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Title: Autobiographic Sketches
Author: De Quincey, Thomas
Language: English
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AUTOBIOGRAPHIC SKETCHES.

BY

THOMAS DE QUINCEY



SELECTIONS, GRAVE AND GAY,
FROM WRITINGS PUBLISHED AND UNPUBLISHED,

BY
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.



EXTRACT FROM A LETTER
WRITTEN BY MR. DE QUINCEY TO THE AMERICAN EDITOR OF THIS WORKS.


Lasswade, _January 8_, 1853


MY DEAR SIR:

I am on the point of revising and considerably altering, for
republication in England, an edition of such amongst my writings as
it may seem proper deliberately to avow. Not that I have any intention,
or consciously any reason, expressly to disown any one thing that I
have ever published; but some things have sufficiently accomplished
their purpose when they have met the call of that particular transient
occasion in which they arose; and others, it may be thought on review,
might as well have been suppressed from the very first. Things immoral
would of course fall within that category; of these, however, I cannot
reproach myself with ever having published so much as one. But even
pure levities, simply _as_ such, and without liability to any worse
objection, may happen to have no justifying principle of life within
them; and if, any where, I find such a reproach to lie against a paper
of mine, that paper I should wish to cancel. So that, upon the whole,
my new and revised edition is likely to differ by very considerable
changes from the original papers; and, consequently, to that extent
is likely to differ from your existing Boston reprint.

These changes, as sure to be more or less advantageous to the collection,
it is my wish to place at your disposal as soon as possible, in order
that you may make what use of them you see fit, be it little or much. It
may so happen that the public demand will give you no opportunity for
using them at all. I go on therefore to mention, that over and above
these changes, which may possibly strike you as sometimes mere caprices,
pulling down in order to rebuild, or turning squares into rotundas,
(_diruit, aedificat, mutat quadrata rotundis_,) it is my purpose to
enlarge this edition by as many new papers as I find available for such a
station. These I am anxious to put into the hands of your house, and, so
far as regards the U.S., of _your_ house exclusively; not with any view
to further emolument, but as an acknowledgment of the services which you
have already rendered me; viz., first, in having brought together so
widely scattered a collection--a difficulty which in my own hands by too
painful an experience I had found from nervous depression to be
absolutely insurmountable; secondly, in having made me a participator in
the pecuniary profits of the American edition, without solicitation or
the shadow of any expectation on my part, without any legal claim that I
could plead, or equitable warrant in established usage, solely and merely
upon your own spontaneous motion. Some of these new papers, I hope, will
not be without their value in the eyes of those who have taken an
interest in the original series. But at all events, good or bad, they are
now tendered to the appropriation of your individual house, the Messrs.
TICKNOR, REED, & FIELDS, according to the amplest extent of any power to
make such a transfer that I may be found to possess by law or custom in
America.

I wish this transfer were likely to be of more value. But the veriest
trifle, interpreted by the spirit in which I offer it, may express my
sense of the liberality manifested throughout this transaction by your
honorable house.

Ever believe me my dear sir,
Your faithful and obliged,
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.



PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION


The miscellaneous writings which I propose to lay before the public in
this body of selections are in part to be regarded as a republication of
papers scattered through several British journals twenty or thirty years
ago, which papers have been reprinted in a collective form by an American
house of high character in Boston; but in part they are to be viewed as
entirely new, large sections having been intercalated in the present
edition, and other changes made, which, even to the old parts, by giving
very great expansion, give sometimes a character of absolute novelty.
Once, therefore, at home, with the allowance for the changes here
indicated, and once in America, it may be said that these writings have
been in some sense published. But _publication_ is a great idea never
even approximated by the utmost anxieties of man. Not the Bible, not the
little book which, in past times, came next to the Bible in European
diffusion and currency, [1] viz., the treatise "De Imitatione Christi,"
has yet in any generation been really published. Where is the _printed_
book of which, in Coleridge's words, it may not be said that, after all
efforts to publish itself, still it remains, for the world of possible
readers, "as good as manuscript"? Not to insist, however, upon any
romantic rigor in constructing this idea, and abiding by the ordinary
standard of what is understood by _publication_, it is probable that, in
many cases, my own papers must have failed in reaching even this. For
they were printed as contributions to journals.  Now, that mode of
publication is unavoidably disadvantageous to a writer, except under
unusual conditions. By its harsh peremptory punctuality, it drives a man
into hurried writing, possibly into saying the thing that is not. They
won't wait an hour for you in a magazine or a review; they won't wait for
truth; you may as well reason with the sea, or a railway train, as in
such a case with an editor; and, as it makes no difference whether that
sea which you desire to argue with is the Mediterranean or the Baltic,
so, with that editor and his deafness, it matters not a straw whether he
belong to a northern or a southern journal. Here is one evil of journal
writing--viz., its overmastering precipitation. A second is, its effect
at times in narrowing your publicity. Every journal, or pretty nearly so,
is understood to hold (perhaps in its very title it makes proclamation of
holding) certain fixed principles in politics, or possibly religion.
These distinguishing features, which become badges of enmity and
intolerance, all the more intense as they descend upon narrower and
narrower grounds of separation, must, at the very threshold, by warning
off those who dissent from them, so far operate to limit your audience.
To take my own case as an illustration: these present sketches were
published in a journal dedicated to purposes of political change such as
many people thought revolutionary. I thought so myself, and did not go
along with its politics. Inevitably that accident shut them out from the
knowledge of a very large reading class. Undoubtedly this journal, being
ably and conscientiously conducted, had some circulation amongst a
neutral class of readers; and amongst its own class it was popular. But
its own class did not ordinarily occupy that position in regard to social
influence which could enable them rapidly to diffuse the knowledge of a
writer. A reader whose social standing is moderate may communicate his
views upon a book or a writer to his own circle; but his own circle is a
narrow one. Whereas, in aristocratic classes, having more leisure and
wealth, the intercourse is inconceivably more rapid; so that the
publication of any book which interests _them_ is secured at once; and
this publishing influence passes downwards; but rare, indeed, is the
inverse process of publication through an influence spreading upwards.

According to the way here described, the papers now presented to the
public, like many another set of papers nominally published, were _not_
so in any substantial sense. Here, at home, they may be regarded as
still unpublished. [2] But, in such a case, why were not the papers at
once detached from the journal, and reprinted? In the neglect to do this,
some there are who will read a blamable carelessness in the author; but,
in that carelessness, others will read a secret consciousness that the
papers were of doubtful value. I have heard, indeed, that some persons,
hearing of this republication, had interpreted the case thus: Within the
last four or five years, a practice has arisen amongst authors of
gathering together into volumes their own scattered contributions to
periodical literature. Upon that suggestion, they suppose me suddenly to
have remembered that I also had made such contributions; that mine might
be entitled to their chance as well as those of others; and, accordingly,
that on such a slight invitation _ab extra_, I had called back into life
what otherwise I had long since regarded as having already fulfilled its
mission, and must doubtless have dismissed to oblivion.

I do not certainly know, or entirely believe, that any such thing was
really said. But, however that may be, no representation can be more
opposed to the facts. Never for an instant did I falter in my purpose
of republishing most of the papers which I had written. Neither, if
I myself had been inclined to forget them, should I have been allowed
to do so by strangers. For it happens that, during the fourteen last
years, I have received from many quarters in England, in Ireland, in
the British colonies, and in the United States, a series of letters
expressing a far profounder interest in papers written by myself than
any which I could ever think myself  entitled to look for. Had I,
therefore, otherwise cherished no purposes of republication, it now
became a duty of gratitude and respect to these numerous correspondents,
that I should either republish the papers in question, or explain why
I did not. The obstacle in fact had been in part the shifting state
of the law which regulated literary property, and especially the
property in periodical literature. But a far greater difficulty lay
in the labor (absolutely insurmountable to myself) of bringing together
from so many quarters the scattered materials of the collection. This
labor, most fortunately, was suddenly taken off my hands by the eminent
house of Messrs TICKNOR, REED, & FIELDS, Boston, U. S. To them I owe
my acknowledgments, first of all, for that service: they have brought
together a great majority of my fugitive papers in a series of volumes
now amounting to twelve. And, secondly, I am bound to mention that
they have made me a sharer in the profits of the publication, called
upon to do so by no law whatever, and assuredly by no expectation of
that sort upon my part.

Taking as the basis of my remarks this collective American edition,
I will here attempt a rude general classification of all the articles
which compose it. I distribute them grossly into three classes: _First_,
into that class which proposes primarily to amuse the reader; but
which, in doing so, may or may not happen occasionally to reach a
higher station, at which the amusement passes into an impassioned
interest. Some papers are merely playful; but others have a mixed
character. These present _Autobiographic  Sketches_ illustrate what
I mean. Generally, they pretend to little beyond that sort of amusement
which attaches to any real story, thoughtfully and faithfully related,
moving through a succession of scenes sufficiently varied, that are
not suffered to remain too long upon the eye, and that connect
themselves at every stage with intellectual objects. But, even here,
I do not scruple to claim from the reader, occasionally, a higher
consideration. At times, the narrative rises into a far higher key.
Most of all it does so at a period of the writer's life where, of
necessity, a severe abstraction takes place from all that could invest
him with any alien interest; no display that might dazzle the reader,
nor ambition that could carry his eye forward with curiosity to the
future, nor successes, fixing his eye on the present; nothing on the
stage but a solitary infant, and its solitary combat with grief--a
mighty darkness, and a sorrow without a voice. But something of the
same interest will be found, perhaps, to rekindle at a maturer age,
when the characteristic features of the individual mind have been
unfolded. And I contend that much more than amusement ought to settle
upon any narrative of a life that is really _confidential_. It is
singular--but many of my readers will know it for a truth--that vast
numbers of people, though liberated from all reasonable motives to
self-restraint, _cannot_ be confidential--have  it not in their power
to lay aside reserve; and many, again, cannot be so with particular
people. I have witnessed more than once the case, that a  young female
dancer, at a certain turn of a peculiar dance, could not--though she
had died for it--sustain a free, fluent motion. Aerial chains fell
upon her at one point; some invisible spell (who could say _what_?)
froze her elasticity. Even as a horse, at noonday on an open heath,
starts aside from something his rider cannot see; or as the flame
within a Davy lamp feeds upon the poisonous gas up to the meshes that
surround it, but there suddenly is arrested by barriers that no Aladdin
will ever dislodge. It is because a man cannot see and measure these
mystical forces which palsy him, that he cannot deal with them
effectually. If he were able really to pierce the haze which so often
envelops, even to himself, his own secret springs of action and reserve,
there cannot be a life moving at all under intellectual impulses that
would not, through that single force of absolute frankness, fall within
the reach of a deep, solemn, and sometimes even of a thrilling interest.
Without pretending to an interest of this quality, I have done what
was possible on _my_ part towards the readiest access to such an
interest by perfect sincerity--saying every where nothing _but_ the
truth; and in any case forbearing to say the _whole_ truth only through
consideration for others.

Into the second class I throw those papers which address themselves
purely to the understanding as an insulated faculty; or do so primarily.
Let me call them by the general name of ESSAYS. These, as in other
cases of the same kind, must have their value  measured by two separate
questions. A. What is the problem, and of what rank in dignity or in
use, which the essay undertakes? And next, that point being settled,
B. What is the success obtained? and (as a separate question) what is
the executive ability displayed in the solution of the problem? This
latter question is naturally no question for myself, as the answer
would involve a verdict upon my own merit. But, generally, there will
be quite enough in the answer to question A for establishing the value
of any essay on its soundest basis. _Prudens interrogatio est dimidium
scientiae._ Skilfully to frame your question, is half way towards
insuring the true answer. Two or three of the problems treated in these
essays I will here rehearse.

1. ESSENISM--The essay on this, where mentioned at all in print, has
been mentioned as dealing with a question of pure speculative curiosity:
so little suspicion is abroad of that real question which lies below.
Essenism means simply this--Christianity before Christ, and consequently
without Christ. If, therefore, Essenism could make good its pretensions,
there at one blow would be an end of Christianity, which in that case
is not only superseded as an idle repetition of a religious system
already published, but also as a criminal plagiarism. Nor can the wit
of man evade that conclusion. But even _that_ is not the worst. When
we contemplate the total orb of Christianity, we see it divide into
two hemispheres: first, an ethical system, differing _centrally_ from
any previously made known to man;  secondly, a mysterious and divine
machinery for reconciling man to God; a teaching to be taught, but
also a work to be worked. Now, the first we find again in the ethics
of the counterfeit Essenes--which  ought not to surprise us at all;
since it is surely an easy thing for him who pillages my thoughts _ad
libitum_ to reproduce a perfect resemblance in his own: [3] but what
has become of the second, viz., not the teaching, but the operative
working of Christianity? The ethical system is replaced by a stolen
system; but what replaces the mysterious _agencies_ of the Christian
faith? In Essenism we find again a saintly scheme of ethics; but where
is the scheme of mediation?

In the Roman church, there have been some theologians who have also
seen reason to suspect the romance of "Essenismus." And I am not sure
that the knowledge of this fact may not have operated to blunt the
suspicions of the Protestant churches. I do not mean that such a fact
would have absolutely deafened Protestant ears to the grounds of
suspicion when loudly proclaimed; but it is very likely to have
indisposed them towards listening. Meantime, so far as I am acquainted
with these Roman Catholic demurs, the difference between _them_ and
my own is broad. They, without  suspecting any subtle, fraudulent
purpose, simply recoil from the romantic air of such a statement--which
builds up, as with an enchanter's wand, an important sect, such as
could not possibly have escaped the notice of Christ and his apostles.
I, on the other hand, insist not only upon the revolting incompatibility
of such a sect with the absence of all attention to it in the New
Testament, but (which is far more important) the incompatibility of
such a sect (as a sect elder than Christ) with the originality and
heavenly revelation of Christianity. Here is my first point of
difference from the Romish objectors. The second is this: not content
with exposing the imposture, I go on, and attempt to show in what real
circumstances, fraudulently disguised, it might naturally have arisen.
In the real circumstances of the Christian church, when struggling
with _Jewish_ persecution at some period of the generation between the
crucifixion and the siege of Jerusalem, arose probably that secret
defensive society of Christians which suggested to Josephus his knavish
forgery. We must remember that Josephus did not write until _after_
the great ruins effected by the siege; that he wrote at Rome, far
removed from the criticism of those survivors who could have exposed,
or had a motive for exposing, his malicious frauds; and, finally, that
he wrote under the patronage of the Flavian family: by his sycophancy
he had won their protection, which would have overawed any Christian
whatever from coming forward to unmask him, in the very improbable
case of a work so large, costly, and, by its title, merely
archaeological,  finding its way, at such a period, into the hands of
any poor hunted Christian. [4]

2. THE CAESARS.--This, though written hastily, and in a situation where
I had no aid from books, is yet far from being what some people have
supposed it--a simple recapitulation, or _resumé_, of the Roman
imperatorial history. It moves rapidly over the ground, but still with
an exploring eye, carried right and left into the deep shades that have
gathered so thickly over the one solitary road [5] traversing that part
of history. Glimpses of moral truth, or suggestions of what may lead to
it; indications of neglected difficulties, and occasionally conjectural
solutions of such difficulties,--these are what this essay offers. It was
meant as a specimen of fruits, gathered hastily and without effort, by a
vagrant but thoughtful mind: through the coercion of its theme, sometimes
it became ambitious; but I did not give to it an ambitious title. Still I
felt that the meanest of these suggestions merited a valuation: derelicts
they were, not in the sense of things willfully abandoned by my
predecessors on that road, but in the sense of things blindly overlooked.
And, summing up in one word the pretensions of this particular essay, I
will venture to claim for it so much, at least, of originality as ought
_not_ to have been left open to any body in the nineteenth century.

3. CICERO.--This is not, as might be imagined, any literary valuation
of Cicero; it is a new reading of Roman history in the most dreadful
and comprehensive of her convulsions, in that final stage of her
transmutations to which Cicero was himself a party--and, as I maintain,
a most selfish and unpatriotic party. He was governed in one half by
his own private interest as a _novus homo_ dependent upon a wicked
oligarchy, and in the other half by his blind hatred of Caesar; the
grandeur of whose nature he could not comprehend, and the real
patriotism of whose policy could never be appreciated by one bribed
to a selfish course. The great mob of historians have but one way of
constructing the great events of this era--they succeed to it as to
an inheritance, and chiefly under the misleading of that _prestige_
which is attached to the name of Cicero; on which account it was that
I gave this title to my essay. Seven years after it was published,
this essay, slight and imperfectly developed as is the exposition of
its parts, began to receive some public countenance.

I was going on to abstract the principle involved in some other essays.
But I forbear. These specimens  are sufficient for the purpose of
informing the reader that I do not write without a thoughtful
consideration of my subject; and also, that to think reasonably upon
any question has never been allowed by me as a sufficient ground for
writing upon it, unless I believed myself able to offer some considerable
novelty. Generally I claim (not arrogantly, but with firmness) the merit
of rectification applied to absolute errors or to injurious limitations
of the truth.

Finally, as a third class, and, in virtue of their aim, as a far higher
class of compositions included in the American collection, I rank _The
Confessions of an Opium Eater_, and also (but more emphatically) the
_Suspiria de Profundis_. On these, as modes of impassioned prose ranging
under no precedents that I am aware of in any literature, it is much
more difficult to speak justly, whether in a hostile or a friendly
character. As yet, neither of these two works has ever received the
least degree of that correction and pruning which both require so
extensively; and of the _Suspiria_, not more than perhaps one third
has yet been printed. When both have been fully revised, I shall feel
myself entitled to ask for a more determinate adjudication on their
claims as works of art. At present, I feel authorized to make haughtier
pretensions in right of their _conception_ than I shall venture to do,
under the peril of being supposed to characterize their _execution_.
Two remarks only I shall address to the equity of my reader. First, I
desire to remind him of the perilous difficulty besieging all attempts
to clothe in  words the visionary scenes derived from the world of
dreams, where a single false note, a single word in a wrong key, ruins
the whole music; and, secondly, I desire him to consider the utter
sterility of universal literature in this one department of impassioned
prose; which certainly argues some singular difficulty suggesting a
singular duty of indulgence in criticizing any attempt that even
imperfectly succeeds. The sole Confessions, belonging to past times,
that have at all succeeded in engaging the attention of men, are those
of St. Augustine and of Rousseau. The very idea of breathing a record
of human passion, not into the ear of the random crowd, but of the
saintly confessional, argues an impassioned theme. Impassioned,
therefore, should be the tenor of the composition. Now, in St.
Augustine's Confessions is found one most impassioned passage, viz.,
the lamentation for the death of his youthful friend in the fourth
book; one, and no more. Further there is nothing. In Rousseau there
is not even so much. In the whole work there is nothing grandly
affecting but the character and the inexplicable misery of the writer.

Meantime, by what accident, so foreign to my nature, do I find myself
laying foundations towards a higher valuation of my own workmanship?
O reader, I have been talking idly. I care not for any valuation that
depends upon comparison with others. Place me where you will on the
scale of comparison: only suffer me, though standing lowest in your
catalogue, to rejoice in the recollection of letters expressing the
most fervid interest in particular  passages or scenes of the
_Confessions_, and, by rebound from _them_, an interest in their author:
suffer me also to anticipate that, on the publication of some parts
yet in arrear of the _Suspiria_, you yourself may possibly write a
letter to me, protesting that your disapprobation is just where it
was, but nevertheless that you are disposed to shake hands with me--by
way of proof that you like me better than I deserve.


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_Next to the bible in currency_."--That is, next in the fifteenth
century to the Bible of the nineteenth century. The diffusion of the "De
Imitatione Christi" over Christendom (the idea of Christendom, it must be
remembered, not then including any part of America) anticipated, in 1453,
the diffusion of the Bible in 1853. But why? Through what causes?
Elsewhere I have attempted to show that this enormous (and seemingly
incredible) popularity of the "De Imitatione Christi" is virtually to be
interpreted as a vicarious popularity of the Bible. At that time the
Bible itself was a fountain of inspired truth every where sealed up; but
a whisper ran through the western nations of Europe that the work of
Thomas à Kempis contained some slender rivulets of truth silently
stealing away into light from that interdicted fountain. This belief (so
at least I read the case) led to the prodigious multiplication of the
book, of which not merely the reimpressions, but the separate
translations, are past all counting; though bibliographers _have_
undertaken to count them. The book came forward as an answer to the
sighing of Christian Europe for light from heaven. I speak of Thomas à
Kempis as the author; but his claim was disputed. Gerson was adopted by
France as the author; and other local saints by other nations.

[2] At the same time it must not be denied, that, if you lose by a
journal in the way here described, you also gain by it. The journal gives
you the benefit of its own separate audience, that might else never have
heard your name. On the other hand, in such a case, the journal secures
to you the special enmity of its own peculiar antagonists. These papers,
for instance, of mine, not being political, were read possibly in a
friendly temper by the regular supporters of the journal that published
them. But some of my own political friends regarded me with displeasure
for connecting myself at all with a reforming journal. And far more, who
would have been liberal enough to disregard that objection, naturally
lost sight of me when under occultation to _them_ in a journal which they
never saw.

[3] The crime of Josephus in relation to Christianity is the same, in
fact, as that of Lauder in respect to Milton. It was easy enough to
detect plagiarisms in the "Paradise Lost" from Latin passages fathered
upon imaginary writers, when these passages had previously been forged by
Lauder himself for the purpose of sustaining such a charge.

[4] It is a significant fact, that Dr. Strauss, whose sceptical spirit,
left to its own disinterested motions, would have looked through and
through this monstrous fable of Essenism, coolly adopted it, no questions
asked, as soon as he perceived the value of it as an argument against
Christianity.

[5] "_Solitary road_."--The reader must remember that, until the seventh
century of our era, when Mahometanism arose, there was no _collateral_
history. Why there was none, why no Gothic, why no Parthian history, it
is for Rome to explain. We tax ourselves, and are taxed by others, with
many an imaginary neglect as regards India; but assuredly we cannot be
taxed with _that_ neglect. No part of our Indian empire, or of its
adjacencies, but has occupied the researches of our Oriental scholars.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I.
  THE AFFLICTION OF CHILDHOOD
  DREAM ECHOES OF THESE INFANT EXPERIENCES
  DREAM ECHOES FIFTY YEARS LATER

CHAPTER II.
  INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD OF STRIFE

CHAPTER III.
  INFANT LITERATURE

CHAPTER IV.
  THE FEMALE INFIDEL

CHAPTER V.
  I AM INTRODUCED TO THE WARFARE OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL

CHAPTER VI.
  I ENTER THE WORLD

CHAPTER VII.
  THE NATION OF LONDON

CHAPTER VIII.
  DUBLIN

CHAPTER IX.
  FIRST REBELLION IN IRELAND

CHAPTER X.
  FRENCH INVASION OF IRELAND, AND SECOND REBELLION

CHAPTER XI.
  TRAVELLING

CHAPTER XII.
  MY BROTHER

CHAPTER XIII.
  PREMATURE MANHOOD



AUTOBIOGRAPHIC SKETCHES.



CHAPTER I.

THE AFFLICTION OF CHILDHOOD.


About the close of my sixth year, suddenly the first chapter of my
life came to a violent termination; that chapter which, even within
the gates of recovered paradise, might merit a remembrance. "_Life is
finished!_" was the secret misgiving of my heart; for the heart of
infancy is as apprehensive as that of maturest wisdom in relation to
any capital wound inflicted on the happiness. "_Life is finished!
Finished it is!_" was the hidden meaning that, half unconsciously to
myself, lurked within my sighs; and, as bells heard from a distance
on a summer evening seem charged at times with an articulate form of
words, some monitory message, that rolls round unceasingly, even so
for me some noiseless and subterraneous voice seemed to chant
continually a secret word, made audible only to my own heart--that
"now is the blossoming of life withered forever." Not that such words
formed themselves vocally within my ear, or issued audibly from my
lips; but such a whisper stole silently to my heart. Yet in what sense
could _that_ be true? For an infant not more than six years old, was
it possible that  the promises of life had been really blighted, or
its golden pleasures exhausted? Had I seen Rome? Had I read Milton?
Had I heard Mozart? No. St. Peter's, the "Paradise Lost," the divine
melodies of "Don Giovanni," all alike were as yet unrevealed to me,
and not more through the accidents of my position than through the
necessity of my yet imperfect sensibilities. Raptures there might be
in arrear; but raptures are modes of _troubled_ pleasure. The peace,
the rest, the central security which belong to love that is past all
understanding,--these could return no more. Such a love, so
unfathomable,--such a peace, so unvexed by storms, or the fear of
storms,--had brooded over those four latter years of my infancy, which
brought me into special relations to my elder sister; she being at
this period three years older than myself. The circumstances which
attended the sudden dissolution of this most tender connection I will
here rehearse. And, that I may do so more intelligibly, I will first
describe that serene and sequestered position which we occupied in
life. [1]

Any expression of personal vanity, intruding upon impassioned records,
is fatal to their effect--as being incompatible with that absorption
of spirit and that self-oblivion in which only deep passion originates
or can find a genial home. It would, therefore, to myself be exceedingly
painful that even a shadow, or so much as a _seeming_ expression of
that tendency, should creep into these reminiscences. And yet, on the
other hand, it is so impossible, without laying an injurious restraint
upon the natural movement of such a narrative, to prevent oblique
gleams reaching the reader from such circumstances of luxury or
aristocratic elegance as surrounded my childhood, that on all accounts
I think it better to tell him, from the first, with the simplicity of
truth, in what order of society my family moved at the time from which
this preliminary narrative is dated. Otherwise it might happen that,
merely by reporting faithfully the facts of this early experience, I
could hardly prevent the reader from receiving an impression as of
some higher rank than did really belong to my family. And this
impression might seem to have been designedly insinuated by myself.

My father was a merchant; not in the sense of Scotland, where it means
a retail dealer, one, for instance, who sells groceries in a cellar,
but in the English sense, a sense rigorously exclusive; that is, he
was a man engaged in _foreign_ commerce, and no other; therefore, in
_wholesale_ commerce, and no other--which last limitation of the idea
is important, because it brings him within the benefit of Cicero's
condescending distinction [2] as one who ought  to be despised certainly,
but not too intensely to be despised even by a Roman senator. He--this
imperfectly despicable man--died at an early age, and very soon after the
incidents recorded in this chapter, leaving to his family, then
consisting of a wife and six children, an unburdened estate producing
exactly sixteen hundred pounds a year. Naturally, therefore, at the date
of my narrative,--whilst he was still living,--he had an income very much
larger, from the addition of current commercial profits. Now, to any man
who is acquainted with commercial life as it exists in England, it will
readily occur that in an opulent English family of that class--opulent,
though not emphatically _rich_ in a mercantile estimate--the domestic
economy is pretty sure to move upon a scale of liberality altogether
unknown amongst the corresponding orders in foreign nations. The
establishment of servants, for instance, in such houses, measured even
_numerically_ against those establishments in other nations, would
somewhat surprise the foreign appraiser, simply as interpreting the
relative station in society occupied by the English merchant. But this
same establishment, when measured by the quality and amount of the
provision made for its comfort and even elegant accommodation, would fill
him with twofold astonishment, as interpreting equally the social
valuation of the English merchant, and also the social valuation of the
English servant; for, in the truest sense, England is the paradise of
household servants. Liberal housekeeping, in fact, as extending itself to
the meanest servants, and the disdain of petty parsimonies, are peculiar
to England. And in this respect the families of English merchants, as a
class, far outrun the scale of expenditure prevalent, not only amongst
the corresponding bodies of continental nations, but even amongst the
poorer sections of our own nobility--though confessedly the most
splendid in Europe;  a fact which, since the period of my infancy, I
have had many personal opportunities for verifying both in England and
in Ireland. From this peculiar anomaly, affecting the domestic economy
of English merchants, there arises a disturbance upon the usual scale
for measuring the relations of rank. The equation, so to speak, between
rank and the ordinary expressions of rank, which usually runs parallel
to the graduations of expenditure, is here interrupted and confounded,
so that one rank would be collected from the name of the occupation, and
another rank, much higher, from the splendor of the domestic _ménage_.
I warn the reader, therefore, (or, rather, my explanation has already
warned him,) that he is not to infer, from any casual indications of
luxury or elegance, a corresponding elevation of rank.

We, the children of the house, stood, in fact, upon the very happiest
tier in the social scaffolding for all good influences. The prayer of
Agur--"Give me neither poverty nor riches"--was realized for us. That
blessing we had, being neither too high nor too low. High enough we
were to see models of good manners, of self-respect, and of simple
dignity; obscure enough to be left in the sweetest of solitudes. Amply
furnished with all the nobler benefits of wealth, with _extra_ means
of health, of intellectual culture, and of elegant enjoyment, on the
other hand, we knew nothing of its social distinctions. Not depressed
by the consciousness of privations too sordid, not tempted into
restlessness by the consciousness of privileges too aspiring, we had
no motives for shame, we had none for pride. Grateful also to this
hour I am, that, amidst luxuries in all things else, we were trained
to a Spartan simplicity of diet--that we fared, in fact, very much
less sumptuously than the servants. And if (after the model of the
Emperor Marcus Aurelius) I should return thanks to Providence  for all
the separate blessings of my early situation, these four I would single
out as worthy of special commemoration--that I lived in a rustic
solitude; that this solitude was in England; that my infant feelings
were moulded by the gentlest of sisters, and not by horrid, pugilistic
brothers; finally, that I and they were dutiful and loving members of
a pure, holy, and magnificent church.

       *       *       *       *       *

The earliest incidents in my life, which left stings in my memory so
as to be remembered at this day, were two, and both before I could
have completed my second year; namely, 1st, a remarkable dream of
terrific grandeur about a favorite nurse, which is interesting to
myself for this reason--that it demonstrates my dreaming tendencies
to have been constitutional, and not dependent upon laudanum; [3] and,
2dly, the fact of having connected a profound sense of pathos with the
reappearance, very early in the spring, of some crocuses. This I mention
as inexplicable: for such annual resurrections of plants and flowers
affect us only as memorials, or suggestions of some higher change, and
therefore in connection with the idea of death; yet of death I could,
at that time, have had no experience whatever.

This, however, I was speedily to acquire. My two eldest sisters--
eldest of three _then_ living, and also elder than myself--were summoned
to an early death. The first  who died was Jane, about two years older
than myself. She was three and a half, I one and a half, more or less
by some trifle that I do not recollect. But death was then scarcely
intelligible to me, and I could not so properly be said to suffer
sorrow as a sad perplexity. There was another death in the house about
the same time, namely, of a maternal grandmother; but, as she had come
to us for the express purpose of dying in her daughter's society, and
from illness had lived perfectly secluded, our nursery circle knew her
but little, and were certainly more affected by the death (which I
witnessed) of a beautiful bird, viz., a kingfisher, which had been
injured by an accident. With my sister Jane's death (though otherwise,
as I have said, less sorrowful than perplexing) there was, however,
connected an incident which made a most fearful impression upon myself,
deepening my tendencies to thoughtfulness and abstraction beyond what
would seem credible for my years. If there was one thing in this world
from which, more than from any other, nature had forced me to revolt,
it was brutality and violence. Now, a whisper arose in the family that
a female servant, who by accident was drawn off from her proper duties
to attend my sister Jane for a day or two, had on one occasion treated
her harshly, if not brutally; and as this ill treatment happened within
three or four days of her death, so that the occasion of it must have
been some fretfulness in the poor child caused by her sufferings,
naturally there was a sense of awe and indignation diffused through
the family. I believe the story never reached my mother, and possibly
it was exaggerated; but upon me the effect was terrific. I did not
often see the person charged with this cruelty; but, when I did, my
eyes sought the ground; nor could I have borne to look her in the face;
not, however, in any spirit that could be called anger. The feeling
which fell upon me was a shuddering  horror, as upon a first glimpse
of the truth that I was in a world of evil and strife. Though born in
a large town, (the town of Manchester, even then amongst the largest
of the island,) I had passed the whole of my childhood, except for the
few earliest weeks, in a rural seclusion. With three innocent little
sisters for playmates, sleeping always amongst them, and shut up forever
in a silent garden from all knowledge of poverty, or oppression, or
outrage, I had not suspected until this moment the true complexion of
the world in which myself and my sisters were living. Henceforward the
character of my thoughts changed greatly; for so _representative_ are
some acts, that one single case of the class is sufficient to throw
open before you the whole theatre of possibilities in that direction.
I never heard that the woman accused of this cruelty took it at all
to heart, even after the event which so immediately succeeded had
reflected upon it a more painful emphasis. But for myself, that incident
had a lasting revolutionary power in coloring my estimate of life.

So passed away from earth one of those three sisters that made up my
nursery playmates; and so did my acquaintance (if such it could be
called) commence with mortality. Yet, in fact, I knew little more of
mortality than that Jane had disappeared. She had gone away; but perhaps
she would come back. Happy interval of heaven-born ignorance! Gracious
immunity of infancy from sorrow disproportioned to its strength! I was
sad for Jane's absence. But still in my heart I trusted that she would
come again. Summer and winter came again--crocuses and roses; why not
little Jane?

Thus easily was healed, then, the first wound in my infant heart. Not
so the second. For thou, dear, noble Elizabeth, around whose ample
brow, as often as thy sweet countenance rises upon the darkness, I
fancy a _tiara_ of light or a gleaming aureola [4] in token of thy
premature intellectual grandeur,--thou whose head, for its superb
developments, was the astonishment of science, [5]--thou next, but after
an interval of happy years, thou also wert summoned away from our
nursery; and the night, which for me gathered upon that event, ran after
my steps far into life; and perhaps at this day I resemble little for
good or for ill that which else I should have been. Pillar of fire that
didst go before me to guide and to quicken,--pillar of darkness, when
thy countenance was turned away to God, that didst too truly reveal to
my dawning fears the  secret shadow of death,--by what mysterious
gravitation was it that _my_ heart had been drawn to thine? Could a
child, six years old, place any special value upon intellectual
forwardness? Serene and capacious as my sister's mind appeared to me
upon after review, was _that_ a charm for stealing away the heart of
an infant? O, no! I think of it _now_ with interest, because it lends,
in a stranger's ear, some justification to the excess of my fondness.
But then it was lost upon me; or, if not lost, was perceived only
through its effects. Hadst thou been an idiot, my sister, not the less
I must have loved thee, having that capacious heart--overflowing, even
as mine overflowed, with tenderness; stung, even as mine was stung,
by the necessity of loving and being loved. This it was which crowned
thee with beauty and power.

  "Love, the holy sense,
  Best gift of God, in thee was most intense."

That lamp of paradise was, for myself, kindled by reflection from the
living light which burned so steadfastly in thee; and never but to
thee, never again since _thy_ departure, had I power or temptation,
courage or desire, to utter the feelings which possessed me. For I was
the shyest of children; and, at all stages of life, a natural sense
of personal dignity held me back from exposing the least ray of feelings
which I was not encouraged _wholly_ to reveal.

It is needless to pursue, circumstantially, the course of that sickness
which carried off my leader and companion. She (according to my
recollection at this moment) was just as near to nine years as I to
six. And perhaps this natural precedency in authority of years and
judgment, united to the tender humility with which she declined to
assert it, had been amongst the fascinations of her presence. It was
upon  a Sunday evening, if such conjectures can be trusted, that the
spark of fatal fire fell upon that train of predispositions to a brain
complaint which had hitherto slumbered within her. She had been
permitted to drink tea at the house of a laboring man, the father of
a favorite female servant. The sun had set when she returned, in the
company of this servant, through meadows reeking with exhalations after
a fervent day. From that time she sickened. In such circumstances,
a child, as young as myself, feels no anxieties. Looking upon medical
men as people privileged, and naturally commissioned, to make war upon
pain and sickness, I never had a misgiving about the result. I grieved,
indeed, that my sister should lie in bed; I grieved still more to hear
her moan. But all this appeared to me no more than as a night of
trouble, on which the dawn would soon arise. O moment of darkness and
delirium, when the elder nurse awakened me from that delusion, and
launched God's thunderbolt at my heart in the assurance that my sister
MUST die! Rightly it is said of utter, utter misery, that it "cannot
be _remembered_." [6] Itself, as a rememberable thing, is swallowed up in
its own chaos. Blank anarchy and confusion of mind fell upon me. Deaf and
blind I was, as I reeled under the revelation. I wish not to recall the
circumstances of that time, when _my_ agony was at its height, and
hers, in another sense, was approaching. Enough it is to say that all
was soon over; and, the morning of that day had at last arrived which
looked down upon her innocent face, sleeping the sleep from which there
is no awaking, and upon me sorrowing the sorrow for which there is no
consolation.

On the day after my sister's death, whilst the sweet  temple of her
brain was yet unviolated by human scrutiny, I formed my own scheme for
seeing her once more. Not for the world would I have made this known,
nor have suffered a witness to accompany me. I had never heard of
feelings that take the name of "sentimental," nor dreamed of such a
possibility. But grief, even in a child, hates the light, and shrinks
from human eyes. The house was large enough to have two staircases;
and by one of these I knew that about midday, when all would be quiet,
(for the servants dined at one o'clock,) I could steal up into her
chamber. I imagine that it was about an hour after high noon when I
reached the chamber door: it was locked, but the key was not taken
away. Entering, I closed the door so softly, that, although it opened
upon a hall which ascended through all the stories, no echo ran along
the silent walls. Then, turning round, I sought my sister's face. But
the bed had been moved, and the back was now turned towards myself.
Nothing met my eyes but one large window, wide open, through which the
sun of midsummer, at midday, was showering down torrents of splendor.
The weather was dry, the sky was cloudless, the blue depths seemed the
express types of infinity; and it was not possible for eye to behold,
or for heart to conceive, any symbols more pathetic of life and the
glory of life.

Let me pause in approaching a remembrance so affecting for my own mind,
to mention, that, in the "Opium Confessions," I endeavored to explain
the reason why death, other conditions remaining the same, is more
profoundly affecting in summer than in other parts of the year--so
far, at least, as it is liable to any modification at all from accidents
of scenery or season. The reason, as I there suggested, lies in the
antagonism between the tropical redundancy of life in summer and the
frozen  sterilities of the grave. The summer we see, the grave we haunt
with our thoughts; the glory is around us, the darkness is within us;
and, the two coming into collision, each exalts the other into stronger
relief. But, in my case, there was even a subtler reason why the summer
had this intense power of vivifying the spectacle or the thoughts of
death. And, recollecting it, I am struck with the truth, that far more
of our deepest thoughts and feelings pass to us through perplexed
combinations of _concrete_ objects, pass to us as _involutes_ (if I
may coin that word) in compound experiences incapable of being
disentangled, than ever reach us _directly_, and in their own abstract
shapes. It had happened, that amongst our vast nursery collection of
books was the Bible, illustrated with many pictures. And in long dark
evenings, as my three sisters, with myself, sat by the firelight round
the _guard_ [7] of our nursery, no book was so much in request among us.
It ruled us and swayed us as mysteriously as music. Our younger nurse,
whom we all loved, would sometimes, according to her simple powers,
endeavor to explain what we found obscure. We, the children, were all
constitutionally touched with pensiveness: the fitful gloom and sudden
lambencies of the room by firelight suited our evening state of feelings;
and they suited, also, the divine revelations of power and mysterious
beauty which awed us. Above all, the story of a just man,--man, and yet
_not_ man, real above all things, and yet shadowy above all things,--who
had suffered the passion of death in Palestine, slept upon our minds like
early dawn upon the waters. The nurse knew and explained to us the chief
differences in Oriental climates; and  all these differences (as it
happens) express themselves, more or less, in varying relations to the
great accidents and powers of summer. The cloudless sunlights of Syria--
those seemed to argue everlasting summer; the disciples plucking the ears
of corn--that _must_ be summer; but, above all, the very name of Palm
Sunday (a festival in the English church) troubled me like an anthem.
"Sunday!" what was _that_? That was the day of peace which masked another
peace deeper than the heart of man can comprehend. "Palms!" what were
they? _That_ was an equivocal word; palms, in the sense of trophies,
expressed the pomps of life; palms, as a product of nature, expressed the
pomps of summer. Yet still even this explanation does not suffice; it was
not merely by the peace and by the summer, by the deep sound of rest
below all rest and of ascending glory, that I had been haunted. It was
also because Jerusalem stood near to those deep images both in time
and in place. The great event of Jerusalem was at hand when Palm Sunday
came; and the scene of that Sunday was near in place to Jerusalem.
What then was Jerusalem? Did I fancy it to be the _omphalos_ (navel)
or physical centre of the earth? Why should _that_ affect me? Such a
pretension had once been made for Jerusalem, and once for a Grecian
city; and both pretensions had become ridiculous, as the figure of the
planet became known. Yes; but if not of the earth, yet of mortality;
for earth's tenant, Jerusalem, had now become the _omphalos_ and
absolute centre. Yet how? There, on the contrary, it was, as we infants
understood, that mortality had been trampled under foot. True; but,
for that very reason, there it was that mortality had opened its very
gloomiest crater. There it was, indeed, that the human had risen on
wings from the grave; but, for that reason, there also it was that the
divine had been swallowed up by the abyss;   the lesser star could not
rise before the greater should submit to eclipse. Summer, therefore,
had connected itself with death, not merely as a mode of antagonism,
but also as a phenomenon brought into intricate relations with death
by scriptual scenery and events.

Out of this digression, for the purpose of showing how inextricably
my feelings and images of death were entangled with those of summer,
as connected with Palestine and Jerusalem, let me come back to the bed
chamber of my sister. From the gorgeous sunlight I turned around to
the corpse. There lay the sweet childish figure; there the angel face;
and, as people usually fancy, it was said in the house that no features
had suffered any change. Had they not? The forehead, indeed,--the
serene and noble forehead,--_that_ might be the same; but the frozen
eyelids, the darkness that seemed to steal from beneath them, the
marble lips, the stiffening hands, laid palm to palm, as if repeating
the supplications of closing anguish,--could these be mistaken for
life? Had it been so, wherefore did I not spring to those heavenly
lips with tears and never-ending kisses? But so it was _not_. I stood
checked for a moment; awe, not fear, fell upon me; and, whilst I stood,
a solemn wind began to blow--the saddest that ear ever heard.  It was
a wind that might have swept the fields of mortality for a thousand
centuries. Many times since, upon summer days, when the sun is about
the hottest, I have remarked the same wind arising and uttering the
same hollow, solemn, Memnonian, [8] but saintly swell: it is in this
world the one great _audible_ symbol of eternity. And three times in my
life have I happened to hear the same sound in the same circumstances
--namely, when standing between an open window and a dead body on a
summer day.

Instantly, when my ear caught this vast Aeolian intonation, when my eye
filled with the golden fulness of life, the pomps of the heavens
above, or the glory of the flowers below, and turning when it settled
upon the frost which overspread my sister's face, instantly a trance
fell upon me. A vault seemed to open in the zenith of the far blue
sky, a shaft which ran up forever. I, in spirit, rose as if on billows
that also ran up the shaft forever; and the billows seemed to pursue
the throne of God; but _that_ also ran before us and fled away
continually. The flight and the pursuit seemed to go on forever and
ever. Frost gathering frost, some Sarsar wind of death, seemed to repel
me; some mighty relation between God and death dimly struggled to
evolve itself from the dreadful antagonism between them; shadowy
meanings even yet continued to exercise and torment, in dreams, the
deciphering oracle within me. I slept--for how long I cannot say:
slowly I recovered my self-possession; and, when I woke, found myself
standing, as before, close to my sister's bed.

I have reason to believe that a _very_ long interval had elapsed during
this wandering or suspension of my perfect mind. When I returned to
myself, there was a foot (or I fancied so) on the stairs. I was alarmed;
for, if any body had detected me, means would have been taken to prevent
my coming again. Hastily, therefore, I kissed the lips that I should
kiss no more, and slunk, like a guilty thing, with stealthy steps from
the room. Thus perished the vision, loveliest amongst all the shows
which earth has revealed to me; thus mutilated was the parting which
should have lasted forever; tainted thus with fear was that farewell
sacred to love and grief, to perfect love and to grief that could not
be healed.

O Abasuerus, everlasting Jew! [9] fable or not a fable, thou, when first
starting on thy endless pilgrimage of woe,--thou, when first flying
through the gates of Jerusalem, and vainly yearning to leave the pursuing
curse behind thee,--couldst not more certainly in the words of Christ
have read thy doom of endless sorrow, than I when passing forever from my
sister's room. The worm was at my heart; and, I may say, the worm that
could not die. Man is doubtless _one_ by some subtle _nexus_, some system
of links, that we cannot perceive, extending from the new-born infant to
the superannuated dotard; but, as regards many affections and passions
incident to his nature at different stages, he is _not_ one, but an
intermitting creature, ending and beginning anew: the unity of man, in
this respect, is coextensive only with the particular stage to which the
passion belongs. Some passions, as that of sexual love, are celestial by
one half of their origin, animal and earthly by the other half. These
will not survive their own appropriate stage. But love, which is
_altogether_ holy, like that between two children, is privileged to
revisit by glimpses the silence and the darkness of declining years; and,
possibly, this final experience in my sister's bed room, or some other in
which her innocence was concerned, may rise again for me to illuminate
the clouds of death.

On the day following this which I have recorded came a body of medical
men to examine the brain and the particular nature of the complaint,
for in some of its symptoms it had shown perplexing anomalies. An hour
after the strangers had withdrawn, I crept again to the room; but the
door was now locked, the key had been taken away, and I was shut out
forever.

Then came the funeral. I, in the ceremonial character of _mourner_,
was carried thither. I was put into a carriage with some gentlemen
whom I did not know. They were kind and attentive to me; but naturally
they talked of  things disconnected with the occasion, and their
conversation was a torment. At the church, I was told to hold a white
handkerchief to my eyes. Empty hypocrisy! What need had _he_ of masks
or mockeries, whose heart died within him at every word that was
uttered? During that part of the service which passed within the church,
I made an effort to attend; but I sank back continually into my own
solitary darkness, and I heard little consciously, except some fugitive
strains from the sublime chapter of St. Paul, which in England is
always read at burials. [10]

Lastly came that magnificent liturgical service which the English
church performs at the side of the grave; for this church does not
forsake her dead so long as they continue in the upper air, but waits
for her last "sweet and solemn [11] farewell" at the side of the grave.
There is exposed once again, and for the last time, the coffin. All eyes
survey the record of name, of sex, of age, and the day of departure from
earth--records how shadowy! and dropped into darkness as if messages
addressed to worms. Almost at the very last comes the symbolic ritual,
tearing and shattering the heart with volleying discharges, peal after
peal, from the final artillery of woe. The coffin is lowered into its
home; it has disappeared from all eyes but those that look down into the
abyss of the grave. The sacristan stands ready, with his shovel of earth
and stones. The priest's voice is heard once more,--_earth to  earth_,--
and immediately the dread rattle ascends from the lid of the coffin;
_ashes to ashes_--and again the killing sound is heard; _dust to dust_--
and the farewell volley announces that the grave, the coffin, the face
are sealed up forever and ever.

Grief! thou art classed amongst the depressing passions. And true it
is that thou humblest to the dust, but also thou exaltest to the clouds.
Thou shakest as with ague, but also thou steadiest like frost. Thou
sickenest the heart, but also thou healest its infirmities. Among the
very foremost of mine was morbid sensibility to shame. And, ten years
afterwards, I used to throw my self-reproaches  with regard to that
infirmity into this shape, viz., that if I were summoned to seek aid
for a perishing fellow-creature, and that I could obtain that aid only
by facing a vast company of critical or sneering faces, I might,
perhaps, shrink basely from the duty. It is true that no such case had
ever actually occurred; so that it was a mere romance of casuistry to
tax myself with cowardice so shocking. But, to feel a doubt, was to
feel condemnation; and the crime that _might_ have been was, in my
eyes, the crime that _had_ been. Now, however, all was changed; and
for any thing which regarded my sister's memory, in one hour I received
a new heart. Once in Westmoreland I saw a case resembling it. I saw
a ewe suddenly put off and abjure her own nature, in a service of
love--yes, slough it as completely as ever serpent sloughed his skin.
Her lamb had fallen into a deep trench, from which all escape was
hopeless without the aid of man. And to a man she advanced, bleating
clamorously, until he followed her and rescued her beloved. Not less
was the change in myself. Fifty thousand sneering faces would not have
troubled me _now_ in any office of tenderness to my sister's memory.
Ten legions would not   have repelled me from seeking her, if there
had been a chance that she could be found. Mockery! it was lost upon
me. Laughter! I valued it not. And when I was taunted insultingly with
"my girlish tears," that word "_girlish_" had no sting for me, except
as a verbal echo to the one eternal thought of my heart--that a girl
was the sweetest thing which I, in my short life, had known; that a
girl it was who had crowned the earth with beauty, and had opened to
my thirst fountains of pure celestial love, from which, in this world,
I was to drink no more.

Now began to unfold themselves the consolations of solitude, those
consolations which only I was destined to taste; now, therefore, began
to open upon me those fascinations of solitude, which, when acting as
a co-agency with unresisted grief, end in the paradoxical result of
making out of grief itself a luxury; such a luxury as finally becomes
a snare, overhanging life itself, and the energies of life, with growing
menaces.  All deep feelings of a _chronic_ class agree in this, that
they seek for solitude, and are fed by solitude. Deep grief, deep love,
how naturally do these ally themselves with religious feeling! and all
three--love, grief, religion--are haunters of solitary places. Love,
grief, and the mystery of devotion,--what were these without solitude?
All day long, when it was not impossible for me to do so, I sought the
most silent and sequestered nooks in the grounds about the house or
in the neighboring fields. The awful stillness oftentimes of summer
noons, when no winds were abroad, the appealing silence of gray or
misty afternoons,--these were fascinations as of witchcraft.  Into the
woods, into the desert air, I gazed, as if some comfort lay hid in
_them_. I wearied the heavens with my inquest of beseeching looks.
Obstinately I tormented the blue depths with my scrutiny, sweeping
them forever with my eyes, and searching them  for one angelic face
that might, perhaps, have permission to reveal itself for a moment.

At this time, and under this impulse of rapacious grief, that grasped
at what it could not obtain, the faculty of shaping images in the
distance out of slight elements, and grouping them after the yearnings
of the heart, grew upon me in morbid excess. And I recall at the present
moment one instance of that sort, which may show how merely shadows,
or a gleam of brightness, or nothing at all, could furnish a sufficient
basis for this creative faculty.

On Sunday mornings I went with the rest of my family to church: it was
a church on the ancient model of England, having aisles, galleries,
[12] organ, all things ancient and venerable, and the proportions
majestic. Here, whilst the congregation knelt through the long litany, as
often as we came to that passage, so beautiful amongst many that are so,
where God is supplicated on behalf of "all sick persons and young
children," and that he would "show his pity upon all prisoners and
captives," I wept in secret; and raising my streaming eyes to the upper
windows of the galleries, saw, on days when the sun was shining, a
spectacle as affecting as ever prophet can have beheld. The sides of the
windows were rich with storied glass; through the deep purples and
crimsons streamed the golden light; emblazonries of heavenly illumination
(from the sun) mingling with the earthly emblazonries (from art and its
gorgeous coloring) of what is grandest in man. _There_ were the apostles
that had trampled upon earth, and the glories of earth, out of celestial
love to man. _There_ were the martyrs that had borne witness to the truth
through flames, through torments, and through armies of fierce, insulting
faces. _There_ were the saints who, under intolerable pangs, had
glorified God by meek submission to his will. And all the time, whilst
this tumult of sublime memorials held on as the deep chords from some
accompaniment in the bass, I saw through the wide central field of the
window, where the glass was _uncolored_, white, fleecy clouds sailing
over the azure depths of the sky: were it but a fragment or a hint of
such a cloud, immediately under the flash of my sorrow-haunted eye, it
grew and shaped itself into visions of beds with white lawny curtains;
and in the beds lay sick children, dying children, that were tossing in
anguish, and weeping clamorously for death. God, for some mysterious
reason, could not suddenly release them from their pain; but he suffered
the beds, as it seemed, to rise slowly through the clouds; slowly the
beds ascended into the chambers of the air; slowly, also, his arms
descended from the heavens, that he and his young children, whom in
Palestine, once and forever, he had blessed, though they _must_ pass
slowly through the dreadful chasm of separation, might yet meet the
sooner. These visions were self-sustained. These visions needed not
that any sound should speak to me, or music mould my feelings. The
hint from the litany, the fragment from the clouds,--those and the
storied windows were sufficient. But not the less the blare of the
tumultuous organ wrought its own separate creations. And oftentimes
in anthems, when the mighty instrument threw its vast columns of sound,
fierce yet melodious, over the voices of the choir,--high in arches,
when it seemed to rise, surmounting and overriding the strife of the
vocal parts, and gathering by strong coercion the total storm into
unity,--sometimes I seemed to rise and walk triumphantly upon those
clouds which, but a moment before, I had looked up to as mementoes of
prostrate sorrow; yes, sometimes under the transfigurations of music,
felt of grief itself as of a fiery chariot for mounting victoriously
above the causes of grief.

God speaks to children, also, in dreams and by the oracles that lurk
in darkness. But in solitude, above all things, when made vocal to the
meditative heart by the truths and services of a national church, God
holds with children "communion undisturbed." Solitude, though it may
be silent as light, is, like light, the mightiest of agencies; for
solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world _alone_;
all leave it _alone_. Even a little child has a dread, whispering
consciousness, that, if he should be summoned to travel into God's
presence, no gentle nurse will be allowed to lead him by the hand, nor
mother to carry him in her arms, nor little sister to share his
trepidations. King and priest, warrior and maiden, philosopher and
child, all must walk those mighty galleries alone. The solitude,
therefore, which in this world appalls or fascinates a child's heart,
is but the echo of a far deeper solitude, through which already he has
passed, and of another solitude, deeper still, through which he _has_
to pass: reflex of one solitude--prefiguration of another.

O burden of solitude, that cleavest to man through every stage of his
being! in his birth, which _has_ been--in his life, which _is_--in his
death, which _shall_ be--mighty and essential solitude! that wast, and
art, and art to be; thou broodest, like the Spirit of God moving upon the
surface of the deeps, over every heart that sleeps in the nurseries of
Christendom. Like the vast laboratory of the air, which, seeming to be
nothing, or less than the shadow of a shade, hides within itself the
principles of all things, solitude for the meditating child is the
Agrippa's  mirror of the unseen universe. Deep is the solitude of
millions who, with hearts welling forth love, have none to love them.
Deep is the solitude of those who, under secret griefs, have none to pity
them. Deep is the solitude of those who, fighting with doubts
or darkness, have none to counsel them. But deeper than the deepest
of these solitudes is that which broods over childhood under the passion
of sorrow--bringing before it, at intervals, the final solitude which
watches for it, and is waiting for it within the gates of death. O mighty
and essential solitude, that wast, and art, and art to be, thy kingdom is
made perfect in the grave; but even over those that keep watch outside
the grave, like myself, an infant of six years old, thou stretchest out a
sceptre of fascination.

       *       *       *       *       *

DREAM ECHOES OF THESE INFANT EXPERIENCES.

[_Notice to the reader_.--The sun, in rising or setting, would produce
little effect if he were defrauded of his rays and their infinite
reverberations. "Seen through a fog," says Sara Coleridge, the noble
daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "the golden, beaming sun looks
like a dull orange, or a red billiard ball."--_Introd. to Biog. Lit._,
p. clxii. And, upon this same analogy, psychological experiences of
deep suffering or joy first attain their entire fulness of expression
when they are reverberated from dreams. The reader must, therefore,
suppose me at Oxford; more than twelve years are gone by; I am in the
glory of youth: but I have now first tampered with opium; and now first
the agitations of my childhood reopened in strength; now first they
swept in upon the brain with power, and the grandeur of recovered
life.]

Once again, after twelve years' interval, the nursery of my childhood
expanded before me: my sister was moaning in bed; and I was beginning
to be restless with fears not intelligible to myself. Once again the
elder nurse, but now dilated to colossal proportions, stood as upon
some Grecian stage with her uplifted hand, and, like the superb Medea
towering amongst her children in the nursery at Corinth, [13] smote me
senseless to the ground. Again I am in the chamber with my sister's
corpse, again the pomps of life rise up in silence, the glory of summer,
the Syrian sunlights, the frost of death. Dream forms itself mysteriously
within dream; within these Oxford dreams remoulds itself continually the
trance in my sister's chamber--the blue heavens, the everlasting vault,
the soaring billows, the throne steeped in the thought (but not the
sight) of "_Who_ might sit thereon;" the flight, the pursuit, the
irrecoverable steps of my return to earth. Once more the funeral
procession gathers; the priest, in his white surplus, stands waiting with
a book by the side of an open grave; the sacristan is waiting with his
shovel; the coffin has sunk; the _dust to dust_ has descended. Again I
was in the church on a heavenly Sunday morning. The golden sunlight of
God slept amongst the heads of his apostles, his martyrs, his saints; the
fragment from the litany, the fragment from the clouds, awoke again the
lawny beds that went up to scale the heavens--awoke again the shadowy
arms that moved downward to meet them. Once again arose the swell of the
anthem, the burst of the hallelujah chorus, the storm, the trampling
movement of the choral passion, the agitation of my own trembling
sympathy, the tumult of the choir, the wrath of the organ. Once more I,
that wallowed in the dust, became he that rose up to the clouds. And now
all was bound up into unity; the first state and the last were melted
into each other as in some sunny glorifying haze. For high in heaven
hovered a gleaming host of faces, veiled with wings, around the pillows
of the dying children. And such beings sympathize equally with sorrow
that grovels and with sorrow that soars. Such beings pity alike the
children that are languishing in death, and the children that live only
to languish in tears.

       *       *       *       *       *

DREAM ECHOES FIFTY YEARS LATER

[In this instance the echoes, that rendered back the infant experience,
might be interpreted by the reader as connected with a _real_ ascent
of the Brocken; which was not the case. It was an ascent through all
its circumstances executed in dreams, which, under advanced stages in
the development of opium, repeat with marvellous accuracy the longest
succession of phenomena derived either from reading or from actual
experience. That softening and spiritualizing haze which belongs at
any rate to the action of dreams, and to the transfigurings worked
upon troubled remembrances by retrospects so vast as those of fifty
years, was in this instance greatly aided to my own feelings by the
alliance with the ancient phantom of the forest mountain in North
Germany. The playfulness of the scene is the very evoker of the solemn
remembrances that lie hidden below. The half-sportive interlusory
revealings of the symbolic tend to the same effect. One part of the
effect from the symbolic is dependent upon the great catholic principle
of the _Idem in alio_. The symbol restores the theme, but under new
combinations of form or coloring; gives back, but changes; restores,
but idealizes.]

Ascend with me on this dazzling Whitsunday the Brocken of North Germany.
The dawn opened in cloudless beauty; it is a dawn of bridal June; but,
as the hours advanced, her youngest sister April, that sometimes cares
little for racing across both frontiers of May,--the rearward frontier,
and the vanward frontier,--frets the bridal lady's sunny temper with
sallies of wheeling and careering showers, flying and pursuing, opening
and closing, hiding and restoring. On such a morning, and reaching
the summits of the forest mountain about sunrise, we shall have one
chance the more for seeing the famous Spectre of the Brocken. [14] Who
and what is he?  He is a solitary apparition, in the sense of loving
solitude; else he is not always solitary in his personal manifestations,
but, on proper occasions, has been known to unmask a strength quite
sufficient to alarm those who had been insulting him.

Now, in order to test the nature of this mysterious apparition, we
will try two or three experiments upon him. What we fear, and with
some reason, is, that, as he lived so many ages with foul pagan
sorcerers, and witnessed so many centuries of dark idolatries, his
heart may have been corrupted, and that even now his faith may be
wavering or impure. We will try.

Make the sign of the cross, and observe whether he repeats it, (as on
Whitsunday [15] he surely ought to do.) Look! he _does_ repeat it; but
these driving April showers perplex the images, and _that_, perhaps, it
is which gives him the air of one who acts reluctantly or evasively. Now,
again, the sun shines more brightly, and the showers have all swept off
like squadrons of cavalry to the rear. We will try him again.

Pluck an anemone, one of these many anemones which once was called the
sorcerer's flower, [16] and bore a part, perhaps, in this horrid ritual
of fear; carry it to that stone which mimics the outline of a heathen
altar, and once was called the sorcerer's altar; [16] then, bending your
knee, and raising your right hand to God, say, "Father which art in
heaven, this lovely anemone, that once glorified the worship of fear, has
travelled back into thy fold; this altar, which once reeked with bloody
rites to Cortho, has long been rebaptized into thy holy service. The
darkness is gone; the cruelty is gone which the darkness bred; the moans
have passed away which the victims uttered; the cloud has vanished which
once sat continually upon their graves--cloud of protestation that
ascended forever to thy throne from the tears of the defenceless, and
from the anger of the just. And lo! we--I thy servant, and this dark
phantom, whom for one hour on this thy festival of Pentecost I make _my_
servant--render thee united worship in this thy recovered temple."

Lo! the apparition plucks an anemone, and places it on the altar; he
also bends his knee, he also raises his right hand to God. Dumb he is;
but sometimes the dumb serve God acceptably. Yet still it occurs to
you, that perhaps on this high festival of the Christian church he may
have been overruled by supernatural influence into confession of his
homage, having so often been made to bow and bend his knee at murderous
rites. In a service of religion he may be timid. Let us try him,
therefore, with an earthly passion, where he will have no bias either
from favor or from fear.

If, then, once in childhood you suffered an affliction that was
ineffable,--if once, when powerless to face such an enemy, you were
summoned to fight with the tiger that couches within the separations
of the grave,--in that case, after the example of Judaea, [17] sitting
under her palm tree to weep, but sitting with her head veiled, do you
also veil your head. Many years are passed away since then; and perhaps
you were a little ignorant thing at that time, hardly above six years
old. But your heart was deeper than the Danube; and, as was your love, so
was your grief. Many years are gone since that darkness settled on your
head; many summers, many winters; yet still its shadows wheel round upon
you at intervals, like these April showers upon this glory of bridal
June. Therefore now, on this dove-like morning of Pentecost, do you veil
your head like Judaea in memory of that transcendent woe, and in
testimony that, indeed, it surpassed all utterance of words. Immediately
you see that the apparition of the Brocken veils _his_ head, after the
model of Judaea weeping under her palm tree, as if he also had a human
heart; and as if _he_ also, in childhood, having suffered an affliction
which was ineffable, wished by these mute symbols to breathe a sigh
towards heaven in memory of that transcendent woe, and by way of record,
though many a year after, that it was indeed unutterable by words.


FOOTNOTES

[1] As occasions arise in these Sketches, when, merely for the purposes
of intelligibility, it becomes requisite to call into notice such
personal distinctions in my family as otherwise might be unimportant, I
here record the entire list of my brothers and sisters, according to
their order of succession; and Miltonically I include myself; having
surely as much logical right to count myself in the series of my own
brothers as Milton could have to pronounce Adam the goodliest of his own
sons. First and last, we counted as eight children, viz., four brothers
and four sisters, though never counting more than six living at once,
viz., 1. _William_, older than myself by more than five years; 2.
_Elizabeth_; 3. _Jane_, who died in her fourth year; 4. _Mary_; 5.
myself, certainly not the goodliest man of men since born my brothers; 6.
_Richard_, known to us all by the household name of _Pink_, who in his
after years tilted up and down what might then be called his Britannic
majesty's oceans (viz., the Atlantic and Pacific) in the quality of
midshipman, until Waterloo in one day put an extinguisher on that whole
generation of midshipmen, by extinguishing all further call for their
services; 7. a second _Jane_; 8. _Henry_, a posthumous child, who
belonged to Brazennose College, Oxford, and died about his twenty-sixth
year.

[2] Cicero, in a well-known passage of his "Ethics", speaks of trade as
irredeemably base, if petty, but as not so absolutely felonious if
wholesale.

[3] It is true that in those days _paregoric elixir_ was occasionally
given to children in colds; and in this medicine there is a small
proportion of laudanum. But no medicine was ever administered to any
member of our nursery except under medical sanction; and this, assuredly,
would not have been obtained to the exhibition of laudanum in a case such
as mine. For I was then not more that twenty-one months old: at which age
the action of opium is capricious, and therefore perilous.

[4] "_Aureola_."--The _aureola_ is the name given in the "Legends of the
Christian  Saints" to that golden diadem or circlet of supernatural light
(that _glory_, as it is commonly called in English) which, amongst the
great masters of painting in Italy, surrounded the heads of Christ and of
distinguished saints.

[5] "_The astonishment of science_."--Her medical attendants were Dr.
Percival, a well-known literary physician, who had been a correspondent
of Condorcet, D'Alembert,  &c., and Mr. Charles White, the most
distinguished surgeon at  that time in the north of England. It was he
who pronounced her head to be the finest in its development of any that
he had ever seen--an assertion which, to my own knowledge, he repeated in
after years, and with enthusiasm. That he had some acquaintance with the
subject may be presumed from this, that, at so early a stage of such
inquiries, he had published a work on human craniology, supported by
measurement of heads selected from all varieties of the human species.
Meantime, as it would grieve me that any trait of what might seem vanity
should creep into this record, I will admit that my sister died of
hydrocephalus; and it has been often supposed that the premature
expansion of the intellect in cases of that class is altogether morbid--
forced on, in fact, by the mere stimulation of the disease. I would,
however, suggest, as a possibility, the very opposite order of relation
between the disease and the intellectual manifestations. Not the disease
may always have caused the preternatural growth of the intellect; but,
inversely, this growth of the intellect coming on spontaneously, and
outrunning the capacities of the physical structure, may have caused the
disease.

[6]
  "I stood in unimaginable trance
  And agony which cannot be remembered."
     _Speech of Alhadra, in Coleridge's Remorse_

[7] "_The guard_."--I know not whether the word is a local one in this
sense. What I mean is a sort of fender, four or five feet high, which
locks up the fire from too near an approach on the part of children.

[8] "_Memnonian_."--For the sake of many readers, whose hearts may go
along earnestly with a record of infant sorrow, but whose course of life
has not allowed them much leisure for study, I pause to explain--that the
head of Memnon, in the British Museum, that sublime head which wears upon
its lips a smile coextensive with all time and all space, an Aeonian
smile of gracious love and Pan-like mystery, the most diffusive and
pathetically divine that the hand of man has created, is represented, on
the authority of ancient traditions, to have uttered at sunrise, or soon
after as the sun's rays had accumulated heat enough to rarefy the air
within certain cavities in the bust, a solemn and dirge-like series of
intonations; the simple explanation being, in its general outline, this--
that sonorous currents of air were produced by causing chambers of cold
and heavy air to press upon other collections of air, warmed, and
therefore rarefied, and therefore yielding readily to the pressure of
heavier air. Currents being thus established by artificial arrangements
of tubes, a certain succession of notes could be concerted and sustained.
Near the Red Sea lies a chain of sand hills, which, by a natural system
of grooves inosculating with each other, become vocal under changing
circumstances in the position of the sun, &c. I knew a boy who, upon
observing steadily, and reflecting upon a phenomenon that met him in his
daily experience, viz., that tubes, through which a stream of water was
passing, gave out a very different sound according to the varying
slenderness or fulness of the current, devised an instrument that yielded
a rude hydraulic gamut of sounds; and, indeed, upon this simple
phenomenon is founded the use and power of the stethoscope. For exactly
as a thin thread of water, trickling through a leaden tube, yields a
stridulous and plaintive sound compared with the full volume of sound
corresponding to the full volume of water, on parity of principles,
nobody will doubt that the current of blood pouring through the tubes of
the human frame will utter to the learned ear, when armed with the
stethoscope, an elaborate gamut or compass of music recording the ravages
of disease, or the glorious plenitudes of health, as faithfully as the
cavities within this ancient Memnonian bust reported this mighty event of
sunrise to the rejoicing world of light and life; or, again, under the
sad passion of the dying day, uttered the sweet requiem that belonged to
its departure.

[9] "_Everlasting Jew_."--_Der ewige Jude_--which is the common German
expression for "The Wandering Jew," and sublimer even than our own.

[10] First Epistle to Corinthians, chap. xv., beginning at ver. 20.

[11] This beautiful expression, I am pretty certain, must belong to Mrs.
Trollope; I read it, probably, in a tale of hers connected with the
backwoods of America, where the absence of such a farewell must
unspeakably aggravate the gloom at any rate belonging to a  household
separation of that eternal character occurring amongst the shadows of
those mighty forests.

[12] "_Galleries_."--These, though condemned on some grounds by the
restorers of authentic church architecture, have, nevertheless, this one
advantage--that, when the _height_ of a church is that dimension which
most of all expresses its sacred character, galleries expound and
interpret that height.

[13] Euripides.

[14] "_Spectre of the Brocken_."--This very striking phenomenon has been
continually described by writers, both German and English, for the last
fifty years. Many readers, however, will not have met with these
descriptions; and on _their_ account I add a few words in explanation,
referring them for the best scientific comment on the case to Sir David
Brewster's "Natural Magic." The spectre takes the shape of a human
figure, or, if the visitors are more than one, then the spectres
multiply; they arrange themselves on the blue ground of the sky, or the
dark ground of any clouds that may be in the right quarter, or perhaps
they are strongly relieved against a curtain of rock, at a distance of
some miles, and always exhibiting gigantic proportions. At first, from
the distance and the colossal size, every spectator supposes the
appearances to be quite independent of himself. But very soon he is
surprised to observe his own motions and gestures mimicked, and wakens to
the conviction that the phantom is but a dilated reflection of himself.
This Titan amongst the apparitions of earth is exceedingly capricious,
vanishing abruptly for reasons best known to himself, and more coy in
coming forward than the Lady Echo of Ovid. One reason why he is seen so
seldom must be ascribed to the concurrence of conditions under which only
the phenomenon can be manifested; the sun must be near to the horizon,
(which, of itself, implies a time of day inconvenient to a person
starting from a station as distant as Elbingerode;) the spectator must
have his back to the sun; and the air must contain some vapor, but
_partially_ distributed. Coleridge ascended the Brocken on the Whitsunday
of 1799, with a party of English students from Goettingen, but failed to
see the phantom; afterwards in England (and under the three same
conditions) he saw a much rarer phenomenon, which he described in the
following lines:--

    "Such thou art as when
  The woodman winding westward up the glen
  At wintry dawn, when o'er the sheep-track's maze
  The viewless snow mist weaves a glistening haze,
  Sees full before him, gliding without tread,
  An image with a glory round its head;
  This shade he worships for its golden hues,
  And _makes_ (not knowing) that which he pursues."

[15] "_On Whitsunday_."--It is singular, and perhaps owing to the
temperature and weather likely to prevail in that early part of summer,
that more appearances of the spectre have been witnessed on Whitsunday
than on any other day.

[16] "_The sorcerer's flower_," and "_The sorcerer's altar_."--These are
names still clinging to the anemone of the Brocken, and to an altar-
shaped fragment of granite near one of the summits; and there is no doubt
that they both connect themselves, through links of ancient tradition,
with the gloomy realities of paganism, when the whole Hartz and the
Brocken formed for a very long time the last asylum to a ferocious but
perishing idolatry.

[17] On the Roman coins.



CHAPTER II.

INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD OF STRIFE.


So, then, one chapter in my life had finished. Already, before the
completion of my sixth year, this first chapter had run its circle,
had rendered up its music to the final chord--might seem even, like
ripe fruit from a tree, to have detached itself forever from all the
rest of the arras that was shaping itself within my loom of life. No
Eden of lakes and forest lawns, such as the _mirage_ suddenly evokes
in Arabian sands,--no pageant of air-built battlements and towers,
that ever burned in dream-like silence amongst the vapors of summer
sunsets, mocking and repeating with celestial pencil "the fuming
vanities of earth,"--could leave behind it the mixed impression of so
much truth combined with so much absolute delusion. Truest of all
things it seemed by the excess of that happiness which it had sustained:
most fraudulent it seemed of all things, when looked back upon as some
mysterious parenthesis in the current of life, "self-withdrawn into
a wonderous depth," hurrying as if with headlong malice to extinction,
and alienated by _every_ feature from the new aspects of life that
seemed to await me. Were it not in the bitter corrosion of heart that
I was called upon to face, I should have carried over to the present
no connecting link whatever from the past. Mere reality in this
fretting it was, and the undeniableness of its too potent remembrances,
that forbade me to regard this burned-out inaugural chapter of my life
as no chapter at all, but a pure exhalation of dreams. Misery is a
guaranty of truth too substantial to be refused; else, by its
determinate evanescence, the total experience would have worn the
character of a fantastic illusion.

Well it was for me at this period, if well it were for me to live at
all, that from any continued contemplation of my misery I was forced
to wean myself, and suddenly to assume the harness of life. Else under
the morbid languishing of grief, and of what the Romans called
_desiderium_, (the yearning too obstinate after one irrecoverable
face,) too probably I should have pined away into an early grave. Harsh
was my awaking; but the rough febrifuge which this awaking administered
broke the strength of my sickly reveries through a period of more than
two years; by which time, under the natural expansion of my bodily
strength, the danger had passed over.

In the first chapter I have rendered solemn thanks for having been
trained amongst the gentlest of sisters, and not under "horrid
pugilistic brothers." Meantime, one such brother I had, senior by much
to myself, and the stormiest of his class: him I will immediately
present to the reader; for up to this point of my narrative he may be
described as a stranger even to myself. Odd as it sounds, I had at
this time both a brother and a father, neither of whom would have been
able to challenge me as a relative, nor I _him_, had we happened to
meet on the public roads.

In my father's case, this arose from the accident of his having lived
abroad for a space that, measured against _my_ life, was a very long
one. First, he lived for months in Portugal, at Lisbon, and at Cintra;
next in Madeira; then  in the West Indies; sometimes in Jamaica,
sometimes in St. Kitt's; courting the supposed benefit of hot climates
in his complaint of pulmonary consumption. He had, indeed, repeatedly
returned to England, and met my mother at watering-places on the south
coast of Devonshire, &c. But I, as a younger child, had not been one
of the party selected for such excursions from home. And now, at last,
when all had proved unavailing, he was coming home to die amongst his
family, in his thirty-ninth year. My mother had gone to await his
arrival at the port (whatever port) to which the West India packet
should bring him; and amongst the deepest recollections which I connect
with that period, is one derived from the night of his arrival at
Greenhay.

It was a summer evening of unusual solemnity. The servants, and four
of us children, were gathered for hours, on the lawn before the house,
listening for the sound of wheels. Sunset came--nine, ten, eleven
o'clock, and nearly another hour had passed--without a warning sound;
for Greenhay, being so solitary a house, formed a _terminus ad quem_,
beyond which was nothing but a cluster of cottages, composing the
little hamlet of Greenhill; so that any sound of wheels coming from
the winding lane which then connected us with the Rusholme Road, carried
with it, of necessity, a warning summons to prepare for visitors at
Greenhay. No such summons had yet reached us; it was nearly midnight;
and, for the last time, it was determined that we should move in a
body out of the grounds, on the chance of meeting the travelling party,
if, at so late an hour, it could yet be expected to arrive. In fact,
to our general surprise, we met it almost immediately, but coming at
so slow a pace, that the fall of the horses' feet was not audible until
we were close upon them. I mention the case for the sake of the undying
impressions which connected themselves with the circumstances. The
first notice of the approach was the sudden emerging of horses' heads
from the deep gloom of the shady lane; the next was the mass of white
pillows against which the dying patient was reclining. The hearse-like
pace at which the carriage moved recalled the overwhelming spectacle
of that funeral which had so lately formed part in the most memorable
event of my life. But these elements of awe, that might at any rate
have struck forcibly upon the mind of a child, were for me, in my
condition of morbid nervousness, raised into abiding grandeur by the
antecedent experiences of that particular summer night. The listening
for hours to the sounds from horses' hoofs upon distant roads, rising
and falling, caught and lost, upon the gentle undulation of such fitful
airs as might be stirring--the peculiar solemnity of the hours
succeeding to sunset--the glory of the dying day--the gorgeousness
which, by description, so well I knew of sunset in those West Indian
islands from which my father was returning--the knowledge that he
returned only to die--the almighty pomp in which this great idea of
Death apparelled itself to my young sorrowing heart--the corresponding
pomp in which the antagonistic idea, not less mysterious, of life,
rose, as if on wings, amidst tropic glories and floral pageantries
that seemed even _more_ solemn and pathetic than the vapory plumes and
trophies of mortality,--all this chorus of restless images, or of
suggestive thoughts, gave to my father's return, which else had been
fitted only to interpose one transitory red-letter day in the calendar
of a child, the shadowy power of an ineffaceable agency among my dreams.
This, indeed, was the one sole memorial which restores my father's
image to me as a personal reality; otherwise he would have been for
me a bare _nominis umbra_. He languished, indeed, for weeks upon a
sofa; and, during that interval, it happened naturally, from my repose
of manners, that I was a privileged visitor to him throughout his
waking hours. I was also present at his bedside in the closing hour
of his life, which exhaled quietly, amidst snatches of delirious
conversation with some imaginary visitors.

My brother was a stranger from causes quite as little to be foreseen,
but seeming quite as natural after they had really occurred. In an
early stage of his career, he had been found wholly unmanageable. His
genius for mischief amounted to inspiration; it was a divine _afflatus_
which drove him in that direction; and such was his capacity for riding
in whirlwinds and directing storms, that he made it his trade to create
them, as a _nephelaegereta Zeus_, a cloud-compelling Jove, in order that
he _might_ direct them. For this, and other reasons, he had been sent to
the Grammar School of Louth, in Lincolnshire--one of those many old
classic institutions which form the peculiar [1] glory of England. To
box, and to box under the severest restraint of honorable laws, was in
those days a mere necessity of schoolboy life at _public_ schools; and
hence the superior manliness, generosity, and self-control of those
generally who had benefited by such discipline--so systematically hostile
to all meanness, pusillanimity, or indirectness. Cowper, in his
"Tyrocinium," is far from doing justice to our great public schools.
Himself disqualified, by a delicacy of temperament, for reaping the
benefits from such a warfare, and having suffered too much in his own
Westminster experience, he could not judge them from an impartial
station; but I, though ill enough adapted to an atmosphere so stormy, yet
having tried both classes of schools, public and private, am compelled in
mere conscience to give my vote (and, if I had a thousand votes, to give
_all_ my votes) for the former.

Fresh from such a training as this, and at a time when his additional
five or six years availed nearly to make _his_ age the double of mine,
my brother very naturally despised me; and, from his exceeding
frankness, he took no pains to conceal that he did. Why should he? Who
was it that could have a right to feel aggrieved by this contempt?
Who, if not myself? But it happened, on the contrary, that I had a
perfect craze for being despised. I doted on it, and considered contempt
a sort of luxury that I was in continual fear of losing. Why not?
Wherefore should any rational person shrink from contempt, if it happen
to form the tenure by which he holds his repose in life? The cases
which are cited from comedy of such a yearning after contempt, stand
upon a footing altogether different: _there_ the contempt is wooed as
a serviceable ally and tool of religious hypocrisy. But to me, at that
era of life, it formed the main guaranty of an unmolested repose; and
security there was not, on any lower terms, for the _latentis semita
vitae_. The slightest approach to any favorable construction of my
intellectual pretensions alarmed me beyond measure; because it pledged
me in a manner with the hearer to support this first attempt by a
second, by a third, by a fourth--O Heavens! there is no saying how far
the horrid man might go in his unreasonable demands upon me. I groaned
under the weight of his expectations; and, if I laid but the first
round of such a staircase, why, then, I saw in vision a vast Jacob's
ladder towering upwards to the clouds, mile after mile, league after
league; and myself running up and down this ladder, like any fatigue
party of Irish hodmen, to the top of any Babel which my wretched admirer
might choose to build. But I nipped the abominable system of extortion
in the very bud, by refusing to take the first step. The man could
have no pretence, you know, for expecting me to climb the third or
fourth round, when I had seemed quite unequal to the first. Professing
the most absolute bankruptcy from the very beginning, giving the man
no sort of hope that I would pay even one farthing in the pound, I
never could be made miserable by unknown responsibilities.

Still, with all this passion for being despised, which was so essential
to my peace of mind, I found at times an altitude--a starry
altitude--in the station of contempt for me assumed by my brother that
nettled me. Sometimes, indeed, the mere necessities of dispute carried
me, before I was aware of my own imprudence, so far up the staircase
of Babel, that my brother was shaken for a moment in the infinity of
his contempt; and before long, when my superiority in some bookish
accomplishments displayed itself, by results that could not be entirely
dissembled, mere foolish human nature forced me into some trifle of
exultation at these retributory triumphs. But more often I was disposed
to grieve over them. They tended to shake that solid foundation of
utter despicableness upon which I relied so much for my freedom from
anxiety; and therefore, upon the whole, it was satisfactory to my mind
that my brother's opinion of me, after any little transient oscillation,
gravitated determinately back towards that settled contempt which had
been the result of his original inquest. The pillars of Hercules, upon
which rested the vast edifice of his scorn, were these two--1st, my
physics; he denounced me for effeminacy; 2d, he assumed, and even
postulated as a _datum_, which I myself could never have the face to
refuse, my general idiocy. Physically, therefore, and intellectually,
he looked upon me as below notice; but, _morally_, he assured me that
he would give me a written character of the very best description,
whenever I chose to apply for it. "You're honest," he said; "you're
willing, though lazy; you _would_ pull, if you had the strength of a
flea; and, though a monstrous coward, you don't run away." My own
demurs to these harsh judgments were not so many as they might have
been. The idiocy I confessed; because, though positive that I was not
uniformly an idiot, I felt inclined to think that, in a majority of
cases, I really _was_; and there were more reasons for thinking so
than the reader is yet aware of. But, as to the effeminacy, I denied
it _in toto_; and with good reason, as will be seen. Neither did my
brother pretend to have any experimental proofs of it. The ground he
went upon was a mere _a priori_ one, viz., that I had always been tied
to the apron string of women or girls; which amounted at most to
this--that, by training and the natural tendency of circumstances, I
_ought_ to be effeminate; that is, there was reason to expect beforehand
that I _should_ be so; but, then, the more merit in me, if, in spite
of such reasonable presumptions, I really were _not_. In fact, my
brother soon learned, by a daily experience, how entirely he might
depend upon me for carrying out the most audacious of his own warlike
plans--such plans, it is true, that I abominated; but _that_ made no
difference in the fidelity with which I tried to fulfil them.

This eldest brother of mine was in all respects a remarkable boy. Haughty
he was, aspiring, immeasurably active; fertile in resources as Robinson
Crusoe; but also full of quarrel as it is possible to imagine; and, in
default of any other opponent, he would have fastened a quarrel upon his
own shadow for presuming to run before him when going westwards in the
morning, whereas, in all reason, a shadow, like a dutiful child, ought to
keep deferentially in the rear of that majestic substance which is the
author of its existence. Books he detested, one and all, excepting only
such as he happened to write himself. And these were not a few. On all
subjects known to man, from the Thirty-nine Articles of our English
church down to pyrotechnics, legerdemain, magic, both black and white,
thaumaturgy, and necromancy, he favored the world (which world was the
nursery where I lived amongst my sisters) with his select opinions. On
this last subject especially--of necromancy--he was very great: witness
his profound work, though but a fragment, and, unfortunately, long since
departed to the bosom of Cinderella, entitled "How to raise a Ghost; and
when you've got him down, how to keep him down." To which work he assured
us that some most learned and enormous man, whose name was a foot and a
half long, had promised him an appendix, which appendix treated of the
Red Sea and Solomon's signet ring, with forms of _mittimus_ for ghosts
that might be refractory, and probably a riot act, for any _émeute_
amongst ghosts inclined to raise barricades; since he often thrilled our
young hearts by supposing the case, (not at all unlikely, he affirmed,)
that a federation, a solemn league and conspiracy, might take place
amongst the infinite generations of ghosts against the single generation
of men at any one time composing the garrison of earth. The Roman phrase
for expressing that a man had died, viz., "_Abiit ad plures_" (He has
gone over to the majority,) my brother explained to us; and we easily
comprehended that any one generation of the living human race, even if
combined, and acting in concert, must be in a frightful minority, by
comparison with all the incalculable generations that had trot this earth
before us. The Parliament of living men, Lords and Commons united, what a
miserable array against the Upper and Lower House composing the
Parliament of ghosts! Perhaps the Pre-Adamites would constitute one wing
in such a ghostly army. My brother, dying in his sixteenth year, was far
enough from seeing or foreseeing Waterloo; else he might have illustrated
this dreadful duel of the living human race with its ghostly
predecessors, by the awful apparition which at three o'clock in the
afternoon, on the 18th of June, 1815, the mighty contest at Waterloo must
have assumed to eyes that watched over the trembling interests of man.
The English army, about that time in the great agony of its strife, was
thrown into squares; and under that arrangement, which condensed and
contracted its apparent numbers within a few black geometrical diagrams,
how frightfully narrow, how spectral, did its slender quadrangels appear
at a distance, to any philosophic spectators that knew about the amount
of human interests confided to that army, and the hopes for Christendom
that even then were trembling in the balance! Such a disproportion, it
seems, might exist, in the case of a ghostly war, between the harvest of
possible results and the slender band of reapers that were to gather it.
And there was even a worse peril than any analogous one that has been
_proved_ to exist at Waterloo. A British surgeon, indeed, in a work of
two octavo volumes, has endeavored to show that a conspiracy was traced
at Waterloo, between two or three foreign regiments, for kindling a panic
in the heat of battle, by flight, and by a sustained blowing up of
tumbrils, under the miserable purpose of shaking the British steadiness.
But the evidences are not clear; whereas my brother insisted that the
presence of sham men, distributed extensively amongst the human race, and
meditating treason against us all, had been demonstrated to the
satisfaction of all true philosophers. Who were these shams and make-
believe men? They were, in fact, people that had been dead for centuries,
but that, for reasons best known to themselves, had returned to this
upper earth, walked about amongst us, and were undistinguishable, except
by the most learned of necromancers, from authentic men of flesh and
blood. I mention this for the sake of illustrating the fact, of which the
reader will find a singular instance in the foot note attached, that the
same crazes are everlastingly revolving upon men. [2]

This hypothesis, however, like a thousand others, when it happened
that they engaged no durable sympathy from his nursery audience, he
did not pursue. For some time he turned his thoughts to philosophy,
and read lectures to us every night upon some branch or other of
physics. This undertaking arose upon some one of us envying or admiring
flies for their power of walking upon the ceiling. "Poh!" he said,
"they are impostors; they pretend to do it, but they can't do it as
it ought to be done. Ah! you should see _me_ standing upright on the
ceiling, with my head downwards, for half an hour together, and
meditating profoundly." My sister Mary remarked, that we should all
be very glad to see him in that position. "If that's the case," he
replied, "it's very well that all is ready, except as to a strap or
two." Being an excellent skater, he had first imagined that, if held
up until he had started, he might then, by taking a bold sweep ahead,
keep himself in position through the continued impetus of skating. But
this he found not to answer; because, as he observed, "the friction
was too retarding from the plaster of Paris, but the case would be
very different if the ceiling were coated with ice." As it was _not_,
he changed his plan. The true secret, he now discovered, was this: he
would consider himself in the light of a humming top; he would make
an apparatus (and he made it) for having himself launched, like a top,
upon the ceiling, and regularly spun. Then the vertiginous motion of
the human top would overpower the force of gravitation. He should, of
course, spin upon his own axis, and sleep upon his own axis--perhaps
he might even dream upon it; and he laughed at "those scoundrels, the
flies," that never improved in their pretended art, nor made any thing
of it. The principle was now discovered; "and, of course," he said,
if a man can keep it up for five minutes, what's to hinder him from
doing so for five months?" "Certainly, nothing that I can think of,"
was the reply of my sister, whose scepticism, in fact, had not settled
upon the five months, but altogether upon the five minutes. The
apparatus for spinning him, however, perhaps from its complexity, would
not work--a fact evidently owing to the stupidity of the gardener. On
reconsidering the subject, he announced, to the disappointment of some
amongst us, that, although the physical discovery was now complete,
he saw a moral difficulty. It was not a _humming_ top that was required,
but a peg top. Now, this, in order to keep up the _vertigo_ at full
stretch, without which, to a certainty, gravitation would prove too
much for him, needed to be whipped incessantly. But that was precisely
what a gentleman ought not to tolerate: to be scourged unintermittingly
on the legs by any grub of a gardener, unless it were father Adam
himself, was a thing that he could not bring his mind to face. However,
as some compensation, he proposed to improve the art of flying, which
was, as every body must acknowledge, in a condition disgraceful to
civilized society. As he had made many a fire balloon, and had succeeded
in some attempts at bringing down cats by _parachutes_, it was not
very difficult to fly downwards from moderate elevations. But, as he
was reproached by my sister for never flying back again,--which,
however, was a far different thing, and not even attempted by the
philosopher in "Rasselas,"--(for

  "Revocare gradum, et _superas_ evadere ad auras
  Hic labor, hoc opus est,")

he refused, under such poor encouragement, to try his winged parachutes
any more, either "aloft or alow," till he had thoroughly studied Bishop
Wilkins [3] on the art of translating right reverend gentlemen to the
moon; and, in the mean time, he resumed his general lectures on physics.
From these, however, he was speedily driven, or one might say shelled
out, by a concerted assault of my sister Mary's. He had been in the habit
of lowering the pitch of his lectures with ostentatious condescension to
the presumed level of our poor understandings. This superciliousness
annoyed my sister; and accordingly, with the help of two young female
visitors, and my next younger brother,--in subsequent times a little
middy on board many a ship of H. M., and the most predestined rebel upon
earth against all assumptions, small or great, of superiority,--she
arranged a mutiny, that had the unexpected effect of suddenly
extinguishing the lectures forever. He had happened to say, what was no
unusual thing with him, that he flattered himself he had made the point
under discussion tolerably clear; "clear," he added, bowing round the
half circle of us, the audience, "to the meanest of capacities;" and then
he repeated,  sonorously, "clear to the most excruciatingly mean of
capacities." Upon which, a voice, a female voice,--but whose voice, in
the tumult that followed, I did not distinguish,--retorted, "No, you
haven't; it's as dark as sin; "and then, without a moment's interval, a
second voice exclaimed, "Dark as night;" then came my young brother's
insurrectionary yell, "Dark as midnight;" then another female voice
chimed in melodiously, "Dark as pitch;" and so the peal continued to come
round like a catch, the whole being so well concerted, and the rolling
fire so well sustained, that it was impossible to make head against it;
whilst the abruptness of the interruption gave to it the protecting
character of an oral "round robin," it being impossible to challenge any
one in particular as the ringleader. Burke's phrase of "the swinish
multitude," applied to mobs, was then in every body's mouth; and,
accordingly, after my brother had recovered from his first astonishment
at this audacious mutiny, he made us several sweeping bows that looked
very much like tentative rehearsals of a sweeping  _fusillade_, and then
addressed us in a very brief speech, of which we could distinguish the
words _pearls_ and _swinish multitude_, but uttered in a very low key,
perhaps out of some lurking consideration for the two young strangers. We
all laughed in chorus at this parting salute; my brother himself
condescended at last to join us; but there ended the course of lectures
on natural philosophy.

As it was impossible, however, that he should remain quiet, he announced
to us, that for the rest of his life he meant to dedicate himself to
the intense cultivation of the tragic drama. He got to work instantly;
and very soon he had composed the first act of his "Sultan Selim;"
but, in defiance of the metre, he soon changed the title to "Sultan
Amurath," considering _that_ a much fiercer name, more bewhiskered and
beturbaned. It was no part of his intention that we should sit lolling
on chairs like ladies and gentleman that had paid opera prices for
private boxes. He expected every one of us, he said, to pull an oar.
We were to _act_ the tragedy. But, in fact, we had many oars to pull.
There were so many characters, that each of us took four at the least,
and the future middy had six. He, this wicked little middy, [4] caused
the greatest affliction to Sultan Amurath, forcing him to order the
amputation of his head six several times (that is, once in every one of
his six parts) during the first act. In reality, the sultan, though
otherwise a decent man, was too bloody. What by the bowstring, and what
by the cimeter, he had so thinned the population with which he commenced
business, that scarcely any of the characters remained alive at the
end of act the first. Sultan Amurath found himself in an awkward
situation. Large arrears of work remained, and hardly any body to do
it but the sultan himself. In composing act the second, the author had
to proceed like Deucalion and Pyrrha, and to create an entirely new
generation. Apparently this young generation, that ought to have been
so good, took no warning by what had happened to their ancestors in
act the first: one must conclude that they were quite as wicked, since
the poor sultan had found himself reduced to order them all for
execution in the course of this act the second. To the brazen age had
succeeded an iron age; and the prospects were becoming sadder and
sadder as the tragedy advanced. But here the author began to hesitate.
He felt it hard to resist the instinct of carnage. And was it right
to do so? Which of the felons whom he had cut of prematurely could
pretend that a court of appeal would have reversed his sentence? But
the consequences were distressing. A new set of characters in every
act brought with it the necessity of a new plot; for people could not
succeed to the arrears of old actions, or inherit ancient motives,
like a landed estate. Five crops, in fact, must be taken off the ground
in each separate tragedy, amounting, in short, to five tragedies
involved in one.

Such, according to the rapid sketch which at this moment my memory
furnishes, was the brother who now first laid open to me the gates of
war. The occasion was this. He had resented, with a shower of stones, an
affront offered to us by an individual boy, belonging to a cotton
factory: for more than two years afterwards this became the _teterrima
causa_ of a skirmish or a battle as often as we passed the factory; and,
unfortunately, _that_ was twice a day on every day except Sunday. Our
situation in respect to the enemy was as follows: Greenhay, a country
house newly built by my father, at that time was a clear mile from the
outskirts of Manchester; but in after years Manchester, throwing out the
_tentacula_ of its vast expansions, absolutely enveloped Greenhay; and,
for any thing I know, the grounds and gardens which then insulated the
house may have long disappeared. Being a modest mansion, which (including
hot walls, offices, and gardener's house) had cost only six thousand
pounds, I do not know how it should have risen to the distinction of
giving name to a region of that great town; however, it _has_ done so;
[5] and at this time, therefore, after changes so great, it will be
difficult for the _habitué_ of that region to understand how my brother
and myself could have a solitary road to traverse between Greenhay and
Princess Street, then the termination, on that side, of Manchester. But
so it was. Oxford _Street_, like its namesake in London, was then called
the Oxford _Road_; and during the currency of our acquaintance with it,
arose the first three houses in its neighborhood; of which the third was
built for the Rev. S. H., one of our guardians, for whom his friends had
also built the Church of St. Peter's--not a bowshot from the house. At
present, however, he resided in Salford, nearly two miles from Greenhay;
and to him we went over daily, for the benefit of his classical
instructions. One sole cotton factory had then risen along the line of
Oxford Street; and this was close to a bridge, which also was a new
creation; for previously all passengers to Manchester went round by
Garrat. This factory became to us the _officina gentium_, from which
swarmed forth those Goths and Vandals that continually threatened our
steps; and this bridge became the eternal arena of combat, we taking good
care to be on the right side of the bridge for retreat, _i.e._, on the
town side, or the country side, accordingly as we were going out in the
morning, or returning in the afternoon. Stones were the implements of
warfare; and by continual practice both parties became expert in throwing
them.

The origin of the feud it is scarcely requisite to rehearse, since the
particular accident which began it was not the true efficient cause
of our long warfare, but simply the casual occasion. The cause lay in
our aristocratic dress. As children of an opulent family, where all
provisions were liberal, and all appointments elegant, we were uniformly
well dressed; and, in particular, we wore troussers, (at that time
unheard of, except among sailors,) and we also wore Hessian boots--a
crime that could not be forgiven in the Lancashire of that day, because
it expressed the double offence of being aristocratic and being
outlandish. We were aristocrats, and it was vain to deny it; could
we deny our boots? whilst our antagonists, if not absolutely _sans
culottes_, were slovenly and forlorn in their dress, often unwashed,
with hair totally neglected, and always covered with flakes of cotton.
Jacobins they were not, as regarded any sympathy with the Jacobinism
that then desolated France; for, on the contrary, they detested every
thing French, and answered with brotherly signals to the cry of "Church
and king," or "King and constitution." But, for all that, as they were
perfectly independent, getting very high wages, and these wages in a
mode of industry that was then taking vast strides ahead, they contrived
to reconcile this patriotic anti-Jacobinism with a personal Jacobinism
of that sort which is native to the heart of man, who is by natural
impulse (and not without a root of nobility, though also of base envy)
impatient of inequality, and submits to it only through a sense of
its necessity, or under a long experience of its benefits.

It was on an early day of our new _tyrocinium_, or perhaps on the very
first, that, as we passed the bridge, a boy happening to issue from
the factory [6] sang out to us derisively, "Hollo, bucks!" In this the
reader may fail to perceive any atrocious insult commensurate to the long
war which followed. But the reader is wrong. The word "_dandies_" [7]
which was what the villain meant, had not then been born, so that he
could not have called us by that name, unless through the spirit of
prophecy. _Buck_ was the nearest word at hand in his Manchester
vocabulary: he gave all he could, and let us dream the rest. But in the
next moment he discovered our boots, and he consummated his crime by
saluting us as "Boots! boots!" My brother made a dead stop, surveyed him
with intense disdain, and bade him draw near, that he might "give his
flesh to the fowls of the air." The boy declined to accept this
liberal invitation, and conveyed his answer by a most contemptuous and
plebian gesture, [8] upon which my brother drove him in with a shower
of stones.

During this inaugural flourish of hostilities, I, for my part, remained
inactive, and therefore apparently neutral. But this was the last time
that I did so: for the moment, indeed, I was taken by surprise. To be
called a _buck_ by one that had it in his choice to have called me a
coward, a thief, or a murderer, struck me as a most pardonable offence;
and as to _boots_, that rested upon a flagrant fact that could not be
denied; so that at first I was green enough to regard the boy as very
considerate and indulgent. But my brother soon rectified my views; or,
if any doubts remained, he impressed me, at least, with a sense of my
paramount duty to himself, which was threefold. First, it seems that
I owed military allegiant to _him_, as my commander-in-chief, whenever
we "took the field;" secondly, by the law of nations, I, being a cadet
of my house, owed suit and service to him who was its head; and he
assured me, that twice in a year, on _my_ birthday and on _his_, he
had a right, strictly speaking, to make me lie down, and to set his
foot upon my neck; lastly, by a law not so rigorous, but valid amongst
gentlemen,--viz., "by the _comity_ of nations,"--it seems I owed eternal
deference to one so much older than myself, so much wiser, stronger,
braver, more beautiful, and more swift of foot. Something like all
this in tendency I had already believed, though I had not so minutely
investigated the modes and grounds of my duty. By temperament, and
through natural dedication to despondency, I felt resting upon me
always too deep and gloomy a sense of obscure duties attached to life,
that I never _should_ be able to fulfil; a burden which I could not
carry, and which yet I did not know how to throw off. Glad, therefore,
I was to find the whole tremendous weight of obligations--the law and
the prophets--all crowded into this one pocket command, "Thou shalt
obey thy brother as God's vicar upon earth." For now, if, by any future
stone levelled at him who had called me a "buck," I should chance to
draw blood, perhaps I might not have committed so serious a trespass
on any rights which he could plead; but if I _had_, (for on this subject
my convictions were still cloudy,) at any rate, the duty I might have
violated in regard to this general brother, in right of Adam, was
cancelled when it came into collision with my paramount duty to this
liege brother of my own individual house.

From this day, therefore, I obeyed all my brother's military commands
with the utmost docility; and happy it made me that every sort of
doubt, or question, or opening for demur was swallowed up in the unity
of this one papal principle, discovered by my brother, viz., that all
rights and duties of casuistry were transferred from me to himself.
_His_ was the judgment--_his_ was the responsibility; and to me belonged
only the sublime obligation of unconditional faith in _him_. That faith
I realized. It is true that he taxed me at times, in his reports of
particular fights, with "horrible cowardice," and even with "a cowardice
that seemed inexplicable, except on the supposition of treachery." But
this was only a _façon de parler_ with him: the idea of secret perfidy,
that was constantly moving under ground, gave an interest to the
progress of the war, which else tended to the monotonous. It was a
dramatic artifice for sustaining the interest, where the incidents
might happen to be too slightly diversified. But that he did not believe
his own charges was clear, because he never repeated them in his
"General History of the Campaigns," which was a _resumé_, or
recapitulating digest, of his daily reports.

We fought every day, and, generally speaking, _twice_ every day; and
the result was pretty uniform, viz., that my brother and I terminated
the battle by insisting upon our undoubted right to run away. _Magna
Charta_, I should fancy, secures that great right to every man; else,
surely, it is sadly defective. But out of this catastrophe to most of
our skirmishes, and to all our pitched battles except one, grew a
standing schism between my brother and myself. My unlimited obedience
had respect to action, but not to opinion. Loyalty to my brother did
not rest upon hypocrisy: because I was faithful, it did not follow
that I must be false in relation to his capricious opinions. And these
opinions sometimes took the shape of acts. Twice, at the least, in
every week, but sometimes every night, my brother insisted on singing
"Te Deum" for supposed victories which he had won; and he insisted
also on my bearing a part in these "Te Deums." Now, as I knew of no
such victories, but resolutely asserted the truth,--viz., that we ran
away,--a slight jar was thus given to the else triumphal effect of
these musical ovations. Once having uttered my protest, however,
willingly I gave my aid to the chanting; for I loved unspeakably the
grand and varied system of chanting in the Romish and English churches.
And, looking back at this day to the ineffable benefits which I derived
from the church of my childhood, I account among the very greatest
those which reached me through the various chants connected with the
"O, Jubilate," the "Magnificat," the "Te Deum," the "Benedicite," &c.
Through these chants it was that the sorrow which laid waste my infancy,
and the devotion which nature had made a necessity of my being, were
profoundly interfused: the sorrow gave reality and depth to the
devotion; the devotion gave grandeur and idealization to the sorrow.
Neither was my love for chanting altogether without knowledge. A son
of my reverend guardian, much older than myself, who possessed a
singular faculty of producing a sort of organ accompaniment with one
half of his mouth, whilst he sang with the other half, had given me
some instructions in the art of chanting; and, as to my brother, he,
the hundred-handed Briareus, could do all things; of course, therefore,
he could chant.

Once having begun, it followed naturally that the war should deepen
in bitterness. Wounds that wrote memorials in the flesh, insults that
rankled in the heart,--these were not features of the case likely to
be forgotten by our enemies, and far less by my fiery brother. I, for
my part, entered not into any of the passions that war may be supposed
to kindle, except only the chronic passion of anxiety. _Fear_ it was
not; for experience had taught me that, under the random firing of our
undisciplined enemies, the chances were not many of being wounded. But
the uncertainties of the war; the doubts in every separate action
whether I could keep up the requisite connection with my brother, and,
in case I could not, the utter darkness that surrounded my fate;
whether, as a trophy won from Israel, I should be dedicated to the
service of some Manchester Dagon, or pass through fire to Moloch,--all
these contingencies, for me that had no friend to consult, ran too
violently into the master current of my constitutional despondency
ever to give way under any casual elation of success. Success, however,
we really had at times; in slight skirmishes pretty often; and once,
at least, as the reader will find to his mortification, if he is wicked
enough to take the side of the Philistines, a most smashing victory
in a pitched battle. But even then, and whilst the hurrahs were yet
ascending from our jubilating lips, the freezing remembrance came back
to my heart of that deadly depression which, duly at the coming round
of the morning and evening watches, travelled with me like my shadow
on our approach to the memorable bridge. A bridge of sighs [9] too surely
it was for me; and even for my brother it formed an object of fierce yet
anxious jealousy, that he could not always disguise, as we first came in
sight of it; for, if it happened to be occupied in strength, there was an
end of all hope that we could attempt the passage; and _that_ was a
fortunate solution of the difficulty, as it imposed no evil beyond a
circuit; which, at least, was safe, if the world should choose to call it
inglorious. Even this shade of ignominy, however, my brother contrived
to color favorably, by calling us--that is, me and himself--"a corps
of observation;" and he condescendingly explained to me, that, although
making "a lateral movement," he had his eye upon the enemy, and "might
yet come round upon his left flank in a way that wouldn't, perhaps,
prove very agreeable." This, from the nature of the ground, never
happened. We crossed the river at Garrat, out of sight from the enemy's
position; and, on our return in the evening, when we reached that point
of our route from which the retreat was secure to Greenhay, we took
such revenge for the morning insult as might belong to extra liberality
in our stone donations. On this line of policy there was, therefore,
no cause for anxiety; but the common case was, that the numbers might
not be such as to justify this caution, and yet quite enough for
mischief. To my brother, however, stung and carried headlong into
hostility by the martial instincts of his nature, the uneasiness of
doubt or insecurity was swallowed up by his joy in the anticipation
of victory, or even of contest; whilst to myself, whose exultation was
purely official and ceremonial, as due by loyalty from a cadet to the
head of his house, no such compensation existed. The enemy was no enemy
in _my_ eyes; his affronts were but retaliations; and his insults
were so inapplicable to my unworthy self, being of a calibre exclusively
meant for the use of my brother, that from me they recoiled, one and
all, as cannon shot from cotton bags.

The ordinary course of our day's warfare was this: between nine and
ten in the morning occurred our first transit, and, consequently, our
earliest opportunity for doing business. But at this time the great
sublunary interest of breakfast, which swallowed up all nobler
considerations of glory and ambition, occupied the work people of the
factory, (or what in the pedantic diction of this day are termed the
"operatives,") so that very seldom any serious business was transacted.
Without any formal armistice, the paramount convenience of such an
arrangement silently secured its own recognition. Notice there needed
none of truce, when the one side yearned for breakfast, and the other
for a respite: the groups, therefore, on or about the bridge, if any
at all, were loose in their array, and careless. We passed through
them rapidly, and, on my part, uneasily; exchanging a few snarls,
perhaps, but seldom or ever snapping at each other. The tameness was
almost shocking of those who, in the afternoon, would inevitably resume
their natural characters of tiger cats and wolves. Sometimes, however,
my brother felt it to be a duty that we should fight in the morning;
particularly when any expression of public joy for a victory,--bells
ringing in the distance,--or when a royal birthday, or some traditional
commemoration of ancient feuds, (such as the 5th of November,) irritated
his martial propensities. Some of these being religious festivals,
seemed to require of us an _extra_ homage, for which we knew not how
to find any natural or significant expression, except through sharp
discharges of stones, that being a language older than Hebrew or
Sanscrit, and universally intelligible. But, excepting these high
days of religious solemnity, when a man is called upon to show that
he is not a pagan or a miscreant in the eldest of senses, by thumping,
or trying to thump, somebody who is accused or accusable of being
heterodox, the great ceremony of breakfast was allowed to sanctify the
hour. Some natural growls we uttered, but hushed them soon, regardless

          "Of the sweeping whirlpool's sway,
  That, hushed in grim repose, looked for his evening prey."

_That_ came but too surely. Yes, evening never forgot to come; this
odious necessity of fighting never missed its road back, or fell asleep,
or loitered by the way, more than a bill of exchange or a tertian
fever. Five times a week (Saturday sometimes, and Sunday always, were
days of rest) the same scene rehearsed itself in pretty nearly the
same succession of circumstances. Between four and five o'clock we had
crossed the bridge to the safe, or Greenhay side; then we paused, and
waited for the enemy. Sooner or later a bell rang, and from the smoky
hive issued the hornets that night and day stung incurably my peace
of mind. The order and procession of the incidents after this were
odiously monotonous. My brother occupied the main high road, precisely
at the point where a very gentle rise of the ground attained its summit;
for the bridge lay in a slight valley, and the main military position
was fifty or eighty yards above the bridge: then--but having first
examined my pockets, in order to be sure that my stock of ammunition,
stones, fragments of slate, with a reasonable proportion of brickbats,
was all correct and ready for action--he detached me about forty yards
to the right, my orders being invariable, and liable to no doubts or
"quibbling." Detestable in _my_ ears was that word "_quibbling_," by
which, for a thousand years, if the war had happened to last so long,
he would have fastened upon me the imputation of meaning, or wishing,
at least, to do what he called "pettifogulizing"--that is, to plead
some distinction, or verbal demur, in bar of my orders, under some
colorable pretence that, according to their literal construction, they
really did not admit of being fulfilled, or perhaps that they admitted
it too much as being capable of fulfilment in two senses, either of
them a practicable sense. True it was that my eye was preternaturally
keen for flaws of language, not from pedantic exaction of superfluous
accuracy, but, on the contrary, from too conscientious a wish to escape
the mistakes which language not rigorous is apt to occasion. So far
from seeking to "pettifogulize"--_i.e._, to find evasions for any
purpose in a trickster's minute tortuosities of construction--exactly
in the opposite direction, from mere excess of sincerity, most
unwillingly I found, in almost every body's words, an unintentional
opening left for double interpretations. Undesigned equivocation
prevails every where; [10] and it is not the cavilling hair splitter,
but, on the contrary, the single-eyed servant of truth, that is most
likely to insist upon the limitation of expressions too wide or too
vague, and upon the decisive election between meanings potentially
double. Not in order to resist or evade my brother's directions, but for
the very opposite purpose--viz., that I might fulfil them to the letter;
thus and no otherwise it happened that I showed so much scrupulosity
about the exact value and position of his words, as finally to draw upon
myself the vexatious reproach of being habitually a "pettifogulizer."

Meantime, our campaigning continued to rage. Overtures of pacification
were never mentioned on either side. And I, for _my_ part, with the
passions only of peace at my heart, did the works of war faithfully
and with distinction. I presume so, at least, from the results. It is
true, I was continually falling into treason, without exactly knowing
how I got into it, or how I got out of it. My brother also, it is true,
sometimes assured me that he could, according to the rigor of martial
justice, have me hanged on the first tree we passed; to which my prosaic
answer had been, that of trees there _were_ none in Oxford
Street--[which, in imitation of Von Troil's famous chapter on the
snakes of Lapland, the reader may accept, if he pleases, as a complete
course of lectures on the "dendrology" of Oxford Street.] But,
notwithstanding such little stumblings in my career, I continued to
ascend in the service; and, I am sure, it will gratify my friendly
readers to hear, that, before my eighth birthday, I was promoted to
the rank of major general. Over this sunshine, however, soon swept a
train of clouds. Three times I was taken prisoner, and with different
results. The first time I was carried to the rear, and not molested
in any way. Finding myself thus ignominiously neglected, I watched my
opportunity; and, by making a wide circuit, easily effected my escape.
In the next case, a brief council was held over me; but I was not
allowed to hear the deliberations; the result only being communicated
to me--which result consisted in a message not very complimentary to
my brother, and a small present of kicks to myself. This present was
paid down without any discount, by means of a general subscription
amongst the party surrounding me--that party, luckily, not being very
numerous; besides which, I must, in honesty, acknowledge myself,
generally speaking, indebted to their forbearance. They were not
disposed to be too hard upon me. But, at the same time, they clearly
did not think it right that I should escape altogether from tasting
the calamities of war. And this translated the estimate of my guilt
from the public jurisdiction to that of the individual, sometimes
capricious and harsh, and carrying out the public award by means of
legs that ranged through all gradations of weight and agility. One
kick differed exceedingly from another kick in dynamic value; and, in
some cases, this difference was so distressingly conspicuous as to
imply special malice, unworthy, I conceive, of all generous soldiership.

On returning to our own frontiers, I had an opportunity of displaying
my exemplary greenness. That message to my brother, with all its
_virus_ of insolence I repeated as faithfully for the spirit as, and
as literally for the expressions, as my memory allowed me to do; and
in that troublesome effort, simpleton that I was, fancied myself
exhibiting a soldier's loyalty to his commanding officer. My brother
thought otherwise: he was more angry with me than with the enemy. I
ought, he said, to have refused all participation in such _sans
cullotes_ insolence; to carry it was to acknowledge it as fit to be
carried. One, grows wiser every day; and on this particular day I made
a resolution that, if again made prisoner, I would bring no more "jaw"
(so my brother called it) from the Philistines. If these people _would_
send "jaw," I settled that, henceforwards, it must go through the post
office.

In my former captures, there had been nothing special or worthy of
commemoration in the circumstances. Neither was there in the third,
excepting that, by accident, in the second stage of the case, I was
delivered over to the custody of young women and girls; whereas the
ordinary course would have thrown me upon the vigilant attentions
(relieved from monotony by the experimental kicks) of boys. So far,
the change was very much for the better. I had a feeling myself, on
first being presented to my new young mistresses, of a distressing
sort. Having always, up to the completion of my sixth year, been a
privileged pet, and almost, I might say, ranking amongst the sanctities
of the household, with all its female sections, whether young or old,
(an advantage which I owed originally to a long illness, an ague,
stretching over two entire years of my infancy,) naturally I had learned
to appreciate the indulgent tenderness of women; and my heart thrilled
with love and gratitude, as often as they took me up into their arms
and kissed me. Here it would have been as every where else; but,
unfortunately, my introduction to these young women was in the very
worst of characters. I had been taken in arms--in arms against their
own brothers, cousins, sweethearts, and on pretexts too frivolous to
mention. If asked the question, it would be found that I should not
myself deny the fact of being at war with their whole order. What was
the meaning of _that_? What was it to which war pledged a man? It
pledged him, in case of opportunity, to burn, ravage, and depopulate
the houses and lands of the enemy; which enemy was these fair girls.
The warrior stood committed to universal destruction. Neither sex nor
age, neither the smiles of unoffending infancy nor the gray hairs of
the venerable patriarch, neither the sanctity of the matron nor the
loveliness of the youthful bride, would confer any privilege with the
warrior, consequently not with me.

Many other hideous features in the military character will be found
in books innumerable--levelled at those who make war, and therefore
at myself. And it appears finally by these books, that, as one of my
ordinary practices, I make a wilderness, and call it a pacification;
that I hold it a duty to put people to the sword; which done, to plough
up the foundations of their hearths and altars, and then to sow the
ground with salt.

All this passing through my brain, when suddenly one young woman
snatched me up in her arms, and kissed me: from _her_, I was passed
round to others of the party, who all in turn caressed me, with no
allusion to that warlike mission against them and theirs, which only
had procured me the honor of an introduction to themselves in the
character of captive. The too palpable fact that I was not the person
meant by nature to exterminate their families, or to make wildernesses,
and call them pacifications, had withdrawn from their minds the
counterfact--that whatever had been my performances, my intentions had
been hostile, and that in such a character only I could have become
their prisoner. Not only did these young people kiss me, but I (seeing
no military reason against it) kissed _them_. Really, if young women
will insist on kissing major generals, they must expect that the
generals will retaliate. One only of the crowd adverted to the character
in which I came before them: to be a lawful prisoner, it struck her
too logical mind that I must have been caught in some aggressive
practices. "Think," she said, "of this little dog fighting, and fighting
our Jack." "But," said another in a propitiatory tone, "perhaps he'll
not do so any more." I was touched by the kindness of her suggestion,
and the sweet, merciful sound of that same "_Not do so any more_" which
really was prompted, I fear, much more by that charity in her which
hopeth all things than by any signs of amendment in myself. Well was
it for me that no time was allowed for an investigation into my morals
by point-blank questions as to my future intentions. In which case it
would have appeared too undeniably, that the same sad necessity which
had planted me hitherto in a position of hostility to their estimable
families would continue to persecute me; and that, on the very next
day, duty to my brother, howsoever it might struggle with gratitude
to themselves, would range me in martial attitude, with a pocketful
of stones, meant, alas! for the exclusive use of their respectable
kinsmen. Whilst I was preparing myself, however, for this painful
exposition, my female friends observed issuing from the factory a crowd
of boys not likely at all to improve my prospects. Instantly setting
me down on my feet, they formed a sort of _cordon sanitaire_ behind
me, by stretching out their petticoats or aprons, as in dancing, so
as to touch; and then crying out, "Now, little dog, run for thy life,"
prepared themselves (I doubt not) for rescuing me, should my recapture
be effected.

But this was not effected, although attempted with an energy that
alarmed me, and even perplexed me with a vague thought (far too
ambitious for my years) that one or two of the pursuing party might
be possessed by some demon of jealousy, as eye witnesses to my revelling
amongst the lips of that fair girlish bevy, kissing and being kissed,
loving and being loved; in which case, from all that ever I had read
about jealousy, (and I had read a great deal--viz., "Othello," and
Collins's "Ode to the Passions,") I was satisfied that, if again
captured, I had very little chance for my life. That jealousy was a
green-eyed monster, nobody could know better than _I_ did. "O, my lord,
beware of jealousy!" Yes; and my lord couldn't possibly have more
reason for bewaring of it than myself; indeed, well it would have been
had his lordship run away from all the ministers of jealousy--Iago,
Cassio, and embroidered handkerchiefs--at the same pace of six miles
an hour which kept me ahead of my infuriated pursuers. Ah, that maniac,
white as a leper with flakes of cotton, can I ever forget him--_him_
that ran so far in advance of his party? What passion but jealousy
could have sustained him in so hot a chase? There were some lovely
girls in the fair company that had so condescendingly caressed me;
but, doubtless, upon that sweet creature his love must have settled,
who suggested, in her soft, relenting voice, a penitence in me that,
alas! had not dawned, saying, "_Yes; but perhaps he will not do so any
more._" Thinking, as I ran, of her beauty, I felt that this jealous
demoniac must fancy himself justified in committing seven times seven
murders upon me, if he should have it in his power. But, thank Heaven,
if jealousy can run six miles an hour, there are other passions--as,
for instance, panic--that can run, upon occasion, six and a half; so,
as I had the start of him, (you know, reader,) and not a very short
start,--thanks be to the expanded petticoats of my dear female
friends!--naturally it happend that the green-eyed monster came in
second best. Time, luckily, was precious with _him_; and, accordingly,
when he had chased me into the by-road leading down to Greenhay, he
turned back. For the moment, therefore, I found myself suddenly released
from danger. But this counted for nothing. The same scene would probably
revolve upon me continually; and, on the next rehearsal, Green-eyes
might have better luck. It saddened me, besides, to find myself under
the political necessity of numbering amongst the Philistines, and as
daughters of Gath, so many kind-hearted girls, whom, by personal proof,
I knew to be such. In the profoundest sense, I was unhappy; and, not
from any momentary accident of distress, but from deep glimpses which
now, and heretofore, had opened themselves, as occassions arose, into
the inevitable conflicts of life. One of the saddest among such
conflicts is the necessity, wheresoever it occurs, of adopting--though
the heart should disown--the enmities of one's own family, or country,
or religious sect. In forms how afflicting must that necessity have
sometimes occurred during the Parliamentary war! And, in after years,
amongst our beautiful old English metrical romances, I found the same
impassioned complaint uttered by a knight, Sir Ywain, as early as A.D.
1240--

  "But now, where'er I stray or go,
   My heart SHE has that is my foe!"

I knew--I anticipated to a certainty--that my brother would not hear
of any merit belonging to the factory population whom every day we had
to meet in battle; on the contrary, even submission on _their_ part,
and willingness to walk penitentially through the _Furcae Caudinae_,
would hardly have satisfied his sense of their criminality. Often,
indeed, as we came in view of the factory, he would shake his fist at
it, and say, in a ferocious tone of voice, "_Delenda est Carthago!_"
And certainly, I thought to myself, it must be admitted by every body,
that the factory people are inexcusable in raising a rebellion against
my brother. But still rebels were men, and sometimes were women; and
rebels, that stretch out their petticoats like fans for the sake of
screening one from the hot pursuit of enemies with fiery eyes, (green
or otherwise,) really are not the sort of people that one wishes to
hate.

Homewards, therefore, I drew in sadness, and little doubting that
_hereafter_ I might have verbal feuds with my brother on behalf of my
fair friends, but not dreaming how much displeasure I had already
incurred by my treasonable collusion with their caresses. That part
of the affair he had seen with his own eyes, from his position on the
field; and then it was that he left me indignantly to my fate, which,
by my first reception, it was easy to see would not prove very gloomy.
When I came into our own study, I found him engaged in preparing a
_bulletin_, (which word was just then travelling into universal use,)
reporting briefly the events of the day. The art of drawing, as I shall
again have occasion to mention, was amongst his foremost accomplishments;
and round the margin of the border ran a black border, ornamented with
cyprus and other funereal emblems. When finished, it was carried into the
room of Mrs. Evans. This Mrs. Evans was an important person in our
affairs. My mother, who never chose to have any direct communication with
her servants, always had a housekeeper for the regulation of all domestic
business; and the housekeeper, for some years, was this Mrs. Evans. Into
her private parlor, where she sat aloof from the under servants, my
brother and I had the _entrée_ at all times, but upon very different
terms of acceptance: he as a favorite of the first class; _I_, by
sufferance, as a sort of gloomy shadow that ran after _his_ person, and
could not well be shut out if _he_ were let in. Him she admired in the
very highest degree; myself, on the contrary, she detested, which made me
unhappy. But then, in some measure, she made amends for this, by
despising me in extremity; and for _that_ I was truly thankful--I need
not say _why_, as the reader already knows. Why she detested me, so far
as I know, arose in part out of my thoughtfulness indisposed to
garrulity, and in part out of my savage, Orson-like sincerity. I had a
great deal to say, but then I could say it only to a very few people,
amongst whom Mrs. Evans was certainly not one; and, when I _did_ say any
thing, I fear that dire ignorance prevented my laying the proper
restraints upon my too liberal candor; and _that could not prove
acceptable to one who thought nothing of working for any purpose, or for
no purpose, by petty tricks, or even falsehoods--all which I held in
stern abhorrence that I was at no pains to conceal. The _bulletin_ on
this occasion, garnished with this pageantry of woe, cypress wreaths, and
arms reversed, was read aloud to Mrs. Evans, indirectly, therefore, to
me. It communicated with Spartan brevity, the sad intelligence (but not
sad to Mrs. E.) "that the major general had forever disgraced himself, by
submitting to the ........ caresses of the enemy." I leave a blank for
the epithet affixed to "caresses," not because there _was_ any blank,
but, on the contrary, because my brother's wrath had boiled over in such
a hubble-bubble of epithets, some only half erased, some doubtfully
erased, that it was impossible, out of the various readings, to pick
out the true classical text. "Infamous," "disgusting," and "odious"
struggled for precedency; and _infamous_ they might be; but on the
other affixes I held my own private opinions. For some days my brother's
displeasure continued to roll in reverberating thunders; but at length
it growled itself to rest; and at last he descended to mild
expostulations with me, showing clearly, in a series of general orders,
what frightful consequences must ensue, if major generals (as a general
principle) should allow themselves to be kissed by the enemy.

About this time my brother began to issue, instead of occasional
bulletins, through which hitherto he had breathed his opinions into
the ear of the public, (viz., of Mrs. Evans,) a regular gazette, which,
in imitation of the London Gazette, was published twice a week. I
suppose that no creature ever led such a life as _I_ did in that
gazette. Run up to the giddiest heights of promotion on on day, for
merits which I could not myself discern, in a week or two I was brought
to a court martial for offenses equally obscure. I was cashiered; I
was restored "on the intercession of a distinguished lady;" (Mrs.
Evans, to wit;) I was threatened with being drummed out of the army,
to the music of the "Rogue's March;" and then, in the midst of all
this misery and degradation, upon the discovery of some supposed energy
that I had manifested, I was decorated with the Order of the Bath. My
reading had been extensive enough to give me some vague aerial sense
of the honor involved in such a decoration, whilst I was profoundly
ignorant of the channels through which it could reach an individual,
and of the sole fountain from which it could flow. But, in this enormity
of disproportion between the cause and the effect, between the agency
and the result, I saw nothing more astonishing than I had seen in many
other cases confessedly true. Thousands of vast effects, by all that
I had heard, linked themselves to causes apparently trivial. The
dreadful taint of scrofula, according to the belief of all Christendom,
fled at the simple touch of a Stuart [11] sovereign: no miracle in the
Bible, from Jordan or from Bethesda, could be more sudden or more
astoundingly victorious. By my own experience, again, I knew that a
_styan_ (as it is called) upon the eyelid could be easily reduced, though
not instantaneously, by the slight application of any golden trinket.
Warts upon the fingers of children I had myself known to vanish under the
_verbal_ charm of a gypsy woman, without any medicinal application
whatever. And I well knew, that almost all nations believed in the
dreadful mystery of the _evil eye_; some requiring, as a condition of the
evil agency, the co-presence of malice in the agent; but others, as
appeared from my father's Portuguese recollections, ascribing the same
horrid power to the eye of certain select persons, even though innocent
of all malignant purpose, and absolutely unconscious of their own fatal
gift, until awakened to it by the results. Why, therefore, should there
be any thing to shock, or even to surprise, in the power claimed by my
brother, as an attribute inalienable from primogeniture in certain select
families, of conferring knightly honors? The red ribbon of the Bath he
certainly _did_ confer upon me; and once, in a paroxysm of imprudent
liberality, he promised me at the end of certain months, supposing that I
swerved from my duty by no atrocious delinquency, the Garter itself.
This, I knew, was a far loftier distinction than the Bath. Even then it
was so; and since those days it has become much more so; because the long
roll of martial services in the great war with Napoleon compelled our
government greatly to widen the basis of the Bath. This promise was never
fulfilled; but not for any want of clamorous persecution on my part
addressed to my brother's wearied ear and somewhat callous sense of
honor. Every fortnight, or so, I took care that he should receive a
"refresher," as lawyers call it,--a new and revised brief,--memorializing
my pretensions. These it was my brother's policy to parry, by alleged
instances of recent misconduct on my part. But all such offences, I
insisted, were thoroughly washed away by subsequent services in moments
of peril, such as he himself could not always deny. In reality, I
believe his real motive for withholding the Garter was, that he had
nothing better to bestow upon himself.

"Now, look here," he would say, appealing to Mrs. Evans; "I suppose
there's a matter of half a dozen kings on the continent, that would
consent to lose three of their fingers, if by such a sacrifice they
could purchase the blue ribbon; and here is this little scamp,
conceiting himself entitled to it before he has finished two campaigns.
"But I was not the person to be beaten off in this fashion. I took my
stand upon the promise. A promise _was_ a promise, even if made to a
scamp; and then, besides--but there I hesitated; awful thoughts
interposed to check me; else I wished to suggest that, perhaps, some
two or three among that half dozen kings might also be scamps. However,
I reduced the case to this plain dilemma: These six kings had received
a promise, or they had not. If they had not, my case was better than
theirs; if they _had_, then, said I, "all seven of us"--I was going
to add, "are sailing in the same boat," or something to that effect,
though not so picturesquely expressed; but I was interrupted by his
deadly frown at my audacity in thus linking myself on as a seventh to
this _attelage_ of kings, and that such an absolute grub should dream
of ranking as one in a bright pleiad of pretenders to the Garter. I
had not particularly thought of that; but now, that such a demur was
offered to my consideration, I thought of reminding him that, in a
certain shadowy sense, I also might presume to class myself as a king,
the meaning of which was this: Both my brother and myself, for the
sake of varying our intellectual amusements, occupied ourselves at
times in governing imaginary kingdoms. I do not mention this as any
thing unusual; it is a common resource of mental activity and of
aspiring energies amongst boys. Hartley Coleridge, for example, had
a kingdom which he governed for many years; whether well or ill, is
more than I can say. Kindly, I am sure, he would govern it; but, unless
a machine had been invented for enabling him to write without effort,
(as was really done for our fourth George during the pressure of
illness,) I fear that the public service must have languished deplorably
for want of the royal signature. In sailing past his own dominions,
what dolorous outcries would have saluted him from the shore--"Hollo,
royal sir! here's the deuse to pay: a perfect lock there is, as tight
as locked jaw, upon the course of our public business; throats there
are to be cut, from the product of ten jail deliveries, and nobody
dares to cut them, for want of the proper warrant; archbishoprics there
are to be filled; and, because they are _not_ filled, the whole nation
is running helter skelter into heresy--and all in consequence of your
majesty's sacred laziness." _Our_ governments were less remissly
administered; since each of us, by continued reports of improvements
and gracious concessions to the folly or the weakness of our subjects,
stimulated the zeal of his rival. And here, at least, there seemed to
be no reason why I should come into collision with my brother. At any
rate, I took pains _not_ to do so. But all was in vain. My destiny
was, to live in one eternal element of feud.

My own kingdom was an island called Gombroon. But in what parallel of
north or south latitude it lay, I concealed for a time as rigorously
as ancient Rome through every century concealed her real name.
[12] The object in this provisional concealment was, to regulate
the position of my own territory by that of my brother's; for I was
determined to place a monstrous world of waters between us as the only
chance (and a very poor one it proved) for compelling my brother to
keep the peace. At length, for some reason unknown to me, and much to
my astonishment, he located his capital city in the high latitude of
65 deg. N. That fact being once published and settled, instantly I
smacked my little kingdom of Gombroon down into the tropics, 10 deg.,
I think, south of the line. Now, at least, I was on the right side of
the hedge, or so I flattered myself; for it struck me that my brother
never would degrade himself by fitting out a costly nautical expedition
against poor little Gombroon; and how else could he get at me? Surely
the very fiend himself, if he happened to be in a high arctic latitude,
would not indulge his malice so far as to follow its trail into the
tropic of Capricorn. And what was to be got by such a freak? There was
no Golden Fleece in Gombroon. If the fiend or my brother fancied _that_,
for once they were in the wrong box; and there was no variety of
vegetable produce, for I never denied that the poor little island was
only 270 miles in circuit. Think, then, of sailing through 75 deg. of
latitude only to crack such a miserable little filbert as that. But
my brother stunned me by explaining, that, although his capital lay
in lat. 65 deg. N., not the less his dominions swept southwards through
a matter of 80 or 90 deg.; and as to the tropic of Capricorn, much of
it was his own private property. I was aghast at hearing _that_. It
seemed that vast horns and promontories ran down from all parts of his
dominions towards any country whatsoever, in either hemisphere,--empire
or republic, monarchy, polyarchy, or anarchy,--that he might have
reasons for assaulting.

Here in one moment vanished all that I had relied on for protection:
distance I had relied on, and suddenly I was found in close neighborhood
to my most formidable enemy. Poverty I had rolled on, and _that_ was
not denied: he granted the poverty, but it was dependent on the
barbarism of the Gombroonians. It seems that in the central forests
of Gombroonia there were diamond mines, which my people, from their
low condition of civilization, did not value, nor had any means of
working. Farewell, therefore, on _my_ side, to all hopes of enduring
peace, for here was established, in legal phrase, _a lien_ forever
upon my island, and not upon its margin, but its very centre, in favor
of any invaders better able than the natives to make its treasures
available. For, of old, it was an article in my brother's code of
morals, that, supposing a contest between any two parties, of which
one possessed an article, whilst the other was better able to use it,
the rightful property vested in the latter. As if you met a man with
a musket, then you might justly challenge him to a trial in the art
of making gunpowder; which if you _could_ make, and he could _not_,
in that case the musket was _de jure_ yours. For what shadow of a right
had the fellow to a noble instrument which he could not "maintain" in
a serviceable condition, and "feed" with its daily rations of powder
and shot? Still, it may be fancied that, since all the relations between
us as independent sovereigns (whether of war, or peace, or treaty)
rested upon our own representations and official reports, it was surely
within my competence to deny or qualify as much as within his to assert.
But, in reality, the _law_ of the contest between us, as suggested by
some instinct of propriety in my own mind, would not allow me to proceed
in such a method. What he said was like a move at chess or draughts,
which it was childish to dispute. The move being made, my business
was--to face it, to parry it, to evade it, and, if I could, to overthrow
it. I proceeded as a lawyer who moves as long as he can, not by blank
denial of facts, (or _coming to an issue_,) but by _demurring_, (_i.e._,
admitting the allegations of fact, but otherwise interpreting their
construction.) It was the understood necessity of the case that I must
passively accept my brother's statements so far as regarded their verbal
expression; and, if _I_ would extricate my poor islanders from their
troubles, it must be by some distinction or evasion lying _within_ this
expression, or not blankly contradicting it.

"How, and to what extent," my brother asked, "did I raise taxes upon
my subjects?" My first impulse was to say, that I did not tax them at
all, for I had a perfect horror of doing so; but prudence would not
allow of my saying _that_; because it was too probable he would demand
to know how, in that case, I maintained a standing army; and if I once
allowed it to be supposed that I had none, there was an end forever
to the independence of my people. Poor things! they would have been
invaded and dragooned in a month. I took some days, therefore, to
consider that point; but at last replied, that my people, being
maritime, supported themselves mainly by a herring fishery, from which
I deducted a part of the produce, and afterwards sold it for manure
to neighboring nations. This last hint I borrowed from the conversation
of a stranger who happened to dine one day at Greenhay, and mentioned
that in Devonshire, or at least on the western coast of that county,
near Ilfracombe, upon any excessive take of herrings, beyond what the
markets could absorb, the surplus was applied to the land as a valuable
dressing. It might be inferred from this account, however, that the
arts must be in a languishing state amongst a people that did not
understand the process of salting fish; and my brother observed
derisively, much to my grief, that a wretched ichthyophagous people
must make shocking soldiers, weak as water, and liable to be knocked
over like ninepins; whereas, in _his_ army, not a man ever ate
herrings, pilchards, mackerels, or, in fact, condescended to any thing
worse than surloins of beef.

At every step I had to contend for the honor and independence of my
islanders; so that early I came to understand the weight of Shakspeare's
sentiment--

  "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown!"

O reader, do not laugh! I lived forever under the terror of two separate
wars in two separate worlds: one against the factory boys, in a real
world of flesh and blood, of stones and brickbats, of flight and
pursuit, that were any thing but figurative; the other in a world
purely aerial, where all the combats and the sufferings were absolute
moonshine. And yet the simple truth is, that, for anxiety and distress
of mind, the reality (which almost every morning's light brought round)
was as nothing in comparison of that dream kingdom which rose like a
vapor from my own brain, and which apparently by _fiat_ of my will
could be forever dissolved. Ah! but no; I had contracted obligations
to Gombroon; I had submitted my conscience to a yoke; and in secret
truth my will had no such autocratic power. Long contemplation of a
shadow, earnest study for the welfare of that shadow, sympathy with
the wounded sensibilities of that shadow under accumulated wrongs,
these bitter experiences, nursed by brooding thought, had gradually
frozen that shadow into a rigor of reality far denser than the material
realities of brass or granite. Who builds the most durable dwellings?
asks the laborer in "Hamlet;" and the answer is, The gravedigger. He
builds for corruption; and yet _his_ tenements are incorruptible: "the
houses which _he_ makes last to doomsday." [13] Who is it that seeks for
concealment? Let him hide himself [14] in the unsearchable chambers of
light,--of light which at noonday, more effectually than any gloom,
conceals the very brightest stars,--rather than in labyrinths of darkness
the thickest. What criminal is that who wishes to abscond from public
justice? Let him hurry into the frantic publicities of London, and by no
means into the quiet privacies of the country. So, and upon the analogy
of these cases, we may understand that, to make a strife overwhelming by
a thousand fold to the feelings, it must not deal with gross material
interests, but with such as rise into the world of dreams, and act
upon the nerves through spiritual, and not through fleshly torments.
Mine, in the present case, rose suddenly, like a rocket, into their
meridian altitude, by means of a hint furnished to my brother from a
Scotch advocate's reveries.

This advocate, who by his writings became the remote cause of so much
affliction to my childhood, and struck a blow at the dignity of
Gombroon, that neither my brother nor all the forces of Tigrosylvania
(my brother's kingdom) ever could have devised, was the celebrated
James Burnett, better known to the English public by his judicial title
of Lord Monboddo. The Burnetts of Monboddo, I have often heard, were
a race distinguished for their intellectual accomplishments through
several successive generations; and the judge in question was eminently
so. It did him no injury that many people regarded him as crazy. In
England, at the beginning of the last century, we had a saying,
[15] in reference to the Harveys of Lord Bristol's family, equally
distinguished for wit, beauty, and eccentricity, that at the creation
there had been three kinds of people made, viz., men, women, and Harveys;
and by all accounts, something of the same kind might plausibly have been
said in Scotland about the Burnetts. Lord Monboddo's nieces, of whom one
perished by falling from a precipice, (and, as I have heard, through mere
absence of mind, whilst musing upon a book which she carried in her
hand,) still survive in the affection of many friends, through the
interest attached to their intellectual gifts; and Miss Burnett, the
daughter of the judge, is remembered in all the memorials of Burns the
poet, as the most  beautiful, and otherwise the most interesting, of his
female aristocratic friends in Edinburgh. Lord Monboddo himself trod an
eccentric path in literature and philosophy; and our tutor, who spent
his whole life in reading, withdrawing himself in that way from the
anxieties incident to a narrow income and a large family, found, no
doubt, a vast fund of interesting suggestions in Lord M.'s "Dissertations
on the Origin of Language;" but to us he communicated only one section of
the work. It was a long passage, containing some very useful
illustrations of a Greek idiom; useful I call them, because four years
afterwards, when I had made great advances in my knowledge of Greek, they
so appeared to me. [16] But then, being scarcely seven years
old, as soon as our tutor had finished his long extract from the
Scottish judge's prelection, I could express my thankfulness for what
I had received only by composing my features to a deeper solemnity and
sadness than usual--no very easy task, I have been told; otherwise,
I really had not the remotest conception of what his lordship meant.
I knew very well the thing called a _tense_; I knew even then by name
the _Aoristus Primus_, as a respectable tense in the Greek language.
It (or shall we say _he_?) was known to the whole Christian world by
this distinction of _Primus_; clearly, therefore, there must be some
low, vulgar tense in the background, pretending also to the name of
Aorist, but universally scouted as the _Aoristus Secundus_, or
Birmingham counterfeit. So that, unable as I was, from ignorance, to
go along with Lord M.'s appreciation of his pretensions, still, had
it been possible to meet an Aoristus Primus in the flesh, I should
have bowed to him submissively, as to one apparently endowed with the
mysterious rights of primogeniture. Not so my brother.

Aorist, indeed! Primus or Secundus, what mattered it? Paving stones
were something, brickbats were something; but an old superannuated
tense! That any grown man should trouble himself about _that!_ Indeed
there _was_ something extraordinary there. For it is not amongst the
ordinary functions of lawyers to take charge of Greek; far less, one
might suppose, of lawyers of Scotland, where the _general_ system of
education has moved for two centuries upon a principle of slight regard
to classical literature. Latin literature was very much neglected, and
Greek nearly altogether. The more was the astonishment at finding a
rare delicacy of critical instinct, as well as of critical sagacity,
applied to the Greek idiomatic niceties by a Scottish lawyer, viz.,
that the same eccentric judge, first made known to us by our tutor.

To the majority of readers, meantime, at this day, Lord M. is memorable
chiefly for his craze about the degeneracy of us poor moderns, when
compared with the men of pagan antiquity; which craze itself might
possibly not have been generally known, except in connection with the
little skirmish between him and Dr. Johnson, noticed in Boswell's
account of the doctor's Scottish tour. "Ah, doctor," said Lord M.,
upon some casual suggestion of that topic, "poor creatures are we of
this eighteenth century; our fathers were better men than we!" "O, no,
my lord," was Johnson's reply; "we are quite as strong as our
forefathers, and a great deal wiser! "Such a craze, however, is too
widely diffused, and falls in with too obstinate a preconception
[17] in the human race, which has in every age hypochondriacally regarded
itself as under some fatal necessity of dwindling, much to have
challenged public attention. As real paradoxes (spite of the idle meaning
attached usually to the word _paradox_) have often no falsehood in them,
so here, on the contrary, was a falsehood which had in it nothing
paradoxical. It contradicted all the indications of history and
experience, which uniformly had pointed in the very opposite direction;
and so far it ought to have been paradoxical, (that is, revolting to
popular opinion,) but was _not_ so; for it fell in with prevailing
opinions, with the oldest, blindest, and most inveterate of human
superstitions. If extravagant, yet to the multitude it did not _seem_
extravagant. So natural a craze, therefore, however baseless, would never
have carried Lord Monboddo's name into that meteoric notoriety and
atmosphere of astonishment which soon invested it in England. And, in
that case, my childhood would have escaped the deadliest blight of
mortification and despondency that could have been incident to a most
morbid temperament concurring with a situation of visionary (yes! if you
please, of fantastic) but still of most real distress.

How much it would have astonished Lord Monboddo to find himself made
answerable, virtually made answerable, by the evidence of secret tears,
for the misery of an unknown child in Lancashire. Yet night and day
these silent memorials of suffering were accusing him as the founder
of a wound that could not be healed. It happened that the several
volumes of his work lay for weeks in the study of our tutor. Chance
directed the eye of my brother, one day, upon that part of the work
in which Lord M. unfolds his hypothesis that originally the human race
had been a variety of the ape. On which hypothesis, by the way, Dr.
Adam Clarke's substitution of _ape_ for _serpent_, in translating the
word _nachash_, (the brute tempter of Eve,) would have fallen to the
ground, since this would simply have been the case of one human being
tempting another. It followed inevitably, according to Lord M., however
painful it might be to human dignity, that in this, their early stage
of brutality, men must have had tails. My brother mused upon this
revery, and, in a few days, published an extract from some scoundrel's
travels in Gombroon, according to which the Gombroonians had not yet
emerged from this early condition of apedom. They, it seems, were still
_homines caudati_. Overwhelming to me and stunning was the ignominy
of this horrible discovery. Lord M. had not overlooked the natural
question--In what way did men get rid of their tails? To speak the
truth, they never _would_ have got rid of them had they continued to
run wild; but growing civilization introduced arts, and the arts
introduced sedentary habits. By these it was, by the mere necessity
of continually sitting down, that men gradually wore off their tails.
Well, and what should hinder the Gombroonians from sitting down?
_Their_ tailors and shoemakers would and could, I hope, sit down, as
well as those of Tigrosylvania. Why not? Ay, but my brother had insisted
already that they _had_ no tailors, that they _had_ no shoemakers;
which, _then_, I did not care much about, as it merely put back the
clock of our history--throwing us into an earlier, and therefore,
perhaps, into a more warlike stage of society. But, as the case stood
now, this want of tailors, &c., showed clearly that the process of
sitting down, so essential to the ennobling of the race, had not
commenced. My brother, with an air of consolation, suggested that I
might even now, without an hour's delay, compel the whole nation to
sit down for six hours a day, which would always "make a beginning."
But the truth would remain as before, viz., that I was the king of a
people that had tails; and the slow, slow process by which, in a course
of many centuries, their posterity might rub them off,--a hope of
vintages never to be enjoyed by any generations that are yet heaving
in sight,--_that_ was to me the worst form of despair.

Still there was one resource: if I "didn't like it," meaning the state
of things in Gombroon, I might "abdicate." Yes, I knew _that_. I might
abdicate; and, once having cut the connection between myself and the
poor abject islanders, I might seem to have no further interest in the
degradation that affected them. After such a disruption between us,
what was it to me if they had even three tails apiece? Ah, _that_ was
fine talking; but this connection with my poor subjects had grown up
so slowly and so genially, in the midst of struggles so constant against
the encroachments of my brother and his rascally people; we had suffered
so much together; and the filaments connecting them with my heart were
so aerially fine and fantastic, but for that reason so inseverable,
that I abated nothing of my anxiety on their account; making this
difference only in my legislation and administrative cares, that I
pursued them more in a spirit of despondency, and retreated more shyly
from communicating them. It was in vain that my brother counselled me
to dress my people in the Roman toga, as the best means of concealing
their ignominious appendages: if he meant this as comfort, it was none
to me; the disgrace lay in the fact, not in its publication; and in
my heart, though I continued to honor Lord Monboddo (whom I heard my
guardian also daily delighting to honor) as a good Grecian, yet secretly
I cursed the Aoristus Primus, as the indirect occasion of a misery
which was not and could not be comprehended.

From this deep degradation of myself and my people, I was drawn off
at intervals to contemplate a different mode of degradation affecting
two persons, twin sisters, whom I saw intermittingly; sometimes once
a week, sometimes frequently on each separate day. You have heard,
reader, of pariahs. The pathos of that great idea possibly never reached
you. Did it ever strike you how far that idea had extended? Do not
fancy it peculiar to Hindostan. Before Delhi was, before Agra, or
Lahore, might the pariah say, I was. The most interesting, if only as
the most mysterious, race of ancient days, the Pelasgi, that overspread,
in early times of Greece, the total Mediterranean,--a race distinguished
for beauty and for intellect, and sorrowful beyond all power of man
to read the cause that could lie deep enough for so imperishable an
impression,--_they_ were pariahs. The Jews that, in the twenty-eighth
chapter of Deuteronomy, were cursed in a certain contingency with a
sublimer curse than ever rang through the passionate wrath of prophecy,
and that afterwards, in Jerusalem, cursed themselves, voluntarily
taking on their own heads, and on the heads of their children's children
forever and ever, the guilt of innocent blood,--_they_ are pariahs
to this hour. Yet for _them_ there has ever shone a sullen light of
hope. The gypsies, for whom no conscious or acknowledged hope burns
through the mighty darkness that surrounds them,--they are pariahs of
pariahs. Lepers were a race of mediaeval pariahs, rejected of men, that
now have gone to rest. But travel into the forests of the Pyrenees,
and there you will find their modern representatives in the Cagots.
Are these Pyrenean Cagots pagans? Not at all, They are good Christians.
Wherefore, then, that low door in the Pyrenean churches, through which
the Cagots are forced to enter, and which, obliging them to stoop
almost to the ground, is a perpetual memento of their degradation?
Wherefore is it that men of pure Spanish blood will hold no intercourse
with the Cagot? Wherefore is it that even the shadow of a Cagot, if
it falls across a fountain, is held to have polluted that fountain?
All this points to some dreadful taint of guilt, real or imputed, in
ages far remote. [18]

But in ages far nearer to ourselves, nay, in our own generation and
our own land, are many pariahs, sitting amongst us all, nay, oftentimes
sitting (yet not recognized for what they really are) at good men's
tables. How general is that sensuous dulness, that deafness of the
heart, which the Scriptures attribute to human beings! "Having ears,
they hear not; and, seeing, they do not understand." In the very act
of facing or touching a dreadful object, they will utterly deny its
existence. Men say to me daily, when I ask them, in passing, "Any thing
in this morning's paper?" "O, no; nothing at all." And, as I never had
any other answer, I am bound to suppose that there never _was_ any
thing in a daily newspaper; and, therefore, that the horrible burden
of misery and of change, which a century accumulates as its _facit_
or total result, has not been distributed at all amongst its thirty-six
thousand five hundred and twenty-five days: every day, it seems, was
separately a blank day, yielding absolutely nothing--what children
call a deaf nut, offering no kernel; and yet the total product has
caused angels to weep and tremble. Meantime, when I come to look at
the newspaper with my own eyes, I am astonished at the misreport of
my informants. Were there no other section in it than simply that
allotted to the police reports, oftentimes I stand aghast at the
revelations there made of human life and the human heart; at its
colossal guilt, and its colossal misery; at the suffering which
oftentimes throws its shadow over palaces, and the grandeur of mute
endurance which sometimes glorifies a cottage. Here transpires the
dreadful truth of what is going on forever under the thick curtains
of domestic life, close behind us, and before us, and all around us.
Newspapers are evanescent, and are too rapidly recurrent, and people
see nothing great in what is familiar, nor can ever be trained to read
the silent and the shadowy in what, for the moment, is covered with
the babbling garrulity of daylight. I suppose now, that, in the next
generation after that which is here concerned, had any neighbor of our
tutor been questioned on the subject of a domestic tragedy, which
travelled through its natural stages in a leisurely way, and under the
eyes of good Dr. S----, he would have replied, "Tragedy! O, sir, nothing
of the kind! You have been misled; the gentleman must lie under a
mistake: perhaps it was in the next street." No, it was _not_ in the
next street; and the gentleman does not lie under a mistake, or, in
fact, lie at all. The simple truth is, blind old neighbor, that you,
being rarely in the house, and, _when_ there, only in one particular
room, saw no more of what was hourly going on than if you had been
residing with the Sultan of Bokhara. But I, a child between seven and
eight years old, had access every where. I was privileged, and had the
_entree_ even of the female apartments; one consequence of which was,
that I put _this_ and _that_ together. A number of syllables, that
each for itself separately might have meant nothing at all, did yet,
when put together, through weeks and months, read for _my_ eyes into
sentences, as deadly and significant as _Tekel, upharsin._ And another
consequence was, that, being, on account of my age, nobody at all, or
very near it, I sometimes witnessed things that perhaps it had not
been meant for any body to witness, or perhaps some half-conscious
negligence overlooked my presence. "Saw things! What was it now? Was
it a man at midnight, with a dark lantern and a six-barrel revolver?"
No, _that_ was not in the least like what I saw: it was a great deal
more like what I will endeavor to describe. Imagine two young girls,
of what exact age I really do not know, but apparently from twelve to
fourteen, twins, remarkably plain in person and features, unhealthy,
and obscurely reputed to be idiots. Whether they really were such was
more than I knew, or could devise any plan for learning. Without
dreaming of any thing unkind or uncourteous, my original impulse had
been to say, "If you please, are you idiots?" But I felt that such a
question had an air of coarseness about it, though, for my own part,
I had long reconciled myself to being called an idiot by my brother.
There was, however, a further difficulty: breathed as a gentle murmuring
whisper, the question might possibly be reconciled to an indulgent ear
as confidential and tender. Even to take a liberty with those you love
is to show your trust in their affection; but, alas! these poor girls
were deaf; and to have shouted out, "Are you idiots, if you please?"
in a voice that would have rung down three flights of stairs, promised
(as I felt, without exactly seeing why) a dreadful exaggeration to
whatever incivility might, at any rate, attach to the question; and
some _did_ attach, that was clear, even if warbled through an air of
Cherubini's and accompanied on the flute. Perhaps they were _not_
idiots, and only seemed to be such from the slowness of apprehension
naturally connected with deafness. That I saw them but seldom, arose
from their peculiar position in the family. Their father had no private
fortune; his income from the church was very slender; and, though
considerably increased by the allowance made for us, his two pupils,
still, in a great town, and with so large a family, it left him little
room for luxuries. Consequently, he never had more than two servants,
and at times only one. Upon this plea rose the scheme of the mother
for employing these two young girls in menial offices of the household
economy. One reason for that was, that she thus indulged her dislike
for them, which she took no pains to conceal; and thus, also, she
withdrew them from the notice of strangers. In this way, it happened
that I saw them myself but at uncertain intervals. Gradually, however,
I came to be aware of their forlorn condition, to pity them, and to
love them. The poor twins were undoubtedly plain to the degree which
is called, by unfeeling people, ugliness. They were also deaf, as I
have said, and they were scrofulous; one of them was disfigured by the
small pox; they had glimmering eyes, red, like the eyes of ferrets,
and scarcely half open; and they did not walk so much as stumble along.
There, you have the worst of them. Now, hear something on the other
side. What first won my pity was, their affection for each other,
united to their constant sadness; secondly, a notion which had crept
into my head, probably derived from something said in my presence by
elder people, that they were destined to an early death; and, lastly,
the incessant persecutions of their mother. This lady belonged, by
birth, to a more elevated rank than that of her husband, and she was
remarkably well bred as regarded her manners. But she had probably a
weak understanding; she was shrewish in her temper; was a severe
economist; a merciless exactor of what she viewed as duty; and, in
persecuting her two unhappy daughters, though she yielded blindly to
her unconscious dislike of them, as creatures that disgraced her, she
was not aware, perhaps, of ever having put forth more expressions of
anger and severity than were absolutely required to rouse the
constitutional torpor of her daughters' nature; and where disgust has
once rooted itself, and been habitually expressed in tones of harshness,
the mere sight of the hateful object mechanically calls forth the
eternal tones of anger, without distinct consciousness or separate
intention in the speaker. Loud speaking, besides, or even shouting,
was required by the deafness of the two girls. From anger so constantly
discharging its thunders, naturally they did not show open signs of
recoiling; but that they felt it deeply, may be presumed from their
sensibility to kindness. My own experience showed _that_; for, as
often as I met them, we exchanged kisses; and my wish had always been
to beg them, if they really _were_ idiots, not to mind it, since I
should not like them the less on that account. This wish of mine never
came to utterance; but not the less they were aware, by my manner of
salutation, that one person at least, amongst those who might be
considered strangers, did not find any thing repulsive about them; and
the pleasure they felt was expressed broadly upon their kindling faces.

Such was the outline of their position; and, that being explained,
what I saw was simply this: it composed a silent and symbolic scene,
a momentary interlude in dumb show, which interpreted itself, and
settled forever in my recollection, as if it had prophesied and
interpreted the event which soon followed. They were resting from toil,
and both sitting down. This had lasted for perhaps ten or fifteen
minutes. Suddenly from below stairs the voice of angry summons rang
up to their ears. Both rose, in an instant, as if the echoing scourge
of some avenging Tisiphone were uplifted above their heads; both opened
their arms; flung them round each other's necks; and then, unclasping
them, parted to their separate labors. This was my last rememberable
interview with the two sisters; in a week both were corpses. They had
died, I believe, of scarlatina, and very nearly at the same moment.

       *       *       *       *       *

But surely it was no matter for grief, that the two scrofulous idiots
were dead and buried. O, no! Call them idiots at your pleasure, serfs
or slaves, strulbrugs [19] or pariahs; _their_ case was certainly not
worsened by being booked for places in the grave. Idiocy, for any thing I
know, may, in that vast kingdom, enjoy a natural precedency; scrofula and
leprosy may have some mystic privilege in a coffin; and the pariahs
of the upper earth may form the aristocracy of the dead. That the
idiots, real or reputed, were at rest,--that their warfare was
accomplished,--might, if a man happened to know enough, be interpreted
as a glorious festival. The sisters were seen no more upon staircases
or in bed rooms, and deadly silence had succeeded to the sound of
continual uproars. Memorials of _them_ were none surviving on earth.
Not _they_ it was that furnished mementoes of themselves. The mother
it was, the father it was--that mother who by persecution had avenged
the wounds offered to her pride; that father, who had tolerated this
persecution; she it was, he it was, that by the altered glances of her
haunted eye, that by the altered character of his else stationary
habits, had revived for me a spectacle, once real, of visionary twin
sisters, moving forever up and down the stairs--sisters, patient,
humble, silent, that snatched convulsively at a loving smile, or loving
gesture, from a child, as at some message of remembrance from God,
whispering to them, "You are not forgotten"--sisters born apparently
for the single purpose of suffering, whose trials, it is true, were
over, and could not be repeated, but (alas for her who had been their
cause!) could not be recalled. Her face grew thin, her eye sunken and
hollow, after the death of her daughters; and, meeting her on the
staircase, I sometimes fancied that she did not see me so much as
something beyond me. Did any misfortune befall her after this double
funeral? Did the Nemesis that waits upon the sighs of children pursue
her steps? Not apparently: externally, things went well; her sons were
reasonably prosperous; her handsome daughter--for she had a more
youthful daughter, who really _was_ handsome--continued to improve in
personal attractions; and some years after, I have heard, she married
happily. But from herself, so long as I continued to know her, the
altered character of countenance did not depart, nor the gloomy eye,
that seemed to converse with secret and visionary objects.

This result from the irrevocable past was not altogether confined to
herself. It is one evil attached to chronic and domestic oppression,
that it draws into its vortex, as unwilling, or even as loathing,
coöperators, others who either see but partially the wrong they are
abetting, or, in cases where they do see it, are unable to make head
against it, through the inertia of their own nature, or through the
coercion of circumstances. Too clearly, by the restless irritation
of his manner for some time after the children's death, their father
testified, in a language not fully, perhaps, perceived by himself, or
meant to be understood by others, that to his inner conscience he also
was not clear of blame. Had he, then, in any degree sanctioned the
injustice which sometimes he must have witnessed? Far from it; he had
been roused from his habitual indolence into energetic expressions of
anger; he had put an end to the wrong, when it came openly before him.
I had myself heard him say on many occasions, with patriarchal fervor,
"Woman, they are your children, and God made them. Show mercy to _them_,
as you expect it for yourself." But he must have been aware, that, for
any three instances of tyrannical usage that fell under his notice,
at least five hundred would escape it. That was the sting of the
case--that was its poisonous aggravation. But with a nature that sought
for peace before all things, in this very worst of its aggravations
was found a morbid cure--the effectual temptation to wilful blindness
and forgetfulness. The sting became the palliation of the wrong, and
the poison became its anodyne. For together with the five hundred
hidden wrongs, arose the necessity that they must be hidden. Could he
be pinned on, morning, noon, and night, to his wife's apron? And if
not, what else should he do by angry interferences at chance times
than add special vindictive impulses to those of general irritation
and dislike? Some truth there was in this, it cannot be denied:
innumerable cases arise, in which a man the most just is obliged, in
some imperfect sense, to connive at injustice; his chance experience
must convince him that injustice is continually going on; and yet, in
any attempt to intercept it or to check it, he is met and baffled by
the insuperable obstacles of household necessities. Dr. S. therefore
surrendered himself, as under a coercion that was none of _his_
creating, to a passive acquiescence and a blindness that soothed his
constitutional indolence; and he reconciled his feelings to a tyranny
which he tolerated, under some self-flattering idea of submitting with
resignation to a calamity that he suffered.

Some years after this, I read "Agamemnon" of Aeschylus; and then, in
the prophetic horror with which Cassandra surveys the regal abode in
Mycenae, destined to be the scene of murders so memorable through the
long traditions of the Grecian stage, murders that, many centuries
after all the parties to them--perpetrators, sufferers, avengers--had
become dust and ashes, kindled again into mighty life through a thousand
years upon the vast theaters of Athens and Rome, I retraced the horrors,
not prophetic but memorial, with which I myself had invested that
humble dwelling of Dr. S.; and read again, repeated in visionary
proportions, the sufferings which there had darkened the days of people
known to myself through two distinct successions--not, as was natural
to expect, of parents first and then children, but inversely of children
and parents. Manchester was not Mycenae. No, but by many degrees nobler.
In some of the features most favorable to tragic effects, it was so;
and wanted only these idealizing advantages for withdrawing mean details
which are in the gift of distance and hazy antiquity. Even at that day
Manchester was far larger, teeming with more and with stronger hearts;
and it contained a population the most energetic even in the _modern_
world--how much more so, therefore, by comparison with any race in
_ancient_ Greece, inevitably rendered effeminate by dependence too
generally upon slaves. Add to this superior energy in Lanceshire, the
immeasurably profounder feelings generated by the mysteries which stand
behind Christianity, as compared with the shallow mysteries that stood
behind paganism, and it would be easy to draw the inference, that,
in the capacity for the infinite and impassioned, for horror and for
pathos, Mycenae could have had no pretentions to measure herself against
Manchester. Not that I had drawn such an inference myself. Why should
I? there being nothing to suggest the points in which the two cities
differed, but only the single one in which they agreed, viz., the dusky
veil that overshadowed in both the noonday tragedies haunting their
household recesses; which veil was raised only to the gifted eyes of
a Cassandra, or to the eyes that, like my own, had experimentally
become acquainted with them as facts. Pitiably mean is he that measures
the relations of such cases by the scenical apparatus of purple and
gold. That which never _has_ been apparelled in royal robes, and hung
with theatrical jewels, is but suffering from an accidental fraud,
having the same right to them that any similar misery can have, or
calamity upon an equal scale. These proportions are best measured from
the fathoming ground of a real uncounterfeit sympathy.

I have mentioned already that we had four male guardians, (a fifth
being my mother.) These four were B., E., G., and H. The two consonants,
B. and G., gave us little trouble. G., the wisest of the whole band,
lived at a distance of more than one hundred miles: him, therefore,
we rarely saw; but B., living within four miles of Greenbay, washed
his hands of us by inviting us, every now and then, to spend a few
days at his house.

At this house, which stood in the country, there was a family of amiable
children, who were more skilfully trained in their musical studies
than at that day was usual. They sang the old English glees and
madrigals, and correctly enough for me, who, having, even at that
childish age, a preternatural sensibility to music, had also, as may
be supposed, the most entire want of musical knowledge. No blunders
could do much to mar _my_ pleasure. There first I heard the concertos
of Corelli; but also, which far more profoundly affected me, a few
selections from Jomelli and Cimarosa. With Handel I had long been
familiar, for the famous chorus singers of Lancashire sang continually
at churches the most effective parts from his chief oratorios. Mozart
was yet to come; for, except perhaps at the opera in London, even at
this time, his music was most imperfectly diffused through England.
But, above all, a thing which to my dying day I could never forget,
at the house of this guardian I heard sung a long canon of Cherubini's.
Forty years later I heard it again, and better sung; but at that time
I needed nothing better. It was sung by four male voices, and rose
into a region of thrilling passion, such as my heart had always dimly
craved and hungered after, but which now first interpreted itself, as
a physical possibility, to my ear.

My brother did not share my inexpressible delight; his taste ran in
a different channel; and the arrangements of the house did not meet
his approbation; particularly this, that either Mrs. B. herself, or
else the governess, was always present when the young ladies joined
our society, which my brother considered particularly vulgar, since
natural propriety and decorum should have whispered to an old lady
that a young gentleman might have "things" to say to her daughters
which he could not possibly intend for the general ear of
eavesdroppers--things tending to the confidential or the sentimental,
which none but a shameless old lady would seek to participate; by that
means compelling a young man to talk as loud as if he were addressing
a mob at Charing Cross, or reading the Riot Act. There were other
out-of-door amusements, amongst which a swing--which I mention for the
sake of illustrating the passive obedience which my brother levied
upon me, either through my conscience, as mastered by his doctrine of
primogeniture, or, as in this case, through my sensibility to shame
under his taunts of cowardice. It was a most ambitious swing, ascending
to a height beyond any that I have since seen in fairs or public
gardens. Horror was at my heart regularly as the swing reached its
most aerial altitude; for the oily, swallow-like fluency of the swoop
downwards threatened always to make me sick, in which it is probable
that I must have relaxed my hold of the ropes, and have been projected,
with fatal violence, to the ground. But, in defiance of all this
miserable panic, I continued to swing whenever he tauntingly invited
me. It was well that my brother's path in life soon ceased to coincide
with my own, else I should infallibly have broken my neck in confronting
perils which brought me neither honor nor profit, and in accepting
defiances which, issue how they might, won self-reproach from myself,
and sometimes a gayety of derision from _him_. One only of these
defiances I declined. There was a horse of this same guardian B.'s,
who always, after listening to Cherubini's music, grew irritable to
excess; and, if any body mounted him, would seek relief to his wounded
feelings in kicking, more or less violently, for an hour. This habit
endeared him to my brother, who acknowledged to a propensity of the
same amiable kind; protesting that an abstract desire of kicking seized
him always after hearing good performers on particular instruments,
especially the bagpipes. Of kicking? But of kicking what or _whom_?
I fear of kicking the venerable public collectively, creditors without
exception, but also as many of the debtors as might be found at large;
doctors of medicine more especially, but with no absolute immunity for
the majority of their patients; Jacobins, but not the less
anti-Jacobins; every Calvinist, which seems reasonable; but then also,
which is intolerable, every Arminian. Is philosophy able to account
for this morbid affection, and particularly when it takes the restricted
form (as sometimes it does, in the bagpipe case) of seeking furiously
to kick the piper, instead of paying him? In this case, my brother was
urgent with me to mount _en croupe_ behind himself. But weak as I
usually was, this proposal I resisted as an immediate suggestion of
the fiend; for I had heard, and have since known proofs of it, that
a horse, when he is ingeniously vicious, sometimes has the power, in
lashing out, of curving round his hoofs, so as to lodge them, by way
of indorsement, in the small of his rider's back; and, of course, he
would have an advantage for such a purpose, in the case of a rider
sitting on the crupper. That sole invitation I persisted in declining.

A young gentleman had joined us as a fellow-student under the care of
our tutor. He was an only son; indeed, the only child of an amiable
widow, whose love and hopes all centred in _him_. He was destined to
inherit several separate estates, and a great deal had been done to
spoil him by indulgent aunts; but his good natural disposition defeated
all these efforts; and, upon joining us, he proved to be a very amiable
boy, clever, quick at learning, and abundantly courageous. In the
summer months, his mother usually took a house out in the country,
sometimes on one side of Manchester, sometimes on another. At these
rusticating seasons, he had often much farther to come than ourselves,
and on that account he rode on horseback. Generally it was a fierce
mountain pony that he rode; and it was worth while to cultivate the
pony's acquaintance, for the sake of understanding the extent to which
the fiend can sometimes incarnate himself in a horse. I do not trouble
the reader with any account of his tricks, and drolleries, and
scoundrelisms; but this I may mention, that he had the propensity
ascribed many centuries ago to the Scandinavian horses for sharing and
practically asserting his share in the angry passions of a battle. He
would fight, or attempt to fight, on his rider's side, by biting,
rearing, and suddenly wheeling round, for the purpose of lashing out
when he found himself within kicking range. [20] This little monster was
coal black; and, in virtue of his carcass, would not have seemed very
formidable; but his head made amends--it was the head of a buffalo, or of
a bison, and his vast jungle of mane was the mane of a lion. His eyes, by
reason of this intolerable and unshorn mane, one did not often see,
except as lights that sparkled in the rear of a thicket; but, once seen
they were not easily forgotten, for their malignity was diabolic. A few
miles more of less being a matter of indifference to one who was so well
mounted, O. would sometimes ride out with us to the field of battle; and,
by manoeuvring so as to menace the enemy of the flanks, in skirmishes he
did good service. But at length came a day of pitched battle. The enemy
had mustered in unusual strength, and would certainly have accomplished
the usual result of putting us to flight with more than usual ease,
but, under the turn which things took, their very numbers aided their
overthrow, by deepening their confusion. O. had, on this occasion,
accompanied us; and, as he had hitherto taken no very decisive part
in the war, confining himself to distant "demonstrations," the enemy
did not much regard his presence in the field. This carelessness threw
them into a dense mass, upon which my brother's rapid eye saw instantly
the opportunity offered for operating most effectually by a charge.
O. saw it too; and, happening to have his spurs on, he complied
cheerfully with my brother's suggestion. He had the advantage of a
slight descent: the wicked pony went down "with a will;" his echoing
hoofs drew the general gaze upon him; his head, his leonine mane, his
diabolic eyes, did the rest; and in a moment the whole hostile array had
broken, and was in rapid flight across the brick fields. I leave the
reader to judge whether "Te Deum" would be sung on that night. A Gazette
Extraordinary was issued; and my brother had really some reason for his
assertion, "that in conscience he could not think of comparing Cannae to
this smashing defeat;" since at Cannae many brave men had refused to
fly--the consul himself, Terentius Varro, amongst them; but, in the
present rout, there was no Terentius Varro--_every body_ fled.

The victory, indeed, considered in itself, was complete. But it had
consequences which we had not looked for. In the ardor of our conflict,
neither my brother nor myself had remarked a stout, square-built man,
mounted on an uneasy horse, who sat quietly in his saddle as spectator
of the battle, and, in fact, as the sole non-combatant present. This
man, however, had been observed by O., both before and after his own
brilliant charge; and, by the description, there could be no doubt
that it had been our guardian B., as also, by the description of the
horse, we could as little doubt that he had been mounted on Cherubini.
My brother's commentary was in a tone of bitter complaint, that so
noble an opportunity should have been lost for strengthening O.'s
charge. But the consequences of this incident were graver than we
anticipated. A general board of our guardians, vowels and consonants,
was summoned to investigate the matter. The origin of the feud, or
"war," as my brother called it, was inquired into. As well might the
war of Troy or the purser's accounts from the Argonautic expedition
have been overhauled. Ancient night and chaos had closed over the
"incunabula belli;" and that point was given up in despair. But what
hindered a general pacification, no matter in how many wrongs the
original dispute had arisen? Who stopped the way which led to peace?
Not we, was our firm declaration; we were most pacifically inclined,
and ever had been; we were, in fact, little saints. But the enemy could
not be brought to any terms of accommodation. "That we will try," said
the vowel amongst our guardians, Mr. E. He, being a magistrate, had
naturally some weight with the proprietors of the cotton factory. The
foremen of the several floors were summoned, and gave it as their
humble opinion that we, the aristocratic party in the war, were as bad
as the _sans culottes_--"not a pin to choose between us." Well, but
no matter for the past: could any plan be devised for a pacific future?
Not easily. The workspeople were so thoroughly independent of their
employers, and so careless of their displeasure, that finally this
only settlement was available as wearing any promise of permanence,
viz., that we should alter our hours, so as not to come into collision
with the exits or returns of the boys.

Under this arrangement, a sort of hollow armistice prevailed for some
time; but it was beginning to give way, when suddenly an internal
change in our own home put an end to the war forever. My brother,
amongst his many accomplishments, was distinguished for his skill in
drawing. Some of his sketches had been shown to Mr. De Loutherbourg,
an academician well known in those days, esteemed even in these days,
after he has been dead for forty or fifty years, and personally a
distinguished favorite with the king, (George III.) He pronounced a
very flattering opinion upon my brother's promise of excellence. This
being known, a fee of a thousand guineas was offered to Mr. L. by the
guardians; and finally that gentleman took charge of my brother as a
pupil. Now, therefore, my brother, King of Tigrosylvania, scourge of
Gombroon, separated from me; and, as it turned out, forever. I never
saw him again; and, at Mr. De L.'s house in Hammersmith, before he had
completed his sixteenth year, he died of typhus fever. And thus it
happened that a little gold dust skilfully applied put an end to wars
that else threatened to extend into a Carthaginian length. In one
week's time

  "Hi motus animorum atque haec certamina tanta
  Pulveris exigui jactu compressa quiêrunt."

       *       *       *       *       *

Here I had terminated this chapter, as at a natural pause, which, whilst
shutting out forever my eldest brother from the reader's sight and
from my own, necessarily at the same moment worked a permanent
revolution in the character of my daily life. Two such changes, and
both so abrupt, indicated imperiously the close of one era and the
opening of another. The advantages, indeed, which my brother had over
me in years, in physical activities of every kind, in decision of
purpose, and in energy of will,--all which advantages, besides,
borrowed a ratification from an obscure sense, on my part, of duty as
incident to what seemed an appointment of Providence,--inevitably _had_
controlled, and for years to come _would have_ controlled, the free
spontaneous movements of a contemplative dreamer like myself.
Consequently, this separation, which proved an eternal one, and
contributed to deepen my constitutional propensity to gloomy meditation,
had for me (partly on that account, but much more through the sudden
birth of perfect independence which so unexpectedly it opened) the
value of a revolutionary experience. A new date, a new starting point,
a redemption (as it might be called) into the golden sleep of halcyon
quiet, after everlasting storms, suddenly dawned upon me; and not as
any casual intercalation of holidays that would come to an end, but,
for any thing that appeared to the contrary, as the perpetual tenor
of my future career. No longer was the factory a Carthage for me: if
any obdurate old Cato there were who found his amusement in denouncing
it with a daily _"Delenda est,"_ take notice, (I said silently to
myself,) that I acknowledge no such tiger for a friend of mine.
Nevermore was the bridge across the Irwell a bridge of sighs for me.
And the meanest of the factory population--thanks be to their
discrimination--despised my pretensions too entirely to waste a thought
or a menace upon a cipher so abject.

This change, therefore, being so sudden and so total, ought to signalize
itself externally by a commensurate break in the narrative. A new
chapter, at the least, with a huge interspace of blank white paper,
or even a new book, ought rightfully to solemnize so profound a
revolution. And virtually it shall. But, according to the general
agreement of antiquity, it is not felt as at all disturbing to the
unity of that event which winds up the "Iliad," viz., the death of
Hector, that Homer expands it circumstantially into the whole ceremonial
of his funeral obsequies; and upon that same principle I--when looking
back to this abrupt close of all connection with, my brother, whether
in my character of major general or of potentate trembling daily for
my people--am reminded that the very last morning of this connection
had its own separate distinction from all other mornings, in a way
that entitles it to its own separate share in the general commemoration.
A shadow fell upon this particular morning as from a cloud of danger,
that lingered for a moment over our heads, might seem even to muse and
hesitate, and then sullenly passed away into distant quarters. It is
noticeable that a danger which approaches, but wheels away,--which
threatens, but finally forbears to strike,--is more interesting by
much on a distant retrospect than the danger which accomplishes its
mission. The Alpine precipice, down which many pilgrims have fallen,
is passed without much attention; but that precipice, within one inch
of which a traveller has passed unconsciously in the dark, first tracing
his peril along the snowy margin on the next morning, becomes invested
with an attraction of horror for all who hear the story. The dignity
of mortal danger ever after consecrates the spot; and, in this
particular case which I am now recalling, the remembrance of such a
danger consecrates the day.

That day was amongst the most splendid in a splendid June: it was--to
borrow the line of Wordsworth--

  "One of those heavenly days which cannot die;"

and, early as it was at that moment, we children, all six of us that then
survived, were already abroad upon the lawn. There were two lawns at
Greenhay in the shrubbery that invested three sides of the house: one of
these, which ran along one side of the house, extended to a little bridge
traversed by the gates of entrance. The central gate admitted carriages:
on each side of this was a smaller gate for foot passengers; and, in a
family containing so many as six children, it may be supposed that often
enough one or other of the gates was open; which, most fortunately, on
this day was not the case. Along the margin of this side lawn ran a
little brook, which had been raised to a uniform level, and kept up by
means of a wear at the point where it quitted the premises; after which
it resumed its natural character of wildness, as it trotted on to the
little hamlet of Greenhill. This brook my brother was at one time
disposed to treat as Remus treated the infant walls of Rome; but, on
maturer thoughts, having built a fleet of rafts, he treated it more
respectfully; and this morning, as will be seen, the breadth of the
little brook did us "yeoman's service." Me at one time he had meant to
put on board this fleet, as his man Friday; and I had a fair prospect of
first entering life in the respectable character of supercargo. But it
happened that the current carried his rafts and himself over the wear;
which, he assured us, was no accident, but a lesson by way of practice in
the art of contending with the rapids of the St. Lawrence and other
Canadian streams. However, as the danger had been considerable, he was
prohibited from trying such experiments with me. On the centre of the
lawn stood my eldest surviving sister, Mary, and my brother William.
Round _him_, attracted (as ever) by his inexhaustible opulence of thought
and fun, stood, laughing and dancing, my youngest sister, a second Jane,
and my youngest brother Henry, a posthumous child, feeble, and in his
nurse's arms, but on this morning showing signs of unusual animation and
of sympathy with the glorious promise of the young June day. Whirling
round on his heel, at a little distance, and utterly abstracted from all
around him, my next brother, Richard, he that had caused so much
affliction by his incorrigible morals to the Sultan Amurath, pursued his
own solitary thoughts--whatever those might be. And, finally, as regards
myself, it happened that I was standing close to the edge of the brook,
looking back at intervals to the group of five children and two nurse
maids who occupied the centre of the lawn; time, about an hour before
_our_ breakfast, or about two hours before the world's breakfast,--
_i.e._, a little after seven,--when as yet in shady parts of the grounds
the dazzling jewelry of the early dews had not entirely exhaled. So
standing, and so occupied, suddenly we were alarmed by shouts as of some
great mob manifestly  in rapid motion, and probably, at this instant
taking the right-angled turn into the lane connecting Greenhay with the
Oxford Road. The shouts indicated hostile and headlong pursuit: within
one minute another right-angled turn in the lane itself brought the
uproar fully upon the ear; and it became evident that some imminent
danger--of what nature it was impossible to guess--must be hastily
nearing us. We were all rooted to the spot; and all turned anxiously to
the gates, which happily seemed to be closed. Had this been otherwise, we
should have had no time to apply any remedy whatever, and the
consequences must probably have involved us all. In a few seconds, a
powerful dog, not much above a furlong ahead of his pursuers, wheeled
into sight. We all saw him pause at the gates; but, finding no ready
access through the iron lattice work that protected the side battlements
of the little bridge, and the pursuit being so hot, he resumed his course
along the outer margin of the brook. Coming opposite to myself, he made a
dead stop. I had thus an opportunity of looking him steadily in the face;
which I did, without more fear than belonged naturally to a case of so
much hurry, and to me, in particular, of mystery. I had never heard of
hydrophobia. But necessarily connecting the furious pursuit with the dog
that now gazed at me from the opposite side of the water, and feeling
obliged to presume that he had made an assault upon somebody or other, I
looked searchingly into his eyes, and observed that they seemed glazed,
and as if in a dreamy state, but at the same time suffused with some
watery discharge, while his mouth was covered with masses of white foam.
He looked most earnestly at myself and the group beyond me; but he made
no effort whatever to cross the brook, and apparently had not the energy
to attempt it by a flying leap. My brother William, who did not in the
least suspect the real danger, invited the dog to try his chance in a
leap--assuring him that, if he succeeded, he would knight him on the
spot. The temptation of a knighthood, however, did not prove sufficient.
A very few seconds brought his pursuers within sight; and steadily,
without sound or gesture of any kind, he resumed his flight in the only
direction open to him, viz., by a field path across stiles to Greenhill.
Half an hour later he would have met a bevy of children going to a dame's
school, or carrying milk to rustic neighbors. As it was, the early
morning kept the road clear in front. But behind immense was the body of
agitated pursuers. Leading the chase came, probably, half a troop of
light cavalry, all on foot, nearly all in their stable dresses, and armed
generally with pitchforks, though some eight or ten carried carabines.
Half mingled with these, and very little in the rear, succeeded a vast
miscellaneous mob, that had gathered on the chase as it hurried through
the purlieus of Deansgate, and all that populous suburb of Manchester.
From some of these, who halted to recover breath, we obtained an
explanation of the affair. About a mile and a half from Greenhay stood
some horse barracks, occupied usually by an entire regiment of cavalry. A
large dog--one of a multitude that haunted the barracks--had for some
days manifested an increasing sullenness, snapping occasionally at dogs
and horses, but finally at men. Upon this, he had been tied up; but in
some way he had this morning liberated himself: two troop horses he had
immediately bitten; and had made attacks upon several of the men, who
fortunately parried these attacks by means of the pitchforks standing
ready to their hands. On this evidence, coupled with the knowledge of his
previous illness, he was summarily condemned as mad; and the general
pursuit commenced, which brought all parties (hunters and game) sweeping
so wildly past the quiet grounds of Greenhay. The sequel of the affair
was this: none of the carabineers succeeded in getting a shot at the dog;
in consequence of which, the chase lasted for 17 miles nominally; but,
allowing for all the doublings and headings back of the dog, by
computation for about 24; and finally, in a state of utter exhaustion, he
was run into and killed, somewhere in Cheshire. Of the two horses whom he
had bitten, both treated alike, one died in a state of furious
hydrophobia some two months later, but the other (though the more
seriously wounded of the two) manifested no symptoms whatever of
constitutional derangement. And thus it happened that for me this general
event of separation from my eldest brother, and the particular morning on
which it occurred, were each for itself separately and equally memorable.
Freedom won, and death escaped, almost in the same hour,--freedom from a
yoke of such secret and fretful annoyance as none could measure but
myself, and death probably through the fiercest of torments,--these
double cases of deliverance, so sudden and so _unlooked for_, signalized
by what heraldically might have been described as a two-headed memorial,
the establishment of an _epoch_ in my life. Not only was the chapter of
INFANCY thus solemnly finished forever, and the record closed, but--which
cannot often happen--the chapter was closed pompously and conspicuously
by what the early printers through the 15th and 16th centuries would have
called a bright and illuminated colophon.


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_Peculiar_."--Viz., as _endowed_ foundations to which those resort
who are rich and pay, and those also who, being poor, cannot pay, or
cannot pay so much. This most honorable distinction amongst the services
of England from ancient times to the interests of education--a service
absolutely unapproached by any one nation of Christendom--is amongst the
foremost cases of that remarkable class which make England, whilst often
the most aristocratic, yet also, for many noble purposes, the most
democratic of lands.

[2] Five years ago, during the carnival of universal anarchy equally
amongst doers and thinkers, a closely-printed pamphlet was published with
this title, "A New Revelation, or the Communion of the Incarnate Dead
with the Unconscious Living. Important Fact, without trifling Fiction, by
HIM." I have not the pleasure of knowing HIM; but certainly I must
concede to HIM, that he writes like a man of extreme sobriety upon his
extravagant theme. He is angry with Swedenborg, as might be expected, for
his chimeras; some of which, however, of late years have signally altered
their aspect; but. as to HIM, there is no chance that he should be
occupied with chimeras, because (p. 6) "he has met with some who have
acknowledged the fact of their having come from the dead"--_habes
confitentem reum_. Few, however, are endowed with so much candor; and in
particular, for the honor of literature, it grieves me to find, by p. 10,
that the largest number of these shams, and perhaps the most uncandid,
are to be looked for amongst "publishers and printers," of whom, it
seems, "the great majority" are mere forgeries: a very few speak frankly
about the matter, and say they don't care who knows it, which, to my
thinking, is impudence, but by far the larger section doggedly deny it,
and call a policeman, if you persist in charging them with being shams.
Some differences there are between my brother and HIM, but in the great
outline of their views they coincide.

[3] Charles II., notoriously wrote a book on the possibility of a voyage
to the moon, which, in a bishop, would be called a translation to the
moon, and perhaps it was _his_ name in combination with _his_ book that
suggested the "Adventures of Peter Wilkins." It is unfair, however, to
mention him in connection with that single one of his works which
announces an extravagant purpose. He was really a scientific man, and
already in the time of Cromwell (about 1656) had projected  that Royal
Society of London which was afterwards realized and presided over by
Isaac Barrow and Isaac Newton. He was also a learned man, but still with
a veil of romance about him, as may be seen in his most elaborate work--
"The Essay towards a Philosophic or Universal Language."

[4] "_Middy_."--I call him so simply to avoid confusion, and by way of
anticipation; else he was too young at this time to serve in the navy.
Afterwards he did so for many years, and saw every variety of service in
every class of ships belonging to our navy. At one time, when yet a boy,
he was captured by pirates, and compelled to sail with them; and the end
of his adventurous career was, that for many a year he has been lying at
the bottom of the Atlantic.

[5] "Green_heys_," with slight variation in the spelling, is the name
given to that district of which Greenhay formed the original nucleus.
Probably it was the solitary situation of the house which (failing any
other grounds of denomination) raised it to this privilege.

[6] "_Factory_."--Such was the designation technically at that time. At
present, I believe that a building of that class would be called a
"mill."

[7] This word, however, exists in _Jack-a-dandy_--a very old English
word. But what does _that_ mean?

[8] Precisely, however, the same gesture, plebian as it was, by which the
English commandant at Heligoland replied to the Danes when civilly
inviting him to surrender. Southey it was, on the authority of Lieutenant
Southey, his brother, who communicated to me this anecdote.

[9] "_Bridge of sighs_."--Two men of memorable genius, Hood last, and
Lord Byron by many years previously, have so appropriated this phrase,
and reissued it as English currency, that many readers suppose it to be
theirs. But the genealogies of fine expressions should be more carefully
preserved. The expression belongs originally to Venice. This _jus
postliminii_ becomes of real importance in many cases, but especially in
the case of Shakspeare. Could one have believed it possible beforehand?
And yet it is a fact that he is made to seem a robber of the lowest
order, by mere dint of suffering robbery. Purely through their own
jewelly splendor have many hundreds of his phrases forced themselves into
usage so general, under the vulgar infirmity of seeking to strengthen
weak prose by shreds of poetic quotation, that at length the majority of
careless readers come to look upon these phrases as belonging to the
language, and traceable to no distinct proprietor any more than proverbs:
and thus, on afterwards observing them in Shakspeare, they regard him in
the light of one accepting alms (like so many meaner persons) from the
common treasury of the universal mind, on which treasury, meantime, he
had himself conferred these phrases as original donations of his own.
Many expressions in the "Paradise Lost," in "Il Penseroso," and in
"L'Allegro," are in the same predicament. And thus the almost incredible
case is realized which I have described, viz., that simply by having
suffered a robbery through two centuries, (for the first attempt at
plundering Milton was made upon his juvenile poems,) have Shakspeare and
Milton come to be taxed as robbers. N. B.--In speaking of Hood as having
appropriated the phrase _Bridge of Sighs_, I would not be understood to
represent him as by possibility aiming at any concealment. He was as far
above such a meanness by his nobility of heart, as he was raised above
all need for it by the overflowing opulence of his genius.

[10] Geometry (it has been said) would not evade disputation, if a man
could find his interest in disputing it: such is the spirit of cavil. But
I, upon a very opposite ground, assert that there is not one page of
prose that could be selected from the best writer in the English language
(far less in the German) which, upon a sufficient interest arising, would
not furnish matter, simply through its defects in precision, for a suit
in Chancery. Chancery suits do not arise, it is true, because the
doubtful expressions do not touch any interest of property; but what
_does_ arise is this--that something more valuable than a pecuniary
interest is continually suffering, viz., the interests of truth.

[11] "_Of a Stuart sovereign_," and by no means of a Stuart only. Queen
Anne, the last Stuart who sat on the British throne, was the last of _our
princes_ who touched for the _king's evil_, (as scrofula was generally
called until lately;) but the Bourbon houses, on the thrones of France,
Spain, and Naples, as well as the house of Savoy, claimed and exercised
the same supernatural privilege down to a much later period than the year
1714--the last of Queen Anne: according to their own and the popular
faith, they could have cleansed Naaman the Syrian, and Gehazi too.

[12] One reason, I believe, why it was held a point of wisdom in ancient
days that the metropolis of a warlike state should have a secret name
hidden from the world, lay in the pagan practice of _evocation_, applied
to the tutelary deities of such a state. These deities might be lured by
certain rites and briberies into a transfer of their favors to the
besieging army. But, in order to make such an evocation effectual, it was
necessary to know the original and secret name of the beleaguered city;
and this, therefore, was religiously concealed.

[13] Hamlet, Act v., scene 1.

[14] "_Hide himself in--light_."--The greatest scholar, by far, that this
island ever produced, viz., Richard Bentley, published (as is well known)
a 4to volume that in some respects is the very worst 4to now extant in
the world--viz., a critical edition of the. "Paradise Lost." I observe,
in the "Edinburgh Review," (July, 1851, No. 191, p. 15,) that a learned
critic supposes Bentley to have meant this edition as a "practical jest."
Not at all. Neither could the critic have fancied such a possibility, if
he had taken the trouble (which _I_ did many a year back) to examine it.
A jest book it certainly is, and the most prosperous of jest books, but
undoubtedly never meant for such by the author. A man whose lips are
livid with anger does not jest, and does not understand jesting. Still,
the Edinburgh Reviewer is right about the proper functions of the book,
though wrong about the intentions of the author. The fact is, the man was
maniacally in error, and always in error, as regarded the ultimate or
poetic truth of Milton; but, as regarded truth reputed and truth
_apparent_, he often had the air of being furiously in the right; an
example of which I will cite. Milton, in the First Book of the "Paradise
Lost," had said,--

    "That from the _secret_ top
  Of Oreb or of Sinai didst inspire;"

upon which Bentley comments in effect thus: "How!--the exposed summit of
a mountain _secret_? Why, it's like Charing Cross--always the least
secret place in the whole county." So one might fancy; since the summit
of a mountain, like Plinlimmon or Cader Idris in Wales, like Skiddaw or
Helvellyn in England, constitutes a central object of attention and gaze
for the whole circumjacent district, measured by a radius sometimes of 15
to 20 miles. Upon this consideration, Bentley instructs us to substitute
as the true reading--"That on the _sacred_ top," &c. Meantime, an actual
experiment will demonstrate that there is no place so absolutely secret
and hidden as the exposed summit of a mountain, 3500 feet high, in
respect to an eye stationed in the valley immediately below. A whole
party of men, women, horses, and even tents, looked at under those
circumstances, is absolutely invisible unless by the aid of glasses: and
it becomes evident that a murder might be committed on the bare open
summit of such a mountain with more assurance of absolute secrecy than
any where else in the whole surrounding district.

[15] Which "_saying_" is sometimes ascribed, I know not how  truly, to
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

[16] It strikes me, upon second thoughts, that the particular idiom,
which Lord Monboddo illustrated as regarded the Greek language, merits a
momentary notice; and for this reason--that it plays a part not at all
less conspicuous or less delicate in the Latin. Here is an instance of
its use in Greek, taken from the well-known night scene in the "Iliad:"--

  ------_gaethaese de poimenos aetor_,

And the heart of the shepherd _rejoices_; where the verb _gaethaese_  is
in the indefinite or aorist tense, and is meant to indicate a condition
of feeling not limited to any time whatever--past, present,  or future.
In Latin, the force and elegance of this usage are equally  impressive,
if not more so. At this moment, I remember two cases of  this in Horace:-
-

  1. "Rarò antecedentem scelestum
     _Deseruit_ pede poena claudo;"
  2.         "saepe Diespiter
     Neglectus incesto _addidit_ integrum."

That is--"oftentimes the supreme ruler, when treated with neglect,
confounds or unites (not _has united_, as the tyro might fancy) the
impure man with the upright in one common fate."

Exceedingly common is this usage in Latin poetry, when the object is to
generalize a remark--as not connected with one mode of time more than
another. In reality, all three modes of time--past, present, future--are
used (though not equally used) in all languages for this purpose of
generalization. Thus,--

  1. The _future_; as, Sapiens dominabitur astris;
  2. The _present_; as, Fortes fortuna juvat;
  3. The _past_; as in the two cases cited from Horace.

But this practice holds equally in English: as to the future and the
present, nobody will doubt it; and here is a case from the past: "The
fool _hath said_ in his heart, There is no God;" not meaning, that in
some past time he has said so, but that generally in all times he _does_
say so, and _will_ say so.

[17] "_Too obstinate a preconception_."--Until the birth of geology, and
fossil paleontology, concurring with vast strides ahead in the science of
comparative anatomy, it is a well-established fact, that oftentimes the
most scientific museum admitted as genuine fragments of the human
osteology what in fact belonged to the gigantic brutes of our earth in
her earliest stages of development. This mistake would go some way in
accounting for the absurd disposition in all generations to view
themselves as abridged editions of their forefathers. Added to which, as
a separate cause of error, there can be little doubt, that intermingled
with the human race there has at most periods of the world been a
separate and Titanic race, such as the Anakim amongst the peoples of
Palestine, the Cyclopean race diffused over the Mediterranean in the
elder ages of Greece, and certain tribes amongst the Alps, known to
Evelyn in his youth (about Cromwell's time) by an unpleasant travelling
experience. These gigantic races, however, were no arguments for a
degeneration amongst the rest of mankind. They were evidently a variety
of man, coexistent with the ordinary races, but liable to be absorbed and
gradually lost by intermarriage amongst other tribes of the ordinary
standard. Occasional exhumations of such Titan skeletons would strengthen
the common prejudice. They would be taken, not for a local variety, but
for an antediluvian or prehistoric type, from which the present races of
man had arisen by gradual degeneration.

These cases of actual but misinterpreted experience, at the same time
that they naturally must tend to fortify the popular prejudice, would
also, by accounting for it, and ingrafting it upon a reasonable origin,
so far tend to take from it the reproach of a prejudice. Though
erroneous, it would yet seem to us, in looking back upon it, a rational
and even an inevitable opinion, having such plausible grounds to stand
upon; plausible, I mean, until science and accurate examination of the
several cases had begun to read them into a different construction. Yet,
on the other hand, in spite of any colorable excuses that may be pleaded
for this prejudice, it is pretty plain that, after all, there is in human
nature a deep-laid predisposition to an obstinate craze of this nature.
Else why is it that, in every age alike, men have asserted or even
assumed the downward tendency of the human race in all that regards
_moral_ qualities. For the _physical_ degeneration of man there really
were some apparent (though erroneous) arguments; but, for the moral
degeneration, no argument at all, small or great. Yet a bigotry of belief
in this idle notion has always prevailed amongst moralists, pagan alike
and Christian. Horace, for example, informs us that

  "Aetas parentum, pejor avis, tulit
  Nos nequiores--mox daturos
    Progeniem vitiosiorem."

The last generation was worse, it seems, than the penultimate, as the
present is worst than the last. We, however, of the present, bad as we
may be, shall be kept in countenance by the coming generation, which will
prove much worse than ourselves. On the same precedent, all the sermons
through the last three centuries, if traced back through decennial
periods, so as to form thirty successive strata, will be found regularly
claiming the precedency in wickedness for the immediate period of the
writer. Upon which theories, as men ought physically to have dwindled
long ago into pygmies, so, on the other hand, morally they must by this
time have left Sodom and Gomorrah far behind. What a strange animal must
man upon this scheme offer to our contemplation; shrinking in size, by
graduated process, through every century, until at last he would not rise
an inch from the ground; and, on the other hand, as regards villany,
towering evermore and more up to the heavens. What a dwarf! what a giant!
Why, the very crows would combine to destroy such a little monster.

[18] The names and history of the Pyrenean Cagots are equally obscure.
Some have supposed that, during the period of the Gothic warfare with the
Moors, the Cagots were a Christian tribe that betrayed the Christian
cause and interests at a critical moment. But all is conjecture. As to
the name, Southey has somewhere offered a possible interpretation of it;
but it struck me as far from felicitous, and not what might have been
expected from Southey, whose vast historical research and commanding
talent should naturally have unlocked this most mysterious of modern
secrets, if any unlocking does yet lie within the resources of human
skill and combining power, now that so many ages divide us from the
original steps of the case. I may here mention, as a fact accidentally
made known to myself, and apparently not known to Southey, that the
Cagots, under a name very slightly altered, are found in France also, as
well as Spain, and in provinces of France that have no connection at all
with Spain.

[19] "_Strulbrugs_."--Hardly _strulbrugs_, will be the thought of the
learned reader, who knows that _young_ women could not be strulbrugs;
since the true strulbrug was one who, from base fear of dying, had
lingered on into an old age, omnivorous of every genial or vital impulse.
The strulbrug of Swift (and Swift, being his horrid creator, ought to
understand his own horrid creation) was a wreck, a shell, that had been
burned hollow, and cancered by the fierce furnace of life. His clockwork
was gone, or carious; only some miserable fragment of a pendulum
continued to oscillate paralytically from mere incapacity of any thing so
abrupt, and therefore so vigorous, as a decided HALT! However, the use of
this dreadful word may be reasonably extended to the young who happen to
have become essentially old in misery. Intensity of a suffering existence
may compensate the want of extension; and a boundless depth of misery may
be a transformed expression for a boundless duration of misery. The most
aged person, to all appearance, that ever came under my eyes, was an
infant--hardly eight months old. He was the illegitimate son of a poor
idiot girl, who had herself been shamefully ill treated; and the poor
infant, falling under the care of an enraged grandmother, who felt
herself at once burdened and disgraced, was certainly not better treated.
He was dying, when I saw him, of a lingering malady, with features
expressive of frantic misery; and it seemed to me that he looked at the
least three centuries old. One might have fancied him one of Swift's
strulbrugs, that, through long attenuation and decay, had dwindled back
into infancy, with one organ only left perfect--the organ of fear and
misery.

[20] This was a manoeuvre regularly taught to the Austrian cavalry in the
middle of the last century; as a ready way of opening the doors of
cottages.



CHAPTER III.

INFANT LITERATURE.


"_The child_," says Wordsworth, "_is father of the man;_" thus calling
into conscious notice the fact, else faintly or not at all perceived,
that whatsoever is seen in the maturest adult, blossoming and bearing
fruit, must have preëxisted by way of germ in the infant. Yes; all
that is now broadly emblazoned in the man once was latent--seen or not
seen--as a vernal bud in the child. But not, therefore, is it true
inversely, that all which preëxists in the child finds its development
in the man. Rudiments and tendencies, which _might_ have found,
sometimes by accidental, _do_ not find, sometimes under the killing
frost of counter forces, _cannot_ find, their natural evolution.
Infancy, therefore, is to be viewed, not only as part of a larger world
that waits for its final complement in old age, but also as a separate
world itself; part of a continent, but also a distinct peninsula. Most
of what he has, the grown-up man inherits from his infant self; but
it does not follow that he always enters upon the whole of his natural
inheritance.

Childhood, therefore, in the midst of its intellectual weakness, and
sometimes even by means of this weakness, enjoys a limited privilege
of strength. The heart in this season of life is apprehensive, and,
where its sensibilities are profound, is endowed with a special power
of listening for the tones of truth--hidden, struggling, or remote;
for the knowledge being then narrow, the interest is narrow in the
objects of knowledge; consequently the sensibilities are not scattered,
are not multiplied, are not crushed and confounded (as afterwards they
are) under the burden of that distraction which lurks in the infinite
littleness of details.

That mighty silence which infancy is thus privileged by nature and by
position to enjoy coöperates with another source of power,--almost
peculiar to youth and youthful circumstances,--which Wordsworth also
was the first person to notice. It belongs to a profound experience
of the relations subsisting between ourselves and nature--that not
always are we called upon to seek; sometimes, and in childhood above
all, we are sought.

  "Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
    Of things forever speaking,
  That noting _of itself_ will come,
    But we must still be seeking?"

And again:--

  "Nor less I deem that there are powers
    Which _of themselves_ our minds impress;
  And we can feed this mind of ours
    In a wise passiveness."

These cases of infancy, reached at intervals by special revelations,
or creating for itself, through it privileged silence of heart,
authentic whispers of truth, or beauty, or power, have some analogy
to those other cases, more directly supernatural, in which (according
to the old traditional faith of our ancestors) deep messages of
admonition reached an individual through sudden angular deflexions of
words, uttered or written, that had not been originally addressed to
himself. Of these there were two distinct classes--those where the
person concerned had been purely passive; and, secondly, those in which
he himself had to some extent coöperated. The first class have been
noticed by Cowper, the poet, and by George Herbert, the well-known
pious brother of the still better-known infidel, Lord Herbert, (of
Cherbury,) in a memorable sonnet; scintillations they are of what seems
nothing less than providential lights oftentimes arresting our
attention, from the very centre of what else seems the blank darkness
of chance and blind accident. "Books lying open, millions of
surprises,"--these are among the cases to which Herbert (and to which
Cowper) alludes,--books, that is to say, left casually open without
design or consciousness, from which some careless passer-by, when
throwing the most negligent of glances upon the page, has been startled
by a solitary word lying, as it were, in ambush, waiting and lurking
for _him_, and looking at him steadily as an eye searching the haunted
places of his conscience. These cases are in principle identical with
those of the _second_ class, where the inquirer himself coöperated,
or was not entirely passive; cases such as those which the Jews called
Bath-col, or daughter of a voice, (the echo [1] augury,) viz., where a
man, perplexed in judgment and sighing for some determining counsel,
suddenly heard from a stranger in some unlooked-for quarter words not
meant for himself, but clamorously applying to the difficulty besetting
him. In these instances, the mystical word, that carried a secret meaning
and message to one sole ear in the world, was unsought for: _that_
constituted its virtue and its divinity; and to arrange means wilfully
for catching at such casual words, would have defeated the purpose.
A well-known variety of augury, conducted upon this principle, lay in
the "Sortes Biblicae," where the Bible was the oracular book consulted,
and far more extensively at a later period in the "Sortes Virgilianae,"
[2] where the Aeneid was the oracle consulted.

Something analogous to these spiritual transfigurations of a word or
a sentence, by a bodily organ (eye or ear) that has been touched with
virtue for evoking the spiritual echo lurking in its recesses, belongs,
perhaps, to every impassioned mind for the kindred result of forcing
out the peculiar beauty, pathos, or grandeur that may happen to lodge
(unobserved by ruder forms of sensibility) in special passages scattered
up and down literature. Meantime, I wish the reader to understand that,
in putting forward the peculiar power with which my childish eye
detected a grandeur or a pomp of beauty not seen by others in some
special instances, I am not arrogating more than it is lawful for every
man the very humblest to arrogate, viz., an individuality of mental
constitution so far applicable to special and exceptionable cases as
to reveal in _them_ a life and power of beauty which others (and
sometimes which _all_ others) had missed.

The first case belongs to the march (or boundary) line between my eighth
and ninth years; the others to a period earlier by two and a half
years. But I notice the latest case before the others, as it connected
itself with a great epoch in the movement of my intellect. There is
a dignity to every man in the mere historical assigning, if accurately
he can assign, the first dawning upon his mind of any godlike faculty
or apprehension, and more especially if that first dawning happened
to connect itself with circumstances of individual or incommunicable
splendor. The passage  which I am going to cite first of all revealed
to me the immeasurableness of the morally sublime. What was it, and
where was it? Strange the reader will think it, and strange [3] it is,
that a case of colossal sublimity should first emerge from such a writer
as Phaedrus, the Aesopian fabulist. A great mistake it was, on the part
of Doctor S., that the second book in the Latin language which I was
summoned to study should have been Phaedrus--a writer ambitious of
investing the simplicity, or rather homeliness, of Aesop with aulic
graces and satiric brilliancy. But so it was; and Phaedrus naturally
towered into enthusiasm when he had occasion to mention that the most
intellectual of all races amongst men, viz., the Athenians, had raised
a mighty statue to one who belonged to the same class in a social sense
as himself, viz., the class of slaves, and rose above that class by
the same intellectual power applying itself to the same object, viz.,
the moral apologue. These were the two lines in which that glory of
the sublime, so stirring to my childish sense, seemed to burn as in
some mighty pharos:--

  "Aesopo statuam ingentem posuere Attici;
  Servumque collocârunt eternâ in basi:"

_A colossal statue did the Athenians raise to Aesop; and a poor pariah
slave they planted upon an everlasting pedestal._ I have not scrupled
to introduce the word _pariah_, because in that way only could I
decipher to the reader by what particular avenue it was that the
sublimity which I fancy in the passage reached my heart. This sublimity
originated in the awful chasm, in the abyss that no eye could bridge,
between the pollution of slavery,--the being a man, yet without right
or lawful power belonging to a man,--between this unutterable
degradation and the starry altitude of the slave at that moment when,
upon the unveiling of his everlasting statue, all the armies of the
earth might be conceived as presenting arms to the emancipated man,
the cymbals and kettledrums of kings as drowning the whispers of his
ignominy, and the harps of all his sisters that wept over slavery yet
joining in one choral gratulation to the regenerated slave. I assign
the elements of what I did in reality feel at that time, which to the
reader may seem extravagant, and by no means of what it was reasonable
to feel. But, in order that full justice may be done to my childish
self, I must point out to the reader another source of what strikes
me as real grandeur. Horace, that exquisite master of the lyre, and
that most shallow of critics, it is needless to say that in those days
I had not read. Consequently I knew nothing of his idle canon, that
the opening of poems must be humble and subdued. But my own sensibility
told me how much of additional grandeur accrued to these two lines as
being the immediate and all-pompous _opening_ of the poem. The same
feeling I had received from the crashing overture to the grand chapter
of Daniel--"Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of
his lords." But, above all, I felt this effect produced in the two
opening lines of "Macbeth:"--

"WHEN--(but watch that an emphasis of thunder dwells upon that word
'when')--

  WHEN shall we three meet again--
  In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"

What an orchestral crash bursts upon the ear in that all-shattering
question! And one syllable of apologetic preparation, so as to meet
the suggestion of Horace, would have the effect of emasculating the
whole tremendous alarum. The passage in Phaedrus differs thus far from
that in "Macbeth," that the first line, simply stating a matter of
fact, with no more of sentiment than belongs to the word _ingentem_,
and to the antithesis between the two parties so enormously
divided,--Aesop the slave and the Athenians,--must be read as an
_appoggiatura_, or hurried note of introduction flying forward as if
on wings to descend with the fury and weight of a thousand orchestras
upon the immortal passion of the second line--"Servumque collocârunt
ETERNA IN BASI." This passage from Phaedrus, which might be briefly
designated _The Apotheosis of the Slave_, gave to me my first grand
and jubilant sense of the moral sublime.

Two other experiences of mine of the same class had been earlier, and
these I had shared with my sister Elizabeth. The first was derived
from the "Arabian Nights." Mrs. Barbauld, a lady now very nearly
forgotten, [4] then filled a large space in the public eye; in fact,
as a writer for children, she occupied the place from about 1780 to
1805 which, from 1805 to 1835, was occupied by Miss Edgeworth. Only,
as unhappily Miss Edgeworth is also now very nearly forgotten, this
is to explain _ignotum per ingnotius_, or at least one _ignotum_ by
another _ignotum_. However, since it cannot be helped, this unknown
and also most well-known woman, having occassion, in the days of her
glory, to speak of the "Arabian Nights," insisted on Aladdin, and
secondly, on Sinbad, as the two jewels of the collection. Now, on the
contrary, my sister and myself pronounced Sinbad to be very bad, and
Aladdin to be pretty nearly the worst, and upon grounds that still
strike me as just. For, as to Sinbad, it is not a story at all, but
a mere succession of adventures, having no unity of interest whatsoever;
and in Aladdin, after the possession of the lamp has been once secured
by a pure accident, the story ceases to move. All the rest is a mere
record of upholstery: how this saloon was finished to-day, and that
window on the next day, with no fresh incident whatever, except the
single and transient misfortune arising out of the advantage given to
the magician by the unpardonable stupidity of Aladdin in regard to the
lamp. But, whilst my sister and I agreed in despising Aladdin so much
as almost to be on the verge of despising the queen of all the
bluestockings for so ill-directed a preference, one solitary section
there was of that tale which was fixed and fascinated my gaze, in a
degree that I never afterwards forgot, and did not at that time
comprehend. The sublimity which it involved was mysterious and
unfathomable as regarded any key which I possessed for deciphering
its law or origin. Made restless by the blind sense which I had of its
grandeur, I could not for a moment succeed in finding out _why_ it
should be grand. Unable to explain my own impressions in "Aladdin,"
I did not the less obstinately persist in believing a sublimity which
I could not understand. It was, in fact, one of those many important
cases which elsewhere I have called _involutes_ of human sensibility;
combinations in which the materials of future thought or feeling are
carried as imperceptibly into the mind as vegetable seeds are carried
variously combined through the atmosphere, or by means of rivers, by
birds, by winds, by waters, into remote countries. But the reader shall
judge for himself. At the opening of the tale, a magician living in
the central depths of Africa is introduced to us as one made aware by
his secret art of an enchanted lamp endowed with supernatural powers
available for the service of any man whatever who should get it into
his keeping. But _there_ lies the difficulty. The lamp is imprisoned
in subterraneous chambers, and from these it can be released only by
the hands of an innocent child. But this is not enough: the child must
have a special horoscope written in the stars, or else a peculiar
destiny written in his constitution, entitling him to take possession
of the lamp. Where shall such a child be found? Where shall he be
sought? The magician knows: he applies his ear to the earth; he listens
to the innumerable sounds of footsteps that at the moment of his
experiment are tormenting the surface of the globe; and amongst them
all, at a distance of six thousand miles, playing in the streets of
Bagdad, he distinguishes the peculiar steps of the child Aladdin.
Through this mighty labyrinth of sounds, which Archimedes, aided by
his _arenarius_, could not sum or disentangle, one solitary infant's
feet are distinctly recognized on the banks of the Tigris, distant
by four hundred and forty days' march of an army or a caravan. These
feet, these steps, the sorcerer knows, and challenges in his heart as
the feet, as the steps of that innocent boy, through whose hands only
he could have a chance for reaching the lamp.

It follows, therefore, that the wicked magician exercises two demoniac
gifts. First, he has the power to disarm Babel itself of its confusion.
Secondly, after having laid aside as useless many billions of earthly
sounds, and after having fastened his murderous [5] attention upon one
insulated tread, he has the power, still more unsearchable, of reading in
that hasty movement an alphabet of new and infinite symbols; for, in
order that the sound of the child's feet should be significant and
intelligible, that sound must open into a gamut of infinite compass. The
pulses of the heart, the motions of the will, the phantoms of the brain
must repeat themselves in secret hieroglyphics uttered by the flying
footsteps. Even the inarticulate or brutal sounds of the globe must
be all so many languages and ciphers that somewhere have their
corresponding keys--have their own grammar and syntax; and thus the
least things in the universe must be secret mirrors to the greatest.
Palmistry has something of the same dark sublimity. All this, by rude
efforts at explanation that mocked my feeble command of words, I
communicated to my sister; and she, whose sympathy with my meaning was
always so quick and true, often outrunning electrically my imperfect
expressions, felt the passage in the same way as myself, [6] but not,
perhaps, in the same degree. She was much beyond me in velocity of
apprehension and many other qualities of intellect. Here only, viz.,
on cases of the _dark_ sublime, where it rested upon dim abstractions,
and when no particular trait of _moral_ grandeur came forward, we
differed--differed, that is to say, as by more or by less. Else, even
as to the sublime, and numbers of other intellectual questions which
rose up to us from our immense reading, we drew together with a perfect
fidelity of sympathy; and therefore I pass willingly from a case which
exemplified one of our rare differences to another, not less interesting
for itself, which illustrated (what occurred so continually) the
intensity of our agreement.

No instance of noble revenge that ever I heard of seems so effective,
if considered as applied to a noble-minded wrong doer, or in any case
as so pathetic. From what quarter the story comes originally, was
unknown to us at the time, and I have never met it since; so that
possibly it may be new to the reader. We found it in a book written
for the use of his own children by Dr. Percival, the physician who
attended at Greenhay. Dr. P. was a literary man, of elegant tastes and
philosophic habits. Some of his papers may be found in the "Manchester
Philosophic Transactions;" and these I have heard mentioned with
respect, though, for myself, I have no personal knowledge of them.
Some presumption meantime arises in their favor from the fact that he
had been a favored correspondent of the most eminent Frenchmen at that
time who cultivated literature jointly with philosophy. Voltaire,
Diderot, Maupertuis, Condorcet, and D'Alembert had all treated him
with distinction; and I have heard my mother say that, in days before
I or my sister could have known him, he attempted vainly to interest
her in these French luminaries by reading extracts from their frequent
letters; which, however, so far from reconciling her to the letters,
or to the writers of the letters, had the unhappy effect of riveting
her dislike (previously budding) to the doctor, as their reciever, and
the _proneur_ of their authors. The tone of the letters--hollow,
insincere, and full of courtly civilities to Dr. P., as a known friend
of "_the tolerance_" (meaning, of toleration)--certainly was not adapted
to the English taste; and in this respect was specially offensive to
my mother, as always assuming of the doctor, that, by mere necessity,
as being a philosopher, he must be an infidel. Dr. P. left that
question, I believe, "_in medio_," neither assenting nor denying; and
undoubtedly there was no particular call upon him to publish his
confession of Faith before one who, in the midst of her rigourous
politeness, suffered it to be too transparent that she did not like
him. It is always a pity to see any thing lost and wasted, especially
love; and, therefore, it was no subject for lamentation, that too
probably the philosophic doctor did not enthusiastically like _her_.
But, if really so, that made no difference in his feelings towards my
sister and myself. Us he _did_ like; and, as one proof of his regard,
he presented us jointly with such of his works as could be supposed
interesting to two young literati, whos combined ages made no more at
this period than a baker's dozen. These presentation copies amount to
two at the lest, both _octavoes_, and one of them entitled _The
Father's_--something or other; what was it?--_Assistant_, perhaps. How
much assistance the doctor might furnish to the fathers upon this
wicked little planet, I cannot say. But fathers are a stubborn race;
it is very little use trying to assist _them_. Better always to
prescribe for the rising generation. And certainly the impression which
he made upon us--my sister and myself--by the story in question was
deep and memorable: my sister wept over it, and wept over the
remembrance of it; and, not long after, carried its sweet aroma off
with her to heaven; whilst I, for _my_ part, have never forgotten it.
Yet, perhaps, it is injudicious to have too much excited the reader's
expectations; therefore, reader, understand what it is that you are
invited to hear--not much of a story, but simply a noble sentiment,
such as that of Louis XII, when he refused, as King of France, to
avenge his own injuries as Duke of Orleans--such as that of Hadrian,
when he said that a Roman imperator ought to die standing, meaning
that Caesar, as the man who represented almighty Rome, should face the
last enemy as the first in an attitude of unconquerable defiance. Here
is Dr. Percival's story, which (again I warn you) will collapse into
nothing at all, unless you yourself are able to dilate it by expansive
sympathy with its sentiment.

A young officer (in what army, no matter) had so far forgotten himself,
in a moment of irritation, as to strike a private soldier, full of
personal dignity, (as sometimes happens in all ranks,) and distinguished
for his courage. The inexorable laws of military discipline forbade
to the injured soldier any practical redress--he could look for no
retaliation by acts. Words only were at his command; and, in a tumult
of indignation, as he turned away, the soldier said to his officer
that he would "make him repent it." This, wearing the shape of a menace,
naturally rekindled the officer's anger, and intercepted any disposition
which might be rising within him towards a sentiment of remorse; and
thus the irritation between the two young men grew hotter than before.
Some weeks after this a partial action took place with the enemy.
Suppose yourself a spectator, and looking down into a valley occupied
by the two armies. They are facing each other, you see, in martial
array. But it is no more than a skirmish which is going on; in the
course of which, however, an occasion suddenly arises for a desperate
service. A redoubt, which has fallen into the enemy's hands, must be
recaptured at any price, and under circumstances of all but hopeless
difficulty. A strong party has volunteered for the service; there is
a cry for somebody to head them; you see a soldier step out from the
ranks to assume this dangerous leadership; the party moves rapidly
forward; in a few minutes it is swallowed up from your eyes in clouds
of smoke; for one half hour, from behind these clouds, you receive
hieroglyphic reports of bloody strife--fierce repeating signals, flashes
from the guns, rolling musketry, and exulting hurrahs advancing or
receding, slackening or redoubling. At length all is over; the redoubt
has been recovered; that which was lost is found again; the jewel which
had been made captive is ransomed with blood. Crimsoned with glorious
gore, the wreck of the conquering party is relieved, and at liberty
to return. From the river you see it ascending. The plume-crested
officer in command rushes forward, with his left hand raising his hat
in homage to the blackened fragments of what once was a flag, whilst,
with his right hand, he seizes that of the leader, though no more than
a private from the ranks. _That_ perplexes you not; mystery you see
none in _that_. For distinctions of order perish, ranks are confounded,
"high and low" are words without a meaning, and to wreck goes every
notion or feeling that divides the noble from the noble, or the brave
man from the brave. But wherefore is it that now, when suddenly they
wheel into mutual recognition, suddenly they pause? This soldier, this
officer--who are they? O reader! once before they had stood face to
face--the soldier it is that was struck; the officer it is that struck
him. Once again they are meeting; and the gaze of armies is upon them.
If for a moment a doubt divides them, in a moment the doubt has
perished. One glance exchanged between them publishes the forgiveness
that is sealed forever. As one who recovers a brother whom he had
accounted dead, the officer sprang forward, threw his arms around the
neck of the soldier, and kissed him, as if he were some martyr glorified
by that shadow of death from which he was returning; whilst, on _his_
part, the soldier, stepping back, and carrying his open hand through
the beautiful motions of the military salute to a superior, makes this
immortal answer--that answer which shut up forever the memory of the
indignity offered to him, even whilst for the last time alluding to
it: "Sir," he said, "I told you before that I would _make you repent
it._"


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_Echo augury_."--The daughter of a voice meant an echo, the original
sound being viewed as the mother, and the reverberation, or secondary
sound, as the daughter. Analogically, therefore, the direct and original
meaning of any word, or sentence, or counsel, was the mother meaning but
the secondary, or mystical meaning, created by the peculiar circumstances
for one separate and peculiar ear, the daughter meaning, or echo meaning.
This mode of augury, through secondary interpretations of chance words,
is not, as some readers may fancy, an old, obsolete, or merely Jewish
form of seeking the divine pleasure. About a century ago, a man so
famous, and by repute so unsuperstitious, as Dr. Doddridge, was guided in
a primary act of choice, influencing his whole after life, by a few
chance words from a child reading aloud to his mother. With the other
mode of augury viz., that noticed by Herbert, where not the ear but the
eye presides, catching at some word that chance has thrown upon the eye
in some book left open by negligence, or opened at random by one's self,
Cowper, the poet, and his friend Newton, with scores of others that could
be mentioned, were made acquainted through practical results and personal
experiences that in _their_ belief were memorably important.

[2] "_Sortes Virgilianae_."--Upon what principle could it have been that
Virgil was adopted as the oracular fountain in such a case? An author so
limited even as to bulk, and much more limited as regards compass of
thought and variety or situation or character, was about the worst that
pagan literature offered. But I myself once threw out a suggestion, which
(if it is sound) exposes a motive in behalf of such a choice that would
be likely to overrule the strong motives against it. That motive was,
unless my whole speculation is groundless, the very same which led Dante,
in an age of ignorance, to select Virgil as his guide in Hades. The
seventh son of a seventh son has always traditionally been honored as the
depositary of magical and other supernatural gifts. And the same
traditional privilege attached to any man whose maternal grandfather was
a sorcerer. Now, it happened that Virgil's maternal grandfather bore the
name of _Magus_. This, by the ignorant multitude in Naples, &c., who had
been taught to reverence his tomb, was translated from its true acception
as a proper name, to a false one as an appellative: it was supposed to
indicate, not the name, but the profession of the old gentleman. And
thus, according to the belief of the _lazzaroni_, that excellent
Christian, P. Virgilius Maro, had stepped by mere succession and right of
inheritance into his wicked old grandpapa's infernal powers and
knowledge, both of which he exercised, doubtless, for centuries without
blame, and for the benefit of the faithful.

[3] "_Strange_," &c.--Yet I remember that, in "The Pursuits of
Literature,"--a satirical poem once universally famous,--the lines about
Mnemosyne and her daughters, the Pierides, are cited as exhibiting
matchless sublimity. Perhaps, therefore, if carefully searched, this
writer may contain other jewels not yet appreciated.

 [4] "_Very nearly forgotten_."--Not quite however. It must be hard upon
eighty or eighty-five years since she first commenced authorship--a
period which allows time for a great deal of forgetting; and yet, in the
very week when I am revising this passage, I observe advertised a new
edition, attractively illustrated, of the "Evenings at Home"--a joint
work of Mrs. Barbauld's and her brother's, (the elder Dr. Aikin.) Mrs.
Barbauld was exceedingly clever. Her mimicry of Dr. Johnson's style was
the best of all that exist. Her blank verse "Washing Day," descriptive of
the discomforts attending a mistimed visit to a rustic friend, under the
affliction of a family washing, is picturesquely circumstantiated. And
her prose hymns for children have left upon my childish recollection a
deep impression of solemn beauty and simplicity. Coleridge, who scattered
his sneering compliments very liberally up and down the world, used to
call the elder Dr. Aikin (allusively to Pope's well-known line--

  "No craving void left aching in the breast")

_an aching void_; and the nephew, Dr. Arthur Aikin, by way of variety, _a
void aching_; whilst Mrs. Barbault he designated as _that pleonasm of
nakedness_; since, as if it were not enough to be _bare_, she was also
_bald_.

[5] "_Murderous_;" for it was his intention to leave Aladdin immurred in
the subterraneous chambers.

[6] The reader will not understand me as attributing to the Arabian
originator of Aladdin all the sentiment of the case as I have endeavored
to disentangle it. He spoke what he did not understand; for, as to
sentiment of any kind, all Orientals are obtuse and impassive. There are
other sublimities (some, at least) in the "Arabian Nights," which first
become such--a gas that first kindles--when entering into combination
with new elements in a Christian atmosphere.



CHAPTER IV.

THE FEMALE INFIDEL.


At the time of my father's death, I was nearly seven years old. In the
next four years, during which we continued to live at Greenhay, nothing
memorable occurred, except, indeed, that troubled parenthesis in my
life which connected me with my brother William,--this certainly was
memorable to myself,--and, secondly, the visit of a most eccentric
young woman, who, about nine years later, drew the eyes of all England
upon herself by her unprincipled conduct in an affair affecting the
life of two Oxonian undergraduates. She was the daughter of Lord Le
Despencer, (known previously as Sir Francis Dashwood;) and at this
time (meaning the time of her visit to Greenhay) she was about
twenty-two years old, with a face and a figure classically beautiful,
and with the reputation of extraordinary accomplishments; these
accomplishments being not only eminent in their degree, but rare and
interesting in their kind. In particular, she astonished every person
by her _impromptu_ performances on the organ, and by her powers of
disputation. These last she applied entirely to attacks upon
Christianity; for she openly professed infidelity in the most audacious
form; and at my mother's table she certainly proved more than a match
for all the clergymen of the neighboring towns, some of whom (as the
most intellectual persons of that neighborhood) were daily invited to
meet her. It was a mere accident which had introduced her to my mother's
house. Happening to hear from my sister Mary's governess [1] that she and
her pupil were going on a visit to an old Catholic family in the county
of Durham, (the family of Mr. Swinburne, who was known advantageously
to the public by his "Travels in Spain and Sicily," &c.,) Mrs. Lee,
whose education in a French convent, aided by her father's influence,
had introduced her extensively to the knowledge of Catholic families
in England land, and who had herself an invitation to the same house
at the same time, wrote to offer the use of her carriage to convey all
three--_i.e._, herself, my sister, and her governess--to Mr. Swinburne's.
This naturally drew forth from my mother an invitation to Greenhay; and
to Greenhay she came. On the imperial of her carriage, and else-where,
she described herself as the _Hon._ Antonina Dashwood Lee. But, in fact,
being only the illegitimate daughter of Lord Le Despencer, she was not
entitled to that designation. She had, however, received a bequest even
more enviable from her father, viz., not less than forty-five thousand
pounds. At a very early age, she had married a young Oxonian,
distinguished for nothing but a very splendid person, which had procured
him the distinguishing title of _Handsome Lee;_ and from him she had
speedily separated, on the agreement of dividing the fortune.

My mother little guessed what sort of person it was whom she had asked
into her family. So much, however, she had understood from Miss
Wesley--that Mrs. Lee was a bold thinker; and that, for a woman, she
had an astonishing command of theological learning. This it was that
suggested the clerical invitations, as in such a case likely to furnish
the most appropriate society. But this led to a painful result. It
might easily have happened that a very learned clergyman should not
specially have qualified himself for the service of a theological
tournament; and my mother's range of acquaintance was not very extensive
amongst the clerical body. But of these the two leaders, as regarded
public consideration, were Mr. H----, my guardian, and Mr. Clowes, who
for more than fifty years officiated as rector of St. John's Church
in Manchester. In fact, the _golden_ [2] jubilee of his pastoral
connection with St. John's was celebrated many years after with much
demonstrative expression of public sympathy on the part of universal
Manchester--the most important city in the island next after London. No
men could have been found who were less fitted to act as champions in a
duel on behalf of Christianity. Mr. H---- was dreadfully commonplace;
dull, dreadfully dull; and, by the necessity of his nature, incapable of
being in deadly earnest, which his splendid antagonist at all times was.
His encounter, therefore, with Mrs. Lee presented the distressing
spectacle of an old, toothless, mumbling mastiff, fighting for the
household to which he owed allegiance against a young leopardess fresh
from the forests. Every touch from _her_, every velvety pat, drew blood.
And something comic mingled with what my mother felt to be paramount
tragedy. Far different was Mr. Clowes: holy, visionary, apostolic, he
could not be treated disrespectfully. No man could deny him a qualified
homage. But for any polemic service he wanted the taste, the training,
and the particular sort of erudition required. Neither would such
advantages, if he had happened to possess them, have at all availed him
in a case like this. Horror, blank horror, seized him upon seeing a
woman, a young woman, a woman of captivating beauty, whom God had adorned
so eminently with gifts of person and of mind, breathing sentiments that
to him seemed fresh from the mintage of hell. He could have apostrophized
her (as long afterwards he himself told me) in the words of Shakspeare's
Juliet--

  "Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!"

for he was one of those who never think of Christianity as the subject
of defence. Could sunshine, could light, could the glories of the dawn
call for defence? Not as a thing to be defended, but as a thing to be
interpreted, as a thing to be illuminated, did Christianity exist for
_him_. He, therefore, was even more unserviceable as a champion against
the deliberate impeacher of Christian evidences than my reverend
guardian.

Thus it was that he himself explained his own position in after days,
when I had reached my sixteenth year, and visited him upon terms of
friendship as close as can ever have existed between a boy and a man
already gray headed. Him and his noiseless parsonage, the pensive abode
for sixty years of religious revery and anchoritish self-denial, I
have described farther on. In some limited sense he belongs to our
literature, for he was, in fact, the introducer of Swedenborg to this
country; as being himself partially the translator of Swedenborg; and
still more as organizing a patronage to other people's translations;
and also, I believe, as republishing the original Latin works of
Swedenborg. To say _that_ of Mr. Clowes, was, until lately, but another
way of describing him as a delirious dreamer. At present, (1853,) I
presume the reader to be aware that Cambridge has, within the last few
years, unsettled and even revolutionized our estimates of Swedenborg
as a philosopher. That man, indeed, whom Emerson ranks as one amongst
his inner consistory of intellectual potentates cannot be the absolute
trifler that Kant, (who knew him only by the most trivial of his
pretensions,) eighty years ago, supposed him. Assuredly, Mr. Clowes
was no trifler, but lived habitually a life of power, though in a world
of religious mysticism and of apocalyptic visions. To him, being such
a man by nature and by habit, it was in effect the lofty Lady Geraldine
from Coleridge's "Christabel" that stood before him in this infidel
lady. A magnificent witch she was, like the Lady Geraldine; having the
same superb beauty; the same power of throwing spells over the ordinary
gazer; and yet at intervals unmasking to some solitary, unfascinated
spectator the same dull blink of a snaky eye; and revealing, through
the most fugitive of gleams, a traitress couchant beneath what else
to all others seemed the form of a lady, armed with incomparable
pretensions--one that was

          "Beautiful exceedingly,
  Like a lady from a far countrie."

The scene, as I heard it sketched long years afterwards by more than
one of those who had witnessed it, was painful in excess. And the shock
given to my mother was memorable. For the first and the last time in
her long and healthy life, she suffered an alarming nervous attack.
Partly this arose from the conflict between herself in the character
of hostess, and herself as a loyal daughter of Christian faith; she
shuddered, in a degree almost incontrollable and beyond her power to
dissemble, at the unfeminine intrepidity with which "the leopardess"
conducted her assaults upon the sheepfolds of orthodoxy; and partly,
also, this internal conflict arose from concern on behalf of her own
servants, who waited at dinner, and were inevitably liable to
impressions from what they heard. My mother, by original choice, and
by early training under a very aristocratic father, recoiled as
austerely from all direct communication with her servants as the Pythia
at Delphi from the attendants that swept out the temple. But not the
less her conscience, in all stages of her life, having or _not_ having
any special knowledge of religion, acknowledged a pathetic weight of
obligation to remove from her household all confessedly corrupting
influences. And here was one which she could not remove. What chiefly
she feared, on behalf of her servants, was either, 1st, the danger
from the simple _fact_, now suddenly made known to them, that it was
possible for a person unusually gifted to deny Christianity; such a
denial and haughty abjuration could not but carry itself more profoundly
into the reflective mind, even of servants, when the arrow came winged
and made buoyant by the gay feathering of so many splendid
accomplishments. This general fact was appreciable by those who would
forget, and never could have understood, the particular arguments of
the infidel. Yet, even as regarded these particular arguments, 2dly,
my mother feared that some one--brief, telling, and rememberable--might
be singled out from the rest, might transplant itself to the servants'
hall, and take root for life in some mind sufficiently thoughtful to
invest it with interest, and yet far removed from any opportunities,
through books or society, for disarming the argument of its sting.
Such a danger was quickened by the character and pretensions of Mrs.
Lee's footman, who was a daily witness, whilst standing behind his
mistress's chair at dinner, to the confusion which she carried into
the hostile camp, and might be supposed to renew such discussions in
the servants' hall with singular advantages for a favorable attention.
For he was a showy and most audacious Londoner, and what is _technically_
known in the language of servants' hiring offices as "a man of figure."
He might, therefore, be considered as one dangerously armed for shaking
religious principles, especially amongst the female servants. Here,
however, I believe that my mother was mistaken. Women of humble station,
less than any other class, have any tendency to sympathize with boldness
that manifests itself in throwing off the yoke of religion. Perhaps a
natural instinct tells them that levity of that nature will pretty surely
extend itself contagiously to other modes of conscientious obligation; at
any rate, my own experience would warrant me in doubting whether any
instance were ever known of a woman, in the rank of servant, regarding
infidelity or irreligion as something brilliant, or interesting, or in
any way as favorably distinguishing a man. Meantime, this conscientious
apprehension on account of the servants applied to contingencies that
were remote. But the pity on account of the poor lady herself applied to
a danger that seemed imminent and deadly. This beautiful and splendid
young creature, as my mother knew, was floating, without anchor or
knowledge of any anchoring grounds, upon the unfathomable ocean of a
London world, which, for _her_, was wrapped in darkness as regarded its
dangers, and thus for _her_ the chances of shipwreck were seven times
multiplied. It was notorious that Mrs. Lee had no protector or guide,
natural or legal. Her marriage had, in fact, instead of imposing new
restraints, released her from old ones. For the legal separation of
Doctors' Commons--technically called a divorce simply _à mensâ et thoro_,
(from bed and board,) and not _à vinculo matrimonii_ (from the very tie
and obligation of marriage)--had removed her by law from the control of
her husband; whilst, at the same time, the matrimonial condition, of
course, enlarged that liberty of action which else is unavoidably
narrowed by the reserve and delicacy natural to a young woman, whilst
yet unmarried. Here arose one peril more; and, 2dly, arose this most
unusual aggravation of that peril--that Mrs Lee was deplorably ignorant
of English life; indeed, of life universally. Strictly speaking, she
was even yet a raw, untutored novice, turned suddenly loose from the
twilight of a monastic seclusion. Under any circumstances, such a
situation lay open to an amount of danger that was afflicting to
contemplate. But one dreadful exasperation of these fatal auguries lay
in the peculiar _temper_ of Mrs. Lee, as connected with her infidel
thinking. Her nature was too frank and bold to tolerate any disguise;
and my mother's own experience had now taught her that Mrs. Lee would
not be content, to leave to the random call of accident the avowal of
her principles. No passive or latent spirit of freethinking was
hers--headlong it was, uncompromising, almost fierce, and regarding
no restraints of place or season. Like Shelley, some few years later,
whose day she would have gloried to welcome, she looked upon her
principles not only as conferring rights, but also as imposing duties
of active proselytism. From this feature in her character it was that
my mother foresaw an _instant_ evil, which she urged Miss Wesley to
press earnestly on her attention, viz., the inevitable alienation of
all her female friends. In many parts of the continent (but too much
we are all in the habit of calling by the wide name of "the continent,"
France, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium) my mother was aware that
the most flagrant proclamation of infidelity would not stand in the
way of a woman's favorable reception into society. But in England, at
that time, this was far otherwise. A display such as Mrs. Lee habitually
forced upon people's attention would at once have the effect of
banishing from her house all women of respectability. She would be
thrown upon the society of _men_--bold and reckless, such as either
agreed with herself, or, being careless on the whole subject of
religion, pretended to do so. Her income, though diminished now by the
partition with Mr. Lee, was still above a thousand per annum; which,
though trivial for any purpose of display in a place so costly as
London, was still important enough to gather round her unprincipled
adventurers, some of whom might be noble enough to obey no attraction
but that which lay in her marble beauty, in her Athenian grace and
eloquence, and the wild, impassioned nature of her accomplishments.
By her acting, her dancing, her conversation, her musical
improvisations, she was qualified to attract the most intellectual
men; but baser attractions would exist for baser men; and my mother
urged Miss Wesley, as one whom Mrs. Lee admitted to her confidence,
above all things to act upon her pride by forewarning her that such
men, in the midst of lip homage to her charms, would be sure to betray
its hollowness by declining to let their wives and daughters visit
her. Plead what excuses they would, Mrs. Lee might rely upon it, that
the true ground for this insulting absence of female visitors would
be found to lie in her profession of infidelity. This alienation of
female society would, it was clear, be precipitated enormously by Mrs.
Lee's frankness. A result that might by a dissembling policy have been
delayed indefinitely, would now be hurried forward to an immediate
crisis. And in this result went to wreck the very best part of Mrs.
Lee's securities against ruin.

It is scarcely necessary to say, that all the evil followed which had
been predicted, and through the channels which had been predicted.
Some time was required on so vast a stage as London to publish the
facts of Mrs. Lee's free-thinking--that is, to publish it as a matter
of systematic purpose. Many persons had at first made a liberal
allowance for her, as tempted by some momentary impulse into opinions
that she had not sufficiently considered, and might forget as hastily
as she had adopted them. But no sooner was it made known as a settled
fact, that she had deliberately dedicated her energies to the interests
of an anti-Christian system, and that she hated Christianity, than the
whole body of her friends within the pale of social respectability
fell away from her, and forsook her house. To _them_ succeeded a clique
of male visitors, some of whom were doubtfully respectable, and others
(like Mr. Frend, memorable for his expulsion from Cambridge on account
of his public hostility to Trinitarianism) were distinguished by a
tone of intemperate defiance to the spirit of English society. Thrown
upon such a circle, and emancipated from all that temper of reserve
which would have been impressed upon her by habitual anxiety for the
good opinion of virtuous and high-principled women, the poor lady was
tempted into an elopement with two dissolute brothers; for what ultimate
purpose on either side, was never made clear to the public. Why a lady
should elope from her own house, and the protection of her own servants,
under whatever impulse, seemed generally unintelligible. But apparently
it was precisely this protection from her own servants which presented
itself to the brothers in the light of an obstacle to their objects.
What these objects might ultimately be, I do not _entirely_ know; and
I do not feel myself authorized, by any thing which of my own knowledge
I know, to load either of them with mercenary imputations. One of them
(the younger) was, or fancied himself, in love with Mrs. Lee. It was
impossible for him to marry her; and possibly he may have fancied that
in some rustic retirement, where the parties were unknown, it would
be easier than in London to appease the lady's scruples in respect
to the sole mode of connection which the law left open to them. The
frailty of the will in Mrs. Lee was as manifest in this stage of the
case as subsequently, when she allowed herself to be over-clamored by
Mr. Lee and his friends into a capital prosecution of the brothers.
After she had once allowed herself to be put into a post chaise, she
was persuaded to believe (and such was her ignorance of English society,
that possibly she _did_ believe) herself through the rest of the journey
liable at any moment to summary coercion in the case of attempting any
resistance. The brothers and herself left London in the evening.
Consequently, it was long after midnight when the party halted at a
town in Gloucestershire, two stages beyond Oxford. The younger gentleman
then persuaded her, but (as she alleged) under the impression on her
part that resistance was unavailing, and that the injury to her
reputation was by this time irreparable, to allow of his coming to her
bed room. This was perhaps not entirely a fraudulent representation
in Mrs. Lee. The whole circumstances of the case made it clear, that,
with any decided opening for deliverance, she would have caught at it;
and probably would again, from wavering of mind, have dallied with the
danger.

Perhaps at this point, having already in this last paragraph shot ahead
by some nine years of the period when she visited Greenhay, allowing
myself this license in order to connect my mother's warning through
Miss Wesley with the practical sequel of the case, it may be as well
for me to pursue the arrears of the story down to its final incident.
In 1804, at the Lent Assizes for the county of Oxford, she appeared
as principal witness against two brothers, L--t G--n, and L--n G--n,
on a capital charge of having forcibly carried her off from her own
house in London, and afterwards of having, at some place in
Gloucestershire, by collusion with each other and by terror, enabled
one of the brothers to offer the last violence to her person. The
circumstantial accounts published at the time by the newspapers were
of a nature to conciliate the public sympathy altogether to the
prisoners; and the general belief accorded with what was, no doubt,
the truth--that the lady had been driven into a false accusation by
the overpowering remonstrances of her friends, joined, in this instance,
by her husband, all of whom were willing to believe, or willing to
have it believed by the public, that advantage had been taken of her
little acquaintance with English usages. I was present at the trial.
The court opened at eight o'clock in the morning; and such was the
interest in the case, that a mob, composed chiefly of gownsmen, besieged
the doors for some time before the moment of admission. On this
occasion, by the way, I witnessed a remarkable illustration of the
profound obedience which Englishmen under all circumstances pay to the
law. The constables, for what reason I do not know, were very numerous
and very violent. Such of us as happened to have gone in our academic
dress had our caps smashed in two by the constables' staves; _why_,
it might be difficult for the officers to say, as none of us were
making any tumult, nor had any motive for doing so, unless by way of
retaliation. Many of these constables were bargemen or petty tradesmen,
who in their ex-official character had often been engaged in rows with
undergraduates, and usually had had the worst of it. At present, in
the service of the blindfold goddess, these equitable men were no doubt
taking out their vengeance for past favors. But under all this wanton
display of violence, the gownsmen practised the severest forbearance.
The pressure from behind made it impossible to forbear pressing ahead;
crushed, you were obliged to crush; but, beyond that, there was no
movement or gesture on our part to give any colorable warrant to the
brutality of the officers. For nearly a whole hour, I saw this
expression of reverence to the law triumphant over all provocations.
It may be presumed, that, to prompt so much crowding, there must have
been some commensurate interest. There was so, but that interest was
not at all in Mrs. Lee. She was entirely unknown; and even by reputation
or rumor, from so vast a wilderness as London, neither her beauty nor
her intellectual pretensions had travelled down to Oxford. Possibly,
in each section of 300 men, there might be one individual whom accident
had brought acquainted, as it had myself, with her extraordinary
endowments. But the general and academic interest belonged exclusively
to the accused. They were both Oxonians--one belonging to University
College, and the other, perhaps, to Baliol; and, as they had severally
taken the degree of A. B., which implies a residence of _at least_
three years, they were pretty extensively known. But, known or not
known personally, in virtue of the _esprit de corps_, the accused
parties would have benefited in any case by a general brotherly
interest. Over and above which, there was in this case the interest
attached to an almost unintelligible accusation. A charge of personal
violence, under the roof of a respectable English posting house,
occupied always by a responsible master and mistress, and within call
at every moment of numerous servants,--what could that mean? And,
again, when it became understood that this violence was alleged to
have realized itself under a delusion, under a preoccupation of the
victim's mind, that resistance to it was hopeless, how, and under what
profound ignorance of English society, had such a preoccupation been
possible? To the accused, and to the incomprehensible accusation,
therefore, belonged the whole weight of the interest; and it was a
very secondary interest indeed, and purely as a reflex interest from
the main one, which awaited the prosecutress. And yet, though so little
curiosity "awaited" her, it happened of necessity that, within a few
moments after her first coming forward in the witness box, she had
created a separate one for herself--first, through her impressive
appearance; secondly, through the appalling coolness of her answers.
The trial began, I think, about nine o'clock in the morning; and, as
some time was spent on the examination of Mrs. Lee's servants, of
postilions, hostlers, &c., in pursuing the traces of the affair from
London to a place seventy miles north of London, it was probably about
eleven in the forenoon before the prosecutress was summoned. My heart
throbbed a little as the court lulled suddenly into the deep stillness
of expectation, when that summons was heard: "Rachael Frances Antonina
Dashwood Lee" resounded through all the passages; and immediately in
an adjoining anteroom, through which she was led by her attorney, for
the purpose of evading the mob that surrounded the public approaches,
we heard her advancing steps. Pitiable was the humiliation expressed
by her carriage, as she entered the witness box. Pitiable was the
change, the world of distance, between this faltering and dejected
accuser, and that wild leopardess that had once worked her pleasure
amongst the sheepfolds of Christianity, and had cuffed my poor guardian
so unrelentingly, right and left, front and rear, when he attempted
the feeblest of defences. However, she was not long exposed to the
searching gaze of the court and the trying embarrassments of her
situation. A single question brought the whole investigation to a
close. Mrs. Lee had been sworn. After a few questions, she was suddenly
asked by the counsel for the defence whether she believed in the
Christian religion? Her answer was brief and peremptory, without
distinction or circumlocution--_No_. Or, perhaps, not in God? Again
she replied, _No_; and again her answer was prompt and _sans phrase_.
Upon this the judge declared that he could not permit the trial to
proceed. The jury had heard what the witness said: she only could give
evidence upon the capital part of the charge; and she had openly
incapacitated herself before the whole court. The jury instantly
acquitted the prisoners. In the course of the day I left my name at
Mrs. Lee's lodgings; but her servant assured me that she was too much
agitated to see any body till the evening. At the hour assigned I
called again. It was dusk, and a mob had assembled. At the moment I
came up to the door, a lady was issuing, muffled up, and in some measure
disguised. It was Mrs. Lee. At the corner of an adjacent street a post
chaise was drawn up. Towards this, under the protection of the attorney
who had managed her case, she made her way as eagerly as possible.
Before she could reach it, however, she was detected; a savage howl
was raised, and a rush made to seize her. Fortunately, a body of
gownsmen formed round her, so as to secure her from personal assault:
they put her rapidly into the carriage; and then, joining the mob in
their hootings, sent off the horses at a gallop. Such was the mode of
her exit from Oxford.

Subsequently to this painful collision with Mrs. Lee at the Oxford
Assizes, I heard nothing of her for many years, excepting only
this--that she was residing in the family of an English clergyman
distinguished for his learning and piety. This account gave great
pleasure to my mother--not only as implying some chance that Mrs. Lee
might be finally reclaimed from her unhappy opinions, but also as a
proof that, in submitting to a rustication so mortifying to a woman
of her brilliant qualifications, she must have fallen under some
influences more promising for her respectability and happiness than
those which had surrounded her in London. Finally, we saw by the public
journals that she had written and published a book. The title I forget;
but by its subject it was connected with political or social philosophy.
And one eminent testimony to its merit I myself am able to allege,
viz., Wordsworth's. Singular enough it seems, that he who read so very
little of modern literature, in fact, next to nothing, should be the
sole critic and reporter whom I have happened to meet upon Mrs. Lee's
work. But so it was: accident had thrown the book in his way during
one of his annual visits to London, and a second time at Lowther Castle.
He paid to Mrs. Lee a compliment which certainly he paid to no other
of her contemporaries, viz., that of reading her book very nearly to
the end; and he spoke of it repeatedly as distinguished for vigor and
originality of thought.


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_My sister Mary's governess_."--This governess was a Miss Wesley,
niece to John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. And the mention of _her_
recalls to me a fact, which was recently revived and misstated by the
whole newspaper press of the island. It had been always known that some
relationship existed between the Wellesleys and John Wesley. Their names
had, in fact, been originally the same; and the Duke of Wellington
himself, in the earlier part of his career, when sitting in the Irish
House of Commons, was always known to the Irish journals as Captain
Wesley. Upon this arose a natural belief that the aristocratic branch of
the house had improved the name into Wellesley. But the true process of
change had been precisely the other way. Not Wesley had been expanded
into Wellesley, but, inversely, Wellesley had been contracted by
household usage into Wesley. The name must have been _Wellesley_ in its
earliest stage, since it was founded upon a connection with Wells
Cathedral, It had obeyed the same process as prevails in many hundreds of
other names: St. Leger, for instance, is always pronounced as if written
Sillinger; Cholmondeley as Chumleigh; Marjoribanks as Marchbanks; and the
illustrious name of Cavendish was for centuries familiarly pronounced
Candish; and Wordsworth has even introduced this name into verse so as to
compel the reader, by a metrical coercion, into calling it Candish. Miss
Wesley's family had great musical sensibility and skill. This led the
family into giving musical parties, at which was constantly to be found
Lord Mornington, the father of the Duke of Wellington. For these parties
it was, as Miss Wesley informed me, that the earl composed his most
celebrated glee.

Here also it was, or in similar musical circles gathered about himself by
the first Lord Mornington, that the Duke of Wellington had formed and
cultivated his unaffected love for music of the highest class, _i.e._,
for the impassioned music of the serious opera. And it occurs to me as
highly probable, that Mrs. Lee's connection with the Wesleys, through
which it was that she became acquainted with my mother, must have rested
upon the common interest which she and the Wesleys had in the organ and
in the class of music suited to that instrument. Mrs. Lee herself was an
improvisatrice of the first class upon the organ; and the two brothers of
Miss Wesley, Samuel and Charles, ranked for very many years as the first
organists in Europe.

[2] "_The golden jubilee_."--This, in Germany, is used popularly as a
technical expression: a married couple, when celebrating the fiftieth
anniversary of their marriage day, are said to keep their _golden_
jubilee; but on the twenty-fifth anniversary they have credit only for a
_silver_ jubilee.



CHAPTER V.

I AM INTRODUCED TO THE WARFARE OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL.


Four years after my father's death, it began to be perceived that there
was no purpose to be answered in any longer keeping up the costly
establishment of Greenhay. A head gardener, besides laborers equal to
at least two more, were required for the grounds and gardens. And no
motive existed any longer for being near to a great trading town, so
long after the commercial connection with it had ceased. Bath seemed,
on all accounts, the natural station for a person in my mother's
situation; and thither, accordingly, she went. I, who had been placed
under the tuition of one of my guardians, remained some time longer
under his care. I was then transferred to Bath. During this interval
the sale of the house and grounds took place. It may illustrate the
subject of _guardianship_, and the ordinary execution of its duties,
to mention the result. The year was in itself a year of great
depression, and every way unfavorable to such a transaction; and the
particular night for which the sale had been fixed turned out remarkably
wet; yet no attempt was made to postpone it, and it proceeded.
Originally the house and grounds had cost about £6000. I have heard
that only one offer was made, viz., of £2500. Be that as it may, for
the sum of £2500 it was sold; and I have been often assured that, by
waiting a few years, four to six times that sum might have been obtained
with ease. This is not improbable, as the house was then out in the
country; but since then the town of Manchester has gathered round it
and enveloped it. Meantime, my guardians were all men of honor and
integrity; but their hands were filled with their own affairs. One (my
tutor) was a clergyman, rector of a church, and having his parish, his
large family, and three pupils to attend. He was, besides, a very
sedentary and indolent man--loving books, hating business. Another was
a merchant. A third was a country magistrate, overladen with official
business: him we rarely saw. Finally, the fourth was a banker in a
distant county, having more knowledge of the world, more energy, and
more practical wisdom than all the rest united, but too remote for
interfering effectually.

Reflecting upon the evils which befell me, and the gross mismanagement,
under my guardians, of my small fortune, and that of my brothers and
sisters, it has often occurred to me that so important an office,
which, from the time of Demosthenes, has been proverbially
maladministered, ought to be put upon a new footing, plainly guarded
by a few obvious provisions. As under the Roman laws, for a long period,
the guardian should be made responsible in law, and should give security
from the first for the due performance of his duties. But, to give him
a motive for doing this, of course he must be paid. With the new
obligations and liabilities will commence commensurate emoluments. If
a child is made a ward in Chancery, its property is managed expensively,
but always advantageously. Some great change is imperatively called
for--no duty in the whole compass of human life being so scandalously
treated as this.

In my twelfth year it was that first of all I entered upon the arena
of a great public school, viz., the Grammar School [1] of Bath, over
which at that time presided a most accomplished Etonian--Mr. (or was he
as yet Doctor?) Morgan. If he was not, I am sure he ought to have been;
and, with the reader's concurrence, will therefore create him a doctor on
the spot. Every man has reason to rejoice who enjoys the advantage of a
public training. I condemned, and _do_ condemn, the practice of sending
out into such stormy exposures those who are as yet too young, too
dependent on female gentleness, and endowed with sensibilities originally
too exquisite for such a warfare. But at nine or ten the masculine
energies of the character are beginning to develop themselves; or, if
not, no discipline will better aid in their development than the bracing
intercourse of a great English classical school. Even the selfish are
_there_ forced into accommodating themselves to a public standard of
generosity, and the effeminate in conforming to a rule of manliness.
I was myself at two public schools, and I think with gratitude of the
benefits which I reaped from both; as also I think with gratitude of
that guardian in whose quiet household I learned Latin so effectually.
But the small private schools, of which I had opportunities for
gathering some brief experience,--schools containing thirty to forty
boys,--were models of ignoble manners as regarded part of the juniors,
and of favoritism as regarded the masters. Nowhere is the sublimity
of public justice so broadly exemplified as in an English public school
on the old Edward the Sixth or Elizabeth foundation. There is not in
the universe such an Areopagus for fair play, and abhorrence of all
crooked ways, as an English mob, or one of the time-honored English
"foundation" schools. But my own first introduction to such an
establishment was under peculiar and contradictory circumstances. When
my "rating," or graduation in the school, was to be settled, naturally
my altitude (to speak astronomically) was taken by my proficiency in
Greek. But here I had no advantage over others of my age. My guardian
was a feeble Grecian, and had not excited my ambition; so that I could
barely construe books as easy as the Greek Testament and the Iliad.
This was considered quite well enough for my age; but still it caused
me to be placed under the care of Mr. Wilkins, the second master out
of four, and not under Dr. Morgan himself. Within one month, however,
my talent for Latin verses, which had by this time gathered strength
and expansion, became known. Suddenly I was honored as never was man
or boy since Mordecai the Jew. Without any colorable relation to the
doctor's jurisdiction, I was now weekly paraded for distinction at the
supreme tribunal of the school; out of which, at first, grew nothing
but a sunshine of approbation delightful to my heart. Within six weeks
all this had changed. The approbation indeed continued, and the public
expression of it. Neither would there, in the ordinary course, have
been any painful reaction from jealousy, or fretful resistance, to the
soundness of my pretensions; since it was sufficiently known to such
of my school-fellows as stood on my own level in the school, that I,
who had no male relatives but military men, and those in India, could
not have benefited by any clandestine aid. But, unhappily, Dr. Morgan
was at that time dissatisfied with some points in the progress of his
head class; [2] and, as it soon appeared, was continually throwing in
their teeth the brilliancy of my verses at eleven or twelve, by
comparison with theirs at seventeen, eighteen, and even nineteen. I had
observed him sometimes pointing to myself, and was perplexed at seeing
this gesture followed by gloomy looks, and what French reporters call
"sensation," in these young men, whom naturally I viewed with awe as my
leaders--boys that were called young men, men that were reading
Sophocles, (a name that carried with it the sound of something seraphic
to my ears,) and who had never vouchsafed to waste a word on such a child
as myself. The day was come, however, when all that would be changed. One
of these leaders strode up to me in the public playground, and,
delivering a blow on my shoulder, which was not intended to hurt me, but
as a mere formula of introduction, asked me "what the devil I meant by
bolting out of the course, and annoying other people in that manner. Were
'other people' to have no rest for me and my verses, which, after all,
were horribly bad?" There might have been some difficulty in returning
an answer to this address, but none was required. I was briefly
admonished to see that I wrote worse for the future, or else----. At
this _aposiopesis_ I looked inquiringly at the speaker, and he filled
up the chasm by saying that he would "annihilate" me. Could any person
fail to be aghast at such a demand? I was to write worse than my own
standard, which, by his account of my verses, must be difficult; and
I was to write worse than himself, which might be impossible. My
feelings revolted against so arrogant a demand, unless it had been far
otherwise expressed; if death on the spot had awaited me, I could not
have controlled myself; and on the next occasion for sending up verses
to the head master, so far from attending to the orders issued, I
double-shotted my guns; double applause descended on myself; but I
remarked with some awe, though not repenting of what I had done, that
double confusion seemed to agitate the ranks of my enemies. Amongst
them loomed out in the distance my "annihilating" friend, who shook
his huge fist at me, but with something like a grim smile about his
eyes. He took an early opportunity of paying his respects to me again,
saying, "You little devil, do you call this writing your worst?" "No,"
I replied; "I call it writing my best." The annihilator, as it turned
out, was really a good-natured young man; but he was on the wing for
Cambridge; and with the rest, or some of them, I continued to wage
war for more than a year. And yet, for a word spoken with kindness,
how readily I would have resigned (had it been altogether at my own
choice to do so) the peacock's feather in my cap as the merest of
bawbles. Undoubtedly, praise sounded sweet in _my_ ears also; but that
was nothing by comparison with what stood on the other side. I detested
distinctions that were connected with mortification to others; and,
even if I could have got over _that_, the eternal feud fretted and
tormented my nature. Love, that once in childhood had been so mere a
necessity to me, _that_ had long been a reflected ray from a departed
sunset. But peace, and freedom from strife, if love were no longer
possible, (as so rarely it is in this world,) was the clamorous
necessity of my nature. To contend with somebody was still my fate;
how to escape the contention I could not see; and yet, for itself, and
for the deadly passions into which it forced me, I hated and loathed
it more than death. It added to the distraction and internal feud of
my mind, that I could not _altogether_ condemn the upper boys. I was
made a handle of humiliation to them. And, in the mean time, if I had
an undeniable advantage in one solitary accomplishment, which is all
a matter of accident, or sometimes of peculiar direction given to the
taste, they, on the other hand, had a great advantage over me in the
more elaborate difficulties of Greek and of choral Greek poetry. I
could not altogether wonder at their hatred of myself. Yet still, as
they had chosen to adopt this mode of conflict with me, I did not feel
that I had any choice but to resist. The contest was terminated for
me by my removal from the school, in consequence of a very threatening
illness affecting my head; but it lasted more than a year, and it did
not close before several among my public enemies had become my private
friends. They were much older, but they invited me to the houses of
their friends, and showed me a respect which affected me--this respect
having more reference, apparently, to the firmness I had exhibited,
than to any splendor in my verses. And, indeed, these had rather drooped
from a natural accident; several persons of my own class had formed
the practice of asking me to write verses for _them_. I could not
refuse. But, as the subjects given out were the same for the entire
class, it was not possible to take so many crops off the ground without
starving the quality of all.

The most interesting public event which, during my stay at this school,
at all connected itself with Bath, and indeed with the school itself,
was the sudden escape of Sir Sidney Smith from the prison of the Temple
in Paris. The mode of his escape was as striking as its time was
critical. Having accidently thrown a ball beyond the prison bounds in
playing at tennis, or some such game, Sir Sidney was surprised to
observe that the ball thrown back was not the same. Fortunately, he
had the presence of mind to dissemble his sudden surprise. He retired,
examined the ball, found it stuffed with letters; and, in the same
way, he subsequently conducted a long correspondence, and arranged the
whole circumstances of his escape; which, remarkably enough, was
accomplished exactly eight days before the sailing of Napoleon with
the Egyptian expedition; so that Sir Sidney was just in time to
confront, and utterly to defeat, Napoleon in the breach of Acre. But
for Sir Sidney, Bonaparte would have overrun Syria, _that_ is certain.
What would have followed from that event is a far more obscure problem.

Sir Sidney Smith, I must explain to readers of this generation, and
Sir Edward Pellew, (afterwards Lord Exmouth,) figured as the two
[3] Paladins of the first war with revolutionary France. Rarely were
these two names mentioned but in connection with some splendid,
prosperous, and unequal contest. Hence the whole nation was saddened by
the account of Sir Sidney's capture; and this must be understood, in
order to make the joy of his sudden return perfectly intelligible. Not
even a rumor of Sir Sidney's escape had or could have run before him;
for, at the moment of reaching the coast of England, he had started with
post horses to Bath. It was about dusk when he arrived: the postilions
were directed to the square in which his mother lived: in a few minutes
he was in his mother's arms, and in fifty minutes more the news had flown
to the remotest suburb of the city. The agitation of Bath on this
occasion was indescribable. All the troops of the line then quartered in
that city, and a whole regiment of volunteers, immediately got under
arms, and marched to the quarter in which Sir Sidney lived. The small
square overflowed with the soldiery; Sir Sidney went out, and was
immediately lost to us, who were watching for him, in the closing ranks
of the troops. Next morning, however, I, my younger brother, and a
school-fellow of my own age, called formally upon the naval hero. _Why_,
I know not, unless as _alumni_ of the school at which Sir Sidney Smith
had received his own education, we were admitted without question or
demur; and I may record it as an amiable trait in Sir Sidney, that he
received us then with great kindness, and took us down with him to the
pump room. Considering, however, that we must have been most afflicting
bores to Sir Sidney,--a fact which no self-esteem could even then
disguise from us,--it puzzled me at first to understand the principle of
his conduct. Having already done more than enough in courteous
acknowledgment of our fraternal claims as fellow-students at the Bath
Grammar School, why should he think it necessary to burden himself
further with our worshipful society? I found out the secret, and will
explain it. A very slight attention to Sir Sidney's deportment in public
revealed to me that he was morbidly afflicted with nervous sensibility
and with _mauvaise honte_. He that had faced so cheerfully crowds of
hostile and threatening eyes, could not support without trepidation those
gentle eyes, beaming with gracious admiration, of his fair young
countrywomen. By accident, at that moment Sir Sidney had no acquaintances
in Bath, [4] a fact which is not at all to be wondered at. Living
so much abroad and at sea, an English sailor, of whatever rank, has
few opportunities for making friends at home. And yet there was a
necessity that Sir Sidney should gratify the public interest, so warmly
expressed, by presenting himself somewhere or other to the public eye.
But how trying a service to the most practised and otherwise most
callous veteran on such an occasion, that he should step forward,
saying in effect, "So you are wanting to see me: well, then, here I
am: come and look at me!" Put it into what language you please, such
a summons was written on all faces, and countersigned by his worship
the mayor, who began to whisper insinuations of riots if Sir Sidney
did not comply. Yet, if he _did_, inevitably his own act of obedience
to the public pleasure took the shape of an ostentatious self-parading
under the construction of those numerous persons who knew nothing of
the public importunity, or of Sir Sidney's unaffected and even morbid
reluctance to obtrude himself upon the public eye. The thing was
unavoidable; and the sole palliation that it admitted was--to break
the concentration of the public gaze, by associating Sir Sidney with
some alien group, no matter of what cattle. Such a group would relieve
both parties--gazer and gazee--from too distressing a consciousness
of the little business on which they had met. We, the schoolboys, being
three, intercepted and absorbed part of the enemy's fire, and, by
furnishing Sir Sidney with real _bona fide_ matter of conversation,
we released him from the most distressing part of his sufferings, viz.,
the passive and silent acquiescence in his own apotheosis--holding a
lighted candle, as it were, to the glorification of his own shrine.
With our help, he weathered the storm of homage silently ascending.
And we, in fact, whilst seeming to ourselves too undeniably a triad
of bores, turned out the most serviceable allies that Sir Sidney ever
had by land or sea, until several moons later, when he formed the
invaluable acquaintance of the Syrian "butcher," viz., Djezzar, the
Pacha of Acre. I record this little trait of Sir Sidney's constitutional
temperament, and the little service through which I and my two comrades
contributed materially to his relief, as an illustration of that
infirmity which besieges the nervous system of our nation. It is a
sensitiveness which sometimes amounts to lunacy, and sometimes even
tempts to suicide. It is a mistake, however, to suppose this morbid
affection unknown to Frenchmen, or unknown to men of the world. I have
myself known it to exist in both, and particularly in a man that might
be said to live in the street, such was the American publicity which
circumstances threw around his life; and so far were his habits of
life removed from reserve, or from any predisposition to gloom. And
at this moment I recall a remarkable illustration of what I am saying,
communicated by Wordsworth's accomplished friend, Sir George Beaumont.
To _him_ I had been sketching the distressing sensitiveness of Sir
Sidney pretty much as I have sketched it to the reader; and how he,
the man that on the breach at Acre valued not the eye of Jew, Christian,
or Turk, shrank back--_me ipso teste_--from the gentle, though
eager--from admiring, yet affectionate--glances of three very young
ladies in Gay Street, Bath, the oldest (I should say) not more than
seventeen. Upon which Sir George mentioned, as a parallel experience
of his own, that Mr. Canning, being ceremoniously introduced to himself
(Sir George) about the time when he had reached the meridian of his
fame as an orator, and should therefore have become _blasé_ to the
extremity of being absolutely seared and case-hardened against all
impressions whatever appealing to his vanity or egotism, did absolutely
(_credite posteri!_) blush like any roseate girl of fifteen. And that
this was no accident growing out of a momentary agitation, no sudden
spasmodic pang, anomalous and transitory, appeared from other concurrent
anecdotes of Canning, reported by gentlemen from Liverpool, who
described to us most graphically and picturesquely the wayward
fitfulness (not coquettish, or wilful, but nervously overmastering and
most unaffectedly distressing) which besieged this great artist in
oratory, and the time approached--was coming--was going, at which the
private signal should have been shown for proposing his health. Mr.
P. (who had been, I think, the mayor on the particular occasion
indicated) described the restlessness of his manner; how he rose, and
retired for half a minute into a little parlor behind the chairman's
seat; then came back; then whispered, _Not yet I beseech you; I cannot
face them yet;_ then sipped a little water, then moved uneasily on
his chair, saying, _One moment, if you please: stop, stop: don't hurry:
one moment, and I shall be up to the mark:_ in short, fighting with
the necessity of taking the final plunge, like one who lingers on the
scaffold.

Sir Sidney was at the time slender and thin; having an appearance of
emaciation, as though he had suffered hardships and ill treatment,
which, however, I do not remember to have heard. Meantime, his
appearance, connected with his recent history, made him a very
interesting person to women; and to this hour it remains a mystery
with me, why and how it came about, that in every distribution of
honors Sir Sidney Smith was overlooked. In the Mediterranean he made
many enemies, especially amongst those of his own profession, who used
to speak of him as far too fine a gentleman, and above his calling.
Certain it is that he liked better to be doing business on shore, as
at Acre, although he commanded a fine 80 gun ship, the Tiger. But
however that may have been, his services, whether classed as military
or naval, were memorably splendid. And, at that time, his connection,
of whatsoever nature, with the late Queen Caroline had not occurred.
So that altogether, to me, his case is inexplicable.

From the Bath Grammar School I was removed, in consequence of an
accident, by which at first it was supposed that my skull had been
fractured; and the surgeon who attended me at one time talked of
trepanning. This was an awful word; but at present I doubt whether in
reality any thing very serious had happened. In fact, I was always
under a nervous panic for my head, and certainly exaggerated my internal
feelings without meaning to do so; and this misled the medical
attendants. During a long illness which succeeded, my mother, amongst
other books past all counting, read to me, in Hoole's translation, the
whole of the "Orlando Furioso;" meaning by _the whole_ the entire
twenty-four books into which Hoole had condensed the original forty-six
of Ariosto; and, from my own experience at that time, I am disposed
to think that the homeliness of this version is an advantage, from not
calling off the attention at all from the narration to the narrator.
At this time also I first read the "Paradise Lost;" but, oddly enough,
in the edition of Bentley, that great _paradiorthotaes_, (or
pseudo-restorer of the text.) At the close of my illness, the head
master called upon my mother, in company with his son-in-law, Mr.
Wilkins, as did a certain Irish Colonel Bowes, who had sons at the
school, requesting earnestly, in terms most flattering to myself, that
I might be suffered to remain there. But it illustrates my mother's
moral austerity, that she was shocked at my hearing compliments to my
own merits, and was altogether disturbed at what doubtless these
gentlemen expected to see received with maternal pride. She declined
to let me continue at the Bath School; and I went to another, at
Winkfield, in the county of Wilts, of which the chief recommendation
lay in the religious character of the master.


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_Grammar School_."--By the way, as the grammar schools of England
are amongst her most eminent distinctions, and, with submission to the
innumerable wretches (gentlemen I should say) that hate England "worse
than toad or asp," have never been rivalled by any corresponding
institutions in other lands, I may as well take this opportunity of
explaining the word _grammar_, which most people misapprehend. Men
suppose a grammar school to mean a school where they teach grammar. But
this is not the true meaning, and tends to calumniate such schools by
ignoring their highest functions. Limiting by a false limitation the
earliest object contemplated by such schools, they obtain a plausible
pretext for representing all beyond grammar as something extraneous and
casual that did not enter into the original or normal conception of the
founders, and that may therefore have been due to alien suggestion. But
now, when Suetonius writes a little book, bearing this title, "De
Illustribus Grammaticis," what does he mean? What is it that he promises?
A memoir upon the eminent _grammarians_ of Rome? Not at all, but a memoir
upon the distinguished literati of Rome. _Grammatica_ does certainly mean
sometimes grammar; but it is also the best Latin word for literature. A
_grammaticus_ is what the French express by the word _litterateur_. We
unfortunately have no corresponding term in English: a _man of letters_
is our awkward periphrasis in the singular, (too apt, as our jest books
remind us, to suggest the postman;) whilst in the plural we resort to the
Latin word _literati_. The school which professes to teach _grammatica_,
professes, therefore, the culture of literature in the widest and most
liberal extent, and is opposed _generically_ to schools for teaching
mechanic arts; and, within its own _sub-genus_ of schools dedicated to
liberal objects, is opposed to schools for teaching mathematics, or, more
widely, to schools for teaching science.

[2] "_Class_," or "_form_."--One knows not how to make one's self
intelligible, so different are the terms locally.

[3] To _them_ in the next stage of the ward succeeded Sir Michael
Seymour, and Lord Cochrane, (the present Earl of Dundonald,) and Lord
Camelford. The two last were the regular fireeaters of the day. Sir
Horatio Nelson being already an admiral, was no longer looked to for
insulated exploits of brilliant adventure: his name was now connected
with larger and combined attacks, less dashing and adventurous, because
including heavier responsibilities.

[4] Lord Camelford was, I believe, his first cousin; Sir Sidney's mother
and Lady Camelford being sisters. But Lord Camelford was then absent from
Bath.



CHAPTER VI.

I ENTER THE WORLD.


Yes, at this stage of my life, viz., in my fifteenth year, and from
this sequestered school, ankle deep I first stepped into the world.
At Winkfield I had staid about a year, or not much more, when I received
a letter from a young friend of my own age, Lord Westport, [1] the son of
Lord Altamont, inviting me to accompany him to Ireland for the ensuing
summer and autumn. This invitation was repeated by his tutor; and my
mother, after some consideration, allowed me to accept it.

In the spring of 1800, accordingly, I went up to Eton, for the purpose
of joining my friend. Here I several times visited the gardens of the
queen's villa at Frogmore; and, privileged by my young friend's
introduction, I had opportunities of seeing and hearing the queen and
all the princesses; which at that time was a novelty in my life,
naturally a good deal prized. Lord Westport's mother had been, before
her marriage, Lady Louisa Howe, daughter to the great admiral, Earl
Howe, and intimately known to the royal family, who, on her account,
took a continual and especial notice of her son.

On one of these occasions I had the honor of a brief interview with
the king. Madame De Campan mentions, as an amusing incident in her
early life, though terrific at the time, and overwhelming to her sense
of shame, that not long after her establishment at Versailles, in the
service of some one amongst the daughters of Louis XV., having as yet
never seen the king, she was one day suddenly introduced to his
particular notice, under the following circumstances: The time was
morning; the young lady was not fifteen; her spirits were as the spirits
of a fawn in May; her _tour_ of duty for the day was either not come,
or was gone; and, finding herself alone in a spacious room, what more
reasonable thing could she do than amuse herself with _making cheeses?_
that is, whirling round, according to a fashion practised by young
ladies both in France and England, and pirouetting until the petticoat
is inflated like a balloon, and then sinking into a courtesy.
Mademoiselle was very solemnly rising from one of these courtesies,
in the centre of her collapsing petticoats, when a slight noise alarmed
her. Jealous of intruding eyes, yet not dreading more than a servant
at worst, she turned, and, O Heavens! whom should she behold but his
most Christian majesty advancing upon her, with a brilliant suite of
gentlemen, young and old, equipped for the chase, who had been all
silent spectators of her performances? From the king to the last of
the train, all bowed to her, and all laughed without restraint, as
they passed the abashed amateur of cheese making. But she, to speak
Homerically, wished in that hour that the earth might gape and cover
her confusion. Lord Westport and I were about the age of mademoiselle,
and not much more decorously engaged, when a turn brought us full in
view of a royal party coming along one of the walks at Frogmore. We
were, in fact, theorizing and practically commenting on the art of
throwing stones. Boys have a peculiar contempt for female attempts in
that way. For, besides that girls fling wide of the mark, with a
certainty that might have won the applause of Galerius, [2] there is a
peculiar sling and rotary motion of the arm in launching a stone, which
no girl ever _can_ attain. From ancient practice, I was somewhat of
a proficient in this art, and was discussing the philosophy of female
failures, illustrating my doctrines with pebbles, as the case happened
to demand; whilst Lord Westport was practising on the peculiar whirl
of the wrist with a shilling; when suddenly he turned the head of the
coin towards me with a significant glance, and in a low voice he
muttered some words, of which I caught "_Grace of God_," "_France_
[3] _and Ireland_," "_Defender off the Faith, and so forth._" This solemn
recitation of the legend on the coin was meant as a fanciful way of
apprising me that the king was approaching; for Lord W. had himself lost
somewhat of the awe natural to a young person in a first situation of
this nature, through his frequent admissions to the royal presence. For
my own part, I was as yet a stranger even to the king's person. I had,
indeed, seen most or all the princesses in the way I have mentioned
above; and occasionally, in the streets of Windsor, the sudden
disappearance of all hats from all heads had admonished me that some
royal personage or other was then traversing (or, if not traversing, was
crossing) the street; but either his majesty had never been of the party,
or, from distance, I had failed to distinguish him. Now, for the first
time, I was meeting him nearly face to face; for, though the walk we
occupied was not that in which the royal party were moving, it ran so
near it, and was connected by so many cross walks at short intervals,
that it was a matter of necessity for us, as we were now observed, to
go and present ourselves. What happened was pretty nearly as follows:
The king, having first spoken with great kindness to my companion,
inquiring circumstantially about his mother and grandmother, as persons
particularly well known to himself, then turned his eye upon me. My
name, it seems, had been communicated to him; he did not, therefore,
inquire about that. Was I of Eton? This was his first question. I
replied that I was not, but hoped I should be. Had I a father living?
I had not: my father had been dead about eight years. "But you have
a mother?" I had. "And she thinks of sending you to Eton?" I answered,
that she had expressed such an intention in my hearing; but I was not
sure whether that might not be in order to waive an argument with the
person to whom she spoke, who happened to have been an Etonian. "O,
but all people think highly of Eton; every body praises Eton. Your
mother does right to inquire; there can be no harm in that; but the
more she inquires, the more she will be satisfied--that I can answer
for."

Next came a question which had been suggested by my name. Had my family
come into England with the Huguenots at the revocation of the edict
of Nantz? This was a tender point with me: of all things I could not
endure to be supposed of French descent; yet it was a vexation I had
constantly to face, as most people supposed that my name argued a
French origin; whereas a Norman origin argued pretty certainly an
origin _not_ French. I replied, with some haste, "Please your majesty,
the family has been in England since the conquest." It is probable
that I colored, or showed some mark of discomposure, with which,
however, the king was not displeased, for he smiled, and said, "How
do you know that?" Here I was at a loss for a moment how to answer;
for I was sensible that it did not become me to occupy the king's
attention with any long stories or traditions about a subject so
unimportant as my own family; and yet it was necessary that I should
say something, unless I would be thought to have denied my Huguenot
descent upon no reason or authority. After a moment's hesitation, I
said, in effect, that the family from which I traced my descent had
certainly been a great and leading one at the era of the barons' wars,
as also in one at least of the crusades; and that I had myself seen
many notices of this family, not only in books of heraldry, &c., but
in the very earliest of all English books. "And what book was that?"
"Robert of Gloucester's 'Metrical Chronicle,' which I understood, from
internal evidence, to have been written about 1280." The king smiled
again, and said, "I know, I know." But what it was that he knew, long
afterwards puzzled me to conjecture. I now imagine, however, that he
meant to claim a knowledge of the book I referred to--a thing which
at that time I thought improbable, supposing the king's acquaintance
with literature not to be very extensive, nor likely to have
comprehended any knowledge at all of the blackletter period. But in
this belief I was greatly mistaken, as I was afterwards fully convinced
by the best evidence from various quarters. That library of 120,000
volumes, which George IV. presented to the nation, and which has since
gone to swell the collection at the British Museum, had been formed
(as I was often assured by persons to whom the whole history of the
library, and its growth from small rudiments, was familiarly known)
under the direct personal superintendence of George III. It was a
favorite and pet creation; and his care extended even to the dressing
of the books in appropriate bindings, and (as one man told me) to their
_health_; explaining himself to mean, that in any case where a book
was worm-eaten, or touched however slightly with the worm, the king
was anxious to prevent the injury from extending, or from infecting
others by close neighborhood; for it is supposed by many that such
injuries spread rapidly in favorable situations. One of my informants
was a German bookbinder of great respectability, settled in London,
and for many years employed by the Admiralty as a confidential binder
of records or journals containing secrets of office, &c. Through this
connection he had been recommended to the service of his majesty, whom
he used to see continually in the course of his attendance at Buckingham
House, where the books were deposited. This artist had (originally in
the way of his trade) become well acquainted with the money value of
English books; and that knowledge cannot be acquired without some
concurrent knowledge of their subject and their kind of merit.
Accordingly, he was tolerably well qualified to estimate any man's
attainments as a reading man; and from him I received such
circumstantial accounts of many conversations he had held with the
king, evidently reported with entire good faith and simplicity, that
I cannot doubt the fact of his majesty's very general acquaintance
with English literature. Not a day passed, whenever the king happened
to be at Buckingham House, without his coming into the binding room,
and minutely inspecting the progress of the binder and his allies--
the gilders, toolers, &c. From the outside of the book the transition
was natural to its value in the scale of bibliography; and in that way
my informant had ascertained that the king was well acquainted, not
only with Robert of Gloucester, but with all the other early chronicles,
published by Hearne, and, in fact, possessed that entire series which
rose at one period to so enormous a price. From this person I learned
afterwards that the king prided himself especially upon his early
folios of Shakspeare; that is to say, not merely upon the excellence
of the individual copies in a bibliographical sense, as "_tall_ copies"
and having large margins, &c., but chiefly from their value in relation
to the most authentic basis for the text of the poet. And thus it
appears, that at least two of our kings, Charles I. and George III.,
have made it their pride to profess a reverential esteem for Shakspeare.
This bookbinder added his attestation to the truth (or to the generally
reputed truth) of a story which I had heard from other authority, viz.,
that the librarian, or, if not officially the librarian, at least the
chief director in every thing relating to the books, was an illegitimate
son of Frederic, Prince of Wales, (son to George II.,) and therefore
half-brother of the king. His own taste and inclinations, it seemed,
concurred with his brother's wishes in keeping him in a subordinate
rank and an obscure station; in which, however, he enjoyed affluence
without anxiety, or trouble, or courtly envy, and the luxury, which
he most valued, of a superb library. He lived and died, I have heard,
as plain Mr. Barnard. At one time I disbelieved the story, (which
possibly may have been long known to the public,) on the ground that
even George III. would not have differed so widely from princes in
general as to leave a brother of his own, however unaspiring, wholly
undistinguished by public honors. But having since ascertained that
a naval officer, well known to my own family, and to a naval brother
of my own in particular, by assistance rendered to him repeatedly when
a midshipman in changing his ship, was undoubtedly an illegitimate son
of George III., and yet that he never rose higher than the rank of
post captain, though privately acknowledged by his father and other
members of the royal family, I found the insufficiency of that
objection. The fact is, and it does honor to the king's memory, he
reverenced the moral feelings of his country, which are, in this and
in all points of domestic morals, severe and high toned, (I say it
in defiance of writers, such as Lord Byron, Mr. Hazlitt, &c., who hated
alike the just and the unjust pretensions of England,) in a degree
absolutely incomprehensible to _Southern_ Europe. He had his frailties
like other children of Adam; but he did not seek to fix the public
attention upon them, after the fashion of Louis Quatorze, or our Charles
II., and so many other continental princes. There were living witnesses
(more than one) of _his_ aberrations as of theirs; but he, with better
feelings than they, did not choose, by placing these witnesses upon
a pedestal of honor, surmounted by heraldic trophies, to emblazon his
own transgressions to coming generations, and to force back the gaze
of a remote posterity upon his own infirmities. It was his ambition
to be the _father_ of his people in a sense not quite so literal. These
were things, however, of which at that time I had not heard.

During the whole dialogue, I did not even once remark that hesitation
and iteration of words generally attributed to George III.; indeed,
_so_ generally, that it must often have existed; but in this case, I
suppose that the brevity of his sentences operated to deliver him from
any embarrassment of utterance, such as might have attended longer and
more complex sentences, where some anxiety was natural to overtake the
thoughts as they arose. When we observed that the king had paused in
his stream of questions, which succeeded rapidly to each other, we
understood it as a signal of dismissal; and making a profound obeisance,
we retired backwards a few steps. His majesty smiled in a very gracious
manner, waved his hand towards us, and said something (I did not know
what) in a peculiarly kind accent; he then turned round, and the whole
party along with him; which set us at liberty without impropriety to
turn to the right about ourselves, and make our egress from the gardens.

This incident, to me at my age, was very naturally one of considerable
interest. One reflection it suggested afterwards, which was this: Could
it be likely that much truth of a general nature, bearing upon man and
social interests, could ever reach the ear of a king, under the etiquette
of a court, and under that one rule which seemed singly sufficient to
foreclose all natural avenues to truth?--the rule, I mean, by which it is
forbidden to address a question to the king. I was well aware, before I
saw him, that in the royal presence, like the dead soldier in Lucan, whom
the mighty necromancing witch tortures back into a momentary life, I must
have no voice except for _answers_:--

          "Vox illi linguaque tantum
  _Responsura_ datur." [4]

I was to originate nothing myself; and at my age, before so exalted
a personage, the mere instincts of reverential demeanor would at any
rate have dictated such a rule. But what becomes of that man's general
condition of mind in relation to all the great objects moving on the
field of human experience, where it is a law generally for almost all
who approach him, that they shall confine themselves to replies,
absolute responses, or, at most, to a prosecution or carrying forward
of a proposition delivered by the _protagonist_, or supreme leader of
the conversation? For it must be remembered that, generally speaking,
the effect of putting no question is to transfer into the other party's
hands the entire _originating_ movement of the dialogue; and thus, in
a musical metaphor, the great man is the sole modulator and determiner
of the key in which the conversation proceeds. It is true, that
sometimes, by travelling a little beyond the question in your answer,
you may enlarge the basis, so as to bring up some new train of thought
which you wish to introduce, and may suggest fresh matter as effectually
as if you had the liberty of more openly guiding the conversation,
whether by way of question or by direct origination of a topic; but
this depends on skill to improve an opening, or vigilance to seize it
at the instant, and, after all, much upon accident; to say nothing of
the crime, (a sort of petty treason, perhaps, or, what is it?) if you
should be detected in your "improvements" and "enlargements of basis."
The king might say, "Friend, I must tell my attorney general to speak
with you, for I detect a kind of treason in your replies. They go too
far. They include something which tempts my majesty to a notice; which
is, in fact, for the long and the short of it, that you have been
circumventing me half unconsciously into answering a question which
has silently been insinuated by _you_." Freedom of communication,
unfettered movement of thought, there can be none under such a ritual,
which tends violently to a Byzantine, or even to a Chinese result of
freezing, as it were, all natural and healthy play of the faculties
under the petrific mace of absolute ceremonial and fixed precedent.
For it will hardly be objected, that the privileged condition of a few
official councillors and state ministers, whose hurry and oppression
of thought from public care will rarely allow them to speak on any
other subject than business, _can_ be a remedy large enough for so
large an evil. True it is, that a peculiarly frank or jovial temperament
in a sovereign may do much for a season to thaw this punctilious reserve
and ungenial constraint; but _that_ is an accident, and personal to
an individual. And, on the other hand, to balance even this, it may
be remarked, that, in all noble and fashionable society, where there
happens to be a pride in sustaining what is deemed a good _tone_ in
conversation, it is peculiarly aimed at, (and even artificially
managed,) that no lingering or loitering upon one theme, no protracted
discussion, shall be allowed. And, doubtless, as regards merely the
treatment of convivial or purely _social_ communication of ideas,
(which also is a great art,) this practice is right. I admit willingly
that an uncultured brute, who is detected at an elegant table in the
atrocity of absolute discussion or disputation, ought to be summarily
removed by a police officer; and possibly the law will warrant his
being held to bail for one or two years, according to the enormity of
his case. But men are not always enjoying, or seeking to enjoy, social
pleasure; they seek also, and have need to seek continually, both
through books and men, intellectual growth, fresh power, fresh strength,
to keep themselves ahead or abreast of this moving, surging, billowing
world of ours; especially in these modern times, when society revolves
through so many new phases, and shifts its aspects with so much more
velocity than in past ages. A king, especially of this country, needs,
beyond most other men, to keep himself in a continual state of
communication, as it were, by some vital and _organic_ sympathy, with
the most essential of these changes. And yet this punctilio of
etiquette, like some vicious forms of law or technical fictions grown
too narrow for the age, which will not allow of cases coming before
the court in a shape desired alike by the plaintiff and the defendant,
is so framed as to defeat equally the wishes of a prince disposed to
gather knowledge wherever he can find it, and of those who may be best
fitted to give it.

For a few minutes on three other occasions, before we finally quitted
Eton, I again saw the king, and always with renewed interest. He was
kind to every body--condescending and affable in a degree which I am
bound to remember with personal gratitude; and one thing I _had_ heard
of him, which even then, and much more as my mind opened to a wider
compass of deeper reflection, won my respect. I have always reverenced
a man of whom it could be truly said that he had once, and once only,
(for more than once implies another unsoundness in the quality of the
passion,) been desperately in love; in love, that is to say, in a
terrific excess, so as to dally, under suitable circumstances, with
the thoughts of cutting his own throat, or even (as the case might be)
the throat of her whom he loved above all this world. It will be
understood that I am not justifying such enormities; on the contrary,
they are wrong, exceedingly wrong; but it is evident that people in
general feel pretty much as I do, from the extreme sympathy with which
the public always pursue the fate of any criminal who has committed
a murder of this class, even though tainted (as generally it is) with
jealousy, which, in itself, wherever it argues habitual mistrust, is
an ignoble passion. [5]

Great passions, (do not understand me, reader, as though I meant great
appetites,) passions moving in a great orbit, and transcending little
regards, are always arguments of some latent nobility. There are,
indeed, but few men and few women capable of great passions, or
(properly speaking) of passions at all. Hartley, in his mechanism of
the human mind, propagates the sensations by means of vibrations, and
by miniature vibrations, which, in a Roman form for such miniatures,
he terms _vibratiuncles_. Now, of men and women generally, parodying
that terminology, we ought to say--not that they are governed by
passions, or at all capable of passions, but of _passiuncles_. And
thence it is that few men go, or can go, beyond a little _love-liking_,
as it is called; and hence also, that, in a world where so little
conformity takes place between the ideal speculations of men and the
gross realities of life, where marriages are governed in so vast a
proportion by convenience, prudence, self-interest,--any thing, in
short, rather than deep sympathy between the parties,--and,
consequently, where so many men must be crossed in their inclinations,
we yet hear of so few tragic catastrophes on that account. The king,
however, was certainly among the number of those who are susceptible
of a deep passion, if every thing be true that is reported of him. All
the world has heard that he was passionately devoted to the beautiful
sister of the then Duke of Richmond. That was before his marriage; and
I believe it is certain that he not only wished, but sincerely
meditated, to have married her. So much is matter of notoriety. But
other circumstances of the case have been sometimes reported, which
imply great distraction of mind and a truly profound possession of his
heart by that early passion; which, in a prince whose feelings are
liable so much to the dispersing and dissipating power of endless
interruption from new objects and fresh claims on the attention, coupled
also with the fact that he never, but in this one case, professed any
thing amounting to extravagant or frantic attachment, do seem to argue
that the king was truly and passionately in love with Lady Sarah Lennox.
He had a _demon_ upon him, and was under a real _possession_. If so,
what a lively expression of the mixed condition of human fortunes, and
not less of another truth equally affecting, viz., the dread conflicts
with the will, the mighty agitations which silently and in darkness
are convulsing many a heart, where, to the external eye, all is
tranquil,--that this king, at the very threshold of his public career,
at the very moment when he was binding about his brows the golden
circle of sovereignty, when Europe watched him with interest, and the
kings of the earth with envy, not one of the vulgar titles to happiness
being wanting,--youth, health, a throne the most splendid on this
planet, general popularity amongst a nation of freemen, and the hope
which belongs to powers as yet almost untried,--that, even under these
most flattering auspices, he should be called upon to make a sacrifice
the most bitter of all to which human life is liable! He made it; and
he might then have said to his people, "For you, and to my public
duties, I have made a sacrifice which none of you would have made for
me." In years long ago, I have heard a woman of rank recurring to the
circumstances of Lady Sarah's first appearance at court after the
king's marriage. If I recollect rightly, it occurred after that lady's
own marriage with Sir Charles Bunbury. Many eyes were upon both parties
at that moment,--female eyes, especially,--and the speaker did not
disguise the excessive interest with which she herself observed them.
Lady Sarah was not agitated, but the king _was_. He seemed anxious,
sensibly trembled, changed color, and _shivered_, as Lady S. B. drew
near. But, to quote the one single eloquent sentiment, which I remember
after a lapse of thirty years, in Monk Lewis's Romantic Tales, "In
this world all things pass away; blessed be Heaven, and the bitter
pangs by which sometimes it is pleased to recall its wanderers, even
our passions pass away!" And thus it happened that this storm also was
laid asleep and forgotten, together with so many others of its kind
that have been, and that shall be again, so long as man is man, and
woman woman. Meantime, in justification of a passion so profound, one
would be glad to think highly of the lady that inspired it; and,
therefore, I heartily hope that the insults offered to her memory in
the scandalous "Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun" are mere calumnies, and
records rather of his presumptuous wishes than of any actual successes.
[6]

However, to leave dissertation behind me, and to resume the thread of
my narrative, an incident, which about this period impressed me even
more profoundly than my introduction to a royal presence, was my first
visit to London.


FOOTNOTES

[1] My acquaintance with Lord Westport was of some years' standing. My
father, whose commercial interests led him often to Ireland, had many
friends there. One of these was a country gentleman connected with the
west; and at his house I first met Lord Westport.

[2] "Sir," said the emperor to a soldier who had missed the target in
succession I know not how many times, (suppose we say fifteen,) "allow me
to offer my congratulations on the truly admirable skill you have shown
in keeping clear of the mark. Not to have hit once in so many trials,
argues the most splendid talents for missing."

[3] _France_ was at that time among the royal titles, the act for
altering the king's style and title not having then passed. As connected
with this subject, I may here mention a project (reported to have been
canvassed in council at the time when that alteration _did_ take place)
for changing the title from king to emperor. What then occurred
strikingly illustrates the general character of the British policy as to
all external demonstrations of pomp and national pretension, and its
strong opposition to that of France under corresponding circumstances.
The principle _of esse quam videri_, and the carelessness about names
when the thing is unaffected, generally speaking, must command praise and
respect. Yet, considering how often the reputation of power becomes, for
international purposes, nothing less than power itself, and that words,
in many relations of human life, are emphatically things, and sometimes
are so to the exclusion of the most absolute things themselves, men of
all qualities being often governed by names, the policy of France seems
the wiser, viz., _se faire valoir_, even at the price of ostentation.
But, at all events, no man is entitled to exercised that extrem candor,
forbearance, and spirit of ready concession _in re aliena_, and, above
all, _in re politica_, which, on its own account, might be altogether
honorable. The council might give away their own honors, but not yours
and mine. On a public (or at least on a foreign) interest, it is the duty
of a good citizen to be lofty, exacting, almost insolent. And, on this
principle, when the ancient style and title of the kingdom fell under
revision, if--as I do not deny--it was advisable to retrench all obsolete
pretensions as so many memorials of a greatness that in that particular
manifestation was now extinct, and therefore, _pro tanto_, rather
presumtions of weakness than of strength as being mementoes of our
losses, yet, on the other hand, all countervailing claims which had since
arisen, and had far more than equiponderated the declension in that one
direction, should have been then adopted into the titular heraldry of the
nation. It was neither wise nor just to insult foreign nations with
assumptions which no longer stood upon any basis of reality. And on that
ground _France_ was, perhaps, rightly omitted. But why, when the crown
was thus remoulded, and its jewelry unset, if this one pearl were to be
surrendered as an ornament no longer ours, why, we may ask, were not the
many and gorgeous jewels, achieved by the national wisdom and power in
later times, adopted into the recomposed tiara? Upon what principle did
the Romans, the wisest among the children of this world, leave so many
inscriptions, as records of their power or their triumphs, upon columns,
arches, temples, _basilicae_, or medals? A national act, a solemn and
deliberate act, delivered to history, is a more imperishable monument
than any made by hands; and the title, as revised, which ought to have
expressed a change in the dominion simply as to the mode and form of its
expansion, now remains as a false, base, abject confession of absolute
contraction: once we had A, B, and C; now we have dwindled into A and B:
true, most unfaithful guardian of the national honors, we had lost C, and
that you were careful to remember. But we happend to have gained D, E,
F,--and so downwards to Z,--all of which duly you forgot.

On this argument, it was urged at the time, in high quarters, that the
new re-cast of the crown and sceptre should come out of the furnace
_equally_ improved; as much for what they were authorized to claim as for
what they were compelled to disclaim. And, as one mode of effecting this,
it was proposed that the king should become an emperor. Some, indeed,
alleged that an emperor, but its very idea, as received in the Chancery
of Europe, presupposes a king paramount over vassal or tributary kings.
But it is a sufficient answer to say that an emperor is a prince, united
in his own person the _thrones_ of several distinct kingdoms; and in
effect we adopt that view of the case in giving the title of imperial to
the parliament, or common assembly of the three kingdoms. However, the
title of the prince was a matter trivial in comparison of the title of
his _ditio_, or extent of jurisdiction. This point admits of a striking
illustration: in the "Paradise Regained," Milton has given us, in close
succession, three matchless pictures of civil grandeur, as exemplified in
three different modes by three different states. Availing himself of the
brief scriptural notice,--"The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high
mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of
them,"--he causes to pass, as in a solemn pageant before us, the two
military empires then coexisting, of Parthia and Rome, and finally (under
another idea of political greatness) the intellectual glories of Athens.
From the picture of the Roman grandeur I extract, and beg the reader to
weigh, the following lines:--

  "Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see--at
  What conflux issuing forth or entering in;
  Pretors, proconsuls, to their provinces
  Hasting, or on return in robes of state;
  Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power;
  Legions or cohorts, turns of horse and wings;
  Or embassies from regions far remote,
  In various habits on the Appian road,
  Or on the Emilian; some from farthest south,
  Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
  Meroë, Nilotic isle: and, more to west,
  The realm of Bocchus to the Blackmoor Sea;
  From India and the Golden Chersonese,
  And utmost Indian isle, Taprobane,
  --Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed;
  From Gallia, Gades, and the British, west,
  Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians, north,
  Beyond Danubius to the Tauric pool."

With this superb picture, or abstraction of the Roman pomps and power,
when ascending to their utmost altitude, confront the following
representative sketch of a great English levee on some high solemnity,
suppose the king's birthday: "Amongst the presentations to his majesty,
we noticed Lord O. S., the governor general of India, on his departure
for Bengal; Mr. U. Z., with an address from the Upper and Lower Canadas;
Sir L. V., on his appointment as commander of the forces in Nova Scotia;
General Sir ----, on his return from the Burmese war, ["the Golden
Chersonese,"] the commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean fleet; Mr. B.
Z., on his appointment to the chief justiceship at Madras; Sir R. G., the
late attorney general at the Cape of Good Hope; General Y. X., on taking
leave for the governorship of Ceylon, ["the utmost Indian isle,
Taprobane;"] Lord F. M., the bearer of the last despatches from head
quarters in Spain; Col. P., on going out as captain general of the forces
in New Holland; Commodore St. L., on his return from a voyage of
discovery towards the north pole; the King of Owhyhee, attended by
chieftains from the other islands of that cluster; Col. M'P., on his
return from the war in Ashantee, upon which occasion the gallant colonel
presented the treaty and tribute from that country; Admiral ----, on his
appointment to the Baltic fleet; Captain O. N., with despatches from the
Red Sea, advising the destruction of the piratical armament and
settlements in that quarter, as also in the Persian Gulf; Sir T. O'N.,
the late resident in Nepaul, to present his report of the war in that
territory, and in adjacent regions--names as yet unknown in Europe; the
governor of the Leeward Islands, on departing for the West Indies;
various deputations with petitions, addresses, &c., from islands in
remote quarters of the globe, amongst which we distinguished those from
Prince Edward Island, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, from, the Mauritius,
from Java, from the British settlement in Terra del Fuego, from the
Christian churches in the Society, Friendly, and Sandwich Islands--as
well as other groups less known in the South Seas; Admiral H. A., on
assuming the command of the Channel fleet; Major Gen. X. L., on resigning
the lieutenant governorship of Gibraltar; Hon. G. F., on going out as
secretary to the governor of Malta," &c.

This sketch, too hastily made up, is founded upon a base of a very few
years; _i.e._, we have, in one or two instances, placed in juxtaposition,
as coexistences, events separated by a few years. But if (like Milton's
picture of the Roman grandeur) the abstraction had been made from a base
of thirty years in extent, and had there been added to the picture
(according to his precedent) the many and remote embassies to and from
independent states, in all quarters of the earth, with how many more
groups might the spectacle have been crowded, and especially of those who
fall within that most picturesque delineation--

  "Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed"!

As it is, I have noticed hardly any places but such as lie absolutely
within our jurisdiction. And yet, even under that limitation, how vastly
more comprehensive is the chart of British dominion than of the Roman! To
this gorgeous empire, some corresponding style and title should have been
adapted at the revision of the old title, and should yet be adapted.

_Apropos_ of the proposed change in the king's title: Coleridge, on being
assured that the new title of the king was to be Emperor of the British
Islands and their dependencies, and on the coin _Imperator Britanniarum_,
remarked, that, in this remanufactured form, the title might be said to
be _japanned_; alluding to this fact, that amongst _insular_ sovereigns,
the only one known to Christian diplomacy by the title of emperor is the
Sovereign of Japan.

[4] For the sake of those who are no classical scholars, I explain: Voice
and language are restored to him only to the extent of _replying_.

[5] Accordingly, Coleridge has contended, and I think with truth, that
the passion of Othello is _not_ jealousy. So much I know by report, as
the _result_ of a lecture which he read at the Royal Institution. His
arguments I did not hear. To me it is evident that Othello's state of
feeling was not that of a degrading, suspicious rivalship, but the state
of perfect misery, arising out of this dilemma, the most affecting,
perhaps, to contemplate of any which _can_ exist, viz., the dire
necessity of loving without limit one whom the heart pronounces to be
unworthy of that love.

[6] That book, I am aware, is generally treated as a forgery; but
internal evidence, drawn from the tone and quality of the revelations
there made, will not allow me to think it altogether such. There is an
_abandon_ and carelessness in parts which mark its sincerity. Its
authenticity I cannot doubt. But _that_ proves nothing for the truth of
the particular stories which it contains. A book of scandalous and
defamatory stories, especially where the writer has had the baseness to
betray the confidence reposed in his honor by women, and to boast of
favors alleged to have been granted him, it is always fair to consider as
_ipso facto_ a tissue of falsehoods: and on the following argument, that
these are exposures which, even if true, none but the basest of men would
have made. Being, therefore, on the hypothesis most favorable to his
veracity, the basest of men, the author is self-denounced as vile enough
to have forged the stories, and cannot complain if he should be roundly
accused of doing that which he has taken pains to prove himself capable
of doing. This way of arguing might be applied with fatal effect to the
Duc de Lauzun's "Memoirs," supposing them written with a view to
publication. But, by possibility, that was not the case. The Duc de L.
terminated his profligate life, as is well known, on the scaffold, during
the storms of the French revolution; and nothing in his whole career won
him so much credit as the way in which he closed it; for he went to his
death with a romantic carelessness, and even gayety of demeanor. His
"Memoirs" were not published by himself: the publication was posthumous;
and by whom authorized, or for what purpose, is not exactly known.
Probably the manuscript fell into mercenary hands, and was published
merely on a speculation of pecuniary gain. From some passages, however, I
cannot but infer that the writer did not mean to bring it before the
public, but wrote it rather as a series of private memoranda, to aid his
own recollection of circumstances and dates. The Duc de Lauzun's account
of his intrigue with Lady Sarah goes so far as to allege, that he rode
down in disguise, from London to Sir Charles B.'s country seat, agreeably
to a previous assignation, and that he was admitted, by that lady's
confidential attendant, through a back staircase, at the time when Sir
Charles (a fox hunter, but a man of the highest breeding and fashion) was
himself at home, and occupied in the duties of hospitality.



CHAPTER VII.

THE NATION OF LONDON.


It was a most heavenly day in May of the year (1800) when I first
beheld and first entered this mighty wilderness, the city--no, not the
city, but the nation--of London. Often since then, at distances of two
and three hundred miles or more from this colossal emporium of men,
wealth, arts, and intellectual power, have I felt the sublime expression
of her enormous magnitude in one simple form of ordinary occurrence,
viz., in the vast droves of cattle, suppose upon the great north roads,
all with their heads directed to London, and expounding the size of
the attracting body, together with the force of its attractive power,
by the never-ending succession of these droves, and the remoteness
from the capital of the lines upon which they were moving. A suction
so powerful, felt along radii so vast, and a consciousness, at the
same time, that upon other radii still more vast, both by land and by
sea, the same suction is operating, night and day, summer and winter,
and hurrying forever into one centre the infinite means needed for her
infinite purposes, and the endless tributes to the skill or to the
luxury of her endless population, crowds the imagination with a pomp
to which there is nothing corresponding upon this planet, either amongst
the things that have been or the things that are. Or, if any exception
there is, it must be sought in ancient Rome. [1] We, upon this occasion,
were in an open carriage, and, chiefly (as I imagine) to avoid the dust,
we approached London by rural lanes, where any such could be found, or,
at least, along by-roads, quiet and shady, collateral to the main roads.
In that mode of approach we missed some features of the sublimity
belonging to any of the common approaches upon a main road; we missed the
whirl and the uproar, the tumult and the agitation, which continually
thicken and thicken throughout the last dozen miles before you reach the
suburbs. Already at three stages' distance, (say 40 miles from London,)
upon some of the greatest roads, the dim presentment of some vast capital
reaches you obscurely and like a misgiving. This blind sympathy with a
mighty but unseen object, some vast magnetic range of Alps, in your
neighborhood, continues to increase you know not now. Arrived at the last
station for changing horses, Barnet, suppose, on one of the north roads,
or Hounslow on the western, you no longer think (as in all other places)
of naming the next stage; nobody says, on pulling up, "Horses on to
London"--that would sound ludicrous; one mighty idea broods over all
minds, making it impossible to suppose any other destination. Launched
upon this final stage, you soon begin to feel yourself entering the
stream as it were of a Norwegian _maelstrom_; and the stream at length
becomes the rush of a cataract. What is meant by the Latin word
_trepidatio_?  Not any thing peculiarly connected with panic; it belongs
as much to the hurrying to and fro of a coming battle as of a coming
flight; to a marriage festival as much as to a massacre; _agitation_ is
the nearest English word. This _trepidation_ increases both audibly and
visibly at every half mile, pretty much as one may suppose the roar of
Niagara and the thrilling of the ground to grow upon the senses in the
last ten miles of approach, with the wind in its favor, until at length
it would absorb and extinguish all other sounds whatsoever. Finally, for
miles before you reach a suburb of London such as Islington, for
instance, a last great sign and augury of the immensity which belongs
to the coming metropolis forces itself upon the dullest observer, in
the growing sense of his own utter insignificance. Every where else
in England, you yourself, horses, carriage, attendants, (if you travel
with any,) are regarded with attention, perhaps even curiosity; at all
events, you are seen. But after passing the final posthouse on every
avenue to London, for the latter ten or twelve miles, you become aware
that you are no longer noticed: nobody sees you; nobody hears you;
nobody regards you; you do not even regard yourself. In fact, how
should you, at the moment of first ascertaining your own total
unimportance in the sum of things?--a poor shivering unit in the
aggregate of human life. Now, for the first time, whatever manner of
man you were, or seemed to be, at starting, squire or "squireen," lord
or lordling, and however related to that city, hamlet, or solitary
house from which yesterday or to-day you slipped your cable, beyond
disguise you find yourself but one wave in a total Atlantic, one plant
(and a parasitical plant besides, needing alien props) in a forest of
America.

These are feelings which do not belong by preference to thoughtful
people--far less to people merely sentimental. No man ever was left
to himself for the first time in the streets, as yet unknown, of London,
but he must have been saddened and mortified, perhaps terrified, by
the sense of desertion and utter loneliness which belong to his
situation. No loneliness can be like that which weighs upon the heart
in the centre of faces never ending, without voice or utterance for
him; eyes innumerable, that have "no speculation" in their orbs which
_he_ can understand; and hurrying figures of men and women weaving to
and fro, with no apparent purposes intelligible to a stranger, seeming
like a mask of maniacs, or, oftentimes, like a pageant of phantoms.
The great length of the streets in many quarters of London; the
continual opening of transient glimpses into other vistas equally far
stretching, going off at right angles to the one which you are
traversing; and the murky atmosphere which, settling upon the remoter
end of every long avenue, wraps its termination in gloom and
uncertainty,--all these are circumstances aiding that sense of vastness
and illimitable proportions which forever brood over the aspect of
London in its interior. Much of the feeling which belongs to the outside
of London, in its approaches for the last few miles, I had lost, in
consequence of the stealthy route of by-roads, lying near Uxbridge and
Watford, through which we crept into the suburbs. But for that reason,
the more abrupt and startling had been the effect of emerging somewhere
into the Edgeware Road, and soon afterwards into the very streets of
London itself; through _what_ streets, or even what quarter of London,
is now totally obliterated from my mind, having perhaps never been
comprehended. All that I remember is one monotonous awe and blind sense
of mysterious grandeur and Babylonian confusion, which seemed to pursue
and to invest the whole equipage of human life, as we moved for nearly
two [2] hours through streets; sometimes brought to anchor for ten
minutes or more by what is technically called a "lock," that is, a line
of carriages of every description inextricably massed, and obstructing
each other, far as the eye could stretch; and then, as if under an
enchanter's rod, the "lock" seemed to thaw; motion spread with the
fluent race of light or sound through the whole ice-bound mass, until
the subtile influence reached _us_ also, who were again absorbed into
the great rush of flying carriages; or, at times, we turned off into
some less tumultuous street, but of the same mile-long character; and,
finally, drawing up about noon, we alighted at some place, which is
as little within my distinct remembrance as the route by which we
reached it.

For what had we come? To see London. And what were the limits within
which we proposed to crowd that little feat? At five o'clock we were
to dine at Porters ----, a seat of Lord Westport's grandfather; and,
from the distance, it was necessary that we should leave London at
half past three; so that a little more than three hours were all we
had for London. Our charioteer, my friend's tutor, was summoned away
from us on business until that hour; and we were left, therefore,
entirely to ourselves and to our own skill in turning the time to the
best account, for contriving (if such a thing were possible) to do
something or other which, by any fiction of courtesy, or constructively,
so as to satisfy a lawyer, or in a sense sufficient to win a wager,
might be taken and received for having "seen London."

What could be done? We sat down, I remember, in a mood of despondency,
to consider. The spectacles were too many by thousands; _inopes nos
copia fecit_; our very wealth made us poor; and the choice was
distracted. But which of them all could be thought general or
representative enough to stand for the universe of London? We could
not traverse the whole circumference of this mighty orb; that was
clear; and, therefore, the next best thing was to place ourselves as
much as possible in some relation to the spectacles of London, which
might answer to the centre. Yet how? That sounded well and metaphysical;
but what did it mean if acted upon? What was the centre of London for
any purpose whatever, latitudinarian or longitudinarian, literary,
social, or mercantile, geographical, astronomical, or (as Mrs. Malaprop
kindly suggests) diabolical? Apparently that we should stay at our
inn; for in that way we seemed best to distribute our presence equally
amongst all, viz., by going to none in particular.

Three times in my life I have had my taste--that is, my sense of
proportions--memorably outraged. Once was by a painting of Cape Horn,
which seemed almost treasonably below its rank and office in this
world, as the terminal abutment of our mightiest continent, and also
the hinge, as it were, of our greatest circumnavigations--of all, in
fact, which can be called _classical_ circumnavigations. To have
"doubled Cape Horn"--at one time, what a sound it had! yet how ashamed
we should be if that cape were ever to be seen from the moon! A party
of Englishmen, I have heard, went up Mount Aetna, during the night, to
be ready for sunrise--a common practice with tourists both in
Switzerland, Wales, Cumberland, &c.; but, as all must see who take the
trouble to reflect, not likely to repay the trouble; seeing that every
thing which offers a _picture_, when viewed from a station nearly
horizontal, becomes a mere _map_ to an eye placed at an elevation of
3000 feet above it; and so thought, in the sequel, the Aetna party. The
sun, indeed, rose visibly, and not more apparelled in clouds than was
desirable; yet so disappointed were they, and so disgusted with the
sun in particular, that they unanimously _hissed_ him; though, of
course, it was useless to cry "Off! off!" Here, however, the fault was
in their own erroneous expectations, and not in the sun, who, doubtless,
did his best. For, generally, a sunrise and a sunset ought to be seen
from the valley, or at most horizontally. [3] But as to Cape Horn, _that_
(by comparison with its position and its functions) was really a disgrace
to the planet; it is not the spectator that is in fault _here_, but the
object itself, the Birmingham cape. For, consider, it is not only the
"specular mount," keeping watch and ward over a sort of trinity of
oceans, and, by all tradition, the circumnavigator's gate of entrance to
the Pacific, but also it is the temple of the god Terminus for all the
Americas. So that, in relation to such dignities, it seemed to me, in the
drawing, a makeshift, put up by a carpenter, until the true Cape Horn
should be ready; or, perhaps, a drop scene from the opera house. This was
one case of disproportion: the others were--the final and ceremonial
valediction of Garrick, on retiring from his profession; and the Pall
Mall inauguration of George IV. on the day of his accession [4] to
the throne. The utter _ir_relation, in both cases, of the audience to
the scene, (_audience_ I say, as say we must, for the sum of the
spectators in the second instance, as well as of the auditors in the
first,) threw upon each a ridicule not to be effaced. It is in any
case impossible for an actor to say words of farewell to those for
whom he really designs his farewell. He cannot bring his true object
before himself. To whom is it that he would offer his last adieus? We
are told by one--who, if he loved Garrick, certainly did not love
Garrick's profession, nor would even, through _him_, have paid it any
undue compliment--that the retirement of this great artist had "eclipsed
the gayety of nations." To nations, then, to his own generation, it
was that he owed his farewell; but, of a generation, what organ is
there which can sue or be sued, that can thank or be thanked? Neither
by fiction nor by delegation can you bring their bodies into court.
A king's audience, on the other hand, _might_ be had as an authorized
representative body. But, when we consider the composition of a casual
and chance auditory, whether in a street or a theatre,--secondly, the
small size of a modern audience, even in Drury Lane, (4500 at the most,)
not by one eightieth part the _complement_ of the Circus Maximus,--most
of all, when we consider the want of symmetry or commensurateness, to any
extended duration of time, in the _acts_ of such an audience, which acts
lie in the vanishing expressions of its vanishing emotions,--acts so
essentially fugitive, even when organized into an art and a tactical
system of _imbrices_ and _bombi_, (as they were at Alexandria, and
afterwards at the Neapolitan and Roman theatres,) that they could not
protect themselves from dying in the very moment of their birth,--laying
together all these considerations, we see the incongruity of any
audience, so constituted, to any purpose less evanescent than their own
tenure of existence.

Just such in disproportion as these cases had severally been, was our
present problem in relation to our time or other means for accomplishing
it. In debating the matter, we lost half an hour; but at length we
reduced the question to a choice between Westminster Abbey and St.
Paul's Cathedral. I know not that we could have chosen better. The
rival edifices, as we understood from the waiter, were about equidistant
from our own station; but, being too remote from each other to allow
of our seeing both, "we tossed up," to settle the question between the
elder lady and the younger. "Heads" came up, which stood for the abbey.
But, as neither of us was quite satisfied with this decision, we agreed
to make another appeal to the wisdom of chance, second thoughts being
best. This time the cathedral turned up; and so it came to pass that,
with us, the having _seen London_ meant having seen St. Paul's.

The first view of St. Paul's, it may be supposed, overwhelmed us with
awe; and I did not at that time imagine that the sense of magnitude
could be more deeply impressed. One thing interrupted our pleasure.
The superb objects of curiosity within the cathedral were shown for
separate fees. There were seven, I think; and any one could be seen
independently of the rest for a few pence. The whole amount was a
trifle; fourteen pence, I think; but we were followed by a sort of
persecution--"Would we not see the bell?" "Would we not see the model?"
"Surely we would not go away without visiting the whispering
gallery?"--solicitations which troubled the silence and sanctity of
the place, and must tease others as it then teased us, who wished to
contemplate in quiet this great monument of the national grandeur,
which was at that very time [5] beginning to take a station also in the
land, as a depository for the dust of her heroes. What struck us most in
the whole _interior_ of the pile was the view taken from the spot
immediately under the dome, being, in fact, the very same which, five
years afterwards, received the remains of Lord Nelson. In one of the
aisles going off from this centre, we saw the flags of France, Spain, and
Holland, the whole trophies of the war, swinging pompously, and expanding
their massy draperies, slowly and heavily, in the upper gloom, as they
were swept at intervals by currents of air. At this moment we were
provoked by the showman at our elbow renewing his vile iteration of
"Twopence, gentlemen; no more than twopence for each;" and so on, until
we left the place. The same complaint has been often made as to
Westminster Abbey. Where the wrong lies, or where it commences, I know
not. Certainly I nor any man can have a right to expect that the poor men
who attended us should give up their time for nothing, or even to be
angry with them for a sort of persecution, on the degree of which
possibly might depend the comfort of their own families. Thoughts of
famishing children at home leave little room for nice regards of
delicacy abroad. The individuals, therefore, might or might not be
blamable. But in any case, the system is palpably wrong. The nation
is entitled to a free enjoyment of its own public monuments; not free
only in the sense of being gratuitous, but free also from the
molestation of _showmen_, with their imperfect knowledge and their
vulgar sentiment.

Yet, after all, what is this system of restriction and annoyance,
compared with that which operates on the use of the national libraries?
or _that_ again, to the system of exclusion from some of these, where
an absolute interdict lies upon any use at all of that which is
confessedly national property? Books and manuscripts, which were
originally collected and formally bequeathed to the public, under the
generous and noble idea of giving to future generations advantages
which the collector had himself not enjoyed, and liberating them from
obstacles in the pursuit of knowledge which experience had bitterly
imprinted upon his own mind, are at this day locked up as absolutely
against me, you, or any body, as collections confessedly private. Nay,
far more so; for most private collectors of eminence, as the late Mr.
Heber, for instance, have been distinguished for liberality in lending
the rarest of their books to those who knew how to use them with effect.
But, in the cases I now contemplate, the whole funds for supporting
the proper offices attached to a library, such as librarians,
sub-librarians, &c., which of themselves (and without the express
verbal evidence of the founder's will) presume a _public_ in the daily
use of the books, else they are superfluous, have been applied to the
creation of lazy sinecures, in behalf of persons expressly charged
with the care of shutting out the public. Therefore, it is true, they
are _not_ sinecures; for that one care, vigilantly to keep out the
public, [6] they do take upon themselves; and why? A man loving books,
like myself, might suppose that their motive was the ungenerous one of
keeping the books to themselves. Far from it. In several instances, they
will as little use the books as suffer them to be used. And thus the
whole plans and cares of the good (weighing his motives, I will say of
the _pious_) founder have terminated in locking up and sequestering a
large collection of books, some being great rarities, in situations where
they are not accessible. Had he bequeathed them to the catacombs of
Paris or of Naples, he could not have better provided for their virtual
extinction. I ask, Does no action at common law lie against the
promoters of such enormous abuses? O thou fervent reformer,--whose
fatal tread he that puts his ear to the ground may hear at a distance
coming onwards upon _every_ road,--if too surely thou wilt work for
me and others irreparable wrong and suffering, work also for us a
little good; this way turn the great hurricanes and levanters of thy
wrath; winnow me this chaff; and let us enter at last the garners of
pure wheat laid up in elder days for our benefit, and which for two
centuries have been closed against our use!

London we left in haste, to keep an engagement of some standing at the
Earl Howe's, my friend's grandfather. This great admiral, who had
filled so large a station in the public eye, being the earliest among
the naval heroes of England in the first war of the revolution, and
the only one of noble birth, I should have been delighted to see; St.
Paul's, and its naval monuments to Captain Riou and Captain ----,
together with its floating pageantries of conquered flags, having
awakened within me, in a form of peculiar solemnity, those patriotic
remembrances of past glories, which all boys feel so much more vividly
than men can do, in whom the sensibility to such impressions is blunted.
Lord Howe, however, I was not destined to see; he had died about a
year before. Another death there had been, and very recently, in the
family, and under circumstances peculiarly startling; and the spirits
of the whole house were painfully depressed by that event at the time
of our visit. One of the daughters, a younger sister of my friend's
mother, had been engaged for some time to a Scottish nobleman, the
Earl of Morton, much esteemed by the royal family. The day was at
length fixed for the marriage; and about a fortnight before that day
arrived, some particular dress or ornament was brought to Porters, in
which it was designed that the bride should appear at the altar. The
fashion as to this point has often varied; but at that time, I believe
the custom was for bridal parties to be in full dress. The lady, when
the dress arrived, was, to all appearance, in good health; but, by one
of those unaccountable misgivings which are on record in so many
well-attested cases, (as that, for example, of Andrew Marveil's father,)
she said, after gazing for a minute or two at the beautiful dress,
firmly and pointedly, "So, then, _that_ is my wedding dress; and it
is expected that I shall wear it on the 17th; but I shall _not_; I
shall never wear it. On Thursday, the 17th, I shall be dressed in a
shroud!" All present were shocked at such a declaration, which the
solemnity of the lady's manner made it impossible to receive as a jest.
The countess, her mother, even reproved her with some severity for the
words, as an expression of distrust in the goodness of God. The bride
elect made no answer but by sighing heavily. Within a fortnight, all
happened, to the letter, as she had predicted. She was taken suddenly
ill; she died about three days before the marriage day, and was finally
dressed in her shroud, according to the natural course of the funeral
arrangements, on the morning that was to have been the wedding festival.

Lord Morton, the nobleman thus suddenly and remarkably bereaved of
his bride, was the only gentleman who appeared at the dinner table.
He took a particular interest in literature; and it was, in fact,
through _his_ kindness that, for the first time in my life, I found
myself somewhat in the situation of a "_lion_." The occasion of Lord
Morton's flattering notice was a particular copy of verses which had
gained for me a public distinction; not, however, I must own, a very
brilliant one; the prize awarded to me being not the first, nor even
the second,--what on the continent is called the _accessit_,--it was
simply the third; and that fact, stated nakedly, might have left it
doubtful whether I were to be considered in the light of one honored
or of one stigmatized. However, the judges in this case, with more
honesty, or more self-distrust, than belongs to most adjudications of
the kind, had printed the first three of the successful essays.
Consequently, it was left open to each of the less successful candidates
to benefit by any difference of taste amongst their several friends;
and _my_ friends in particular, with the single and singular exception
of my mother, who always thought her own children inferior to other
people's, had generally assigned the palm to myself. Lord Morton
protested loudly that the case admitted of no doubt; that gross
injustice had been done me; and, as the ladies of the family were much
influenced by his opinion, I thus came, not only to wear the laurel
in their estimation, but also with the advantageous addition of having
suffered some injustice. I was not only a victor, but a victor in
misfortune.

At this moment, looking back from a distance of fifty years upon those
trifles, it may well be supposed that I do not attach so much importance
to the subject of my fugitive honors as to have any very decided opinion
one way or the other upon my own proportion of merit. I do not even
recollect the major part of the verses: that which I _do_ recollect,
inclines me to think that, in the structure of the metre and in the
choice of the expressions, I had some advantage over my competitors,
though otherwise, perhaps, my verses were less finished; Lord Morton
might, therefore, in a partial sense, have been just, as well as kind.
But, little as that may seem likely, even then, and at the moment of
reaping some advantage from my honors, which gave me a consideration
with the family I was amongst such as I could not else have had, most
unaffectedly I doubted in my own mind whether I were really entitled
to the praises which I received. My own verses had not at all satisfied
myself; and though I felt elated by the notice they had gained me, and
gratified by the generosity of the earl in taking my part so warmly,
I was so more in a spirit of sympathy with the kindness thus manifested
in my behalf, and with the consequent kindness which it procured me
from others, than from any incitement or support which it gave to my
intellectual pride. In fact, whatever estimate I might make of those
intellectual gifts which I believed or which I knew myself to possess,
I was inclined, even in those days, to doubt whether my natural vocation
lay towards poetry. Well, indeed, I knew, and I know that, had I chosen
to enlist amongst the _soi disant_ poets of the day,--amongst those,
I mean, who, by mere force of _talent_ and mimetic skill, contrive to
sustain the part of poet in a scenical sense and with a scenical
effect,--I also could have won such laurels as are won by such merit;
I also could have taken and sustained a place _taliter qualiter_ amongst
the poets of the time. Why _not_ then? Simply because I knew that me,
as them, would await the certain destiny in reversion of resigning
that place in the next generation to some younger candidate having
equal or greater skill in appropriating the vague sentiments and old
traditionary language of passion spread through books, but having
also the advantage of novelty, and of a closer adaptation to the
prevailing taste of the day. Even at that early age, I was keenly
alive, if not so keenly as at this moment, to the fact, that by far
the larger proportion of what is received in every age for poetry, and
for a season usurps that consecrated name, is _not_ the spontaneous
overflow of real unaffected passion, deep, and at the same time
original, and also forced into public manifestation of itself from the
necessity which cleaves to all passion alike of seeking external
sympathy: this it is _not_; but a counterfeit assumption of such
passion, according to the more or less accurate skill of the writer
in distinguishing the key of passion suited to the particular age; and
a concurrent assumption of the language of passion, according to his
more or less skill in separating the spurious from the native and
legitimate diction of genuine emotion. Rarely, indeed, are the reputed
poets of any age men who groan, like prophets, under the burden of a
message which they have to deliver, and _must_ deliver, of a mission
which they _must_ discharge. Generally, nay, with much fewer exceptions,
perhaps, than would be readily believed, they are merely simulators
of the part they sustain; speaking not out of the abundance of their
own hearts, but by skill and artifice assuming or personating emotions
at second hand; and the whole is a business of talent, (sometimes even
of great talent,) but not of original power, of genius, [7] or authentic
inspiration.

From Porters, after a few days' visit, we returned to Eton. Her majesty
about this time gave some splendid _fêtes_ at Frogmore, to one or two
of which she had directed that we should be invited. The invitation
was, of course, on my friend's account; but her majesty had condescended
to direct that I, as his visitor, should be specially included. Lord
Westport, young as he was, had become tolerably indifferent about such
things; but to me such a scene was a novelty; and, on that account,
it was settled we should go as early as was permissible. We _did_ go;
and I was not sorry to have had the gratification of witnessing (if
it were but for once or twice) the splendors of a royal party. But,
after the first edge of expectation was taken off,--after the vague
uncertainties of rustic ignorance had given place to absolute realities,
and the eye had become a little familiar with the flashing of the
jewelry,--I began to suffer under the constraints incident to a young
person in such a situation--the situation, namely, of sedentary
passiveness, where one is acted upon, but does not act. The music, in
fact, was all that continued to delight me; and, but for _that,_ I
believe I should have had some difficulty in avoiding so monstrous an
indecorum as yawning. I revise this faulty expression, however, on the
spot; not the music only it was, but the music combined with the
dancing, that so deeply impressed me. The ball room--a temporary
erection, with something of the character of a pavilion about it--wore
an elegant and festal air; the part allotted to the dancers being
fenced off by a gilded lattice work, and ornamented beautifully from
the upper part with drooping festoons of flowers. But all the luxury
that spoke to the eye merely faded at once by the side of impassioned
dancing, sustained by impassioned music. Of all the scenes which this
world offers, none is to me so profoundly interesting, none (I say it
deliberately) so affecting, as the spectacle of men and women floating
through the mazes of a dance; under these conditions, however, that
the music shall be rich, resonant, and festal, the execution of the
dancers perfect, and the dance itself of a character to admit of free,
fluent, and _continuous_ motion. But this last condition will be sought
vainly in the quadrilles, &c., which have for so many years banished
the truly beautiful _country dances_ native to England. Those whose
taste and sensibility were so defective as to substitute for the
_beautiful_ in dancing the merely _difficult_, were sure, in the end,
to transfer the depravations of this art from the opera house to the
floors of private ball rooms. The tendencies even then were in that
direction; but as yet they had not attained their final stage; and the
English country dance [8] was still in estimation at the courts of
princes. Now, of all dances, this is the only one, as a class, of which
you can truly describe the motion to be _continuous,_ that is, not
interrupted or fitful, but unfolding its fine mazes with the equability
of light in its diffusion through free space. And wherever the music
happens to be not of a light, trivial character, but charged with the
spirit of festal pleasure, and the performers in the dance so far skilful
as to betray no awkwardness verging on the ludicrous, I believe that many
people feel as I feel in such circumstances, viz., derive from the
spectacle the very grandest form of passionate sadness which can belong
to any spectacle whatsoever. _Sadness_ is not the exact word; nor is
there any word in any language (because none in the finest languages)
which exactly expresses the state; since it is not a depressing, but a
most elevating state to which I allude. And, certainly, it is easy to
understand, that many states of pleasure, and in particular the highest,
are the most of all removed from merriment. The day on which a Roman
triumphed was the most gladsome day of his existence; it was the crown
and consummation of his prosperity; yet assuredly it was also to him the
most solemn of his days. Festal music, of a rich and passionate
character, is the most remote of any from vulgar hilarity. Its very
gladness and pomp is impregnated with sadness, but sadness of a grand and
aspiring order. Let, for instance, (since without individual
illustrations there is the greatest risk of being misunderstood,) any
person of musical sensibility listen to the exquisite music composed by
Beethoven, as an opening for Burger's "Lenore," the running idea of which
is the triumphal return of a crusading host, decorated with laurels and
with palms, within the gates of their native city; and then say whether
the presiding feeling, in the midst of this tumultuous festivity, be not,
by infinite degrees, transcendent to any thing so vulgar as hilarity.
In fact, laughter itself is of all things the most equivocal; as the
organ of the ludicrous, laughter is allied to the trivial and the mean;
as the organ of joy, it is allied to the passionate and the noble.
From all which the reader may comprehend, if he should not happen
experimentally to have felt, that a spectacle of young men and women,
_flowing_ through the mazes of an intricate dance under a full volume
of music, taken with all the circumstantial adjuncts of such a scene
in rich men's halls; the blaze of lights and jewels, the life, the
motion, the sea-like undulation of heads, the interweaving of the
figures, the _anachuchlosis_ or self-revolving, both of the
dance and the music, "never ending, still beginning," and the continual
regeneration of order from a system of motions which forever touch the
very brink of confusion; that such a spectacle, with such circumstances,
may happen to be capable of exciting and sustaining the very grandest
emotions of philosophic melancholy to which the human spirit is open.
The reason is, in part, that such a scene presents a sort of mask of
human life, with its whole equipage of pomps and glories, its luxury
of sight and sound, its hours of golden youth, and the interminable
revolution of ages hurrying after ages, and one generation treading
upon the flying footsteps of another; whilst all the while the
overruling music attempers the mind to the spectacle, the subject to
the object, the beholder to the vision. And, although this is known
to be but one phasis of life,--of life culminating and in ascent,--yet
the other (and repulsive) phasis is concealed upon the hidden or averted
side of the golden arras, known but not felt; or is seen but dimly in
the rear, crowding into indistinct proportions. The effect of the music
is, to place the mind in a state of elective attraction for every thing
in harmony with its own prevailing key.

This pleasure, as always on similar occasions, I had at present; but
naturally in a degree corresponding to the circumstances of _royal_
splendor through which the scene revolved; and, if I have spent rather
more words than should reasonably have been requisite in describing
any obvious state of emotion, it is not because, in itself, it is
either vague or doubtful, but because it is difficult, without calling
upon a reader for a little reflection, to convince him that there is
not something paradoxical in the assertion, that joy and festal
pleasure, of the highest kind, are liable to a _natural_ combination
with solemnity, or even with melancholy the most profound. Yet, to
speak in the mere simplicity of truth, so mysterious is human nature,
and so little to be read by him who runs, that almost every weighty
aspect of truth upon that theme will be found at first sight to be
startling, or sometimes paradoxical. And so little need is there for
chasing or courting paradox, that, on the contrary, he who is faithful
to his own experiences will find all his efforts little enough to keep
down the paradoxical air besieging much of what he _knows_ to be the
truth. No man needs to _search_ for paradox in this world of ours. Let
him simply confine himself to the truth, and he will find paradox
growing every where under his hands as rank as weeds. For new truths
of importance are rarely agreeable to any preconceived theories; that
is, cannot be explained by these theories; which are insufficient,
therefore, even where they are true. And universally, it must be borne
in mind, that not that is paradox which, seeming to be true, is upon
examination false, but that which, seeming to be false, may upon
examination be found true. [9]

The pleasure of which I have been speaking belongs to all such scenes;
but on this particular occasion there was also something more. To see
persons in "the body" of whom you have been reading in newspapers from
the very earliest of your reading days,--those, who have hitherto been
great _ideas_ in your childish thoughts, to see and to hear moving and
talking as carnal existences amongst other human beings,--had, for the
first half hour or so, a singular and strange effect. But this naturally
waned rapidly after it had once begun to wane. And when these first
startling impressions of novelty had worn off, it must be confessed
that the peculiar circumstances attaching to a royal ball were not
favorable to its joyousness or genial spirit of enjoyment. I am not
going to repay her majesty's condescension so ill, or so much to abuse
the privileges of a guest, as to draw upon my recollections of what
passed for the materials of a cynical critique. Every thing was done,
I doubt not, which court etiquette permitted, to thaw those ungenial
restraints which gave to the whole too much of a ceremonial and
official character, and to each actor in the scene gave too much of
the air belonging to one who is discharging a duty, and to the youngest
even among the principal personages concerned gave an apparent anxiety
and jealousy of manner--jealousy, I mean, not of others, but a
prudential jealousy of his own possible oversights or trespasses. In
fact, a great personage bearing a state character cannot be regarded,
nor regard himself, with the perfect freedom which belongs to social
intercourse; no, nor ought to be. It is not rank alone which is here
concerned; that, as being his own, he might lay aside for an hour or
two; but he bears a representative character also. He has not his own
rank only, but the rank of others, to protect; he (supposing him the
sovereign or a prince near to the succession) embodies and impersonates
the majesty of a great people; and this character, were you ever so
much encouraged to do so, you, the _idiotaes_, the _lay_ spectator or
"assister," neither could nor ought to dismiss from your thoughts.
Besides all which, it must be acknowledged, that to see brothers dancing
with sisters--as too often occurred in those dances to which the
princesses were parties--disturbed the appropriate interest of the scene,
being irreconcilable with the allusive meaning of dancing in general, and
laid a weight upon its gayety which no condescensions from the highest
quarter could remove. This infelicitous arrangement forced the thoughts
of all present upon the exalted rank of the parties which could dictate
and exact so unusual an assortment. And that rank, again, it presented to
us under one of its least happy aspects; as insulating a blooming young
woman amidst the choir of her coevals, and surrounding her with dreadful
solitude amidst a vast crowd of the young, the brave, the beautiful, and
the accomplished.

Meantime, as respected myself individually, I had reason to be grateful:
every kindness and attention were shown to me. My invitation I was
sensible that I owed entirely to my noble friend. But, _having_ been
invited, I felt assured, from what passed, that it was meant and
provided that I should not, by any possibility, be suffered to think
myself overlooked. Lord Westport and I communicated our thoughts
occasionally by means of a language which we, in those days, found
useful enough at times, and which bore the name of _Ziph_. The language
and the name were both derived (that is, were _immediately_ so derived,
for _remotely_ the Ziph language may ascend to Nineveh) from Winchester.
Dr. Mapleton, a physician in Bath, who attended me in concert with Mr.
Grant, an eminent surgeon, during the nondescript malady of the head,
happened to have had three sons at Winchester; and his reason for
removing them is worth mentioning, as it illustrates the well-known
system of _fagging_. One or more of them showed to the quick medical
eye of Dr. Mapleton symptoms of declining health; and, upon cross
questioning, he found that, being (as juniors) _fags_ (that is, bondsmen
by old prescription) to appointed seniors, they were under the necessity
of going out nightly into the town for the purpose of executing
commissions; but this was not easy, as all the regular outlets were
closed at an early hour. In such a dilemma, any route, that was barely
practicable at whatever risk, must be traversed by the loyal fag; and
it so happened that none of any kind remained open or accessible,
except one; and this one communication happened to have escaped
suspicion, simply because it lay through a succession of temples and
sewers sacred to the goddesses Cloacina and Scavengerina. That of
itself was not so extraordinary a fact: the wonder lay in the number,
viz., seventeen. Such were the actual amount of sacred edifices which,
through all their dust, and garbage, and mephitic morasses, these
miserable vassals had to thread all _but_ every night of the week. Dr.
Mapleton, when he had made this discovery, ceased to wonder at the
medical symptoms; and, as _faggery_ was an abuse too venerable and
sacred to be touched by profane hands, he lodged no idle complaints,
but simply removed his sons to a school where the Serbonian bogs of
the subterraneous goddess might not intersect the nocturnal line of
march so _very_ often. One day, during the worst of my illness, when
the kind-hearted doctor was attempting to amuse me with this anecdote,
and asking me whether I thought Hannibal would have attempted his march
over the Little St. Bernard,--supposing that he and the elephant which
he rode had been summoned to explore a route through seventeen similar
nuisances,--he went on to mention the one sole accomplishment which
his sons had imported from Winchester. This was the _Ziph_ language,
communicated at Winchester to any aspirant for a fixed fee of one half
guinea, but which the doctor then communicated to me--as I do now to
the reader--_gratis_. I make a present of this language without fee,
or price, or entrance money, to my honored reader; and let him
understand that it is undoubtedly a bequest of elder times. Perhaps
it may be coeval with the pyramids. For in the famous "Essay on a
Philosophical Character," (I forget whether _that_ is the exact title,)
a large folio written by the ingenious Dr. Wilkins, Bishop of Chester,
[10] and published early in the reign of Charles II., a folio which I, in
youthful days, not only read but studied, this language is recorded and
accurately described amongst many other modes of cryptical communication,
oral and visual, spoken, written, or symbolic. And, as the bishop does
not speak of it as at all a _recent_ invention, it may probably at that
time have been regarded as an antique device for conducting a
conversation in secrecy amongst bystanders; and this advantage it has,
that it is applicable to all languages alike; nor can it possibly be
penetrated by one not initiated in the mystery. The secret is this--(and
the grandeur of simplicity at any rate it has)--repeat the vowel or
diphthong of every syllable, prefixing to the vowel so repeated the
letter G. Thus, for example: Shall we go away in an hour? Three hours we
have already staid. This in Ziph becomes: _Shagall wege gogo agawagay
igin agan hougour? Threegee hougours wege hagave agalreageadygy stagaid._
[11] It must not be supposed that Ziph proceeds slowly. A very little
practice gives the greatest fluency; so that even now, though certainly I
cannot have practised it for fifty years, my power of speaking the Ziph
remains unimpaired. I forget whether in the Bishop of Chester's account
of this cryptical language the consonant intercalated be G or not.
Evidently any consonant will answer the purpose. F or L would be softer,
and so far better.

In this learned tongue it was that my friend and I communicated our
feelings; and, having staid nearly four hours, a time quite sufficient
to express a proper sense of the honor, we departed; and, on emerging
into the open high road, we threw up our hats and huzzaed, meaning
no sort of disrespect, but from uncontrollable pleasure in recovered
liberty.

Soon after this we left Eton for Ireland. Our first destination being
Dublin, of course we went by Holyhead. The route at that time, from
Southern England to Dublin, did not (as in elder and in later days)
go round by Chester. A few miles after leaving Shrewsbury, somewhere
about Oswestry, it entered North Wales; a stage farther brought us to
the celebrated vale of Llangollen; and, on reaching the approach to
this about sunset on a beautiful evening of June, I first found myself
amongst the mountains--a feature in natural scenery for which, from
my earliest days, it was not extravagant to say that I had hungered
and thirsted. In no one expectation of my life have I been less
disappointed; and I may add, that no one enjoyment has less decayed
or palled upon my continued experience. A mountainous region, with a
slender population, and _that_ of a simple pastoral character; behold
my chief conditions of a pleasant permanent dwelling-place! But, thus
far I have altered, that _now_ I should greatly prefer forest scenery--
such as the New Forest, or the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The
mountains of Wales range at about the same elevation as those of Northern
England; three thousand and four to six hundred feet being the extreme
limit which they reach. Generally speaking, their forms are less
picturesque individually, and they are less happily grouped than their
English brethren. I have since also been made sensible by Wordsworth of
one grievous defect in the structure of the Welsh valleys; too generally
they take the _basin_ shape--the level area at their foot does not detach
itself with sufficient precision from the declivities that surround them.
Of this, however, I was not aware at the time of first seeing Wales;
although the striking effect from the _opposite_ form of the Cumberland
and Westmoreland valleys, which almost universally present a flat area at
the base of the surrounding hills, level, to use Wordsworth's expression,
"_as the floor of a temple,"_ would, at any rate, have arrested my eye,
as a circumstance of impressive beauty, even though the want of such a
feature might not, in any case, have affected me as a fault. As
something that had a positive value, this characteristic of the Cambrian
valleys had fixed my attention, but not as any telling point of contrast
against the Cambrian valleys. No faults, however, at that early age
disturbed my pleasure, except that, after one whole day's travelling,
(for so long it cost us between Llangollen and Holyhead,) the want of
water struck me upon review as painfully remarkable. From Conway to
Bangor (seventeen miles) we were often in sight of the sea; but fresh
water we had seen hardly any; no lake, no stream much beyond a brook.
This is certainly a conspicuous defect in North Wales, considered as
a region of fine scenery. The few lakes I have since become acquainted
with, as that near Bala, near Beddkelert, and beyond Machynleth, are
not attractive either in their forms or in their accompaniments; the
Bala Lake being meagre and insipid, the others as it were unfinished,
and unaccompanied with their furniture of wood.

At the _Head_ (to call it by its common colloquial name) we were
detained a few days in those unsteaming times by foul winds. Our time,
however, thanks to the hospitality of a certain Captain Skinner on
that station, did not hang heavy on our hands, though we were
imprisoned, as it were, on a dull rock; for Holyhead itself is a little
island of rock, an insulated dependency of Anglesea; which, again, is
a little insulated dependency of North Wales. The packets on this
station were at that time lucrative commands; and they were given
(perhaps _are_ [12] given?) to post captains in the navy. Captain Skinner
was celebrated for his convivial talents; he did the honors of the place
in a hospitable style; daily asked us to dine with him, and seemed as
inexhaustible in his wit as in his hospitality.

This answered one purpose, at least, of special convenience to our
party at that moment: it kept us from all necessity of meeting each
other during the day, except under circumstances where we escaped the
necessity of any familiar communication. Why that should have become
desirable, arose upon the following mysterious change of relations
between ourselves and the Rev. Mr. Gr----, Lord Westport's tutor. On
the last day of our journey, Mr. G., who had accompanied us thus far,
but now at Holyhead was to leave us, suddenly took offence (or, at
least, then first _showed_ his offence) at something we had said, done,
or omitted, and never spoke one syllable to either of us again. Being
both of us amiably disposed, and incapable of having seriously meditated
either word or deed likely to wound any person's feelings, we were
much hurt at the time, and often retraced the little incidents upon
the road, to discover, if possible, what it was that had laid us open
to misconstruction. But it remained to both of us a lasting mystery.
This tutor was an Irishman, of Trinity College, Dublin, and, I believe,
of considerable pretensions as a scholar; but, being reserved and
haughty, or else presuming in us a knowledge of our offence, which we
really had not, he gave us no opening for any explanation. To the last
moment, however, he manifested a punctilious regard to the duties of
his charge. He accompanied us in our boat, on a dark and gusty night,
to the packet, which lay a little out at sea. He saw us on board;
and then, standing up for one moment, he said, "Is all right on deck?"
"All right, sir," sang out the ship's steward. "Have you, Lord Westport,
got your boat cloak with you?" "Yes, sir." "Then, pull away, boatmen."
We listened for a time to the measured beat of his retreating oars,
marvelling more and more at the atrocious nature of our crime which
could thus avail to intercept even his last adieus. I, for my part,
never saw him again; nor, as I have reason to think, did Lord Westport.
Neither did we ever unravel the mystery.

As if to irritate our curiosity still more, Lord Westport showed me
a torn fragment of paper in his tutor's hand--writing, which, together
with others, had been thrown (as he believed) purposely in his way.
If he was right in that belief, it appeared that he had missed the
particular fragment which was designed to raise the veil upon our
guilt; for the one he produced contained exactly these words: "With
respect to your ladyship's anxiety to know how far the acquaintance
with Mr. De Q. is likely to be of service to your son, I think I may
now venture to say that"--There the sibylline fragment ended; nor
could we torture it into any further revelation. However, both of us
saw the propriety of not ourselves practising any mystery, nor giving
any advantage to Mr. G. by imperfect communications; and accordingly,
on the day after we reached Dublin, we addressed a circumstantial
account of our journey and our little mystery to Lady Altamont in
England; for to her it was clear that the tutor had confided his
mysterious wrongs. Her ladyship answered with kindness; but did not
throw any light on the problem which exercised at once our memories,
our skill in conjectural interpretation, and our sincere regrets. Lord
Westport and I regretted much that there had not been a wider margin
attached to the fragment of Mr. G.'s letter to Lady Altamont; in which
case, as I could readily have mimicked his style of writing, it would
have been easy for me to fill up thus: "With respect to your ladyship's
anxiety, &c., I think I may now venture to say that, if the solar system
were searched, there could not be found a companion more serviceable to
your son than Mr. De Q. He speaks the Ziph most beautifully. He writes
it, I am told, classically. And if there were a Ziph nation as well as a
Ziph language, I am satisfied that he would very soon be at the head of
it; as he already is, beyond all competition, at the head of the Ziph
literature." Lady Altamont, on receiving this, would infallibly have
supposed him mad; she would have written so to all her Irish friends, and
would have commended the poor gentleman to the care of his nearest
kinsmen; and thus we should have had some little indemnification for the
annoyance he had caused us. I mention this trifle, simply because, trifle
as it is, it involved a mystery, and furnishes an occasion for glancing
at that topic. Mysteries as deep, with results a little more important
and foundations a little sounder, have many times crossed me in life;
one, for instance, I recollect at this moment, known pretty extensively
to the neighborhood in which it occurred. It was in the county of S----.
A lady married, and married well, as was thought. About twelve months
afterwards, she returned alone in a post chaise to her father's house;
paid, and herself dismissed, the postilion at the gate; entered the
house; ascended to the room in which she had passed her youth, and known
in the family by her name; took possession of it again; intimated by
signs, and by one short letter at her first arrival, what she would
require; lived for nearly twenty years in this state of _La Trappe_
seclusion and silence; nor ever, to the hour of her death, explained what
circumstances had dissolved the supposed happy connection she had formed,
or what had become of her husband. Her looks and gestures were of a
nature to repress all questions in the spirit of mere curiosity; and the
spirit of affection naturally respected a secret which was guarded so
severely. This might be supposed a Spanish tale; yet it happened in
England, and in a pretty populous neighborhood. The romances which occur
in real life are too often connected with circumstances of criminality in
some one among the parties concerned; on that account, more than any
other, they are often suppressed; else, judging by the number which have
fallen within my own knowledge, they must be of more frequent occurrence
than is usually supposed. Among such romances, those cases, perhaps, form
an unusual proportion in which young, innocent, and high-minded persons
have made a sudden discovery of some great profligacy or deep
unworthiness in the person to whom they had surrendered their entire
affections. That shock, more than any other, is capable of blighting, in
one hour, the whole after existence, and sometimes of at once
overthrowing the balance of life or of reason. Instances I have known of
both; and such afflictions are the less open to any alleviation, that
sometimes they are of a nature so delicate as to preclude all
confidential communication of them to another; and sometimes it would be
even dangerous, in a legal sense, to communicate them.

A sort of adventure occurred, and not of a kind pleasant to recall,
even on this short voyage. The passage to Dublin from the Head is about
sixty miles, I believe; yet, from baffling winds, it cost us upwards
of thirty hours. On the second day, going upon deck, we found that our
only fellow-passenger of note was a woman of rank, celebrated for her
beauty; and not undeservedly, for a lovely creature she was. The body
of her travelling coach had been, as usual, unslung from the "carriage,"
(by which is technically meant the wheels and the perch,) and placed
upon deck. This she used as a place of retreat from the sun during the
day, and as a resting-place at night. For want of more interesting
companions, she invited us, during the day, into her coach; and we
taxed our abilities to make ourselves as entertaining as we could, for
we were greatly fascinated by the lady's beauty. The second night
proved very sultry; and Lord Westport and myself, suffering from the
oppression of the cabin, left our berths, and lay, wrapped up in cloaks,
upon deck. Having talked for some hours, we were both on the point of
falling asleep, when a stealthy tread near our heads awoke us. It was
starlight; and we traced between ourselves and the sky the outline of
a man's figure. Lying upon a mass of tarpaulings, we were ourselves
undistinguishable, and the figure moved in the direction of the coach.
Our first thought was to raise an alarm, scarcely doubting that the
purpose of the man was to rob the unprotected lady of her watch or
purse. But, to our astonishment, we saw the coach door silently swing
open under a touch from _within_. All was as silent as a dream; the
figure entered, the door closed, and we were left to interpret the
case as we might. Strange it was that this lady could permit herself
to calculate upon absolute concealment in such circumstances. We
recollected afterwards to have heard some indistinct rumor buzzed about
the packet on the day preceding, that a gentleman, and some even spoke
of him by name as a Colonel ----, for some unknown purpose, was
concealed in the steerage of the packet. And other appearances indicated
that the affair was not entirely a secret even amongst the lady's
servants. To both of _us_ the story proclaimed a moral already
sufficiently current, viz., that women of the highest and the very
lowest rank are alike thrown too much into situations of danger and
temptation. [13] I might mention some additional circumstances of
criminal aggravation in this lady's case; but, as they would tend to
point out the real person to those acquainted with her history, I shall
forbear. She has since made a noise in the world, and has maintained, I
believe, a tolerably fair reputation. Soon after sunrise the next
morning, a heavenly morning of June, we dropped our anchor in the
famous Bay of Dublin. There was a dead calm; the sea was like a lake;
and, as we were some miles from the Pigeon House, a boat was manned
to put us on shore. The lovely lady, unaware that we were parties to her
guilty secret, went with us, accompanied by her numerous attendants,
and looking as beautiful, and hardly less innocent, than an angel. Long
afterwards, Lord Westport and I met her, hanging upon the arm of her
husband, a manly and good-natured man, of polished manners, to whom
she introduced us; for she voluntarily challenged us as her fellow-
voyagers, and, I suppose, had no suspicion which pointed in our
direction. She even joined her husband in cordially pressing us to
visit them at their magnificent _chateau_. Upon us, meantime, whatever
might be _her_ levity, the secret of which accident had put us in
possession pressed with a weight of awe; we shuddered at our own
discovery; and we both agreed to drop no hint of it in any direction.
[14]

Landing about three miles from Dublin, (according to my present
remembrance at Dunleary,) we were not long in reaching Sackville Street.


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_Ancient Rome_."--Vast, however, as the London is of this day, I
incline to think that it is below the Rome of Trajan. It has long been a
settled opinion amongst scholars, that the computations of Lipsius, on
this point, were prodigiously overcharged; and formerly I shared in that
belief. But closer study of the question, and a laborious _collation_ of
the different data, (for any single record, independently considered, can
here establish nothing,) have satisfied me that Lipsius was nearer the
truth than his critics; and that the Roman population of every class--
slaves, aliens, peoples of the suburbs, included--lay between four and
six millions; in which case the London of 1833, which counts more than a
million and a half, but less than two millions, [_Note_.--Our present
London of 1853 counts two millions, plus as many thousands as there are
days in the year,] may be taken, _chata platos_ as lying between one
fourth and one third of Rome. To discuss this question thoroughly would
require a separate memoir, for which, after all, there are not sufficient
materials: meantime I will make this remark: That the ordinary
computations of a million, or a million and a quarter, derived from the
surviving accounts of the different "regions," apply to Rome _within_ the
Pomaerium, and are, therefore, no more valid for the total Rome of
Trajan's time, stretching so many miles beyond it, than the bills of
mortality for what is technically "London within the walls" can serve at
this day as a base for estimating the population of that total London
which we mean and presume in our daily conversation. _Secondly_, even for
the Rome within these limits the computations are not commensurate, by
not allowing for the prodigious _height_ of the houses in Rome, which
much transcended that of modern cities. On this last point I will
translate a remarkable sentence from the Greek rhetorician Aristides,
[_Note_.--Aelius Aristides, Greek by his birth, who flourished in the
time of the Antonines;] to some readers it will be new and interesting:
"And, as oftentimes we see that a man who greatly excels others in bulk
and strength is not content with any display, however ostentatious, of
his powers, short of that where he is exhibited surmounting himself with a
pyramid of other men, one set standing upon the shoulders of another, so
also this city, stretching forth her foundations over areas so vast, is
yet not satisfied with those superficial dimensions; _that_ contents her
not; but upon one city rearing another of corresponding proportions, and
upon that another, pile resting upon pile, houses overlaying houses, in
aerial succession: so, and by similar steps, she achieves a character of
architecture justifying, as it were, the very promise of her name; and
with reference to that name, and its Grecian meaning, we may say, that
here nothing meets our eyes in any direction but mere _Rome! Rome!_"
[Note.--This word _Romae_, (Romé,) on which the rhetorician plays, is the
common Greek term for _strength_.] "And hence," says Aristides, "I derive
the following conclusion: that if any one, decomposing this series of
strata, were disposed to unshell, as it were, this existing Rome from its
present crowded and towering coacervations, and, thus degrading these
aerial Romes, were to plant them on the ground, side by side, in orderly
succession, according to all appearance, the whole vacant area of Italy
would be filled with these dismantled stories of Rome, and we should be
presented with the spectacle of one continuous city, stretching its
labyrinthine pomp to the shores of the Adriatic." This is so far from
being meant as a piece of rhetoric, that, on the very contrary, the whole
purpose is to substitute for a vague and rhetorical expression of the
Roman grandeur one of a more definite character--viz., by presenting its
dimensions in a new form, and supposing the city to be uncrested, as it
were; its upper tiers to be what the sailors call _unshipped_; and the
dethroned stories to be all drawn up in rank and file upon the ground;
according to which assumption he implies that the city would stretch from
the _mare Superum_ to the _mare Inferum, i.e._, from the sea of Tuscany
to the Adriatic.

The fact is, as Casaubon remarked, upon occasion of a ridiculous blunder
in estimating the largesses of a Roman emperor, that the error on most
questions of Roman policy or institutions tends not, as is usual, in the
direction of excess, but of defect. All things were colossal there; and
the probable, as estimated upon our modern scale, is not unfrequently the
impossible, as regarded Roman habits. Lipsius certainly erred
extravagantly at times, and was a rash speculator on many subjects;
witness his books on the Roman amphitheatres; but not on the magnitude of
Rome, or the amount of its population. I will add, upon this subject,
that the whole political economy of the ancients, if we except Boeckh's
accurate investigation, (_Die Staatshaushaltung der Athener_,) which,
properly speaking, cannot be called political economy, is a mine into
which scarce a single shaft has yet been sunk. But I must also add, that
every thing will depend upon _collation_ of facts, and the bringing of
indirect notices into immediate juxtaposition, so as to throw light on
each other. _Direct_ and positive information there is little on these
topics; and that has been gleaned.

[2] "_Two hours_."--This slow progress must, however, in part be ascribed
to Mr. Gr----'s non-acquaintance with the roads, both town and rural,
along the whole line of our progress from Uxbridge.

[3] Hence it may be said, that nature regulates our position for such
spectacles, without any intermeddling of ours. When, indeed, a mountain
stands, like Snowdon or Great Gavel in Cumberland, at the centre of a
mountainous region, it is not denied that, at some seasons, when the
early beams strike through great vistas in the hills, splendid effects of
light and shade are produced; strange, however, rather than beautiful.
But from an insulated mountain, or one upon the outer ring of the hilly
tract, such as Skiddaw, in Cumberland, the first effect is to translate
the landscape from a _picture_ into a _map_; and the total result, as a
celebrated author once said, is the _infinity of littleness_.

[4] Accession was it, or his proclamation? The case was this: About the
middle of the day, the king came out into the portico of Carlton House;
and addressing himself (addressing his gestures, I mean) to the
assemblage of people in Pall Mall, he bowed repeatedly to the right and
to the left, and then retired. I mean no disrespect to that prince in
recalling those circumstances; no doubt, he acted upon the suggestion of
others, and perhaps, also, under a sincere emotion on witnessing the
enthusiasm of those outside; but _that_ could not cure the original
absurdity of recognizing as a representative audience, clothed with the
national functions of recognizing _himself_, a chance gathering of
passengers through a single street, between whom and any mob from his own
stables and kitchens there could be no essential difference which logic,
or law, or constitutional principle could recognize.

[5] Already monuments had been voted by the House of Commons in this
cathedral, and I am not sure but they were nearly completed, to two
captains who had fallen at the Nile.

[6] This place suggests the mention of another crying abuse connected
with this subject. In the year 1811 or 1810 came under parliamentary
notice and revision the law of copyright. In some excellent pamphlets
drawn forth by the occasion, from Mr. Duppa, for instance, and several
others, the whole subject was well probed, and many aspects, little
noticed by the public, were exposed of that extreme injustice attached to
the law as it then stood. The several monopolies connected with books
were noticed a _little_; and _not_ a little notice was taken of the
oppressive privilege with which certain public libraries (at that time, I
think, eleven) were invested, of exacting, severally, a copy of each new
book published. This downright robbery was palliated by some members of
the House in that day, under the notion of its being a sort of exchange,
or _quid pro quo_ in return for the relief obtained by the statute of
Queen Anne--the first which recognized literary property. "For," argued
they, "previously to that statute, supposing your book pirated, at common
law you could obtain redress only for each copy _proved_ to have been
sold by the pirate; and that might not be a thousandth part of the actual
loss. Now, the statute of Queen Anne granting you a general redress, upon
proof that a piracy had been committed, you, the party relieved, were
bound to express your sense of this relief by a return made to the
public; and the public is here represented by the great endowed libraries
of the seven universities, the British Museum," &c., &c. But _prima
facie_, this was that _selling of justice_ which is expressly renounced
in Magna Charta; and why were proprietors of copyright, more than other
proprietors, to make an "acknowledgment" for their rights? But supposing
_that_ just, why, especially, to the given public bodies? Now, for my
part, I think that this admits of an explanation: nine tenths of the
authors in former days lay amongst the class who had received a college
education; and most of these, in their academic life, had benefited
largely by old endowments. Giving up, therefore, a small tribute from
their copyright, there was some color of justice in supposing that they
were making a slight acknowledgment for past benefits received, and
exactly for those benefits which enabled them to appear with any
advantage as authors. So, I am convinced, the "_servitude_" first arose,
and under this construction; which, even for those days, was often a
fiction, but now is generally such. However, be the origin what it may,
the ground upon which the public mind in 1811 (that small part of it, at
least, which the question attracted) reconciled itself to the abuse was
this--for a trivial wrong, they alleged (but it was then shown that the
wrong was not always trivial) one great good is achieved, viz., that all
over the kingdom are dispersed eleven great depositories, in which all
persons interested may, at all times, be sure of finding one copy of
every book published. That _did_ seem a great advantage, and a balance in
point of utility (if none in point of justice) to the wrong upon which it
grew. But now mark the degree in which this balancing advantage is made
available. 1. The eleven bodies are not equally careful to exact their
copies; that can only be done by retaining an agent in London; and this
agent is careless about books of slight money value. 2. Were it
otherwise, of what final avail would a perfect set of the year's
productions prove to a public not admitted freely to the eleven
libraries? 3. But, finally, if they were admitted, to what purpose (as
regards this particular advantage) under the following custom, which, in
some of these eleven libraries, (possibly in all,) _was_, I well knew,
established: annually the principal librarian _weeded_ the annual crop of
all such books as displeased himself; upon which two questions arise: 1.
Upon what principle? 2. With what result? I answer as to the first, that
in this _lustration_ he went upon no principle at all, but his own
caprice, or what he called his own discretion; and accordingly it is a
fact known to many as well as myself, that a book, which some people (and
certainly not the least meditative of this age) have pronounced the most
original work of modern times, was actually amongst the books thus
degraded; it was one of those, as the phrase is, tossed "into the
basket;" and universally this fate is more likely to befall a work of
_original_ merit, which disturbs the previous way of thinking and
feeling, than one of timid compliance with ordinary models. Secondly,
with what result? For the present, the degraded books, having been
consigned to the basket, were forthwith consigned to a damp cellar.
There, at any rate, they were in no condition to be consulted by the
public, being piled up in close bales, and in a place not publicly
accessible. But there can be no doubt that, sooner or later, their
mouldering condition would be made an argument for selling them. And
such, when we trace the operation of this law to its final stage, is the
ultimate result of an infringement upon private rights almost unexampled
in any other part of our civil economy. That sole beneficial result, for
the sake of which some legislators were willing to sanction a wrong
otherwise admitted to be indefensible, is so little protected and secured
to the public, that it is first of all placed at the mercy of an agent in
London, whose negligence or indifference may defeat the provision
altogether, (I know a publisher of a splendid botanical work, who told me
that, by forbearing to attract notice to it within the statutable time,
he saved his eleven copies;) and placed at the mercy of a librarian, who
(or any one of his successors) may, upon a motive of malice to the author
or an impulse of false taste, after all proscribe any part of the books
thus dishonorably acquired.

[7] The words _genius_ and _talent_ are frequently distinguished from
each other by those who evidently misconstrue the true distinction
entirely, and sometimes so grossly as to use them by way of expressions
for a mere difference in _degree_. Thus, "a man of great talent,
absolutely a _genius_" occurs in a very well-written tale at this moment
before me; as if being a man of genius implied only a greater than
ordinary degree of talent.

_Talent_ and _genius_ are in not one point allied to each other, except
generically--that both express modes of intellectual power. But the kinds
of power are not merely different; they are in polar opposition to each
other. _Talent_ is intellectual power of every kind, which acts and
manifests itself by and through the _will_ and the _active_ forces.

_Genius_, as the verbal origin implies, is that much rarer species of
intellectual power which is derived from the _genial_ nature,--from the
spirit of suffering and enjoying,--from the spirit of pleasure and pain,
as organized more or less perfectly; and this is independent of the will.
It is a function of the _passive_ nature. Talent is conversant with the
adaptation of means to ends. But genius is conversant only with ends.
Talent has no sort of connection, not the most remote or shadowy, with
the _moral_ nature or temperament; genius is steeped and saturated with
this moral nature.

This was written twenty years ago. Now, (1853,) when revising it, I am
tempted to add three brief annotations:--

1st. It scandalizes me that, in the occasional comments upon this
distinction which have reached my eye, no attention should have been paid
to the profound suggestions as to the radix of what is meant by _genius_
latent in the word _genial_. For instance, in an extract made by "The
Leader," a distinguished literary journal, from a recent work entitled
"Poetics," by Mr. Dallas, there is not the slightest notice taken of this
subtile indication and leading towards the truth. Yet surely _that_ is
hardly philosophic. For could Mr. Dallas suppose that the idea involved
in the word _genial_ had no connection, or none but an accidental one,
with the idea involved in the word _genius_? It is clear that from the
Roman conception (whencesoever emanating) of the natal genius, as the
secret and central representative of what is most characteristic and
individual in the nature of every human being, are derived alike the
notion of the _genial_ and our modern notion of _genius_ as
contradistinguished from _talent_.

2d. As another broad character of distinction between _genius_ and
_talent_, I would observe, that _genius_ differentiates a man from all
other men; whereas _talent_ is the same in one man as in another; that
is, where it exists at all, it is the mere echo and reflex of the same
talent, as seen in thousands of other men, differing only by more and
less, but not at all in quality. In genius, on the contrary, no two men
were ever duplicates of each other.

3d. All talent, in whatsoever class, reveals itself as an effort--as a
counteraction to an opposing difficulty or hinderance; whereas genius
universally moves in headlong sympathy and concurrence with spontaneous
power. Talent works universally by intense resistance to an antagonist
force; whereas genius works under a rapture of necessity and spontaneity.

[8] This word, I am well aware, grew out of the French word _contre
danse_; indicating the regular contraposition of male and female partners
in the first arrangement of the dancers. The word _country dance_ was
therefore originally a corruption; but, having once arisen and taken root
in the language, it is far better to retain it in its colloquial form;
better, I mean, on the general, principle concerned in such cases. For it
is, in fact, by such corruptions, by offsets upon an old stock, arising
through ignorance or mispronunciation originally, that every language is
frequently enriched; and new modifications of thought, unfolding
themselves in the progress of society, generate for themselves
concurrently appropriate expressions. Many words in the Latin can be
pointed out as having passed through this process. It must not be allowed
to weigh against the validity of a word once fairly naturalized by use,
that originally it crept in upon an abuse or a corruption. _Prescription_
is as strong a ground of legitimation in a case of this nature as it is
in law. And the old axiom is applicable--_Fieri non debuit, factum
valet_. Were it otherwise, languages would be robbed of much of their
wealth. And, universally, the class of _purists,_ in matters of language,
are liable to grievous suspicion, as almost constantly proceeding on
_half_ knowledge and on insufficient principles. For example, if I have
read one, I have read twenty letters, addressed to newspapers, denouncing
the name of a great quarter in London, _Mary-le-bone,_ as ludicrously
ungrammatical. The writers had learned (or were learning) French; and
they had thus become aware, that neither the article nor the adjective
was right. True, not right for the current age, but perfectly right for
the age in which the name arose; but, for want of elder French, they did
not know that in our Chaucer's time both were right. _Le_ was then the
article feminine as well as masculine, and _bone_ was then the true form
for the adjective.

[9] And therefore it was with strict propriety that Boyle, anxious to fix
public attention upon some truths of hydrostatics, published them
avowedly as _paradoxes._ According to the false popular notion of what it
is that constitutes a paradox, Boyle should be taken to mean that these
hydrostatic theorems were fallacies. But far from it. Boyle solicits
attention to these propositions--not as seeming to be true and turning
out false, but, reversely, as wearing an air of falsehood and turning out
true.

[10] This Dr. Wilkins was related to marriage to Cromwell, and is better
known to the world, perhaps, by his Essay on the possibility of a passage
(or, as the famous author of the "Pursuits of Literature" said, by way of
an episcopal metaphor, the possibility of a _translation_) to the moon.

[11] One omission occurs to me on reviewing this account of the Ziph,
which is--that I should have directed the accent to be placed on the
intercalated syllable: thus _ship_ becomes _shigip_, with the emphasis on
_gip_; _run_ becomes _rugún_, &c.

[12] Written twenty years ago.

[13] But see the note on this point at the end of the volume.

[14] Lord Westport's age at that time was the same as my own; that is, we
both wanted a few months of being fifteen. But I had the advantage,
perhaps, in thoughtfulness and observation of life. Being thoroughly
free, however, from opinionativeness, Lord Westport readily came over to
any views of mine for which I could show sufficient grounds. And on this
occasion I found no difficulty in convincing him that honor and fidelity
did not form sufficient guaranties for the custody of secrets. Presence
of mind so as to revive one's obligations in time, tenacity of
recollection, and vigilance over one's own momentary slips of tongue, so
as to keep watch over indirect disclosures, are also requisite. And at
that time I had an instance within my own remembrance where a secret had
been betrayed, by a person of undoubted honor, but most inadvertently
betrayed, and in pure oblivion of his engagement to silence. Indeed,
unless where the secret is of a nature to affect some person's life, I do
not believe that most people would remember beyond a period of two years
the most solemn obligations to secrecy. After a lapse of time, varying of
course with the person, the substance of the secret will remain upon the
mind; but how he came by the secret, or under what circumstances, he will
very probably have forgotten. It is unsafe to rely upon the most
religious or sacramental obligation to secrecy, unless, together with the
secret, you could transfer also a magic ring that should, by a growing
pressure or puncture, _sting_ a man into timely alarm and warning.



CHAPTER VIII.

DUBLIN.


In Sackville Street stood the town house of Lord Altamont; and here,
in the breakfast room, we found the earl seated. Long and intimately
as I had known Lord Westport, it so happened that I had never seen his
father, who had, indeed, of late almost pledged himself to a continued
residence in Ireland by his own patriotic earnestness as an agricultural
improver; whilst for his son, under the difficulties and delays at
that time of all travelling, any residence whatever in England seemed
preferable, but especially a residence with his mother amongst the
relatives of his distinguished English grandfather, and in such close
neighborhood to Eton. Lord Altamont once told me, that the journey
outward and inward between Eton and Westport, taking into account all
the unavoidable deviations from the direct route, in compliance with
the claims of kinship, &c., (a case which in Ireland forced a traveller
often into a perpetual zigzag,) counted up to something more than a
thousand miles. That is, in effect, when valued in loss of time, and
allowance being made for the want of _continuity_ in those parts of
the travelling system that did not accurately dovetail into each other,
not less than one entire fortnight must be annually sunk upon a labor
that yielded no commensurate fruit. Hence the long three-years' interval
which had separated father and son; and hence my own nervous
apprehension, as we were racing through the suburbs of Dublin, that
I should unavoidably lay a freezing restraint upon that reunion to
which, after such a separation, both father and son must have looked
forward with anticipation so anxious. Such cases of unintentional
intrusion are at times inevitable; but, even to the least sensitive,
they are always distressing; most of all they are so to the intruder,
who in fact feels himself in the odd position of a criminal without
a crime. He is in the situation of one who might have happened to be
chased by a Bengal tiger (or, say that the tiger were a sheriff's
officer) into the very centre of the Eleusinian mysteries. Do not tease
me, my reader, by alleging that there were no sheriffs' officers at
Athens or Eleusis. Not many, I admit; but perhaps quite as many as
there were of Bengal tigers. In such a case, under whatever compulsion,
the man has violated a holy seclusion. He has seen that which he ought
_not_ to have seen; and he is viewed with horror by the privileged
spectators. Should he plead that this was his misfortune, and not his
fault, the answer would be, "True; it was your misfortune; we know it;
and it is _our_ misfortune to be under the necessity of hating you for
it." But there was no cause for similar fears at present; so uniformly
considerate in his kindness was Lord Altamont. It is true, that Lord
Westport, as an only child, and a child to be proud of,--for he was
at that time rather handsome, and conciliated general good will by his
engaging manners,--was viewed by his father with an anxiety of love
that sometimes became almost painful to witness. But this natural
self-surrender to a first involuntary emotion Lord Altamont did not
suffer to usurp any such lengthened expression as might too painfully
have reminded me of being "one too many." One solitary half minute
being paid down as a tribute to the sanctities of the case, his next
care was to withdraw me, the stranger, from any oppressive feeling of
strangership. And accordingly, so far from realizing the sense of being
an intruder, in one minute under his courteous welcome I had come to
feel that, as the companion of his one darling upon earth, me also he
comprehended within his paternal regards.

It must have been nine o'clock precisely when we entered the breakfast
room. So much I know by an _a priori_ argument, and could wish,
therefore, that it had been scientifically important to know it--as
important, for instance, as to know the occultation of a star, or the
transit of Venus to a second. For the urn was at that moment placed
on the table; and though Ireland, as a whole, is privileged to be
irregular, yet such was our Sackville Street regularity, that not so
much nine o'clock announced this periodic event, as inversely this
event announced nine o'clock. And I used to affirm, however shocking
it might sound to poor threadbare metaphysicians incapable of
transcendental truths, that not nine o'clock was the cause of revealing
the breakfast urn, but, on the contrary, that the revelation of the
breakfast urn was the true and secret cause of nine o'clock--a
phenomenon which otherwise no candid reader will pretend that he can
satisfactorily account for, often as he has known it to come round.
The urn was already throwing up its column of fuming mist; and the
breakfast table was covered with June flowers sent by a lady on the
chance of Lord Westport's arrival. It was clear, therefore, that we
were expected; but so we had been for three or four days previously;
and it illustrates the enormous uncertainties of travelling at this
closing era of the eighteenth century, that for three or four days
more we should have been expected without the least anxiety in case
any thing had occurred to detain us on the road. In fact, the
possibility of a Holyhead packet being lost had no place in the
catalogue of adverse contingencies--not even when calculated by mothers.
To come by way of Liverpool or Parkgate, was not without grounds of
reasonable fear; I myself had lost acquaintances (schoolboys) on each
of those lines of transit. Neither Bristol nor Milford Haven was
entirely cloudless in reputation. But from Holyhead only one packet
had ever been lost; and that was in the days of Queen Anne, when I
have good reason to think that a villain was on board, who hated the
Duke of Marlborough; so that this one exceptional case, far from being
looked upon as a public calamity, would, of course, be received
thankfully as cleansing the nation from a scamp.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ireland was still smoking with the embers of rebellion; and Lord
Cornwallis, who had been sent expressly to extinguish it, and had won
the reputation of having fulfilled this mission with energy and success,
was then the lord lieutenant; and at that moment he was regarded with
more interest than any other public man. Accordingly I was not sorry
when, two mornings after our arrival, Lord Altamont said to us at
breakfast, "Now, if you wish to see what I call a great man, go with
me this morning, and you shall see Lord Cornwallis; for that man who
has given peace both to the east and to the west--taming a tiger in
the Mysore that hated England as much as Hannibal hated Rome, and in
Ireland pulling up by the roots a French invasion, combined with an
Irish insurrection--will always for me rank as a great man." We
willingly accompanied the earl to the Phoenix Park, where the lord
lieutenant was then residing, and were privately presented to him. I
had seen an engraving (celebrated, I believe, in its day) of Lord
Cornwallis receiving the young Mysore princes as hostages at
Seringapatam; and I knew the outline of his public services. This gave
me an additional interest in seeing him; but I was disappointed to
find no traces in his manner of the energy and activity I presumed him
to possess; he seemed, on the contrary, slow or even heavy, but
benevolent and considerate in a degree which won the confidence at
once. Him we saw often; for Lord Altamont took us with him wherever
and whenever we wished; and me in particular (to whom the Irish leaders
of society were as yet entirely unknown by sight) it gratified highly
to see persons of historical names--names, I mean, historically
connected with the great events of Elizabeth's or Cromwell's
era--attending at the Phoenix Park. But the persons whom I remember
most distinctly of all whom I was then in the habit of seeing, were
Lord Clare, the chancellor, the late Lord Londonderry, (then
Castlereagh,) at that time the Irish chancellor of the exchequer, and
the speaker of the House of Commons, (Mr. Foster, since, I believe,
created Lord Oriel.) With the speaker, indeed, Lord Altamont had more
intimate grounds of connection than with any other public man; both
being devoted to the encouragement and personal superintendence of
great agricultural improvements. Both were bent on introducing through
models diffused extensively on their own estates, English husbandry,
English improved breeds of cattle, and, where _that_ was possible,
English capital and skill, into the rural economy of Ireland.

Amongst the splendid spectacles which I witnessed, as the _most_ splendid
I may mention an installation of the Knights of St. Patrick. There were
six knights installed on this occasion, one of the six being Lord
Altamont. He had no doubt received his ribbon as a reward for his
parliamentary votes, and especially in the matter of the union; yet, from
all his conversation upon that question, and from the general
conscientiousness of his private life, I am convinced that he acted all
along upon patriotic motives, and in obedience to his real views (whether
right or wrong) of the Irish interests. One chief reason, indeed, which
detained us in Dublin, was the necessity of staying for this particular
installation. At one time, Lord Altamont had designed to take his son and
myself for the two esquires who attend the new-made knight, according to
the ritual of this ceremony; but that plan was laid aside, on learning
that the other five knights were to be attended by adults; and thus, from
being partakers as actors, my friend and I became simple spectators of
this splendid scene, which took place in the Cathedral of St. Patrick. So
easily does mere external pomp slip out of the memory, as to all its
circumstantial items, leaving behind nothing beyond the general
impression, that at this moment I remember no one incident of the whole
ceremonial, except that some foolish person laughed aloud as the knights
went up with their offerings to the altar; the object of this unfeeling
laughter being apparently Lord Altamont, who happened to be lame--a
singular instance of levity to exhibit within the walls of such a
building, and at the most solemn part of such a ceremony, which to my
mind had a three-fold grandeur: 1st, as _symbolic_ and shadowy; 2d, as
representing the interlacings of chivalry with religion in the highest
aspirations of both; 3d, as _national_; placing the heraldries and
military pomps of a people, so memorably faithful to St. Peter's chair,
at the foot of the altar. Lord Westport and I sat with Lord and Lady
Castlereagh. They were both young at this time, and both wore an
impressive appearance of youthful happiness; neither, happily for their
peace of mind, able to pierce that cloud of years,  not much more than
twenty, which divided them from the day destined in one hour to wreck the
happiness of both. We had met both on other occasions; and their
conversation, through the course of that day's pomps, was the most
interesting circumstance to me, and the one which I remember with most
distinctness of all that belonged to the installation. By the way, one
morning, on occasion of some conversation arising about Irish bulls, I
made an agreement with Lord Altamont to note down in a memorandum book
every thing throughout my stay in Ireland, which, to my feeling as an
Englishman, should seem to be, or should approach to, a bull. And this
day, at dinner, I reported from Lady Castlereagh's conversation what
struck me as such. Lord Altamont laughed, and said, "My dear child, I am
sorry that it should so happen, for it is bad to stumble at the
beginning; your bull is certainly a bull; [1] but as certainly Lady
Castlereagh is your countrywoman, and not an Irishwoman at all." Lady
Castlereagh, it seems, was a daughter of Lord Buckinghamshire; and her
maiden name was Lady Emily Hobart.

One other public scene there was, about this time, in Dublin, to the
eye less captivating, but far more so in a moral sense; more
significant practically, more burdened with hope and with fear. This
was the final ratification of the bill which united Ireland to Great
Britain. I do not know that any one public act, or celebration, or
solemnity, in my time, did, or could, so much engage my profoundest
sympathies. Wordsworth's fine sonnet on the extinction of the Venetian
republic had not then been published, else the last two lines would
have expressed my feelings. After admitting that changes had taken
place in Venice, which in a manner challenged and presumed this last
and mortal change, the poet goes on to say, that all this long
preparation for the event could not break the shock of it. Venice, it
is true, had become a shade; but, after all,--

  "Men are we, and must grieve when even the shade
  Of that which once was great has passed away."

But here the previous circumstances were far different from those of
Venice. _There_ we saw a superannuated and paralytic state, sinking
at any rate into the grave, and yielding, to the touch of military
violence, that only which a brief lapse of years must otherwise have
yielded to internal decay. _Here_, on the contrary, we saw a young
eagle, rising into power, and robbed prematurely of her natural honors,
only because she did not comprehend their value, or because at this
great crisis she had no champion. Ireland, in a political sense, was
surely then in her youth, considering the prodigious developments she
has since experienced in population and in resources of all kinds.

This great day of UNION had been long looked forward to by me; with some
mixed feelings also by my young friend, for he had an Irish heart, and
was jealous of whatever appeared to touch the banner of Ireland. But it
was not for him to say any thing which should seem to impeach his
father's patriotism in voting for the union, and promoting it through his
borough influence. Yet oftentimes it seemed to me, when I introduced the
subject, and sought to learn from Lord Altamont the main grounds which
had reconciled him and other men, anxious for the welfare of Ireland, to
a measure which at least robbed her of some splendor, and, above all,
robbed her of a name and place amongst the independent states of Europe,
that neither father nor son was likely to be displeased, should some
great popular violence put force upon the recorded will of Parliament,
and compel the two Houses to perpetuate themselves. Dolorous they must of
course have looked, in mere consistency; but I fancied that internally
they would have laughed. Lord Altamont, I am certain, believed (as
multitudes believed) that Ireland would be bettered by the commercial
advantages conceded to her as an integral province of the empire, and
would have benefits which, as an independent kingdom, she had not. It is
notorious that this expectation was partially realized. But let us ask,
Could not a large part of these benefits have been secured to Ireland
remaining as she was? Were they, in any sense, dependent on the sacrifice
of her separate parliament? For my part, I believe that Mr. Pitt's motive
for insisting on a legislative union was, in a small proportion, perhaps,
the somewhat elevated desire to connect his own name with the historical
changes of the empire; to have it stamped, not on events so fugitive as
those of war and peace, liable to oblivion or eclipse, but on the
permanent relations of its integral parts. In a still larger proportion I
believe his motive to have been one of pure convenience, the wish to
exonerate himself from the intolerable vexation of a double parliament.
In a government such as ours, so care-laden at any rate, it is certainly
most harassing to have the task of soliciting a measure by management and
influence twice over--two trials to organize, two storms of anxiety to
face, and two refractory gangs to discipline, instead of one. It must
also be conceded that no treasury influence could _always_ avail to
prevent injurious collisions between acts of the Irish and the British
Parliaments. In Dublin, as in London, the government must lay its account
with being occasionally outvoted; this would be likely to happen
peculiarly upon Irish questions. And acts of favor or protection would at
times pass on behalf of Irish interests, not only clashing with more
general ones of the central government, but indirectly also (through the
virtual consolidation of the two islands since the era of steam) opening
endless means for evading British acts, even within their own separate
sphere of operation. On these considerations, even an Irishman must grant
that public convenience called for the absorption of all local or
provincial supremacies into the central supremacy. And there were two
brief arguments which gave weight to those considerations: First, that
the evils likely to arise (and which in France _have_ arisen) from what
is termed, in modern politics, the principle of _centralization_, have
been for us either evaded or neutralized. The provinces, to the very
farthest nook of these "nook-shotten" islands, react upon London as
powerfully as London acts upon _them_; so that no counterpoise is
required with us, as in France it is, to any inordinate influence at the
centre. Secondly, the very pride and jealousy which could avail to
dictate the retention of an independent parliament would effectually
preclude any modern "Poyning's Act," having for its object to prevent the
collision of the local with the central government. Each would be supreme
within its own sphere, and those spheres could not but clash. The
separate Irish Parliament was originally no badge of honor or
independence: it began in motives of convenience, or perhaps necessity,
at a period when the communication was difficult, slow, and interrupted.
Any parliament, which arose on that footing, it was possible to guard by
a Poyning's Act, making, in effect, all laws null which should happen to
contradict the supreme or central will. But what law, in a corresponding
temper, could avail to limit the jurisdiction of a parliament which
confessedly had been retained on a principle of national honor? Upon
every consideration, therefore, of convenience, and were it only for the
necessities of public business, the absorption of the local into the
central parliament had now come to speak a language that perhaps could no
longer be evaded; and _that_ Irishman only could consistently oppose the
measure who should take his stand upon principles transcending
convenience; looking, in fact, singly to the honor and dignity of a
country which it was annually becoming less absurd to suppose capable of
an independent existence.

Meantime, in those days, Ireland had no adequate champion; the Hoods
and the Grattans were not up to the mark. Refractory as they were,
they moved within the paling of order and decorum; they were not the
Titans for a war against the heavens. When the public feeling beckoned
and loudly supported them, they could follow a lead which they appeared
to head; but they could not create such a body of public feeling, nor,
when created, could they throw it into a suitable organization. What
they could do, was simply as ministerial agents and rhetoricians to
prosecute any general movement, when the national arm had cloven a
channel and opened the road before them. Consequently, that great
opening for a turbulent son of thunder passed unimproved; and the great
day drew near without symptoms of tempest. At last it arrived; and I
remember nothing which indicated as much ill temper in the public mind
as I have seen on many hundreds of occasions, trivial by comparison,
in London. Lord Westport and I were determined to lose no part of the
scene, and we went down with Lord Altamont to the house. It was about
the middle of the day, and a great mob filled the whole space about
the two houses. As Lord Altamont's coach drew up to the steps of that
splendid edifice, we heard a prodigious hissing and hooting; and I was
really agitated to think that Lord Altamont, whom I loved and respected,
would probably have to make his way through a tempest of public wrath--a
situation more terrific to him than to others, from his embarrassed
walking. I found, however, that I might have spared my anxiety; the
subject of commotion was, simply, that Major Sirr, or Major Swan, I
forget which, (both being celebrated in those days for their energy,
as leaders of the police,) had detected a person in the act of mistaking
some other man's pocket handkerchief for his own--a most natural
mistake, I should fancy, where people stood crowded together so thickly.
No storm of any kind awaited us, and yet at that moment there was no
other arrival to divide the public attention; for, in order that we
might see every thing from first to last, we were amongst the very
earliest parties. Neither did our party escape under any mistake of
the crowd: silence had succeeded to the uproar caused by the tender
meeting between the thief and the major; and a man, who stood in a
conspicuous situation, proclaimed aloud to those below him, the name
or title of members as they drove up. "That," said he, "is the Earl
of Altamont; the lame gentleman, I mean." Perhaps, however, his
knowledge did not extend so far as to the politics of a nobleman who
had taken no violent or factious part in public affairs. At. least,
the dreaded insults did not follow, or only in the very feeblest
manifestations. We entered; and, by way of seeing every thing, we went
even to the robing room. The man who presented his robes to Lord
Altamont seemed to me, of all whom I saw on that day, the one who
wore the face of deepest depression. But whether this indicated the
loss of a lucrative situation, or was really disinterested sorrow,
growing out of a patriotic trouble, at the knowledge that he was now
officiating for the last time, I could not guess. The House of Lords,
decorated (if I remember) with hangings, representing the battle of
the Boyne, was nearly empty when we entered--an accident which furnished
to Lord Altamont the opportunity required for explaining to us the
whole course and ceremonial of public business on ordinary occasions.

Gradually the house filled; beautiful women sat intermingled amongst
the peers; and, in one party of these, surrounded by a bevy of admirers,
we saw our fair but frail enchantress of the packet. She, on her part,
saw and recognized us by an affable nod; no stain upon her cheek,
indicating that she suspected to what extent she was indebted to our
discretion; for it is a proof of the unaffected sorrow and the solemn
awe which oppressed us both, that we had not mentioned even to Lord
Altamont, nor ever _did_ mention, the scene which chance had revealed
to us. Next came a stir within the house, and an uproar resounding
from without, which announced the arrival of his excellency. Entering
the house, he also, like the other peers, wheeled round to the throne,
and made to that mysterious seat a profound homage. Then commenced the
public business, in which, if I recollect, the chancellor played the
most conspicuous part--that chancellor (Lord Clare) of whom it was
affirmed in those days, by a political opponent, that he might swim
in the innocent blood which he had caused to be shed. But nautical
men, I suspect, would have demurred to that estimate. Then were summoned
to the bar--summoned for the last time--the gentlemen of the House of
Commons; in the van of whom, and drawing all eyes upon himself, stood
Lord Castlereagh. Then came the recitation of many acts passed during
the session, and the sounding ratification, the Jovian

  "Annuit, et nutu totum tremefecit Olympum,"

contained in the _Soit fait comme il est desiré_, or the more peremptory
_Le roi le veut_. At which point in the order of succession came the
royal assent to the union bill, I cannot distinctly recollect. But one
thing I _do_ recollect--that no audible expression, no buzz, nor murmur,
nor _susurrus_ even, testified the feelings which, doubtless, lay
rankling in many bosoms. Setting apart all public or patriotic
considerations, even then I said to myself, as I surveyed the whole
assemblage of ermined peers, "How is it, and by what unaccountable magic,
that William Pitt can have prevailed on all these hereditary legislators
and heads of patrician houses to renounce so easily, with nothing worth
the name of a struggle, and no reward worth the name of an
indemnification, the very brightest jewel in their coronets? This morning
they all rose from their couches peers of Parliament, individual pillars
of the realm, indispensable parties to every law that could pass.
Tomorrow they will be nobody--men of straw--_terrae filii_. What madness
has persuaded them to part with their birthright, and to cashier
themselves and their children forever into mere titular lords? As to the
commoners at the bar, _their_ case was different: they had no life estate
at all events in their honors; and they might have the same chance for
entering the imperial Parliament amongst the hundred Irish members as for
reentering a native parliament. Neither, again, amongst the peers was the
case always equal. Several of the higher had English titles, which would,
at any rate, open the central Parliament to their ambition. That
privilege, in particular, attached to Lord Altamont. [2] And he, in any
case, from his large property, was tolerably sure of finding his way
thither (as in fact for the rest of his life he _did_) amongst the
twenty-eight representative peers. The wonder was in the case of petty
and obscure lords, who had no weight personally, and none in right of
their estates. Of these men, as they were notoriously not enriched by Mr.
Pitt, as the distribution of honors was not very large, and as no honor
could countervail the one they lost, I could not, and cannot, fathom the
policy. Thus much I am sure of--that, had such a measure been proposed by
a political speculator previously to Queen Anne's reign, he would have
been scouted as a dreamer and a visionary, who calculated upon men being
generally somewhat worse than Esau, viz., giving up their birthrights,
and _without_ the mess of pottage." However, on this memorable day, thus
it was the union was ratified; the bill received the royal assent without
a muttering, or a whispering, or the protesting echo of a sigh. Perhaps
there might be a little pause--a silence like that which follows an
earthquake; but there was no plain-spoken Lord Belhaven, as on the
corresponding occasion in Edinburgh, to fill up the silence with "So,
there's an end of an auld sang!" All was, or looked courtly, and free
from vulgar emotion. One person only I remarked whose features were
suddenly illuminated by a smile, a sarcastic smile, as I read it; which,
however, might be all a fancy. It was Lord Castlereagh, who, at the
moment when the irrevocable words were pronounced, looked with a
penetrating glance amongst a party of ladies. His own wife was one of
that party; but I did not discover the particular object on whom his
smile had settled. After this I had no leisure to be interested in any
thing which followed. "You are all," thought I to myself, "a pack of
vagabonds henceforward, and interlopers, with actually no more right to
be here than myself. I am an intruder; so are you." Apparently they
thought so themselves; for, soon after this solemn _fiat_ of Jove had
gone forth, their lordships, having no further title to their robes, (for
which I could not help wishing that a party of Jewish old clothes men
would at this moment have appeared, and made a loud bidding,) made what
haste they could to lay them aside forever. The house dispersed much more
rapidly than it had assembled. Major Sirr was found outside, just where
we left him, laying down the law (as before) about pocket handkerchiefs
to old and young practitioners; and all parties adjourned to find what
consolation they might in the great evening event of dinner.

Thus we were set at liberty from Dublin. Parliaments, and installations,
and masked balls, with all other secondary splendors in celebration
of primary splendors, reflex glories that reverberated original glories,
at length had ceased to shine upon the Irish metropolis. The "season,"
as it is called in great cities, was over; unfortunately the last
season that was ever destined to illuminate the society or to stimulate
the domestic trade of Dublin. It began to be thought scandalous to be
found in town; _nobody_, in fact, remained, except some two hundred
thousand people, who never did, nor ever would, wear ermine; and in
all Ireland there remained nothing at all to attract, except that which
no king, and no two houses, can by any conspiracy abolish, viz., the
beauty of her most verdant scenery. I speak of that part which chiefly
it is that I know,--the scenery of the west,--Connaught beyond other
provinces, and in Connaught, Mayo beyond other counties. There it was,
and in the county next adjoining, that Lord Altamont's large estates
were situated, the family mansion and beautiful park being in Mayo.
Thither, as nothing else now remained to divert us from what, in fact,
we had thirsted for throughout the heats of summer, and throughout the
magnificences of the capital, at length we set off by movements as
slow and circuitous as those of any royal _progress_ in the reign of
Elizabeth. Making but short journeys on each day, and resting always
at the house of some private friend, I thus obtained an opportunity
of seeing the old Irish nobility and gentry more extensively, and on
a more intimate footing, than I had hoped for. No experience of this
kind, throughout my whole life, so much interested me. In a little
work, not much known, of Suetonius, the most interesting record which
survives of the early Roman literature, it comes out incidentally that
many books, many idioms, and verbal peculiarities belonging to the
primitive ages of Roman culture were to be found still lingering in
the old Roman settlements, both Gaulish and Spanish, long after they
had become obsolete (and sometimes unintelligible) in Rome. From the
tardiness and the difficulty of communication, the want of newspapers,
&c., it followed, naturally enough, that the distant provincial towns,
though not without their own separate literature and their own literary
professors, were always two or three generations in the rear of the
metropolis; and thus it happened, that, about the time of Augustus,
there were some grammatici in Rome, answering to our black-letter
critics, who sought the material of their researches in Boulogne,
(_Gessoriacum,_) in Arles, (_Arelata_,) or in Marseilles, (_Massilia_.)
Now, the old Irish nobility--that part, I mean, which might be called
the rural nobility--stood in the same relation to English manners and
customs. Here might be found old rambling houses in the style of antique
English manorial chateaus, ill planned, perhaps, as regarded
convenience and economy, with long rambling galleries, and windows
innumerable, that evidently had never looked for that severe audit to
which they were afterwards summoned by William Pitt; but displaying,
in the dwelling rooms, a comfort and "cosiness," combined with
magnificence, not always so effectually attained in modern times. Here
were old libraries, old butlers, and old customs, that seemed all alike
to belong to the era of Cromwell, or even an earlier era than his;
whilst the ancient names, to one who had some acquaintance with the
great events of Irish history, often strengthened the illusion. Not
that I could pretend to be familiar with Irish history _as_ Irish; but
as a conspicuous chapter in the difficult policy of Queen Elizabeth,
of Charles I., and of Cromwell, nobody who had read the English history
could be a stranger to the O'Neils, the O'Donnells, the Ormonds, (_i.
e._, the Butlers,) the Inchiquins, or the De Burghs, and many scores
beside. I soon found, in fact, that the aristocracy of Ireland might
be divided into two great sections: the native Irish--territorial
fixtures, so powerfully described by Maturin; and those, on the other
hand, who spent so much of their time and revenues at Bath, Cheltenham,
Weymouth, London, &c., as to have become almost entirely English. It
was the former whom we chiefly visited; and I remarked that, in the
midst of hospitality the most unbounded, and the amplest comfort, some
of these were conspicuously in the rear of the English commercial
gentry, as to modern refinements of luxury. There was at the same time
an apparent strength of character, as if formed amidst turbulent scenes,
and a raciness of manner, which were fitted to interest a stranger
profoundly, and to impress themselves on his recollection.


FOOTNOTES

[1] The idea of a _bull_ is even yet undefined; which is most
extraordinary, considering that Miss Edgeworth has applied all her tact
and illustrative power to furnish the _matter_ for such a definition, and
Coleridge all his philosophic subtlety (but in this instance, I think,
with a most infelicitous result) to furnish its _form_. But both have
been too fastidious in their admission of bulls. Thus, for example, Miss
Edgeworth rejects, as no true bull, the common Joe Miller story, that,
upon two Irishmen reaching Barnet, and being told that it was still
twelve miles to London, one of them remarked, "Ah! just six miles apace."
This, says Miss E., is no bull, but a sentimental remark on the maxim,
that friendship divides our pains. Nothing of the kind: Miss Edgeworth
cannot have understood it. The bull is a true representative and
exemplary specimen of the _genus_.

[2] According to my remembrance, he was Baron Monteagle in the English
peerage.



CHAPTER IX.

FIRST REBELLION.


In our road to Mayo, we were often upon ground rendered memorable,
not only by historical events, but more recently by the disastrous
scenes of the rebellion, by its horrors or its calamities. On reaching
Westport House, we found ourselves in situations and a neighborhood
which had become the very centre of the final military operations,
those which succeeded to the main rebellion; and which, to the people
of England, and still more to the people of the continent, had offered
a character of interest wanting to the inartificial movements of Father
Roche and Bagenal Harvey.

In the year 1798, there were two great popular insurrections in Ireland.
It is usual to talk of the Irish rebellion, as though there had been
one rebellion and no more; but it must satisfy the reader of the
inaccuracy pervading the common reports of this period, when he hears
that there were two separate rebellions, separate in time, separate
in space, separate by the character of their events, and separate even
as regarded their proximate causes. The first of these arose in the
vernal part of summer, and wasted its fury upon the county of Wexford,
in the _centre_ of the kingdom. The second arose in the autumn, and
was confined entirely to the _western_ province of Connaught. Each,
resting (it is true) upon causes ultimately the same, had yet its own
separate occasions and excitements; for the first arose upon a premature
explosion from a secret society of most subtle organization; and the
second upon the encouragement of a French invasion. And each of these
insurrections had its own separate leaders and its own local agents.
The first, though precipitated into action by fortunate discoveries
on the part of the government, had been anxiously preconcerted for
three years. The second was an unpremeditated effort, called forth by
a most ill-timed, and also ill-concerted, foreign invasion. The general
predisposing causes to rebellion were doubtless the same in both cases;
but the exciting causes of the moment were different in each. And,
finally, they were divided by a complete interval of two months.

One very remarkable feature there was, however, in which these two
separate rebellions of 1798 coincided; and _that_ was, the narrow
range, as to time, within which each ran its course. Neither of them
outran the limits of one _lunar_ month. It is a fact, however startling,
that each, though a perfect civil war in all its proportions, frequent
in warlike incident, and the former rich in tragedy, passed through
all the stages of growth, maturity, and final extinction within one
single revolution of the moon. For all the rebel movements, subsequent
to the morning of Vinegar Hill, are to be viewed not at all in the
light of manoeuvres made in the spirit of military hope, but in the
light of final struggles for self-preservation made in the spirit of
absolute despair, as regarded the original purposes of the war, or,
indeed, as regarded any purposes whatever beyond that of instant safety.
The solitary object contemplated was, to reach some district lonely
enough, and with elbow room enough, for quiet, unmolested dispersion.

A few pages will recapitulate these two civil wars. I begin with the
first. The war of American separation touched and quickened the dry
bones that lay waiting as it were for life through the west of
Christendom. The year 1782 brought that war to its winding up; and the
same year it was that called forth Grattan and the Irish volunteers.
These _volunteers_ came forward as allies of England against French
and Spanish invasion; but once embattled, what should hinder them from
detecting a flaw in their commission, and reading it as valid against
England herself? In that sense they _did_ read it. That Ireland had
seen her own case dimly reflected in that of America, and that such
a reference was stirring through the national mind, appears from a
remarkable fact in the history of the year which followed. In 1783,
a haughty petition was addressed to the throne, on behalf of the Roman
Catholics, by an association that arrogated to itself the style and
title of a _congress_. No man could suppose that a designation so
ominously significant had been chosen by accident; and by the English
government it was received, as it was meant, for an insult and a menace.
What came next? The French revolution. All flesh moved under that
inspiration. Fast and rank now began to germinate the seed sown for
the ten years preceding in Ireland; too fast and too rankly for the
policy that suited her situation. Concealment or delay, compromise or
temporizing, would not have been brooked, at this moment, by the fiery
temperament of Ireland, had it not been through the extraordinary
composition of that secret society into which the management of her
affairs now began to devolve. In the year 1792, as we are told,
commenced, and in 1795 was finished, the famous association of _United
Irishmen_. By these terms, _commenced_ and _finished_, we are to
understand, not the purposes or the arrangements of their conspiracy
against the existing government, but that network of organization,
delicate as lace for ladies, and strong as the harness of artillery
horses, which now enmeshed almost every province of Ireland, knitting
the strength of her peasantry into unity and disposable divisions.
This, it seems, was completed in 1795. In a complete history of these
times, no one chapter would deserve so ample an investigation as this
subtile web of association, rising upon a large base, expanding in
proportion to the extent of the particular county, and by intermediate
links ascending to some unknown apex; all so graduated, and in such
nice interdependency, as to secure the instantaneous propagation upwards
and downwards, laterally or obliquely, of any impulse whatever; and
yet so effectually shrouded, that nobody knew more than the two or
three individual agents in immediate juxtaposition with himself, by
whom he communicated with those above his head or below his feet. This
organization, in fact, of the United Irishmen, combined the best
features, as to skill, of the two most elaborate and most successful
of all secret societies recorded in history; one of which went before
the Irish Society by centuries, and one followed it after an interval
of five-and-twenty years. These two are the _Fehm-Gericht_, or court
of ban and extermination, which, having taken its rise in Westphalia,
is usually called the secret Tribunal of Westphalia, and which reached
its full development in the fourteenth century. The other is the
Hellenistic Hetaeria, (_Aetairia_)--a society which, passing for
one of pure literacy _dilettanti_, under the secret countenance of the
late Capo d'Istria, (then a confidential minister of the czar,) did
actually succeed so far in hoaxing the cabinets of Europe, that one
third of European kings put down their names, and gave their aid, as
conspirators against the Sultan of Turkey, whilst credulously supposing
themselves honorary correspondents of a learned body for reviving the
arts and literature of Athens. These two I call the most successful
of all secret societies, because both were arrayed against the existing
administrations throughout the entire lands upon which they sought to
operate. The German society disowned the legal authorities as too weak
for the ends of justice, and succeeded in bringing the cognizance of
crimes within its own secret yet consecrated usurpation. The Grecian
society made the existing powers the final object of its hostility;
lived unarmed amongst the very oppressors whose throats it had dedicated
to the sabre; and, in a very few years, saw its purpose accomplished.

The society of United Irishmen combined the best parts in the
organization of both these secret fraternities, and obtained _their_
advantages. The society prospered in defiance of the government; nor
would the government, though armed with all the powers of the Dublin
police and of state thunder, have succeeded in mastering this society,
but, on the contrary, the society would assuredly have surprised and
mastered the government, had it not been undermined by the perfidy of
a confidential brother. One instrument for dispersing knowledge,
employed by the United Irishmen, is worth mentioning, as it is
applicable to any cause, and may be used with much greater effect in
an age when every body is taught to read. They printed newspapers on
a single side of the sheet, which were thus fitted for being placarded
against the walls. This expedient had probably been suggested by Paris,
where such newspapers were often placarded, and generally for the
bloodiest purposes. But Louvet, in his "Memoirs," mentions one conducted
by himself on better principles: it was printed at the public expense;
and sometimes more than twenty thousand copies of a single number were
attached to the corners of streets. This was called the "Centinel;"
and those who are acquainted with the "Memoirs of Madame Roland" will
remember that she cites Louvet's paper as a model for all of its class.
The "Union Star" was the paper which the United Irishmen published
upon this plan; previous papers, on the ordinary plan, viz., the
"Northern Star" and the "Press," having been violently put down by the
government. The "Union Star," however, it must be acknowledged, did
not seek much to elevate the people by addressing them through their
understandings; it was merely a violent appeal to their passions, and
directed against all who had incurred the displeasure of the society.
Newspapers, meantime, of every kind, it was easy for the government
to suppress. But the secret society annoyed and crippled the government
in other modes, which it was not easy to parry; and all blows dealt
in return were dealt in the dark, and aimed at a shadow. The society
called upon Irishmen to abstain generally from ardent spirits, as a
means of destroying the excise; and it is certain that the society was
obeyed, in a degree which astonished neutral observers, all over
Ireland. The same society, by a printed proclamation, called upon the
people not to purchase the quitrents of the crown, which were then on
sale; and not to receive bank notes in payment, because (as the
proclamation told them) a "burst" was coming, when such paper, and the
securities for such purchases, would fall to a ruinous discount. In
this ease, after much distress to the public service, government
obtained a partial triumph by the law which cancelled the debt on a
refusal to receive the state paper, and which quartered soldiers upon
all tradesmen who demurred to such a tender. But, upon the whole, it
was becoming pain fully evident, that in Ireland there were two
coordinate governments coming into collision at every step, and that
the one which more generally had the upper hand in the struggle was
the secret society of United Irishmen; whose members individually, and
whose local head quarters, were alike screened from the attacks of its
rival, viz., the state government at the Castle, by a cloud of
impenetrable darkness.

That cloud was at last pierced. A treacherous or weak brother, high
in the ranks of the society, and deep in their confidence, happened,
when travelling up to Dublin in company with a royalist, to speak half
mysteriously, half ostentatiously, upon the delicate position which
he held in the councils of his dangerous party. This weak man, Thomas
Reynolds, a Roman Catholic gentleman, of Kilkea Castle, in Kildare,
colonel of a regiment of United Irish, treasurer for Kildare, and in
other offices of trust for the secret society, was prevailed on by Mr.
William Cope, a rich merchant of Dublin, who alarmed his mind by
pictures of the horrors attending a revolution under the circumstances
of Ireland, to betray all he knew to the government. His treachery was
first meditated in the last week of February, 1798; and, in consequence
of his depositions, on March 12, at the house of Oliver Bond, in Dublin,
the government succeeded in arresting a large body of the leading
conspirators. The whole committee of Leinster, amounting to thirteen
members, was captured on this occasion; but a still more valuable prize
was made in the persons of those who presided over the Irish Directory,
viz., Emmet, M'Niven, Arthur O'Connor, and Oliver Bond. As far as names
went, their places were immediately filled up; and a hand-bill was
issued, on the same day, with the purpose of intercepting the effects of
despondency amongst the great body of the conspirators. But Emmet and
O'Connor were not men to be effectually replaced: government had struck a
fatal blow, without being fully aware at first of their own good luck. On
the 19th of May following, in consequence of a proclamation (May 11)
offering a thousand pounds for his capture, Lord Edward Fitzgerald was
apprehended at the house of Mr. Nicholas Murphy, a merchant in Dublin,
but after a very desperate resistance. The leader of the arresting party,
Major Swan, a Dublin magistrate, distinguished for his energy, was
wounded by Lord Edward; and Ryan, one of the officers, so desperately,
that he died within a fortnight. Lord Edward himself languished for some
time, and died in great agony on the 3d of June, from a pistol shot which
took effect on his shoulder. Lord Edward Fitzgerald might be regarded as
an injured man. From the exuberant generosity of his temper, he had
powerfully sympathized with the French republicans at an early stage of
their revolution; and having, with great indiscretion, but an
indiscretion that admitted of some palliation in so young a man and of so
ardent a temperament, publicly avowed his sympathy, he was ignominiously
dismissed from the army. That act made an enemy of one who, on several
grounds, was not a man to be despised; for, though weak as respected his
powers of self-control, Lord Edward was well qualified to make himself
beloved; he had considerable talents; his very name, as a sone of the
only [1] ducal house in Ireland, was a spell and a rallying word for a
day of battle to the Irish peasantry; and, finally, by his marriage with
a natural daughter of the then Duke of Orleans, he had founded some
important connections and openings to secret influence in France. The
young lady whom he had married was generally known by the name of
_Pamela;_ and it has been usually supposed that she is the person
described by Miss Edgeworth, under the name of Virginia, in the latter
part of her "Belinda." How that may be, I cannot pretend to say: Pamela
was certainly led into some indiscretions; in particular, she was said to
have gone to a ball without shoes or stockings, which seems to argue the
same sort of ignorance, and the same docility to any chance impressions,
which characterize the Virginia of Miss Edgeworth. She was a reputed
daughter (as I have said) of Philippe Egalité; and her putative mother
was Madame de Genlis, who had been settled in that prince's family, as
governess to his children, more especially to the sister of the present
[2] French king. Lord Edward's whole course had been marked by generosity
and noble feeling. Far better to have pardoned [3] such a man, and (if
that were possible) to have conciliated his support; but, says a
contemporary Irishman, "those were not times of conciliation."

Some days after this event were arrested the two brothers named Shearer,
men of talent, who eventually suffered for treason. These discoveries
were due to treachery of a peculiar sort; not to the treachery of an
apostate brother breaking his faith, but of a counterfeit brother
simulating the character of conspirator, and by that fraud obtaining
a key to the fatal secrets of the United Irishmen. His perfidy,
therefore, consisted, not in any betrayal of secrets, but in the fraud
by which he obtained them. Government, without having yet penetrated
to the very heart of the mystery, had now discovered enough to guide
them in their most energetic precautions; and the result was, that the
conspirators, whose policy had hitherto been to wait for the cooperation
of a French army, now suddenly began to distrust that policy: their
fear was, that the ground would be cut from beneath their feet if they
waited any longer. More was evidently risked by delay than by dispensing
altogether with foreign aid. To forego this aid was perilous; to wait
for it was ruin. It was resolved, therefore, to commence the
insurrection on the 23d of May; and, in order to distract the
government, to commence it by simultaneous assaults upon all the
military posts in the neighborhood of Dublin. This plan was discovered,
but scarcely in time to prevent the effects of a surprise. On the 21st,
late in the evening, the conspiracy had been announced by the lord
lieutenant's secretary to the lord mayor; and, on the following day,
by a message from his excellency to both Houses of Parliament.

The insurrection, however, in spite of this official warning, began
at the appointed hour. The skirmishes were many, and in many places;
but, generally speaking, they were not favorable in their results to
the insurgents. The mail coaches, agreeably to the preconcerted plan,
had all been intercepted; their non-arrival being every where understood
by the conspirators as a silent signal that the war had commenced. Yet
this summons to the more distant provinces, though truly interpreted,
had not been truly answered. The communication between the capital and
the interior, almost completely interrupted at first, had been at
length fully restored; and a few days saw the main strength (as it
was supposed) of the insurrection suppressed without much bloodshed.
But hush! what is _that_ in the rear?

Just at this moment, when all the world was disposed to think the whole
affair quietly composed, the flame burst out with tenfold fury in a
part of the country from which government, with some reason, had turned
away their anxieties and their preparations. This was the county of
Wexford, which the Earl of Mountnorris had described to the government
as so entirely well affected to the loyal cause, that he had personally
pledged himself for its good conduct. On the night before Whitsunday,
however, May 27, the standard of revolt was _there_ raised by John
Murphy, a Catholic priest, well know henceforwards under the title of
Father Murphy.

The campaign opened inauspiciously for the royalists. The rebels had
posted themselves on two eminences--Kilthomas, about ten miles to the
westward of Gorey; and the Hill of Oulart, half way (_i.e._, about
a dozen miles) between Gorey and Wexford. They were attacked at each
point on Whitsunday. From the first point they were driven easily, and
with considerable loss; but at Oulart the issue was very different.
Father Murphy commanded here in person; and, finding that his men gave
way in great confusion before a picked body of the North Cork militia,
under the command of Colonel Foote, he contrived to persuade them
that their flight was leading them right upon a body of royal cavalry
posted to intercept their retreat. This fear effectually halted them.
The insurgents, through a prejudice natural to inexperience, had an
unreasonable dread of cavalry. A second time, therefore, facing about
to retreat from this imaginary body of horse, they came of necessity,
and without design, full upon their pursuers, whom unhappily the
intoxication of victory had by this time brought into the most careless
disarray. These, almost to a man, the rebels annihilated: universal
consternation followed amongst the royalists; Father Murphy led them
to Ferns, and thence to the attack of Enniscorthy.

Has the reader witnessed, or has he heard described, the sudden
burst--the explosion, one might say--by which a Swedish winter passes
into spring, and spring simultaneously into summer? The icy sceptre
of winter does not there thaw and melt away by just gradations; it is
broken, it is shattered, in a day, in an hour, and with a violence
brought home to _every_ sense. No second type of resurrection, so
mighty or so affecting, is manifested by nature in southern climates.
Such is the headlong tumult, such "the torrent rapture," by which life
is let loose amongst the air, the earth, and the waters under the
earth. Exactly what this vernal resurrection is in manifestations of
power and life, by comparison with climates that have no winter, such,
and marked with features as distinct, was this Irish insurrection,
when suddenly surrendered to the whole contagion of politico-religious
fanaticism, by comparison with vulgar _martinet_ strategics and the
pedantry of technical warfare. What a picture must Enniscorthy have
presented on the 27th of May! Fugitives, crowding in from Ferns,
announced the rapid advance of the rebels, now, at least, 7000 strong,
drunk with victory, and maddened with vindictive fury. Not long after
midday, their advanced guard, well armed with muskets, (pillaged, be
H observed, from royal magazines hastily deserted,) commenced a
tumultuous assault. Less than 300 militia and yeomanry formed the
garrison of the place, which had no sort of defences except the natural
one of the River Slaney. This, however, was fordable, and _that_ the
assailants knew. The slaughter amongst the rebels, meantime, from the
little caution they exhibited, and their total defect of military
skill, was murderous. Spite of their immense numerical advantages, it
is probable they would have been defeated. But in Enniscorthy, (as
where not?) treason from within was emboldened to raise its crest at
the very crisis of suspense; incendiaries were at work; and flames
began to issue from many houses at once. Retreat itself became suddenly
doubtful, depending, as it did, altogether upon the state of the wind.
At the right hand of every royalist stood a traitor; in his own house
oftentimes lurked other traitors, waiting for the signal to begin; in
the front was the enemy; in the rear was a line of blazing streets.
Three hours the battle had raged; it was now four, P. M., and at this
moment the garrison hastily gave way, and fled to Wexford.

Now came a scene, which swallowed up all distinct or separate features
in its frantic confluence of horrors. All the loyalists of Enniscorthy,
all the gentry for miles around, who had congregated in that town, as
a centre of security, were summoned at that moment, not to an orderly
retreat, but to instant flight. At one end of the street were seen the
rebel pikes, and bayonets, and fierce faces, already gleaming through
the smoke; at the other end, volumes of fire, surging and billowing
from the thatched roofs and blazing rafters, beginning to block up the
avenues of escape. Then began the agony and uttermost conflict of what
is worst and what is best in human nature. Then was to be seen the
very delirium of fear, and the very delirium of vindictive malice;
private and ignoble hatred, of ancient origin, shrouding itself in the
mask of patriotic wrath; the tiger glare of just vengeance, fresh from
intolerable wrongs and the never-to-be-forgotten ignominy of stripes
and personal degradation; panic, self-palsied by its own excess; flight,
eager or stealthy, according to the temper and the means; volleying
pursuit; the very frenzy of agitation, under every mode of excitement;
and here and there, towering aloft, the desperation of maternal love,
victorious and supreme above all lower passions. I recapitulate and
gather under general abstractions many an individual anecdote, reported
by those who were on that day present in Enniscorthy; for at Ferns,
not far off, and deeply interested in all those transactions, I had
private friends, intimate participators in the trials of that fierce
hurricane, and joint sufferers with those who suffered most. Ladies
were then seen in crowds, hurrying on foot to Wexford, the nearest
asylum, though fourteen miles distant, many in slippers, bareheaded,
and without any supporting arm; for the flight of their defenders,
having been determined by a sudden angular movement of the assailants,
coinciding with the failure of their own ammunition, had left no time
for warning; and fortunate it was for the unhappy fugitives, that the
confusion of burning streets, concurring with the seductions of pillage,
drew aside so many of the victors as to break the unity of a pursuit
else hellishly unrelenting.

Wexford, meantime, was in no condition to promise more than a momentary
shelter. Orders had been already issued to extinguish all domestic
fires throughout the town, and to unroof all the thatched houses; so
great was the jealousy of internal treason. From without, also, the
alarm was every hour increasing. On Tuesday, the 29th of May, the rebel
army advanced from Enniscorthy to a post called Three Rocks, not much
above two miles from Wexford. Their strength was now increased to at
least 15,000 men. Never was there a case requiring more energy in the
disposers of the royal forces; never one which met with less, even in
the most responsible quarters. The nearest military station was the
fort at Duncannon, twenty-three miles distant. Thither, on the 29th,
an express had been despatched by the mayor of Wexford, reporting their
situation, and calling immediate aid. General Fawcet replied, that he
would himself march that same evening with the 13th regiment, part of
the Meath militia, and sufficient artillery. Relying upon these
assurances, the small parties of militia and yeomanry then in Wexford
gallantly threw themselves upon the most trying services in advance.
Some companies of the Donegal militia, not mustering above 200 men,
marched immediately to a position between the rebel camp and Wexford;
whilst others of the North Cork militia and the local yeomanry, with
equal cheerfulness, undertook the defence of that town. Meantime,
General Fawcet had consulted his personal comfort by _halting for the
night_, though aware of the dreadful emergency, at a station sixteen
miles short of Wexford. A small detachment, however, with part of his
artillery, he sent forward; these were the next morning intercepted
by the rebels at Three Rocks, and massacred almost to a man. Two
officers, who escaped the slaughter, carried the intelligence to the
advanced post of the Donegals; but they, so far from being disheartened,
marched immediately against the rebel army, enormous as was the
disproportion, with the purpose of recapturing the artillery. A singular
contrast this to the conduct of General Fawcet, who retreated hastily
to Duncannon upon the first intelligence of this disaster. Such a
regressive movement was so little anticipated by the gallant Donegals,
that they continued to advance against the enemy, until the precision
with which the captured artillery was served against themselves, and
the non-appearance of the promised aid, warned them to retire. At
Wexford, they found all in confusion and the hurry of retreat. The
flight, as it may be called, of General Fawcet was now confirmed; and,
as the local position of Wexford made it indefensible against artillery,
the whole body of loyalists, except those whom insufficient warning
had thrown into the rear, now fled from the wrath of the rebels to
Duncannon. It is a shocking illustration (_if truly reported_) of the
thoughtless ferocity which characterized too many of the Orange troops,
that, along the whole line of this retreat, they continued to burn the
cabins of Roman Catholics, and often to massacre, in cold blood, the
unoffending inhabitants; totally forgetful of the many hostages whom
the insurgents now held in their power, and careless of the dreadful
provocations which they were thus throwing out to the bloodiest
reprisals.

Thus it was, and through mismanagement thus mischievously alert, or
through torpor thus unaccountably base, that actually, on the 30th of
May, not having raised their standard before the 26th, the rebels had
already been permitted to possess themselves of the county of Wexford
in its whole southern division--Ross and Duncannon only excepted; of
which the latter was not liable to capture by _coup de main_, and the
other was saved by the procrastination of the rebels. The northern
division of the county was overrun pretty much in the same hasty style,
and through the same desperate neglect in previous concert of plans.
Upon first turning their views to the north, the rebels had taken up
a position on the Hill of Corrigrua, as a station from which they could
march with advantage upon the town of Gorey, lying seven miles to the
northward. On the 1st of June, a truly brilliant affair had taken place
between a mere handful of militia and yeomanry from this town of Gorey
and a strong detachment from the rebel camp. Many persons at the time
regarded this as the best fought action in the whole war. The two
parties had met about two miles from Gorey; and it is pretty certain
that, if the yeoman cavalry could have been prevailed on to charge at
the critical moment, the defeat would have been a most murderous one
to the rebels. As it was, they escaped, though with considerable loss
of honor. Yet even this they were allowed to retrieve within a few
days, in a remarkable way, and with circumstances of still greater
scandal to the military discretion in high quarters than had attended
the movements of General Fawcet in the south.

On the 4th of June, a little army of 1500 men, under the command of
Major General Loftus, had assembled at Gorey. The plan was, to march
by two different roads upon the rebel encampment at Corrigrua; and
this plan was adopted. Meantime, on that same night, the rebel army
had put themselves in motion for Gorey; and of this counter movement
full and timely information had been given by a farmer at the royal
headquarters; but such was the obstinate infatuation, that no officer
of rank would condescent to give him a hearing. The consequences may
be imagined. Colonel Walpole, an Englishman, full of courage, but
presumptuously disdainful of the enemy, led a division upon one of the
two roads, having no scouts, nor taking any sort of precaution. Suddenly
he found his line of march crossed by the enemy in great strength: he
refused to halt or to retire; was shot through the head; and a great
part of the advanced detachment was slaughtered on the spot, and his
artillery captured. General Loftus, advancing on the parallel road,
heard the firing, and detached the grenadier company of the Antrim
militia to the aid of Walpole. These, to the amount of seventy men,
were cut off almost to a man; and when the general, who could not
cross over to the other road, through the enclosures, from the
encumbrance of his artillery, had at length reached the scene of action
by a long circuit, he found himself in the following truly ludicrous
position: The rebels had pursued Colonel Walpole's division to Gorey,
and possessed themselves of that place; the general had thus lost his
head quarters, without having seen the army whom he had suffered to
slip past him in the dark. He marched back disconsolately to Gorey,
took a look at the rebel posts which now occupied the town in strength,
was saluted with a few rounds from his own cannon, and finally retreated
out of the county.

This movement of General Loftus, and the previous one of General Fawcet,
circumstantially illustrate the puerile imbecility with which the royal
cause was then conducted. Both movements foundered in an hour, through
surprises, against which each had been amply forewarned. Fortunately
for the government, the affairs of the rebels were managed even worse.
Two sole enterprises were undertaken by them after this, previously
to the closing battle of Vinegar Hill; both being of the very utmost
importance to their interests, and both sure of success if they had
been pushed forward in time. The first was the attack upon Ross,
undertaken on the 29th of May, the day after the capture of Enniscorthy.
Had that attack been pressed forward without delay, there never were
two opinions as to the certainty of its success; and, _having_
succeeded, it would have laid open to the rebels the important counties
of Waterford and Kilkenny. Being delayed until the 5th of June, the
assault was repulsed with prodigious slaughter, The other was the
attack upon Arklow, in the north. On the capture of Gorey, on the night
of June 4, as the immediate consequence of Colonel Walpole's defeat,
had the rebels advanced upon Arklow, they would have found it for
some days totally undefended; the whole garrison having retreated in
panic, early on June 5, to Wicklow. The capture of this important place
would have laid open the whole road to the capital; would probably
have caused a rising in that great city; and, in any event, would have
indefinitely prolonged the war, and multiplied the distractions of
government. Merely from sloth and the spirit of procrastination,
however, the rebel army halted at Gorey until the 9th, and then advanced
with what seemed the overpowering force of 27,000 men. It is a striking
lesson upon the subject of procrastination, that, precisely on that
morning of June 9, the attempt had first become hopeless. Until then,
the place had been positively emptied of all inhabitants whatsoever.
Exactly on the 9th, the old garrison had been ordered back from Wicklow,
and reënforced by a crack English regiment, (the Durham Fencibles,)
on whom chiefly at this critical hour had devolved the defence, which
was peculiarly trying, from the vast numbers of the assailants, but
brilliant, masterly, and perfectly successful.

This obstinate and fiercely-contested battle of Arklow was indeed, by
general consent, the hinge on which the rebellion turned. Nearly 30,000
men, armed every man of them with pikes, and 5000 with muskets,
supported also by some artillery, sufficiently well served to do
considerable execution at a most important point in the line of defence,
could not be defeated without a very trying struggle. And here, again,
it is worthy of record, that General Needham, who commanded on this
day, would have followed the example of Generals Fawcet and Loftus,
and have ordered a retreat, had he not been determinately opposed by
Colonel Skerret, of the Durham regiment. Such was the imbecility, and
the want of moral courage, on the part of the military leaders; for
it would be unjust to impute any defect in animal courage to the
feeblest of these leaders. General Needham, for example, exposed his
person, without reserve, throughout the whole of this difficult day.
Any amount of cannon shot he could face cheerfully, but not a trying
responsibility.

From the defeat of Arklow, the rebels gradually retired, between the 9th
and the 20th of June, to their main military position of Vinegar Hill,
which lies immediately above the town of Enniscorthy, and had fallen into
their hands, concurrently with that place, on the 28th of May. Here their
whole forces, with the exception of perhaps 6000, who attacked General
Moore (ten and a half years later, the Moore of Corunna) when marching on
the 26th towards Wexford, had been concentrated; and to this point,
therefore, as a focus, had the royal army, 13,000 strong, with a
respectable artillery, under the supreme command of General Lake,
converged in four separate divisions, about the 19th and 20th of June.
The great blow was to be struck on the 21st; and the plan was, that the
royal forces, moving to the assault of the rebel position upon four lines
at right angles to each other, (as if, for instance, from the four
cardinal points to the same centre,) should surround their encampment,
and shut up every avenue to escape. On this plan, the field of battle
would have been one vast slaughter house; for quarter was not granted on
either side. [4] But the quadrille, if it were ever seriously concerted,
was entirely defeated by the failure of General Needham, who did not
present himself with _his_ division until nine o'clock, a full half hour
after the battle was over, and thus earned the, _sobriquet of the late_
[5] _General Needham._ Whether the failure were really in this officer,
or (as was alleged by his apologists) had been already preconcerted in
the inconsistent orders issued to him by General Lake, with the covert
intention, as many believe, of mercifully counteracting his own scheme of
wholesale butchery, to this day remains obscure. The effect of that
delay, in whatever way caused, was for once such as must win every body's
applause. The action had commenced at seven o'clock in the morning; by
half past eight, the whole rebel army was in flight; and, naturally
making for the only point left unguarded, it escaped with no great
slaughter (but leaving behind all its artillery, and a good deal of
valuable plunder) through what was facetiously called ever afterwards
_Needham's Gap_. After this capital rout of Vinegar Hill, the rebel army
day by day mouldered away. A large body, however, of the fiercest and
most desperate continued for some time to make flying marches in all
directions, according to the positions of the king's forces and the
momentary favor of accidents. Once or twice they were brought to action
by Sir James Duff and Sir Charles Asgill; and, ludicrously enough, once
more they were suffered to escape by the eternal delays of the "late
Needham." At length, however, after many skirmishes, and all varieties of
local success, they finally dispersed upon a bog in the county of Dublin.
Many desperadoes, however, took up their quarters for a long time in the
dwarf woods of Killaughrim, near Enniscorthy, assuming the trade of
marauders, but ludicrously designating themselves the Babes in the Wood.
It is an inexplicable fact, that many deserters from the militia
regiments, who had behaved well throughout the campaign, and adhered
faithfully to their colors, now resorted to this confederation of the
woods; from which it cost some trouble to dislodge them. Another party,
in the woods and mountains of Wicklow, were found still more formidable,
and continued to infest the adjacent country through the ensuing winter.
These were not finally ejected from their lairs until after one of their
chiefs had been killed in a night skirmish by a young man defending his
house, and the other chief, weary of his savage life, had surrendered
himself to transportation.

It diffused general satisfaction throughout Ireland, that, on the very
day before the final engagement of Vinegar Hill, Lord Cornwallis made
his entry into Dublin as the new lord lieutenant. A proclamation,
issued early in July, of general amnesty to all who had shed no blood
except on the field of battle, notified to the country the new spirit
of policy which now distinguished the government; and, doubtless, that
one merciful change worked marvels in healing the agitations of the
land. Still it was thought necessary that severe justice should take
its course amongst the most conspicuous leaders or agents in the
insurrection. Martial law still prevailed; and under that law we know,
through a speech of the Duke of Wellington's, how entirely the very
elements of justice are dependent upon individual folly or caprice.
Many of those who had shown the greatest generosity, and with no slight
risk to themselves, were now selected to suffer. Bagenal Harvey, a
Protestant gentleman, who had held the supreme command of the rebel
army for some time with infinite vexation to himself, and taxed with
no one instance of cruelty or excess, was one of those doomed to
execution. He had possessed an estate of nearly three thousand per
annum; and at the same time with him was executed another gentleman,
of more than three times that estate, Cornelius Grogan. Singular it
was, that men of this condition and property, men of feeling and
refinement, should have staked the happiness of their families upon
a contest so forlorn. Some there were, however, and possibly these
gentlemen, who could have explained their motives intelligibly enough:
they had been forced by persecution, and actually baited into the ranks
of the rebels. One picturesque difference in the deaths of these two
gentlemen was remarkable, as contrasted with their previous habits.
Grogan was constitutionally timid; and yet he faced the scaffold and
the trying preparations of the executioner with fortitude. On the other
hand, Bagenal Harvey, who had fought several duels with coolness,
exhibited considerable trepidation in his last moments. Perhaps, in
both, the difference might be due entirely to some physical accident
of health or momentary nervous derangement. [6]

Among the crowd, however, of persons who suffered death at this
disastrous era, there were two that merit a special commemoration for
their virtuous resistance, in disregard of all personal risk, to a
horrid fanaticism of cruelty. One was a butcher, the other a seafaring
man--both rebels. But they must have been truly generous, brave, and
noble-minded men. During the occupation of Wexford by the rebel army,
they were repeatedly the sole opponents, at great personal risk, to
the general massacre then meditated by some few Popish bigots. And,
finally, when all resistance seemed likely to be unavailing, they both
demanded resolutely from the chief patron of this atrocious policy
that he should fight themselves, armed in whatever way he might prefer,
and, as they expressed it, "prove himself a man," before he should be
at liberty to sport in this wholesale way with innocent blood.

One painful fact I will state in taking leave of this subject; and
_that_, I believe, will be quite sufficient to sustain any thing I have
said in disparagement of the government; by which, however, I mean, in
justice, the local administration of Ireland. For, as to the supreme
government in England, that body must be supposed, at the utmost, to have
passively acquiesced in the recommendations of the Irish cabinet, even
when it interfered so far. In particular, the scourgings and
flagellations resorted to in Wexford and Kildare, &c., must have been
originally suggested by minds familiar with the habits of the Irish
aristocracy in the treatment of dependants. Candid Irishmen will admit
that the habit of kicking, or threatening to kick, waiters in coffee
houses or other menial dependants,--a habit which, in England, would be
met instantly by defiance and menaces of action for assault and battery,
--is not yet altogether obsolete in Ireland. [7] Thirty years ago it was
still more prevalent, and presupposed that spirit and temper in the
treatment of menial dependants, out of which, doubtless, arose the
practice of judicial (_i.e._, tentative) flagellations. Meantime, that
fact with which I proposed to close my recollections of this great
tumult, and which seems to be a sufficient guaranty for the very severest
reflections on the spirit of the government, is expressed significantly
in the terms, used habitually by Roman Catholic gentlemen, in prudential
exculpation of themselves, when threatened with inquiry for their conduct
during these times of agitation: "I thank my God that no man can charge
me justly with having saved the life of any Protestant, or his house from
pillage, by my intercession with the rebel chiefs." How! Did men boast of
collusion with violence and the spirit of massacre! What did _that_ mean?
It meant this: Some Roman Catholics had pleaded, and pleaded truly, as a
reason for special indulgence to themselves, that any influence which
might belong to them, on the score of religion or of private friendship,
with the rebel authorities, had been used by them on behalf of persecuted
Protestants, either in delivering them altogether, or in softening their
doom. But, to the surprise of every body, this plea was so far from being
entertained favorably by the courts of inquiry, that, on the contrary, an
argument was built upon it, dangerous in the last degree to the pleader.
"You admit, then," it was retorted, "having had this very considerable
influence upon the rebel councils; your influence extended to the saving
of lives; in that case we must suppose you to have been known privately
as their friend and supporter." Thus to have delivered an innocent man
from murder, argued that the deliverer must have been an accomplice of
the murderous party. Readily it may be supposed that few would be
disposed to urge such a vindication, when it became known in what way it
was likely to operate. The government itself had made it perilous to
profess humanity; and every man henceforward gloried publicly in his
callousness and insensibility, as the one best safeguard to himself on a
path so closely beset with rocks.


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_The only ducal house_."--That is, the only one not royal. There are
four provinces in Ireland--_Ulster, Connaught, Munster,_ which three give
old traditional titles to three personages of the blood royal. Remains
only _Leinster_, which gives the title of duke to the Fitzgeralds.

[2] "_Present French king_."--Viz., in the year 1833.

[3] "_To have pardoned_," &c.--This was written under circumstances of
great hurry; and, were it not for that palliation, would be inexcusably
thoughtless. For, in a double sense, it is doubtful how far the
government _could_ have pardoned Lord Edward. First, in a prudential
sense, was it possible (except in the spirit of a German sentimentalizing
drama) to pardon a conspicuous, and within certain limits a very
influential, officer for publicly avowing opinions tending to treason,
and at war with the constitutional system of the land which fed him and
which claimed his allegiance? Was it possible, in point of prudence or in
point of dignity, to overlook such anti-national sentiments, whilst
neither disavowed nor ever likely to be disavowed? Was this possible,
regard being had to the inevitable effect of such _unearned_ forgiveness
upon the army at large? But secondly, in a merely logical sense of
practical self-consistency, would it have been rational or even
intelligible to pardon a man who probably _would_ not be pardoned; that
is, who must (consenting or not consenting) benefit by the concessions of
the pardon, whilst disowning all reciprocal obligations?

[4] "_For quarter was not granted on either side_."--I repeat, as all
along and necessarily I have repeated, that which orally I was told at
the time, or which subsequently I have read in published accounts. But
the reader is aware by this time of my steadfast conviction, that more
easily might a camel go through the eye of a needle, than a reporter,
fresh from a campaign blazing with partisanship, and that partisanship
representing ancient and hereditary feuds, could by possibility cleanse
himself from the _virus_ of such a prejudice.

[5] The same jest was applied to Mr. Pitt's brother. When first lord of
the Admiralty, people calling on him as late as even 10 or 11, P.M., were
told that his lordship was riding in the park. On this account, partly,
but more pointedly with a malicious reference to the contrast between his
languor and the fiery activity of his father, the first earl, he was
jocularly called, _the late Lord Chatham_.

[6] Perhaps also _not_. Possibly enough there may be no call for any such
_exceptional_ solution; for, after all, there may be nothing to solve--no
_dignus vindice nodus_. As regards the sudden interchange of characters
on the scaffold,--the constitutionally brave man all at once becoming
timid, and the timid man becoming brave,--it must be remembered, that the
particular sort of courage applicable to duelling, when the danger is
much more of a fugitive and momentary order than that which invests a
battle lasting for hours, depends almost entirely upon a man's
_confidence in his own luck_--a peculiarity of mind which exists
altogether apart from native resources of courage, whether moral or
physical: usually this mode of courage is but a transformed expression
for a sanguine temperament. A man who is habitually depressed by a
constitutional taint of despondency may carry into a duel a sublime
principle of calm, self-sacrificing courage, as being possibly utterly
without hope--a courage, therefore, which has to fight with internal
resistance, to which there may be nothing corresponding in a cheerful
temperament.

But there is another and separate agency through which the fear of death
may happen to act as a disturbing force, and most irregularly as viewed
in relation to moral courage and strength of mind. This anomalous force
is the imaginative and shadowy terror with which different minds recoil
from death--not considered as an agony or torment, but considered as a
mystery, and, next after God, as the most infinite of mysteries. In a
brave man this terror may happen to be strong; in a pusillanimous man,
simply through inertness and original feebleness of imagination, may
happen to be scarcely developed. This oscillation of horror, alternating
between death as an agony and death as a mystery, not only exists with a
corresponding set of consequences accordingly as one or other prevails,
but is sometimes consciously contemplated and put into the scales of
comparison and counter valuation. For instance, one of the early Csesars
reviewed the case thus: "_Emori nolo; me esse mortuum nihil cestumo_:
From death as the act and process of dying, I revolt; but as to death,
viewed as a permanent state or condition, I don't value it at a straw."
What this particular Caesar detested, and viewed with burning malice, was
death the agony--death the physical torment. As to death the mystery,
want of sensibility to the infinite and the shadowy had disarmed _that_
of its terrors for him. Yet, on the contrary, how many are there who face
the mere physical anguish of dying with stern indifference! But death the
mystery,--death that, not satisfied with changing our objective, may
attack even the roots of our subjective,--_there_ lies the mute,
ineffable, voiceless horror before which all human courage is abashed,
even as all human resistance becomes childish when measuring itself
against gravitation.

[7] "_Not yet altogether obsolete_."--Written in 1833.



CHAPTER X.

FRENCH INVASION OF IRELAND, AND SECOND REBELLION.


The decisive battle of Vinegar Hill took place at midsummer; and with
that battle terminated the First Rebellion. Two months later, a French
force, not making fully a thousand men, under the command of General
Humbert, landed on the west coast of Ireland, and again roused the
Irish peasantry to insurrection. This latter insurrection, and the
invasion which aroused it, naturally had a peculiar interest for Lord
Westport and myself, who, in our present abode of Westport House, were
living in its local centre.

I, in particular, was led, by hearing on every side the conversation
reverting to the dangers and tragic incidents of the era, separated
from us by not quite two years, to make inquiries of every body who
had personally participated in the commotions. Records there were on
every side, and memorials even in our bed rooms, of this French visit;
for, at one time, they had occupied Westport House in some strength.
The largest town in our neighborhood was Castlebar, distant about
eleven Irish miles. To this it was that the French addressed their
very earliest efforts. Advancing rapidly, and with their usual style
of theatrical confidence, they had obtained at first a degree of success
which was almost surprising to their own insolent vanity, and which,
long afterwards, became a subject of bitter mortification to our own
army. Had there been at this point any energy at all corresponding to
that of the enemy, or commensurate to the intrinsic superiority of our
own troops in steadiness, the French would have been compelled to lay
down their arms. The experience of those days, however, showed how
deficient is the finest composition of an army, unless where its martial
qualities have been developed by practice; and how liable is all
courage, when utterly inexperienced to sudden panics. This gasconading
advance, which would have foundered utterly against a single battalion
of the troops which fought in 1812-13 amongst the Pyrenees, was here
for the moment successful.

The bishop of this see, Dr. Stock, with his whole household, and,
indeed, his whole pastoral charge, became, on this occasion, prisoners
to the enemy. The republican head quarters were fixed for a time in
the episcopal palace; and there it was that General Humbert and his
staff lived in familiar intercourse with the bishop, who thus became
well qualified to record (which he soon afterwards did in an anonymous
pamphlet) the leading circumstances of the French incursion, and the
consequent insurrection in Connaught, as well as the most striking
features in the character and deportment of the republican officers.
Riding over the scene of these transactions daily for some months, in
company with Dr. Peter Browne, the Dean of Ferns, (an illegitimate son
of the late Lord Altamont, and, therefore, half brother to the present,)
whose sacred character had not prevented him from taking that military
part which seemed, in those difficult moments, a duty of elementary
patriotism laid upon all alike, I enjoyed many opportunities for
checking the statements of the bishop. The small body of French troops
which undertook this remote service had been detached in one half
from the army of the Rhine; the other half had served under Napoleon
in his first foreign campaign, viz., the Italian campaign of 1796,
which accomplished the conquest of Northern Italy. Those from Germany
showed, by their looks and their meagre condition, how much they had
suffered; and some of them, in describing their hardships, told their
Irish acquaintance that, during the seige of Metz, which had occurred in
the previous winter of 1797, they had slept in holes made four feet below
the surface of the snow. One officer declared solemnly that he had not
once undressed, further than by taking off his coat, for a period of
twelve months. The private soldiers had all the essential qualities
fitting them for a difficult and trying service: "intelligence, activity,
temperance, patience to a surprising degree, together with the exactest
discipline." This is the statement of their candid and upright enemy.
"Yet," says the bishop, "with all these martial qualities, if you except
the grenadiers, they had nothing to catch the eye. Their stature, for the
most part, was low, their complexion pale and yellow, their clothes much
the worse for wear: to a superficial observer, they would have appeared
incapable of enduring any hardship. These were the men, however, of whom
it was presently observed, that they could be well content to live on
bread or potatoes, to drink water, to make the stones of the street their
bed, and to sleep in their clothes, with no covering but the canopy of
heaven." "How vast," says Cicero, "is the revenue of Parsimony!" and, by
a thousand degrees more striking, how celestial is the strength that
descends upon the feeble through Temperance!

It may well be imagined in what terror the families of Killala heard
of a French invasion, and the necessity of immediately receiving a
republican army. As _sans culottes_, these men, all over Europe, had
the reputation of pursuing a ferocious marauding policy; in fact, they
were held little better than sanguinary brigands. In candor, it must
be admitted that their conduct at Killala belied these reports; though,
on the other hand, an obvious interest obliged them to a more pacific
demeanor in a land which they saluted as friendly, and designed to
raise into extensive insurrection. The French army, so much dreaded,
at length arrived. The general and his staff entered the palace; and
the first act of one officer, on coming into the dining room, was to
advance to the sideboard, sweep all the plate into a basket, and deliver
it to the bishop's butler, with a charge to carry it off to a place
of security. [1]

The French officers, with the detachment left under their orders by
the commander-in-chief, staid about one month at Killala. This period
allowed opportunities enough for observing individual differences of
character and the general tone of their manners. These opportunities
were not thrown away upon the bishop; he noticed with a critical eye,
and he recorded on the spot, whatever fell within his own experience.
Had he, however, happened to be a political or courtier bishop, his
record would, perhaps, have been suppressed; and, at any rate, it would
have been colored by prejudice. As it was, I believe it to have been
the honest testimony of an honest man; and, considering the minute
circumstantiality of its delineations, I do not believe that, throughout
the revolutionary war, any one document was made public which throws
so much light on the quality and composition of the French republican
armies. On this consideration I shall extract a few passages from the
bishop's personal sketches.

The commander-in-chief of the French armament is thus delineated by
the bishop:--

"Humbert, the leader of this singular body of men, was himself as
extraordinary a personage as any in his army. Of a good height and
shape, in the full vigor of life, prompt to decide, quick in execution,
apparently master of his art, you could not refuse him the praise of
a good officer, while his physiognomy forbade you to like him as a
man. His eye, which was small and sleepy, cast a sidelong glance of
insidiousness and even of cruelty; it was the eye of a cat preparing
to spring upon her prey. His education and manners were indicative of
a person sprung from the lower orders of society; though he knew how
to assume, when it was convenient, the deportment of a gentleman. For
learning, he had scarcely enough to enable him to write his name. His
passions were furious; and all his behavior seemed marked with the
character of roughness and insolence. A narrower observation of him,
however, seemed to discover that much of this roughness was the result
of art, being assumed with the view of extorting by terror a ready
compliance with his commands. Of this truth the bishop himself was one
of the first who had occasion to be made sensible."

The particular occasion here alluded to by the bishop arose out of the
first attempts to effect the disembarkation of the military stores and
equipments from the French shipping, as also to forward them when
landed. The case was one of extreme urgency; and proportionate
allowance must be made for the French general. Every moment might bring
the British cruisers in sight,--two important expeditions had already
been baffled in that way,--and the absolute certainty, known to all
parties alike, that delay, under these circumstances, was tantamount
to ruin; that upon a difference of ten or fifteen minutes, this way
or that, might happen to hinge the whole issue of the expedition: such
a consciousness gave unavoidably to every demur at this critical moment
the color of treachery. Neither boats, nor carts, nor horses could be
obtained; the owners most imprudently and selfishly retiring from that
service. Such being the extremity, the French general made the bishop
responsible for the execution of his orders; but the bishop had really
no means to enforce this commission, and failed. Upon that, General
Humbert threatened to send his lordship, together with his whole family,
prisoners of war to France, and assumed the air of a man violently
provoked. Here came the crisis for determining the bishop's weight
amongst his immediate flock, and his hold upon their affections. One
great bishop, not far off, would, on such a trial, have been exultingly
consigned to his fate: that I well know; for Lord Westport and I,
merely as his visitors, were attacked in the dusk so fiercely with
stones, that we were obliged to forbear going out unless in broad
daylight. Luckily the Bishop of Killala had shown himself a Christian
pastor, and now he reaped the fruits of his goodness. The public
selfishness gave way when the danger of the bishop was made known. The
boats, the carts, the horses were now liberally brought in from their
lurking-places; the artillery and stores were landed; and the drivers
of the carts, &c., were paid in drafts upon the Irish Directory, which
(if it were an aerial coin) served at least to mark an unwillingness
in the enemy to adopt violent modes of hostility, and ultimately
became available in the very character assigned to them by the French
general; not, indeed, as drafts upon the rebel, but as claims upon the
equity of the English government.

The officer left in command at Killala, when the presence of the
commander-in-chief was required elsewhere, bore the name of Charost.
He was a lieutenant colonel, aged forty-five years, the son of a
Parisian watchmaker. Having been sent over at an early age to the
unhappy Island of St. Domingo, with a view to some connections there
by which he hoped to profit, he had been fortunate enough to marry a
young woman who brought him a plantation for her dowry, which was
reputed to have yielded him a revenue of £2000 sterling per annum. But
this, of course, all went to wreck in one day, upon that mad decree
of the French convention which proclaimed liberty, without distinction,
without restrictions, and without gradations, to the unprepared and
ferocious negroes. [2] Even his wife and daughter would have perished
simultaneously with his property but for English protection, which
delivered them from the black sabre, and transferred them to Jamaica.
There, however, though safe, they were, as respected Colonel Charost,
unavoidably captives; and "his eyes would fill," says the bishop,"
when he told the family that he had not seen these dear relatives for
six years past, nor even had tidings of them for the last three years."
On his return to France, finding that to have been a watchmaker's son
was no longer a bar to the honors of the military profession, he had
entered the army, and had risen by merit to the rank which he now
held. "He had a plain, good understanding. He seemed careless or
doubtful of revealed religion, but said that he believed in God; was
inclined to think that there must be a future state; and was very sure
that, while he lived in this world, it was his duty to do all the good
to his fellow-creatures that he could. Yet what he did not exhibit in
his own conduct he appeared to respect in others; for he took care
that no noise or disturbance should be made in the castle (_i.e._,
the bishop's palace) on Sundays, while the family, and many Protestants
from the town, were assembled in the library at their devotions.

"Boudet, the next in command, was a captain of foot, twenty-eight years
old. His father, he said, was still living, though sixty-seven years
old when he was born. His height was six feet two inches. In person,
complexion, and gravity, he was no inadequate representation of the
Knight of La Mancha, whose example he followed in a recital of his own
prowess and wonderful exploits, delivered in measured language and an
imposing seriousness of aspect." The bishop represents him as vain and
irritable, but distinguished by good feeling and principle. Another
officer was Ponson, described as five feet six inches high, lively and
animated in excess, volatile, noisy, and chattering _à l'outrance_.
"He was hardy," says the bishop, "and patient to admiration of labor
and want of rest." And of this last quality the following wonderful
illustration is given: "A continued watching of _five days and nights
together_, when the rebels were growing desperate for prey and mischief,
_did not appear to sink his spirits in the smallest degree_."

Contrasting with the known rapacity of the French republican army in
_all_ its ranks the severest honesty of these particular officers, we
must come to the conclusion, either that they had been _selected_ for
their tried qualities of abstinence and self-control, or else that
the perilous tenure of their footing in Ireland had coerced them into
forbearance. Of this same Ponson, the last described, the bishop
declares that "he was strictly honest, and could not bear the absence
of this quality in others; so that his patience was pretty well tried
by his Irish allies. "At the same time, he expressed his contempt for
religion in a way which the bishop saw reason for ascribing to
vanity--"the miserable affectation of appearing worse than he really
was." One officer there was, named _Truc_, whose brutality recalled
the impression, so disadvantageous to French republicanism, which else
had been partially effaced by the manners and conduct of his comrades.
To him the bishop (and not the bishop only, but many of my own
informants, to whom Truc had been familiarly known) ascribes "a front
of brass, an incessant fraudful smile, manners altogether vulgar, and
in his dress and person a neglect of cleanliness, even beyond the
affected negligence of republicans."

Truc, however, happily, was not leader; and the principles or the
policy of his superiors prevailed. To them, not merely in their own
conduct, but also in their way of applying that influence which they
held over their most bigoted allies, the Protestants of Connaught were
under deep obligations. Speaking merely as to property, the honest
bishop renders the following justice to the enemy: "And here it would
be an act of great injustice to the excellent discipline constantly
maintained by these invaders while they remained in our town, not to
remark, that, with every temptation to plunder, which the time and the
number of valuable articles within their reach presented to them in
the bishop's palace, from a sideboard of plate and glasses, a hall
filled with hats, whips, and greatcoats, as well of the guests as of
the family, not a single particular of private property was found to
have been carried away, when the owners, after the first fright, came
to look for their effects, which was not for a day or two after the
landing." Even in matters of delicacy the same forbearance was exhibited:
"Beside the entire use of other apartments, during the stay of the
French in Killala, the attic story, containing a library and three bed
chambers, continued sacred to the bishop and his family. And so
scrupulous was the delicacy of the French not to disturb the female
part of the house, that not one of them was ever seen to go higher
than the middle floor, except on the evening of the success at
Castlebar, when two officers begged leave to carry to the family the
news of the battle; and seemed a little mortified that the news was
received with an air of dissatisfaction." These, however, were not the
weightiest instances of that eminent service which the French had it
in their power to render on this occasion. The royal army behaved ill
in every sense. Liable to continual panics in the field,--panics
which, but for the overwhelming force accumulated, and the discretion
of Lord Cornwallis, would have been fatal to the good cause,--the royal
forces erred as unthinkingly, in the abuse of any momentary triumph.
Forgetting that the rebels held many hostages in their hands, they
once recommenced the old system practised in Wexford and Kildare--of
hanging and shooting without trial, and without a thought of the
horrible reprisals that might be adopted. These reprisals, but for the
fortunate influence of the French commanders, and but for their great
energy in applying that influence according to the exigencies of time
and place, would have been made: it cost the whole weight of the French
power, their influence was stretched almost to breaking, before they
could accomplish their purpose of neutralizing the senseless cruelty
of the royalists, and of saving the trembling Protestants. Dreadful
were the anxieties of these moments; and I myself heard persons, at
a distance of nearly two years, declare that their lives hung at that
time by a thread; and that, but for the hasty approach of the lord
lieutenant by forced marches, that thread would have snapped. "We heard
with panic," said they, "of the madness which characterized the
proceedings of our _soi-disant_ friends; and, for any chance of safety,
unavoidably we looked only to our nominal enemies--the staff of the
French army."

One story was still current, and very frequently repeated, at the time
of my own residence upon the scene of these transactions. It would not
be fair to mention it, without saying, at the same time, that the
bishop, whose discretion was so much impeached by the affair, had the
candor to blame himself most heavily, and always applauded the rebel
for the lesson he had given him. The case was this: Day after day the
royal forces had been accumulating upon military posts in the
neighborhood of Killala, and could be descried from elevated stations
in that town. Stories travelled simultaneously to Killala, every hour,
of the atrocities which marked their advance; many, doubtless, being
fictions, either of blind hatred, or of that ferocious policy which
sought to make the rebels desperate, by tempting them into the last
extremities of guilt, but, unhappily, too much countenanced as to their
general outline, by excesses on the royal part, already proved, and
undeniable. The ferment and the anxiety increased every hour amongst
the rebel occupants of Killala. The French had no power to protect,
beyond the moral one of their influence as allies; and, in the very
crisis of this alarming situation, a rebel came to the bishop with the
news that the royal cavalry was at that moment advancing from Sligo,
and could be traced along the country by the line of blazing houses
which accompanied their march. The bishop doubted this, and expressed
his doubt. "Come with me," said the rebel. It was a matter of policy
to yield, and his lordship went. They ascended together the Needle
Tower Hill, from the summit of which the bishop now discovered that
the fierce rebel had spoken but too truly. A line of smoke and fire
ran over the country in the rear of a strong patrol detached from the
king's forces. The moment was critical; the rebel's eye expressed the
unsettled state of his feelings; and, at that instant, the imprudent
bishop utterred a sentiment which, to his dying day, he could not
forget. "They," said he, meaning the ruined houses, "are only wretched
cabins." The rebel mused, and for a few moments seemed in
self-conflict--a dreadful interval to the bishop, who became sensible
of his own extreme imprudence the very moment after the words had
escaped him. However, the man contented himself with saying, after a
pause, "A poor man's cabin is to him as dear as a palace." It is
probable that this retort was far from expressing the deep moral
indignation at his heart, though his readiness of mind failed to furnish
him with any other more stinging; and, in such cases, all depends upon
the first movement of vindictive feeling being broken. The bishop,
however, did not forget the lesson he had received; nor did he fail
to blame himself most heavily, not so much for his imprudence as for
his thoughtless adoption of a language expressing an aristocratic
hauteur that did not belong to his real character. There was, indeed,
at that moment no need that fresh fuel should be applied to the
irritation of the rebels; they had already declared their intention
of plundering the town; and, as they added, "in spite of the French,"
whom they now regarded, and openly denounced, as "abetters of the
Protestants," much more than as their own allies.

Justice, however, must be done to the rebels as well as to their
military associates. If they were disposed to plunder, they were found
generally to shrink from bloodshed and cruelty, and yet from no want
of energy or determination. "The peasantry never appeared to want
animal courage," says the bishop, "for they flocked together to meet
danger whenever it was expected. Had it pleased Heaven to be as liberal
to them of brains as of hands, it is not easy to say to what length
of mischief they might have proceeded; but they were all along
unprovided with leaders of any ability." This, I believe, was true;
and yet it would be doing poor justice to the Connaught rebels, nor
would it be drawing the moral truly as respects this aspect of the
rebellion, if their abstinence from mischief, in its worst form, were
to be explained out of this defect in their leaders. Nor is it possible
to suppose _that_ the bishop's meaning, though his words seem to tend
that way. For he himself elsewhere notices the absence of all wanton
bloodshed as a feature of this Connaught rebellion most honorable in
itself to the poor misguided rebels, and as distinguishing it very
remarkably from the greater insurrection so recently crushed in the
centre and the east. "It is a circumstance," says he, "worthy of
particular notice, that, during the whole time of this civil commotion,
not a single drop of blood was shed by the Connaught rebels, except
in the field of war. It is true, the example and influence of the
French went a great way to prevent sanguinary excesses. But it will
not be deemed fair to ascribe to this cause alone the forbearance of
which we were witnesses, when it is considered what a range of country
lay at the mercy of the rebels for several days after the French power
was known to be at an end."

To what, then, _are_ we to ascribe the forbearance of the Connaught
men, so singularly contrasted with the hideous excesses of their
brethren in the east? Solely to the different complexion (so, at least,
I was told) of the policy pursued by government. In Wexford, Kildare,
Meath, Dublin, &c., it had been judged advisable to adopt, as a sort
of precautionary policy, not for the punishment, but for the discovery
of rebellious purposes, measures of the direst severity; not merely
free quarterings of the soldiery, with liberty (or even an express
commission) to commit outrages and insults upon all who were suspected,
upon all who refused to countenance such measures, upon all who presumed
to question their justice, but even, under color of martial law, to
inflict croppings, and pitch cappings, half hangings, and the torture
of "picketings;" to say nothing of houses burned, and farms laid
waste--things which were done daily, and under military orders; the
purpose avowed being either vengeance for some known act of
insurrection, or the determination to extort confessions. Too often,
however, as may well be supposed, in such utter disorganization of
society, private malice, either personal or on account of old family
feuds, was the true principle at work. And many were thus driven, by
mere frenzy of just indignation, or, perhaps, by mere desperation,
into acts of rebellion which else they had not meditated. Now, in
Connaught, at this time, the same barbarous policy was no longer
pursued; and then it was seen, that, unless maddened by ill usage, the
peasantry were capable of great self-control. There was no repetition
of the Enniscorthy massacres; and it was impossible to explain honestly
_why_ there was none, without, at the same time, reflecting back upon
that atrocity some color of palliation.

These things considered, it must be granted that there was a spirit
of unjustifiable violence in the royal army on achieving their triumph.
It is shocking, however, to observe the effect of panic to irritate
the instincts of cruelty and sanguinary violence, even in the gentlest
minds. I remember well, on occasion of the memorable tumults in Bristol,
(autumn of 1831,) that I, for my part, could not read, without horror
and indignation, one statement, (made, I believe, officially at that
time,) which yet won the cordial approbation of some ladies who had
participated in the panic. I allude to that part of the report which
represents several of the dragoons as having dismounted, resigned the
care of their horses to persons in the street, and pursued the unhappy
fugitives, criminals, undoubtedly, but no longer dangerous, up stairs
and down stairs, to the last nook of their retreat. The worst criminals
could not be known and identified as such; and even in a case where
they could, vengeance so hellish and so unrelenting was not justified
by houses burned or by momentary panics raised. Scenes of the same
description were beheld upon the first triumph of the royal cause in
Connaught; and but for Lord Cornwallis, equally firm before his success
and moderate in its exercise, they would have prevailed more
extensively. The poor rebels were pursued with a needless ferocity on
the recapture of Killala. So hotly, indeed, did some of the conquerors
hang upon the footsteps of the fugitives, that both rushed almost
simultaneously--pursuers and pursued--into the terror-stricken houses
of Killala; and, in some instances, the ball meant for a rebel told
with mortal effect upon a royalist. Here, indeed, as in other cases
of this rebellion, in candor it should be mentioned, that the royal
army was composed chiefly of militia regiments. Not that militia, or
regiments composed chiefly of men who had but just before volunteered
for the line, have not often made unexceptionable soldiers; but in
this case there was no reasonable proportion of veterans, or men who
had seen any service. The Bishop of Killala was assured by an
intelligent officer of the king's army that the victors were within
a trifle of being beaten. I was myself told by a gentlemen who rode
as a volunteer on that day, that, to the best of his belief, it was
merely a mistaken order of the rebel chiefs causing a false application
of a select reserve at a very critical moment, which had saved his
own party from a ruinous defeat. It may be added, upon almost universal
testimony, that the recapture of Killala was abused, not only as
respected the defeated rebels, but also as respected the royalists of
that town. "The regiments that came to their assistance, being all
militia, seemed to think that they had a right to take the property
they had been the means of preserving, and to use it as their own
whenever they stood in need of it. Their rapacity differed in no respect
from that of the rebels, except that they seized upon things with less
of ceremony and excuse, and that his majesty's soldiers were
incomparably superior to the Irish traitors in dexterity at stealing.
In consequence, the town grew very weary of their guests, and were
glad to see them march off to other quarters."

The military operations in this brief campaign were discreditable, in
the last degree, to the energy, to the vigilance, and to the steadiness
of the Orange army. Humbert had been a leader against the royalists
of La Vendée, as well as on the Rhine; consequently he was an
ambidextrous enemy--fitted equally for partisan warfare, and for the
tactics of regular armies. Keenly alive to the necessity, under _his_
circumstances, of vigor and despatch, after occupying Killala on the
evening of the 22d August, (the day of his disembarkation,) where the
small garrison of 50 men (yeomen and fencibles) had made a tolerable
resistance, and after other trifling affairs, he had, on the 26th,
marched against Castlebar with about 800 of his own men, and perhaps
1200 to 1500 of the rebels. Here was the advanced post of the royal
army. General Lake (the Lord Lake of India) and Major General Hutchinson
(the Lord Hutchinson of Egypt) had assembled upon this point a
respectable force; some say upwards of 4000, others not more than 1100.
The disgraceful result is well known: the French, marching all night
over mountain roads, and through one pass which was thought impregnable,
if it had been occupied by a battalion instead of a captain's guard,
surprised Castlebar on the morning of the 27th. _Surprised_, I say,
for no word short of that can express the circumstances of the case.
About two o'clock in the morning, a courier had brought intelligence
of the French advance; but from some unaccountable obstinacy, at head
quarters, such as had proved fatal more than either once or twice in
the Wexford campaign, his news was disbelieved; yet, if disbelieved,
why therefore neglected? Neglected, however, it was; and at seven,
when the news proved to be true, the royal army was drawn out in hurry
and confusion to meet the enemy. The French, on their part, seeing our
strength, looked for no better result to themselves than summary
surrender; more especially as our artillery was well served, and soon
began to tell upon their ranks. Better hopes first arose, as they
afterwards declared, upon observing that many of the troops fired in
a disorderly way, without waiting for the word of command; upon this
they took new measures: in a few minutes a panic arose; General Lake
ordered a retreat; and then, in spite of all that could be done by the
indignant officers, the flight became irretrievable. The troops reached
Tuam, thirty miles distant, on that same day; and one small party of
mounted men actually pushed on to Athlone, which is above sixty miles
from the field of battle. Fourteen pieces of artillery were lost on
this occasion. However, it ought to be mentioned that some serious
grounds appeared afterwards for suspecting treachery; most of those
who had been reported "missing" having been afterwards observed in the
ranks of the enemy, where it is remarkable enough (or perhaps not so
remarkable, as simply implying how little they were trusted by their
new allies, and for that reason how naturally they were put forward
on the most dangerous services) that these deserters perished to a
man. Meantime, the new lord lieutenant, having his foot constantly in
the stirrup, marched from Dublin without a moment's delay. By means
of the grand canal, he made a forced march of fifty-six English miles
in two days; which brought him to Kilbeggan on the 27th. Very early
on the following morning, he received the unpleasant news from
Castlebar. Upon this he advanced to Athlone, meeting every indication
of a routed and panic-struck army. Lord Lake was retreating upon that
town, and thought himself _(it is said)_ so little secure, even at
this distance from the enemy, that the road from Tuam was covered with
strong patrols. On the other hand, in ludicrous contrast to these
demonstrations of alarm, (_supposing them to be related without
exaggeration,_) the French had never stirred from Castlebar. On the
4th of September, Lord Cornwallis was within fourteen miles of that
place. Humbert, however, had previously dislodged towards the county
of Longford. His motive for this movement was to cooperate with an
insurrection in that quarter, which had just then broken out in
strength. He was now, however, hemmed in by a large army of perhaps
25,000 men, advancing from all points; and a few moves were all that
remained of the game, played with whatever skill. Colonel Vereker,
with about 300 of the Limerick militia, first came up with him, and
skirmished very creditably (September 6) with part, or (as the colonel
always maintained) with the whole of the French army. Other affairs
of trivial importance followed; and at length, on the 8th of September,
General Humbert surrendered with his whole army, now reduced to 844
men, of whom 96 were officers; having lost since their landing at
Killala exactly 288 men. The rebels were not admitted to any terms;
they were pursued and cut down without mercy. However, it is pleasant
to know, that, from their agility in escaping, this cruel policy was
defeated: not much above 500 perished; and thus were secured to the
royal party the worst results of vengeance the fiercest, and of clemency
the most undistinguishing, without any one advantage of either. Some
districts, as Laggan and Eris, were treated with martial rigor; the
cabins being burned, and their unhappy tenants driven out into the
mountains for the winter. Rigor, therefore, there was; for the most
humane politicians, erroneously, as one must believe, fancied it
necessary for the army to leave behind some impressions of terror
amongst the insurgents. It is certain, however, that, under the counsels
of Lord Cornwallis, the standards of public severity were very much
lowered, as compared with the previous examples in Wexford.

The tardiness and slovenly execution of the whole service, meantime,
was well illustrated in what follows:--

Killala was not delivered from rebel hands until the 23rd of September,
notwithstanding the general surrender had occurred on the 8th; and
then only in consequence of an express from the bishop to General
Trench, hastening his march. The situation of the Protestants was
indeed critical. Humbert had left three French officers to protect the
place, but their influence gradually had sunk to a shadow. And plans
of pillage, with all its attendant horrors, were daily debated. Under
these circumstances, the French officers behaved honorably and
courageously. "Yet," says the bishop, "the poor commandant had no
reason to be pleased with the treatment he had received immediately
after the action. He had returned to the castle for his sabre, and
advanced with it to the gate, in order to deliver it up to some English
officer, when it was seized and forced from his hand by a common soldier
of Fraser's. He came in, got another sword, which he surrendered to
an officer, and turned to reenter the hall. At this moment a second
Highlander burst through the gate, in spite of the sentinel placed
there by the general, and fired at the commandant with an aim that was
near proving fatal, for the ball passed under his arm, piercing a very
thick door entirely through, and lodging in the jamb. Had we lost the
worthy man by such an accident, his death would have spoiled the whole
relish of our present enjoyment. He complained, and received an apology
for the soldier's behavior from his officer. Leave was immediately
granted to the three French officers (left behind by Humbert at Killala)
to keep their swords, their effects, and even their bed chambers in
the house."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Note applying generally to this chapter on the Second Irish
Rebellion._--Already in 1833, when writing this 10th chapter, I felt
a secret jealously (intermittingly recurring) that possibly I might
have fallen under a false bias at this point of my youthful memorials.
I myself had seen reason to believe--indeed, sometimes I knew for
certain--that, in the _personalities_ of Irish politics from Grattan
downwards, a spirit of fiery misrepresentation prevailed, which made
it hopeless to seek for any thing resembling truth. If in any quarter
you found candor and liberality, _that_ was because no interest existed
in any thing Irish, and consequently no real information. Find out any
man that could furnish you with information such as presupposed an
interest in Ireland, and inevitably he turned out a bigoted partisan.
There cannot be a stronger proof of this than the ridiculous libels
and literary caricatures current even in England, through one whole
generation, against the late Lord Londonderry--a most able and faithful
manager of our English foreign interests in times of unparalleled
difficulty. Already in the closing years of the last century, his Irish
policy had been inextricably falsified: subsequently, when he came to
assume a leading part in the English Parliament, the efforts to
calumniate him became even more intense; and it is only within the
last five years that a reaction of public opinion on this subject has
been strong enough to reach even those among his enemies who were
enlightened men. Liberal journals (such, _e. g._, as the "North British
Review") now recognize his merits. Naturally it was impossible that
the civil war of 1798 in Ireland, and the persons conspicuously
connected with it, should escape this general destiny of Irish politics.
I wrote, therefore, originally under a jealousy that partially I might
have been duped. At present, in reviewing what I had written twenty
years ago, I feel this jealousy much more keenly. I shrink from the
bishop's malicious portraitures of our soldiers, sometimes of their
officers, as composing a licentious army, without discipline, without
humanity, without even steady courage. Has any man a right to ask our
toleration for pictures so romantic as these? Duped perhaps I was
myself: and it was natural that I should be so under the overwhelming
influences oppressing any right that I _could_ have at my early age
to a free, independent judgment. But I will not any longer assist in
duping the reader; and I will therefore suggest to him two grounds of
vehement suspicion against all the insidious colorings given to his
statements by the bishop:--

1st. I beg to remind the reader that this army of Mayo, in 1798, so
unsteady and so undisciplined, if we believe the bishop, was in part
the army of Egypt in the year 1801: how would the bishop have answered
_that_?

2dly. The bishop allows great weight in treating any allegations
whatever against the English army or the English government, to the
moderation, equity, and self-control claimed for the Irish peasantry
as notorious elements in their character. Meantime he forgets this
doctrine most conspicuously at times; and represents the safety of the
Protestants against pillage, or even against a spirit of massacre, as
entirely dependent on the influence of the French. Whether for property
or life, it was to the French that the Irish Protestants looked for
protection: not I it is, but the bishop, on whom that representation
will be found to rest.


FOOTNOTES

[1] As this happened to be the truth, the bishop did right to report it.
Otherwise, his lordship does not seem to have had much acquaintance with
the French scenical mode of arranging their public acts for purposes of
effect. Cynical people (like myself, when looking back to this anecdote
from the year 1833) were too apt to remark that this plate and that
basket were carefully numbered; that the episcopal butler (like
Pharaoh's) was liable, alas! to be hanged in case the plate were not
forthcoming on a summons from head quarters; and that the Killala "place
of security" was kindly strengthened, under the maternal anxiety of the
French republic, by doubling the French sentries.

[2] I leave this passage as it was written originally under an impression
then universally current. But, from what I have since read on this
subject, I beg to be considered as speaking very doubtfully on the true
causes of the St. Domingo disasters.



CHAPTER XI.

TRAVELLING.


It was late in October, or early in November, that I quitted Connaught
with Lord Westport; and very slowly, making many leisurely deviations
from the direct route, travelled back to Dublin. Thence, after some
little stay, we recrossed St. George's Channel, landed at Holyhead,
and then, by exactly the same route as we had pursued in early June,
we posted through Bangor, Conway, Llanrwst, Llangollen, until once
again we found ourselves in England, and, as a matter of course, making
for Birmingham. But why making for Birmingham? Simply because
Birmingham, under the old dynasty of stage coaches and post chaises,
was the centre of our travelling system, and held in England something
of that rank which the golden milestone of Rome held in the Italian
peninsula.

At Birmingham it was (which I, like myriads beside, had traversed a
score of times without ever yet having visited it as a _terminus ad
quem_) that I parted with my friend Lord Westport. His route lay through
Oxford; and stopping, therefore, no longer than was necessary to harness
fresh horses,--an operation, however, which was seldom accomplished
in less than half an hour at that era,--he went on directly to
Stratford. My own destination was yet doubtful. I had been directed,
in Dublin, to inquire at the Birmingham post office for a letter which
would guide my motions. There, accordingly, upon sending for it, lay
the expected letter from my mother; from which I learned that my sister
was visiting at Laxton, in Northamptonshire, the seat of an old friend,
to which I also had an invitation. My route to this lay through
Stamford. Thither I could not go by a stage coach until the following
day; and of necessity I prepared to make the most of my present day
in gloomy, noisy, and, at that time, dirty Birmingham.

Be not offended, compatriot of Birmingham, that I salute your natal
town with these disparaging epithets. It is not my habit to indulge
rash impulses of contempt towards any man or body of men, wheresoever
collected, far less towards a race of high-minded and most intelligent
citizens, such as Birmingham has exhibited to the admiration of all
Europe. But as to the noise and the gloom which I ascribe to you, those
features of your town will illustrate what the Germans mean by a
_one-sided_ [1] (ein-seitiger) judgment. There are, I can well
believe, thousands to whom Birmingham is another name for domestic
peace, and for a reasonable share of sunshine. But in my case, who
have passed through Birmingham a hundred times, it always happened to
rain, except once; and that once the Shrewsbury mail carried me so
rapidly away, that I had not time to examine the sunshine, or see
whether it might not be some gilt Birmingham counterfeit; for you know,
men of Birmingham, that you _can_ counterfeit--such is your
cleverness--all things in heaven and earth, from Jove's thunderbolts
down to a tailor's bodkin. Therefore, the gloom is to be charged to
my bad luck. Then, as to the noise, never did I sleep at that enormous
_Hen and Chickens_ [2] to which usually my destiny brought me, but I had
reason to complain that the discreet hen did not gather her vagrant flock
to roost at less variable hours. Till two or three, I was kept waking by
those who were retiring; and about three commenced the morning functions
of the porter, or of "boots," or of "underboots," who began their rounds
for collecting the several freights for the Highflyer, or the Tally-ho,
or the Bang-up, to all points of the compass, and too often (as must
happen in such immense establishments) blundered into my room with that
appalling, "Now, sir, the horses are coming out." So that rarely, indeed,
have I happened to _sleep_ in Birmingham. But the dirt!--_that_ sticks a
little with you, friend of Birmingham. How do I explain away _that_?
Know, then, reader, that at the time I speak of, and in the way I speak
of, viz., in streets and inns, all England was dirty.

       *       *       *       *       *

Being left therefore alone for the whole of a rainy day in Birmingham,
and Birmingham being as yet the centre of our travelling system, I
cannot do better than spend my Birmingham day in reviewing the most
lively of its reminiscences.

The revolution in the whole apparatus, means, machinery, and
dependences of that system--a revolution begun, carried through, and
perfected within the period of my own personal experience--merits a
word or two of illustration in the most cursory memoirs that profess
any attention at all to the shifting scenery and moving forces of the
age, whether manifested in great effects or in little. And these
particular effects, though little, when regarded in their separate
details, are _not_ little in their final amount. On the contrary, I
have always maintained, that under a representative government, where
the great cities of the empire must naturally have the power, each in
its proportion, of reacting upon the capital and the councils of the
nation in so conspicious a way, there is a result waiting on the final
improvements of the arts of travelling, and of transmitting intelligence
with velocity, such as cannot be properly appreciated in the absence
of all historical experience. Conceive a state of communication between
the centre and the extremities of a great people, kept up with a
uniformity of reciprocation so exquisite as to imitate the flowing and
ebbing of the sea, or the systole and diastole of the human heart; day
and night, waking and sleeping, not succeeding to each other with more
absolute certainty than the acts of the metropolis and the controlling
notice of the provinces, whether in the way of support or of resistance.
Action and reaction from every point of the compass being thus perfect
and instantaneous, we should then first begin to understand, in a
practical sense, what is meant by the unity of a political body, and
we should approach to a more adequate appreciation of the powers which
are latent in organization. For it must be considered that hitherto,
under the most complex organization, and that which has best attained
its purposes, the national will has never been able to express itself
upon one in a thousand of the public acts, simply because the national
voice was lost in the distance, and could not collect itself through
the time and the space rapidly enough to connect itself immediately
with the evanescent measure of the moment. But, as the system of
intercourse is gradually expanding, these bars of space and time are
in the same degree contracting, until finally we may expect them
altogether to vanish; and then every part of the empire will react
upon the whole with the power, life, and effect of immediate conference
amongst parties brought face to face. Then first will be seen a
political system truly _organic_--_i.e._, in which each acts upon all,
and all react upon each; and a new earth will arise from the indirect
agency of this merely physical revolution. Already, in this paragraph,
written twenty years ago, a prefiguring instinct spoke within me of
some great secret yet to come in the art of distant communication. At
present I am content to regard the electric telegraph as the oracular
response to that prefiguration. But I still look for some higher and
transcendent response.

The reader whose birth attaches him to this present generation, having
known only macadamized roads, cannot easily bring before his imagination
the antique and almost aboriginal state of things which marked our
travelling system down to the end of the eighteenth century, and nearly
through the first decennium of the present. A very few lines will
suffice for some broad notices of our condition, in this respect,
through the last two centuries. In the Parliament war, (1642-6,) it is
an interesting fact, but at the same time calculated to mislead the
incautious reader, that some officers of distinction, on both sides,
brought close carriages to head quarters; and sometimes they went even
upon the field of battle in these carriages, not mounting on horseback
until the preparations were beginning for some important manoeuvre, or
for a general movement. The same thing had been done throughout the
Thirty Years' war, both by the Bavarian, imperial, and afterwards by the
Swedish officers of rank. And it marks the great diffusion of these
luxuries  about this era, that on occasion of the reinstalment of two
princes of Mecklenburg, who had been violently dispossessed by
Wallenstein, upwards of eighty coaches mustered at a short notice, partly
from the territorial nobility, partly from the camp. Precisely, however,
at military head quarters, and on the route of an army, carriages of this
description were an available and a most useful means of transport.
Cumbrous and unweildy they were, as we know by pictures; and they could
not have been otherwise, for they were built to meet the roads.
Carriages of our present light and _reedy_ (almost, one might say,
_corky_) construction would, on the roads of Germany or of England,
in that age, have foundered within the first two hours. To our
ancestors, such carriages would have seemed playthings for children.
Cumbrous as the carriages of that day were, they could not be more so
than artillery or baggage wagons: where these could go, coaches could
go. So that, in the march of an army, there was a perpetual guaranty
to those who had coaches for the possibility of their transit. And
hence, and not because the roads were at at all better than they have
been generally described in those days, we are to explain the fact,
that both in the royal camp, in Lord Manchester's, and afterwards in
General Fairfax's and Cromwell's, coaches were an ordinary part of the
camp equipage. The roads, meantime, were as they have been described,
viz., ditches, morasses, and sometimes channels for the course of small
brooks. Nor did they improve, except for short reaches, and under
peculiar local advantages, throughout that century. Spite of the roads,
however, publick carriages began to pierce England, in various lines,
from the era of 1660. Circumstantial notices of these may be found in
Lord Auckland's (Sir Frederic Eden's) large work on the poor laws.
That to York, for example, (two hundred miles,) took a fortnight in
the journey, or about fourteen miles a day. But Chamberlayne, who had
a personal knowledge of these public carriages, says enough to show
that, if slow, they were cheap; half a crown being the usual rate for
fifteen miles, (_i.e._, 2_d._ a mile.) Public conveyances, multiplying
rapidly, could not but diffuse a general call for improved roads;
improved both in dimensions and also in the art of construction. For
it is observable, that, so early as Queen Elizabeth's days, England,
the most equestrian of nations, already presented to its inhabitants
a general system of decent bridle roads. Even at this day, it is
doubtful whether any man, taking all hinderances into account, and
having laid no previous relays of horses, could much exceed the exploit
of Carey, (afterwards Lord Monmouth,) a younger son of the first Lord
Hunsden, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth. Yet we must not forget that the
particular road concerned in this exploit was the Great North Road,
(as it is still called by way of distinction,) lying through Doncaster
and York, between the northern and southern capitals of the island.
But roads less frequented were tolerable as bridle roads; whilst all
alike, having been originally laid down with no view to the broad and
ample coaches, from 1570 to 1700, scratched the panels on each side
as they crept along. Even in the nineteenth century, I have known a
case in the sequestered district of Egremont, in Cumberland, where a
post chaise, of the common narrow dimensions, was obliged to retrace
its route of fourteen miles, on coming to a bridge built in some remote
age, when as yet post chaises were neither known nor anticipated, and,
unfortunately, too narrow by three or four inches. In all the provinces
of England, when the soil was deep and adhesive, a worse evil beset
the stately equipage. An Italian of rank, who has left a record of
his perilous adventure, visited, or attempted to visit, Petworth, near
London, (then a seat of the Percys, now of Lord Egremont,) about the
year 1685. I forget how many times he was overturned within one
particular stretch of five miles; but I remember that it was a subject
of gratitude (and, upon meditating a return by the same route a subject
of pleasing hope) to dwell upon the softlying which was to be found
in that good-natured morass. Yet this was, doubtless, a pet road,
(sinful punister! dream not that I glance at _Pet_worth,) and an
improved road. Such as this, I have good reason to think, were most
of the roads in England, unless upon the rocky strata which stretch
northwards from Derbyshire to Cumberland and Northumberland. The public
carriages were the first harbingers of a change for the better; as
these grew and prospered, slender lines of improvement began to vein
and streak the map. And Parliament began to show their zeal, though
not always a corresponding knowledge, by legislating backwards and
forwards on the breadth of wagon wheel tires, &c. But not until our
cotton system began to put forth blossoms, not until our trade and our
steam engines began to stimulate the coal mines, which in _their_ turn
stimulated _them_, did any great energy apply itself to our roads. In
my childhood, standing with one or two of my brothers and sisters at
the front windows of my mother's carriage, I remember one unvarying
set of images before us. The postilion (for so were all carriages then
driven) was employed, not by fits and starts, but always and eternally,
in _quartering_ [3] _i.e._, in crossing from side to side--according to
the casualties of the ground. Before you stretched a wintry length of
lane, with ruts deep enough to fracture the leg of a horse, filled to
the brim with standing pools of rain water; and the collateral chambers
of these ruts kept from becoming confluent by thin ridges, such as the
Romans called _lirae_, to maintain the footing upon which _lirae_, so
as not to swerve, (or, as the Romans would say, _delirare_,) was a
trial of some skill both for the horses and their postilion. It was,
indeed, next to impossible for any horse, on such a narrow crust of
separation, not to grow _delirious_ in the Roman metaphor; and the
nervous anxiety, which haunted me when a child, was much fed by this
very image so often before my eye, and the sympathy with which I
followed the motion of the docile creature's legs. Go to sleep at the
beginning of a stage, and the last thing you saw--wake up, and the
first thing you saw--was the line of wintry pools, the poor off-horse
planting his steps with care, and the cautious postilion gently applying
his spur, whilst manoeuvring across this system of grooves with some
sort of science that looked like a gypsy's palmistry; so equally
unintelligible to me were his motions, in what he sought and in what
he avoided.

I may add, by way of illustration, and at the risk of gossiping, which,
after all, is not the worst of things, a brief notice of my very first
journey. I might be then seven years old. A young gentleman, the son
of a wealthy banker, had to return home for the Christmas holidays to
a town in Lincolnshire, distant from the public school where he was
pursuing his education about a hundred miles. The school was in the
neighborhood of Greenhay, my father's house. There were at that time
no coaches in that direction; now (1833) there are many every day. The
young gentleman advertised for a person to share the expense of a post
chaise. By accident, I had an invitation of some standing to the same
town, where I happened to have some female relatives of mature age,
besides some youthful cousins. The two travellers elect soon heard of
each other, and the arrangement was easily completed. It was my earliest
migration from the paternal roof; and the anxieties of pleasure, too
tumultuous, with some slight sense of undefined fears, combined to
agitate my childish feelings. I had a vague, slight apprehension of
my fellow-traveller, whom I had never seen, and whom my nursery maid,
when dressing me, had described in no very amiable colors. But a good
deal more I thought of Sherwood Forest, (the forest of Robin Hood,)
which, as I had been told, we should cross after the night set in. At
six o'clock I descended, and not, as usual, to the children's room,
but, on this special morning of my life, to a room called the breakfast
room: where I found a blazing fire, candles lighted, and the whole
breakfast equipage, as if for my mother, set out, to my astonishment,
for no greater personage than myself. The scene being in England, and
on a December morning, I need scarcely say that it rained: the rain
beat violently against the windows, the wind raved; and an aged servant,
who did the honors of the breakfast table, pressed me urgently to eat.
I need not say that I had no appetite: the fulness of my heart, both
from busy anticipation, and from the parting which was at hand, had
made me incapable of any other thought or attention but such as pointed
to the coming journey. All circumstances in travelling, all scenes and
situations of a representative and recurring character, are
indescribably affecting, connected, as they have been, in so many
myriads of minds, more especially in a land which is sending off forever
its flowers and blossoms to a clime so remote as that of India, with
heart-rending separations, and with farewells never to be repeated.
But, amongst them all, none cleaves to my own feelings more indelibly,
from having repeatedly been concerned, either as witness or as a
principal party in its little drama, than the early breakfast on a
wintry morning long before the darkness has given way, when the golden
blaze of the hearth, and the bright glitter of candles, with female
ministrations of gentleness more touching than on common occasions,
all conspire to rekindle, as it were for a farewell gleam, the holy
memorials of household affections. And many have, doubtless, had my
feelings; for, I believe, few readers will ever forget the beautiful
manner in which Mrs. Inchbald has treated such a scene in winding up
the first part of her "Simple Story," and the power with which she has
invested it.

Years, that seem innumerable, have passed since that December morning
in my own life to which I am now recurring; and yet, even to this
moment, I recollect the audible throbbing of heart, the leap and rushing
of blood, which suddenly surprised me during a deep lull of the wind,
when the aged attendant said, without hurry or agitation, but with
something of a solemn tone, "That is the sound of wheels. I hear the
chaise. Mr. H---- will be here directly." The road ran, for some
distance, by a course pretty nearly equidistant from the house, so
that the groaning of the wheels continued to catch the ear, as it
swelled upon the wind, for some time without much alteration. At length
a right-angled turn brought the road continually and rapidly nearer
to the gates of the grounds, which had purposely been thrown open. At
this point, however, a long career of raving arose; all other sounds
were lost; and, for some time, I began to think we had been mistaken,
when suddenly the loud trampling of horses' feet, as they whirled up
the sweep below the windows, followed by a peal long and loud upon the
bell, announced, beyond question, the summons for my departure. The
door being thrown open, steps were heard loud and fast; and in the
next moment, ushered by a servant, stalked forward, booted and fully
equipped, my travelling companion--if such a word can at all express
the relation between the arrogant young blood, just fresh from assuming
the _toga virilis,_ and a modest child of profound sensibilities, but
shy and reserved beyond even English reserve. The aged servant, with
apparently constrained civility, presented my mother's compliments to
him, with a request that he would take breakfast. This he hastily and
rather peremptorily declined. Me, however, he condescended to notice
with an approving nod, slightly inquiring if I were the young gentleman
who shared his post chaise. But, without allowing time for an answer,
and striking his boot impatiently with a riding whip, he hoped I was
ready. "Not until he has gone up to my mistress," replied my old
protectress, in a tone of some asperity. Thither I ascended. What
counsels and directions I might happen to receive at the maternal
toilet, naturally I have forgotten. The most memorable circumstance
to me was, that I, who had never till that time possessed the least
or most contemptible coin, received, in a network purse, six glittering
guineas, with instructions to put three immediately into Mr. H----'s
hands, and the others when he should call for them.

The rest of my mother's counsels, If deep, were not long; she, who had
always something of a Roman firmness, shed more milk of roses, I
believe, upon my cheeks than tears; and why not? What should there be
to _her_ corresponding to an ignorant child's sense of pathos, in a
little journey of about a hundred miles? Outside her door, however,
there awaited me some silly creatures, women of course, old and young,
from the nursery and the kitchen, who gave, and who received, those
fervent kisses which wait only upon love without awe and without
disguise. Heavens! what rosaries might be strung for the memory of
sweet female kisses, given without check or art, before one is of an
age to value them! And again, how sweet is the touch of female hands
as they array one for a journey! If any thing needs fastening, whether
by pinning, tying, or any other contrivance, how perfect is one's
confidence in female skill; as if, by mere virtue of her sex and
feminine instinct, a woman could not possibly fail to know the best
and readiest way of adjusting every case that could arise in dress.
Mine was hastily completed amongst them: each had a pin to draw from
her bosom, in order to put something to rights about my throat or
hands; and a chorus of "God bless hims!" was arising, when, from below,
young Mephistopheles murmured an impatient groan, and perhaps the
horses snorted. I found myself lifted into the chaise; counsels about
the night and the cold flowing in upon me, to which Mephistopheles
listened with derision or astonishment. I and he had each our separate
corner; and, except to request that I would draw up one of the glasses,
I do not think he condescended to address one word to me until dusk,
when we found ourselves rattling into Chesterfield, having barely
accomplished four stages, or forty or forty-two miles, in about nine
hours. This, except on the Bath or great north roads, may be taken as
a standard amount of performance, in 1794, (the year I am recording,)
and even ten years later. [4] In these present hurrying and tumultuous
days, whether time is really of more value, I cannot say; but all people
on the establishment of inns are required to suppose it of the most awful
value. Nowadays, (1833,) no sooner have the horses stopped at the gateway
of a posting house than a summons is passed down to the stables; and in
less than one minute, upon a great road, the horses next in rotation,
always ready harnessed when expecting to come on duty, are heard trotting
down the yard. "Putting to" and transferring the luggage, (supposing your
conveyance a common post chaise,) once a work of at least thirty minutes,
is now easily accomplished in three. And scarcely have you paid the ex-
postilion before his successor is mounted; the hostler is standing ready
with the steps in his hands to receive his invariable sixpence; the door
is closed; the representative waiter bows his acknowledgment for the
house, and you are off at a pace never less than ten miles an hour; the
total detention at each stage not averaging above four minutes. Then,
(_i.e._, at the latter end of the eighteenth and beginning of the
nineteenth century,) half an hour was the minimum of time spent at each
change of horses. Your arrival produced a great bustle of unloading and
unharnessing; as a matter of course, you alighted and went into the inn;
if you sallied out to report progress, after waiting twenty minutes, no
signs appeared of any stir about the stables. The most choleric person
could not much expedite preparations, which loitered not so much from any
indolence in the attendants, as from faulty arrangements and total defect
of forecasting. The pace was such as the roads of that day allowed; never
so much as six miles an hour, except upon a very great road, and then
only by extra payment to the driver. Yet, even under this comparatively
miserable system, how superior was England, as a land for the traveller,
to all the rest of the world, Sweden only excepted! Bad as were the
roads, and defective as were all the arrangements, still you had these
advantages: no town so insignificant, no posting house so solitary, but
that at all seasons, except a contested election, it could furnish horses
without delay, and without license to distress the neighboring farmers.
On the worst road, and on a winter's day, with no more than a single pair
of horses, you generally made out sixty miles; even if it were necessary
to travel through the night, you could continue to make way, although
more slowly; and finally, if you were of a temper to brook delay, and did
not exact from all persons the haste or energy of Hotspurs, the whole
system in those days was full of respectability and luxurious ease, and
well fitted to renew the image of the home you had left, if not in its
elegances, yet in all its substantial comforts. What cosy old parlors in
those days! low roofed, glowing with ample fires, and fenced from the
blasts of doors by screens, whose foldings were, or seemed to be,
infinite. What motherly landladies! won, how readily, to kindness the
most lavish, by the mere attractions of simplicity and youthful
innocence, and finding so much interest in the bare circumstance of being
a traveller at a childish age. Then what blooming young handmaidens! how
different from the knowing and worldly demireps of modern high roads! And
sometimes gray-headed, faithful waiters, how sincere and how attentive,
by comparison with their flippant successors, the eternal "coming, sir,
coming," of our improved generation!

Such an honest, old, butler-looking servant waited on us during dinner
at Chesterfield, carving for me, and urging me to eat. Even
Mephistopheles found his pride relax under the influence of wine; and
when loosened from this restraint, his kindness was not deficient. To
me he showed it in pressing wine upon me, without stint or measure.
The elegances which he had observed in such parts of my mother's
establishment as could be supposed to meet his eye on so hasty a visit,
had impressed him perhaps favorably towards myself; and could I have
a little altered my age, or dismissed my excessive reserve, I doubt
not that he would have admitted me, in default of a more suitable
comrade, to his entire confidence for the rest of the road. Dinner
finished, and myself at least, for the first time in my childish life,
somewhat perhaps overcharged with wine, the bill was called for, the
waiter paid in the lavish style of antique England, and we heard our
chaise drawing up under the gateway,--the invariable custom of those
days,--by which you were spared the trouble of going into the street;
stepping from the hall of the inn right into your carriage. I had been
kept back for a minute or so by the landlady and her attendant nymphs,
to be dressed and kissed; and, on seating myself in the chaise, which
was well lighted with lamps, I found my lordly young principal in
conversation with the landlord, first upon the price of oats,--which
youthful horsemen always affect to inquire after with interest,--but,
secondly, upon a topic more immediately at his heart--viz., the
reputation of the road. At that time of day, when gold had not yet
disappeared from the circulation, no traveller carried any other sort
of money about him; and there was consequently a rich encouragement
to highwaymen, which vanished almost entirely with Mr. Pitt's act of
1797 for restricting cash payments. Property which could be identified
and traced was a perilous sort of plunder; and from that time the free
trade of the road almost perished as a regular occupation. At this
period it did certainly maintain a languishing existence; here and
there it might have a casual run of success; and, as these local ebbs
and flows were continually shifting, perhaps, after all, the trade
might lie amongst a small number of hands. Universally, however, the
landlords showed some shrewdness, or even sagacity, in qualifying,
according to the circumstances of the inquirer, the sort of credit
which they allowed to the exaggerated ill fame of the roads. Returning
on this very road, some months after, with a timid female relative,
who put her questions with undisguised and distressing alarm, the very
same people, one and all, assured her that the danger was next to
nothing. Not so at present: rightly presuming that a haughty cavalier
of eighteen, flushed with wine and youthful blood, would listen with
disgust to a picture too amiable and pacific of the roads before him,
Mr. Spread Eagle replied with the air of one who knew more than he
altogether liked to tell; and looking suspiciously amongst the strange
faces lit up by the light of the carriage lamps--"Why, sir, there have
been ugly stories afloat; I cannot deny it; and sometimes, you know,
sir,"--winking sagaciously, to which a knowing nod of assent was
returned,--"it may not be quite safe to tell all one knows. But you
can understand me. The forest, you are well aware, sir, _is_ the forest:
it never was much to be trusted, by all accounts, in my father's time,
and I suppose will not be better in mine. But you must keep a sharp
lookout; and, Tom," speaking to the postilion, "mind, when you pass
the third gate, to go pretty smartly by the thicket." Tom replied in
a tone of importance to this professional appeal. General valedictions
were exchanged, the landlord bowed, and we moved off for the forest.
Mephistopheles had his travelling case of pistols. These he began now
to examine; for sometimes, said he, I have known such a trick as drawing
the charge whilst one happened to be taking a glass of wine. Wine had
unlocked his heart,--the prospect of the forest and the advancing night
excited him,--and even of such a child as myself he was now disposed
to make a confidant. "Did you observe," said he, "that ill-looking
fellow, as big as a camel, who stood on the landlord's left hand? "Was
it the man, I asked timidly, who seemed by his dress to be a farmer?
"Farmer, you call him! Ah! my young friend, that shows your little
knowledge of the world. He is a scoundrel, the bloodiest of scoundrels.
And so I trust to convince him before many hours are gone over our
heads." Whilst saying this, he employed himself in priming his pistols;
then, after a pause, he went on thus: "No, my young friend, this alone
shows his base purposes--his calling himself a farmer. Farmer he is
not, but a desperate highwayman, of which I have full proof. I watched
his malicious glances whilst the landlord was talking; and I could
swear to his traitorous intentions." So speaking, he threw anxious
glances on each side as we continued to advance: we were both somewhat
excited; he by the spirit of adventure, I by sympathy with him--and
both by wine. The wine, however, soon applied a remedy to its own
delusions; six miles from the town we had left, both of us were in a
bad condition for resisting highwaymen with effect--being fast asleep.
Suddenly a most abrupt halt awoke us,--Mephistopheles felt for his
pistols,--the door flew open, and the lights of the assembled group
announced to us that we had reached Mansfield. That night we went on
to Newark, at which place about forty miles of our journey remailed.
This distance we performed, of course, on the following day, between
breakfast and dinner. But it serves strikingly to illustrate the state
of roads in England, whenever your affairs led you into districts a
little retired from the capital routes of the public travelling, that,
for one twenty-mile stage,--viz. from Newark to Sleaford,--they refused
to take us forward with less than four horses. This was neither a
fraud, as our eyes soon convinced us, (for even four horses could
scarcely extricate the chaise from the deep sloughs which occasionally
seamed the road through tracts of two or three miles in succession,)
nor was it an accident of the weather. In all seasons the same demand
was enforced, as my female protectress found in conducting me back at
a fine season of the year, and had always found in traversing the
same route. The England of that date (1794) exhibited many similar
cases. At present I know of but one stage in all England where a
traveller, without regard to weight, is called upon to take four horses;
and that is at Ambleside, in going by the direct road to Carlisle. The
first stage to Patterdale lies over the mountain of Kirkstone, and the
ascent is not only toilsome, (continuing for above three miles, with
occasional intermissions,) but at times is carried over summits too
steep for a road by all the rules of engineering, and yet too little
frequented to offer any means of repaying the cost of smoothing the
difficulties.

It was not until after the year 1715 that the main improvement took
place in the English travelling system, so far as regarded speed. It
is, in reality, to Mr. Macadam that we owe it. All the roads in England,
within a few years, were remodelled, and upon principles of Roman
science. From mere beds of torrents and systems of ruts, they were
raised universally to the condition and appearance of gravel walks in
private parks or shrubberies. The average rate of velocity was, in
consequence, exactly doubled--ten miles an hour being now generally
accomplished, instead of five. And at the moment when all further
improvement upon this system had become hopeless, a new prospect was
suddenly opened to us by railroads; which again, considering how much
they have already exceeded the _maximum_ of possibility, as laid down
by all engineers during the progress of the Manchester and Liverpool
line, may soon give way to new modes of locomotion still more
astonishing to our preconceptions.

One point of refinement, as regards the comfort of travellers, remains
to be mentioned, in which the improvement began a good deal earlier,
perhaps by ten years, than in the construction of the roads. Luxurious
as was the system of English travelling at all periods, after the
general establishment of post chaises, it must be granted that, in the
circumstance of cleanliness, there was far from being that attention,
or that provision for the traveller's comfort, which might have been
anticipated from the general habits of the country. I, at all periods
of my life a great traveller, was witness, to the first steps and the
whole struggle of this revolution. Maréchal Saxe professed always to
look under his bed, applying his caution chiefly to the attempts of
robbers. Now, if at the greatest inns of England you had, in the days
I speak of, adopted this marshal's policy of reconnoitring, what would
you have seen? Beyond a doubt, you would have seen what, upon all
principles of seniority, was entitled to your veneration, viz., a dense
accumulation of dust far older than yourself. A foreign author made
some experiments upon the deposition of dust, and the rate of its
accumulation, in a room left wholly undisturbed. If I recollect, a
century would produce a stratum about half an inch in depth. Upon this
principle, I conjecture that much dust which I have seen in inns,
during the first four or five years of the present century, must have
belonged to the reign of George II. It was, however, upon travellers
by coaches that the full oppression of the old vicious system operated.
The elder Scaliger mentions, as a characteristic of the English in his
day, (about 1530,) a horror of cold water; in which, however, there
must have been some mistake. [5] Nowhere could he and his foreign
companions obtain the luxury of cold water for washing their hands
either before or after dinner. One day he and his party dined with the
lord chancellor; and now, thought he, for very shame they will allow
us some means of purification. Not at all; the chancellor viewed this
outlandish novelty with the same jealousy as others. However, on the
earnest petition of Scaliger, he made an order that a basin or other
vessel of cold water should be produced. His household bowed to this
judgment, and a slop basin was cautiously introduced. "What!" said
Scaliger, "only one, and we so many?" Even that one contained but a
teacup full of water: but the great scholar soon found that he must
be thankful for what he had got. It had cost the whole strength of the
English chancery to produce that single cup of water; and, for that
day, no man in his senses could look for a second. Pretty much the
same struggle, and for the same cheap reform, commenced about the year
1805-6. Post-chaise travellers could, of course, have what they liked;
and generally they asked for a bed room. It is of coach travellers I
speak. And the particular innovation in question commenced, as was
natural, with the mail coach, which, from the much higher scale of its
fares, commanded a much more select class of company. I was a party
to the very earliest attempts at breaking ground in this alarming
revolution. Well do I remember the astonishment of some waiters, the
indignation of others, the sympathetic uproars which spread to the
bar, to the kitchen, and even to the stables, at the first opening of
our extravagant demands. Sometimes even the landlady thought the case
worthy of her interference, and came forward to remonstrate with us
upon our unheard-of conduct. But gradually we made way. Like Scaliger,
at first we got but one basin amongst us, and that one was brought
into the breakfast room; but scarcely had two years revolved before
we began to see four, and all appurtenances, arranged duly in
correspondence to the number of inside passengers by the mail; and,
as outside travelling was continually gaining ground amongst the
wealthier classes, more comprehensive arrangements were often made;
though, even to this day, so much influence survives, from the original
aristocratic principle upon which public carriages were constructed,
that on the mail coaches there still prevails the most scandalous
inattention to the comfort, and even to the security, of the outside
passengers: a slippery glazed roof frequently makes the sitting a
matter of effort and anxiety, whilst the little iron side rail of four
inches in height serves no one purpose but that of bruising the thigh.
Concurrently with these reforms in the system of personal cleanliness,
others were silently making way through all departments of the household
economy. Dust, from the reign of George II., became scarcer; gradually
it came to bear an antiquarian value: basins lost their grim appearance,
and looked as clean as in gentlemen's houses. And at length the whole
system was so thoroughly ventilated and purified, that all good inns,
nay, generally speaking, even second-rate inns, at this day, reflect
the best features, as to cleanliness and neatness, of well-managed
private establishments.


FOOTNOTES

[1] It marks the rapidity with which new phrases float themselves into
currency under our present omnipresence of the press, that this word,
_now_ (viz., in 1853) familiarly used in every newspaper, _then_ (viz.,
in 1833) required a sort of apology to warrant its introduction.

[2] A well-known hotel, and also a coach inn, which we English in those
days thought colossal. It was in fact, according to the spirit of Dr.
Johnson's itty reply to Miss Knight, big enough for an island. But our
transatlantic brothers, dwelling upon so mighty a continent, have
gradually enlarged their scale of inns as of other objects into a size of
commensurate grandeur. In two separate New York journals, which, by the
kindness of American friends, are at this moment (April 26) lying before
me, I read astounding illustrations of this. For instance: (1.) In
"Putnam's Monthly" for April, 1853, the opening article, a very amusing
one, entitled "New York daguerreotyped," estimates the hotel population
of that vast city as "not much short of ten thousand;" and one individual
hotel, apparently far from being the most conspicuous, viz., the
_Metropolitan_, reputed to have "more than twelve miles of water and gas
pipe, and two hundred and fifty servants," offers "accommodations for one
thousand guests." (2.) Yet even this Titanic structure dwindles by
comparison with _The Mount Vernon Hotel_ at Cape May, N. J., (meant, I
suppose, for New Jersey,) which advertises itself in the "New York
Herald," of April 12, 1853, under the authority of Mr. J. Taber, its
aspiring landlord, as offering accommodations, from the 20th of next
June, to the romantic number of _three thousand five hundred_ guests. The
Birmingham Hen and Chickens undoubtedly had slight pretensions by the
side of these behemoths and mammoths. And yet, as a street in a very
little town may happen to be quite as noisy as a street in London, I can
testify that any single gallery in this Birmingham hotel, if measured in
importance by the elements of discomfort which it could develop, was
entitled to an American rating. But alas! _Fuit Ilium_; I have not seen
the ruins of this ancient hotel; but an instinct tells me that the
railroad has run right through it; that the hen has ceased to lay golden
eggs, and that her chickens are dispersed. (3.) As another illustration,
I may mention that, in the middle of March, 1853, I received, as a
present from New York, the following newspaper. Each page contained
eleven columns, whereas our London "Times" contains only six. It was
entitled "The New York Journal of Commerce," and was able to proclaim
itself with truth the largest journal in the world. For 25-1/2 years it
had existed in a smaller size, but even in this infant stage had so far
outrun all other journals in size (measuring, from the first, 816 square
inches) as to have earned the name of "_the blanket sheet:_" but this
thriving baby had continued to grow, until at last, on March 1, 1853, it
came out in a sheet "comprising an area of 2057-1/4 square inches, or 16-
2/3 square feet." This was the monster sent over the Atlantic to myself;
and I really felt it as some relief to my terror, when I found the editor
protesting that the monster should not be allowed to grow any more. I
presume that it was meant to keep the hotels in countenance; for a
journal on the old scale could not expect to make itself visible in an
edifice that offered accommodations to an army.

[3] Elsewhere I have suggested, as the origin of this term, the French
word _cartayer_, to manoeuvre so as to evade the ruts.

[4] It appears, however, from the Life of Hume, by my distinguished
friend Mr. Hill Burton, that already, in the middle of the last century,
the historian accomplished without difficulty six miles an hour with only
a pair of horses. But this, it should be observed, was on the great North
Road.

[5] "_Some mistake_."--The mistake was possibly this: what little water
for ablution, and what little rags called towels, a foreigner ever sees
at home will at least be always within reach, from the continental
practice of using the bed room for the sitting room. But in England our
plentiful means of ablution are kept in the background. Scaliger should
have asked for a bed room: the surprise was, possibly, not at his wanting
water, but at his wanting it in a dining room.



CHAPTER XII.

MY BROTHER.


The reader who may have accompanied me in these wandering memorials
of my own life and casual experiences, will be aware, that in many
cases the neglect of chronological order is not merely permitted, but
is in fact to some degree inevitable: there are cases, for instance,
which, as a whole, connect themselves with my own life at so many
different eras, that, upon any chronological principle of position,
it would have been difficult to assign them a proper place; backwards
or forwards they must have leaped, in whatever place they had been
introduced; and in their entire compass, from first to last, never
could have been represented as properly belonging to any one _present_
time, whensoever that had been selected: belonging to every place
alike, they would belong, according to the proverb, to no place at
all; or, (reversing that proverb,) belonging to no place by preferable
right, they would, in fact, belong to every place, and therefore to
this place.

The incidents I am now going to relate come under this rule; for they
form part of a story which fell in with my own life at many different
points. It is a story taken from the life of my own brother; and I
dwell on it with the more willingness, because it furnishes an indirect
lesson upon a great principle of social life, now and for many years
back struggling for its just supremacy--the principle that all corporal
punishments whatsoever, and upon whomsoever inflicted, are hateful,
and an indignity to our common nature, which (with or without our
consent) is enshrined in the person of the sufferer. Degrading _him_,
they degrade _us_. I will not here add one word upon the general thesis,
but go on to the facts of this case; which, if all its incidents could
now be recovered, was perhaps as romantic as any that ever yet has
tried the spirit of fortitude and patience in a child. But its moral
interest depends upon this--that, simply out of one brutal chastisement,
arose naturally the entire series of events which so very nearly made
shipwreck of all hope for one individual, and did in fact poison the
tranquility of a whole family for seven years.

My next brother, younger by about four years than myself, (he, in fact,
that caused so much affliction to the Sultan Amurath,) was a boy of
exquisite and delicate beauty--delicate, that is, in respect to its
feminine elegance and bloom; for else (as regards constitution) he
turned out remarkably robust. In such excess did his beauty flourish
during childhood, that those who remember him and myself at the public
school at Bath will also remember the ludicrous molestation in the
streets (for to him it _was_ molestation) which it entailed upon
him--ladies stopping constantly to kiss him. On first coming up to
Bath from Greenhay, my mother occupied the very appartments on the
North Parade just quitted by Edmund Burke, then in a decaying condition,
though he did not die (I believe) till 1797. That state of Burkes's
health, connected with the expectation of finding him still there,
brought for some weeks crowds of inquirers, many of whom saw the
childish Adonis, then scarcely seven years old, and inflicted upon him
what he viewed as the martyrdom of their caresses. Thus began a
persecution which continued as long as his years allowed it. The
most brilliant complexion that could be imagined, the features of an
Antinous, and perfect symmetry of figure at that period of his life,
(afterwards he lost it,) made him the subject of never-ending admiration
to the whole female population, gentle and simple, who passed him in
the streets. In after days, he had the grace to regret his own perverse
and scornful coyness. But, at that time, so foolishly insensible was
he to the honor, that he used to kick and struggle with all his might
to liberate himself from the gentle violence which was continually
offered; and he renewed the scene (so elaborately painted by Shakspeare)
of the conflicts between Venus and Adonis. For two years this continued
a subject of irritation the keenest on the one side, and of laughter
on the other, between my brother and his plainer school-fellows. Not
that we had the slightest jealousy on the subject--far from it; it
struck us all (as it generally does strike boys) in the light of an
attaint upon the dignity of a male, that he should be subjected to the
caresses of women, without leave asked; this was felt to be a badge
of childhood, and a proof that the object of such caressing tenderness,
so public and avowed, must be regarded in the light of a baby--not to
mention that the very foundation of all this distinction, a beautiful
face, is as a male distinction regarded in a very questionable light
by multitudes, and often by those most who are the possessors of that
distinction. Certainly that was the fact in my brother's case. Not one
of us could feel so pointedly as himself the ridicule of his situation;
nor did he cease, when increasing years had liberated him from that
female expression of delight in his beauty, to regard the beauty itself
as a degradation; nor could he bear to be flattered upon it; though,
in reality, it did him service in after distresses, when no other
endowment whatsoever would have been availing. Often, in fact, do
men's natures sternly contradict the promise of their features; for
no person would have believed that, under the blooming loveliness of
a Narcissus, lay shrouded a most heroic nature; not merely an
adventurous courage, but with a capacity of patient submission to
hardship, and of wrestling with calamity, such as is rarely found
amongst the endowments of youth. I have reason, also, to think that
the state of degradation in which he believed himself to have passed
his childish years, from the sort of public petting which I have
described, and his strong recoil from it as an insult, went much deeper
than was supposed, and had much to do in his subsequent conduct, and
in nerving him to the strong resolutions he adopted. He seemed to
resent, as an original insult of nature, the having given him a false
index of character in his feminine beauty, and to take a pleasure in
contradicting it. Had it been in his power, he would have spoiled it.
Certain it is, that, from the time he reached his eleventh birthday,
he had begun already to withdraw himself from the society of all other
boys,--to fall into long fits of abstraction,--and to throw himself
upon his own resources in a way neither usual nor necessary.
Schoolfellows of his own age and standing--those, even, who were the
most amiable--he shunned; and, many years after his disappearance,
I found, in his handwriting, a collection of fragments, couched in a
sort of wild lyrical verses, presenting, unquestionably, the most
extraordinary evidences of a proud, self-sustained mind, consciously
concentrating his own hopes in himself, and abjuring the rest of the
world, that can ever have emanated from so young a person; since, upon
the largest allowance, and supposing them to have been written on the
eve of his quitting England, they must have been written at the age
of twelve. I have often speculated on the subject of these mysterious
compositions; they were of a nature to have proceeded rather from some
mystical quietist, such as Madame Guyon, if with this rapt devotion
one can suppose the union of a rebellious and murmuring ambition.
Passionate apostrophes there were to nature and the powers of nature;
and what seemed strangest of all was, that, in style, not only were
they free from all tumor and inflation which might have been looked
for in so young a writer, but were even wilfully childish and colloquial
in a pathetic degree--in fact, in point of tone, allowing for the
difference between a narrative poem and a lyrical, they somewhat
resemble that beautiful poem [1] of George Herbert, entitled LOVE
UNKNOWN, in which he describes symbolically to a friend, under the form
of treacherous ill usage he had experienced, the religious processes by
which his soul had been weaned from the world. The most obvious solution
of the mystery would be, to suppose these fragments to have been copied
from some obscure author; but, besides that no author could have remained
obscure in this age of elaborate research, who had been capable of sighs
(for such I may call them) drawn up from such well-like depths of
feeling, and expressed with such fervor and simplicity of language, there
was another testimony to their being the productions of him who owned the
penmanship; which was, that some of the papers exhibited the whole
process of creation and growth, such as erasures, substitutions, doubts
expressed as to this and that form of expression, together with
references backwards and forwards. Now, that the handwriting was my
brother's, admitted of no doubt whatsoever. I go on with his story. In
1800, my visit to Ireland, and visits to other places subsequently,
separated me from him for above a year. In 1801, we were at very
different schools--I in the highest class of a great public school, he at
a very sequestered parsonage on a wild moor (Horwich Moor) in Lancashire.
This situation, probably, fed and cherished his melancholy habits; for he
had no society except-that of a younger brother, who would give him no
disturbance at all. The development of our national resources had not yet
gone so far as absolutely to exterminate from the map of England
everything like a heath, a breezy down, (such as gave so peculiar a
character to the counties of Wilts, Somerset, Dorset, &c.,) or even a
village common. Heaths were yet to be found in England, not so spacious,
indeed, as the _landes_ of France, but equally wild and romantic. In such
a situation my brother lived, and under the tuition of a clergyman,
retired in his habits, and even ascetic, but gentle in his manners. To
that I can speak myself; for in the winter of 1801 I dined with him, and
found that his yoke was, indeed, a mild one; since, even to my youngest
brother H., a headstrong child of seven, he used no stronger
remonstrance, in urging him to some essential point of duty, than "_Do be
persuaded, sir._" On another occasion I, accompanied by a friend, slept
at Mr. J.'s: we were accidentally detained there through the greater part
of the following day by snow; and, to the inexpressible surprise of my
companion, a mercantile man from Manchester, for a considerable time
after breakfast the reverend gentleman persisted in pursuing my brother
from room to room, and at last from the ground floor up to the attics,
holding a book open, (which turned out to be a Latin grammar;) each of
them (pursuer and pursued) moving at a tolerably slow pace, my brother H.
silent; but Mr. J., with a voice of adjuration, solemn and even sad, yet
kind and conciliatory, singing out at intervals, "Do be persuaded, sir!"
"It is _your_ welfare I seek!" "Let your own interest, sir, plead in this
matter between us!" And so the chase continued, ascending and descending,
up to the very garrets, down to the very cellars, then steadily revolving
from front to rear of the house; but finally with no result at all. The
spectacle reminded me of a groom attempting to catch a coy pony by
holding out a sieve containing, or pretending to contain, a bribe of
oats. Mrs. J., the reverend gentleman's wife, assured us that the same
process went on at intervals throughout the week; and in any case it was
clearly good as a mode of exercise. Now, such a master, though little
adapted for the headstrong H., was the very person for the thoughtful and
too sensitive R. Search the island through, there could not have been
found another situation so suitable to my brother's wayward and haughty
nature. The clergyman was learned, quiet, absorbed in his studies; humble
and modest beyond the proprieties of his situation, and treating my
brother in all points as a companion; whilst, on the other hand, my
brother was not the person to forget the respect due, by a triple title,
to a clergyman, a scholar, and his own preceptor--one, besides, who so
little thought of exacting it. How happy might all parties have been--
what suffering, what danger, what years of miserable anxiety might have
been spared to all who were interested--had the guardians and executors
of my father's will thought fit to "let _well_ alone"! But, "_per star
meglio_" [2] they chose to remove my brother from this gentle recluse to
an active, bustling man of the world, the very anti-pole in character.
What might be the pretensions of this gentleman to scholarship, I never
had any means of judging; and, considering that he must now, (if living
at all,) at a distance of thirty-six years, be gray headed, I shall
respect his age so far as to suppress his name. He was of a class now
annually declining (and I hope rapidly) to extinction. Thanks be to God,
in this point at least, for the dignity of human nature, that, amongst
the many, many cases of reform destined eventually to turn out
chimerical, this one, at least, never can be defeated, injured, or
eclipsed. As man grows more intellectual, the power of managing him by
his intellect and his moral nature, in utter contempt of all appeals to
his mere animal instincts of pain, must go on _pari passu_. And, if a
"_Te Deum_," or an "_O, Jubilate!_" were to be celebrated by all nations
and languages for any one advance and absolute conquest over wrong and
error won by human nature in our times,--yes, not excepting

  "The bloody writing by all nations torn"--

the abolition of the commerce in slaves,--to my thinking, that festival
should be for the mighty progress made towards the suppression of
brutal, bestial modes of punishment. Nay, I may call them worse than
bestial; for a man of any goodness of nature does not willingly or
needlessly resort to the spur or the lash with his horse or with his
hound. But, with respect to man, if he will not be moved or won over
by conciliatory means,--by means that presuppose him a reasonable
creature,--then let him die, confounded in his own vileness; but let
not me, let not the man (that is to say) who has him in his power,
dishonor himself by inflicting punishments, violating that grandeur
of human nature which, not in any vague rhetorical sense, but upon a
religious principle of duty, (viz., the scriptural doctrine that the
human person is "the temple of the Holy Ghost,") ought to be a
consecrated thing in the eyes of all good men; and of this we may be
assured,--this is more sure than day or night,--that, in proportion
as man is honored, exalted, trusted, in that proportion will he become
more worthy of honor, of exaltation, of trust.

This schoolmaster had very different views of man and his nature. He
not only thought that physical coercion was the one sole engine by
which man could be managed, but--on the principle of that common maxim
which declares that, when two schoolboys meet, with powers at all near
to a balance, no peace can be expected between them until it is fairly
settled _which_ is the master--on that same principle he fancied that
no pupil could adequately or proportionably reverence his master until
he had settled the precise proportion of superiority in animal powers
by which his master was in advance of himself. Strength of blows only
could ascertain _that_; and, as he was not very nice about creating
his opportunities, as he plunged at once "_in medias res_," and more
especially when he saw or suspected my rebellious tendencies, he soon
picked a quarrel with my unfortunate brother. Not, be it observed,
that he much cared for a well-looking or respectable quarrel. No. I
have been assured that, even when the most fawning obsequiousness ad
appealed to his clemency, in the person of some timorous new-comer,
appalled by the reports he had heard, even in such cases, (deeming it
wise to impress, from the beginning, a salutary awe of his Jovian
thunders) he made a practice of doing thus: He would speak loud, utter
some order, not very clearly, perhaps, as respected the sound, but
with _perfect_ perplexity as regarded the sense, to the timid, sensitive
boy upon whom he intended to fix a charge of disobedience. "Sir, if
you please, what was it that you said?" "What was it that I said? What!
playing upon my words? Chopping logic? Strip, sir; strip this instant."
Thenceforward this timid boy became a serviceable instrument in his
equipage. Not only was he a proof, even without coöperation on the
master's part, that extreme cases of submission could not insure
mercy, but also he, this boy, in his own person, breathed forth, at
intervals, a dim sense of awe and worship--the religion of fear--towards
the grim Moloch of the scene. Hence, as by electrical conductors, was
conveyed throughout every region of the establishment a tremulous
sensibility that vibrated towards the centre. Different, O Rowland
Hill! are the laws of thy establishment; far other are the echoes heard
amid the ancient halls of Bruce. [3] There it is possible for the timid
child to be happy--for the child destined to an early grave to reap his
brief harvest in peace. Wherefore were there no such asylums in those
days? Man flourished then, as now, in beauty and in power. Wherefore did
he not put forth his power upon establishments that might cultivate
happiness as well as knowledge? Wherefore did no man cry aloud, in the
spirit of Wordsworth,--

  "Ah, what avails heroic deed?
  What liberty? if no defence
  Be won for feeble innocence.
  Father of all! though wilful manhood read
  His punishment in soul distress
  Grant to the _morn_ of life its natural blessedness"?

Meantime, my brother R., in an evil hour, having been removed from
that most quiet of human sanctuaries, having forfeited that peace which
possibly he was never to retrieve, fell (as I have said) into the power
of this Moloch. And this Moloch upon him illustrated the laws of his
establishment; him also, the gentle, the beautiful, but, also the
proud, the haughty, the beat, kicked, trampled on!

In two hours from that time, my brother was on the road to Liverpool.
Painfully he made out his way, having not much money, and with a sense
of total abandonment which made him feel that all he might have would
prove little enough for his purposes.

My brother went to an inn, after his long, long journey to Liverpool,
footsore--(for he had walked through four days, and, from ignorance
of the world, combined with excessive shyness,--O, how shy do people
become from pride!--had not profited by those well-known incidents
upon English high roads--return post chaises, stage coaches, led horses,
or wagons)--footsore, and eager for sleep. Sleep, supper, breakfast
in the morning,--all these he had; so far his slender finances reached;
and for these he paid the treacherous landlord; who then proposed to
him that they should take a walk out together, by way of looking at
the public buildings and the docks. It seems the man had noticed my
brother's beauty, some circumstances about his dress inconsistent with
his mode of travelling, and also his style of conversation. Accordingly,
he wiled him along from street to street, until they reached the Town
Hall. "Here _seems_ to be a fine building," said this Jesuitical
guide,--as if it had been some new Pompeii, some Luxor or Palmyra,
that he had unexpectedly lit upon amongst the undiscovered parts of
Liverpool,--"here seems to be a fine building; shall we go in and ask
leave to look at it?" My brother, thinking less of the spectacle than
the spectator, whom, in a wilderness of man, naturally he wished to
make his friend, consented readily. In they went; and, by the merest
accident, Mr. Mayor and the town council were then sitting. To them
the insidious landlord communicated privately an account of his
suspicions. He himself conducted my brother, under pretence of
discovering the best station for picturesque purposes, to the particular
box for prisoners at the bar. This was not suspected by the poor boy,
not even when Mr. Mayor began to question him. He still thought it an
accident, though doubtless he blushed excessively on being questioned,
and questioned so impertinently, in public. The object of the mayor
and of other Liverpool gentlemen then present was, to ascertain my
brother's real rank and family; for he persisted in representing himself
as a poor wandering boy. Various means were vainly tried to elicit
this information; until at length--like the wily Ulysses, who mixed
with his peddler's budget of female ornaments and attire a few arms,
by way of tempting Achilles to a self-detection in the court of
Lycomedes--one gentleman counselled the mayor to send for a Greek
Testament. This was done; the Testament was presented open at St.
John's Gospel to my brother, and he was requested to say whether he
knew in what language that book was written; or whether, perhaps, he
could furnish them with a translation from the page before him. R.,
in his confusion, did not read the meaning of this appeal, and fell
into the snare; construed a few verses; and immediately was consigned
to the care of a gentleman, who won from him by kindness what he had
refused to importunities or menaces. His family he confessed at once,
but not his school. An express was therefore forwarded from Liverpool
to our nearest male relative--a military man, then by accident on leave
of absence from India. He came over, took my brother back, (looking
upon the whole as a boyish frolic of no permanent importance,) made
some stipulations in his behalf for indemnity from punishment, and
immediately returned home. Left to himself, the grim tyrant of the
school easily evaded the stipulations, and repeated his brutalities
more fiercely than before--now acting in the double spirit of tyranny
and revenge.

In a few hours, my brother was again on the road to Liverpool. But not
on this occasion did he resort to any inn, or visit any treacherous
hunter of the picturesque. He offered himself to no temptations now,
nor to any risks. Right onwards he went to the docks, addressed himself
to a grave, elderly master of a trading vessel, bound upon a distant
voyage, and instantly procured an engagement. The skipper was a good
and sensible man, and (as it turned out) a sailor accomplished in all
parts of his profession. The ship which he commanded was a South Sea
whaler, belonging to Lord Grenville--whether lying at Liverpool or in
the Thames at that moment, I am not sure. However, they soon afterwards
sailed.

For somewhat less than three years my brother continued under the care
of this good man, who was interested by his appearance, and by some
resemblance which he fancied in his features to a son whom he had lost.
Fortunate, indeed, for the poor boy was this interval of fatherly
superintendence; for, under this captain, he was not only preserved
from the perils which afterwards beseiged him, until his years had
made him more capable of confronting them, but also he had thus an
opportunity, which he improved to the utmost, of making himself
acquainted with the two separate branches of his profession--navigation
and seamanship, qualifications which are not very often united.

After the death of his captain, my brother ran through many wild
adventures; until at length, after a severe action, fought off the
coast of Peru, the armed merchant-man in which he then served was
captured by pirates. Most of the crew were massacred. My brother, on
account of the important services he could render, was spared; and
with these pirates, cruising under a black flag, and perpetrating
unnumbered atrocities, he was obliged to sail for the next two years;
nor could he, in all that period, find any opportunity for effecting
his escape.

During this long expatriation, let any thoughtful reader imagine the
perils of every sort which beseiged one so young, so inexperienced,
so sensitive, and so haughty; perils to his life; (but these it was
the very expression of his unhappy situation, were the perils least
to be mourned for;) perils to his good name, going the length of
absolute infamy--since, if the piratical ship had been captured by a
British man-of-war, he might have found it impossible to clear himself
of a voluntary participation in the bloody actions of his shipmates;
and, on the other hand, (a case equally probable in the regions which
they frequented,) supposing him to have been captured by a Spanish
_guarda costa_, he would scarcely have been able, from his ignorance
of the Spanish language, to draw even a momentary attention to the
special circumstances of his own situation; he would have been involved
in the general presumptions of the case, and would have been executed
in a summary way, upon the _prima facie_ evidence against him, that
he did not appear to be in the condition of a prisoner; and, if his
name had ever again reached his country, it would have been in some
sad list of ruffians, murderers, traitors to their country; and even
these titles, as if not enough in themselves, aggravated by the name
of pirate, which at once includes them all, and surpasses them all.
These were perils sufficiently distressing at any rate; but last of
all came others even more appalling--the perils of moral contamination,
in that excess which might be looked for from such associates; not,
be it recollected, a few wild notions or lawless principles adopted
into his creed of practical ethics, but that brutal transfiguration
of the entire character, which occurs, for instance, in the case of
the young gypsy son of Effie Deans; a change making it impossible to
rely upon the very holiest instincts of the moral nature, and consigning
its victim to hopeless reprobation. Murder itself might have lost its
horrors to one who must have been but too familiar with the spectacle
of massacre by wholesale upon unresisting crews, upon passengers
enfeebled by sickness, or upon sequestered villagers, roused from their
slumbers by the glare of conflagration, reflected from gleaming
cutlasses and from the faces of demons. This fear it was--a fear like
this, as I have often thought--which must, amidst her other woes, have
been the Aaron woe that swallowed up all the rest to the unhappy Marie
Antoinette. This must have been the sting of death to her maternal
heart, the grief paramount, the "crowning" grief--the prospect, namely,
that her royal boy would not be dismissed from the horrors of royalty
to peace and humble innocence; but that his fair cheek would be ravaged
by vice as well as sorrow; that he would be tempted into brutal orgies,
and every mode of moral pollution; until, like poor Constance with her
young Arthur, but for a sadder reason, even if it were possible that
the royal mother should see her son in "the courts of heaven," she
would not know again one so fearfully transfigured. This prospect for
the royal Constance of revolutionary France was but too painfully
fulfilled, as we are taught to guess even from the faithful records
of the Duchesse d'Angoulême. The young dauphin, (_it has been said_,
1837,) to the infamy of his keepers, was so trained as to become
loathsome for coarse brutality, as well as for habits of uncleanliness,
to all who approached him--one purpose of his guilty tutors being to
render royalty and august descent contemptible in his person. And, in
fact, they were so far likely to succeed in this purpose, for the
moment, and to the extent of an individual case, that, upon that account
alone, but still more for the sake of the poor child, the most welcome
news with respect to _him_--him whose birth [4] had drawn anthems of
exultation from twenty-five millions of men--was the news of his death.
And what else can well be expected for children suddenly withdrawn from
parental tenderness, and thrown upon their own guardianship at such an
age as nine or ten, and under the wilful misleading of perfidious guides?
But, in my brother's case, all the adverse chances, overwhelming as they
seemed, were turned aside by some good angel; all had failed to harm him;
and from the fiery furnace he came out unsinged.

I have said that he would not have appeared to any capturing ship as
standing in the situation of prisoner amongst the pirates, nor was he
such in the sense of being confined. He moved about, when on board
ship, in freedom; but he was watched, never trusted on shore, unless
under very peculiar circumstances; and tolerated at all only because
one accomplishment made him indispensable to the prosperity of the
ship. Amongst the various parts of nautical skill communicated to my
brother by his first fatherly captain, was the management of
chronometers. Several had been captured, some of the highest value,
in the many prizes, European or American. My brother happened to be
perfect in the skill of managing them; and, fortunately for him, no
other person amongst them had that skill, even in its lowest degree.
To this one qualification, therefore, (and ultimately to this only,)
he was indebted for, both safety and freedom; since, though he might
have been spared in the first moments of carnage from other
considerations, there is little doubt that, in some one of the
innumerable brawls which followed through the years of his captivity,
he would have fallen a sacrifice to hasty impulses of anger or
wantonness, had not his safety been made an object of interest and
vigilance to those in command, and to all who assumed any care for the
general welfare. Much, therefore, it was that he owed to this
accomplishment. Still, there is no good thing without its alloy; and
this great blessing brought along with it something worse than a dull
duty--the necessity, in fact, of facing fears and trials to which the
sailor's heart is preeminently sensible. All sailors, it is notorious,
are superstitious; partly, I suppose, from looking out so much upon
the wilderness of waves, empty of all human life; for mighty solitudes
are generally fear-haunted and fear-peopled; such, for instance, as
the solitudes of forests, where, in the absence of human forms and
ordinary human sounds, are discerned forms more dusky and vague, not
referred by the eye to any known type, and sounds imperfectly
intelligible. And, therefore, are all German coal burners, woodcutters,
&c., superstitious. Now, the sea is often peopled, amidst its ravings,
with what seem innumerable human voices--such voices, or as ominous,
as what were heard by Kubla Khan--"ancestral voices prophesying war;"
oftentimes laughter mixes, from a distance, (seeming to come also from
distant times, as well as distant places,) with the uproar of waters;
and doubtless shapes of fear, or shapes of beauty not less awful, are
at times seen upon the waves by the diseased eye of the sailor, in
other cases besides the somewhat rare one of calenture. This vast
solitude of the sea being taken, therefore, as one condition of the
superstitious fear found so commonly among sailors, a second may be
the perilous insecurity of their own lives, or (if the lives of sailors,
after all, by means of large immunities from danger in other shapes
are _not_ so insecure as is supposed, though, by the way, it is enough
for this result that to themselves they seem so) yet, at all events,
the insecurity of the ships in which they sail. In such a case, in the
case of battle, and in others where the empire of chance seems absolute,
there the temptation is greatest to dally with supernatural oracles
and supernatural means of consulting them. Finally, the interruption
habitually of all ordinary avenues to information about the fate of
their dearest relatives; the consequent agitation which must often
possess those who are reëntering upon home waters; and the sudden
burst, upon stepping ashore, of heart-shaking news in long accumulated
arrears,--these are circumstances which dispose the mind to look out
for relief towards signs and omens as one way of breaking the shock
by dim anticipations. Rats leaving a vessel destined to sink, although
the political application of it as a name of reproach is purely modern,
must be ranked among the oldest of omens; and perhaps the most
sober-minded of men might have leave to be moved with any augury of
an ancient traditional order, such as had won faith for centuries,
applied to a fate so interesting as that of the ship to which he was
on the point of committing himself. Other causes might be assigned,
causative of nautical superstition, and tending to feed it. But enough.
It is well known that the whole family of sailors _is_ superstitious.
My brother, poor Pink, (this was an old household name which he retained
amongst us from an incident of his childhood,) was so in an immoderate
degree. Being a great reader, (in fact, he had read every thing in his
mother tongue that was of general interest,) he was pretty well aware
how general was the ridicule attached in our times to the subject of
ghosts. But this--nor the reverence he yielded otherwise to some of
those writers who had joined in that ridicule--any more had unsettled
his faith in their existence than the submission of a sailor in a
religious sense to his spiritual counsellor upon the false and
fraudulent pleasures of luxury can ever disturb his remembrance of the
virtues lodged in rum or tobacco. His own unconquerable, unanswerable
experience, the blank realities of pleasure and pain, put to flight
all arguments whatsoever that anchor only in his understanding. Pink
used, in arguing the case with me, to admit that ghosts might be
questionable realities in our hemisphere; but "it's a different thing
to the _suthard_ of the line." And then he would go on to tell me of
his own fearful experience; in particular of one many times renewed,
and investigated to no purpose by parties of men communicating from
a distance upon a system of concerted signals, in one of the Gallapagos
Islands. These islands, which were visited, and I think described, by
Dampier, and therefore must have been an asylum to the buccaneers and
flibustiers [5] in the latter part of the seventeenth century, were so
still to their more desperate successors, the pirates, at the beginning
of the nineteenth; and for the same reason--the facilities they offer
(rare in those seas) for procuring wood and water. Hither, then, the
black flag often resorted; and here, amidst these romantic solitudes,--
islands untenanted by man,--oftentimes it lay furled up for weeks
together; rapine and murder had rest for a season, and the bloody cutlass
slept within its scabbard. When this happened, and when it became known
beforehand that it _would_ happen, a tent was pitched on shore for my
brother, and the chronometers were transported thither for the period of
their stay.

The island selected for this purpose, amongst the many equally open
to their choice, might, according to circumstances, be that which
offered the best anchorage, or that from which the reëmbarkation was
easiest, or that which allowed the readiest access to wood and water.
But for some, or all these advantages, the particular island most
generally honored by the piratical custom and "good will" was one known
to American navigators as "The Woodcutter's Island." There was some
old tradition--and I know not but it was a tradition dating from the
times of Dampier--that a Spaniard or an Indian settler in this island
(relying, perhaps, too entirely upon the protection of perfect solitude)
had been murdered in pure wantonness by some of the lawless rovers who
frequented this solitary archipelago. Whether it were from some peculiar
atrocity of bad faith in the act, or from the sanctity of the man, or
the deep solitude of the island, or with a view to the peculiar
edification of mariners in these semi-Christian seas, so, however, it
was, and attested by generations of sea vagabonds, (for most of the
armed roamers in these ocean Zaaras at one time were of a suspicious
order,) that every night, duly as the sun went down and the twilight
began to prevail, a sound arose--audible to other islands, and to every
ship lying quietly at anchor in that neighborhood--of a woodcutter's
axe. Sturdy were the blows, and steady the succession in which they
followed: some even fancied they could hear that sort of groaning
respiration which is made by men who use an axe, or by those who in
towns ply the "three-man beetle" of Falstaff, as paviers; echoes they
certainly heard of every blow, from the profound woods and the sylvan
precipices on the margin of the shores; which, however, should rather
indicate that the sounds were _not_ supernatural, since, if a visual
object, falling under hyper-physical or cata-physical laws, loses its
shadow, by parity of argument, an audible object, in the same
circumstances, should lose its echo. But this was the story; and amongst
sailors there is as little variety of versions in telling any true sea
story as there is in a log book, or in "The Flying Dutchman:"
_literatim_ fidelity is, with a sailor, a point at once of religious
faith and worldly honor. The close of the story was--that after,
suppose, ten or twelve minutes of hacking and hewing, a horrid crash
was heard, announcing that the tree, if tree it were, that never yet
was made visible to daylight search, had yielded to the old woodman's
persecution. It was exactly the crash, so familiar to many ears on
board the neighboring vessels, which expresses the harsh tearing asunder
of the fibres, caused by the weight of the trunk in falling; beginning
slowly, increasing rapidly, and terminating in one rush of rending.
This over,--one tree felled "towards his winter store,"--there was an
interval; man must have rest; and the old woodman, after working for
more than a century, must want repose. Time enough to begin again after
a quarter of an hour's relaxation. Sure enough, in that space of time,
again began, in the words of Comus, "the wonted roar amid the woods."
Again the blows became quicker, as the catastrophe drew nearer; again
the final crash resounded; and again the mighty echoes travelled through
the solitary forests, and were taken up by all the islands near and
far, like Joanna's laugh amongst the Westmoreland hills, to the
astonishment of the silent ocean. Yet, wherefore should the ocean be
astonished?--he that had heard this nightly tumult, by all accounts,
for more than a century. My brother, however, poor Pink, _was_
astonished, in good earnest, being, in that respect, of the _genus
attonitorum_; and as often as the gentlemen pirates steered their
course for the Gallapagos, he would sink in spirit before the trials
he might be summoned to face. No second person was ever put on shore
with Pink, lest poor Pink and he might become jovial over the liquor,
and the chronometers be broken or neglected; for a considerable quantity
of spirits was necessarily landed, as well as of provisions, because
sometimes a sudden change of weather, or the sudden appearance of a
suspicious sail, might draw the ship off the island for a fortnight.
My brother could have pleaded his fears without shame; but he had a
character to maintain with the sailors: he was respected equally for
his seamanship and his shipmanship. [6] By the way, when it is
considered that one half of a sailor's professional science refers him
to the stars, (though it is true the other half refers him to the sails
and shrouds of a ship,) just as, in geodesical operations, one part
is referred to heaven and one to earth, when this is considered, another
argument arises for the superstition of sailors, so far as it is
astrological. They who know (but know the _oti_ without knowing
the _dia ti_) that the stars have much to do in guiding their
own movements, which are yet so far from the stars, and, to all
appearance, so little connected with them, may be excused for supposing
that the stars are connected astrologically with human destinies. But
this by the way. The sailors, looking to Pink's double skill, and to
his experience on shore, (more astonishing than all beside, being
experience gathered amongst ghosts,) expressed an admiration which,
to one who was also a sailor, had too genial a sound to be sacrificed,
if it could be maintained at any price. Therefore it was that Pink
still clung, in spite of his terrors, to his shore appointment. But
hard was his trial; and many a time has he described to me one effect
of it, when too long continued, or combined with darkness too intense.
The woodcutter would begin his operations soon after the sun had set;
but uniformly, at that time, his noise was less. Three hours after
sunset it had increased; and generally at midnight it was greatest,
but not always. Sometimes the case varied thus far: that it greatly
increased towards three or four o'clock in the morning; and, as the
sound grew louder, and thereby seemed to draw nearer, poor Pink's
ghostly panic grew insupportable; and he absolutely crept from his
pavilion, and its luxurious comforts, to a point of rock--a
promontory--about half a mile off, from which he could see the ship.
The mere sight of a human abode, though an abode of ruffians, comforted
his panic. With the approach of daylight, the mysterious sounds ceased.
Cockcrow there happened to be none, in those islands of the Gallapagos,
or none in that particular island; though many cocks are heard crowing
in the woods of America, and these, perhaps, might be caught by
spiritual senses; or the woodcutter may be supposed, upon Hamlet's
principle, either scenting the morning air, or catching the sounds of
Christian matin bells, from some dim convent, in the depth of American
forests. However, so it was; the woodcutter's axe began to intermit
about the earliest approach of dawn; and, as light strengthened, it
ceased entirely. At nine, ten, or eleven o'clock in the forenoon the
whole appeared to have been a delusion; but towards sunset it revived
in credit; during twilight it strengthened; and, very soon afterwards,
superstitious panic was again seated on her throne. Such were the
fluctuations of the case. Meantime, Pink, sitting on his promontory
in early dawn, and consoling his terrors by looking away from the
mighty woods to the tranquil ship, on board of which (in spite of her
secret black flag) the whole crew, murderers and all, were sleeping
peacefully--he, a beautiful English boy, chased away to the antipodes
from one early home by his sense of wounded honor, and from his
immediate home by superstitious fear, recalled to my mind an image and
a situation that had been beautifully sketched by Miss Bannerman in
"Basil," one of the striking (though, to rapid readers, somewhat
unintelligible) metrical tales published early in this century, entitled
"Tales of Superstition and Chivalry." Basil is a "rude sea boy,"
desolate and neglected from infancy, but with feelings profound from
nature, and fed by solitude. He dwells alone in a rocky cave; but, in
consequence of some supernatural terrors connected with a murder,
arising in some way (not very clearly made out) to trouble the repose
of his home, he leaves it in horror, and rushes in the gray dawn to
the seaside rocks; seated on which, he draws a sort of consolation for
his terrors, or of sympathy with his wounded heart, from that mimicry
of life which goes on forever amongst the raving waves.

From the Gallapagos, Pink went often to Juan (or, as he chose to call
it, after Dampier and others, _John_) Fernandez. Very lately, (December,
1837,) the newspapers of America informed us, and the story was current
for full nine days, that this fair island had been swallowed up by an
earthquake; or, at least, that in some way or other it had disappeared.
Had that story proved true, one pleasant bower would have perished,
raised by Pink as a memorial expression of his youthful feelings either
towards De Foe, or his visionary creature, Robinson Crusoe--but rather,
perhaps, towards the substantial Alexander Selkirk; for it was raised
on some spot known or reputed by tradition to have been one of those
most occupied as a home by Selkirk. I say, "rather towards Alexander
Selkirk;" for there is a difficulty to the judgment in associating
Robinson Crusoe with this lovely island of the Pacific, and a difficulty
even to the fancy. _Why_, it is hard to guess, or through what perverse
contradiction to the facts, De Foe chose to place the shipwreck of
Robinson Crusoe upon the _eastern_ side of the American continent.
Now, not only was this in direct opposition to the realities of the
case upon which he built, as first reported (I believe) by Woodes
Rogers, from the log book of the Duke and Duchess,--(a privateer fitted
out, to the best of my remembrance, by the Bristol merchants, two or
three years before the peace of Utrecht,) and so far the mind of any
man acquainted with these circumstances was staggered, in attempting
to associate this eastern wreck of Crusoe with this western island,--but
a worse obstacle than that, because a moral one, is this, that, by
thus perversely transferring the scene from the Pacific to the Atlantic,
De Foe has transferred it from a quiet and sequestered to a populous
and troubled sea,--the Fleet Street or Cheapside of the navigating
world, the great throughfare of nations,--and thus has prejudiced the
moral sense and the fancy against his fiction still more inevitably
than his judgment, and in a way that was perfectly needless; for the
change brought along with it no shadow of compensation.

My brother's wild adventures amongst these desperate sea rovers were
afterwards communicated in long letters to a female relative; and,
even as letters, apart from the fearful burden of their contents, I
can bear witness that they had very extraordinary merit. This, in fact,
was the happy result of writing from his heart; feeling profoundly
what he communicated, and anticipating the profoundest sympathy with
all that he uttered from her whom he addressed. A man of business, who
opened some of these letters, in his character of agent for my brother's
five guardians, and who had not any special interest in the affair,
assured me that, throughout the whole course of his life, he had never
read any thing so affecting, from the facts they contained, and from
the sentiments which they expressed; above all, the yearning for that
England which he remembered as the land of his youthful pleasures, but
also of his youthful degradations. Three of the guardians were present
at the reading of these letters, and were all affected to tears,
not-withstanding they had been irritated to the uttermost by the course
which both myself and my brother had pursued--a course which seemed
to argue some defect of judgment, or of reasonable kindness, in
themselves. These letters, I hope, are still preserved, though they
have been long removed from my control. Thinking of them, and their
extraordinary merit, I have often been led to believe that every post
town (and many times in the course of a month) carries out numbers of
beautifully-written letters, and more from women than from men; not
that men are to be supposed less capable of writing good letters,--and,
in fact, amongst all the celebrated letter writers of past or present
times, a large overbalance happens to have been men,--but that more
frequently women write from their hearts; and the very same cause
operates to make female letters good which operated at one period to
make the diction of Roman ladies more pure than that of orators or
professional cultivators of the Roman language--and which, at another
period, in the Byzantine court, operated to preserve the purity of the
mother idiom within the nurseries and the female drawing rooms of the
palace, whilst it was corrupted in the forensic standards and the
academic--in the standards of the pulpit and the throne.

With respect to Pink's yearning for England, that had been partially
gratified in some part of his long exile: twice, as we learned long
afterwards, he had landed in England; but such was his haughty adherence
to his purpose, and such his consequent terror of being discovered
and reclaimed by his guardians, that he never attempted to communicate
with any of his brothers or sisters. There he was wrong; me they should
have cut to pieces before I would have betrayed him. I, like him, had
been an obstinate recusant to what I viewed as unjust pretensions of
authority; and, having been the first to raise the standard of revolt,
had been taxed by my guardians with having seduced Pink by my example.
But that was untrue; Pink acted for himself. However, he could know
little of all this; and he traversed England twice, without making an
overture towards any communication with his friends. Two circumstances
of these journeys he used to mention; both were from the port of London
(for he never contemplated London but as a port) to Liverpool; or,
thus far I may be wrong, that one of the two might be (in the return
order) from Liverpool to London. On the first of these journeys, his
route lay through Coventry; on the other, through Oxford and Birmingham.
In neither case had he started with much money; and he was going to
have retired from the coach at the place of supping on the first night,
(the journey then occupying two entire days and two entire nights,)
when the passengers insisted on paying for him: that was a tribute to
his beauty--not yet extinct. He mentioned this part of his adventures
somewhat shyly, whilst going over them with a sailor's literal accuracy;
though, as a record belonging to what he viewed as childish years, he
had ceased to care about it. On the other journey his experience was
different, but equally testified to the spirit of kindness that is
every where abroad. He had no money, on this occasion, that could
purchase even a momentary lift by a stage coach: as a pedestrian, he
had travelled down to Oxford, occupying two days in the fifty-four or
fifty-six miles which then measured the road from London, and sleeping
in a farmer's barn, without leave asked. Wearied and depressed in
spirits, he had reached Oxford, hopeless of any aid, and with a deadly
shame at the thought of asking it. But, somewhere in the High
Street,--and, according to his very accurate sailor's description of
that noble street, it must have been about the entrance of All Souls'
College,--he met a gentleman, a gownsman, who (at the very moment of
turning into the college gate) looked at Pink earnestly, and then gave
him a guinea, saying at the time, "I know what it is to be in your
situation. You are a schoolboy, and you have run away from your school.
Well, I was once in your situation, and I pity you." The kind gownsman,
who wore a velvet cap with a silk gown, and must, therefore, have been
what in Oxford is called a gentleman commoner, gave him an address at
some college or other, (Magdalen, he fancied, in after years,) where
he instructed him to call before he quitted Oxford. Had Pink done this,
and had he frankly communicated his whole story, very probably he would
have received, not assistance merely, but the best advice for guiding
his future motions. His reason for not keeping the appointment was
simply that he was nervously shy, and, above all things, jealous of
being entrapped by insidious kindness into revelations that might prove
dangerously circumstantial. Oxford had a mayor; Oxford had a
corporation; Oxford had Greek Testaments past all counting; and so,
remembering past experiences, Pink held it to be the wisest counsel
that he should pursue his route on foot to Liverpool. That guinea,
however, he used to say, saved him from despair.

One circumstance affected me in this part of Pink's story. I was a
student in Oxford at that time. By comparing dates, there was no doubt
whatever that I, who held my guardians in abhorrence, and, above all
things, admired my brother for his conduct, might have rescued him at
this point of his youthful trials, four years before the fortunate
catastrophe of his case, from the calamities which awaited him. This
is felt generally to be the most distressing form of human
blindness--the case when accident brings two fraternal hearts, yearning
for reunion, into almost touching neighborhood, and then, in a moment
after, by the difference, perhaps, of three inches in space, or three
seconds in time, will separate them again, unconscious of their brief
neighborhood, perhaps forever. In the present case, however, it may
be doubted whether this unconscious rencontre and unconscious parting
in Oxford ought to be viewed as a misfortune. Pink, it is true, endured
years of suffering, four, at least, that might have been saved by this
seasonable rencontre; but, on the other hand, by travelling through
his misfortunes with unabated spirit, and to their natural end, he won
experience and distinctions that else he would have missed. His further
history was briefly this:--

Somewhere in the River of Plate he had effected his escape from the
pirates; and a long time after, in 1807, I believe, (I write without
books to consult,) he joined the storming party of the English at Monte
Video. Here he happened fortunately to fall under the eye of Sir Home
Popham; and Sir Home forthwith rated my brother as a midshipman on
board his own ship, which was at that time, I think, a fifty-gun
ship--the Diadem. Thus, by merits of the most appropriate kind, and
without one particle of interest, my brother passed into the royal
navy. His nautical accomplishments were now of the utmost importance
to him; and, as often as he shifted his ship, which (to say the truth)
was far too often,--for his temper was fickle and delighting in
change,--so often these accomplishments were made the basis of very
earnest eulogy. I have read a vast heap of certificates vouching for
Pink's qualifications as a sailor in the highest terms, and from
several of the most distinguished officers in the service. Early in
his career as a midshipman, he suffered a mortifying interruption of
the active life which had long since become essential to his comfort.
He had contrived to get appointed on board a fire ship, the Prometheus,
(chiefly with a wish to enlarge his experience by this variety of naval
warfare,) at the time of the last Copenhagen expedition, and he obtained
his wish; for the Prometheus had a very distinguished station assigned
her on the great night of bombardment, and from her decks, I believe,
was made almost the first effectual trial of the Congreve rockets.
Soon after the Danish capital had fallen, and whilst the Prometheus
was still cruising in the Baltic, Pink, in company with the purser of
his ship, landed on the coast of Jutland, for the purpose of a morning's
sporting. It seems strange that this should have been allowed upon a
hostile shore; and perhaps it was _not_ allowed, but might have been
a thoughtless abuse of some other mission shorewards. So it was,
unfortunately; and one at least of the two sailors had reason to rue
the sporting of that day for eighteen long months of captivity. They
were perfectly unacquainted with the localities, but conceived
themselves able at any time to make good their retreat to the boat,
by means of fleet heels, and arms sufficient to deal with any opposition
of the sort they apprehended. Venturing, however, too far into the
country, they became suddenly aware of certain sentinels, posted
expressly for the benefit of chance English visitors. These men did
not pursue, but they did worse, for they fired signal shots; and, by
the time our two thoughtless Jack tars had reached the shore, they saw
a detachment of Danish cavalry trotting their horses pretty coolly
down in a direction for the boat. Feeling confident of their power to
keep ahead of the pursuit, the sailors amused themselves with various
sallies of nautical wit; and Pink, in particular, was just telling
them to present his dutiful respects to the crown prince, and assure
him that, but for this lubberly interruption, he trusted to have
improved his royal dinner by a brace of birds, when--O sight of blank
confusion!--all at once they became aware that between themselves and
their boat lay a perfect network of streams, deep watery holes,
requiring both time and local knowledge to unravel. The purser hit
upon a course which enabled him to regain the boat; but I am not sure
whether he also was not captured. Poor Pink _was_, at all events; and,
through seventeen or eighteen months, bewailed this boyish imprudence.
At the end of that time there was an exchange of prisoners, and he
was again serving on board various and splendid frigates. Wyborg, in
Jutland, was the seat of his Danish captivity; and such was the
amiableness of the Danish character, that, except for the loss of his
time, to one who was aspiring to distinction and professional honor,
none of the prisoners who were on parole could have had much reason
for complaint. The street mob, excusably irritated with England at
that time, (for, without entering on the question of right or of
expedience as regarded that war, it is notorious that such arguments
as we had for our unannounced hostilities could not be pleaded openly
by the English cabinet, for fear of compromising our private friend
and informant, the King of Sweden,) the mob, therefore, were rough in
their treatment of the British prisoners: at night, they would pelt
them with stones; and here and there some honest burgher, who might
have suffered grievously in his property, or in the person of his
nearest friends, by the ruin inflicted upon the Danish commercial
shipping, or by the dreadful havoc made in Zealand, would show something
of the same bitter spirit. But the great body of the richer and more
educated inhabitants showed the most hospitable attention to all who
justified that sort of notice by their conduct. And their remembrance
of these English friendships was not fugitive; for, through long years
after my brother's death, I used to receive letters, written in the
Danish, (a language which I had attained in the course of my studies,
and which I have since endeavored to turn to account in a public
journal, for some useful purposes of research,) from young men as well
as women in Jutland--letters couched in the most friendly terms, and
recalling to his remembrance scenes and incidents which sufficiently
proved the terms of fraternal affection upon which he had lived amongst
these public enemies; and some of them I have preserved to this day,
as memorials that do honor, on different considerations, to both parties
alike. [7]


FOOTNOTES

[1] This poem, from great admiration of its mother English, and to
illustrate some ideas upon style, Mr. Coleridge republished in his
"Biographia Literaria."

[2] From the well-known Italian epitaph--"_Stava bene; ma per star
meglio, sto qui_"--I was well; but, because I would be better than well,
I am--where you see.

[3] This was not meant assuredly as any advertisement of an
establishment, which could not by all reports need any man's praise, but
was written under a very natural impulse derived from a recent visit to
the place, and under an unaffected sympathy with the spirit of freedom
and enjoyment that seemed to reign amongst the young people.

[4] To those who are open to the impression of omens, there is a most
striking one on record with respect to the birth of this ill-fated
prince, not less so than the falling off of the head from the cane of
Charles I. at his trial, or the same king's striking a medal, bearing an
oak tress, (prefiguring the oak of _Boscobel_,) with this prophetic
inscription, "_Seris nepotibus umbram_." At the very moment when
(according to immemorial usage) the birth of a child was in the act of
annunciation to the great officers of state assembled in the queen's bed
chamber, and when a private signal from a lady had made known the glad
tidings that it was a dauphin, (the first child having been a princess,
to the signal disappointment of the nation; and the second, who was a
boy, having died,) the whole frame of carved woodwork at the back of the
queen's bed, representing the crown and other regalia of France, with the
Bourbon lilies, came rattling down in ruins. There is another and more
direct ill omen connected, apparently, with the birth of this prince; in
fact, a distinct prophecy of his ruin,--a prophecy that he should survive
his father, and yet no reign,--which is so obscurely told, that one knows
not in what light to view it; and especially since Louis XVIII., who is
the original authority for it, obviously confounds the first dauphin, who
died before the calamities of his family commenced, with the second. As
to this second, who is of course the prince concerned in the references
of the text, a new and most extraordinary interest has begun to invest
his tragical story in this very month of April, 1853; at least, it is now
first brought before universal Christendom. In the monthly journal of
Putnam, (published in New York,) the No. for April contains a most
interesting memoir upon the subject, signed T. H. Hanson. Naturally, it
indisposed most readers to put faith in any fresh pretensions of this
nature, that at least one false dauphin had been pronounced such by so
undeniable a judge of the Duchesse d'Angoulême. Meantime, it is made
probably enough by Mr Hanson that the true dauphin did not die in the
year 1795 at the Temple, but was personated by a boy unknown; that two
separate parties had an equal interest in sustaining the fraud, and _did_
sustain it; but one would hesitate to believe whether at the price of
murdering a celebrated physician; that they had the prince conveyed
secretly to an Indian settlement in Lower Canada, as a situation in which
French, being the prevailing language, would attract no attention, as it
must have done in most other parts of North America; that the boy was
educated and trained as a missionary clergyman; and finally, that he is
now acting in that capacity under the name of Eleazar Williams--
perfectly aware of the royal pretensions put forward on his behalf, but
equally, through age (being about 69) and through absorption in spiritual
views, indifferent to these pretensions. It is admitted on all hands that
the Prince de Joinville had an interview with Eleazar Williams a dozen
years since--the prince alleges through mere accident; but this seems
improbable; and Mr Hanson is likely to be right in supposing this visit
to have been a pre-concerted one, growing out of some anxiety to test the
reports current, so far as they were grounded upon resemblances in Mr.
Williams's features to those of the Bourbon and Austrian families. The
most pathetic fact is that of the idiocy common to the dauphin and Mr.
Eleazar Williams. It is clear from all the most authentic accounts of the
young prince that idiocy was in reality stealing over him--due,
doubtless, to the stunning nature of the calamities that overwhelmed his
family; to the removal from him by tragical deaths, in so rapid a
succession, of the Princesse de Lamballe, of his aunt, of his father, of
his mother, and others whom most he had loved; to his cruel separation
from his sister; and to the astounding (for him naturally
incomprehensible) change that had come over the demeanor and the language
of nearly all the people placed about the persons of himself and his
family. An idiocy resulting from what must have seemed a causeless and
demoniac conspiracy would be more likely to melt away under the sudden
transfer to kindness and the gayety of forest life than any idiocy
belonging to original organic imbecility. Mr. Williams describes his own
confusion of mind as continuing up to his fourteenth year, and all things
which had happened in earlier years as gleaming through clouds of
oblivion, and as painfully perplexing; but otherwise he shows no desire
to strengthen the pretensions made for himself by any reminiscences
piercing these clouds that could point specially to France or to royal
experiences.

[5] "_Flibustiers_."--This word, which is just now revolving upon us in
connection with the attempts on Cuba, &c., is constantly spelt by our own
and the American journals as _fillibustiers_ and fillibusteros. But the
true word of nearly two centuries back amongst the old original race of
sea robbers (French and English) that made irregular war upon the Spanish
shipping and maritime towns was that which I have here retained.

[6] "_Seamanship and shipmanship_"--These are two functions of a sailor
seldom, separated in the mind of a landsman. The conducting a ship
(causing her to _choose_ a right path) through the ocean; that is one
thing. Then there is the management of the ship within herself, the
trimming of her sails, &c., (causing her to _keep_ the line chosen;) that
is another thing. The first is called seamanship; the second might be
called shipmanship, but is, I believe, called navigation. They are
perfectly distinct; one man rarely has both in perfection. Both may be
illustrated from the rudder. The question is, suppose at the Cape of Good
Hope, to steer for India: trust the rudder to him, as a seaman, who knows
the passage whether within or without Madagascar. The question is to
avoid a sunk rock: trust the rudder to him, as a navigator, who
understands the art of steering to a nicety.

[7] For this little parenthetical record of my brother's early history
the exact chronology of the several items in the case may possible be now
irrecoverable; but any error must be of trivial importance. His two
pedestrian journeys between London and Liverpool occurred, I believe, in
the same year--viz., after the death of the friendly captain, and during
the last visit of his ship to England. The capture of Pink by the pirates
took place after the ship's return to the Pacific.



CHAPTER XIII.

PREMATURE MANHOOD.


My last two chapters, very slenderly connected with Birmingham, are
yet made to rise out of it; the one out of Birmingham's own relation
to the topic concerned, (viz., _Travelling_,) and the other (viz., _My
Brother_) out of its relation to all possible times in my earlier life,
and, therefore, why not to all possible places? _Any where_ introduced,
the chapter was partially out of its place; as well then to introduce
it in Birmingham as elsewhere. Somewhat arbitrary episodes, therefore,
are these two last chapters; yet still endurable as occurring in a
work confessedly rambling, and whose very duty lies in the pleasant
paths of vagrancy. Pretending only to amuse my reader, or pretending
chiefly to _that_, however much I may have sought, or _shall_ seek,
to interest him occasionally through his profounder affections, I enjoy
a privilege of neglecting harsher logic, and connecting the separate
sections of these sketches, not by ropes and cables, but by threads
of aerial gossamer.

This present chapter, it may seem, promises something of the same
episodical or parenthetic character. But in reality it does not. I am
now returning into the main current of my narrative, although I may
need to linger for a moment upon a past anecdote. I have mentioned
already, that, on inquiring at the Birmingham post office for a letter
addressed to myself, I found one directing me to join my sister Mary
at Laxton, a seat of Lord Carbery's in Northamptonshire, and giving
me to understand, that, during my residence at this place, some fixed
resolution would be taken and announced to me in regard to the future
disposal of my time, during the two or three years before I should be
old enough on the English system for matriculating at Oxford or
Cambridge. In the poor countries of Europe, where they cannot afford
double sets of scholastic establishments,--having, therefore, no
splendid schools, such as are, in fact, peculiar to England,--they are
compelled to throw the duties of such schools upon their universities;
and consequently you see boys of thirteen and fourteen, or even younger,
crowding such institutions, which, in fact, they ruin for all higher
functions. But England, whose regal establishments of both classes
emancipate her from this dependency, sends her young men to college
not until they have ceased to be boys--not earlier, therefore, than
eighteen.

But when, by what test, by what indication, does manhood commence?
Physically by one criterion, legally by another, morally by a third,
intellectually by a fourth--and all indefinite. Equator, absolute
equator, there is none. Between the two spheres of youth and age,
perfect and imperfect manhood, as in all analogous cases, there is no
strict line of bisection. The change is a large process, accomplished
within a large and corresponding space; having, perhaps, some central
or equatorial line, but lying, like that of our earth, between certain
tropics, or limits widely separated. This _intertropical_ region may,
and generally does, cover a number of years; and, therefore, it is
hard to say, even for an assigned case, by any tolerable approximation,
at what precise era it would be reasonable to describe the individual
as having ceased to be a boy, and as having attained his inauguration
as a man. Physically, we know that there is a very large latitude of
differences, in the periods of human maturity, not merely between
individual and individual, but also between nation and nation;
differences so great, that, in some southern regions of Asia, we hear
of matrons at the age of twelve. And though, as Mr. Sadler rightly
insists, a romance of exaggeration has been built upon the facts,
enough remains behind of real marvel to irritate the curiosity of the
physiologist as to its efficient, and, perhaps, of the philosopher as
to its final cause. Legally and politically, that is, conventionally,
the differences are even greater on a comparison of nations and eras.
In England we have seen senators of mark and authority, nay, even a
prime minister, the haughtiest, [1] the most despotic, and the most
irresponsible of his times, at an age which, in many states, both
ancient and modern, would have operated as a ground of absolute
challenge to the candidate for offices the meanest. Intellectually
speaking, again, a very large proportion of men _never_ attain maturity.
Nonage is their final destiny; and manhood, in this respect, is for
them a pure idea. Finally, as regards the moral development,--by which
I mean the whole system and economy of their love and hatred, of their
admirations and contempts, the total organization of their pleasures
and their pains,--hardly any of our species ever attain manhood. It
would be unphilosophic to say that intellects of the _highest_ order
were, or could be, developed fully without a corresponding development
of the whole nature. But of such intellects there do not appear above
two or three in a thousand years. It is a fact, forced upon one by the
whole experience of life, that almost all men are children, more or
less, in their tastes and admirations. Were it not for man's latent
tendencies,--were it not for that imperishable grandeur which exists
by way of germ and ultimate possibility in his nature, hidden though
it is, and often all but effaced,--how unlimited would be the contempt
amongst all the wise for his species! and misanthropy would, but for
the angelic ideal buried and imbruted in man's sordid race, become
amongst the noble fixed, absolute, and deliberately cherished.

But, to resume my question, how, under so variable a standard, both
natural and conventional, of every thing almost that can be received
for a test or a presumption of manhood, shall we seize upon any
characteristic feature, sufficiently universal to serve a _practical_
use, as a criterion of the transition from the childish mind to the
dignity (relative dignity at least) of that mind which belongs to
conscious maturity? One such criterion, and one only, as I believe,
there is--all others are variable and uncertain. It lies in the
reverential feeling, sometimes suddenly developed, towards woman, and
the idea of woman. From that moment when women cease to be regarded
with carelessness, and when the ideal of womanhood, in its total pomp
of loveliness and purity, dawns like some vast aurora upon the mind,
boyhood has ended; childish thoughts and inclinations have passed away
forever; and the gravity of manhood, with the self-respecting views
of manhood, have commenced.

            "Mentemque priorem
  Expulit, atque hominem toto sibi cedere jussit
  Pectore."--_Lucan_.

These feelings, no doubt, depend for their development in part upon
physical causes; but they are also determined by the many retarding or
accelerating forces enveloped in circumstances of position, and sometimes
in pure accident. For myself, I remember most distinctly the very day--
the scene and its accidents--when that mysterious awe fell upon me which
belongs to woman in her ideal portrait; and from that hour a profounder
gravity colored all my thoughts, and a "beauty still more beauteous" was
lit up for me in this agitating world. Lord Westport and myself had been
on a visit to a noble family about fifty miles from Dublin; and we were
returning from Tullamore by a public passage boat, on the splendid canal
which connects that place with the metropolis. To avoid attracting an
unpleasant attention to ourselves in public situations, I observed a rule
of never addressing Lord Westport by his title: but it so happened that
the canal carried us along the margin of an estate belonging to the Earl
(now Marquis) of Westmeath; and, on turning an angle, we came suddenly in
view of this nobleman taking his morning lounge in the sun. Somewhat
loftily he reconnoitred the miscellaneous party of clean and unclean
beasts, crowded on the deck of our ark, ourselves amongst the number,
whom he challenged gayly as young acquaintances from Dublin; and my
friend he saluted more than once as "My lord." This accident made known
to the assembled mob of our fellow-travellers Lord Westport's rank, and
led to a scene rather too broadly exposing the spirit of this world.
Herded together on the deck (or roof of that den denominated the "_state_
cabin") stood a party of young ladies, headed by their governess. In the
cabin below was mamma, who as yet had not condescended to illuminate our
circle, for she was an awful personage--a wit, a bluestocking, (I call
her by the name then current,) and a leader of _ton_ in Dublin and
Belfast. The fact, however, that a young lord, and one of great
expectations, was on board, brought her up. A short cross examination of
Lord Westport's French valet had confirmed the flying report, and at the
same time (I suppose) put her in possession of my defect in all those
advantages of title, fortune, and expectation which so brilliantly
distinguished my friend. Her admiration of him, and her contempt for
myself, were equally undisguised. And in the ring which she soon cleared
out for public exhibition, she made us both fully sensible of the very
equitable stations which she assigned to us in her regard. She was
neither very brilliant, nor altogether a pretender, but might be
described as a showy woman, of slight but popular accomplishments. Any
woman, however has the advantage of possessing the ear of any company;
and a woman of forty, with such tact and experience as she will naturally
have gathered in a talking practice of such duration, can find little
difficulty in mortifying a boy, or sometimes, perhaps, in tempting him to
unfortunate sallies of irritation. Me it was clear that she viewed in the
light of a humble friend, or what is known in fashionable life by the
humiliating name of a "toad-eater." Lord Westport, full of generosity in
what regarded his own pretensions, and who never had violated the perfect
equality which reigned in our deportment to each other, colored with as
much confusion as myself at her coarse insinuations. And, in reality, our
ages scarcely allowed of that relation which she supposed to exist
between us. Possibly she did _not_ suppose it; but it is essential to the
wit and the display of some people that it should have a foundation in
malice. A victim and a sacrifice are indispensable conditions in every
exhibition. In such a case, my natural sense of justice would generally
have armed me a hundred fold for retaliation; but at present, chiefly,
perhaps, because I had no effectual ally, and could count upon no
sympathy in my audience, I was mortified beyond the power of retort, and
became a passive butt to the lady's stinging contumely and the arrowy
sleet of her gay rhetoric. The narrow bounds of our deck made it not easy
to get beyond talking range; and thus it happened, that for two hours I
stood the worst of this bright lady's feud. At length the tables turned.
Two ladies appeared slowly ascending from the cabin, both in deepest
mourning, but else as different in aspect as summer and winter. The elder
was the Countess of Errol, then mourning an affliction which had laid her
life desolate, and admitted of no human consolation. Heavier grief--grief
more self-occupied and deaf to all voice of sympathy--I have not happened
to witness. She seemed scarcely aware of our presence, except it were by
placing herself as far as was possible from the annoyance of our odious
conversation. The circumstances of her loss are now forgotten; at that
time they were known to a large circle in Bath and London, and I violate
no confidence in reviewing them. Lord Errol had been privately intrusted
by Mr. Pitt with an official secret, viz., the outline and principal
details of a foreign expedition; in which, according to Mr. Pitt's
original purpose, his lordship was to have held a high command. In a
moment of intoxication, the earl confided this secret to some false
friend, who published the communication and its author. Upon this, the
unhappy nobleman, under too keen a sense of wounded honor, and perhaps
with an exaggerated notion of the evils attached to his indiscretion,
destroyed himself. Months had passed since that calamity when we met his
widow; but time appeared to have done nothing in mitigating her sorrow.
The younger lady, on the other hand, who was Lady Errol's sister,--
Heavens! what a spirit of joy and festal pleasure radiated from her eyes,
her step, her voice, her manner! She was Irish, and the very
impersonation of innocent gayety, such as we find oftener, perhaps,
amongst Irish women than those of any other country. Mourning, I have
said, she wore; from sisterly consideration, the deepest mourning; that
sole expression there was about her of gloom or solemn feeling,--

  "But all things else about her drawn
  From May time and the cheerful dawn."

Odious bluestocking [2] of Belfast and Dublin! as some would call you,
how I hated you up to that moment! half an hour after, how grateful I
felt for the hostility which had procured me such an alliance! One minute
sufficed to put the quick-witted young Irish woman in possession of our
little drama and the several parts we were playing. To look was to
understand, to wish was to execute, with this ardent child of nature.
Like Spenser's Bradamant, with martial scorn she couched her lance on the
side of the party suffering wrong. Her rank, as sister-in-law to the
constable of Scotland, gave her some advantage for winning a favorable
audience; and throwing her aegis over me, she extended that benefit to
myself. Road was now made perforce for me also; my replies were no longer
stifled in noise and laughter. Personalities were banished; literature
was extensively discussed; and that is a subject which, offering little
room to argument, offers the widest to eloquent display. I had immense
reading; vast command of words, which somewhat diminished as ideas and
doubts multiplied; and, speaking no longer to a deaf audience, but to a
generous and indulgent protectress, I threw out, as from a cornucopia, my
illustrative details and recollections; trivial enough, perhaps, as I
might now think, but the more intelligible to my present circle. It might
seem too much the case of a storm in a slop basin, if I were to spend any
words upon the revolution which ensued. Suffice it, that I remained the
lion of that company which had previously been most insultingly facetious
at my expense; and the intellectual lady finally declared the air of the
deck unpleasant.

Never, until this hour, had I thought of women as objects of a possible
interest or of a reverential love. I had known them either in their
infirmities and their unamiable aspects, or else in those sterner
relations which made them objects of ungenial and uncompanionable
feelings. Now first it struck me that life might owe half its
attractions and all its graces to female companionship. Gazing, perhaps,
with too earnest an admiration at this generous and spirited young
daughter of Ireland, and in that way making her those acknowledgments
for her goodness which I could not properly clothe in words, I was
aroused to a sense of my indecorum by seeing her suddenly blush. I
believe that Miss Bl---- interpreted my admiration rightly; for she
was not offended, but, on the contrary, for the rest of the day, when
not attending to her sister, conversed almost exclusively, and in a
confidential way, with Lord Westport and myself. The whole, in fact,
of this conversation must have convinced her that I, mere boy as I
was, (viz., about fifteen,) could not have presumed to direct my
admiration to _her_, a fine young woman of twenty, in any other
character than that of a generous champion, and a very adroit mistress
in the dazzling fence of colloquial skirmish. My admiration had, in
reality, been addressed to her moral qualities, her enthusiasm, her
spirit, and her generosity. Yet that blush, evanescent as it was,--the
mere possibility that I, so very a child, should have called up the
most transitory sense of bashfulness or confusion upon any female
cheek, first,--and suddenly, as with a flash of lightning, penetrating
some utter darkness, illuminated to my own startled consciousness,
never again to be obscured, the pure and powerful ideal of womanhood
and womanly excellence. This was, in a proper sense, a _revelation_;
it fixed a great era of change in my life; and this new-born idea,
being agreeable to the uniform tendencies of my own nature,--that is,
lofty and aspiring,--it governed my life with great power, and with
most salutary effects. Ever after, throughout the period of youth, I
was jealous of my own demeanor, reserved and awe-struck, in the presence
of women; reverencing, often, not so much _them_ as my own ideal of
woman latent in them. For I carried about with me the idea, to which
often I seemed to see an approximation, of

  "A perfect woman, nobly planned,
   To warn, to comfort, to command."

And from this day I was an altered creature, never again relapsing
into the careless, irreflective mind of childhood.

At the same time I do not wish, in paying my homage to the other sex,
and in glorifying its possible power over ours, to be confounded with
those thoughtless and trivial rhetoricians who flatter woman with a
false lip worship; and, like Lord Byron's buccaneers, hold out to them
a picture of their own empire, built only upon sensual or upon shadowy
excellences. We find continually a false enthusiasm, a mere bacchanalian
inebriation, on behalf of woman, put forth by modern verse writers,
expressly at the expense of the other sex, as though woman could be
of porcelain, whilst man was of common earthern ware. Even the
testimonies of Ledyard and Park are partly false (though amiable)
tributes to female excellence; at least they are merely one-sided
truths--aspects of one phasis, and under a peculiar angle. For, though
the sexes differ characteristically, yet they never fail to reflect
each other; nor can they differ as to the general amount of development;
never yet was woman in one stage of elevation, and man (of the same
community) in another. Thou, therefore, daughter of God and man,
all-potent woman! reverence thy own ideal; and in the wildest of the
homage which is paid to thee, as also in the most real aspects of thy
wide dominion, read no trophy of idle vanity, but a silent indication
of the possible grandeur enshrined in thy nature; which realize to the
extent of thy power,--

  "And show us how divine a thing
   A woman may become."

For what purpose have I repeated this story? The reader may, perhaps,
suppose it introductory to some tale of boyish romantic passion for
some female idol clothed with imaginary perfections. But in that case
he will be mistaken. Nothing of the kind was possible to me. I was
preoccupied by other passions. Under the disease--for disease it
was--which at that time mastered me, one solitary desire, one frenzy,
one demoniac fascination, stronger than the fascinations of calenture,
brooded over me as the moon over the tides--forcing me day and night
into speculations upon great intellectual problems, many times beyond
my strength, as indeed often beyond all human strength, but not the
less provoking me to pursue them. As a prophet in days of old had no
power to resist the voice which, from hidden worlds, called him to a
mission, sometimes, perhaps, revolting to his human sensibilities, as
he must deliver, was under a coercion to deliver the burning word that
spoke within his heart,--or as a ship on the Indian Ocean cannot seek
rest by anchoring, but _must_ run before the wrath of the monsoon,--such
in its fury, such in its unrelentingness, was the persecution that
overmastered me. School tasks under these circumstances, it may well
be supposed, had become a torment to me. For a long time they had lost
even that slight power of stimulation which belongs to the irritation
of difficulty. Easy and simple they had now become as the elementary
lessons of childhood. Not that it is possible for Greek studies, if
pursued with unflinching sincerity, ever to fall so far into the rear
as a _palaestra_ for exercising both strength and skill; but, in a
school where the exercises are pursued, in common by large classes,
the burden must be adapted to the powers of the weakest, and not of
the strongest. And, apart from that objection, at this period, the
hasty unfolding of far different intellectual interests than such as
belong to mere literature had, for a time, dimmed in my eyes the lustre
of classical studies, pursued at whatsoever depth and on whatsoever
scale. For more than a year, every thing connected with schools and
the business of schools had been growing more and more hateful to me.
At first, however, my disgust had been merely the disgust of weariness
and pride. But now, at this crisis, (for crisis it was virtually to
me,) when a premature development of my whole mind was rushing in like
a cataract, forcing channels for itself and for the new tastes which
it introduced, my disgust was no longer simply intellectual, but had
deepened into a _moral_ sense as of some inner dignity continually
violated. Once the petty round of school tasks had been felt as a
molestation; but now, at last, as a degradation. Constant conversation
with grown-up men for the last half year, and upon topics oftentimes
of the gravest order,--the responsibility that had always in some
slight degree settled upon myself since I had become the eldest
surviving son of my family, but of late much more so when circumstances
had thrown me as an English stranger upon the society of distinguished
Irishmen,--more, however, than all beside, the inevitable rebound and
counter-growth of internal dignity from the everlasting commerce with
lofty speculations, these agencies in constant operation had imbittered
my school disgust, until it was travelling fast into a mania. Precisely
at this culminating point of my self-conflict did that scene occur
which I have described with Miss Bl----. In that hour another element,
which assuredly was not wanted, fell into the seething caldron of
new-born impulses, that, like the magic caldron of Medea, was now
transforming me into a new creature. Then first and suddenly I brought
powerfully before myself the change which was worked in the aspects
of society by the presence of woman--woman, pure, thoughtful, noble,
coming before me as a Pandora crowned with perfections. Right over
against this ennobling spectacle, with equal suddenness, I placed the
odious spectacle of schoolboy society--no matter in what region of the
earth; schoolboy society, so frivolous in the matter of its disputes,
often so brutal in the manner; so foolishly careless, and yet so
revoltingly selfish; dedicated ostensibly to learning, and yet beyond
any section of human beings so conspicuously ignorant. Was it indeed
_that_ heavenly which I was soon to exchange for _this_ earthly? It
seemed to me, when contemplating the possibility that I could yet have
nearly three years to pass in such society as this, that I heard some
irresistible voice saying, Lay aside thy fleshly robes of humanity,
and enter for a season into some brutal incarnation. But what
connection had this painful prospect with Laxton? Why should it press
upon my anxieties in approaching that mansion, more than it had done
at Westport? Naturally enough, in part, because every day brought me
nearer to the horror from which I recoiled: my return to England would
recall the attention of my guardians to the question, which as yet had
slumbered; and the knowledge that I had reached Northamptonshire would
precipitate their decision. Obscurely, besides, through a hint which
had reached me, I guessed what this decision was likely to be, and it
took the very worst shape it could have taken. All this increased my
agitation from hour to hour. But all this was quickened and barbed by
the certainty of so immediately meeting Lady Carbery. To her it was,
and to her only, that I could look for any useful advice or any
effectual aid. She over my mother, as in turn my mother over _her_,
exercised considerable influence; whilst my mother's power was very
seldom disturbed by the other guardians. The mistress of Laxton it
was, therefore, whose opinion upon the case would virtually be decisive;
since, if _she_ saw no reasonable encouragement to any contest with
my guardians, I felt too surely that my own uncountenanced and unaided
energies drooped too much for such an effort. Who Lady Carbery was,
I will explain in my next chapter, entitled _Laxton_. Meantime, to me,
individually, she was the one sole friend that ever I could regard as
entirely fulfilling the offices of an honorable friendship. She had
known me from infancy: when I was in my first year of life, she, an
orphan and a great heiress, was in her tenth or eleventh; and on her
occasional visits to "the Farm," (a rustic old house then occupied by
my father,) I, a household pet, suffering under an ague, which lasted
from my first year to my third, naturally fell into her hands as a
sort of superior toy, a toy that could breathe and talk. Every year
our intimacy had been renewed, until her marriage interrupted it. But,
after no very long interval, when my mother had transferred her
household to Bath, in that city we frequently met again; Lord Carbery
liking Bath for itself, as well as for its easy connection with London,
whilst Lady Carbery's health was supposed to benefit by the waters.
Her understanding was justly reputed a fine one; but, in general, it
was calculated to win respect rather than love, for it was masculine
and austere, with very little toleration for sentiment or romance. But
to myself she had always been indulgently kind; I was protected in her
regard, beyond any body's power to dislodge me, by her childish
remembrances; and of late years she had begun to entertain the highest
opinion of my intellectual promises. Whatever could be done to assist
my views, I most certainly might count upon her doing; that is to say,
within the limits of her conscientious judgment upon the propriety of
my own plans. Having, besides, so much more knowledge of the world
than myself, she might see cause to dissent widely from my own view
of what was expedient as well as what was right; in which case I was
well assured that, in the midst of kindness and unaffected sympathy,
she would firmly adhere to the views of my guardians. In any
circumstances she would have done so. But at present a new element had
begun to mix with the ordinary influences which governed her estimates
of things: she had, as I knew from my sister's report, become religious;
and her new opinions were of a gloomy cast, Calvinistic, in fact, and
tending to what is _now_ technically known in England as "Low Church,"
or "Evangelical Christianity." These views, being adopted in a great
measure from my mother, were naturally the same as my mother's; so
that I could form some guess as to the general spirit, if not the exact
direction, in which her counsels would flow. It is singular that,
until this time, I had never regarded Lady Carbery under any relation
whatever to female intellectual society. My early childish knowledge
of her had shut out that mode of viewing her. But now, suddenly, under
the new-born sympathies awakened by the scene with Miss Bl----, I
became aware of the distinguished place she was qualified to fill in
such society. In that Eden--for such it had now consciously become to
me--I had no necessity to cultivate an interest or solicit an admission;
already, through Lady Carbery's too flattering estimate of my own
pretensions, and through old, childish memories, I held the most
distinguished place. This Eden, she it was that lighted up suddenly
to my new-born powers of appreciation in all its dreadful points of
contrast with the killing society of schoolboys. She it was, fitted
to be the glory of such an Eden, who probably would assist in banishing
me for the present to the wilderness outside. My distress of mind was
inexpressible. And, in the midst of glittering saloons, at times also
in the midst of society the most fascinating, I--contemplating the
idea of that gloomy academic dungeon to which for three long years I
anticipated too certainly a sentence of exile--felt very much as in
the middle ages must have felt some victim of evil destiny, inheritor
of a false, fleeting prosperity, that suddenly, in a moment of time,
by signs blazing out past all concealment on his forehead, was detected
as a leper; and in that character, as a public nuisance and universal
horror, was summoned instantly to withdraw from society; prince or
peasant, was indulged with no time for preparation or evasion; and,
from the midst of any society, the sweetest or the most dazzling, was
driven violently to take up his abode amid the sorrow-haunted chambers
of a lazar house.


FOOTNOTES

[1] "_The haughtiest_."--Which, however, is very doubtful. Such,
certainly, was the popular impression. But people who knew Mr. Pitt
intimately have always ascribed to him a nature the most amiable and
social, under an unfortunate reserve of manner. Whilst, on the contrary,
Mr. Fox, ultra democratic in his principles and frank in his address, was
repulsively aristocratic in his temper and sympathies.

[2] I have sometimes had occasion to remark, as a noticeable phenomenon
of our present times, that the order of ladies called _bluestockings,_ by
way of reproach, has become totally extinct amongst us, except only here
and there with superannuated clingers to obsolete remembrances. The
reason of this change is interesting; and I do not scruple to call it
honorable to our intellectual progress. In the last (but still more in
the penultimate) generation, any tincture of literature, of liberal
curiosity about science, or of ennobling interest in books, carried with
it an air of something unsexual, mannish, and (as it was treated by the
sycophantish satirists that for ever humor the prevailing folly) of
something ludicrous. This mode of treatment was possible so long as the
literary class of ladies formed a feeble minority. But now, when two vast
peoples, English and American, counting between them forty-nine millions,
when the leaders of transcendent civilization (to say nothing of Germany
and France) behold their entire educated class, male and female alike,
calling out, not for _Panem et circenses_, (Give us this day our daily
bread and our games of the circus,) but for _Panem et literas_, (Give us
this day our daily bread and literature,) the universality of the call
has swept away the very name of _bluestocking_; the very possibility of
the ridicule has been undermined by stern realities; and the verbal
expression of the reproach is fast becoming, not simply obsolete, but
even unintelligible to our juniors. By the way, the origin of this term
_bluestocking_ has never been satisfactorily accounted for, unless the
reader should incline to think _my_ account satisfactory. I incline to
that opinion myself. Dr. Bisset (in his Life of Burke) traces it idly to
a _sobriquet_ imposed by Mrs. Montagu, and the literary ladies of her
circle, upon a certain obscure Dr. Stillingfleet, who was the sole
masculine assistant at their literary sittings in Portman Square, and
chose, upon some inexplicable craze, to wear blue stockings. The
translation, however, of this name from the doctor's legs to the ladies'
legs is still unsolved. That great _hiatus _needs filling up. I,
therefore, whether erroneously or not, in reviewing a German historical
work of some pretensions, where this problem emerges, rejected the
Portman Square doctor altogether, and traced the term to an old Oxford
statute--one of the many which meddle with dress, and which charges it as
a point of conscience upon loyal scholastic students that they shall wear
cerulean socks. Such socks, therefore, indicated scholasticism: worn by
females, they would indicate a self-dedication to what for them would be
regarded as pedantic studies. But, says an objector, no rational _female_
would wear cerulean socks. Perhaps not, female taste being too good. But
as such socks would symbolize such a profession of pedantry, so,
inversely, any profession of pedantry, by whatever signs expressed, would
be symbolized reproachfully by the imputation of wearing cerulean socks.
It classed a woman, in effect, as a scholastic pedant. Now, however, when
the vast diffusion of literature as a sort of daily bread has made all
ridicule of female literary culture not less ridiculous than would be the
attempt to ridicule that same daily bread, the whole phenomenon, thing
and word, substance and shadow, is melting away from amongst us.
Something of the same kind has happened in the history of silver forks.
Forks of any kind, as is well known, were first introduced into Italy;
thence by a fantastic (but, in this instance, judicious) English
traveller _immediately _(and not _mediately through France_) were
introduced into England. This elegant revolution occurred about 240 years
ago; and never since that day have there been wanting English protesters
against the infamy of eating without forks; and for the last 160 years,
at least, against the paganism of using _steel _forks; or, 2dly, two-
pronged forks; or, 3dly, of putting the knife into the mouth. At least
120 years ago, the Duchess of Queensberry, (Gay's duchess,) that leonine
woman, used to shriek out, on seeing a hyperborean squire conveying peas
to his abominable mouth on the point of a knife. "O, stop him, stop him!
that man's going to commit suicide." This anecdote argues silver forks as
existing much more than a century back, else the squire had a good
defence. Since then, in fact, about the time of the French revolution,
silver forks have been recognized as not less indispensable appendages to
any elegant dinner table than silver spoons; and, along with silver
forks, came in the explosion of that anti-Queensberry brutalism which
forks first superseded--viz., the fiendish practice of introducing the
knife between the lips. But, in defiance of all these facts, certain
select hacks of the daily press, who never had an opportunity of seeing a
civilized dinner, and fancying that their own obscene modes of feeding
prevailed every where, got up the name of the _Silver-fork_ School,
(which should have indicated the school of decency,) as representing some
ideal school of fantastic or ultra refinement. At length, however, when
cheap counterfeits of silver have made the decent four-pronged fork
cheaper than the two-pronged steel barbarism, what has followed? Why,
this--that the universality of the diffusion has made it hopeless any
longer to banter it. There is, therefore, this strict analogy between
"the silver fork" reproach and "the bluestocking" reproach--that in both
cases alike a recognition, gradually becoming universal, of the thing
itself, as a social necessity, has put down forever all idle attempts to
throw ridicule upon it--upon literature, in the one case, as a most
appropriate female ornament; and upon silver forks, on the other, as an
element of social decorum.

       *       *       *       *       *

The author has exerted himself every where to keep the text accurate;
and he is disposed to believe that his own care, combined with the
general accuracy of the press, must have enabled him to succeed in
that object. But if it should appear that any errors have after all
escaped him, he must request his readers to excuse them, after
explaining that he suffers under the oppression of a nervous
distraction, which renders all labors exacting any energy of attention
inexpressibly painful.





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