields, observed life and nature, conversed with discerning men, and
acutely examined books and his own consciousness, for the purpose of
attaining an harmonious and artistic conception; he tried experiments in
elocution before his wife, and was in the habit of rehearsing, for hours,
without any auditor. So elaborate were his studies, that, having once
decided on a course, he never modified it without great
self-dissatisfaction; and on one occasion, when he yielded his judgment on
a special point, to please Mrs. Garrick, the inharmonious effect was
obvious to all.

'What the bank is to the credit of the nation,' said Steele, 'the
playhouse is to its politeness and good manners.' And although this maxim
is scarcely applicable now, the instinct and the sympathy by virtue of
which the stage instructs and refines for ever obtain in humanity. Among
recent illustrations, is the genial influence of dramatic pastimes upon
the isolated and dark sojourn of ice-bound Arctic voyagers, as described
by the intrepid and philosophic Kane and his predecessors. The gallery of
human portraits, conserved even by the minor English drama, are among the
most genuine illustrations of life and character; Sir Peter Teazle and
Joseph Surface, Sir Pertinax and Tony Lumpkin, Sylvester Daggerwood and
Mawworm, are emphatic types with which we could ill dispense. One of the
remarkable intellectual phenomena of the age in which we live, however, is
the gradual encroachment of literature upon dramatic art. The best modern
characters which genius has created exist in masterpieces of fiction and
poetry; in a measure they have superseded in popular favour dramatic
ideals, except the highest and most endeared. Scott, Dickens, and their
contemporaries or successors, have given the world a new gallery of living
portraits such as of old were only to be found in the drama. Well said
Wilson, in the _Noctes_: 'I think the good novels that are published come
in place of new dramas.' The Italian opera has, by its affluent artistic
attractions, overshadowed, and in a great measure superseded, the
'legitimate drama.' Even in Italy the opportunity is comparatively rare to
enjoy fine acting apart from music and the ballet; yet there is no better
lesson for the novice in that 'soft bastard Latin' that Byron loved, than
to listen to one of Goldoni's old-fashioned colloquial plays, as, clearly
and with admirable emphasis, recited by such a company as that of which
Internari was so long the ornament; by melodious emphasis alone
commonplace maxims seemed to attain the sparkle of wit, and the mere tone
of voice is fraught with infectious merriment. From Arlechino's broad
jokes to Ristori's majestic pathos, the natural dramatic instinct and
endowments of the Italians awaken every shade and subtlety of sympathetic

Philosophically examined, the stage will be found a compensatory
institution, and its actual relation to society intimate or conventional,
according to the predominance of real or ideal satisfaction. Thus the free
enterprise and speculative range in America make it merely recreative; the
best Italian dramatist wrote when his country's civic life was paralyzed.
The sentiment, checked by caste and absolutism in Elizabeth's day, burst
forth in the old dramatists, and culminated, for all time, in Shakspeare;
while the memoirs of Goëthe, Schiller, and Korner indicate how near and
dear to the popular heart of their country was the art, in all its phases
and forms, wherein baffled aspirations found scope. The histrionic artists
of Germany, and the actresses of Paris, are or have been a vital element
of the social economy, impracticable and almost inconceivable to English
and Americans. _Wilhelm Meister_ is the legitimate romance of its country
and era. 'L' artiste aimée du public,' says Madame Dudevant, 'est comme un
enfant a qui l' univers est la famille;' while the affinity of the
dramatic instinct with literary culture and capability is not only evident
in the friendships between authors and actors, but in the facility with
which the former become amateur performers. Montaigne says, 'I played the
chief part in the Latin tragedies of Buchanan, Guerente, and Moret, that
were acted in our college of Guienne.' Dickens is a capital actor and
dramatic reader of his own stories; and Washington Irving, when sojourning
at Dresden, delectably enacted, in a genial family circle, Sir Charles

One proof of the essential individuality of histrionic genius is, that in
every celebrated part each renowned actor seems to have excelled in a
different phrase. Garrick's Hamlet was inimitable in the words, 'I have
that within that passeth show;' while the most affecting touch of the
elder Wallack was, 'That undiscovered country, from whose bourne no
traveller returns.' Kean's first soliloquy in _Richard the Third_ is
perhaps the best preserved traditional recitation of the English stage;
and the power of contrasted intonation in the expression of feeling,
never forgotten by those who listened, was evinced in the memorable
passage in _Othello_--

  'Perdition catch my soul, but _I do love thee_,
  And when I love thee _not_, chaos is come again.'

His conceptions were remarkable for bold earnestness. His discordant
voice, insignificant figure, and slightly-misshaped feet, seemed to pass
miraculously away before the glowing energy of his spirit; to the
imaginative spectator he visibly expanded, and filled the stage, and
towered over the inferior actors of larger physical dimensions; his
action, expression of countenance, intelligent emphasis, and vigour of
utterance, lifted, kindled, and glorified, as it were, his merely human
attributes, and bore him, and those who gazed and listened, triumphantly
onward in a whirl of passion, a concentration of will, or a chaos of

As far as contemporary memoirs elucidate the subject, it is evident that
gross violations of elocutionary taste were habitual both prior to and
succeeding the time of Betterton. This actor, with remarkable physical
disadvantages, appears to have had the most decided genius--especially for
tragedy. We have no accounts of the effects of tragic personation
exceeding those recorded of Betterton; so truly did he feel the emotion
represented, that it is said his colour, breathing, accent, and looks
betrayed an incessant and absolute sympathy with the part; as Hamlet he
turned deadly pale at the sight of the ghost; and Cibber emphatically
declares that his tone, accentuation, and the whole management of his
voice were faultlessly adapted to each passage he recited. Garrick seems
first to have established a taste for the refinements of the art; his
style, compared to what had been in vogue, was singularly chaste; he
embodied the great idea of unity; and when he first appeared, his manner,
expression of countenance, inflection of voice, and whole air, instantly
revealed the character, of which he did not lose sight for a moment. The
Kemble school has been traced to Quin; but its individuality was trenched
upon vitally by Kean, although it has been, in many essential features,
renewed by the elder Vandenhoff and Macready. It is contended by its
ardent votaries that Kean sacrificed the dignity of his art--so ably
sustained by John Kemble and his renowned sister--to mere effect; that he
substituted impulse for science, and excited sympathy by powerful but
illegitimate appeals to emotion. This, however, is a narrow statement, and
like the old dispute about Racine and Shakspeare, the classic and
romantic, the natural and the artistic, resolves itself into the fact that
the principle of a division of labour is applicable to art as well as
social economy. In Cato and Coriolanus and Wolsey, the traits of Kemble
were perfectly assimilated; in the more complex part of Richard, and the
still more impetuous one of Othello, the energy, quickness, intense
expression, and infectious action of Kean were not only electrical in
their immediate effect, but appropriate in the highest degree in the view
of reflection and taste. Thus, too, Cooke as Sir Pertinax McSycophant,
Mrs. Siddons as Lady Macbeth, Cooper as Virginius, Kean as Shylock,
Macready as Werner, and Booth as Iago, made indelible, because highly
characteristic, impressions. The actor, like the author and artist, has
his _forte_--a sphere peculiarly fitted to elicit his powers and give
scope and inspiration to his genius; and it is here that we should
estimate him, and not according to a comparative and irrelevant standard.

The lives of actors partake of the extreme alternations and varied
excitement of their profession. To the philosopher there is nothing
anomalous in the frequent contrast between the lessons of virtue they
enact and the recklessness of their habits. When we consider how much they
are the sport of fortune, and how often poverty and contempt form the
background to the picture of love, triumph, or wit, in which they figure;
and remember the constant draft upon nervous sensibility and the resources
of temperament, as well as intelligence, it is their lot to undergo, we
cannot reasonably wonder that extravagances of conduct, vagaries of habit,
and a proneness to seek pleasure in the immediate, characterize players.
'Players,' says Hazlitt, 'are the only honest hypocrites.' It is proved by
judicial statistics, that 'of all classes they are the freest from crime;'
while their charitable sympathies are proverbial; in marriage and finance,
however, they are the reverse of precisians; yet few more pleasing
examples of domestic virtue and happiness can be found than some recorded
in histrionic memoirs. A kindly but acute observer who long fraternized
with the craft, Douglas Jerrold, said of the strolling player: 'He is the
merry preacher of the noblest, grandest lessons of human thought. He is
the poet's pilgrim, and in the forlornest byways and abodes of men, calls
forth new sympathies, sheds upon the cold, dull trade of real life an hour
of poetic glory. He informs human clay with thoughts and throbbings that
refine it; and for this he was for centuries a "rogue and a vagabond," and
is, even now, a long, long day's march from the vantage-ground of
respectability.' Through the annals of the English stage there may be
traced a vein of romantic vicissitude as suggestive as any the written
drama affords:--Wilks, generous and spirited, abandoning a profitable
engagement in Dublin, with language as noble in its key as one of
Fletcher's characters, to allay the conjugal jealousy of a brother actor;
Nell Gwynn discouraged in her theatrical ambition by the manager, becoming
orange-girl to the theatre in order to be in the line of her aspirations,
which, when realized, made her the mistress of a king and the envy of
courtiers; Mountfort killed in an impromptu duel with a noble rival for
the love of Mrs. Bracegirdle; the charming Mrs. Woffington disguised as a
man, at a country ball, undeceiving the affianced of her disloyal lover;
the beautiful Miss Bellamy meditating suicide on the steps of Westminster
Bridge; Savage asleep on a street-bunk, and, three days after, the admired
guest at a lord's table; the eccentricities of Cibber's daft daughter;
Holcraft's affecting story of his boyhood, and the ludicrous
self-importance displayed in his account of his trial for treason; the
fascinating dialogue of the benevolent Mrs. Jordan with the Quaker in the
rain under a shed; Jerrold's father playing in a barn upon an estate that
was rightfully his own; and Douglas himself, the future dramatic author,
carried on the stage by Kean, as the child in Rolla. Palmer fell dead
while personating The Stranger, in consequence of the excess of sorrow
which the situation induced, he having just been stricken by a great
domestic bereavement; Williams was killed by Quin; and Mountford and Clive
murdered. Quin's memorable jokes; Cooke's lapses from more than Roman
dignity and Anglo-Saxon sense to a worse than Indian sottishness;
Grimaldi, whom Hook called 'the Garrick of Clowns,' and to whom Byron gave
a silver snuff-box, leaving buffoonery and harlequin whirls to train
pigeons, collect flies, or meet with London robbers; Matthews, after
keeping the Park audience in a roar for hours, crossing the river to
stroll in pensive thought under the trees at Hoboken; and the versatile
and admired Hodgkinson dying at a solitary tavern on the road to
Washington, amid the horrors of pestilence, and his body thrown into a
field by slaves; Booth's extraordinary fits of contemplative originality,
and the grotesque night adventures in which Kean was the leader, are but
incidental glimpses of a world in which the violent, fantastic, and
reckless instincts of human nature are wantonly displayed, yielding
curious material for the metaphysician, and ample scope for charity. An
English poet has brought together many such anecdotes of Kean--some
touching in the highest degree, some superlatively ridiculous, and others
shocking to the heart,--yet all kindled with the forlorn glory of genius,
like the scathed form of Milton's fallen angel. And what a mercurial
compound was Samuel Foote--London's great source of fun and satire for
years,--whose chance observations became proverbs, who used to find a seat
for Gray the poet, stand ruefully against the scenes to have his
artificial leg attached, and then go forward to set the house in a
roar,--as ingenious as Steele in evading 'injunctions,' who lived by his
'takings off,' over which the grave Johnson shook with merriment, and
whose 'wits' were literally his capital, whereby he realized three
fortunes! It is no wonder people frequented Macklin's ordinary when he
quitted the stage; nor that they listened until far into the night to that
'perpetual showman of the extraordinary in manners, adventure,
sentimentality, and sin'--Elliston,--whose 'I'll never call you Jack, my
boy, again,' equalled in comic zest the tragic force of Kean's 'God bless
the child,' in _Bertram_, who made life itself a comedy, and played the
'child of fortune' to the end; exuberant in vagaries, a vagabond by
instinct, celebrating the 'triumph of abstinence by excess,' and with
'eccentricity absolutely germane to his being,' yet could so perfectly
enact the 'regal style' in common life that Charles Lamb declared he
should 'repose under no inscription but one of pure Latinity.' The
_Memoirs of Grimaldi_ was the first book Dickens published, and in that
biography of a harlequin are the smiles and tears of a genuine romance. In
the perusal of such an experience we realize how directly comedy springs
from human life; the _piazzas_ of Spain and Italy, with their motley
crowds and glib dialogue, gave birth to the theatre. What a curious fact
in human nature is the relation of seeming to being in the drama. Dr.
Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury, was dining with the celebrated
Betterton, and said: 'Pray, Mr. Betterton, inform me what is the reason
you actors can affect your audiences with speaking of things imaginary as
if they were real, while we of the church speak of things real which our
congregations only receive as if they were imaginary?' 'Why, my lord,'
replied the player, 'the reason is plain. We actors speak of things
imaginary as if they were real, and you in the pulpit speak of things
real as if they were imaginary.' It has been observed that there are no
English lives worth reading except those of players, who, 'by the nature
of the case, have bidden respectability good day;' and a grave literary
critic explains on higher grounds than this _abandon_, why there is an
intrinsic charm in an actor's memoirs, when he remarks that,
'notwithstanding everything which may be said against the theatrical
profession, it certainly does require from those who pursue it a certain
quickness and liveliness of mind.'

The very nature of the vocation is inciting to vagrant propensities and
thoughtless adventures. The English theatre originated in strollers who
performed in inn-yards; and the Greek drama is associated with the 'cart
of Thespis.' I have seen an itinerant company of Italians perform a
tragedy in the old Roman amphitheatre at Verona, on a spring afternoon, to
a hundred spectators grouped about the lower tiers of that magnificent
relic of antiquity, where gladiators once contended in the presence of
thousands. It was an impressive evidence of the universality of dramatic
taste, which, however modified by circumstances, always reasserts itself
in all nations and climes. The best historians, cognizant of this, make
the condition and influence of the theatre a subject of record; and its
phases undoubtedly mirror the characteristic in social and national life
more truly than any other institution. It was a great bone of contention
between the Puritans and Cavaliers; Macaulay finds it needful to revert to
the subject to illustrate the reign of Charles II. and the Commonwealth,
and Hildreth to mark the difference of public sentiment in New England and
the other States after the revolution. Its critical history in England
would afford a reliable scale by which to measure the rise, progress, and
lapses of civilization and public taste. Upon this arena the great
controversy between nature and art, rules and inspiration, eclecticism and
adherence to a school, which, under different names, forms an everlasting
problem to the votaries of intellectual enjoyment, was boldly fought. And
the discussion once inspired by Kemble and Kean has been renewed by the
respective advocates of Rachel and Ristori.

The diminished influence of the stage is obvious in its comparative
isolation. 'The dramatic temperament,' observes Mrs. Kemble, 'always
exceptional in England, is becoming daily more so under the various
adverse influences of a civilization and society which fosters a genuine
dislike to exhibitions of emotion, and a cynical disbelief in the reality
of it, both necessarily depressing, first its expression, and next its
existence.' This social repudiation of the dramatic instinct undoubtedly
affects its professional development; and the stage in Great Britain, of
late years, with the exception of the lyric drama, appeals far more to the
amusing than the tragic element; the comic muse and the melodrama have
long been in the ascendant. The social character which once rendered the
stage in England a connecting link between literature and the town,
refined circles and the public at large, no longer exists; that such a
relation naturally obtains we perceive in the mutual advantages then
derived from its recognition; authors and actors, indeed, have a
reciprocal interest in the drama, while the tone of society and manners is
directly influenced by, and reflected from, the theatre; much, therefore,
of the deterioration of the latter is owing to its being in a great degree
abandoned by those whose taste, character, and personal influence alone
can redeem it from abuse and degradation; for it has been well said that
the theatre is respectable only in proportion as it is respected. A
traditional charm and intellectual dignity, as well as social
attractiveness, linger around the memory of its palmy days;--when Quin so
nobly befriended the author of _The Seasons_; when Steele was a patentee,
and Mrs. Bracegirdle inspired the best authors to write for her, and
received a legacy from Congreve; when Dr. Johnson and Goldsmith discussed
new plays and old readings with Garrick, and Mrs. Oldfield remembered poor
Savage in her will; or Sheridan vibrated between the greenroom and the
dress circle. Similar pleasing associations belong to the era of Mrs.
Siddons, when she doffed the majestic air of Lady Macbeth to mingle with
the literati of Edinburgh; and nightly saw Reynolds, Gibbon, Burke, and
Fox in the orchestra. Peg Woffington charmed Burke, and incited him to his
first successful literary effort; and Archbishop Tillotson profited by the
elocution of Butterton. We are told, in corresponding memoirs, of Kitty
Clive's 'clear laugh,' 'fair Abington with her dove-like looks,' 'charming
Mrs. Barry,' and 'womanly Mrs. Pritchard.' There is no vocation so
directly inspired by love of approbation; the stimulus of applause is an
indispensable encouragement, and popular caprice vents itself without
limit in deifying or degrading the children of Thespis. It is not to be
wondered at that diseased vanity often results from such adulation as
attends the successful actor. 'Is it possible,' asks Sir Lytton, 'that
this man--so fondled, so shouted to, so dandled by the world--can, at
bedtime, take off the whole of Macbeth with his stockings?' The old
essayists criticized the stage with efficiency; men of political fame
watched with interest over its destiny; men of genius proclaimed its
worth, and men of birth took an active part in its support and direction.
Thus encouraged and inspired, actors of the higher order felt a degree of
responsibility to the public, and indulged in aspirations that gave
elevation and significance to their art. Its evanescent triumphs, when
compared with those of letters, painting, or sculpture, have often been
lamented; Cibber is eloquently pathetic on the subject, and Campbell has
expressed the sentiment in a memorable stanza. In one respect, however,
the fragility of histrionic renown is an advantage; no species of
enjoyment from art has been made the theme of such glowing reminiscence;
as if inspired by the very consciousness that the merit they celebrated
had no permanent memorial, intelligent lovers of the drama describe, in
conversation and literature, the traits of favourite performers and the
effects they have produced, with a zest, acuteness, and enthusiasm rarely
awarded the votaries of other pursuits. What genial emphasis, even in the
traditional memory of Wilks' Sir Harry Wildair, Barry's Jaffier, Quin's
Falstaff, Henderson's Sir Giles, Yates' Shakspeare's Fools, Macklin's
Shylock, Harry Woodworth's Captain Boabdil, Cooke's McSycophant, Siddons'
Lady Macbeth, and Kean's Othello! Yet in no art is eclecticism more a
desideratum; our great actors proverbially suffer for adequate support in
the minor characters; rivalry and division of labour sadly mar the
possible perfection of the modern stage. Walpole, who was an epicurean in
his dramatic as in his social tastes, sighed for the incarnation in one
prodigy of the voice of Mrs. Cibber, the eye of Garrick, and the soul of
Mrs. Pritchard. In Cibber's eulogies upon the tragic genius of Betterton,
or the inimitable drollery of Nokes,--Hunt's genial memoirs of Jack
Bannister, Lamb's account of Munden's acting, Campbell's tribute to Mrs.
Siddons, and Barry Cornwall's description of Kean's characters,--there is
a relish and earnestness seldom devoted to the limner and the bard, who,
we feel, can speak best for themselves to posterity. Indeed, the
heartiness of appreciation manifested by literary men towards great
actors, is the result of natural affinity. There is something, too, in the
mere vocation of the latter, when efficiently realized, that excites
intellectual and personal sympathy. The actor seems a noble volunteer in
behalf of humanity,--a kind of spontaneous lay-figure upon which the
drapery of human life may be arranged at pleasure;--he is the oral
interpreter of the individual mind to the hearts of the people; and takes
upon himself the passion, wit, and sentiment of types of the race, that
all may realize their action and quality.


  'What is it but a map of busy life?'--COWPER.

I remember how vivid was the impression of Paris life, in its contrasts
and economy, derived from the distribution of the 'Entr' Acte' at the
Opera Comique, announcing the death of Talleyrand. Cinti Damoreau had just
warbled a _finale_ in the _Pré Aux Clercs_, and the applause had scarcely
died away, when a shower of neatly-printed gazettes were seized and
pondered. There was a minute description of the last hours of a man
associated with dynasties and diplomacy for half a century, who had been
the confidant of the Bourbons and the Bonapartes, and a few moments before
bade farewell to earth and Louis Philippe; and all these historical and
incongruous memories solemnized by death, filled up the interval of a gay
and crowded opera, and the pauses of an exquisite vocalist;--a more
bewildering consciousness of the past and present, of art and history, of
intrigue and melody, of mortality and pastime, it is difficult to imagine.

The newspaper is not only a map but a test of the age; its history is
parallel with civilization, and each new feature introduced is significant
of political and social changes; while its tone, style, and opinions, at
any given time, indicate the spirit of the times more definitely than any
other index. If we scan, with a philosophic eye, these fugitive
emanations of the press, from their earliest date to the present hour, we
find that they not only record events, but bear indirect, and therefore
authentic, testimony to the transitions of society, the formation of
opinions, and the actual standards of public taste. Hence they are
eminently characteristic to the annalist. Compare the single diminutive
sheet which, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, formed the
London newspaper, almost wholly occupied with state papers and the
statistics of a battle in some distant region, with a copy of the present
leading Tory journal in the same latitude; the extent and variety of its
contents, the finished rhetoric of its leading articles, the scholarly
criticism, fully reported debates, thorough detail of news, foreign and
domestic, local and universal, personal and social--evince how the
resources of the world have multiplied, the refinements of life
progressed, and the intellectual demands of society risen. News, like all
other desirable things, was, at the origin of newspapers, a monopoly of
Government; the _Gazette_ a mere instrument of courts: now, the daily
journal, in free countries, is the legitimate expression of the popular
mind; its comparative liberty of utterance is the criterion of political
enfranchisement; and where entire scope is afforded, it takes as many
forms as there are sects, theories, and interests in a community. Thus,
from being a mere record it has become an expositor; from heralding royal
mandates it has grown into an advocate of individual sentiments; and
daguerreotypes civil life, in its swiftly-moving panorama, with incredible
celerity and faithfulness. The improvements in the modern journal are
chiefly owing to those in human intercourse. The steam-engine and the
electric telegraph, by rapidly concentrating the knowledge of events at
central points, give both the motive and the means of vitality and
completeness to the newspaper. A remarkable effect, however, of these
facilities is that they have diminished what may be called the personal
influence of the editor, and reduced the daily journal, in a great
measure, to its normal state--that of a dispenser of news. The success of
the newspapers, for instance, in the commercial metropolis of this
country, and also in London, is at the present day more the result of
enterprise than talent. The paper which collects the earliest and most
complete intelligence of passing events is the most successful. When these
materials of interest were not so abundant; when days and weeks elapsed
between the publication of important news, the vehicles of this evanescent
but much-desired commodity were kept alive by the individual talent and
information of editors. Their views were earnestly uttered and responded
to; and the paper was eagerly seized for the sake of its eloquence, its
argument, or its satire. It is true, indeed, that a degree of this
_prestige_ still belongs to the daily journal; but the _éclat_ of the
writer is now all but lost in the teeming interest of events; the editor,
who, in less exciting times, would have been the idolized lay-preacher or
improvisatore of the town, must content himself with judiciously compiling
new facts, vividly describing passing events, and making up from his
foreign and domestic files an entertaining summary of news. His comments
are necessarily brief; no opportunity is afforded carefully to digest the
knowledge he acquires, or to compare the occurrence of to-day with its
parallel in history. Accordingly he glances at the new book, utters his
party dictum on the last legislative act, gives a vague interpretation to
the aspects of the political horizon, and refers to the full, varied, and
interesting details of 'news,' for both the attraction and the value of
his journal. A curious effect of this modern facility in accumulating news
is that of anticipating the effect of time, or superseding the interest of
artificial excitements. So various, incessant, and impressive are the
incidents daily brought to our knowledge, so visible now is the drama of
the world's life, that we have scarcely time or inclination for illusions.
History seems enacting; changes, once the work of years, are effected in
as many months, and we are so accustomed to the wonderful that sensibility
to it is greatly diminished. Imagine the scientific discoveries, the
political revolutions, the memorable facts of the last twenty years, all
at once revealed to one of our ancestors, at the epoch when editors used
to board vessels at the wharf to glean three months' English news for
their weekly readers; when political items, marine disasters,
advertisements, and marriages, were all printed in the same column and
type, and notice was formally given that the postman would start on
horseback in a week, to convey letters a hundred miles! Compare, too, the
terse, emphatic style of the modern press to the old-fashioned prolixity,
and the practice of publishing both sides of a public question on the same
sheet, with the existent division of newspapers into specific organs; the
original extreme deference to authority with the present bold discussion
of its claims; and the even tenor of the past with the eventful present.
Each period has its advantages; and the enduring intellectual monuments of
the earlier somewhat reproach the restlessness, diffuse, and fragmentary
life of to-day. 'The patriarch of a community,' says Martineau, 'can never
be restored to the kind of importance which he possessed in the elder
societies of the world; from their prerogatives he is deposed by the
journal, whose speechless and impersonal lore coldly but effectually
supplies the wants once served by the living voice of elders, kindling
with the inspiration of the past.'

To discover the public feeling of an epoch as well as its social economy,
historians, not less than novelists, wisely resort to a file of old
newspapers. In James Franklin's journal, commenced at Boston in 1722, and
afterwards removed to Newport, for instance, we find controversies between
the clergy and the editors of the province, discussions on the utility of
inoculation, advertisements of runaway slaves, and notices of whippings
and the pillory--all characteristic facts and landmarks of the progress
of civilization. The advanced culture of the Eastern States is evident
from the contemporaneous republication in one of their daily prints of the
poetry of Shenstone, Collins, and Goldsmith, and in another of Robertson's
History; there, too, we find Whitfield's preaching theologically analyzed,
and the manner of the _Spectator_ and _Tatler_ at once imitated.
Federalism was incarnated in the _Columbian Centinel_; and in another
organ, of the same community, at an earlier period, the contributions of
Otis and Quincy prepared the public mind gravely to assert the rights for
which the colonies were about to struggle. The financial essays of Morris
and others taught them, through a similar medium, the principles of
currency, exchange, and credit; Dennie induced, in the same way, a taste
for elegant literature; and the journals of Freneau and Bache embodied the
spirit of French political fanaticism. History, indeed, records events in
their continuity, and with reference to what precedes and follows; but the
actual state of public sentiment in regard to such exciting affairs as
Hamilton's duel, Jefferson's gunboats, Genet's mission, Perry's victory,
the Freemason's oath, the death of Washington, California gold, and
Kossuth's crusade, is most vividly reflected from the diverse reports,
opinions, and chronicles of the newspaper press.

It is impossible to estimate the fusion of knowledge and argument brought
about by the press in free countries, whereby public sentiment is formed
and concentrated. Truth, even the most sacred, was propagated in the world
ages ago by oral and written communication; perhaps it was then more
cherished and better considered; but without modern facilities of
intercourse like the press, it is difficult to imagine how a political
organization like our own could be regulated and conserved; how universal
reputations could be so speedily created, the discoveries of science made
available to all, or charitable and economical enterprise be expanded to
their present wide issues. The establishment of prolific and cheap
journals in New York, in 1830, was an event of incalculable historical
importance. The universal interest in public affairs justifies, in this
country, the greatest editorial enterprise; while the growing value of our
journals, as means of reference, make it desirable their form should be
convenient;--the book-shape of _Niles' Register_ is one reason it is so
much consulted. The variety of talent and opinion enlisted in American
journalism, the fights and flatteries of its conductors, the alacrity and
seasonableness which is its chief ideal, are traits which absolutely
reflect the normal life of the people; the church and schoolhouse, which
inaugurate an American settlement, are instantly followed by the
newspaper; and as the antiquarian now searches the _Boston News-Letter_ or
_Pennsylvanian Gazette_ for incidents of the Revolutionary war, or
statistics of colonial trade, he will, a century hence, find in the
journals of to-day the economical questions, the social gauge, the
daguerreotyped enterprise, fillibusterism, and popular tastes of this era.

The stagnation of business and the lapse of metropolitan fashionable life,
which so emphatically mark midsummer in America, make that wonderful chart
of life, the daily newspaper, more sought and enjoyed than at any other
time. From the merchant in his counting-room to the stranger in the
hotel-parlour, from the passenger in suburban cars and steamboats to the
teamster waiting for a job, there is observable a patience and attention
in reading newspapers such as one seldom perceives at more busy periods of
the year. And if we were to cite a single characteristic sign of the
times, as of universal import, it would be American journalism. The
avidity with which the papers are seized at watering places, the habit of
making their contents the staple of talk, and the manner in which they are
conducted in order to meet the popular demands, are facts indicative of
modern civilization which no one can ignore who would rightly appreciate
its tendency and traits. These are brought out and made conscious, to a
remarkable degree, in the leisure intervals which midsummer alone affords
to our active and busy people.

The truth is that newspaper reading is the exclusive mental pabulum of a
vast number in this country; and to this circumstance is to be ascribed
the amount of general information, and ready, though superficial ideas, on
all kinds of subjects, which so astonish foreigners. If you converse with
your neighbour in the railway cars, or listen to the remarks at the _table
d'hôte_, hear what the farmers, mechanics, tradesmen, and gentlemen, so
gregariously locomotive now, have to say--you will find that the daily
press furnishes nine-tenths of the subject-matter and the speculative
inspiration. There never was a time or a country where this 'fourth
estate,' as it has been well called, enacted so broad and vital a
function. Every year our press has become more personal and local on the
one hand, and more comprehensive on the other. Cowper's idea of seeing
life through the 'loop-holes of retreat,' can now be realized as never
before. However sequestered may be the summer home of our citizens, they
have but to con the daily journals and know all that goes on in the great
world, with a detail as to events, persons, and places, which not only
satisfies curiosity, but imagination. Nothing is too abstract for the
discussion, or too trivial for the gossip, of the American journal. It
concentrates the record of daily life at home and abroad; and has so
encroached upon the province of the old essayists, the excitements of
fiction and the materials of history, that more or less of the literature
of each may be found in every well-conducted newspaper.

And yet so undesirable is the unseasonable or excessive dependence upon
newspaper reading, considered with reference to high culture and refined
individuality, that, of all indirect benefits of modern travel, perhaps
none is more valuable, as a mental experience, than an Eastern tour which
cuts off the usual excitements and routine of civilized life, and
especially that intense and absolute relation with the present fostered
by the newspaper. Under the palms, on the Nile, and amid the desert, to a
thoughtful mind and sensitive organization, it is blissful and auspicious
to feel isolated awhile, not only from the busy material life of the age,
but from its chart and programme--the newspaper; and so be able to live
consciously for a season in the past, and feel the solemn spell of
solitude and antiquity. The modern deluge of journalism, it has been said,
with more truth than we can at present quite appreciate, 'bereaves life of
spirituality, disturbs and overlays individuality, and often becomes a
mania and a nuisance, to keep out of which is the only way to keep sacred.
It is a sad barbarism,' continues the same writer, 'when men yield to
every impulse from without, with no imperial dignity in the soul which
closes its apartments against the virulence of the world and from unworthy
intruders.'[32] A Swedish archæologist proves, by relics found in graves
in Europe and America, that man in the savage state makes in form, and as
far as possible in material, identical utensils and weapons; so, in
civilized nations the same abuses and traits characterize the periodical
press. Crabbe's description of the newspaper in England, eighty years ago,
finds a curious parallel in that of Sprague in America, fifty years later.

The individual needs an organ in this age wherein and whereby he may
record or find reflected his opinions; the great evil is, that he who
directs this representative medium may be a 'landless resolute,' a
Bohemian adventurer, without convictions or interest. It is to Burke and
the opposition, who protected printers from the House of Commons in 1770,
that the 'Fourth Estate dates its birth;' and Burke was right in his
declaration--'posterity will bless this day.' Under the ancient _régime_
one in a hundred Parisians only could read. After the Revolution, all
became interested in battles; to read the news became indispensable;
hence it has been well said:--'Napoleon a appris à lire aux Parisiennes.
Le professeur leur a coûté cher.' The biographer of Volney records that
philosopher's testimony against the newspaper as a means of popular
culture:--'L'auteur des Ruines, appelé à la chaire d'Histoire, accepté
cette charge pénible, mais qui portrait avec elle lui offrir les moyens
d'être utile: tout en enseignant l'histoire, il voulait chercher à
diminuer l'influence journalière qu'elle exerce sur les actions et les
opinions des hommes; il la regardait à juste titre comme l'une des sources
les plus fécondes de leurs préjugés et de leurs erreurs.' De Tocqueville
indicates, in a different way, his sense of the casual adaptation of the
newspaper, which he describes as 'a speech made from a window to the
chance passers-by in the street.' Among other tests which the rebellion in
the United States has thoroughly applied, is that of the press; and it is
no exaggeration to say that thereby London and Paris journalism has been
completely denuded of the _prestige_ of integrity and humanity, save as
exceptional traits.

The deliberate protest of an eminent public man like Cobden is sufficient
proof of this fact in regard to the great British organ. He writes:--'A
tone of pre-eminent unscrupulousness in the discussion of political
questions, a contempt for the rights and feelings of others, and an
unprincipled disregard of the claims of consistency and sincerity on the
part of its writers, have long been recognized as the distinguishing
characteristics of _The Times_, and placed it in marked contrast with the
rest of the periodical press, including the penny journals of the
metropolis and the provinces. Its writers are, I believe, betrayed into
this tone mainly by their reliance on the shield of impenetrable secrecy.
No gentleman would dream of saying, under the responsibility of his
signature, what your writer said of Mr. Bright yesterday. I will not stop
to remark on the deterioration of character which follows when a man of
education and rare ability thus lowers himself, ay, even in his own eyes,
to a condition of moral cowardice. We all know the man whose fortune is
derived from _The Times_. We know its manager; its only avowed and
responsible editor--he of the semi-official correspondence with Sir
Charles Napier in the Baltic, through whose hands, though he never pen a
line himself, every slander in its leaders must pass--is as well known to
us as the chief official at the Home Office. Now the question is forced on
us whether we, who are behind the scenes, are not bound in the interests
of the uninitiated public, and as the only certain mode of abating such
outrages as this, to lift the veil and dispel the delusion by which _The
Times_ is enabled to pursue this game of secrecy to the public and
servility to the Government--a game (I purposely use the word) which
secures for its connections the corrupt advantages, while denying to the
public its own boasted benefits of the anonymous system.'

The London _Times_ has won, and popularly confirmed for itself during the
American war for the Union, the name of 'Weathercock,' only fixed awhile
by a _trade_ wind, and veering, with shameless alacrity, at every
mercenary and malicious breath; while never before in the history of the
world has the line of demarcation between what is true and comprehensive,
and what is interested and partisan, been made so emphatically apparent to
the common mind as in the vaunts, vagaries, and vacillations of
journalism. On the other hand, one of the most remarkable evidences of the
benefit of popular education, as well as an unique contribution to the
materials of history, may be found in the letters of the soldiers of the
Union army, written from the seat of war to their kindred, and printed in
the local journals; thousands of them have been collected and arranged,
and they naïvely describe every battle as witnessed and fought by as many
individuals. Never before were such materials of history available. In
view of the great result--the elimination of vital truth by public
discussion--the expression as well as the enlightenment and discipline of
public sentiment through the press, we have ample reason to agree with
Jefferson, who declared, 'If I had to choose between a Government without
newspapers, or newspapers without a Government, I should prefer the

A son of Leigh Hunt, in a voluminous work entitled _The Fourth Estate_,
has written the annals of the English press;--of which Count Gurowski has
well said that it 'addresses itself to classes, but seldom, very seldom,
to the people itself, as the only national element.' The English press
mentions the name of the people, to be sure, but speaks of it only in
generalities, not in that broad and direct sense as is the case in
America. Whole districts, communities, and townships in England, as well
as on the Continent, exist without having any newspaper--any organ of
publicity. Therein England is under the influence of centralization, as
are the other European States. Almost every township and more populous
village in the free States in the Union has its organs, whose circulation
is independent, and does not interfere with that of those larger papers
published in the capitals of States, or in the larger cities.

A philosophical and authentic history of the newspaper would, however, not
only yield the most genuine insight as to public events and the spirit of
the age, it would also reveal the most exalted and the lowest traits of
humanity. The cowardly hireling who stabs reputations--as the _bravo_ of
the middle ages did hearts--for a bribe; and the heroic defender of truth
and advocate of reform, loyal with his pen to honest conviction amid the
wiles of corruption and the ignominy of abuse--in a word, the holy
champion and the base lampooner are both represented in this field. It is
one of the conditions of its freedom, that equal rights shall be accorded
all; and the wisest men have deemed the possible evils of such latitude
more than compensated by the probable good. Perhaps our own country
affords the best opportunity to judge this question; and here we cannot
but perceive that private judgment continually modifies the influence of
the press. We speak habitually of each newspaper as the organ of its
editor; and the opinion it advances has precisely as much weight with
intelligent readers as the individual is entitled to, and no more. The
days when the cabalistic 'we' inspired awe have passed away; the venom of
a scurrilous print, and the ferocity of a partisan one, only provoke a
smile; newspapers here, instead of guiding, follow public opinion; and
they have created, by free discussion, an independent habit of thought on
the part of their readers, which renders their influence harmless when not
useful. Yet the abuses of journalism were so patent and pernicious thirty
years ago, that Hillhouse thus entered his wise protest against the
growing evil: 'Many of our faults, much of our danger, are chargeable to
_a reckless press_. No institutions or principles are spared its empiric
handling. The most sacred maxims of jurisprudence, the most unblemished
public characters, the vital points of constitutional policy and safety,
are dragged into discussion and exposed to scorn by presumptuous
scribblers, from end to end of the nation.' Printers originally issued
gazettes, and depended upon contributions for a discussion of public
affairs--news whereof they alone furnished: gradually arose the editor;
and two conditions soon became apparent as essential to his
success--prompt utterance of opinion, and constant reannouncement and
advocacy thereof. Cobbett declared the genius of journalism to consist in
_re-iteration_, upon which distinction a witty editor improved by
substituting _re-irritation_.

As a political element, journalism has entirely changed the position of
statesmen, and seems destined to subvert the secret machinery of
diplomacy. These results grow out of the enlightenment and circulation of
thought on national questions induced by their constant public discussion
by the press; their tendency is to break up monopolies of information, to
scatter the knowledge of facts, and openly recognize great human
interests. By condensing the mists of popular feeling into clear and
powerful streams, or shooting them into luminous crystals, the judgment,
the sympathies, and the will of mankind are gradually modified. Hence, all
who represent the people are acted upon as they never could have been when
authority was less exposed to criticism, and the means of a mutual
understanding and comparison of ideas among men less organized and
effective. It has been justly observed that no danger can result from the
most seductive 'leader' on a public question, while the same sheet
contains a full report of all the facts relating to it. The pamphlet and
gazette of Addison's day, and earlier, are now combined in the newspaper.
In great exigencies, however, the immediate promulgation of facts may be a
serious national peril. An experienced American editor, and careful
observer of the phenomena of the Rebellion, thus emphatically testifies to
the possible evil of an enterprising press: 'I believe most strongly now,
that this Rebellion would have been subdued ere this, if, at the outbreak,
the Government had suppressed every daily newspaper which contained a line
or a word upon the war question, except to give the results of
engagements. Our daily journals have kept the Confederates minutely and
seasonably informed. The greater the vigilance and accuracy of these
journals, the greater their value to the enemy.' But a more significant
result than this may be found in the test which the Rebellion has proved,
not only to social and national, but to professional life, and especially
the editorial. How completely has the prestige of newspapers as organs of
opinion faded away before the facts of the hour! What poor prophets,
reasoners, historical scholars, patriots, and _men_, have some of the
conductors of the press proved! With what distrust is it now regarded; and
how does public confidence refuse any nucleus but that of individual
character. The press, therefore, as a popular organ, is unrivalled. It
now illustrates every phase, both of reform and conservatism, every
religious doctrine, scientific interest, and social tendency. Take up at
random any popular newspaper of the day, and what a variety of subjects
and scope of vision it covers, superficially indeed, but to the
philosophic mind none the less significantly; the world is therein
pictured in miniature--the world of to-day.

Probably the most universal charm of a newspaper is the gratification it
affords to what phrenologists call the organ of eventuality. Curiosity is
a trait of human nature which belongs to every order of mind, and actuates
the infant as well as the sage. To its more common manifestations the
newspaper appeals, and indeed originated in this natural craving for
incident. In its most sympathetic degree, this feeling is the source of
the profound interest which tragedy inspires, and its lower range is the
occasion of that pleasure which gossip yields. It is a curious fact that
the same propensity should be at once the cause of the noblest and the
meanest exhibitions of character; yet the poetic impulse and reverent
inquiry of the highest scientific intelligence--intent upon exploring the
wonders of the universe--is but the exalted and ultimate development of
this love of the new and desire to penetrate the unknown. The everlasting
inquiry for news, which meets us in the street, at the hearthstone, and
even beside the bier and in the church, constantly evinces this universal
passion. How often does that commonplace question harshly salute the ear
of the reflective; what a satire it is upon the glory of the past; how it
baffles sentiment, chills enthusiasm, and checks earnestness! The avidity
with which fresh intelligence, although of no personal concern, is seized,
the eagerness with which it is circulated, and the rapidity with which it
is forgotten, are more significant of the transitory conditions of human
life than the data of the calendar or the ruins of Balbek. They prove that
we live altogether in the immediate, that our dearest associations may be
invaded by the most trivial occurrence, that the mental acquisitions of
years do not invalidate a childish love of amusement, and that the mere
impertinences of external life have a stronger hold upon our nature than
the deepest mysteries of consciousness. 'It seems,' wrote Fisher Ames, 'as
if newspaper wares were made to suit a market as much as any other. The
starers, and wonderers, and gapers engross a very large share of the
attention of all the sons of the type. I pray the whole honourable craft
to banish as many murders, and horrid accidents, and monstrous births, and
prodigies from their gazettes, by degrees, as their readers will permit;
and, by degrees, coax them back to contemplate life and manners, to
consider events with some common sense, and to study Nature where she can
be known.' On the other hand, this curiosity about what does not concern
us, is undoubtedly linked with the more generous sympathies, and is, in a
degree, prompted by them; so that philanthropy, good fellowship, and the
amenities of social life and benevolent enterprise, are more or less the
result of the natural interest we feel in the affairs of nations and those
of our neighbour. If the newspaper, therefore, considered merely as a
vehicle of general information in regard to passing events, has a tendency
to diffuse and render fragmentary our mental life; on the other hand, it
keeps the attention fixed upon something besides self, it directs the gaze
beyond a narrow circle, and brings home to the heart a sense of universal
laws, natural affinities, and progressive interests. But curiosity is not
altogether a disinterested passion; and it is amusing to see how
newspapers act upon the idiosyncrasy or the interest of readers. The
broker unfolds the damp sheet at the stock column; the merchant turns at
once to the ship-news; the spinster first reads the marriages; the
politician, legislative debates; and the author, literary criticisms;
while lovers of the marvellous, like Abernethy's patient, enjoy the
murders. To how many human propensities does the newspaper thus casually
minister! Old gentlemen are, indeed, excusable for losing their temper on
a cold morning, when kept waiting for a look into the paper by some
spelling reader; and, to a benign observer, the comfort of some poor
frequenter of a coffee-house oracularly dispensing his gleanings from the
journals, is pleasant to consider,--a cheap and harmless gratification, an
inoffensive and solacing phase of self-importance. We can easily imagine
the anxious expectancy with which the visitors at a gentleman's
country-seat in England, before the epoch of journals, awaited the
news-letter from town,--destined to pass from house to house, through an
isolated neighbourhood, and almost worn out in the process of thumbing.

Three traditions exist to account for the origin of newspapers. The first
attributes their introduction to the custom prevalent at Venice, about the
middle of the fifteenth century, of reading the written intelligence
received from the seat of war, then waging by the Republic against Solyman
the Second, in Dalmatia, at a fixed time and place, for the benefit of all
who chose to hear. French annalists, on the other hand, trace the great
invention to a gossiping medical practitioner of Paris, who used to cheer
his patients with all the news he could gather, and, to save time, had it
written out, at intervals, and distributed among them; while an English
historian, quoted by Disraeli the elder, says, 'they commenced at the
epoch of the Spanish Armada; and that we are indebted to the wisdom of
Elizabeth and the prudence of Burleigh for the first newspaper.'[33] The
same authority conjectures that the word gazette is derived from
_gazzerótta_, a magpie, but it is usually ascribed to _gazet_, a small
coin,--the original price of a copy in Venice. One of the most startling
relics of Pompeii is the poster advertising gladiators. The oldest
newspaper in the world, according to _L'Imprimière_, is published at
Pekin. It is printed on silk, and has appeared every week for a thousand
years. Whatever the actual origin, however, it is natural to suppose that
a gradual transition from oral to written, and thence to printed news, was
the process by which the modern journal advanced towards its present
completeness. It is remarkable that the retrograde movement essential to
despotism in all interests, is obvious in the newspaper;--censorship
driving free minds from written expression, as in the recent instance of
Kossuth when advocating Hungarian progress.

A rigid and complete analytical history of the newspaper would perhaps
afford the best illustration of the social and civic development of the
civilized world. Commencing with a mere official announcement of national
events, such as the ancient Romans daily promulgated in writing, we find
the next precursor of the public journal in that systematic correspondence
of the scholars of the middle ages, whereby erudite, philosophical, or
æsthetic ideas were regularly interchanged and diffused. From this to the
written circular, distributed among the English aristocracy, the
transition was a natural result of economical and social necessity; and
the historian of the subject in Great Britain finds in the popularity of
the ballad a still further development of the same instinct and want
expressing itself among the people. As their vital interest in civic
questions enlarged, pamphlets began to be written and circulated on the
current topics of the day; then a periodical sheet was issued containing
foreign intelligence, among the earliest specimens whereof is, _The Weekly
Newes from Italy and Germanie_, which first appeared in 1622. It is a
characteristic fact that the first two special newspaper organs that were
published in England were devoted to sporting[34] and medical
intelligence. But it was reserved for the last century to expand these
germinal experiments into what we now justly consider a great civilizing
institution. When Burke[35] began to apply philosophy to politics, and
Junius to set the example of memorable anonymous writing on public
questions, and Wilkes to battle for the liberty of the press, new and
powerful intellectual and moral elements were infused into journalism; to
these, vast mechanical improvements gave new diffusion; discussion gave
birth to systems, invention to new industrial interests, social culture to
original phases and forms of popular literary taste and talent. In
England, Hazlitt's psychological criticisms, Jerrold's local wit,
Thackeray's incisive satire, the descriptive talent of scores of
travelling reporters, and the dramatic genius of such observers as Charles
Dickens, blended their versatile attractions with the vivid chronicle of
daily news and the elaborate treatise of political essayists; while in
France, from Rousseau, Grimm, and Mirabeau, to Thiers and St. Beuve, the
journal represented the sternest political and the most finished literary
ability; from the old _Journal Etranger_, devoted to scandal, to Marat's
_Ami du Peuple_, the vicissitudes and the genius of France are enrolled in
her journalism.

The French papers have the largest subscription, those of London the most
complete establishments, and in America they are far more numerous than in
other countries; over three thousand are now published, and their price is
about one-seventh that of the English. The tone of the American press is
usually less dignified and intellectual than that of France and England.
It has also the peculiarity of being maintained, in a great degree, by
advertisements; thus the commercial as well as the party element--both
dangerous to the elevation of the press--enter largely into its character
here. It has been said of penny-a-liners that they are to the newspaper
corps what Cossacks are to a regular army; and the activity of journalism
in Great Britain, and the detail of its enterprise, are signally evidenced
by such a class of writers, as well by the fact that in 1826, when Canning
sent British troops to Portugal, newspaper reporters went with the army--a
custom which in the Crimean, East India, and recent American war, has
given birth to such memorable correspondence. The shipping intelligence of
United States journals is more minute, the philosophical eloquence of
those of Paris more striking, and the details of court gossip and criminal
jurisprudence more full in those of London,--characteristics which
respectively mirror national traits and the existent state of society in
each latitude. The shareholders of the London _Times_ have occasionally
divided a net profit of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds--the
well-earned recompense for the complete arrangement and efficient exercise
of this greatest of modern instruments. It is not surprising that the most
renowned of writers have availed themselves of a medium so direct and
universal. Chateaubriand wrote in the _Journal des Débats_ against
Polignac; Malte-Brun contributed geographical articles to the same print;
Benjamin Constant's views were unfolded in the _Minerve Française_;
Lafitte's opinions found expression in the _Journal du Commerce_.
Lamartine's ideal of a journal is one which has 'assez de raison pour
convenir aux hommes sérieux, assez de témerité pour plaire aux hommes
légeres, assez d'excentricité pour plaire aux aventereux.' With all the
restrictions to which despotism in France has subjected the press, its
history as a whole is as Protean as Paris life, and reflects the
tendencies of national character. As early as 1650, there was a _Gazette
de Burlesque_, soon after a _Mercury Galant_; the _Journal des Débats_ is
devoted to facts and its own dignity, the _Siècle_ represents mercantile
interests, _La Presse_ is full of ideas, and has been well described as
partaking of the nature of a torrent which '_se grossit par la
resistance_.'[36] Napoleon depended on the _Moniteur_, and kept the press
low because he feared its influence more than an army. The proprietors of
the _Constitutionel_ often pay a hundred and fifty francs for a single
column. William Livingston wrote effectively, in 1752, in the _Independent
Reflector_, of New York, against Episcopal encroachments. Freedom of the
press, in America, was established by the trial of the printer Zenger.
Kossuth was a journalist while at the head of a nation. Cavour began his
public career in the same capacity, and Heine was the admirable
correspondent of leading German journals for many years. Centralization
vastly increases the influence of journalism in Paris, and its history
there is a perfect index of the successive revolutions. From Benjamin
Franklin to Walter Savage Landor, and from Junius to Jack Downing, these
vehicles of ideas have enshrined memorable individualities as well as
phases of general opinion. Jefferson, Hamilton, Rufus King, De Witt
Clinton, and Everett--all our statesmen--have been newspaper writers.

Specimens of recorded thought from the earliest to the present time would
aptly mark the history of civilization; the writings on stone, wax, bones,
lead, palm-leaves, bark, linen, and parchment--inscribed by patient
manual toil, denoting the era when knowledge was a mystery and its
possessor a seer; illuminated chronicles and missals representing its
cloistered years;--black-letter, the transition period when it began to
expand, although still a luxury; and the newspaper, illustrating its
modern diffusion and universality. The scribe's vocation was at once
superseded by the invention of printing, and the scholar's monopoly broken
up; hence the scarcity and value of books prior to the times of Faust and
Caxton, can scarcely be appreciated by this generation. Wonderful indeed
is the contrast to the American traveller, as he muses beside the Anapus
at Syracuse, over the papyrus vegetating in its waters,--between the
scrolls of antiquity engrossed on this material, and the twenty thousand
closely-printed sheets thrown off in an hour by one of the mammoth daily
presses of his native country. This rapidity of production, however, is
almost as oblivious in its tendency as the limited copies produced by the
pen and transmitted in manuscript. It may be said of exclusive newspaper
writers and readers, with a few memorable exceptions, that their
intellectual triumphs are 'writ in water;' and melancholy is that fate
which condemns a man of real genius to the labours of a newspaper editor;
fragmentary and fugitive, though incessant, are his labours,--usually
destructive of style, and without permanent memorials; when of a political
nature, they often enlist bitter feelings and promote a knowledge of the
world calculated to indurate as well as expand the mind. A veteran French
writer for the press describes the editor's life as always '_troublée et
militante_.' An American poet,[37] whose divine art is a safeguard against
the worst evils of journalism, in a recent history of his paper, thus
speaks of the influence of the employment upon character:--

    'It is a vocation which gives an insight into men's motives, and
    reveals by what influences masses of men are moved, but it shows the
    dark, rather than the bright side of human nature; and one who is not
    disposed to make due allowances for the peculiar circumstances in
    which he is placed, is apt to be led by it into the mistake, that the
    large majority of mankind are knaves. It fills the mind with a variety
    of knowledge relating to the events of the day, but that knowledge is
    apt to be superficial; since the necessity of attending to many
    subjects prevents the journalist from thoroughly investigating any. In
    this way it begets desultory habits of thought, disposing the mind to
    be satisfied with mere glances at difficult questions, and to delight
    in passing lightly from one thing to another. The style gains in
    clearness and fluency, but is apt to become, in consequence of much
    and hasty writing, loose, diffuse, and stuffed with local barbarisms
    and the cant phrases of the day. Its worst effect is the strong
    temptation which it sets before men to betray the cause of truth to
    public opinion, and to fall in with what are supposed to be the views
    held by a contemporaneous majority, which are sometimes perfectly
    right and sometimes grossly wrong.'

In regard to the influence of newspapers on style, it has been noted that
since their cheap issue, colloquial simplicity has vanished. 'A single
number of a London morning paper,' observes a writer in _Blackwood_
'(which, in half a century, has expanded from the size of a dinner napkin
to that of a breakfast tablecloth, from that to a carpet, and will soon be
forced by the expansion of public business into something resembling the
mainsail of a frigate), already is equal in printed matter to a very large
octavo volume. Every old woman in the nation now reads daily a vast
miscellany, in one volume royal octavo; thus the whole artificial dialect
of books has come into play as the dialect of ordinary life. This is one
form of the evil impressed upon style by journalism; a dire monotony of
bookish idiom has stiffened all freedom of expression.'[38] As to its
effect on the _morale_, when pursued exclusively as a material interest,
one of the most acute and observant of modern French writers says:--'Le
journal, au lieu d'être un sacerdoce, est devenu un moyen pour les partis;
de moyen, il s'est fait commerce; et comme tous les commerces, il est
sans foi ni loi;' and in allusion to the French, bitterly adds, 'nous
verrons les journaux, dirigés d'abord par des hommes d'honneur, tomber
plus tard sous le gouvernement de plus médiocre, qui auront la patience et
lâcheté de gomme elastique qui manquent aux beaux genies, ou à des
epiciers qui auront de l'argent pour acheter des plumes.' Macaulay, says a
French critic, 'a conservé dans l'histoire, les habitudes qu' il avait
gagnées dans les journaux.' Journalism has proved an effective discipline
for statesmen; the late prime minister of Sardinia first dealt with public
questions in the columns of a political journal.

But whatever facility of expression and tact in the popular exposition of
political science may be acquired by the statesman or annalist, in the
practice of journalism, there is no doubt that the worst perversions of
'English undefiled' have originated in, and been confirmed by, newspapers.
On this subject, an American writer, at once philosophical, erudite, and
liberal, who has treated of the history and influence of the English
language with remarkable insight and eloquence, emphatically testifies to
the verbal corruptions and consequent moral degradation of the newspaper
press. 'The dialect of personal vituperation,' says Marsh, 'the rhetoric
of malice in all its modifications, the Billingsgate of vulgar hate, the
art of damning with faint praise, the sneer of contemptuous irony, have
been sedulously cultivated; and, combined with a certain flippancy of
expression and ready command of a tolerably extensive vocabulary, are
enough to make the fortune of any sharp, shallow, and unprincipled
journalist who is content with the fame and the pelf.'

The interest which belongs to newspapers, as arenas for discussion and
records of fact, is greatly marred by the abuses of the press. No more
humiliating exhibition of human passion can be imagined than printed
scurrility; and no meaner or more contemptible influence of skulking
treachery than anonymous libels. By what anomaly base spirits enact and
endure insult in this form, which public opinion and the faintest
self-respect compel them to resent when orally uttered, we have never been
able to explain. It is, however, a satire on the alleged freedom we enjoy
in this country, that any malicious poltroon, who has the means to
purchase types, may defame the character, and thereby injure the
prosperity, of any one towards whom he entertains a grudge, with
comparative impunity. Indeed, if a man comes before the public in any
shape, even in that of a benefactor, he is liable to gross personal
attacks from the press; here the shafts of envy, of party hatred, of
blackguardism and of detraction, find a covert whence they may be sped
with deadly aim and little or no chance of punishment. To realize at once
the moral grandeur and the degrading abuse of which the press is capable,
one should read Milton's discourse on the _Liberty of Unlicensed
Printing_, and then a history of cases under the law of libel. The choice
of weapons is allowed his enemy even by the inveterate duellist; but there
is this essential dishonour in the attacks of the practised writer--that
he adroitly uses an instrument which his antagonist often cannot wield.
Thus the laws of honourable warfare are basely set aside; and cowardice
often wins an ostensible triumph. The meanest threat we ever heard was
that of a popular author towards a spirited and generous but uneducated
farmer with whom he was in altercation, and who proposed a resort to
arms:--'I hold a pen that shall point the world's finger of scorn at you!'
The cheapest abuse is that which can be poured out in newspapers; and
besides the comparatively defenceless position of the assailed, if he have
no skill in pencraft, it is the more contemptible because premeditated;
the insulting word may be uttered in the heat of rage, but the slanderous
paragraph goes through the process of writing and printing;--it is,
therefore, the result of a deliberate act. The 'scar of wrath' left on the
heart by the partisan combats of the press is seldom honourable, and the
records of duels, persecutions, and street-fights, originating in libels,
is one of the most degrading, to all concerned, of any in social history.
Vituperation and invective, Billingsgate and the cant nicknames of
newspaper controversy, belong to the most unredeemed species of
blackguardism. No wounds rankle in the human bosom like those inflicted by
the press; and no agent of redress should be used with such thorough
observance of the golden rule. 'The French,' says Matthew Arnold, 'talk of
the "brutalité des journaux Anglais." What strikes them comes from the
necessary inherent tendencies of newspaper writing not being checked in
England by any centre of intelligent and urbane spirit, but rather
stimulated by coming in contact with a provincial spirit.'

From these various capabilities and liabilities of journalism we may infer
what are the requisites of an editor. It is obvious that his intellectual
equipment should be more versatile and complete than that demanded by any
other profession. He is to interpret the events of the day, and must, of
course, be versed in the history of the past; he is to speak a universal
language, and the gifts of expression must be his chief endowment; he
exercises a mighty influence, and, therefore, judgment, self-respect, a
recognition of rights and duties, and a benevolent impulse are essential.
The _juste milieu_ between moral courage and respect for public sentiment
should be his goal. It is a significant fact that, in this country, where
there are more readers than in any other, and, at the same time, entire
freedom of the press, journals have not attained to the intellectual
standard of the best of foreign origin, nor has the profession of an
editor reached the rank it has in Europe. With a few exceptions, the
vocation has been adopted, as school-keeping used to be, as the most
available resource. Cleverness has usually been the substitute for
acquirement; loyalty to some dogma for philosophy, and glib phrases and
cant terms for style. In some memorable cases, where the London system of
a division of labour is resorted to, and the French practice of careful
rhetoric and reasoning applied to current topics, the result has
approximated to what a leading journal should be. Such names as Franklin,
Russell, Thomas, Duane, Buckingham, Walsh, Gales, Noah, King, Hoffman, and
the eminent contemporary editors of America, bear, it must be remembered,
but a very small proportion to the sum total of newspapers published in
this country; and it is the average ability and character of editors to
which we refer. Yet familiarity alone blinds us to the 'extraordinary
talent' exhibited in the journalism of our times. 'I'll be shot,' says
Christopher North to the shepherd, 'if Junius, were he alive now, would
set the world on the rave as he did some half century ago.'

The rarest and most needful moral quality in an editor is magnanimity. Of
all vocations this is the one with which narrow motives and exclusive
points of view are most incompatible. It is true that the office is
self-imposed; but in its very nature is included a comprehensive tone of
mind and feeling; the editor, therefore, who pronounces judgment upon a
book, a work of art, a public man, or popular subject, according to his
personal animosities or selfish interests, annuls his own claim to the
position he occupies. If the pulpit, the medical chair, the justice's
bench, or the authority of elective office is exclusively used by an
individual for direct personal ends, for the exclusive emolument of
friends, or the gratification of private revenge, the perversion is
resented at once and indignantly by public opinion; and the same violation
of a general principle for a particular end is equally unjustifiable in
the press. Yet how many journals serve but as channels for the prejudices,
the likes and dislikes, the plans and whims of their editors; so that at
last we recognize them, not as broad and reliable expositors of great
questions and critical taste, but as mouthpieces for the spite, the
flattery, and the ambition of a single vain mortal! For such evils
Milton's arguments, for patient toleration of all kinds of printed ideas,
are the best remedy: 'Punishing wits,' he says, 'enhances their authority;
errors known, read, and collated, are of main service toward the speedy
attainment of what is truest; and though all the winds of doctrine were
let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do
injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength.' With
all its defects, therefore, the emanations of a free press are the best
expositors of the immediate in taste, opinion, and affairs; and copies of
_The Times_, the _Court Journal_, and _Bell's Life in London_, deposited
under the corner-stone of a modern English edifice, are as authentic
memorials of the country and people as they exist to-day, as the styles of
Grecian architecture, or the characteristics of Italian painting, of
epochs in the history of art, and far more detailed, minute, and
elaborate. The complex state of society, the multitudinous aspect of life,
the progress of science, and its influence on social economy, can indeed
only be designated by such a versatile record. The miserable little
gazzettas issued in the south of Europe, containing only the diluted news
of the French journals; the spirited _feuilletons_ of the cleverest
authors of the day that appear in the latter, the enormous advertising
sheets in this country, and the able rhetoric and argument of the daily
press in Great Britain, are so many landmarks and gauges of the civic
life, the mental recreations, the prosperity, and the political
intelligence of these different countries. Although Fanny Kemble snubbed
the press-gang, ironically so called,--perhaps in this age there is no
office capable of a higher ideal standard and a more practical efficiency
combined, as that of the public writer. Let us suppose such a man endowed
with the greatest faculty of expression, learned in history and the arts,
with philosophic insight and poetical sensibility, chivalric in tone,
uniting the principles of conservatism and reform, devoted to humanity,
generous, heroic, independent, and 'clear in his great office;' and thus
furnished and inspired, waging the battle of honest opinion, a staunch
advocate of truth, stripping the mask from fanaticism and dishonesty, and
shedding pure intellectual light on the common mind;--no more noble
function can be imagined. Seldom, however, is the ideal of an editor even
approached; and hence the wisdom of an eclectic system and a division of
labour; concentrating upon the same journal the humour of one, the
statistical researches of another, the learning of a third, and the
rhetoric of a fourth, until all the needful elements are brought into
action for a common result.

In periods of war, emigration, or catastrophes of any kind, the newspaper
becomes a chart of destiny to the heart, and is seized with overwhelming
anxiety to learn the fate of the absent and the loved; and, in times of
peace and comfort, it is the readiest pastime. What traveller does not
remember with zest the intervals of leisure he has spent, under the trees
of the Palais Royal, over a fresh gazette; or the eagerness with which, in
an Italian _café_, he has devoured _Galignani_ with his breakfast? It is
difficult to imagine how the social reforms that distinguish the age could
have been realized without the aid of newspapers; or by what other means
popular sympathy could be kindled simultaneously on both sides of the
globe. In view of such offices, we must regard the editor as a species of
modern _improvisatore_, who gathers from clubs, theatres, legislative
halls, private society, and the streets, the idea and the elemental spirit
of the hour, the topic of the day, the moral influence born of passing
events, and then concentrates and elaborates it to give forth its vital
principles and absolute significance.

As a medium of controversy, the advantages of the newspaper are signal. In
1685, the discussion of popery in England was carried on by means of
tracts issued from the presses of Oxford, Cambridge, and London; and some
of the pamphlets of Defoe, Steele, and other popular writers, had a large
sale; but the circulation of these vehicles of argument was limited
compared to the daily journals of our day; and in order to reach the
people, controversialist and agreeable essayists, from the times of 'Sir
Roger L'Estrange' to that of 'O. P. Q.,' have wisely availed themselves of
newspapers. That they now aid rather than form public opinion, however, is
quite obvious. The implicit faith once bestowed upon editors has departed;
and no class are more pertinacious in asserting the right of private
judgment than habitual readers of journals; they derive from them
materials of discussion rather than positive inferences. Yet there are two
qualities that in Great Britain and America gain an editor permanent
admirers--good sense and an individual style. The thunder, as Carlyle
calls it, of Edward Sterling in the London _Times_, and the plain words of
Cobbett, are instances. In fact, the same qualities insure consideration
for a newspaper as for an individual; tone, manliness, grace or vigour,
full and free knowledge, wit and fancy, and the sincerity or geniality of
the editor's character, are not less recognized in his paragraphs than in
his behaviour. But as a general rule, as before suggested, in the United
States, the press is the expositor, not the herald, of opinion; the
newspapers simply mark the level of popular feeling; their criticism
seldom transcends the existent taste, and their tone is rarely elevated
above that of the majority. Between the radical and the conservative there
appears no medium; and newspapers symbolize these two extremes. In our
large cities there is always one newspaper which has a name for
respectability, of which its editors are extremely jealous; it never
startles, offends, or inspires, but pursues an even, unexceptionable
course, is praised by old people who have taken it for years, and desire
that it shall contain their obituary; its news, however, is usually stale,
its opinions timid, and its spirit behind the age. To represent the
opposite element, there is always a vigorous, speculative, and fresh-toned
newspaper, which continually utters startling things, and suggests
glorious impossibilities; it is the exponent of reform, a harbinger of
better times, and appeals to hope and fancy, rather than to memory and
reflection. Now the experienced reader will at once perceive that an
editor, worthy the name, should be an eclectic, and combine in his own
mind and work the expression of both these extremes of opinion and
sentiment; but it is found, by experiment, that a hobby is the means of
temporary success,--that a catholic temper is unappreciated, and that, in
a republic, combativeness and self-esteem are the organs to be most
profitably addressed.

There is a very large class whose reading is confined to newspapers, and
they manifest the wisdom of Pope's maxim about the danger of a little
learning. Adopting the cant and slang phrases of the hour, and satisfied
with the hasty conjectures and partial glimpses of truth that diurnal
journals usually contain, they are at once superficial and dogmatic, full
of fragmentary ideas and oracular commonplace. If such is the natural
effect upon an undisciplined mind of exclusive newspaper reading, even the
scholar, the thinker, and the man of refined taste is exposed to mental
dissipation from the same cause. A celebrated French philosopher, recently
deceased, remarkable for severe and efficient mental labour, told an
American friend that he had not read a newspaper for four years. It is
incalculable what productiveness of mind and freshness of conception is
lost to the cultivated intellect by the habit of beginning the day with
newspapers. The brain, refreshed by sleep, is prepared to act genially in
the morning hours; and a statistical table, prepared by an able
physiologist, shows that those authors who give this period to labour,
most frequently attain longevity. Scott is a memorable example of the
healthfulness and efficiency attending the practice. If, therefore, the
student, the man of science, or the author dissipates his mental vigour,
and the nervous energy induced by a night's repose, in skimming over the
countless topics of a newspaper, he is too much in relation with things in
general to concentrate easily his thoughts: his mind has been diverted,
and his sympathies too variously excited, to readily gather around a
special theme. Those intent upon self-culture, or intellectual results,
should, therefore, make this kind of reading a pastime, and resort to it
in the intervals of more consecutive thought. There is no element of
civilization that debauches the mind of our age more than the
indiscriminate and exclusive perusal of newspapers. Only by consulting
history, by disciplining the reasoning powers in the study of philosophy,
and cherishing a true sense of the beautiful by communion with the
poets,--in a word, only by habitual reference to standard literature, can
we justly estimate the record of the hour. There must be great examples in
the mind, great principles of judgment and taste, or the immediate appeal
to these qualities is ignorantly answered; whereas, the thoughtful,
intelligent comments of an educated reader of journals upon the questions
they discuss, the precedents he brings in view, and the facts of the past
to which he refers, place the immediate in relation with the universal,
and enable us to seize upon essential truth. To depend for mental
recreation upon newspapers is a desperate resource; not to consult them is
to linger behind the age. De Tocqueville has shown that devotion to the
immediate is characteristic of republics; and this tendency is manifest in
the prevalence of newspapers in the United States. They, in a great
measure, supersede the demand for a more permanent native literature; they
foster a taste for ephemeral topics and modes of thought, and lamentably
absorb, in casual efforts, gifts and graces of mind which, under a
different order of things, would have attained not only a higher, but a
lasting development. The comparative importance of newspapers among us, as
materials of history, is evidenced by the fact that the constant
reference to their files has induced the historical societies to propose
an elaborate index to facilitate the labours of inquirers, which has been
felicitously called a diving-bell for the sea of print. A list of the
various journals now in existence would be found to include not only every
political party and religious sect in the country, but every theory of
life, every science, profession, and taste, from phrenology to dietetics,
and from medicine, war, and odd-fellowship, to literature, catholicism,
and sporting. Tribunals and punsters, not less than fashion and
chess-players, have their printed organ. What was a subordinate element,
has become an exclusive feature. 'In those days,' writes Lamb, 'every
morning-paper, as an essential retainer to its establishment, kept an
author who was bound to furnish daily a quantum of witty paragraphs at
sixpence a joke.' Now _Punch_ and _Charivari_ monopolize the fun, and
grave and gay are separately embodied. The cosmopolitan nature of the
people would as obviously appear in the number of journals issued in
foreign languages, each nation and tribe having its newspaper organ; and
an analysis of the contents, even of one popular journal for a single
year, would be found to touch the entire circle of human knowledge and
vicissitude, without penetrating to a vital cause, or expanding to a
comprehensive principle, yet affording a boundless horizon;--astronomical
phenomena, _causes célèbres_, earthquakes, the advent of a great
_cantatrice_, shipwrecks and revolutions, battles and bankruptcies,
freshets and fires, _émeutes_ and hailstorms, gold discoveries,
anniversaries, executions, Arctic expeditions, World's Fairs, the
utterance of patriots, and the acts of usurpers; all the materials of
history, the suggestions of philosophy, and the visions of poetry, in
their chaotic, elemental, and actual state. It is evident that more
excitement than truth, more food for curiosity than aid to reflection,
more vague knowledge than actual wisdom, is thus promulgated and
preserved. The harvest of the immediate is comparatively barren; and life
only proves the truth of Dr. Johnson's association of intellectual dignity
with the past and future. The individual, to be true to himself, must take
a firm stand against the encroachments of this restless, temporary, and
absorbing life of the moment represented by the newspaper; he must cleave
to Memory and Hope; he must look before and after, or his mind will be
superficial in its activity, and fruitless in its growth.

There is no mechanical invention around which cluster such interesting
associations as that of printing; the indirect agency of the press and of
journalism is remarkable; and this is owing to the relation they bear to
the world at large, and to personal improvement. The newspaper office has
always been a nucleus for wits, politicians, and literati,--a nursery of
local genius, and a school for knowledge of the world, and criticism. In
Franklin's autobiography, the natural effect of even a mechanical
connection with the press is memorably unfolded; and scarcely a great name
in modern history is unallied with some incident or activity connected
with the daily press. Otis, Adams, Hancock, and Warren, used to meet at
the office of the _Boston Gazette_, and write essays on colonial rights in
its columns. Talleyrand and Louis Philippe frequented the sanctum of an
editor in the same town, to read the _Moniteur_ and discuss news.
Chateaubriand first heard of the king's flight from a stray newspaper
picked up in a log hut in the backwoods of America; and it sent him back
at once to the army of the Princes. Horne Tooke's _Diversions of Purley_
were written to beguile his imprisonment occasioned by a libel; and his
trial resulted in making parliamentary reports legal. Hunt's prison-life,
for which he was indebted to his comments on the Prince-Regent in the
_Examiner_, is the most charming episode in his memoirs; and some of the
noblest flights of Erskine's eloquence arose from the defence of those
prosecuted for constructive treason based on the free expression of
opinion in regard to public questions. Jefferson thought Freneau's paper
'prevented the Constitution from galloping into a monarchy;' it was in the
columns of a daily journal that Hamilton defended the proclamation of
neutrality. It has been said that the most reliable history of the French
Revolution, and wars of the Republic, could be gleaned from the pages of
an American journal of the day, conducted by a man of political knowledge
and military aptitude, who combined from various prejudiced foreign papers
what he deemed an authentic narrative of each act in the drama; and it is
certain that the best account of the massacre and the destruction of the
tea--from which dates our Revolution--are to be found in the contemporary
newspapers. Never was contemporary history so copiously and minutely
written as in the newspaper annals of the war for the Union. In fact, the
best history thereof has been compiled by an assiduous collator from
current journalism. The history of censorship in Europe in modern times is
the history of opinion, of freedom, and of society. We felt the despotism
of the King of Naples in all its baseness, only when a writer of genius
told us, with a sigh, that he had been driven to natural history as the
only subject upon which he could expatiate in print without impediment.
Thus we see how the fate of nations and the experience of individuals are
associated with the press; and how its influence touches the whole circle
of life,--evoking genius, kindling nations, informing fugitives, and
alarming kings.


    'It is neither the vote nor the laying on of hands that gives men the
    right to preach. One's own heart is authority. If he cannot preach to
    edification, he is not authorized, though all the ministers of
    Christendom ordain him.'

Thus writes a popular preacher of the conservative sect in theology:
recognizing a spiritual fact and conviction which tempts us to analyze and
define, as a subject of natural history, the function and fame of the
preacher. The term by its derivation is the most generic word to indicate
clerical vocation; 'to say before,' to proclaim, inculcate, preach; in
other words, to be the herald and representative of truth, right, faith,
and immortal hope,--such is the basis and logical claim of the preacher's
authority, under whatever form, creed, or character. They may be divided
into the inspired, the ascetic, the jovial, the belligerent, the finical,
the shrewd, and the ingenuous. The 'oily man of God' described by Pope,
Scott's Covenanter, and Friar Tuck, the disinterested Vicar of Fielding,
Shakspeare's good friars and ambitious cardinals, Mawworm, Mrs. Inchbald's
Dorimel, the gentle hero of the Sexton's Daughter, Manzoni's Prelate and
Capuchin, and Mrs. Radcliffe's Monks, are genuine and permanent types,
only modified by circumstances. All that is subtle in artifice, all that
is relentless in the love of power, all that is exalted in spiritual
graces, all that is base in cunning, glorious in self-sacrifice, beautiful
in compassion, and noble in allegiance, has been and is manifest in the
priest. His great distinction is based upon the fact that 'the church,
rightly ministered, is the vestibule to an immortal life.' He is at once
the author of the worst tyranny and the grandest amenities of social life.
The traveller on Alpine summits blesses the name of St. Bernard, and
descends to Geneva to shudder at the bigoted ferocity of Calvin. The
picture of the good pastor in the _Deserted Village_, and Ranke's _Lives
of the Popes_, give us the two extremes of the character. The spiritual
heroism of Luther, the religious gloom of Cowper, and the cheerful
devotion of Watts, are but varied expressions of one feeling, which,
according to the frail conditions of humanity, has its healthy and its
morbid phase, its authentic and its spurious exposition, and is no more to
be confounded in its original essence with its imperfect development and
representatives, than the pure light of heaven with the accidental mediums
which colour and distort its rays.

The _prestige_ of the clerical office is greatly diminished because many
of its prerogatives are no longer exclusive. 'When ecclesiasticism became
so weak as to be unable to regulate international affairs, and was
supplanted by diplomacy, in the castle the physician was more than a rival
for the confessor, in the town the mayor was a greater man than the
abbot.'[39] The clergy, at a former period, were the chief scholars;
learning was not less their distinction than sanctity. In every
intelligent community, this source of influence is now shared with men of
letters; and even the once peculiar office of public instruction, is now
filled by the lecturer, who takes an evening from the avocations of
business or professional life, to claim intellectual sympathy or impart
individual opinions. But the great agent in breaking up the monopoly of
the pulpit has been the press. Written has in a great measure superseded
oral thought. Half the world are readers, and the necessity of hearing no
longer exists to those desirous of knowledge. The sermons of the old
English divines abound with classical learning and comments on the times,
such as are now sought in periodical literature. In Latimer, Andrews, and
Donne, we find such hints of the prevailing manners as subsequently were
revealed by _The Spectator_. The philosophy of antiquity and the morals of
courts, the facts of distant climes, all that we now seek in popular books
and the best journals, came to the minds of our ancestors through the
discourses of preachers. American ministers, prior to and at the era of
the Revolution, were the expositors of political as well as religious
sentiments. Independent of the priestly rites, therefore, a clergyman, in
past times, represented social transitions, and ministered to intellectual
wants, for which we of this age have adequate provision otherwise; so that
the most zealous advocate of reform, doctrine, or ethical philosophy, is
no longer obliged to have recourse to the sacerdotal office, in order to
reach the public mind. This apparent diminution of the privileges of the
order, however, does not invalidate but rather simplifies its claims. In
this as in so many other functions of the social economy, progress has the
effect of reducing to its original elements the duties and the influence
of the profession. Education, once their special responsibility, and
popular enlightenment on the questions of the hour, being assumed by
others, the preacher is free to concentrate his abilities on theology and
the religious sentiment. Division of labour gives him a better opportunity
to be 'clear in his great office.' It is reduced to its normal state.
Except in isolated and newly-settled communities, there is not that
incessant appeal to his benevolence and erudition: to heal the sick,
reconcile litigants, argue civic questions, teach the elements of science,
promote charities; in a word, to be the village orator and social oracle,
are not the indispensable requisites of a clergyman's duty which they were
before the Newspaper and the Lyceum existed. He is, therefore, at liberty
to imitate the apostles of Christianity and the fathers of the church, and
bring all his power to awaken devotion and faith, and all his learning to
the defence of sacred truth. That the time and capacity of the profession
are diffused, and the sympathy of its members enlisted in behalf of other
than these aims, is, indeed, true; but this is a voluntary and not an
inevitable result, and only proves that the spirit of the age overlays
instead of being penetrated and ruled by the priestly office.

'Civilization,' says Lamartine, 'was of the sanctuary. Kings were only
concerned with acts; ideas belonged to the priest.' And, by a singular
contradiction, with the general progress of society, the same class, as a
whole, have proved the most antagonistic to innovation even in the form of
genius, whose erratic manifestations are jealously regarded as
inconsistent with professional decorum. Hence Byron, in one of his
splenetic moods, exclaimed to Trelawney: 'When did parsons patronize
genius? If one of their black band dares to think for himself, he is
drummed out or cast aside like Sterne and Swift.' On the other hand,
venerable physicians say that the clergy are the most efficient promoters
of medical innovations; and that quackery owes its social _prestige_ in no
small degree to their countenance.

After the Reformation, this office, as such, lost its specialty; the right
to exercise it was no longer peculiar; and in all societies and epochs,
when a great activity of the religious sentiment, or an earnest discussion
of questions of faith prevailed, men prayed, sermonized, commented on
Scripture, and mingled all the duties of the clerical vocation with their
own pursuits. Thus the English statesmen of Cromwell's time were versed in
divinity, exhorted, and published tracts in behalf of their creeds.
Theology was a popular study; and the kingdom swarmed with lay-preachers.
Sects, too, repudiated official leaders; and even among the Pilgrim
Fathers of New England, ministers betrayed a jealousy of encroachments on
the part of their unconsecrated brethren. Many Christians also recognized
spiritual gifts as the exclusive credentials of a priesthood. Church, not
less than State prerogatives were challenged by republican zeal; and the
historical authority of the order being thus openly invaded, a new and
more rational test was soon applied, and preachers, like kings, were made
amenable to the tribunal of public opinion, and obliged to rest their
claims on other than traditional or educational authority. 'On conserva,'
says Rochambeau, writing of American society at the period of the
Revolution, 'au ministre du culte le première place dans les repas
publics; il bénissoit le repas; mais ses prérogatives ne s'entendoient pas
plus loin dans la société.[40] Cet exposé,' he adds, evidently in view of
priestly corruption in France, 'doit amener naturellement des moeurs
simples et pures.'[41] 'They,' says the historian of preachers at the time
of the Revolutionary war, 'dealt in no high-sounding phrases of liberty
and equality; they went to the very foundations of society, showed what
the rights of man were, and how those rights became modified when men
gathered into communities. The profound thought and unanswerable
arguments, found in these sermons, show that the clergy were not a whit
behind the ablest statesmen of the day in their knowledge of the great
science of human government. In reading them one gets at the true pulse of
the people, and can trace the steady progress of the public sentiment.
The rebellion in New England rested on the pulpit, received its strongest
impulse, indeed its moral character, from it; the teachings of the pulpit
of Lexington caused the first blow to be struck for American

The tendency of all the so-called liberal professions is to limit and
pervert the development of character, by giving to knowledge a technical
shape, and to thought a prescriptive action. Conformity to a specific
method is unfavourable to original results, and organization often does
injustice to its subjects. Only the strong men, the brave, and the highly
endowed, rise above such restrictions. It is a kind of social necessity
alone which reconciles the man of scientific genius to seek the passport
of a medical diploma,--the logician to exert his mind exclusively before a
legal tribunal, and the votary of religious truth to sign a creed and
become responsible to a congregation. How constantly each breaks away from
his respective sphere to expatiate in the broad kingdom of letters! Would
Humboldt have written the _Cosmos_ had his life been confined to a
laboratory, or a round of medical practice? Would Burke have theorized in
so comprehensive a range if chained to an attorney's desk, or Sir Henry
Vane's martyrdom acquired a holier sanction from the mere title of priest?

At the first glance, so distinct are the phases of the office that it is
difficult to realize its identity. The ideal of a village pastor like
Oberlin, self-devoted, in a secluded district, to the most pure and
benevolent enterprise,--the life of a Jesuit missionary in Canada or Peru,
who seems to incarnate the fiery zeal of the church he represents,--the
complacent bishop of the Establishment, listlessly going through a
prescribed form, and his very person embodying worldly prosperity; and the
inelegant but earnest Methodist swaying the multitude at a camp-meeting in
the wilds of America,--consider the vast contrast of the pictures: the
dark robe, lonely existence, and subtle eye of the Catholic; the simple,
friendly, conscientious toil of the poor vicar; the scholarship and good
dinners of the English bishop; the cathedral decked with the trophies of
art, and fields lit up by watch-fires; the silence of the Quaker assembly,
and the loud harangue and frantic moans of the 'revival;' the solemn
refinement of the Episcopal, the intellectual zeal of the Unitarian, and
the gorgeous rites of the Roman worship; and an uninformed spectator, to
whom each was a novelty, would imagine that a totally diverse principle
was at work. To the philosophic eye, the ceremonies, organization,
costume, rites, and even creeds of Christian sects, are but the varied
manifestations of a common instinct, more or less mingled with other human
qualities, and influenced in its development by time and place. Traced
back to its source, and separated from incidental association, we find a
natural sentiment of religion which is represented in social economy by
the preacher. Simple as was the original relation between the two,
however, in the process of time it has become so complicated that it now
requires no ordinary analytical power to divest the idea of the priest
from history, and that of religion from the church, so as to perceive both
as facts of human nature instead of parts of the machinery of civilized
life. To do this, indeed, we look inward, and derive from consciousness
the great idea of a religious sentiment; and then ask ourselves how far it
is justly represented in the institutions of the church and the persons of
her ministers. Let this process be tried by a man of high endowments,
genuine aspirations, and noble sympathies, and what is the result?
'Milton,' says Dr. Johnson, in his life of that poet, 'grew old without
any visible worship,' a phrase which, considering the superstition of the
writer, and the exalted devotional sentiment of the subject, has, to our
minds, a most pathetic significance. It tacitly admits that Milton
worshipped his Maker; it brings him before us in a venerable aspect, at
the time when he was blind, proscribed, and indigent; we recall his image
at the organ, and seem to catch the symphonies of _Paradise Lost_ and the
_Hymn on the Nativity_; and yet we are told by the greatest votary of
religious forms and profession among English literary men--one who was
oppressed by the sense of religious truth, and a slave to church
requirements, that, in his old age, the reverential bard had no 'visible
worship.' It is an admission of great moment; it is a fact infinitely
suggestive. Why did not Milton practically recognize any organized church,
or publicly enact any prescribed form? Not altogether because he had
tasted of persecution, and been driven, by the force of individual
opinion, away from popular rites; but also, and to a far greater degree,
because he had so fully experienced within himself the force and scope of
the religious sentiment, and found in its prevalent representation, not an
incitement, but a hindrance to its exercise.

In the patriarchal age, the head of a family was its priest; and, in all
ages, the true and complete man feels a personal interest and
responsibility, a direct and entire relation to his Creator, that will not
suffer interference any more than genuine conjugal or parental ties. The
so-called progress of society has rendered its functions more complex, and
broken up this simple and natural identity between the offices of devotion
and those of paternity. It has not only made the priestly office distinct
and apart from domestic life, but shorn it of glory by the cumbrous
details of a hierarchy and badges of exclusiveness; and lessened its
sanctity by changing the grand and holy function of a spiritual medium and
expositor into a professional business and special pleading. What are
conventional preachers but the _employés_ of a sect? And so regarded, how
is it possible to rejoice 'in the plain presence of their dignity?' Called
upon by a thoroughly earnest soul in its deep perplexity and agonizing
bewilderment, what can they do but repeat the commonplaces of their
office? How instantly are they reduced to the level of other men, when
brought into contact with a human reality! The voice of true sympathy,
though from ignorant lips, the grasp of honest affection, though from
unconsecrated hands, yield more of the balm of consolation in such an
hour, because they are real, human, and therefore nearer to God, than the
technical representative of His truth. The essential mistake is, that
instead of regarding the man as something divine in essence and relation,
a perverse theology assigns that quality to the office. It is what is
grafted upon, not what is essential to, humanity, that is thus made the
nucleus of reverence and hope, whereas priesthood and manhood are
identical. The authority of the former is derived from the latter; by
virtue of being men we become priests--that is, servants--of the Most
High; and not through any miraculous anointing, laying on of hands,
courses of divinity, or rites of ordination. 'How,' says Carlyle, 'did
Christianity arise and spread abroad among men? Was it by institutions and
establishments and well-arranged systems of mechanism? Not so. On the
contrary, in all past and existing institutions for those ends, its divine
spirit has invariably been found to languish and decay. It arose in the
mystic deeps of man's soul; and spread abroad by the "preaching of the
word" by simple, altogether natural, and individual efforts; and flew like
hallowed fire from heart to heart, till all were purified and illuminated
by it.' Accordingly, if merely professional representatives of the church,
as such, hold a less influential position now than formerly, it is not
because the instinct of worship has died out in the human heart, nor
because men feel less than before the need of interpreters of the true,
the holy, and the beautiful; it is not that the mysteries of life are less
impressive, or its vicissitudes less constant, or its origin and end less
enveloped in sacred obscurity; but it is because more legitimate priests
have been found out of the church than in it; because that institution
and its ministers fail to meet adequately the wants of the religious
sentiment; and it has been discovered that the Invisible Spirit is more
easily found by the lonely seashore than in the magnificent cathedral;
that the mountain-top is an altar nearer to His throne than a chancel; and
that the rustle of forest-leaves and the moaning of the sea less disturb
the idea of His presence in the devout heart, than the monotonous chant of
the choir, or the conventional words of the preacher. We have but to
glance at the pictures of clerical life, so thickly scattered through the
memoirs and novels of the day, to realize the necessity of an eclectic
spirit in estimating the clerical character--whose highest manifestations
and most patent abuses seem entirely irrespective of sect. A Scotch
clergyman, writing, in 1763, of the society at Harrogate, 'made up of
half-pay officers and clergymen,' thus describes the latter: 'They are in
general--I mean the lower order--divided into bucks and prigs; of which
the first, though inconceivably ignorant, and sometimes indecent in their
morals, yet I held them to be most tolerable, because they were
unassuming, and had no other affectation but that of behaving themselves
like gentlemen. The other division of them, the prigs, are truly not to be
endured, for they are but half-learned, are ignorant of the world,
narrow-minded, pedantic, and overbearing.'[42] Contrast with this estimate
of a class Victor Hugo's portrait of an individual in his _Provincial
Bishop_--'Monseigneur Bienvenu,' so called, instinctively, by the people:
'The formidable spectacle of created things developed a tenderness in him;
he was always busy in finding for himself and inspiring others with the
best way of sympathizing and solacing. The universe appeared to him like
disease. He auscultated suffering everywhere. The whole world was to this
good and rare priest a permanent subject of sadness seeking to be

The absolute need of separating in our minds the idea of the clerical man
as a natural development of humanity--a normal phase of character--from
the historical idea of the same personage, is at once evinced by the
immense distance between the lives, influence, and traits of the men who
have conspicuously borne the office of public religious teachers and
administrators in different sects, ages, and countries; as for instance,
Ximenes, Wolsey, Richelieu, Whitfield, Channing, George Herbert, and Dr.
Arnold; in position, habits, and relations to the world, how great the
contrast! And yet each represented to society, in a professional way, the
same principle; the former with all the pomp of hierarchal magnificence,
and all the influence of executive power, and the latter by the force of
patient usefulness, earnest simplicity, and individual moral energy.
Between Puritan and Pope, what infinite grades; between Jewish rabbi and
Scotch elder, how diverse is the traditional sanction; and how little
would a novice imagine that the bare walls and plain costume of a Friends'
meeting had the least of a common origin with the gorgeous decorations of
a minster! Thus do the passions, the tastes, and the very blood of races
and individuals modify the expression of the same instinct; worship is as
Protean in its forms as labour, diversion, _hygiène_, or any other human
need and activity. Philosophy reconciles us to the apparent incongruity,
and reveals beneath surplice, drab-coat, and silken robe, hearts that
pulsate to an identical measure.

The best writers have recognized the clerical tone of manners as
significant of the social condition of each period. Burnet thought more
highly of his _Pastoral Care_ than of his History; and Baxter's _Reformed
Pastor_ is an indirect but keen testimony to the decadence of the clergy.
Macaulay cites Fielding's parson. Sir Roger's chaplain in the _Spectator_,
Cowper's rebuke of the 'cassocked huntsmen,' the Stiggins of Dickens, and
Honeyman of Thackeray, are but a popular reflex of that deep sense of the
abuse of a profession which is the highest evidence of its normal
estimation. And the types of the vocation seem permanent. Every era has
its Whateley, its Lammenais, and its Spurgeon--or men in the church whose
gifts, tone, and mission essentially correspond with these. When George
Herbert abandoned court for clerical aspirations, a friend protested
against his choice 'as too mean an employment;' and yet so truly did he
illustrate the spiritual grandeur of his office that the chime which
called to prayer from the humble belfry of Bemerton, was recognized by the
country people as the 'saint's bell.' It was his holiness, and not his
attachment to the ritual year, that inspired his example while living, and
embalmed his memory; lowly kindnesses were 'music to him at midnight;'
charity was 'his only perfume;' to teach the ignorant, in his estimation,
'the greatest alms;' and a day well spent, 'the bridal of the earth and
sky;' his humanity, spiritualized by Christian faith and practice, so
essentially constituted him a priest that, 'about Salisbury,' writes his
brother, 'where he lived beneficed for many years, he was little less than
sainted.' He drew an ideal from his own soul, and for his own guidance, in
the _Country Parson_.

To the reverent mind that dares to exercise freely the prerogative of
thought, the constant blending of human infirmity with the method of
worship is painfully evident: the instinct itself, the sentiment--highest
in man--is thus 'sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;' what is
beautiful and true in the ceremonial, or the emblem, arrays itself to his
consciousness so as to intercept the holy beams that he would draw from
the altar. Let him obey the waves of accident, and pause at shrines by the
wayside; and according to circumstances will be the inspiration they
yield. Thus turning from the gay Parisian thoroughfare, at noonday, he may
pace the chaste aisles of the Madeleine, and feel his devotion stirred by
the solemn quietude, the few kneeling figures--perhaps by the dark
catafalque awaiting the dead in the centre of the spacious floor; and
then what to him is the doctrine of transubstantiation? Religious
architecture is speaking to his heart. The voices of the choristers at St.
George's Chapel, at Windsor, may touch his pious sensibility; but if his
thoughts revert to the ruddy dean, his good dinners, and indulgent life,
and the poor, toilsome vicars, which make the Establishment a reflection
of the world's diversity of condition--the pampered and the drudged; or,
if he notes the prayer that the Queen may be preserved 'in health and
_wealth_,' how sanctity ceases to invest the priest and the ritual, thus
typical of human vanity and selfishness! 'We know not,' wrote Jerrold,
'and we say it with grief, but with profound conviction of the necessity
of every man giving fullest utterance to his thoughts--we know not, in
this world of ours, in this social, out-of-door masquerade, a more dreary
shortcoming, a greater disappointment to the business and bosoms of men,
than the Established Church. Its essence is self-denial; its foundations
are in humility and poverty; its practice is self-aggrandizement and
money-getting.' Nor is the reverse of the picture, the contrast between
the high and low clergy, less inauspicious. 'A Christian bishop,' writes
Sydney Smith, 'proposes, in cold blood, to create a thousand livings of
one hundred and thirty pounds each,--to call into existence a thousand of
the most unhappy men on the face of the earth--the sons of the poor,
without hope, without the assistance of private fortune, chained to the
soil, ashamed to live with their inferiors, unfit for the society of the
better classes, and dragging about the English curse of poverty, without
the smallest hope that they can ever shake it off. Can any man of common
sense say that all these outward circumstances of the ministers of
religion have no bearing on religion itself?' On the other hand, what
divine significance to the pious soul, 'as through a zodiac moves the
ritual year,'--in the altar, the font, the choral service, the venerable
liturgy, the holy emblems and hallowed forms whereby this Church is
consecrated to the hearts of her devout children, and the reverence of
sympathetic intelligence.

Buckle, drawing broad inference from extensive and acute research,
unmodified by sympathetic observation, wrote an historical treatise, rich
in knowledge and philosophy, to prove that Spain and Scotland owe whatever
is hopeless and hampered in their intellectual development to the tyranny
of priests and preachers. It was a special plea, but it serves to
illustrate, with comprehensive emphasis, the antagonism between
Ecclesiasticism and Christianity; for, viewed individually, as a social
phenomenon, and not the mere exponent of an organization, the preacher or
teacher of the right, advocate of the true, representative of faith,
becomes a distinct and personal character, and is identified with
humanity. It is when the man and the function coalesce, and the former
transcends and spiritualizes the latter, that, in history and in life, all
that is great and gracious in the vocation is memorably vindicated. Under
this genuine aspect, Rousseau found his ideal of happiness in the life of
a village _curé_, Chateaubriand renewed the heartfelt claims of religion
in eloquently describing its primitive and legitimate benignities.
Mediæval ecclesiasticism commenced its purifying though inadequate ordeal
through the heroism of Savonarola at Florence and Sarpi at Venice. Current
literature, indeed, continually and clearly states the problem; and
illustrates the question with a frequency and a talent which indicate how
largely it occupies the popular mind. To discriminate between the
preacher's conventional office and his spiritual endowment,--between
Christianity as a sentiment and a dogma, between the religious and the
temporal authority, between the church as an institution and a faith, is
an emphatic mission of artist and author in our age. Witness the salient
discussions of the 'Roman question,' the pleas and protests of Gallican
and Ultramontane, the conservative zeal of the Puseyite and liberal
encroachments of the progressive clergy, and the picturesque or
psychological fictions which instruct and beguile modern readers.[43] Both
literature and life in modern times, while they attest the official
decadence of the clergy, as a political and theological organization,
still more significantly vindicate their normal influence as a social
power. 'Not as in the old times,' says a philosophical historian, in
allusion to the clergy of America, 'does the layman look upon them as the
cormorants and curses of society; they are his faithful advisers, his
honoured friends, under whose suggestion and supervision are instituted
educational establishments, colleges, hospitals--whatever can be of
benefit to men in this life, or secure to them happiness in the life to

There are types of character that prophesy vocation; and we occasionally
see in families a gentle being, so disinterested, thoughtful, and above
the world in natural disposition, that he seems born to wear a surplice,
as one we can behold officiating at the altar by virtue of a certain
innate adaptation; and so there are men of strong affections, early
bereft, and thereby alienated from personal motives, and thus peculiarly
able to give an undivided heart to God and humanity; or, through a
singular moral experience, initiated more deeply than their fellows into
the arcana of truth, and hence justified in becoming her expositors. In
cases like these, a more than conventional reason for the faith that is in
them causes them to speak and act with an authority which is its own
sanction, and hence springs what is vital both in the life and the
literature of the visible church. Sacerdotal biography, the achievements
of the true reformer, the literary bequests of the genuine pulpit orator,
and the results of efficient parochial genius, attest the reality of such
characters; they are of Nature's ordaining, and sectarianism itself is
lost sight of in their universal and grateful recognition--as witness St.
Augustine, Fenelon, Luther, Wesley, Fox, and Frederick Robertson.
Landmarks in the history of our race, oases in the desert of theological
controversy, flowers in the garland of humanity, they 'vindicate the ways
of God to man,' and are the redeeming facts of ecclesiastical life. Above
the system they illustrate, beyond the limits they designate, and
providential exceptions to a general rule, we instinctively accept them as
holding a relation to the religious sentiment and the highest interests of
the world that only a profane imagination can associate with the
pretensions of the thousands who claim their fraternity. This idea of
asserting the human as consecrated and not usurped by the priestly, has
ever distinguished the veritable ecclesiastical heroes. Lammenais, when a
mere youth, was arrested for his eloquent advocacy of freedom and faith;
'we will show them,' he said of the civil tribunals, 'what kind of a _man_
a priest is.'

Dupuytren, the most celebrated French surgeon of his day, was destitute of
faith, and by his powerful mind and brusque hardihood overcame the
individuality of almost every one who approached him. One day a poor
_curé_ from some village near Paris called upon the great surgeon.
Dupuytren was struck with his manly beauty and noble presence, but
examined, with his usual nonchalance, the patient's neck, disfigured by a
horrible cancer. '_Avec cela, il faut mourir_,' said the surgeon. 'So I
thought,' calmly replied the priest; 'I expected the disease was fatal,
and only came to you to please my parishioners.' He then unfolded a bit of
paper and took from it a five-franc piece, which he handed to Dupuytren,
saying: 'Pardon, sir, the little fee, for we are poor.' The serene dignity
and holy self-possession of this man, about to die in the prime of his
life, impressed the stoical surgeon in spite of himself, though his manner
betrayed neither surprise nor interest. Before the _curé_ had descended
half the staircase, he was called back by a servant. 'If you choose to
try an operation,' said Dupuytren, 'go to the Hotel Dieu; I will see you
to-morrow.' 'It is my duty to make use of all means of recovery,' replied
the _curé_; 'I will go.' The next day, the surgeon cut away remorselessly
at the priest's neck, laying bare tendons and arteries. It was before the
days of chloroform, and, unsustained by any opiate, the poor _curé_
suffered with uncomplaining heroism. He did not even wince. Dupuytren
respected his courage; and every day lingered longer at his bedside, when
making the rounds of the hospital. In a few weeks the _curé_ recovered. A
year after the operation, he made his appearance in the _salon_ of the
great professor with a neat basket containing pears and chickens.
'Monsieur,' he said, 'it is the anniversary of the day when your skill
saved my life; accept this humble gift; the pears and chickens are better
than you can find in Paris; they are of my own raising.' Each succeeding
year, on the same day of the month, the honest priest brought his grateful
offering. At length Dupuytren was taken ill, and the physicians declared
his heart diseased. He shut himself up with his favourite nephew and
refused to see his friends. One day he wrote on a slip of paper, '_Le
medécin a besoin du curé_,' and sent it to the village priest, who quickly
obeyed the summons. He remained for hours in the dying surgeon's chamber;
and when he came forth, tears were in his eyes, and Dupuytren was no more.
How easy for the imagination to fill up this outline, which is all that
was vouchsafed to Parisian gossip.

Whoever has gone from Roman church or palace--his soul yet warm with the
radiant figures and divine expression of saints and martyrs as depicted by
the inspired hands of the Christian artists of the fifteenth century--into
the gloomy and damp catacombs, where the early disciples met in order to
enjoy 'freedom to worship God,' must have felt at once the solemn reality
and the beautiful triumph of faith, in its unperverted glow--on the one
hand nerving the believer to cheerful endurance, and on the other
kindling genius to noble toil; and, before this fresh conviction, how vain
appeared to him the mechanical rite and the cold response of conventional
worship! The truth is that the history of religion is like the history of
love; a natural and divine sentiment has been wrested into illegitimate
service; ambitious pretenders, like the wanton and the coquette, abuse to
selfish ends what should either be honourably let alone or sacredly
cherished. This process, at once so habitual and so intricate--working
through formulas, tradition, appeals to fear, the power of custom, the
imperative needs and the ignorant credulity of the multitude--has
gradually built up a partition between heaven and earth, obscured
spiritual facts, made vague and mystical the primitive relation of the
soul to the fatherhood of God, and thus induced either open scepticism or
artificial conformity. In painting, in music, in literature, in the
wonders of the universe, in the mysteries of life, and in human
consciousness, the sentiment asserts itself for ever; but to the genuine
man of to-day is allotted the ceaseless duty of keeping it apart from the
incrustations of form, the perversion of office, and the base uses of
ambition and avarice.

The lionism of the pulpit is another desecration. London and New York must
have their fashionable preachers as well as favourite _prima donnas_, and
the phenomena attending each are the same. Intellectual amusement,
exclusiveness, the _mode_, thus become identical with that which is their
essential opposite, and the meekness and sublimity of the religious
function is utterly lost in a frivolous glare and soulless vanity. The pew
itself is a satire on existent Christianity; the very organ-airs played in
the fashionable churches, by recalling the ball-room and the theatre, are
ironical; and to these how often the elegantly-worded commonplace of the
preacher is a fit accompaniment--so well likened, by a thoughtful writer,
to shovelling sand with a pitchfork! Thank Heaven, we have perpetually
the Vicar of Wakefield and Parson Adams to keep green the memories of
that genial simplicity and honest warmth of which modern refinement has
deprived the clerical man. They, at least, were not effigies. Heroism as
embodied in Knox, scholarship in Barrow, zeal in Doddridge, holy idealism
in Taylor, sacred eloquence in Hall and Chalmers, earnest aspiration in
Channing and Robertson,--these and like instances of a fine manly
endowment, give vitality to the preacher and significance to his

In a recent farce, that had a run at Paris, and caricatures English life,
the curtain rises on a deserted street, hushed and gloomy, through which
two figures at last slowly walk on tiptoe: as they approach, and one
begins to address the other, the latter, raising his finger to his lips,
whispers '_C'est Soonday_,' and both disappear: the comedy ends, however,
with a prodigious dinner of beef and beer. Absurd as such pictures of a
London Sabbath are, they yet indicate a suggestive truth, which is, that
the extreme outward observance in Protestant countries, of one day in
seven, by repudiating all pastime, is the best proof of a conscious defect
in the social representation of the religious instinct, exactly as the
festivity of continental people, on the same day, illustrates the opposite
extreme of indifference to appearances. It is probable that neither
affords a just index of the state of feeling; for domestic enjoyments in
the one case, and attendance at mass, by sincere devotees, in the other,
are facts that modify the apparent truth. It is highly probable, also,
that in this age of free inquiry and general intelligence, what has been
lost in public observance has been gained in individual sincerity. There
is not the same dependence on the preacher. Devotional sentiment is fed
from other sources. It has come to be felt and understood as never before,
that man is personally responsible, and must seek light for himself, and
repose on his own faith. Accordingly, he is comparatively unallied to
institutions, and will no longer trust for spiritual insight to a mortal
as frail and ignorant as himself. The redeeming fact is to be sought in
the existence of the sentiment itself. The sensuality of a Borgia makes
more impressive the sanctity of Fenelon; because of the artificial funeral
eulogies of Bossuet, we are more sensible to the practical efficiency of
Father Matthew; Calvin's intolerance heightens the glory of Luther's
vindication of spiritual freedom; the fanaticism of the Methodist, the
subtlety of the Jesuit, the cold rationalism of the Unitarian, the dark
bigotry of the Presbyterian, the monotonous tone of the Quaker, the
refined conservatism of the Episcopalian, and other characteristics of
sects, philosophically considered, are but the excess of a tendency which
also manifests its benign and desirable influence as an element of
Christian society. What liberal mind can reflect upon the agency of the
English Church, pregnant of abuses as it is, without feeling that she has
greatly contributed to preserve a wholesome equilibrium amid conflicting
agencies, to keep intact the dignity and hallowed associations of worship,
to calm the feverish impulses, and prolong a law of order amid chaotic
tendencies? What just observer will hesitate to award to Dissenters the
honour of imparting a vital spirit to the listless body of the Church,
renewing the sentiment of religion which had become dormant through
conventionalism and oppressive institutions, and making its divine reality
once more a conscious motive and solace to the world? How much have the
eminent preachers of liberal Christianity, in New England, done toward
enlarging the charity of sects, elevating the standard of pulpit
eloquence, and giving to the priestly office moral dignity and
intellectual force! Who that has witnessed the life-devotion of the
Sisters of Charity, in a season of pestilence, seen the tears on the
bronze cheeks of hardy mariners at the Bethel, or heard the bold protest
of the educated divine, above the voice of public opinion, at a social
crisis, pleading for principle against expediency, and has not, for the
moment at least, forgotten dogmas in grateful appreciation of the general
benefits resulting from the direct inspiration of that sentiment, which
the preacher, of whatever creed, is ordained to illustrate? Truly has it
been said, that 'it is the spirit of the soul's natural piety to alight on
whatever is beautiful and touching in every faith, and take thence its
secret draught of spiritual refreshment.' Even popular literature enforces
the argument. The lives of Fox, Wesley, Fenelon, Arnold, Chalmers, and
Channing, illustrate the same truth, that the man can sanction the priest,
the soul vindicate the office, and the reality of a sentiment reconcile or
sublimate discordant creeds.

That good maxim of the brave English lexicographer, 'Clear your mind of
cant;' and the noble appeal of Campbell's chivalric muse, who asks--

              'Has Earth a clod
  Where man, the image of his God,
  Unscourged by Superstition's rod,
    Should bend the knee?'

have an eternal significance. We are called upon to resist formalism by as
potential reasons as those which impel to sincere devotion. It is
evidenced in the best writings of the day, that the highest in man's
nature may be linked with the most ferocious and abject. Balfour of Burley
is but the fanciful embodiment of an actual union between religious zeal
and a thirst for blood. Blanco White's memoirs indicate the possible
variations of speculative belief in an honest and ardent mind; and true
observation induced John Foster to write his able treatise on _The
Objections of Men of Taste to Evangelical Religion_. 'There is no
denying,' says a popular reviewer, 'that there is a certain stiff, tough,
clayish, agricultural, English nature, on which the _aggressive divine_
produces a visible and good effect.' Father Marquette's adventurous
martyrdom, Pascal's metaphysical acuteness, the rude courage of John Knox,
the witch-chronicle of Mather, the magnetic power of Edward Irving, the
wit that scintillated from Sydney Smith, the poetry of Heber, the ideal
beauty of Buckminster's style, and the virtuous charm of Berkeley, prove
how the expositors of religion blend with professional life the essential
characteristics of man, and how impossible it is to divide the office we
are considering, from those qualities and conditions which belong
essentially to the race. In the face of such diversity, before such
acknowledged facts, how irrational is it to exempt the preacher from any
law either of life or character; how unphilosophical and untrue to regard
him in any other light than that of experience; and how unjust to imagine
there is any occult virtue in ceremonial systems of faith, or the accident
of vocation, whereby he derives any special authority unsustained by
personal gifts and rectitude.

The problem we have suggested, of an antagonism between the theological
profession, the office of priest, artificially held, and the manly
instincts, has recently been illustrated by the criticisms on Carlyle's
_Life of Sterling_. In that work, it is lamented that the mental freedom
and just development of a gifted, ingenuous, and aspiring soul were
restrained and baffled by the vocation of priest; and to this view
Churchmen indignantly protest, and accuse the biographer of infidelity. It
is evident, however, that it was not religion but its formula, not truth
but an institution, which he thought hampered and narrowed the legitimate
spirit of his friend. There is that which commands profound respect in
Carlyle's recoil from the conventional; there is justice in his
indignation at the attempt to link a true, loving, brave, and progressive
mind to any wheel of social machinery. To keep apart from an organized
mode of action is the instinct of the best natures,--not from pride, but
self-respect. Of modern writers few have a better right to claim for
literature an agency more effective. The press has, indeed, in a measure,
superseded the pulpit. No intelligent observer of the signs of the times
can fail to perceive that as a means of influence, the two are at least
equal. In the pages of journals, in the verses of poets, in the favourite
books of the hour, we have homilies that teach charity and faith more
eloquently than the conventional Sunday's discourse; they come nearer to
experience; they are more the offspring of earnest conviction, and
therefore enlist popular sympathy. When we turn from such genuine
pleadings and pictures to those offered by the unspiritual preacher,--how
unreal do the last appear! It was once remarked by an auditor of a genial
man, who gave a prescriptive emphasis to his sermons, quite foreign to his
frank nature, that he seemed to feel that what he uttered was 'important
if true;' and such is the impression not a few preachers leave on the
listener's mind. If we carefully note those within the sphere of our
acquaintance, we find that many are either visibly oppressed or rendered
artificial by their profession. It seldom harmoniously blends with their
nature. They seem painfully conscious of a false relation to society, or
manfully, and it may be recklessly, put aside the character, as if it were
indeed a masquerade. Either course is a proof of incongruity; and in those
cases where our confidence and affection are spontaneously yielded, is it
not the qualities of the man that win and hold them?--his spiritual
aptitude to, and not the fact of, his vocation?

In no profession do we find so many instances of a mistaken choice, and
this even when its duties are respectably fulfilled. The candid preacher,
when arrived at maturity, will not seldom confess with pain, that the
logical skill of the advocate, the love of representing nature of the
artist, the scientific skill of the physician, or the practical industry
of the man of affairs, constituted the natural basis of his usefulness;
and proved inadequate endowments in his actual vocation. Perhaps the great
error is in prematurely deciding on a step so responsible. To bind a
youth's interests, reputation, and opinions to the priesthood, as is
often done by the undue exercise of authority and influence, at an
impressible age, by Protestant not less than Catholic families, is a
positive wrong; and the moral courage which repudiates what was unjustly
assumed, is more deserving of honour than blame. Inefficiency, in such
cases, is proverbial: 'He talks like a parson,' said Lord Carteret of
Sherlock, 'and consequently is used to talk to people that do not mind
him.' A clergyman, in conversing with a gifted layman, used the phrase
'_born_ preacher.' 'I do not believe there is such a thing,' replied the
former, 'for it implies a born hearer, which is a being whose existence is
incompatible with my idea of the goodness of the Creator.' Occasionally we
see delightful exceptions to such an erroneous choice; men of firm yet
gentle souls, deep convictions, and sustained elevation, whose talents not
less than the spirit they are of, whose natural demeanour, habitual
temper, and constitutional sympathies, designate them for the sacred
office. We listen to their ministrations without misgiving, accept their
counsel, rise on the wings of their prayer, respond to their appeals, and
rejoice in their holiness--as a true and a blest incentive and
consolation. We ordain them with our hearts, for the idea of the preacher
is lost in that of the brother.

In these instances, the normal conditions of the office are realized, the
boundaries of sect forgotten, and the legitimate idea of a minister to the
religious sympathies practically made apparent. Such a preacher was
Fenelon, in whose life, aspect, and writings the love of God and man were
exhibited, with such pure consistency, that his name is a spell which
invokes all that is sacred in the associations of humanity. The
blandishments of a court, the rudeness of soldiers, the ignorance of
peasants, were alike chastened by his presence. Neither persecution, high
culture, nor the gifts of fortune, for a moment disturbed his holy
self-possession. He disarmed prejudice, envy, intrigue, and violence, by
the tranquil influence of the spirit he was of. Ecclesiastical power,
ceremony, tradition, and literary fame were but the incidental accessories
of his career. The principles of Christianity and the temper of its
genuine disciple so predominated in his actions, speech, manners,
writings, and in his very tones and expression of countenance, that every
heart, by the instinct of its best affections, recognized his spiritual
authority. The man thoroughly vindicated the office; therefore the
courtier at Versailles and the rustic of Cambray held him in equal

In Madame Guyon, Anne Hutcheson, and Hannah More, we see the religious
sentiment and the instinct of proselytism in connection with the
idiosyncrasies of female character, rendered more affecting by its
tenderness, or losing in efficient dignity by the weakness of the sex. A
beautiful example of the natural preacher, unmodified by the paraphernalia
of the office, is given in Wirt's description of the Blind Preacher, while
its original identity with scholarship and philosophy is singularly
illustrated in the career of Abelard; and Molière's _Tartuffe_ is but the
dramatic embodiment of its extreme actual perversion at those periods when
the form, by a gradual process of social corruption, has completely
superseded the reality, and cant and hypocrisy are allowed to pass for
truth and emotion. All that is peculiar in the _modus operandi_ of sects
testifies to the constant adaptation of the office to occasion: thus the
itinerant episcopacy of the Methodists, the attractive temples of the
Catholics, the time-hallowed liturgy of the Church of England, the
immersing fonts of the Baptists, the plain language and prescriptive
uniformity of the Quakers, and the literary culture of the Unitarians,
appeal to certain tastes, feelings, or associations, which, although
independent of the religious sentiment, greatly tend to the impressiveness
of its outward manifestation upon different classes of persons. A
spiritual tendency is characteristic of Swedenborgians; an absence of the
sense of beauty is observable in the Friends; the superstitious element is
the usual trait of Romanists; conservatism prevails among Episcopalians;
and a progressive spirit and broad sympathies usually distinguish liberal
Christians. To a bigot this diversity is offensive; to a philosopher it is
the result of an inevitable and beneficent law. An American poet has aptly
described the scene which a Protestant city presents on a Sabbath morning,
when its streets are filled with the diverging streams of a population,
each moving toward its respective place of worship, in obedience to this
law of individual faith.

The word 'skeleton' as applied to the outline of sermons is very
significant, for this is the only feature they have in common when vital;
and yet how different the manner in which they are clothed with life!
Sometimes it is logic, sometimes enthusiasm; now the eloquence of the
heart, and now the ingenuity of the head that creates the animating
principle; in one instance the beauty of style, and in another the force
of conviction or the glow of sympathy; and there are cases where only
grace of manner, melody of voice, and the magnetism of the preacher's
temperament and delivery impart to his words their effect; for every grade
of rhetorical power, from the refinements of artificial study to the gush
of irresistible feeling, has scope in the pulpit; there is no sacred charm
in that rostrum except what its occupant brings; its possible scale
includes elocutionary tricks, and the most disinterested and unconscious
utterance; mediocrity lisps there its commonplace truisms, and devotional
genius breathes its holy oracles; it is the medium of complacent formulas
as well as of inspired truth.

The ancient philosophers and the modern essayists often apply wisdom to
life in the manner of the best sermonizers; and as Christianity has
infused its spirit into literature, this has become more apparent. Seneca
and Epictetus as moralists, and Plato in psychological speculation,
anticipated many of the sentiments that now have a religious authority.
Rousseau, in as far as he was true to humanity, Montaigne to the extent he
justly interprets the world, Bacon in the degree he indicates the
approaches to universal truth, Saint Pierre when awaking the sentiment of
beauty as revealed in Nature, Shakspeare by the memorable development of
the laws of character, Dante as the picturesque limner of the material
faith of the middle ages, Richter in his beautiful exposition of human
sentiment,--all exhibit a phase or element of the preacher, and in the
writings of Milton and Chateaubriand it breaks forth with a still more
direct emphasis. Carlyle and Coleridge, Isaac Taylor, Wordsworth, Lamb,
and many other effective modern writers, are among the most influential of
lay preachers. And this unprofessional teaching, this priesthood of
nature, has multiplied with the progress of society, so that every
community has its father confessors, its sisters of charity, its gifted
interpreters and eloquent advocates; while literature, even in forms the
most profane, continually emulates the sacred function, yielding great
lessons, exciting holy sentiment, and demonstrating pure faith. Indeed it
is characteristic of the age, that the technical is becoming merged in the
æsthetic; as culture extends, the distinctive in pursuit and office loses
its prominence. Lamb jocosely told Coleridge he never heard him do
anything but preach; and there is scarcely a favourite among the authors
of the day that, in some way, does not hallow his genius by consecrating
it to an interpretation or sentiment which, in its last analysis, is

In these considerations may be found a partial explanation of that
diminution of individual agency in the priesthood to which we have
referred. The modern religious teachers also, as we have seen, have not
the same extent of ignorance to vanquish as the old divines. The line of
demarcation between ecclesiastical polity and Christian truth is more
evident to the multitude; and it is now felt as never before, that 'a
heart of deep sympathies solves all theological questions in the flame of
its love and justice.' Hence the comparative indifference to controversy;
and the recognition of the primal fact--so truly stated by the same
reflective writer--that 'spiritual insight, moral elevation, rich
sympathies, are the tokens whereby the divinely-ordained are

The practical inference is, that never before was the obligation of
personal responsibility in spiritual interests, on the part of the laity,
so apparent, nor that of a thorough integrity in the preacher. To be
'clear in his great office'--to rely on absolute gifts and essentials of
character--to cleave to simplicity and truth, and keep within the line of
honest conviction, is now his only guarantee, not only of self-respect,
but of usefulness and honour. Organization, form, tact, theological
acquirement, the _prestige_ of traditional importance, are of little
efficacy. The scientific era--the reaction to first causes--the universal
and intense demand for the real--the exposure of delusions--the test of
wide intelligence and fearless inquiry--the jealousy of mental
freedom--the multiplied sources of devotional sentiment--the earnestness
of the age--all invoke him to repudiate the machinery, the historical
badge, the conventional resources of his title--nay, to lose, if possible,
his title itself--and incarnate only the everlasting principles, laws, and
sentiments, by virtue of which alone he may hope for inspiration or claim


  'And if it be Prometheus stole from Heaven
  The fire which we endure, it was repaid
  By him to whom the energy was given,
  Which this poetic marble hath arrayed
  With an eternal glory.'--BYRON.

There is as absolute an instinct in the human mind for the definite, the
palpable, and the emphatic, as there is for the mysterious, the versatile,
and the elusive. With some, method is a law, and taste severe in affairs,
costume, exercise, social intercourse, and faith. The simplicity,
directness, uniformity, and pure emphasis or grace of Sculpture have
analogies in literature and character; the terse despatch of a brave
soldier, the concentrated dialogue of Alfieri, some proverbs, aphorisms,
and poetic lines, that have become household words, puritanic consistency,
silent fortitude, are but so many vigorous outlines, and impress us by
virtue of the same colourless intensity as a masterpiece of the statuary.
How sculpturesque is Dante, even in metaphor, as when he writes,--

  'Ella non ci diceva alcuna cosa;
  Ma lasciavane gir, solo guardando,
  A guisa di leon quando si posa.'

Nature, too, hints the art, when her landscape tints are covered with
snow, and the forms of tree, rock, and mountain are clearly defined by the
universal whiteness. Death, in its pale, still, fixed image,--always
solemn, sometimes beautiful,--would have inspired primeval humanity to
mould and chisel the lineaments of clay. Even New Zealanders elaborately
carve their war-clubs; and from the 'graven images' prohibited by
Decalogue as objects of worship, through the mysterious granite effigies
of ancient Egypt, the brutal anomalies in Chinese porcelain, the gay and
gilded figures on a ship's prow,--whether emblems of rude ingenuity,
tasteless caprice, retrospective sentiment, or embodiments of the highest
physical and mental culture, as in the Greek statues,--there is no art
whose origin is more instructive and progress more historically
significant. The vases of Etruria are the best evidence of her degree of
civilization; the designs of Flaxman on Wedgwood ware redeem the
economical art of England; the Bears at Berne and the Wolf in the Roman
Capitol are the most venerable local insignia; the carvings of Gibbons, in
old English manor-houses, outrival all the luxurious charms of modern
upholstery; Phidias is a more familiar element in Grecian history than
Pericles; the moral energy of the old Italian republics is more
impressively shadowed forth and conserved in the bold and vigorous
creations of Michael Angelo than in the political annals of Macchiavelli;
and it is the massive, uncouth sculptures, half buried in sylvan
vegetation, which mythically transmit the ancient people of Central

We confess a faith in, and a love for, the 'testimony of the rocks,'--not
only as interpreted by the sagacious Scotchman, as he excavated the 'old
red sandstone,' but as shaped into forms of truth, beauty, and power by
the hand of man through all generations. We love to catch a glimpse of
these silent memorials of our race, whether as Nymphs half shaded at
noonday with summer foliage in a garden, or as Heroes gleaming with
startling distinctness in the moonlit city square; as the similitudes of
illustrious men gathered in the halls of nations and crowned with a
benignant fame, or as prone effigies on sepulchres, for ever proclaiming
the calm without the respiration of slumber, so as to tempt us to exclaim,
with the enamoured gazer on the Egyptian queen, when the asp had done its

          'She looks like sleep,
  As she would catch another Antony
  In her strong _toil of grace_.'

Although Dr. Johnson undervalued sculpture, partly because of an
inadequate sense of the beautiful, and partly from ignorance of its
greatest trophies, he expressed unqualified assent to its awe-inspiring
influence in 'the monumental caves of death,' as described by Congreve.
Sir Joshua truly declares that 'all arts address themselves to the
sensibility and imagination;' and no one thus alive to the appeal of
sculpture, will marvel that the infuriated mob spared the statues of the
Tuileries at the bloody climax of the French Revolution; that a 'love of
the antique,' knit in bonds of lifelong friendship Winckelmann and
Cardinal Albani; that among the most salient of childhood's memories
should be Memnon's image and the Colossus of Rhodes; that an imaginative
girl of exalted temperament died of love for the Apollo Belvidere, and
that Carrara should win many a pilgrimage because its quarries have
peopled earth with grace.

To a sympathetic eye there are few more pleasing tableaux than a gifted
sculptor engaged in his work. How absorbed he is!--standing erect by the
mass of clay,--with graduated touch moulding into delicate undulations or
expressive lines the inert mass; now stepping back to see the effect, now
bending forward, almost lovingly, to add a master indentation or detach a
thin layer; and so, hour after hour, working on, every muscle in action,
each perception active, oblivious of time, happy in the gradual
approximation, under patient and thoughtful manipulation, of what was a
dense heap of earth, to a form of vital expression or beauty.

Much has been said and written of the limits of sculpture; but it is the
sphere, rather than the art itself, which is thus bounded; and one of its
most glorious distinctions, like that of the human form and face, which
are its highest subject, is the vast possible variety within what seems,
at first thought, to be so narrow a field. That the same number and kind
of limbs and features should, under the plastic touch of genius, have
given birth to so many and totally diverse forms, memorable for ages, and
endeared to humanity, is in itself an infinite marvel, which vindicates,
as a beautiful wonder, the statuary's art from the more Protean rivalry of
pictorial skill. If we call to mind even a few of the sculptured creations
which are 'a joy for ever,' even to retrospection, haunting by their pure
individuality the temple of memory, permanently enshrined in heartfelt
admiration as illustrations of what is noble in man and woman, significant
in history, powerful in expression, or irresistible in grace,--we feel
what a world of varied interest is hinted by the very name of Sculpture.
Through it the most just and clear idea of Grecian culture is revealed.
The solemn mystery of Egyptian, and the grand scale of Assyrian,
civilization are best attested by the same trophies. How a Sphinx typifies
the land of the Pyramids and all its associations, mythological,
scientific, natural, and sacred,--its reverence for the dead, and its dim
and portentous traditions! and what a reflex of Nineveh's palmy days are
the winged lions exhumed by Layard! What more authentic tokens of mediæval
piety and patience exist than the elaborate and grotesque carvings of
Albert Dürer's day? The colossal Brahma in the temple of Elephanta, near
Bombay, is the visible acme of Asiatic superstition. And can an
illustration of the revival of art in the fifteenth century, so exuberant,
aspiring, and sublime, be imagined, to surpass the Day and Night, the
Moses, and other statues of Angelo? But such general inferences are less
impressive than the personal experience of every European traveller with
the least passion for the beautiful or reverence for genius. Is there any
sphere of observation and enjoyment, to such a one, more prolific of
individual suggestions than this so-called limited art? From the soulful
glow of expression in the inspired countenance of the Apollo, to the
womanly contours so exquisite in the armless figure of the Venus de
Milo,--from the aërial posture of John of Bologna's Mercury, to the
inimitable and firm dignity in the attitude of Aristides in the Museum of
Naples,--from the delicate lines which teach how grace can chasten nudity
in the Goddess of the Tribune at Florence, to the embodied melancholy of
Hamlet in the brooding Lorenzo of the Medici Chapel,--from the stone
despair, the frozen tears, as it were, of all bereaved maternity, in the
very bend of Niobe's body and yearning gesture, to the _abandon_ gleaming
from every muscle of the Dancing Faun,--from the stern brow of the
Knife-grinder, and the bleeding frame of the Gladiator, whereon are
written for ever the inhumanities of ancient civilization, to the
triumphant beauty, and firm, light, enjoyable aspect of Dannecker's
Ariadne,--from the unutterable joy of Cupid and Psyche's embrace, to the
grand authority of Moses,--how many separate phases of human emotion 'live
in stone'! What greater contrast to eye or imagination, in our knowledge
of facts, and in our consciousness of sentiment, can be exemplified, than
those so distinctly, memorably, and gracefully moulded in the apostolic
figures of Thorwaldsen, the Hero and Leander of Steinhaüser, the lovely
funereal monument, inspired by gratitude, which Rauch reared to Louise of
Prussia, Chantrey's Sleeping Children, Canova's Lions in St. Peter's, the
bas-reliefs of Ghiberti on the Baptistery doors at Florence, and Gibson's
Horses of the Sun?

The last time Heine went out of doors, before succumbing to his fearful
malady, he says: 'With difficulty I dragged myself to the Louvre, and
almost sank down as I entered that magnificent hall where the ever-blessed
goddess of beauty, our beloved Lady of Milo, stands on her pedestal. At
her feet I lay long and wept so bitterly that a stone must have pitied me.
The goddess looked compassionately on me, but at the same time
disconsolately, as if she would say: Dost thou not see that I have no
arms, and thus cannot help thee?'

Have you ever strolled from the inn at Lucerne, on a pleasant afternoon,
along the Zurich road, to the old General's garden, where stands the
colossal lion designed by Thorwaldsen, to keep fresh the brave renown of
the Swiss guard who perished in defence of the royal family of France
during the massacre of the Revolution? Carved from the massive sandstone,
the majestic animal, with the fatal spear in his side, yet loyal in his
vigil over the royal shield, is a grand image of fidelity unto death. The
stillness, the isolation, the vivid creepers festooning the rocks, the
clear mirror of the basin, into which trickle pellucid streams, reflecting
the vast proportions of the enormous lion, the veteran Swiss, who acts as
_cicerone_, the adjacent chapel with its altar-cloth wrought by one of the
fair decendants of the Bourbon king and queen for whom these victims
perished, the hour, the memories, the admixture of Nature and Art, convey
a unique impression, in absolute contrast with such white effigies, for
instance, as in the dusky precincts of Santa Croce droop over the
sepulchre of Alfieri, or with the famous bronze boar in the Mercato Nuovo
of Florence, or the ethereal loveliness of that sweet scion of the English
nobility, moulded by Chantrey in all the soft and lithe grace of
childhood, holding a contented dove to her bosom.

Even as the subject of taste, independently of historical diversities,
sculpture presents every degree of the meretricious, the grotesque, and
the beautiful,--more emphatically, because more palpably, than is
observable in painting. The inimitable Grecian standard is an immortal
precedent; the mediæval carvings embody the rude Teutonic truthfulness;
where Canova provoked comparison with the antique, as in the Perseus and
Venus, his more gross ideal is painfully evident. How artificial seems
Bernini in contrast with Angelo! How minutely expressive are the terra
cotta images of Spain! What a climax of absurdity teases the eye in the
monstrosities in stone which draw travellers in Sicily to the eccentric
nobleman's villa, near Palermo! Who does not shrink from the French
allegory, and horrible melodrama, of Roubillac's monument to Miss
Nightingale, in Westminster Abbey? How like Horace Walpole to dote on Ann
Conway's canine groups! We actually feel sleepy as we examine the little
black marble Somnus of the Florence Gallery, and electrified with the
first sight of the Apollo, and won to sweet emotion in the presence of
Nymphs, Graces, and the Goddess of Beauty, when, shaped by the hand of
genius, they seem the ethereal types of that

  'Common clay ta'en from the common earth,
  Moulded by God and tempered by the tears
  Of angels to the perfect form of woman.'

Calm and fixed as is the natural language of Sculpture, it is the artistic
illustration of life's normal activity and character in the economy not
less than in the ideal and heroic phase. 'Our statues,' says one of the
quaint personages of Richter's _Titan_, 'are no idle, dawdling citizens,
but all drive a trade. Such as are caryates hold up houses; and heathen
water-gods labour at the public fountains, and pour out water into the
pitchers of the maidens. Such as are angels bear up baptismal vessels.'

Yet the distinctive element in the pleasure afforded by sculpture is
tranquillity,--a quiet, contemplative delight; somewhat of awe chastens
admiration; a feeling of peace hallows sympathy; and we echo the poet's

  'I feel a mighty calmness creep
  Over my heart, which can no longer borrow
  Its hues from chance or change,--those children of to-morrow.'

It is this fixedness and placidity, conveying the impression of fate,
death, repose, or immortality, which render sculpture so congenial as
commemorative of the departed. Even quaint wooden effigies, like those in
St. Mary's Church at Chester, with the obsolete peaked beards, ruffs, and
broadswords, accord with the venerable associations of a mediæval tomb;
while marble figures, typifying Grief, Poetry, Fame, or Hope, brooding
over the lineaments of the illustrious dead, seem, of all sepulchral
decorations, the most apt and impressive. We remember, after exploring the
plain of Ravenna on an autumn day, and rehearsing the famous battle in
which the brave young Gaston de Foix fell, how the associations of the
scene and story were defined and deepened as we gazed on the sculptured
form of a recumbent knight in armour, preserved in the academy of the old
city; it seemed to bring back and stamp with brave renown for ever the
gallant soldier who so long ago perished there in battle. In Cathedral and
Parthenon, under the dome of the Invalides, in the sequestered parish
church or the rural cemetery, what image so accords with the sad reality
and the serene hope of humanity, as the adequate marble personification on
sarcophagus and beneath shrine, in mausoleum or on turf-mound?

  'His palms enfolded on his breast,
  There is no other thought express'd
  But long disquiet merged in rest.'

In truth, it is for want of comprehensive perception that we take so
readily for granted the limited scope of this glorious art. There is in
the Grecian mythology alone a remarkable variety of character and
expression, as perpetuated by the statuary; and when to her deities we add
the athletes, charioteers, and marble portraits, a realm of diverse
creations is opened. Indeed, to the average modern mind, it is the statues
of Grecian divinities that constitute the poetic charm of her history;
abstractly, we regard them with the poet:--

  'Their gods? what were their gods?
  There's Mars, all bloody-haired; and Hercules,
  Whose soul was in his sinews; Pluto, blacker
  Than his own hell; Vulcan, who shook his horns
  At every limp he took; great Bacchus rode
  Upon a barrel; and in a cockle-shell
  Neptune kept state; then Mercury was a thief;
  Juno a shrew; Pallas a prude, at best;
  And Venus walked the clouds in search of lovers;
  Only great Jove, the lord and thunderer,
  Sat in the circle of his starry power
  And frowned "I will!" to all.'

Not in their marble beauty do they thus ignobly impress us,--but calm,
fair, strong, and immortal. 'They seem,' wrote Hazlitt, 'to have no
sympathy with us, and not to want our admiration. In their faultless
excellence, they appear sufficient to themselves.'

In the sculptor's art, more than on the historian's page, lives the most
glorious memory of the classic past. A visit to the Vatican by torchlight
endears even these poor traditional deities for ever.

  On lofty ceilings vivid frescoes glow,
          Auroras beam,
  The steeds of Neptune through the waters go,
          Or Sibyls dream.

  As in the flickering torchlight shadows weaved
          Illusions wild,
  Methought Apollo's bosom slightly heaved,
          And Juno smiled.

  Aërial Mercuries in bronze upspring,
          Dianas fly,
  And marble Cupids to the Psyches cling
          Without a sigh.

The absence of complexity in the language and intent of sculpture is
always obvious in the expositions of its votaries. In no class of men have
we found such distinct and scientific views of Art. One lovely evening in
spring we stood with Bartolini beside the corpse of a beautiful child.
Bereavement in a foreign land has a desolation of its own, and the
afflicted mother desired to carry home a statue of her loved and lost. We
conducted the sculptor to the chamber of death, that he might superintend
the casts from the body. No sooner did his eyes fall upon it, than they
glowed with admiration and filled with tears. He waved the assistants
aside, clasped his hands, and gazed spell-bound upon the dead child. Its
brow was ideal in contour, the hair of wavy gold, the cheeks of angelic
outline. 'How beautiful!' exclaimed Bartolini; and drawing us to the
bedside, with a mingled awe and intelligence, he pointed out how the
rigidity of death coincided, in this fair young creature, with the
standard of Art;--the very hands, he declared, had stiffened into lines of
beauty; and over the beautiful clay we thus learned, from the lips of a
venerable sculptor, how intimate and minute is the cognizance this noble
art takes of the language of the human form. Greenough would unfold by the
hour the exquisite relation between function and beauty, organization and
use, tracing therein a profound law and an illimitable truth. No more
genial spectacle greeted us in Rome than Thorwaldsen at his Sunday-noon
receptions;--his white hair, kindly smile, urbane manners, and
unpretending simplicity, gave an added charm to the wise and liberal
sentiments he expressed on Art, reminding us, in his frank eclecticism, of
the spirit in which Humboldt cultivated science, and Sismondi history. Nor
less indicative of this clear apprehension was the thorough solution we
have heard Powers give, over the mask taken from a dead face, of the
problem, how its living aspect was to modify its sculptured reproduction;
or the original views expressed by Palmer as to the treatment of the eyes
and hair in marble.

Appropriate and inspiring as are statues as memorials of character, in no
department of art is there more need of a pure and just sense of the
appropriate than in the choice of subject, locality, and treatment in
statuary embellishment. Many greatly-endeared human benefactors cannot
thus be wisely or genially celebrated. Of late years there has been a
mania on the subject; and even popular sentiment recognized the
impropriety of setting up a statue in the marketplace, of pious, retiring
Izaak Walton.

Shelley used to say that a Roman peasant is as good a judge of sculpture
as the best academician or anatomist. It is this direct appeal, this
elemental simplicity, which constitutes the great distinction and charm of
the art. There is nothing evasive and mysterious; in dealing with form and
expression through features and attitude, average observation is a
reliable test. The same English poet was right in declaring that the Greek
sculptors did not find their inspiration in the dissecting-room; yet upon
no subject has criticism displayed greater insight on the one hand and
pedantry on the other, than in the discussion of these very
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ of antiquity. While Michael Angelo was at Rome when the
Laocoön was discovered, hailed it as 'the wonder of Art,' and scholars
identified the group with a famous one described by Pliny, Canova thought
that the right arm of the father was not in its right position, and the
other restorations in the work have all been objected to. Goëthe
recognized a profound sagacity in the artist. 'If,' he wrote, 'we try to
place the bite in some different position, the whole action is changed,
and we find it impossible to conceive one more fitting; the situation of
the bite renders necessary the whole action of the limbs.' And another
critic says, 'In the group of the Laocoön, the breast is expanded and the
throat contracted to show that the agonies that convulse the frame are
borne in silence.' In striking contrast with such testimonies to the
scientific truth to Nature in Grecian Art, was the objection I once heard
an American backwoods mechanic make to this celebrated work. He asked why
the figures were seated in a row on a dry-goods box, and declared that the
serpent was not of a size to coil round so small an arm as the child's
without breaking its vertebræ. So disgusted was Titian with the critical
pedantry elicited by this group, that, in ridicule thereof, he painted a
caricature,--three monkeys writhing in the folds of a little snake.

Few statues at Rome excite the imagination, apart from intrinsic beauty,
like that of Pompey, at whose base, tradition says, 'great Cæsar fell.' It
was discovered lying across the boundary line of two estates, and claimed
by both proprietors. Shrewd Cardinal Spada decided the head belonged to
one, and the body to another. It was decapitated, and sold in fragments
for a small sum, and by this device was added to his famous collection, by
the wily churchman.

Yet, despite the jargon of connoisseurship, against which Byron, while
contemplating the Venus de Medici, utters so eloquent an invective,
sculpture is a grand, serene, and intelligible art,--more so than
architecture and painting,--and, as such, justly consecrated to the heroic
and the beautiful in man and history. It is pre-eminently commemorative.
How the old cities of Europe are peopled to the imagination, as well as
the eye, by the statues of their traditional rulers or illustrious
children, keeping, as it were, a warning sign, or a sublime vigil, silent,
yet expressive, in the heart of busy life and through the lapse of ages!
We could never pass Duke Cosmo's imposing effigy in the old square of
Florence, without the magnificent patronage and the despotic perfidy of
the Medicean family being revived to memory with intense local
association,--nor note the ugly mitred and cloaked papal figures, with
hands extended, in the mockery of benediction, over the beggars in the
piazzas of Romagna, without Ranke's frightful picture of church abuses
reappearing, as if to crown these brazen forms with infamy. There was
always a gleam of poetry--however sad--on the most foggy day, in the
glimpse afforded from our window, in Trafalgar Square, of that patient
horseman, Charles the Martyr. How alive old Neptune sometimes looked, by
moonlight, in Rome, as we passed his plashing fountain. And those German
poets--Goëthe, Schiller, and Jean Paul,--what to modern eyes were
Frankfort, Stuttgart, and Baireuth, unconsecrated by their endeared forms?
The most pleasant association Versailles yielded us of the Bourbon dynasty
was that inspired by Jeanne d'Arc, graceful in her marble sleep, as
sculptured by Marie d'Orléans; and the most impressive token of Napoleon's
downfall we saw in Europe was his colossal image intended for the square
of Leghorn, but thrown permanently on the sculptor's hands by the waning
of his proud star. The statue of Heber, to Christian vision, hallows
Calcutta. The Perseus of Cellini breathes of the months of artistic
suspense, inspiration, and experiment so graphically described in that
clever egotist's memoirs. One feels like blessing the grief-bowed figures
at the tomb of the Princess Charlotte, so truly do their attitudes express
our sympathy with the love and the sorrow her name excites. Would not
Sterne have felt a thrill of complacency, had he beheld his tableau of the
Widow Wadman and Uncle Toby so genially embodied by Ball Hughes? What more
spirited symbol of prosperous conquest can be imagined than the gilded
horses of St. Mark's? How natural was Michael Angelo's exclamation,
'March!' as he gazed on Donatello's San Giorgio, in the Church of San
Michele,--one mailed hand on a shield, bare head, complete armour, and the
foot advanced, like a sentinel who hears the challenge, or a knight
listening for the charge! Tenerani's Descent from the Cross, in the
Torlonia Chapel, outlives in remembrance the brilliant assemblies of that
financial house. The outlines of Flaxman, essentially statuesque, seem
alone adequate to illustrate to the eye the great mediæval poet, whose
verse seems often cut from stone in the quarries of infernal destiny. How
grandly sleep the lions of Canova at Pope Clement's tomb!

A census of the statues of the world, past and present, would indicate an
enormous marble population: in every Greek and Roman house, temple, public
square, cemetery, these effigies abounded. According to Pliny the number
of memorable statues in Athens exceeded three thousand; the number brought
to Rome from conquered provinces was so great that the record seems
incredible; add to these the countless statues we know to have been
destroyed, the innumerable fragmentary images encountered in Italy, and
the variety of modern works--from those which people the cathedral roof to
those which adorn private galleries and favourite studios,--and the mind
is bewildered by the extent not less than the beauty of the products of
the chisel.

We have sometimes wondered that some æsthetic philosopher has not analyzed
the vital relation of the arts to each other, and given a popular
exposition of their mutual dependence. Drawing from the antique has long
been an acknowledged initiation for the limner; and Campbell, in his terse
description of the histrionic art, says that therein 'verse ceases to be
airy thought, and sculpture to be dumb.' How much of their peculiar
effects did Talma, Kemble, and Rachel owe to the attitudes, gestures, and
drapery of the Grecian statues! Kean adopted the 'dying fall' of General
Abercrombie's figure in St. Paul's as the model of his own. Some of the
memorable scenes and votaries of the drama are directly associated with
the sculptor's art,--as, for instance, the last act of _Don Giovanni_,
wherein the expressive music of Mozart breathes a pleasing terror in
connection with the spectral nod of the marble horseman; and Shakspeare
has availed himself of this art, with beautiful wisdom, in that melting
scene where remorseful love pleads with the motionless heroine of the
_Winter's Tale_,--

                  'Her natural posture!
  Chide me, dear stone, that I may say, indeed,
  Thou art Hermione; or rather thou art she,
  In thy not chiding: for she was as tender
  As infancy and grace.'

Garrick imitated to the life, in _Abel Drugger_, the vacant stare peculiar
to Nollekens, the sculptor; and Colley Cibber's father was a devotee of
the chisel, and adorned Chatsworth with freestone Sea-Nymphs.

In view of the great historical value, comparative authenticity, and
possible significance and beauty of busts, this department of sculpture
has a peculiar interest and charm. The most distinct idea we have of the
Roman emperors, even in regard to their individual characters, is derived
from their busts at the Vatican and elsewhere. The benignity of Trajan,
the animal development of Nero, and the classic vigour of young Augustus,
are best apprehended through these memorable effigies which Time has
spared and Art transmitted. And a similar permanence and distinctness of
impression associate most of our illustrious moderns with their sculptured
features; the ironical grimace of Voltaire is perpetuated by Houdon's
bust; the sympathetic intellectuality of Schiller by Dannecker's; Handel's
countenance is familiar through the elaborate chisel of Roubillac;
Nollekens moulded Sterne's delicate and unimpassioned but keen
physiognomy, and Chantrey the lofty cranium of Scott. Who has not blessed
the rude but conscientious artist who carved the head of Shakspeare,
preserved at Stratford? How quaintly appropriate to the old house in
Nuremberg is Albert Dürer's bust over the door! Our best knowledge of
Alexander Hamilton's aspect is obtained from the expressive marble head of
him by that ardent republican sculptor, Ceracchi. It was appropriate for
Mrs. Damer, the daughter of a gallant field-marshal, to portray in marble,
as heroic idols, Fox, Nelson, and Napoleon. We were never more convinced
of the intrinsic grace and solemnity of this form of 'counterfeit
presentment' than when exploring the Baciocchi _palazzo_ at Bologna. In
the centre of a circular room, lighted from above, and draped as well as
carpeted with purple, stood on a simple pedestal the bust of Napoleon's
sister, thus enshrined after death by her husband. The profound stillness,
the relief of this isolated head against a mass of dark tints, and its
consequent emphatic individuality, made the sequestered chamber seem a
holy place, where communion with the departed, so spiritually represented
by the exquisite image, appeared not only natural, but inevitable. Our
countryman, Powers, has eminently illustrated the possible excellence of
this branch of Art. In mathematical correctness of detail, unrivalled
finish of texture, and with these, in many cases, the highest
characterization, busts from his hand have an absolute artistic value,
independent of likeness, like a portrait by Vandyke or Titian. When the
subject is favourable, his achievements in this regard are memorable, and
fill the eye and mind with ideas of beauty and meaning undreamed of by
those who consider marble portraits as wholly imitative and mechanical.
Was there ever a human face which so completely reflected inward
experience and individual genius as the bust which haunts us throughout
Italy, broods over the monument in Santa Croce, gazes pensively from
library niche, seems to awe the more radiant images of boudoir and
gallery, and sternly looks melancholy reproach from the Ravenna tomb?

  'The lips, as Cumæ's cavern close;
    The cheeks, with fast and sorrow thin;
  The rigid front, almost morose,
    But for the patient hope within;
  Declare a life whose course hath been
    Unsullied still, though still severe,
  Which, through the wavering days of sin,
    Kept itself icy chaste and clear.'

National characters become, as it were, household gods through the
sculptor's portrait; the duplicates of Canova's head of Napoleon seem as
appropriate in the _salons_ and shops of France, as the heads of
Washington and Franklin in America, or the antique images of Scipio
Africanus and Ceres in Sicily, and Wellington and Byron in London.

It is to us a source of noble delight, that with these permanent trophies
of the sculptor's art may now be mingled our national fame. Twenty years
ago, the address in Murray's Guide-Book,--_Crawford, an American Sculptor,
Piazza Barberini_,--would have been unique; now that name is enrolled on
the list of the world's benefactors in the patrimony of Art. Greenough, by
his pen, his presence, and his chisel, gave an impulse to taste and
knowledge in sculpture and architecture not destined soon to pass away; no
more eloquent and original advocate of the beautiful and the true in the
higher social economies has blest our day; his Cherubs and Medora overflow
with the poetry of form; his essays are a valuable legacy of philosophic
thought. The Greek Slave of Powers was invariably surrounded by visitors
at the London World's Fair and the Manchester Exhibition. Story's
Cleopatra was the nucleus of charmed observation at Sydenham. The Pearl
Diver of Paul Akers is his own most beautiful monument. Palmer has sent
forth from his isolated studio at Albany a series of ideal busts, of a
pure type of original and exquisite beauty; and many others might be named
who have honourably illustrated an American claim to distinction in an art
eminently republican in its perpetuation of national worth, and the
identity of its highest achievements with social progress.


  'I stood on the bridge at midnight,
    As the clocks were striking the hour,
  And the moon rose over the city,
    Behind the dark church-tower.
  And like those waters rushing
    Among the wooden piers,
  A flood of thoughts came o'er me,
    That filled my eyes with tears.'

Instinctively, Treason, in this vast land, aimed its first blow at the
Genius of Communication,--the benign and potent means and method of
American civilization and nationality. The great problem Watt and Fulton,
Clinton and Morse, so gloriously solved, a barbaric necessity thus reduced
back to chaos; and not the least sad and significant of the bulletins
whereby the most base of civic mutinies found current record, is that
entitled _Destruction of the Bridges_; and (melancholy contrast!)
simultaneously we hear of constructive energy in the same direction, on
the Italian peninsula,--an engineer having submitted to Victor Emmanuel
proposals for throwing a bridge across the Straits of Messina, 'binding
Scylla to Charybdis, and thus clinching Italian unity with bonds of
iron.'[46] Bonds of nationality, in more than a physical sense, indeed,
are bridges; even cynical Heine found an endeared outlook to his native
Rhine on the bastion of a familiar bridge. Tennyson makes one an essential
feature of his English summer-picture, wherein for ever glows the sweet
image of the 'Gardener's Daughter;' and Bunyan found no better similitude
for Christian's passage from Time to Eternity than the 'river where there
is no bridge.'

The primitive need, the possible genius, the science, and the sentiment of
a bridge, endear its aspect and associations beyond those of any other
economical structure. There is, indeed, something genially picturesque
about a mill, as Constable's pencil and Tennyson's muse have aptly
demonstrated; there is an artistic miracle possible in a sculptured gate,
as those of Ghiberti so elaborately evidence; science, poetry, and human
enterprise consecrate a lighthouse; sacred feelings hallow a spire, and
mediæval towers stand forth in noble relief against the sunset sky; but
around none of these familiar objects cluster the same thoroughly human
associations which make a bridge attractive to the sight and memory. In
its most remote suggestion it typifies man's primal relation to Nature,
his first instinctive effort to circumvent or avail himself of her
resources; indeed, he might take his hint of a bridge from Nature
herself,--her fallen monarchs of the forest athwart a stream, 'the
testimony of the rocks,' the curving shores, cavern roofs, and pendent
branches, and the prismatic bow in the heavens, which a poet well calls 'a
bridge to tempt the angels down.'

A bridge of the simplest kind is often charmingly effective as a
landscape-accessory; there is a short plank one in a glen of the White
Mountains, which, seen through a vista of woodland, makes out the picture
so aptly that it is sketched by every artist who haunts the region. What
lines of grace are added to the night-view of a great city by the lights
on the bridges! What subtile principles enter into the building of such a
bridge as the Britannia, where even the metallic contraction of the
enormous tubes is provided for by supporting them on cannon-balls! How
venerable seems the most graceful of Tuscan bridges, when we remember it
was erected in the fifteenth century,--and the Rialto, when we think of
Shylock and Portia; and how signal an instance is it of the progressive
application of a true principle in science, that the contrivance whereby
the South Americans bridge the gorges of their mountains, by a pendulous
causeway of twisted osiers and bamboo,--one of which, crossed by Humboldt,
was a hundred and twenty feet long,--is identical with that which sustains
the magnificent structure over the Niagara river! The chasms and streams
thus spanned by a rope of seven strands have a fairy-like aspect. Artist
and engineer alike delight in this feature of tropical scenery. In some
cases the stone structures built by the Spaniards, and half destroyed by
earthquakes, are repaired with bamboo, and often with an effective grace.
In a bridge the arch is triumphal, both for practical and commemorative
ends. Unknown to the Greeks and Egyptians, even the ancient Romans, it is
said by modern architects, did not appreciate its true mechanical
principle, but ascribed the marvellous strength thereof to the cement
which kept intact their semicircle. In Cæsar's _Commentaries_, the bridge
transit and vigilance form no small part of military tactics,--boats and
baskets serving the same purpose in ancient and modern warfare. The church
of old originated and consecrated bridges; religion, royalty, and art
celebrate their advent; the opening of Waterloo Bridge is the subject of
one of the best pictures of a modern English painter; and Cockney visitors
to the peerless bridge of Telford still ask the guide where the Queen
stood at its inauguration. But it is when we turn from the historical and
scientific to the familiar and personal that we realize the spontaneous
interest attached to a bridge. It is as a feature of our native landscape,
the goal of habitual excursions, the rendezvous, the observatory, the
favourite haunt or transit, that it wins the gaze and the heart. There the
musing angler sits content; there the echoes of the horse's hoofs rouse to
expectancy the dozing traveller; there the glad lover dreams, and the
despairing wretch seeks a watery grave, and the song of the poet finds a
response in the universal heart,--

  'How often, oh, how often,
    In the days that have gone by,
  Have I stood on that bridge at midnight,
    And gazed on the wave and sky!'

One of the most primitive tokens of civilization is a bridge; and yet no
artificial object is more picturesquely associated with its ultimate
symbols. The fallen tree whereon the pioneer crosses a stream in the
wilderness is not more significant of human isolation than the fragmentary
arch in an ancient city of the vanished home of thousands. Thus, by its
necessity and its survival, a bridge suggests the first exigency and the
last relic of civilized life. The old explorers of our Western Continent
record the savage expedients whereby watercourses were passed,--coils of
grape-vine carried between the teeth of an aboriginal swimmer and attached
to the opposite bank, a floating log, or, in shallow streams, a series of
stepping-stones; and the most popular historian of England, when
delineating to the eye of fancy the hour of her capital's venerable decay,
can find no more impressive illustration than to make a broken arch of
London Bridge the observatory of the speculative reminiscent.

The bridge is, accordingly, of all economical inventions, that which is
most inevitable to humanity, signalizing the first steps of man amid the
solitude of Nature, and accompanying his progress through every stage of
civic life; its crude form makes the wanderer's heart beat in the lonely
forest, as a sign of the vicinity or the track of his kind; and its
massive remains excite the reverent curiosity of the archæologist, who
seeks among the ruins of Art for trophies of a bygone race. Few
indications of Roman supremacy are more striking than the unexpected sight
of one of those bridges of solid and symmetrical masonry which the
traveller in Italy encounters, when emerging from a mountain-pass or a
squalid town upon the ancient highway. The permanent method herein
apparent suggests an energetic and pervasive race whose constructive
instinct was imperial; such an evidence of their pathway over water is as
suggestive of national power as the evanescent trail of the savage is of
his casual domain. In the bridge, as in no other structure, use combines
with beauty by an instinctive law; and the stone arch, more or less
elaborate in detail, is as essential now to the function and the grace of
a bridge, as when it was first thrown, invincible and harmonious, athwart
the rivers Cæsar's legions crossed.

As I stood on the scattered planks which afford a precarious foothold amid
the rapids of St. Anthony, methought these frail bridges of hewn timber
accorded with the reminiscence of the missionary pioneer who discovered
and named the picturesque waters, more than an elaborate and ancient
causeway. Even those long, inelegant structures which lead the pedestrian
over our own Charles river, or the broad inlets of the adjacent bay, have
their peculiar charm as the scene of many a gorgeous autumnal sunset and
many a patient 'constitutional' walk. It is a homely but significant
proverb, 'Never find fault with the bridge that carries you safe over.'
What beautiful shadows graceful bridges cast, when the twilight deepens
and the waves are calm! How mysteriously sleep the moonbeams there! What a
suggestive vocation is a toll-keeper's! Patriarchs in this calling will
tell of methodical and eccentric characters known for years.

Bridges have their legends. There is one in Lombardy whence a jilted lover
sprang with his faithless bride as she passed to church with her new
lover; it is yet called the 'Bridge of the Betrothed.' On the mountain
range, near Serravazza, in Tuscany, is a natural bridge which unites two
of the lofty peaks; narrow and aërial, it is believed by the peasantry to
have miraculously formed itself to give foothold to the Madonna as she
passed over the mountains, and it bears her name. An old traveller,
describing New York amusements, tells us of a favourite ride from the city
to the suburban country, and says,--'In the way there is a bridge, about
three miles distant, which you always pass as you return, called the
'Kissing Bridge,' where it is part of the etiquette to salute the lady who
has put herself under your protection.'[47] A curious lawsuit was lately
instituted by the proprietor of a menagerie who lost an elephant by a
bridge giving way beneath his unaccustomed weight; the authorities
protested against damages, as they never undertook to give safe passage to
so large an animal.

The office of a bridge is prolific of metaphor, whereof an amusing
instance is Boswell's comparison of himself, when translating Paoli's talk
to Dr. Johnson, to a 'narrow isthmus connecting two continents.' It has
been aptly said of Dante's great poem, that, in the world of letters, it
is a mediæval bridge over that vast chasm which divides classical from
modern times. All conciliating authors bridge select severed
intelligences, and even national feeling: as Irving's writings brought
more near to each other the alienated sympathies of England and America,
and Carlyle made a trysting-place for British and German thought; as
Sydney Smith's talk threw a suspension-bridge from Conservative to
Reformer, and Lord Bacon's (in the hour of bitter alienation between Crown
and Commons) 'reconciling genius spanned the dividing stream of party.'

How quaint, yet effective, Jean Paul's illustration of an alienated state
of human feeling, '_the drawbridge of countenances_, whereupon once the
two souls met, stood suddenly raised, high in air.' Nor less significant
is a modern historian's definition of an Englishman, as 'an island
surrounded by a misty and tumultuous sea of prejudices and hatreds,
generally unapproachable, and at all times _utterly repudiative of a
bridge_.' Pontifex Maximus has long ceased to wear the great spiritual
title whose unchallenged attribute was to bridge the chasm between earth
and heaven. What humour may be evolved from a nose-bridge, _Punch_ in his
dealings with the great Duke, and Sterne in his record of Tristram
Shandy's infancy, have notably chronicled; while the infinite delicacy of
tension in the bridge of Paganini's violin, indicates the relation thereof
to exquisite gradations of sound. 'The Mohammedans,' says Scott, 'have a
fanciful idea that the believer, in his passage to Paradise, is under the
necessity of passing barefoot over a bridge composed of red-hot iron
plates. All the pieces of paper which the Moslem has preserved during his
life, lest some holy thing being written upon them might be profaned,
arrange themselves between his feet and the burning metal, and so save him
from injury.' In the 'Vision' of Mirza, a bridge is typical of human life.
That was a ludicrous incident related of poor, obstinate, crazy George the
Third,--that encountering some boys near a bridge early one morning, he
asked them what bridge it was. 'The Bridge of Kew,' they replied;
whereupon the king proposed and gave three vociferous cheers for the
Bridge of Kew, as a newly-discovered wonder. Amusing, too, was the warm
dispute of the two errant lake poets whether a certain acutely-angular
bridge in the Alps was called great A from its resemblance to that letter,
or as the first of its kind.

How isolated and bewildered are villagers, when, after a tempest, the news
spreads that a freshet has carried away the bridge! Every time we shake
hands we make a human bridge of courtesy or love; and that was a graceful
fancy of one of our ingenious writers to give expression to his thoughts
in _Letters from under a Bridge_. With an eye and an ear for Nature's
poetry, the gleam of lamps from a bridge, the figures that pass and repass
thereon, the rush and the lull of waters beneath, the perspective of the
arch, the weather-stains on the parapet, the sunshine and the
cloud-shadows around, are phases and sounds fraught with meaning and

It is an acknowledged truth in the philosophy of Art, that Beauty is the
handmaid of Use; and as the grace of the swan and the horse results from a
conformation whose _rationale_ is movement, so the pillar that supports
the roof, and the arch that spans the current, by their serviceable
fitness, wed grace of form to wise utility. The laws of architecture
illustrate this principle copiously; but in no single and familiar product
of human skill is it more striking than in bridges; if lightness,
symmetry, elegance, proportion, charm the ideal sense, not less are the
economy and adaptation of the structure impressive to the eye of science.
Perhaps the ideas of use and beauty, of convenience and taste, in no
instance coalesce more obviously; and therefore, of all human inventions,
the bridge lends the most undisputed charm to the landscape. It is one of
those symbols of humanity which spring from and are not grafted upon
Nature; it proclaims her affinity with man, and links her spontaneous
benefits with his invention and his needs; it seems to celebrate the
stream over which it rises, and to wed the wayward waters to the order and
the mystery of life. There is no hint of superfluity or impertinence in a
bridge; it blends with the wildest and the most cultivated scene with
singular aptitude, and is a feature of both rural and metropolitan
landscape that strikes the mind as essential. A striking confirmation of
this idea offers itself in a recent critic's definition of a classic style
of writing: 'A bridge,' he says, '_completes_ river landscape; it
_stiffens_ the scenery which was before too soft, too delicate, too
vegetable. Just such is the effect of pure style in literary art.'[48] The
most usual form has its counterpart in those rocky arches which flood and
fire have excavated or penned up in many picturesque regions--the segments
of caverns or the ribs of strata,--so that, without the instinctive
suggestion of the mind itself, Nature furnishes complete models of a
bridge whereon neither Art nor Science can improve. Herein the most
advanced and the most rude peoples own a common skill; bridges, of some
kind, and all adapted to their respective countries, being the familiar
invention of savage necessity and architectural genius. The explorer finds
them in Africa as well as the artist in Rome; swung, like huge hammocks of
ox-hide, over the rapid streams of South America; spanning in fragile
cane-platforms the gorges of the Andes; crossing vast chasms of the
Alleghanies with the slender iron viaduct of the American railways; and
jutting, a crumbling segment of the ancient world, over the yellow Tiber:
as familiar on the Chinese tea-caddy as on Canaletto's canvas; as
traditional a local feature of London as of Florence; as significant of
the onward march of civilization in Wales to-day as in Liguria during the
middle ages. Where men dwell and wander, and water flows, these beautiful
and enduring, or curious and casual expedients are found, as memorable
triumphs of architecture, crowned with historical associations, or as
primitive inventions that unconsciously mark the first faltering steps of
humanity in the course of empire; for, on this continent, where the French
missionary crossed the narrow log supported by his Indian convert in the
midst of a wilderness, massive stone arches shadow broad streams that flow
through populous cities; and the history of civilization may be traced
from the loose stones whereon the lone settler fords the watercourse, to
such grand, graceful, and permanent monuments of human prosperity as the
elaborate and ancient stone bridges of European capitals.

When we look forth upon a grand or lovely scene of Nature--mountain,
river, meadow, and forest,--what a fine central object, what an harmonious
artificial feature of the picture, is a bridge, whether rustic and simple,
a mere rude passage-way over a brook, or a curve of gray stone throwing
broad shadows upon the bright surface of a river! Nor less effective is
the same object amid the crowded walls, spires, streets, and
chimney-stacks of a city. There the bridge is the least conventional
structure, the suggestive point, the favourite locality; it seems to
reunite the working-day world with the freedom of Nature; it is, perhaps,
the one spot in the dense array of edifices and thoroughfares which 'gives
us pause.' There, if anywhere, our gaze and our feet linger; people have a
relief against the sky, as they pass over it; artists look patiently
thither; lovers, the sad, the humorous, and the meditative, stop there to
observe and to muse; they lean over the parapet and watch the flowing
tide; they look thence around as from a pleasant vantage-ground. The
bridge, in populous old towns, is the rendezvous, the familiar landmark,
the traditional nucleus of the place, and perhaps the only picturesque
framework in all those marts and homes, more free, open, and suggestive of
a common lot than temple, square, or palace; for there pass and repass
noble and peasant, regal equipage and humble caravan; children plead to
stay, and veterans moralize there; the privileged beggar finds a
standing-place for charity to bless; a shrine hallows or a sentry guards,
history consecrates or art glorifies; and trade, pleasure, or battle,
perchance, lend to it the spell of fame. The dearest associations of a
life are described in one of Jean Ingelow's most elaborate poems, as
revolving around and identified with 'Four Bridges:'--

  'Our brattling river tumbles through the one;
  The second spans a shallow, weedy brook;
  Beneath the others, and beneath the sun,
  Lie two long stilly pools, and on their breasts
  Picture their wooden piles, encased in swallows' nests.
  And round about them grows a fringe of weeds,
  And then a floating crown of lily flowers,
  And yet within small silver-budded weeds;
  But each clear centre evermore embowers
  A deeper sky, where stooping, you may see
  The little minnows twirling restlessly.'

In the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, the picturesque bridge over the Don,
with its adjacent rocks, trees, and deep, dark stream, is known as the
'brig of Balgownie.' Thomas the Rhymer uttered many prophecies about
'Balgownie's brig black wa';' and it figures among the scenes of Byron's
boyhood. Let any one recall his sojourn in a foreign city, and conjure to
his mind's eye the scenes, and prominent to his fancy, distinct to his
memory, will be the bridge. He will think of Florence as intersected by
the Arno, and with the very name of that river reappears the peerless
grace of the Ponte Santa Trinità with its moss-grown escutcheons and
aërial curves. He will recall the Pont du Gard with the vicinage of
Nismes; the Pont Neuf, at Paris, with its soldiers and priests, its
boot-blacks and grisettes, the gay streets on one side, and the studious
quarter on the other, typifies and concentrates for him the associations
of the French capital; and what a complete symbol of Venice--its canals,
its marbles, its mysterious polity, its romance of glory and woe--is a
good photograph of the Bridge of Sighs! Her history is, indeed, singularly
identified with bridges. One, as her exchange, is permanently associated
with the palmiest days of mediæval commerce; another with the darker
records of her criminal law; while on one of her bridges, Sarpi, the
'terrible friar' Paolo was waylaid and nearly killed by Papal assassins,
whence dates the most efficient protest against ecclesiastical tyranny.

The history of Rome is written on her bridges. The Ponte Rotto is Art's
favourite trophy of her decay; two-thirds of it has disappeared; and the
last Pope has ineffectively repaired it, by a platform sustained by iron
wire: yet who that has stood thereon in the sunset, and looked from the
dome of St. Peter's to the islands projected at that hour so distinctly
from the river's surface, glanced along the flushed dwellings upon its
bank, with their intervals of green terraces; or gazed, in the other
direction, upon the Cloaca of Tarquin, Vesta's dome, and the Aventine
Hill, with its palaces, convents, vineyards, and gardens, has not felt
that the Ponte Rotto was the most suggestive observatory in the Eternal
City? The Ponte Molle brings back Constantine and his vision of the Cross;
and the statues on Sant' Angelo mutely attest the vicissitudes of
ecclesiastical eras.

England boasts no monument of her modern victories so impressive as the
bridge named for the most memorable of them. The best view of Prague and
its people is from the long series of stone arches which span the Moldau.
The solitude and serenity of genius are rarely better realized than by
musing of Klopstock and Gessner, Lavater and Zimmermann, on the Bridge of
Rapperschwyl on the Lake of Zurich, where they dwelt and wrote or died.
From the Bridge of St. Martin we have the first view of Mont Blanc. The
Suspension Bridge at Niagara is an artificial wonder as great, in its
degree, as the natural miracle of the mighty cataract which thunders for
ever at its side; while no triumph of inventive economy could more aptly
lead the imaginative stranger into the picturesque beauties of Wales than
the extraordinary tubular bridge across the Menai Strait. The
aqueduct-bridge at Lisbon, the long causeway over Cayuga Lake in our own
country, and the bridge over the Loire at Orléans, are memorable in every
traveller's retrospect.

But the economical and the artistic interest of bridges is often surpassed
by their historical suggestions, almost every vocation and sentiment of
humanity being intimately associated therewith. The Rialto at Venice and
the Ponte Vecchio at Florence, are identified with the financial
enterprise of the one city and the goldsmiths' skill of the other: one was
long the Exchange of the 'City of the Sea,' and still revives the image of
Shylock and the rendezvous of Antonio; while the other continues to
represent mediæval trade in the quaint little shops of jewellers and
lapidaries. One of the characteristic religious orders of that era is
identified with the ancient bridge which crosses the Rhone at Avignon,
erected by the 'Brethren of the Bridge,' a fraternity instituted in an age
of anarchy expressly to protect travellers from the bandits, whose
favourite place of attack was at the passage of rivers. The builder of the
old London Bridge, Peter Colechurch, is believed to have been attached to
this same order; he died in 1176, and was buried in a crypt of the little
chapel on the second pier, according to the habit of the fraternity. For
many years a market was held on this bridge; it was often the scene of
war; it stayed the progress of Canute's fleet; at one time destroyed by
fire, and at another carried away by ice; half ruined in one era by the
bastard Faulconbridge, and at another the watchword of civil war, when the
cry resounded, 'Cade hath gotten London Bridge!' and Wat Tyler's rebels
convened there. Elizabeth and her peerless courtiers have floated, in
luxurious barges and splendid attire, by its old piers, and the heads of
traitors rotted in the sun upon its venerable battlements. Only sixty
years ago a portion of the original structure remained;[49] it was once
covered with houses; Peter the Dutchman's famous water-wheels plashed at
its side; from the dark street and projected gables noted tavern-signs
vibrated in the wind. The exclusive thoroughfare from the city to Kent and
Surrey, what ceremonial and scenes has it not witnessed,--royal entrances
and greetings, rites under the low brown arches of the old chapel, revelry
in the convenient hostels, traffic in the crowded mart, chimes from the
quaint belfry, the tragic triumph of vindictive law in the gory heads upon
spikes! The veritable and minute history of London Bridge would illustrate
the civic and social annals of England; and romance could scarce invent a
more effective background for the varied scenes and personages such a
chronicle would exhibit than the dim local perspective, when, ere any
bridge stood there, the ferryman's daughter founded, with the tolls, a
House of Sisters, subsequently transformed into a college of priests. By a
law of Nature, thus do the elements of civilization cluster around the
place of transit; thus do the courses of the water indicate the direction
and nucleus of emigration,--from the vast lakes and mighty rivers of
America, whereby an immense continent is made available to human
intercourse, and therefore to material unity, to the point where the
Thames was earliest crossed and spanned. More special historical and
social facts may be found attached to every old bridge. In war,
especially, heroic achievement and desperate valour have often consecrated
these narrow defiles and exclusive means of advance and retreat:--

  'When the goodman mends his armour,
    And trims his helmet's plume,
  When the goodwife's shuttle merrily
    Goes flashing through the loom,
  With weeping and with laughter
    Still is the story told,
  How well Horatius kept the bridge
    In the good old days of old.'

The bridge of Darius spanned the Bosphorus,--of Xerxes, the
Hellespont,--of Cæsar, the Rhine,--and of Trajan, the Danube; while the
victorious march of Napoleon has left few traces so unexceptionably
memorable as the massive causeways of the Simplon. Cicero arrested the
bearer of letters to Catiline on the Pons Milonis, built in the time of
Sylla on the ancient Via Flaminia; and by virtue of the blazing cross
which he saw in the sky from the Ponte Molle the Christian emperor
Constantine conquered Maxentius. The Pont du Gard near Nismes, and the St.
Esprit near Lyons, were originally of Roman construction. During the war
of freedom, so admirably described by our countryman, whereby rose the
Dutch Republic, the Huguenots, at the siege of Valenciennes, we are told,
'made forays upon the monasteries for the purpose of procuring supplies,
and the broken statues of the dismantled churches were used to build a
bridge across an arm of the river, which was called, in derision, the
Bridge of Idols.'

But a more memorable historical bridge is admirably described in another
military episode of this favourite historian,--that which Alexander of
Parma built across the Scheldt, whereby Antwerp was finally won for Philip
of Spain. Its construction was a miracle of science and courage; and it
became the scene of one of the most terrible tragedies and the most
fantastic festivals which signalize the history of that age, and
illustrate the extraordinary and momentous struggle for religious liberty
in the Netherlands. Its piers extended five hundred feet into the
stream,--connected with the shore by boats, defended by palisades,
fortified parapets, and spiked rafts; cleft and partially destroyed by the
volcanic fire-ship of Gianebelli, a Mantuan chemist and engineer, whereby
a thousand of the best troops of the Spanish army were instantly killed,
and their brave chief stunned,--when the hour of victory came to the
besiegers, it was the scene of a floral procession and Arcadian banquet,
and 'the whole extent of its surface from the Flemish to the Brabant
shore' was alive with 'war-bronzed figures crowned with flowers.' 'This
magnificent undertaking has been favourably compared with the celebrated
Rhine bridge of Julius Cæsar. When it is remembered, however, that the
Roman work was performed in summer, across a river only half as broad as
the Scheldt, free from the disturbing action of the tides, and flowing
through an unresisting country, while the whole character of the
structure, intended only to serve for the single passage of an army, was
far inferior to the massive solidity of Parma's bridge, it seems not
unreasonable to assign the superiority to the general who had surmounted
all the obstacles of a northern winter, vehement ebb and flow from the
sea, and enterprising and desperate enemies at every point.'[50]

It was at the bridge of Pinos, where the Moors and Christians had so
fiercely battled, that Columbus, after pleading his cause in vain at the
court, hastening away with despondent steps, was overtaken by the queen's
messenger; recalled, and provided with the substantial aid that led to his
momentous discovery. It was in a pavilion in the middle of the bridge
across the Seine at Montereau, that the Dauphin, afterwards Charles the
Seventh, invited the Duke of Burgundy to meet him in colloquy; and there
the latter met his death. The Bridge of Lodi is one of the great landmarks
of Napoleon's career; and the Bridge of Concord no insignificant landmark
of the American Revolutionary War. Over the Melos at Smyrna is a bridge
which is a rendezvous for camels, and has been justly called 'the central
point of the commerce of Asia Minor.'

We have a memorable illustration of the historic interest of bridges, in
the elaborate annals of the Pont Neuf.[51] Although in importance it has
long since been superseded by other elegant causeways, for centuries it
was the centre of Paris life,--of the trade and pastime, of the scandal
and the violences, of the shows and _émeutes_, so that the record of what
occurred there is an epitome of political and social history. It was the
rendezvous of dog-clippers and ballad-singers, of _bravi_ and gallants, of
the quack and the courtezan, of student, soldier, artist, and gossip. 'The
heart of Paris beat there,' says the historian of the Pont Neuf, 'from the
seventeenth century;' the statue of Henry IV. alone made it the nucleus of
political associations; it was alike the scene of Cellini's adventure and
Sterne's sentiment. Catherine de Medicis laid its first stone. Henry IV.
completed it; guillotines, _cafés_, and altars have signalized its
extremities or parapets. La Fronde was there inaugurated; there the
discharge of cannon proclaimed the flight of the king in '91; its pavement
was bloody with the massacres of September; the first Napoleon there first
tried his hand against the revolution; it was the scene of an Englishman's
famous bet and a parrot's famous lingo. Huguenot, royalist, priest,
executioner, _gamin_, assassin, thief, dandy, nun, hero, and
actress,--procession, tryst, ambush, faction, and farce,--murder, song,
_bon-mot_, watchword,--the tragic, the holy, and the hopeless in life,
alternate in the story of the Pont Neuf. The Countess du Barri, as a
child, 'the pretty little angel,' was a vendor there; and an old epigram
identified her career with bridges,--her birth with the Pont au Choux, her
childhood with the Pont Neuf, her triumph with the Pont Royale, and her
end with the Pont aux Dames.

Even the fragile bridges of our own country during the Revolution, have an
historical importance in the story of war. The 'Great Bridge' across the
Elizabeth river, nine miles from Norfolk in Virginia; the floating bridge
at Ticonderoga; that which spanned Stony Brook in New Jersey; and many
others, are identified with strife or stratagem. What an effective object
in the distant landscape, to the _habitué_ of the Central Park in New
York, is the lofty bridge whereby the Croton aqueduct crosses the Harlaem
river, with its fifteen arches, its fourteen hundred feet of length, and
its span of nearly a thousand! How few of the multitude to whom King's
Bridge is a daily goal or transit, are cognizant of its historical
associations; yet the records of Manhattan Island declare that in 1692
'His Excellency the Governor, out of great favour and good to the city,'
proposed the building of this bridge, and soon ordered that 'if Frederick
Phillipse will undertake the same, he shall have the preference of their
Majesties' grant (5th of King William and 3rd of Queen Mary), which was
subsequently confirmed to the lord of the manor of Phillipsburgh;' whereon
was born and lived Washington's first love--the beautiful Mary Phillipse.
Here was the barrier of the British, when they occupied New York Island in
the Revolution; while as far north as the Croton river extended the
neutral ground, the scene of Cooper's first American romance, the heroine
of which is this same fair but unresponsive enslaver of our peerless
chief's young affections. Here, in '75, Congress ordered a post
established to protect New York by land; two years later occurred the
sanguinary fight between the Continentals under Heath and the Hessians
under Knyphausen. The next year Cornwallis fixed his command at the same
border causeway; and in '81, when our army came near the spot to give the
French officers a view of the outposts, a brisk skirmish ensued, and a
number of our men were killed at long shot. King's Bridge was long the
rendezvous of freebooters in those unsettled times, and the rallying point
of the Cow-boys. Beautifully situated at the confluence of the Hudson and
Harlaem rivers, surrounded by high rolling hills, then thickly wooded and
crowned with forts, the region was originally selected as the site of New
Amsterdam, on account of its secure position. When Manhattan Island was
abandoned by the British in '76, Washington occupied King's Bridge as his
head-quarters. Indeed, from Trenton to Lodi, military annals have few more
fierce conflicts than those wherein the bridge of the battle-ground is
disputed; to cross one is often a declaration of war, and Rubicons abound
in history.

There is probably no single problem, wherein the laws of science and
mechanical skill combine, which has so won the attention and challenged
the powers of inventive minds as the construction of bridges. The various
exigencies to be met, the possible triumphs to be achieved, the
experiments as to form, material, security, and grace, have been prolific
causes of inspiration and disappointment. In this branch of economy, the
mechanic and the mathematician fairly meet; and it requires a rare union
of ability in both vocations to arrive at original results in this sphere.
To invent a bridge, through the application of a scientific principle by a
novel method, is one of those projects which seem to fascinate
philosophical minds; in few have theory and practice been more completely
tested; and the history of bridges, scientifically written, would exhibit
as remarkable conflicts of opinion, trials of inventive skill, decision of
character, genius, folly, and fame, as any other chapter in the annals of
progress. How to unite security with the least inconvenience, permanence
with availability, strength with beauty,--how to adapt the structure to
the location, climate, use, and risks,--are questions which often invoke
all the science and skill of the architect, and which have increased in
difficulty with the advance of other resources and requisitions of
civilization. Whether a bridge is to cross a brook, a river, a strait, an
inlet, an arm of the sea, a canal, or a valley, are so many diverse
contingencies which modify the calculations and plans of the engineer.
Here liability to sudden freshets, there to overwhelming tides, now to the
enormous weight of railway-trains, and again to the corrosive influence of
the elements, must be taken into consideration; the navigation of waters,
the exigencies of war, the needs of a population, the respective uses of
viaduct, aqueduct, and roadway, have often to be included in the problem.
These considerations influence not only the method of construction, but
the form adopted and the material, and have given birth to bridges of
wood, brick, stone, iron, wire, and chain,--to bridges supported by piers,
to floating, suspension, and tubular structures, many of which are among
the remarkable trophies of modern science and the noblest fruits of the
arts of peace. Railways have created an entirely new species of bridge, to
enable a train to intersect a road, to cross canals in slanting
directions, to turn amid jagged precipices, and to cross arms of the sea
at a sufficient elevation not to interfere with the passage of
ships,--objects not to be accomplished by suspension-bridges because of
their oscillation, nor girder for lack of support, the desiderata being
extensive span with rigid strength, so triumphantly realized in the
tubular bridge. The day when the great Holyrood train, passing over the
Strait of Menai by this grand expedient, established the superiority of
this principle of construction, became a memorable occasion in the annals
of mechanical science, and immortalized the name of Stephenson.

We find great national significance in the history of bridges in different
countries. Their costly and substantial grandeur in Britain accords with
the solid qualities of the race, and their elegance on the Continent with
the pervasive influence of art in Europe. It is a curious illustration of
the inferior economical and high intellectual development of Greece, that
the 'Athenians waded, when their temples were the most perfect models of
architecture;' and equally an evidence of the practical energy of the old
Romans, that their stone bridges often remain to this hour intact. Our own
incomplete civilization is manifest in the marvellous number of bridges
that annually break down, from negligent or unscientific construction;
while the indomitable enterprise of the people is no less apparent in some
of the longest, loftiest, most wonderfully constructed and sustained
bridges in the world. We have only to cross the Suspension Bridge at
Niagara, or gaze up to its aërial tracery from the river, or look forth
upon wooded ravines and down precipitous and umbrageous glens from the
Erie railway, to feel that in this, as in all other branches of mechanical
enterprise, our nation is as boldly dexterous as culpably reckless. In no
other country would so hazardous an experiment have been ventured as that
of an engineer on one of the most frequented lines of railroad in the
land, who, finding the bridge he was approaching on fire, bade the
passengers keep their seats, and dashed boldly through the flames ere the
main arch gave way! 'The vast majority of bridges in this country,' says a
recent writer, 'whether for railroads or for ordinary horse-travel, have
these elemental points:--1. Fragility. 2. Unendurably hideous ugliness. 3.
Great aptitude for catching fire. They are all built of wood, and must be
constantly patched and mended, and will rot away in a very few years. They
are enormous blots on the landscape, stretching as they do like long
unpainted boxes across the stream; like huge Saurian monsters with
ever-open jaws into which you rush, or walk, or drive, and are gobbled up
from all sight or sense of beauty. The dry timber of which they are built
will catch fire from the mere spark of a locomotive, as in the case a few
years ago of that hideous bridge which had so long insulted the Hudson
river at Troy; and which was not only burned itself, but spread the
destroying flame to the best part of the town. These bridges deface all
the valleys of our land. The Housatonic, the Mohawk, the Lehigh, the
hundreds of small yet beautiful rivers which so delightfully diversify our
country, one and all suffer by the vile wooden-bridge system which has
nothing at all to plead in extenuation of its tasteless, expensive
existence. Every bridge in this country should be deprived of its heavy
roof; and if the exigencies of engineering required side-walls, they
should be plentifully perforated with open spaces. The more recent
railroad bridges are fortunately open bridges, or "viaducts," as it is
fashionable to call them, and the traveller, as in the case of the
Starucca viaduct on the Erie road, can both admire the engineering skill
and enjoy the scenery. The Connecticut valley is terribly disfigured by
these bridges; and a traveller from New Haven to Memphremagog will be
thoroughly impressed with this fact, which is the only drawback to the
pleasure of the route.' As an instance of ingenuity in this sphere, the
bridge which crosses the Potomac creek, near Washington, deserves notice.
The hollow iron arches which support this bridge also serve as conduits to
the aqueduct which supplies the city with water.

Amid the mass of prosaic structures in London, what a grand exception to
the architectural monotony are her bridges! How effectually they have
promoted her suburban growth! 'The English,' wrote Rose, from Italy, 'are
Hottentots in architecture except that of bridges.' Canova thought the
Waterloo Bridge the finest in Europe; and, by a strangely-tragic
coincidence, this noble and costly structure is the favourite scene of
suicidal despair, wherewith the catastrophes of modern novels and the most
pathetic of city lyrics are indissolubly associated. Westminster Bridge is
as truly the Swiss Laboyle's monument of architectural genius, fortitude,
and patience, as St. Paul's is that of Wren; there Crabbe, with his poems
in his pocket, walked to and fro in a flutter of suspense the morning
before his fortunate application to Burke; and our own Remington's
bridge-enthusiasm involves a pathetic story. At Cordova, the bridge over
the Guadalquiver is a grand relic of Moorish supremacy. The oldest bridge
in England is that of Croyland in Lincolnshire; the largest crosses the
Trent in Staffordshire. Tom Paine designed a cast-iron bridge, but the
speculation failed, and the materials were subsequently used in the
beautiful bridge over the river Wear, in Durham county. There is a segment
of a circle six hundred feet in diameter in Palmer's bridge which spans
our own Piscataqua. It is said that the first edifice of the kind which
the Romans built of stone was the Ponte Rotto--begun by the Censor
Fulvius, and finished by Scipio Africanus and Lucius Mummius. Popes Julius
III. and Gregory XIV. repaired it; so that the fragment now so valued as
a picturesque ruin symbolizes both Imperial and Ecclesiastical rule. In
striking contrast with the reminiscences of valour hinted by ancient Roman
bridges, are the ostentatious Papal inscriptions which everywhere in the
States of the Church, in elaborate Latin, announce that this Pontiff
built, or that Pontiff repaired, these structures.

The mediæval castle-moat and drawbridge have, indeed, been transferred
from the actual world to that of fiction, history, and art, except where
preserved as memorials of antiquity; but the civil importance which from
the dawn of civilization attached to the bridge is as patent to-day as
when a Roman emperor, a feudal lord, or a monastic procession went forth
to celebrate or consecrate its advent or completion; in evidence whereof,
we have the appropriate function which made permanently memorable the late
visit of Victoria's son to her American realms, in his inauguration of the
magnificent bridge bearing her name, which is thrown across the St.
Lawrence for a distance of only sixty yards less than two English
miles,--the greatest tubular bridge in the world. When the young prince,
amid the cheers of a multitude and the grand cadence of the national
anthem, finished the Victoria Bridge by giving three blows with a mallet
to the last rivet in the central tube, he celebrated one of the oldest,
though vastly advanced, triumphs of the arts of peace, which ally the
rights of the people and the good of human society to the representatives
of law and polity.

One may recoil with a painful sense of material incongruity, as did
Hawthorne, when contemplating the noisome suburban street where Burns
lived; but all the humane and poetical associations connected with the
long struggle sustained by him, of 'the highest in man's soul against the
lowest in man's destiny,' recur in sight of the Bridge of Doon, and the
'Twa Brigs of Ayr,' whose 'imaginary conversations' he caught and
recorded; or that other bridge which spans a glen on the Auchinleck
estate, where the rustic bard first saw the Lass of Ballochmyle. The
tender admiration which embalms the name of Keats is also blent with the
idea of a bridge. The poem which commences his earliest published volume
was suggested, according to Milnes, as he 'loitered by the gate that leads
from the battery on Hampstead Heath to the field by Caenwood;' and the
young poet told his friend Clarke that the sweet passage, 'Awhile upon
some bending planks,' came to him as he hung 'over the rail of a
foot-bridge that spanned a little brook in the last field upon entering
Edmonton.' One of Wordsworth's finest sonnets was composed on Westminster
Bridge. To the meditative pedestrian, indeed, such places lure to
quietude; the genial Country Parson, whose _Recreations_ we have recently
shared, unconsciously illustrates this, as he speaks of the privilege men
like him enjoy, when free 'to saunter forth with a delightful sense of
leisure, and know that nothing will go wrong, although he should sit down
on the mossy parapet of the little one-arched bridge that spans the
brawling mountain-stream.' On that Indian-summer day when Irving was
buried, no object of the familiar landscape, through which, without
formality, and in quiet grief, so many of the renowned and the humble
followed his remains from the village church to the rural graveyard, wore
so pensive a fitness to the eye as the simple bridge over Sleepy-Hollow
Creek, near to which Ichabod Crane encountered the headless horseman,--not
only as typical of his genius, which thus gave a local charm to the scene,
but because the country-people, in their heartfelt wish to do him honour,
had hung wreaths of laurel upon the rude planks. There are few places in
Europe where the picturesque and historical associations of a bridge more
vividly impress the spectator than Sorrento; divided from the main land by
a gorge two hundred feet deep and fifty wide, the chasm is spanned by a
bridge which rests on double arches, built by the Romans; it is the
popular rendezvous, and, beheld on coming from some adjacent
orange-garden, resembles a picture,--the men with their crimson or brown
caps, and the women with jetty hair and eyes and enormous earrings,
cluster there in the centre of the most exquisite scenery. There is a
bridge across the Adige, at Verona, which used to be opened but once a
year, on account of the risk of injury--its span being prodigious; it was
long called the 'Holiday Bridge.' In Paris the change in the names of
bridges is historically significant: in 1817 'the bridge of Austerlitz
abdicated its name,' and became the bridge of the Jardin des Plantes. The
lofty bridge of Carignano, at Genoa, owes its existence to a quarrel
between two noblemen; and it is a favourite sacrificial spot to suicides
who have repeatedly thrown themselves therefrom headlong into the Strada

'The Baltimore and Ohio railroad company lose two of their admirable
bridges: one at Fairmount, over the Monongahela river, and the famous one
over the Cheat river,' wrote a late reporter from the scene of war in
Virginia. 'The latter was one of the most beautiful structures in the
United States, and, being placed amid scenery of unsurpassed grandeur, it
had already become a classic spot in the guide-book of American art. It
was vandalism fit for ingrates and traitors of the lowest type to destroy
what was at once so beautiful and useful a monument of taste and science.'

Another fine landscape effect produced by a bridge is at Spoleto, in the
Roman States; the ten brick arches that so picturesquely span the romantic
valley, have carried the water for centuries into the old city. The
magnificent bridge by which Madrid is approached, is a grand feature in
the adjacent landscape; and its striking photograph a noble souvenir of
the Spanish capital. The most awful bridge imagination ever created is
that described by Milton, whereby Satan's 'sea should find a shore:'--

                    'Sin and Death amain
  Following his track, such was the will of Heaven,
  Pav'd after him a broad and beaten way
  O'er the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf
  Tamely endured a bridge of wond'rous length,
  From hell continued, reaching th' utmost orb
  Of this frail world; by which the spirits perverse
  With easy intercourse pass to and fro
  To tempt and punish mortals.'

Fragments, as well as entire roadways and arches of natural bridges, are
more numerous in rocky, mountainous, and volcanic regions than is
generally supposed; the action of the water in excavating cliffs, the
segments of caverns, the accidental shapes of geological formations, often
result in structures so adapted for the use and like the shape of bridges
as to appear of artificial origin. In the States of Alabama and Kentucky,
especially, we have notable instances of these remarkable freaks of
Nature; there is one in Walker county, of the former State, which, as a
local curiosity, is unsurpassed; and one in the romantic county of
Christian, in the latter State, makes a span of seventy feet with an
altitude of thirty; while the vicinity of the famous Alabaster Mountain of
Arkansas boasts a very curious and interesting formation of this species.
Two of these natural bridges are of such vast proportions and symmetrical
structure that they rank among the wonders of the world, and have long
been the goals of pilgrimage, the shrines of travel. Their structure would
hint the requisites, and their forms the lines of beauty, desirable in
architectural prototypes. Across Cedar creek, in Rockbridge county,
Virginia, a beautiful and gigantic arch, thrown by elemental forces and
shaped by time, extends. It is a stratified arch, whence you gaze down two
hundred feet upon the flowing water; its sides are rock, nearly
perpendicular. Popular conjecture reasonably deems it the fragmentary arch
of an immense limestone cave; its loftiness imparts an aspect of
lightness, although at the centre it is nearly fifty feet thick, and so
massive is the whole that over it passes a public road, so that by
keeping in the middle one might cross unaware of the marvel. To realize
its height it must be viewed from beneath; from the side of the creek it
has a Gothic aspect; its immense walls, clad with forest-trees, its dizzy
elevation, buttress-like masses, and aërial symmetry, make this sublime
arch one of those objects which impress the imagination with grace and
grandeur all the more impressive because the mysterious work of
Nature,--eloquent of the ages, and instinct with the latent forces of the
universe. Equally remarkable, but in a diverse style, is the Giant's
Causeway, whose innumerable black stone columns rise from two to four
hundred feet above the water's edge in the county of Antrim, on the north
coast of Ireland. These basaltic pillars are for the most part pentagonal,
whose five sides are closely united, not in one conglomerate mass, but
articulated so aptly that to be traced the ball and socket must be

The effect of statuary upon bridges is memorable. The Imperial statues
which line that of Berlin form an impressive array; and whoever has seen
the figures on the bridge of Sant' Angelo at Rome, when illuminated on a
Carnival night, or the statues upon Santa Trinità at Florence, bathed in
moonlight, and their outlines distinctly revealed against sky and water,
cannot but realize how harmoniously sculpture may heighten the
architecture of the bridge. More quaint than appropriate is pictorial
embellishment; a beautiful Madonna or local saint placed midway or at
either end of a bridge, especially one of mediæval form and fashion, seems
appropriate; but elaborate painting, such as one sees at Lucerne, strikes
us as more curious than desirable. The bridge which divides the town and
crosses the Reuss is covered, yet most of the pictures are
weather-stained; as no vehicles are allowed, foot-passengers can examine
them at ease. They are in triangular frames, ten feet apart; but few have
any technical merit. One series illustrates Swiss history; and the
Kapellbrücke has the pictorial life of the Saint of the town; while the
Mile Bridge exhibits a quaint and rough copy of the famous 'Dance of

In Switzerland what fearful ravines and foaming cascades do bridges cross!
sometimes so aërial, and overhanging such precipices, as to justify to the
imagination the name superstitiously bestowed on more than one, of the
Devil's Bridge; while from few is a more lovely effect of near water seen
than the 'arrowy Rhone,' as we gaze down upon its 'blue rushing,' beneath
the bridge at Geneva. Perhaps the varied pictorial effects of bridges, at
least in a city, are nowhere more striking than at Venice, whose five
hundred, with their mellow tint and association with palatial architecture
and streets of water, especially when revealed by the soft and radiant
hues of an Italian sunset, present outlines, shapes, colours, and
contrasts so harmonious and beautiful as to warm and haunt the imagination
while they charm the eye. It is remarkable, as an artistic fact, how
graciously these structures adapt themselves to such diverse
scenes,--equally, though variously, picturesque amid the sturdy foliage
and wild gorges of the Alps, the bustle, fog, and mast-forest of the
Thames, and the crystal atmosphere, Byzantine edifices, and silent canals
of Venice.

Whoever has truly felt the aërial perspective of Turner has attained a
delicate sense of the pictorial significance of the bridge; for, as we
look through his floating mists, we descry, amid Nature's most evanescent
phenomena, the span, the arch, the connecting lines or masses whereby this
familiar image seems to identify itself not less with Nature than with
Art. Among the drawings which Arctic voyagers have brought home, many a
bridge of ice, enormous and symmetrical, seems to tempt adventurous feet
and to reflect a like form of fleecy cloud-land; daguerreotyped by the
frost in miniature, the same structures may be traced on the window-pane;
printed on the fossil and the strata of rock, in the veins of bark and the
lips of shells, or floating in sunbeams, an identical design appears; and,
on a summer morning, as the eye carefully roams over a lawn, how often do
the most perfect little suspension-bridges hang from spear to spear of
herbage, their filmy span embossed with glittering dewdrops![52]



[1] 'A recent London paper advertises a genuine _thesaurus_ of ancient
tavern signs and other curiosities at auction, collected during a long
life by some curious antiquary. The catalogue covered an extensive and
unique collection for a history of ancient and modern inns, taverns, and
coffee-houses, in town and country (numbering upwards of 850 signs),
formed with unwearied diligence and vast outlay during a lifetime; and
illustrated with upwards of 2,500 ancient and modern engravings,
comprising topographical and antiquarian subjects, early views of London,
caricatures, humorous and satirical subjects, portraits of celebrities
whose names have been adopted as signs, characters remarkable for their
eccentricities, actors and actresses; others illustrating ancient sports
and pastimes, etchings, wood-cuts, and numerous others, plain and
coloured, many of great rarity; also 415 drawings in water-colours, sepia,
and pen and ink, and numerous copies from scarce engravings and old
paintings; together with extensive antiquarian, local, and biographical
notices (both printed and in MS.) on signs and their origin, merriments
and witticisms in prose and verse, tales, traditions, legends, and
remarkable incidents, singular inscriptions on tap-room windows and walls,
anecdotes of landlords, guests, visitors, writers, &c.'

[2] Count Pecchio.

[3] Alexander Smith.

[4] Prescott's Robertson's _Charles Fifth_, vol. 1, p. 355.

[5] Brooks's _History of Medford_.

[6] A. Trollope.

[7] _A Month in England._

[8] _Life and Letters of John Winthrop_, by Robert C. Winthrop, p. 306.

[9] 'I would not,' observes Washington Irving in one of his letters, 'give
an hour's conversation with Wilkie about paintings, in his earnest but
precise and original enthusiasm, for all the enthusiasm and declamation of
the common run of amateurs and artists.'

[10] One of the recently-discovered gems of pictorial art in Florence is
the 'coach-house picture;' so called from being a fresco on a stable-wall;
and under the head of 'Romance of a Portrait,' the London _Athenæum_
publishes a statement which seems to show conclusively that the famous
portrait of Addison at Holland House, which has been copied and engraved
time and again, and has been mentioned as authentic by Macaulay, is in
fact not a portrait of Addison, but a portrait of Sir Andrew Fountaine, of
Narford Hall, Norfolk, vice-chamberlain to Queen Caroline, and the
successor of Sir Isaac Newton in the wardenship of the Mint.

[11] Another current tradition is the following:--'So great was the
excitement of the Roman populace against the condemnation of Beatrice,
that on her way to the scaffold three attempts were made, by concerted
bands of young men, to rescue her from the officers' hands. On the eve of
the fatal day she sat meditating her doom so intently, that for some time
she did not notice a young man who had bribed the jailer to admit him into
the cell for the purpose of making a sketch of her. Her appearance is thus
described:--"Beatrice had risen from her miserable pallet, but, unlike the
wretched inmate of a dungeon, resembled a being from a brighter sphere.
Her large brown eyes were of liquid softness, her forehead broad and
clear, her countenance of angelic purity, mysteriously beautiful. Around
her head a fold of white muslin had been carelessly wrapped, from whence
in rich luxuriance fell her fair and waving hair. Profound sorrow and
recent bodily anguish imparted an air of touching sensibility to her
lovely features. Suddenly turning, she discovered a stranger seated with
pencil and paper in hand looking earnestly at her--it was Guido Reni. She
demanded who he was, and what he did there; the frank young artist told
his name and object, when, after a moment's hesitation, Beatrice replied,
'Signor Guido, your great name and my sad story may make my portrait
interesting, and the picture will awaken compassion if you write on one of
its angles the word _innocent_.'" Thus was birth given to an inspired
picture, which, to contemplate, is itself worth a visit to Rome; which,
once seen, haunts the memory as a supernatural mystery--as the beautiful
apparition of sublimated suffering.'

[12] Bulwer's _Strange Story_.

[13] 'Mohammedanism had been the patron of physical science; paganizing
Christianity not only repudiated it, but exhibited towards it sentiments
of contemptuous disdain and hatred; hence physicians were viewed by the
Church with dislike, and regarded as atheists by the people, who had been
taught that cures must be wrought by relics of martyrs and bones of
saints: for each disease there was a saint. Already it was apparent that
the Saracenic movement would aid in developing the intelligence of
barbarian Western Europe, through Hebrew physicians, in spite of the
opposition encountered from theological ideas imported from Constantinople
and Rome.'--Draper's _Intellectual Development of Europe_, p. 414.


  'When fainting Nature called for aid,
    And hovering Death prepared the blow,
  His vigorous remedy displayed
    The power of Art without the show.
  In Misery's darkest caverns known,
    His useful help was ever nigh;
  Where hopeless Anguish poured his groan,
    Or lonely Want retired to die.
  No summons mocked by chill delay,
    No petty gains disdained by pride;
  The modest wants of every day,
    The toil of every day supplied.'

[15] _Shakspeare's Medical Knowledge_, by Charles W. Stearns, M.D. New
York: D. Appleton and Co.

[16] 'Country dances' were taught in France, in 1684, by Isaac, an

[17] Which has long ceased to exist.

[18] _Essays of Elia._

[19] In 1860.

[20] _Friends in Council._

[21] 'By the working of the apparatus for the administration of justice,
they make their profits; and their welfare depends on its being so worked
as to bring them profits, rather than on its being so worked as to
administer justice.'--_Herbert Spencer._

[22] Lockhart's _Life of Scott_.

[23] Sir T. Browne.

[24] Deut. xxxiv. 6.

[25] Tennyson's _In Memoriam_.

[26] _Dei Sepolchri_, di Ugo Foscolo.

[27] A recent advocate for cremation thus suggests the process:--'On a
gentle eminence, surrounded by pleasant grounds, stands a convenient,
well-ventilated chapel, with a high spire or steeple. At the entrance,
where some of the mourners might prefer to take leave of the body, are
chambers for their accommodation. Within the edifice are seats for those
who follow the remains to the last; there is also an organ and a gallery
for choristers. In the centre of the chapel, embellished with appropriate
emblems and devices, is erected a shrine of marble, somewhat like those
which cover the ashes of the great and mighty in our old cathedrals, the
openings being filled with prepared glass. Within this--a sufficient space
intervening--is an inner shrine, covered with bright, non-radiating metal,
and within this again is a covered sarcophagus of tempered fire-clay, with
one or more longitudinal slits near the top, extending its whole length.
As soon as the body is deposited therein, sheets of flame, at an immensely
high temperature, rush through the long apertures from end to end; and
acting as a combination of a modified oxyhydrogen blowpipe, with the
reverberatory furnace, utterly and completely consume and decompose the
body in an incredibly short space of time; even the large quantity of
water it contains is decomposed by the extreme heat, and its elements,
instead of retarding, aid combustion, as is the case in fierce
conflagrations. The gaseous products of combustion are conveyed away by
flues, and means being adopted to consume anything like smoke, all that is
observed from the outside is occasionally a quivering transparent ether
floating away from the high steeple to mingle with the atmosphere.'

[28] 'How can we reconcile this pious and faithful remembrance with the
character of a nation generally thought so frivolous and inconstant? Let
this amiable, affectionate, but slandered people send the stranger and the
traveller to this place. These carefully tended flowers, these tombs, will
speak their defence.'--_Memoir of Harriet Preble_, p. 70.

[29] _Atlantic Monthly_, vol. ii., p. 139.

[30] 'I am now engaged,' wrote Mr. Severn, the artist-friend who watched
over Keats in his last hours, 'on a picture of the poet's grave. The
classical story of _Endymion_ being the subject of his principal poem, I
have introduced a young shepherd sleeping against the headstone, with his
flock about him; while the moon from behind the pyramid illuminates his
figure, and serves to realize the poet's favourite theme, in the presence
of his grave. This interesting incident is not fanciful, but is what I
actually saw, one autumn evening, at Monte Tertanio, the year following
the poet's death.'

[31] Ticknor's _Spanish Literature_.

[32] W. L. Symonds.

[33] 'News-letters were written by enterprising individuals in the
metropolis, and sent to rich persons who subscribed for them; and then
circulated from family to family, and doubtless enjoyed a privilege which
has not descended to their printed contemporary--the newspaper,--of never
becoming stale. Their authors compiled them from materials picked up in
the gossip of the coffee-houses.'--Draper's _History of the Intellectual
Development of Europe_, p. 509.

[34] _Jockey's Intelligencer_, 1683.

[35] Burke's influence upon journalism was still more direct. While
preparing for Dodsley 'An Account of the European Settlements in America,'
he was led by his researches to suggest a periodical which should
chronicle the important literary, political, and social facts of the year.
Such was the origin of the _Annual Registers_. The first volume appeared
in 1759. For several years it was edited by Burke, is still regularly
published, and has been imitated in similar publications elsewhere, having
finally initiated and established the historical element of journalism.

[36] The following return of the numbers daily printed by the principal
Paris journals is taken from M. Didot's pamphlet on the fabrication of
paper. It may be regarded as official: _Presse_, 40,000; _Siècle_, 35,000;
_Constitutionel_, 25,000; _Moniteur_, 24,000; _Patrie_, 18,000; _Pays_,
14,000; _Débats_, 9,000; _Assemblée Nationale_, 5,000; _Univers_, 3,500;
_Union_, 3,500; _Gazette de France_, 2,500; _Gazettes de Tribunaux_,
2,500. These journals are all printed in five offices; and the quantity of
paper they annually consume amounts to more than four millions of pounds.

[37] Bryant.

[38] _Blackwood's Magazine_, vol. xxviii., p. 8.

[39] Draper's _Intellectual Development of Europe_.

[40] Dr. Sprague's _Annals of the American Pulpit_ is full of delineations
and anecdotes of prominent preachers. Their energy, zeal, and courage are
viewed in connection with their racy individual peculiarities. What some
of the Methodists had and have to endure and suffer, is indicated by a
direction from a circuit, in want of a preacher, to the Western
Conference: 'Be sure you send us a good swimmer,'--it being the duty of
the minister in that region frequently to swim wide and bridgeless streams
to keep his appointments.

[41] _Mémoires de Rochambeau._

[42] Rev. Archibald Carlyle's _Autobiography_.

[43] The _Warden_, _Barchester Towers_, and _Framley Parsonage_, by A.
Trollope; _Vincenzo_, by Ruffini; _Mademoiselle La Quintinie_, par Geo.
Sand; _La Maudit_, par L'Abbe ----; _Adam Bede_; _Chronicles of
Carlingford_, &c.

[44] Dr. J. W. Draper.

[45] Calvert's _Scenes and Thoughts in Europe_.

[46] Recent Italian journals speak of a project to construct a bridge over
the Straits of Messina, to unite Sicily with the mainland. The bridge
proposed will be a suspension one, on a new system, the chains being of
cast-steel, and strong enough to support the weight of several railway

[47] _Travels through the Middle Settlements of North America, in
1759-60._ By Rev. Andrew Burnaby.

[48] Bagehot.

[49] Sir Astley Cooper's nephew presented to Dr. Valentine Mott, the late
eminent New York surgeon, an elegantly-wrought case of amputating
instruments, the handles of which are made of the wood and the blades of
iron from old London Bridge, whose oak timbers were laid in 1176.

[50] _History of the Netherlands_, vol. i., p. 182.

[51] _Histoire du Pont Neuf_, par Edouard Fournier.

[52] 'The invention of the Suspension Bridge, by Sir Samuel Brown, sprung
from the sight of a spider's web hanging across the path of the inventor,
observed on a morning walk, when his mind was occupied with the idea of
bridging the Tweed.'

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Collector - Essays on Books, Newspapers, Pictures, Inns, Authors, - Doctors, Holidays, Actors, Preachers" ***

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