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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 729, December 15, 1877
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 729, December 15, 1877" ***

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[Illustration: CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL

OF

POPULAR

LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

Fourth Series

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.

NO. 729.      SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1877.      PRICE 1½_d._]



A BUNCH OF KEYS.


I am a professional man, and reside in the West End of London. One
morning some few months back, my assistant on coming to attend to his
duties produced a bunch of keys, which he informed me he had just
picked up at the corner of a street leading from Oxford Street.

'Hadn't they best be handed over to the police?' suggested my
assistant. I wish to goodness I had at once closed with his suggestion;
but I didn't, much to my own cost, as will be presently seen.

'Well, I don't know,' was my answer. 'I rather think it will be a wiser
plan to advertise them, if the owner is really to have a chance of
recovering them; for to my mind, articles found in that way and handed
over to the police are rarely heard of again.'

An advertisement for the _Times_ was duly drawn up and sent off for
insertion. It merely stated where the keys had been picked up, and
where the owner of the bunch could have it returned to him on giving
a proper description. The next morning the advertisement appeared;
and though I half expected that some applications might be made later
on in the same day, it passed over quite quietly. But the following
morning I had a foretaste of the trouble that awaited me so soon as the
postman had deposited my letters in the box and given his accustomed
knock. A glance at my table shewed me that my correspondence was very
considerably beyond its average that morning. The very first letter I
opened was in reference to the advertisement; and before I had gone
through the collection I found there were over twenty applications
for the bunch of keys in my possession. Some of the writers took the
trouble to describe the keys they had lost; but none of them were in
the least like those that had been picked up by my assistant. Some did
not take the trouble to give any description at all, or to state if
they had been in the part of the town where the keys were found; and
a few boldly claimed them on the strength of having dropped a bunch
miles from the spot indicated in the advertisement!

By the time I had got through my letters and my breakfast, my
servant came to tell me that my waiting-room was already full of
people--'mostly ladies,' he said--though it was nearly two hours
before the time I was accustomed to see any one professionally. With a
foreboding that a good deal of worry and a loss of much valuable time
was in store for me, I entered my consulting-room, and gave orders that
the ladies should be admitted in the order of their arrival. They were
all applicants for the keys; and out of the sixteen persons that were
waiting, fourteen were ladies. The two gentlemen were soon despatched.
They _had_ lost keys, near the spot for anything they could tell; but
on being satisfied that what had been found did in no way agree with
the description of what they had lost, they apologised for the trouble
and went at once.

But it was no such easy matter to get rid of my fourteen
lady-applicants. Some of them were for inflicting upon me a narration
of family affairs that had not the most remote connection with the
business in hand. A few kept closely enough to the subject on which
they had come; but would not take a denial that the keys in my
possession were not the least like those they said they had lost; and
it was only at the sacrifice of some of my usual politeness that I was
able to get rid of them. Not one of the morning's arrival could make
out anything like a fair claim, and one or two owned that they had not
even been in the quarter where the keys were found on the day specified.

More letters, more applicants, came as the day wore on; and I began
heartily to repent of my well-meant desire to benefit my fellow-mortals
by taking the trouble to find out the rightful owner of a lost article.
I was just on the point of giving orders to my servant to put off all
further applicants until the following morning, when he ushered in
a comfortable-looking lady of middle age, who proceeded straight to
business by at once describing with the greatest accuracy the bunch of
keys that had given me so much anxiety that day; and assuring me that
she had passed the spot indicated in the advertisement on the morning
they were found.

'Nine keys on the bunch, all Chubb's patent; three very small ones,
five of various sizes, and one latch-key longer than any of the others.'

The description was perfect. Some of the other applicants had curiously
enough been right as to the number, but wrong as to description.

I at once told my lady visitor that I had no doubt the keys were hers;
and that I was ready to hand them over to her. But I ventured to add
that it would give me greater security were she to permit my assistant
to accompany her to her residence, and there, in his presence, to
open the different locks to which the keys belonged. To this proposal
not the smallest objection was raised. She begged I would call my
assistant, as she had a cab waiting at the door. The direction was
given to some place in Bloomsbury, and they drove off. In less than an
hour my assistant returned. He stated that the lady opened the street
door with the latch-key, and that the other eight keys opened desks,
writing-tables, cash-boxes, &c.--all quite correct and satisfactorily.
The expense of the advertisement was of course paid.

Congratulating myself that this troublesome business was well over, and
mentally resolving that another time, under similar circumstances, I
should act on my assistant's suggestion, and hand such matters over to
the police, I gave orders that all applicants that might come were to
be told that the rightful owner had been found and that the keys were
disposed of.

Two days passed, and I had almost dismissed the whole affair from my
mind. On the morning of the third day my attention was attracted by
an altercation going on between my servant and an irate lady--well
advanced in years--to whom he refused admittance. Anxious to
escape disturbance, I gave orders that she should be shewn into my
consulting-room, where I presently went to see what she wanted.

'I want to know why you never answered my letter about the bunch of
keys you advertised as having found, and which I lost? I have come for
them now.'

'But, madam, none of the letters described the keys accurately, and I
was therefore not bound to notice any of the written applications that
reached me.'

'Not describe them properly! But I _can_ describe them; they were nine
in number on the bunch.'

'So far, that is right, madam. Proceed with your description.'

The description was entirely wrong; and I told her so. I told her,
moreover, that the rightful owner had been found, who had not only
described the keys properly, but who had taken my assistant to her
house and had used each individual key in his presence. I added that
if she were not satisfied, I could furnish her with the address of the
lady to whom the keys had been given up, and that she might call and
try to establish her claim if she fancied she had one.

She was very far from being satisfied. She wanted to argue the matter
further and, as I feared, to an unreasonable length. I told her firmly
I could waste no further time on her; whereupon she left vowing
vengeance.

The threats of the old lady did not much disturb me; but they were not
altogether so unmeaning as I supposed, for in two days thereafter a
summons was handed into me, demanding my presence at the police court
of the district, to answer for my refusal to deliver up to the rightful
owner property belonging to her, which I owned to having found, but
refused to account for.

That I was very much annoyed may be easily supposed; but at the same
time I could not help being somewhat amused, bearing in recollection
how I had tried to satisfy the unreasonable dame, who had evidently
more money than wit, seeing she was ready to waste it on so hopeless a
case.

I duly made my appearance before the worthy magistrate, whom I happened
to know slightly, and who could not restrain an amused grin when I was
called forward. My assistant accompanied me as a matter of course.

The old lady had engaged a smart lawyer, who did his best in trying
to make out a case; but his client rather weakened his statement by
her inconsequential answers to both her counsel and the magistrate.
My answer was easy. I shewed how the prosecutrix had utterly failed
in describing the keys. I told that the rightful owner had rightly
described them; and I put my assistant into the box to prove his having
seen every key in the bunch fitted into its proper lock.

'Were you passing along Oxford Street on the morning that this bunch of
keys was found?' asked the magistrate of the old lady.

'I was that way in an omnibus in the afternoon,' was the answer.

'But the keys in question were found in the morning, and were lying on
the pavement,' remarked His Worship.

'Ah, I don't know how that might be,' said my persecutor; 'but I know I
lost a bunch of keys.'

'Well, the case is dismissed; and you must pay expenses.' And so ended
the case.

Now I have no doubt the old lady, though so wrong-headed in the claim
she set up against me, had really lost a bunch of keys on the day my
assistant made his--for me--unlucky find. Nor do I for a moment doubt
the fact of some of the other applicants having also lost keys on
the same day and perhaps near the same spot. But the applications by
letter and personally numbered altogether not far short of fifty; and
it may be set down as a moral certainty that they did not all lose,
each of them, a bunch of keys on that particular day, and in Oxford
Street--without being particular as to the spot. My theory is, that
some of them had probably got their pockets picked of their keys while
travelling by omnibus, and could not of course tell exactly where they
lost them. Others may have simply mislaid their keys, and jumped to
the conclusion that they were lost. Some others, I fear, had not lost
keys at all, but merely came to my place out of idle curiosity. All of
them, I know, gave me more trouble than I ever hope to have again in an
affair of the kind.

[We can hardly say that the foregoing narrative, to call it so, is
overstrained. It points to a marvellous want of logical precision in
reasoning which is far from uncommon. Some years ago, in these pages,
we mentioned a droll case within our own experience. One day we chanced
to find a brooch, and advertised the fact in the newspapers. Next day
a lady called on us to say that she had lost a ring, and asked if we
knew anything about it. 'Madam,' was our reply, 'you must understand
that it was a brooch we found, and not a ring.' 'O yes, that maybe
so; but I thought as you were in the way of finding things, you might
perhaps have seen something of my ring.' A very pretty example this of
want of common-sense. Our advice to all who happen to find any article
of value on the street is, to take it at once to the police office,
where it may be reclaimed by the owner. Those who will not take this
trouble, should let the article alone. Finding does not constitute
ownership. We knew a gentleman, now deceased, who in the course of his
life punctiliously refrained from picking up any article of value on
the street, as the article was not his, and he might have been brought
into trouble. This was being too fastidious, for it was allowing the
article to be appropriated by possibly some dishonest person. True
kindness and true honesty consist in lodging the article found, at the
police office, whence, if no owner casts up within twelve months, it
will be sent to the finder, whose lawful property it becomes.--ED.]



THE LAND OF THE INCAS.


Peru recalls to every thoughtful student of history not only the
half-barbaric splendour of the empire of the Incas, but the vanished
prestige and glory of their Spanish conquerors. The gorgeous figure
of Pizarro, the stately hidalgo, the successful captain, the ruthless
soldier of fortune, meets us still at every step in the once rich
Indian empire he won for Spain. On that low swampy mangrove-fringed
stretch of coast, a tangled maze of vines and flowering creepers, the
half-famished Castilian adventurer landed in 1524. And here, where the
full tide of the Pacific rolls in upon the beach in columns of snowy
foam, he, in 1535, founded Lima, the 'city of the kings.'

To examine the cities of the Incas, their ruined palaces, and other
objects of note in this interesting region, was a task undertaken and
carried out by Mr Squier, whose researches have been embodied in a
volume entitled the _Land of the Incas_, the perusal of which enables
us to offer the following items to our readers.

The coast of Peru is arid and barren, lined with guano islands, which
although adding little to the charm of the scenery, are found as
lucrative to-day as the mines of Potosi and Pasco were in the heyday
of Spanish greatness. Thanks to this useful but unfragrant compost,
Pizarro's city of the kings is still rich and flourishing, though the
veins of silver are exhausted, and the golden sands no longer glitter
with the precious ore, which fired the Spanish breasts of old with such
fierce cupidity. It is very unhealthy, and although in the tropics,
the climate for six months in the year is extremely damp and almost
cold. Lima, which stands in an earthquake region, is built so as to
sustain the least possible damage from the ever recurring shocks of
those alarming phenomena. The private houses are never more than two
stories in height. They have flat roofs and projecting balconies, and
are constructed (one can hardly say built) of cane, plastered with mud,
and painted in imitation of stone. Most of them have courts with open
galleries in the Moorish style, extending along the four sides; and
many of them have towers, from which, in addition to the surrounding
scenery, an extended view of acres of flat roofs may be obtained--the
said flat roofs being piled with heaps of refuse, filth, and all manner
of abominations; very often they are used as poultry-yards, and here
the buzzards, which act as scavengers in all the South American cities,
roost at night.

The furniture in the better class of these wicker and mud-built
dwellings is often very fine: antique plate, velvet hangings, costly
mirrors, and family portraits, that smile or frown upon you with
all the charm or vigour the brush of Vandyke or Velasquez was able
to impart. The _pasios_ or public walks are planted with trees, and
the arcades, which are lined with fine shops, are a very favourite
promenade. The inhabitants of Lima of all grades are remarkably fond of
flowers, particularly of roses, which they contrive to keep in bloom
all the year round. 'Roses,' Mr Squier says, 'bloom in every court and
blush on every balcony, and decorate alike the heavy tresses of the
belle and the curly shock of the zamba.'

Bull-fights are a favourite amusement, and so is cock-fighting,
although it is no longer, as formerly, practised in the public streets.

The markets are well supplied, especially with fruit and vegetables.
Fish is good and the butcher-meat of fair quality. The luckless
traveller in Central America who could get nothing but chickens
and turkeys to eat, and was afraid at last that his whiskers would
transform themselves into feathers, may go to Lima with all safety, as
a medium-sized turkey there costs twenty dollars in gold. The cookery
is Spanish in its character, and consists much of stews savoury with
oil and garlic and pungent with red pepper.

Twenty miles from Lima is Pachacamac, a sacred city of the Incas,
where once stood a gigantic temple, dedicated to a deity of the same
name, the supreme creator and preserver of the universe. The ruins of
two large wings of this temple still remain, one of which contains a
perfect well-turned arch, which is so rare a feature in American ruins
that Mr Squier says 'it is the only proper arch I ever found in all my
explorations in Central and South America.' Pachacamac was the Mecca
of South America; and its barren hills and dry nitrous sand-heaps are
filled with the dead bodies of ancient pilgrims, who travelled from
all parts of the country to lay their bones, not their dust, in this
hallowed spot. 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,' has no meaning here; the
dead body does not decay, but is dried and shrivelled into a mummy. Mr
Squier had the curiosity to open the shroud of what may once have been
perchance an Aztec belle. The body, which was that of a young girl,
was in a sitting posture, supported on a workbox of braided reeds, in
which were rude specimens of knitting, spindles for weaving, spools of
thread, needles of bone and bronze, a small bronze knife, a fan, and
a set of curious cosmetic-boxes formed of the hollow bones of a bird.
These were filled with pigments of various colours, and were carefully
stopped with cotton. Beside them was a small powder-puff of cotton
for applying them to the face, and a rude mirror formed of a piece of
iron pyrites highly polished. There was also a netting instrument and
a little crushed ornament of gold intended to represent a butterfly.
The long black hair, still glossy as in life, was braided and plaited
round the forehead, which was bound with a fillet of white cloth
adorned with silver spangles. A silver bracelet hung on the shrunken
arm; and between the feet was the dried body of a dead parrot, a pet
no doubt in life, and sacrificed to bear its mistress company into the
dread unknown land of spirits.

In the fertile valley of Canete, amid rich sugar-plantations, Mr Squier
found vast pyramidal buildings, rising stage upon stage, with broad
flights of steps winding round them to the summits. While sketching
amid a maze of these massive shattered adobe walls, our author was
startled by seeing three men suddenly leap over a low wall into the
vivid sunshine before him. 'God and peace be with you!' he said as
calmly as he could, instinctively divining that his best cue was to
appear as cool as possible. 'God and peace be with you!' responded the
bandits, for such they were; and after a little bullying, an amicable
parley ensued, which had for its object the acquisition of Mr Squier's
breech-loading rifle, a weapon which kindled in the bosom of Rossi
Arci, the robber chief, an ardent, but with all due deference to Mr
Longfellow, a wasted affection, for he did not obtain it. Four weeks
afterwards, Mr Squier saw the swollen disfigured corpse of this bandit
captain exposed to public view in one of the principal streets of Lima.

At Truxillo our author came across a treasure-hunter, one Colonel La
Rosa. This man spent his whole life in burrowing like a mole among
the old ruins in search of buried gold, gems, silver goblets, or any
other relic of antiquity which he could turn into money. Under his
guidance, Mr Squier visited a great pyramid called the Temple of the
Sun, and the extensive, interesting, and well preserved ruins of Grand
Chimu. Here he found vast halls, the walls of which were covered with
arabesques, and wide corridors from which spacious rooms diverged. The
walls of these apartments were bright with vivid and delicate colours;
and Colonel La Rosa shewed him where in the midst of them he had found
a walled-up closet filled with vessels of gold and silver placed in
regular layers one above the other, as if they had been hidden there in
some dire emergency. Two vaults were also discovered filled with silver
cups and goblets. The silver of which these vessels were composed was
much alloyed with copper, and was so much oxidised that it had become
exceedingly brittle. Mr Squier obtained possession of two of the cups.
They have the appearance of being hammered out of a single piece of
metal, are as thick as ordinary tin-plate, and are both adorned by the
representation of a human face, with clearly cut features and a large
aquiline nose.

About a hundred yards to the westward of the excavations which have
revealed the half-buried palace of the ancient princes of Chimu, is a
low broad mound, which has been found to be a necropolis, filled with
bodies richly clad and covered with gold and silver ornaments. Many of
the heads of the dead bodies found by Colonel La Rosa were gilt and
encircled by bands of gold; and one body, that of a woman, was covered
with thin sheets of gold, and wrapped in a robe spangled with silver
fishes. Warlike weapons and agricultural implements, knives, war-clubs,
lance-heads, and spear-points, with spades and mattocks of different
shapes, all of bronze, are found abundantly in the vicinity of these
ruins; as are also specimens of excellent pottery, on which are
modelled with spirit and fidelity representations of birds, animals,
fishes, shells, fruit, vegetables, and the human face and form.

Leaving Chimu reluctantly, Mr Squier travelled down to the coast, along
which he sailed, examining the coast ruins at Calaveras and other
places, till he reached Arica, the port of Tacna.

This is peculiarly an earthquake region; and some of these subterranean
convulsions are terrible to a degree which we dwellers in a temperate
clime can scarcely even imagine. A notably dreadful and destructive
earthquake was that of 1868, which shook to its base all the adjacent
country. It was first noted in Arica about five o'clock in the morning,
its premonitory symptoms being immense clouds of dust, which were seen
slowly advancing across the plain in dusky columns at a distance of
about ten miles.

Nearer and nearer they came; and in the awful pause of dread expectancy
that ensued, the distant snowy peaks of the Cordilleras were observed
to nod and reel, as if executing some horribly suggestive cyclopean
dance. Gradually this impulse extended itself to the mountains nearer
to the town, till the huge _morro_ or headland, a little to the left of
it, began to rock violently to and fro, heaving with sickening lurches,
as if about to cast itself loose into space, and always bringing to
again, like a hard bestead ship in a driving tempest. As it worked
back and forward, huge fragments of stone detached themselves from its
cave-worn surface, and fell with deafening crash into the surf below;
while under and above all, like a subdued monotone of horror, was a
prolonged incessant rumble, now like the roll of distant thunder, but
ever and anon at irregular intervals swelling into a deafening crash,
like the discharge of a whole park of artillery.

As far as could be seen, the usually solid earth was agitated by a slow
wave-like motion, which became first tremulous, and then unspeakably
violent, throwing half of the houses into heaps of ruins, and yawning
into wide chasm-like fissures, from which mephitic sulphurous vapours
issued. Shrieks and groans of anguish filled the air, a mournful
interlude shrilly resounding at intervals above the subterranean
thunder, as the terrified crowd rushed to the mole, to seek refuge
on board the vessels in the harbour. Scarcely had they reached this
hoped-for haven of safety, when the sea, treacherous as the heaving
land, glided softly back, and then rushing forward with a terrific
roar, submerged the mole with its panting terror-stricken occupants,
and poured on in a foaming flood over the prostrate town, where it
completed the havoc the earthquake had begun. It then rushed back
almost more suddenly than it had advanced, the whole fearful deluge
occupying only about five minutes. Again and again the earth quivered
and shook, as if about to rend asunder and drop into some unfathomable
abyss below, and again the sea dashed forward as if in frantic fury,
and then as suddenly recoiled, the last time shewing a perpendicular
wall of water forty-five feet high, capped by an angry crest of foam.
This tremendous wave swept miles inshore, where it stranded the largest
ships then lying in the harbour, one of them a United States frigate.

In Arica Mr Squier equipped himself for a journey over the Cordilleras.
Nothing can exceed the savage wildness of these mountains, or the
difficulties and dangers of the long narrow passes that intersect
them. Mr Squier says: 'I have crossed the Alps by the routes of the
Simplon, the Grand St Bernard, and St Gothard; but at no point on
any of them have I witnessed a scene so wild and utterly desolate
as that which spreads out around La Portada.' It is the very acmé
of desolation--treeless, shrubless, bare of grass, with scarcely a
lichen clinging to the rugged sides of the huge cliffs. Pile upon pile
towering to the sullen skies, rise ridges of dark-brown hills bristling
with snowy peaks, from several of which long trails of smoke stream
lazily out upon the air, shewing where the pent volcano surges in
ominous life beneath the wintry wastes of snow.

Descending from the Cordilleras, Mr Squier examined Tiaguanuco, the
Baalbec of the New World; and from thence proceeded to Cuzco, the
City of the Sun, the ancient capital of the Incas, which abounds with
memorials of their vanished greatness. Here stood a magnificent temple
of the sun, which was lined throughout with plates of gold, two of
which, preserved as curiosities, were shewn to Mr Squier. The huge
stones composing this and other massive buildings which yet remain are
cut and fitted together with a precision which has been equalled, but
never surpassed. So accurately do they fit, that it is impossible to
pass the finest-bladed knife between their edges.

In close proximity to these splendid ruins, sometimes under their
very walls, our author found rude circles of stone, such as still
exist at Stonehenge and in other parts of Great Britain, and in
Brittany. Bidding adieu to Cuzco and its suggestive relics, Mr Squier
in his journey to the coast passed over a stupendously high swinging
bridge formed of cables of braided withes. This dreadful rope-edifice
swung freely in space between two gigantic cliffs, which guarded
like twin sentinels the rush of the deep and rapid Apurimac, one of
the head-waters of the Amazon. It was something worse than the most
breakneck defile among the Cordilleras. 'Never,' says our author,
'will I forget this experience. I can see still the frail structure
swaying at dizzy height over a dark abyss filled with the deep hoarse
roar of the river. My eyes grew dim, my heart faint, my feet unsteady
as I struggled across, not daring to cast a look on either hand.' It
was no wonder that the nerves of one of the party, an artist, were
so shaken that he declared that rather than set a foot upon it, he
would swim across the Apurimac. This he did, and found the water so
delightfully cool and pleasant, that he resolved to prolong his bath,
and placed the bundle containing his clothes and shoes on a convenient
cliff, whence a perverse gust of wind blew them into the water. Long
he pursued them, with no result except the conviction that he had lost
them irrecoverably and his way as well. In this condition, foodless,
garmentless, he wandered about for three days in pathless thickets.
His feet were cut and bleeding; and his body, scratched and torn, was
scorched all day by a blistering sun, and so chilled at night by the
cold breezes that he was glad to bury himself in the warm sand. On the
fourth day he staggered, faint with fatigue and hunger, to the door
of an Indian hut, and the inhabitants mistaking him in his ghastly
squalor for the incarnate genius of fever, which they dread above all
things, half killed with stones what little life was left in him before
they would listen to his story.

Mr Squier's researches abundantly shew that, possessing no written
language, the Incas have impressed their history in characters which
yet remain upon the scenes of their former glory. Their greatness
may be traced in the splendid ruins of their temples and palaces.
Their civilisation is abundantly proved by their bridges, roads,
caravansaries, reservoirs, aqueducts, and perfect and extensive system
of irrigation, by means of which vegetation was carried in terraces
thousands of feet up the steep hill-sides, and the now desert coast
blushed like a garden with the profuse luxuriance of the tropics. One
may well ask, which were the barbarians, they or the Spaniards who soon
made a Sahara of that which they found a Goshen? Their great fortresses
bristling on every hill-side teach us alike the vastness of their
military power and their great resources. Of their internal polity we
catch a suggestive glimpse from their ample prisons; and we learn how
they lived as we turn over curiously their household and agricultural
implements, or mark with mute surprise the exquisitely fine texture of
some mummy shroud, or the delicate carving on some long-buried goblet,
or the graceful form and excellent workmanship of some fragile relic
of earthenware. We can even make a guess, as we look at their burial
towers and tombs, at the current of national thought on one important
subject. They who laid the dead so carefully, so tenderly to rest,
believed that in the far-off world of shadows the soul would live again.



A CAST OF THE NET.

THE STORY OF A DETECTIVE OFFICER.


CHAPTER III.

There was nothing for me to do, that I could see, for a day or two,
beyond improving my acquaintance with the factory hands, and keeping
my eyes open generally; and in pursuance of this latter branch of the
business, I got up very early on the following morning, and sat for
an hour or two after daylight in the arbours or boxes I have so often
mentioned. There was one great charm about the _Anchor_. It was low
and dirty, decaying and disreputable, and the landlord was a drinking
fellow, utterly bankrupt and hopeless, who troubled himself about
nothing. His potman was sottish also, and too accustomed to riff-raff
and queer doings of every kind to trouble himself about me; so I was
thoroughly at my ease. All I saw which appeared worthy of notice was
that the ill-tempered ferryman rowed out alone to the ship I have
spoken of, and disappeared round its bows. I watched for some time, but
did not see him come out into midstream; but just before I gave up my
watch, he came into sight again. Whether he had crossed after rowing up
a bit and had come back, or whether he had been lying all the time just
hidden by the ship, of course I could not say.

I had told the potman that I was in hope of seeing a friend of mine
who was going to Australia and had half promised to take me with him.
I consequently shewed a great deal of interest in the craft, and asked
him lots of questions about them. This morning I guessed that the ship
(the ferryman's ship), was an Australian liner; and this was just the
joke for the potman, who laughed till his beery cheeks shook again
at my mistaking a slow old Dutch trader for an Australian liner. He
was quite severe in his way of poking fun at me; but he ought to have
pitied my ignorance, not ridiculed it--and so I told him.

I thought I would pass away the morning by going over to T---- and
watching Mr Byrle's house. I had learnt that he was to be from home
all day; Miss Doyle had told me so herself; so I knew _she_ knew it
also; and if she had any suspicious visits to pay, or queer company to
receive, now was the time: that was evident. Accordingly, I went to
T---- by rail as before, starting in the rain; but luckily, just as I
got there it cleared up and the sun came out. To give me a chance of
learning something, I got asking my way to a lot of places I didn't
want to go to, just by way of starting a conversation, you know; and
the man I pitched upon was employed in the goods shed of the railway,
but did not seem to have much to do just then; and when I asked him if
he could spare time to run across to the public-house with me, he said
yes, he thought he could; and he did.

We could see Mr Byrle's house from this place, so it answered as well
for me as any other; and while I was talking to the porter, I saw a
tall young fellow, good-looking, but rather flash-looking too, go past,
and in three or four minutes I saw him ring at the gate of Mr Byrle's
house.

'Hollo!' I says to my railway friend, 'isn't that Sims Reeves? Does he
come down here to give lessons?'

He was no more like Sims Reeves than I am, but his was the first name I
could think of.

'Sims Reeves!' says the porter; 'why that's young Mr Byrle, as gives
his father no end of trouble. You wouldn't see him there, only the old
gent is off somewhere for a while. He went from our station last night.'

'Indeed!' I said (and then I saw the young man go into the house); 'and
what's the quarrel about?'

'Oh, his goings on,' said the railway man. 'Why, I have heard that his
father has paid thousands on his account; and if he hadn't paid one
time pretty heavily too, this young fellow would have been in Newgate
for forging his governor's name. He's agoing abroad, I believe; and a
good riddance too, I say.'

'And what does he do at the house when his father is away?' I asked;
and I really felt that our conversation was getting quite interesting.

'Well, it's the old story; a lady's in the case,' said the porter.
'There's a niece there that's over head and ears in love with Mr
Edmund--that's his name--and he pretends to be equally sweet on her.
But if she had seen only as much of him as we have seen at this here
station, she would never---- There's my foreman agoing into the shed!
Excuse me.' With that the railway-man finished his pint and was off.

I considered a minute, and then decided I was as well off where I was
as anywhere; so I borrowed yesterday's _Morning Advertiser_ of the
barmaid, and sitting down where I could watch the house, pretended
to read. If any one had watched me, he must have thought I was most
remarkably interested in the Money Market, for I had that part of the
paper folded towards me without changing for a good half-hour. At
the end of that time the door of Mr Byrle's house was opened and the
son came out. I was ready for a start after him, let him go in which
direction he might; but he came towards the _Railway Tavern_, my post;
straight on, nearer, nearer he passed my door. I peeped out after him,
and saw him actually come into the tavern, entering by another door the
compartment of the bar next to mine!

I was in the common place; he was in one of those divisions where
'Glasses only are served in this department;' and so on. There was some
one there already, for I had heard the occasional clink of a spoon and
glass, and a cough; but there wasn't more than one, for I had heard no
voices. I now heard some one speak; I judged it to be young Mr Byrle,
and I was right.

'Hollo, skipper!' he said, 'what have you been doing to your face? Have
you been fighting?'

'Fighting!--Well, never mind my face; I don't want to talk about that;
I shall settle that account some day,' said a voice. (_I_ knew what
voice; _I_ knew what was the matter with the man's face.)

His surly tone seemed to shut young Mr Byrle up on the subject, for he
gave a sort of forced laugh and said no more about it. 'When do you
sail?--for certain now. I must know to an hour to-day, for I don't like
what I hear of things,' said Mr Byrle.

'Don't speak so loud,' said the other; 'you can never tell who is
listening;' and there he was more thoroughly right than he suspected.
However, they dropped their voices so completely after this, that
though I sat right up against the partition, I could hear nothing more
than a stray word or so, out of which I could make no sense, until at
last Mr Byrle said: 'Time's about up, skipper.'

'I suppose so,' said the other. 'Well, you feel quite confident about
her then; her courage won't fail, you think?'

'_Her_ courage fail? Ha, ha! skipper,' said Mr Byrle; 'you don't
know her, or you wouldn't say that. She'll come with the material,
you'll see. From first to last she's never wavered; and look what a
penetrating mind she has got!'

'Yes; she's clever, I think,' says the skipper.

'Clever!' Mr Byrle repeated, with a deal of contempt in his
voice--'clever! Who but her would have found out the scheme'----

'Hush!' said the skipper, stopping the young man, just as his
conversation was getting, I may say, instructive and important. Then
Edmund Byrle said his train was due, and posted off to the station.

A minute or so after I heard the skipper put down his glass as though
he had emptied it, and then he too left. I followed at a little
distance, and got into the same train with him, and got out with him,
and still following, saw him go to the ferry, pick out, as I knew he
would, the surly waterman; and I saw him rowed to his own ship, where
the waterman left him and then rowed over to the other side. Very good.
Then the skipper had gone to T---- specially to meet Edmund Byrle;
and Edmund Byrle had gone there specially because his father was away;
and---- Then I couldn't follow it up any further.

I went boldly into the _Yarmouth Smack_, and not seeing Tilley anywhere
about, I asked for him under the agreed name, and was told he had gone
to work on Byrle's wharf; not for the firm, but for some lighterman
who frequented the public-house. This looked well; and if I got taken
on, as I expected, the next Monday, I thought it would be very odd
if between us we didn't find something out. Yet my interest in the
business seemed dying away, or drifting into altogether a new channel,
for I could not believe for a moment that Miss Doyle and Edmund Byrle,
and the skipper and the sulky ferryman, were all linked in with
stealing a few paltry brass fittings.

I crossed over before the old ferryman came back, and had my dinner in
the tap-room of the _Anchor and Five Mermaids_. It wasn't a nice place
for a dinner, and I was always partial to having my things neat and
tidy, which was by no means the rule at the _Anchor_, and the company
was not to my standard. I was late to-day, so I missed the factory
hands; and there were only two men in the room with me; one was a
costermongerish-looking rough in a velveteen coat and fur cap, which
was about all I could see of him, for he was asleep all of a heap in a
corner. The other was a man who had his dinner in a newspaper, and took
it out, whatever it was, with his fingers, till he had finished it and
then went away.

I was glad when he was gone, and I had the room as I may say to myself;
so I sent my plate away, called for a little drop of rum-and-water (the
only thing you could get fit to drink at the _Anchor_), and lighting
my pipe, sat with my feet on the fender, to have a good smoke and a
good hard think. I had sat there perhaps half-a-dozen minutes, and
had fairly settled down to my thinking, when a low voice said: 'Mr
Nickham!' My name! It was a very low voice which spoke, but the roar of
an elephant couldn't have startled me more. In an instant it flashed
upon me that my disguise was seen through and all my plans understood.
Robinson Crusoe was not so staggered when he saw the foot-print on the
sand as I was on hearing these two familiar words. I turned round,
and there was that miserable-looking rough that I thought had been
asleep, standing up and making signs to me. He was a regular rough and
no mistake, with short hair, an ugly handkerchief twisted round his
neck; his nose had been broken at some time or another, and he looked a
complete jail-bird. 'Mr Nickham!'

It was he that spoke; no mistake about it this time; and he put his
hand up to the side of his mouth to keep the sound straight.

'Who are you?' said I; for you know I didn't like to answer to the name
at once, in case he wasn't certain.

'My name is Wilkins--Barney Wilkins,' said the man. 'But you won't
recollect me by that p'raps; though I've been through your hands,
sergeant; but I giv some other name then. You got me twelve penn'orth
for ringing in shofuls.' (He meant that he had been sent to prison for
twelve months for passing bad money. I wasn't surprised to hear it;
he looked fit for that or anything bad. But if he got it through me,
why he should speak to me now was beyond my comprehension.) 'I knowed
you directly I see you, sergeant,' he says, coming nearer, but still
speaking in the same hoarse whisper as at first; 'and though you're a
tight hand, you're fair and square, and acted as such by me when you
copped me. You are down here on business--you're after some rare downy
cards. Now ain't you, sergeant?'

'If you know,' I said, 'what do you ask me for? And if you think I am
what you say, you don't suppose I shall tell you my business, do you?'

'Sergeant,' he says, coming nearer still, 'you fought a man in the
street last night, and giv him a thorough good licking. You was the
only man there as would take the part of a poor gal as wasn't doing no
harm to nobody; and I respect you for it, sergeant; I do. That gal was
my sister--my young sister, as has been like a child to me, and was so
tidy and pretty that I was proud on her, and hoped---- Well, sergeant,
whatever we are, we all have our feelings; and Sergeant Nickham, I'll
do you a good turn. Look here!' With this he crept quite close and put
his mouth almost to my ear. I watched him carefully, being much puzzled
by his actions, yet I had seen such unexpected things occur in the
police that I was quite ready to hear something of consequence from
him. 'You are down here about that Bank paper, what is said to be all
got back, but which you know it isn't. You are on the right parties,
and it does you credit; but you'll never get them nor the paper without
_me_.'

He stopped here, to see what I would say; but though I was ten times
more surprised than ever, I kept my countenance, and only said: 'Well?'
In point of fact I didn't know what _to_ say.

'I've been used bad, Mr Nickham,' he went on. 'I've had a lot of
trouble and risk about that there paper. I got it from B----, and
took the money for it to him, honest; and have been as near took
with it in my possession as anythink. Twice the slops (he meant the
police; 'slops' is what we call 'back-slang,' a rough sort of spelling
the words backwards)--'twice they have come into my place when the
stuff was there. Once I was sitting upon it done up like bundles of
rabbit-skins. Now he gives me (the party wot I am down on)--he gives
me five pounds, and I can't get no more out of him. And you see there
ain't no reward out.'

'No, not regularly, Barney,' I said; 'but there's no doubt at all that
any man coming forward would be very handsomely considered by the Bank
people.'

'He might be, if he'd got anybody like you to speak for him,' says
Barney. 'But you know, Mr Nickham, that I am wanted for a lot of things
by the bobbies; and I have been through the mill so often, that without
I've got a friend I don't half like touching 'em again. But you're fair
and square, and you licked the fellow last night; and I'm told you can
box better than even Tom Sayers could; and if that's so, I'll trust
you. And this here man won't give me more than five pounds; and he has
settled with a regular fence, a sort of Dutch-Yankee skipper, what
pretends to command one of them traders out there.'

'Yes, yes,' I said; 'the man I fought last night. I know him.'

'_Him!_' almost screeched the man (although, mind you, he never once
forgot his hoarse whisper); 'was it him you licked? Sergeant Nickham,
I'd go through fire and water for you now, for I hate and despise that
wretch; and if I had got a chance to do it safely, I'd have'---- He
checked himself very sudden here, as if what he was going to say wasn't
exactly the sort of thing to say to a detective. 'I see you are on the
right lay,' he begins again; 'but I tell you he has settled with that
skipper to have the stuff put on board, if it ain't already there; and
then he'll go with it to whatever foreign port the craft comes from.'

'And who is he,' I asked, 'who has arranged with the skipper?'

'Ah, Mr Nickham,' says Wilkins, with a very cunning look, 'as if you
didn't know! Haven't you been on the lurk round his house for two days
past? Wasn't you there this morning?'

Egad! I saw it all now! You might have knocked me down with a feather.
I could hardly help saying something which would have shewed my
astonishment; but I choked it down, and quite determined to keep
the upper hand with him, I said as cool as I could: 'Now, Wilkins,
no beating about the bush, or making me help you out. If you've got
anything to say, any name to mention, out with it like a man, and I'm
your friend. You understand me.'

'Fair and square you are, Mr Nickham,' says Barney; 'and so you'll find
me. That young Mr Byrle has got the paper, and he means to go out with
the trader. There is people over in Holland awaiting anxious for it;
and if once they gets hold of it, it's all U. P. with our bank-notes.
Now, I don't know where the paper is; if I had known, bust me if I
wouldn't have blowed the gaff long ago!'

He meant that he would have exposed the whole transaction, and I
noticed that this declaration did not quite agree with his anxiety
to have a friend on his side, a point on which he had dwelt so much
before; but that didn't signify.

'Now, Mr Nickham,' he went on, 'you must board the craft when the paper
is shipped, if it ain't there yet.'

'It ain't there yet, my man,' I said, remembering what had dropped from
Edmund Byrle, that 'she would come on board with the material.'

'Then I think it will be to-night,' he continued; 'for a sail-maker as
has been at work aboard her says she drops down the river to-morrow;
and I think by what I can learn in other quarters, he is right.'

I thought so too, and at once made up my mind that the meeting at the
_Railway Tavern_ was to settle about shipping the paper.

'I can give a pretty good guess at the man they will engage for the
job,' says Wilkins.

'I know him,' I said; 'a tall, sulky-looking, bony-headed old fellow,
with a game eye.'

'Why, Mr Nickham,' says Wilkins, 'you're a wonder, a perfect wonder!
You're a credit to the force, and Sir Richard ought to hear of it!
Why, that's the man, the very man; and here have you only been down
two days, and know all about it! Keep your eye on him after dark, and
you're all right.'

We had some more talk after this; and then he pretended to go to sleep
in his corner again, and I went out.

I went straight into the City and saw some of our chief people, who
sent over to the Bank. They would not chance my going there, for fear
of somebody seeing me that had better know nothing about it. The gents
from the Bank could hardly believe their ears, and the compliments they
paid me, to be sure! It was decided that everything was to be left in
my hands, and I was provided with letters to the right parties at the
water-side. But I need not go into any further particulars of that kind.

I was not going to trouble myself any more just now about the pilfering
at Byrle & Co.'s factory; as far as I was interested in it, the thieves
might take boilers, wheels, chimneys, and all. I took up my post in the
old arbours, and there, though the rain came steadily down, I sat. I
managed to get a pretty dry corner; and with a little of the _Anchor's_
rum-and-water and my pipe, I made myself tolerably comfortable while I
sat and watched the Dutch trader. I was well screened from the sight of
any one below, or else my corner would not have suited; and although I
could hear the steps and the voices of the people going to the ferry,
and could have touched them by leaning over, yet they could not see me.

The bony ferryman, in his tarpaulin coat and hat, was there this
afternoon; and very sloppy and miserable all the boats looked; and as
the tide fell lower and lower, the great broad bed of river-mud grew
broader, and the path to the ferryboat grew longer, and still I kept my
watch, and meant to keep it. I must own, however, that I did not expect
to see anything worth notice, for what could there be? But sometimes,
you know, in our business, it is as necessary to watch to make sure
there is nothing being done, as it is to make sure that some important
movement is going on.

There was an oyster-smack not fifty yards from me as was left on the
shingle or mud when the tide went down; and there was a man smoking
his pipe on the deck of that oyster-smack, just as I was smoking mine
in the arbour; and when night came, and the river got dark, and you
couldn't make anything out of it but a great black space, with a hollow
sound of the wind moaning over it and of the water lapping on the shore
as the tide rose again--then there was a lantern burning on the deck
of that smack, and there was a similar lantern burning in my arbour;
but the light was shewn open on board of the smack, and mine was a
dark-lantern (so was the other) with the light hid. But I was perfectly
well aware that the man aboard that smack never took his eyes off me
while it was light, and that after dark he watched to see if I shewed
my lantern. I didn't shew it; but if I had, there would have been a
Thames police galley and five armed constables alongside of that hard
in a couple of minutes.



AN EXTRAORDINARY PROJECT.


In the city of San Francisco resides Mr Hubert Howe Bancroft, a
gentleman about forty-five years of age, formerly engaged in commerce,
but now retired from business, in order that he may devote his whole
life, as well as the wealth which he had amassed, to the furtherance
of a project which he formed some sixteen years ago. This was no less
comprehensive a task than the compilation of a full history, as well
as a scientific account, of all that vast district west of the Rocky
Mountains, which, stretching from Panama to Alaska, embraces Central
America, Mexico, and California. It was to be in a popular form, and
to embrace every point of interest that could be ascertained respecting
the Pacific States, their aboriginal inhabitants, their successive
civilised occupiers, their geology, botany, and other natural features.
First of all in this stupendous task comes the history of the native
tribes--to be completed in five volumes, the first instalments of
which are already published by Messrs Appleton and Co. in New York,
and by Messrs Longmans in our own country. These will be followed by a
history of the States from the Spanish Conquest down to contemporary
times, and for this portion of the work it is thought that some twenty
volumes will be required. A third series will treat of the geological
structure of the territory, its minerals especially, and of mining
operations. Physical geography forms the fourth section of the proposed
work; whilst the fifth will deal with agriculture; and the sixth with
bibliography. It must be apparent that a man must be of a highly
sanguine temperament to imagine such an enterprise; it will be well if
he live to complete only a portion of it; and should he really succeed
in doing what he wishes, he will have earned for himself an honourable
distinction, and conferred on the world an extraordinary boon.

But how was such an undertaking to be begun? Where were the materials;
and even granting that they were to be procured, how was such a mass
of general reading as must be consulted, to be utilised? Mr Bancroft's
first step was to solve this difficulty. He decided to establish at
his own cost, in San Francisco, a library of reference, which should
contain all the books to be had for money which could throw any light
on the subject. With this end in view, he appointed agents in all the
principal cities of the world, whose business was to frequent sales,
examine book catalogues, and effect the purchase of any volumes which
seemed likely to contain useful information. Of course by such a system
many books were transmitted to headquarters which ultimately proved
to be of little or no value; but this was inevitable in the course of
purchases of such magnitude. And notwithstanding all drawbacks of the
kind, the collection has gradually increased, until it is said now to
consist of between eighteen and twenty thousand volumes, including
pamphlets; whether this number also includes manuscripts, we are unable
to say. The acquisition of these works has been occasionally furthered
by adventitious circumstances. The Mexican war, for instance, was the
means of throwing in Mr Bancroft's way some highly valuable documents,
which, under favourable circumstances, would have remained the property
of their lawful owners; these, contained in four volumes, are a set
of parchment records of the Church in Mexico between the years 1530
and 1583, and apart from their historical value, have an interest to
the bibliopolist as containing autographs of many celebrated men,
amongst others of Philip II., Torquemada, Las Casas, and Zumarraga,
first Archbishop of Mexico. This last-named worthy is notorious for
his act of insensate bigotry in destroying the Aztec records, and
thereby depriving the world of the history of that race; he burned the
hieroglyphic paintings of Anahuac in the public square of Tlatelolco,
much as Ximenes did with eighty thousand Moorish manuscripts in
Granada. These priceless records were stolen from the government
archives! When the unfortunate Emperor Maximilian's library was sold,
many valuable works were also obtained from that collection, which had
been gathered together during a lifetime by a well-known amateur, Count
Andrade.

The weakest part of the arrangement of Mr Bancroft's undertaking is
the manner in which the books are housed, but this is probably an
unavoidable evil; they occupy the fifth story of the owner's house in
Market Street, San Francisco, where they are exposed to all the risk of
fire, to say nothing of the inconvenience of such a plan. The apartment
in which they are kept occupies the whole length of the building, and
the books are arranged upon shelves reaching from the floor to the
ceiling, and running from one end of the room to the other. Let us now
see how it is proposed to utilise this mass of literature for reference.

No one but a resolute enthusiast with an abundance of means could have
brought this extraordinary project into shape. The trouble spent in the
undertaking has been enormous. Of course, the projector has a staff
of assistants possessing the requisite accomplishments, headed by a
librarian, Mr Oak, who has been indefatigable in producing a catalogue
of the works collected, with copious subordinate references. So aided,
Mr Bancroft, as we understand, has begun his literary operations; but
whether he will live to complete his colossal production in proper
artistic style must necessarily be left to conjecture. Fortunately,
besides being still in middle life, he is said to have splendid bodily
health and great powers of endurance, both of which must stand him
in good stead. He always writes at a standing desk, and sometimes
prolongs his hours of labour to as many as eleven or twelve--which seem
to us excessive. Such application may do for work which is chiefly
compilation; but any brain-worker knows that it is simply impossible to
do really valuable work throughout such a time. As a matter of fact,
very few men can read or write hard for more than six hours a day with
profitable result. Let us hope, however, that the man who has had
courage to undertake such a task, will have self-restraint enough not
to endanger its success by an undue straining of the faculties, which
must be kept in full repair to insure its accomplishment. We should be
sorry to hear that any disaster from fire had put an abrupt termination
to so well-meaning, though we may be allowed to call it a somewhat
eccentric undertaking.



GORDON.


She came on towards me, her trailing draperies falling round her
with the soft grace she gave to all she touched. Sunshine was on her
beautiful hair--evening sunshine, which turned the wreath of plaits
she wore into a crown of burnished gold. She came floating on, through
the flower and fruit gemmed orange trees, through the crimson and pure
white camellia bloom; violets grew beneath her feet, and she seemed to
me part of the glory and the fragrance of the sunset and the blossoms.

Below the terrace where I stood, lay the sea, where blue faded to
green, and green to opal, melting into one deep far-stretching mystery
of purple light and banks of golden cloud. Palaces and domes and
tapering spires shone white against the dark background of distant
mountains. Suddenly the music of many bells rung out on the still air,
their chiming softened by distance into low faint sweetness. They
were the bells of the stately marble city that shone so fair across
her gleaming bay. The first bell-notes were taken up and echoed by
the bells of chapels in villages along the shore; of convents hidden
away in country dells and valleys, till the air was full of lingering
prayerful sound. Through it, through the magical Italian twilight came
the woman I loved. She came and stood beside me, looking across the
water to where Genoa's palaces glimmered against the sky; but I do not
think she saw or thought of them. There was a dreamy look in her eyes,
a cold, set weariness about her mouth, which is only seen in those
whose thoughts have drifted far from where they stand.

'Are you tired of this place?' I at length ventured to ask her.

'Not particularly,' she answered; 'you know I never care much where I
am.' The words sound petulant; but said as she said them, they were
only weary. I should have been glad if she had ever shewn impatience;
anything rather than the cold quiet which ever lay upon her beauty like
a pall. At first, in my triumphant happiness at having won her promise
to be my wife, this coldness had not chilled me--as it sometimes did
now--to the heart. I so longed, so hungered for a word of love, for a
tender look. All her stately beauty would soon be mine, and it seemed
still as far from me as ever.

We leaned on the low parapet of the terrace, while the music of the
bells died away, till only the slow beating of the waves broke the
stillness. It was an hour of wonderful peace and beauty, yet a strange
sense of unrest took possession of me, and jarred the music of the
waves and the restful quiet of the twilight. Standing there close to
her, with the certainty that soon she would be my own for ever, a vague
thrill of fear came over me, a fear lest all this feverish joy of
knowing she was mine, might vanish away, and leave me a lonely mortal.
This love for her had become to me an all-absorbing passion; and yet
she never for one moment allowed me to think that my love was returned.
Perhaps it was the might of her beauty that filled my senses; yet I
have seen beautiful women since, and had seen them before I first saw
her on the walls above the old Etruscan gateway at Perugia.

       *       *       *       *       *

One morning the week before, I had strolled out from the dull hotel;
and leaving the street with its tall houses and quaint old fountain,
glowing in the day's first freshness, I sauntered on to the walls, and
there I first saw her. Below in the valley the silvery olive leaves
trembled in the sunshine; wreaths of broad-leaved vines clung to the
gray old trees, clothing them with a borrowed beauty of youth and
freshness. Hundreds of flowers blushed in the light, and varied odours
from herb and blossom filled the air with a subtle languor. Above,
on the lichen-covered wall, with a background of purple mountain, a
fitting frame to her stately loveliness, she sat, looking out across
the sunlit land, with the dreary far-away look in her great deep eyes,
and the haughty coldness upon her chiselled face. I lingered about,
drinking draughts of beauty; fancying it was my artistic sense that
kept me there watching her face, till she rose wearily, and slowly
walking down the street, entered the hotel where I was staying.

I found on inquiry that a Mrs Vereker and her niece, Miss Mayne, had
arrived there the previous evening. I had sometimes met Mrs Vereker
in London; and later on in the day, while I was carelessly examining
the carving on the fountain in the square I saw her and my vision of
the morning standing on the cathedral steps. Mrs Vereker came forward
with that friendliness we feel for a slight home acquaintance whom we
may chance to meet when abroad. So I joined them, and we strolled on
chatting over home news. Miss Mayne seldom spoke, and yet that walk
seemed to me a strangely happy one. Mrs Vereker told me they had only
been a day in Perugia, and had intended going on at once to Rome;
but the mountain air and mountain views were so delightful, they had
changed their minds, and intended remaining for some time at Perugia.

I had come to the old town to study art; to search the blazoned
manuscripts lying hidden in sacristy and convent, and learn from them
their secrets of colour and design; to wander through frescoed church
and palace, where walls and ceilings are brilliant still as when the
hands which wove their gorgeous stories first laid the pencil down and
thanked God for the great consoler--Art. I had come to watch the mists
rising from the valleys, and wrapping the mountains in soft mystery
of cloud--cloud which changes and shifts, and melts at last into the
golden and purple, the opaline green of the sunrise; so that I might
try to wrest from Nature a faint touch of her magic of shadow and
light, of colour and form, and lay it at the feet of the one mistress I
had ever known--Art.

What I was now studying was a woman's heart--and what I learned
was--nothing. I do not think mine is an impressionable nature. I had
spent thirty years in the world, and had never loved any woman until I
saw Mary Mayne in the morning light sitting above that old gateway; yet
in one short week I had grown to love her--well, as few women are ever
loved.

At the end of that week came a letter from Willie Vereker, saying his
yacht needed some repairs, and he would put in at Genoa for a few days
if his mother could meet him there. He had been to the East, and she
had not seen him for some time; so she decided on going back to Genoa;
hoping the _Gwendoline_ might need more repairing than Willie thought,
and keep him there longer than he expected. The evening of the day Mrs
Vereker received that letter, I told her of my love for her niece, and
asked permission to accompany them to Genoa.

She regarded me with an odd look of compassion. 'Have you spoken to
Mary yet?' she asked.

I told her I had not; I wished to wait until we had known each other
longer; I feared being too precipitate.

'Then,' said Mrs Vereker, 'I have no right to tell you anything of her
story. It is a sad one, poor child! and I warn you, you have little
chance of success. If you choose, you can come with us to Genoa; but if
I were you, I should not do so. Save yourself while you can. You have
known her a very short time. If you leave us now, you will soon forget
her; later, you may find it a more difficult task.'

I shook my head. The advice came too late. I went with them to Genoa.
The stately marble city had a charm for us all. Mrs Vereker had her
son, and the two found marvellous attractions in the quaint narrow
streets with their palace portals, their courts and halls, where
fountains sparkled and flung diamonds of spray round the brows of pure
fair statues; where in the coolness and the shadow, gold-laden orange
trees and thick masses of crimson blossom gleamed with sudden startling
glory.

I had my idol. Day after day I was by her side. It was a fool's
Paradise perhaps; but I suppose there is such an Eden in every life;
and looking back, when we have left its short-lived peace, we vainly
long for a single throb of its rapture. So, during those quiet days at
Genoa, each of us, except Mary Mayne, had our heart's desire: Willie,
the life, the colour, the loveliness he and his _Gwendoline_ sought in
voyages to many lands; Mrs Vereker, her son; I, my new delirious joy.
There, on the terrace where we were standing, I first spoke to Mary,
and heard her tell me my love was hopeless. She told me her story.

Her wedding-day had been fixed. In a year she was to have been married
to a man she loved with her whole heart; when the war with Russia broke
out, and Gordon Frazer's regiment was ordered to the Crimea. He and
Mary wished to be married before he left, but family reasons prevented
it, and so they parted. He had never returned to England. A soldier
brought Mary a little locket which she had given Gordon. The ribbon
it hung upon was thickened here and there with deep dark stains; and
the man said Gordon Frazer had given it to him to take to Mary, when
the young officer lay dying after the charge at Balaklava. It was
only the story of many an English and many a Russian girl during that
dreadful time. When a strong, self-contained nature breaks down, it is
almost utter collapse; so it was with Mary. For months she lay silent,
tearless, listlessly unable to make the slightest exertion, to take the
smallest interest in life. Her friends thought her brain had suffered
from the shock; and when she recovered sufficiently to travel, Mrs
Vereker had taken her abroad, where they had been moving from place to
place ever since. Her body regained health; she was now quite strong;
but the girl's heart and soul seemed dead; as she said, dead, and
buried in Gordon Frazer's grave. Yet as I listened I did not despair.
I had no living rival; he was dead, this man she loved; while my heart
was beating, living, and strong with its worship of her. If I could
only win her to be my wife, the dead love would pale and faint before
my real and passionate devotion. So I hoped, as day by day I watched
her every look, forestalled her every wish, until she grew accustomed
to my presence, and to rely upon my care. My hopes were answered; ere
long I won her reluctant consent to be my wife, but on the condition
that our marriage should not take place until their return to England
next year.

The rosy clouds were fading into the deep purple of Italian night.
Silence fell around us as a mantle; only the throb of the sea below
the terrace broke the intense quiet. Out on the sea shone the white
sails of a little yacht. Nearer, within the harbour, rose the masts and
spars of many ships, mysterious, spectre-like, as ships always look at
night. As we were seated in calm enjoyment of the scene, a small boat
shot out from the rocks beneath our feet, where lay some hidden cave or
landing-place. It was rowed by two men; a third sat wrapped in a large
cloak in the stern. They rowed well, and the boat was nearly a mile
from us, leaving a bright line of light upon the shining water, when a
cry broke the calm of the night--a wild, weird cry, with agony in its
tone. 'Gordon!' I have never heard its like since, and I hope I never
shall again. In its agonised tone I could scarcely recognise the voice
of Mary, so changed was it, so shrill with long pent-up yearning, as it
wailed out that one word--'Gordon!' The cry seemed to be repeated again
and again, though softened by the echoes, while the little boat sped
on its way, and its passengers--mere dark specks they seemed--climbed
into the yacht. The white sails gleamed against the horizon, and then,
phantom-like, were lost in its dim purple.

I turned and looked at Mary. She stood with her eyes fixed on the
darkness which hid the yacht from sight, her hands clasped upon her
heart, her face drawn and colourless. I feared the fate her friends
dreaded for her had stricken her as she stood beside me there in
the still luxurious twilight. 'Mary, my dearest, my own! what is
it?'--taking her hand and drawing her closer.

She drew her hand from mine, and shuddering away from me, leaned
against the stone parapet, resting her head on the cold marble coping.

'You are ill; let me take you home, darling,' I said.

'No,' she murmured; 'not ill. But oh,' she exclaimed, 'Harry, Harry! my
good kind friend, help me! _Gordon was near us just now._ I felt it; I
am sure of it. You will help me to find him; will you not?'

Help her to find him! help to break my own heart--to bruise this
new-found sweetness out of my life! The very thought struck me with
a sudden chill. What if this fancy of hers, coming so close upon my
sure forebodings, should be a reality? What if Gordon Frazer were
still in existence? I thrust the thought from me as I should thrust a
temptation. 'I will help you in any way I can, my darling,' I said;
'but come in now; the night-air is chilling; and you are giving way to
feverish fancies.'

'No,' she said; 'it is no fancy.' Drawing herself up wearily, she
turned without looking at me; and I followed her down the terrace and
across the marble court of the old palace which was our home in Genoa.
I watched her glide, stately and pale and quiet, up the broad white
staircase.

It was months before she recovered from the brain-fever in which she
awoke next morning--such awful months, during which we often feared
the worst. Yet when they were over, and she was among us again, paler,
more fragile, but still her own beautiful self, stately, self-possessed
as usual, I was almost thankful for the terrible illness, which proved
that her cry and wild words on the terrace were but warnings of coming
illness, the mere wandering of a brain diseased.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Roman season was nearly over, yet Rome was full--full of English
sightseers, like ourselves; full of Americans, on rapid flight across
Europe; of eastern prelates, in flowing eastern robes, with olive-hued
eastern faces; of eager-faced French ladies, and solemn-eyed peasants
from lonely villages on the Campagna, and of Italians from city and
from plain; for it was Easter-time. We were only waiting until the
conclusion of the festivities to set out on our journey home. Home! I
never until now felt half the meaning of that word. When we got home,
Mary and I would be married. I should give up wandering, and settle
down into a country gentleman. I thought with a pang of self-reproach
of the grand old home which called me master, shut up in desolate state
since my dear father died. How a fair young mistress would brighten and
beautify the old rooms. I could see it all now--the oaken hall with
its quaint old pictures; spring sunshine pouring in at the open door,
red-coated sportsmen grouped under the beeches, horns ringing from the
copses, children playing under the shadow of the avenue of limes--the
loveliness of joyous life, where for so long had been the silence left
by death. It was a sunny dream of home--home in fair England, into
which I had fallen; standing there, upon the Pincian, under the deep
dark blue of Roman night.

Below lay the city, its narrow streets dimly mysterious, no light
visible in their tall houses; the fountain murmured its sweet
monotonous music in the Piazza di Spagna; the wide white marble steps
gleamed along the hillside; tall palm-trees cast weird shadows across
the gravelled walks; nightingales answered each other in low rich
trills of song, echoing from tree to tree, through whispering palms and
odorous night-flowers. Beside me, cold and silent, was the woman whose
charmful spell woke within me this new sweet longing for home--home
musical with the soft rustling of women's garments; with the tender
voices of little children. I suppose such a dream and such a longing
come to all men at some time of their lives; it came to me that night
as I stood above the city of vanished glories, of dead and buried
dreams.

It did not last long. Suddenly, above the city roofs, a cross of
silvery light shone out against the sky. The illumination of Saint
Peter's had begun. Above the winding narrow streets, above palace
roofs, above palm and cypress, above triumphal arch and mouldering
temple, over the palace of the Cæsars, over Capitol and Forum, the
silvery cross shone glad, triumphant; and from it, the light spread
from window to window, from pillar to pillar, till the vast pile was
one glory, changing rapidly from soft silvery radiance into a glow of
golden fire.

'It was worth coming to see. Was it not, Mary?'

'Mary!' A stranger's voice echoed her name; and instead of answering
my question, she sprang with a low cry from my side, and laid her head
upon a stranger's breast. 'Did you not get my letters? I have been
looking everywhere for you,' I heard him say.

She did not answer, nor raised her head; as if at last she had found
her rest.

'You are not alone here?' he went on. 'Who are you with?'

Then with a quiver as of pain, she raised herself, and looked from me
to him with beseeching eyes and trembling clasped hands.

Before she spoke--for even in all the agony of my crushed-out hopes, my
love for her bore down all other feelings, and I tried to save her from
the pain of telling me what I already knew--I said: 'You have found
an older friend than I am, Mary. Shall I leave him to take you to Mrs
Vereker?'

'An older friend?' he repeated. 'By Jove! I should think so.'

Then raising his hat, he shook hands with me as I turned away.

I turned into the darkness, but not before I had seen that until now I
had never known her, my love, my promised wife. I had known a beautiful
statue, not the beautiful woman who, with eyes upraised to his, stood
in the subdued light looking up to Gordon Frazer. All the coldness, all
the stately calm had gone, fallen from her as a mantle falls--a mantle
which had hidden the fullness of her loveliness, and had concealed from
me a tender grace and beauty I had never till now beheld. I have never
seen her since.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some time afterwards I met a friend who had seen a good deal of the
Frazers. He was loud in admiration of Mrs Frazer's beauty and of her
devotion to her husband. 'He was out in the Crimea, you know, and was
reported dead; but he was only wounded. Some Russian family, to whose
house he had managed to be sent, had tended him with kindly care after
even his own doctors had given up hope, and had pulled him through his
danger. Mrs Frazer told me,' continued my friend, 'how one evening
when standing on a terrace at Genoa, she heard his voice; and thinking
it was a reproach from the grave (for she was going to marry another
fellow), she got brain-fever, and was near dying. The fact was, the
yacht in which a friend had brought him from Constantinople touched at
Genoa, and he had actually spent the day doing the palaces! When she
heard his voice, he was returning to the _Peri_, which lay about two
miles from the shore. Romantic story, isn't it? But Gordon takes her
devotion coolly enough; the love seems more on her side than on his. I
cannot understand that.'

Understand it? Yes, I could. Hers was one of those great-souled natures
who like to give rather than to take, to pour out all the wealth and
beauty of their being on the idol which they have clothed in all the
glory of their own imaginings. God grant she may live on to the end,
happy in her womanly idol-worship!

As for me, the dream I dreamt upon the Pincian Hill, before the cross
of golden light shone over the city roofs, was never realised. No
rustle of woman's garments makes low music in the old oak-panelled
rooms; no children's voices wake the echoes under the avenues of
arching limes. The old Devon manor-house stands as yet without a
mistress.



NARCOTISM.


In these days of medical knowledge, when so many merciful means for the
alleviation of pain are known, it follows as a matter of course that
great abuse of sleep-producing agents exists. We would therefore say a
few words of caution as to the pernicious practice of people making use
of chloral, chlorodyne, chloroform, and other kindred agents _without
medical advice_. It is, we think, little known to how great an extent
this evil exists. To come across a lady who is constantly more or less
under the influence of chlorodyne, is by no means uncommon; every
trifling ailment or passing _malaise_ being an excuse for a few drops
of that narcotic. Chloral is also extensively and improperly used; the
more so because, unfortunately at the time of its first introduction as
a sleep-producing agent, it was most erroneously stated to be perfectly
harmless, and many are still under this impression.

The real truth is, that _no_ narcotic of any kind whatever is harmless,
but on the contrary, invariably pernicious when taken otherwise
than by the advice and under the treatment of a medical man. True,
sleeplessness is one of the most trying things a person can suffer
from; but then there are other means of combating the enemy than by
dosing one's self with chloral or any such agent; and thus making an
infirmity chronic, which would in all probability have been only a
temporary evil. Rely upon opiates for sleep, and sleep will not come
without them. Thus a bad habit is formed; the bodily strength is
undermined, the digestive powers enfeebled, the mind and intellect
weakened and enervated, and the unfortunate sufferer becomes a slave,
bound hand and foot to a habit that it is almost impossible to shake
off. Sleeplessness often comes from want of sufficient fresh air and
exercise, from over-mental work, mental distress, from too great a
quantity of stimulants taken during the day, and from various other
causes, which a little care as to diet and regimen would quickly
overcome. Taking short naps during the day; too much tea and coffee
drinking, especially shortly before bedtime--all these are apt to cause
sleeplessness. In many cases a light and simple supper taken shortly
before retiring to rest, and attention to the feet being thoroughly
warm, will insure a good night's sleep when more energetic means have
failed.

In those terrible abodes of suffering, our cancer hospitals, the
method of all others most resorted to, and most efficacious for the
alleviation of pain, is the sub-cutaneous (under-the-skin) injection of
morphia. In sciatica, neuralgia, and other painful nervous affections,
this remedy is often exceedingly beneficial, when used under competent
medical advice and supervision; but like every other good thing it
is open to great abuse, and often made use of merely as a soothing
narcotic by the irritable, excitable, and discontented. A long train
of evils follows; but with these we are not called upon to deal here.
What we want now to lay before the reader is a plain statement as to
the prompt treatment called for in a case of over-narcotism from
too strong a dose of injected morphia. Coldness of the extremities,
lividity of the countenance, profuse cold sweat, and loss of power
over the limbs, insensibility, very deep breathing, and contraction of
the pupils of the eyes to such an extent that they resemble a black
pin-head, result.

What then is to be done? Time is precious, and perhaps half an hour
or more may elapse before medical aid can be obtained. Taking it for
granted that the patient is in a recumbent position, the first thing to
be done is to raise the head, to sponge the face and chest copiously
with fresh cold water, to rub the limbs steadily and strongly, to put
hot-water applications to the feet and to the sides of the body, if
it feel cold to the touch. Place strong smelling-salts to the nose;
lay the head on one side with the mouth open, so that the tongue may
not fall back and prevent respiration; give brandy-and-water, if the
patient can possibly swallow it; but if the narcotism be severe, this
will be impossible, and it is wisest to abstain from attempts which
may result in fluid going the wrong way. In fact do everything to keep
the body warm and the breathing unimpeded, and strive to rouse the
unconscious faculties into action.

Supposing, however, that the narcotism be very excessive, and the
breathing be slow, irregular, and low, then if medical aid be not
forthcoming, it would be well to resort to artificial respiration;
by no means a difficult matter to manage, if only any one present
has a slight amount of knowledge on the subject. The following is Dr
Sylvester's method, and is advantageous from its simplicity: 'Place the
patient on the back, inclined a little upwards from the feet by raising
and supporting the head on a cushion, placing support also under the
shoulder-blades. Draw out the tongue and keep it forward, so as to
leave the air-passages free. Remove all clothing from the neck, chest,
and abdomen. Stand by the patient's head, take firm hold of the arms
just above the elbows, and draw them gently and steadily upwards above
the head, keeping them stretched upwards for two or three seconds. Then
turn down the arms, and press them firmly and steadily against the
sides of the chest for two or three seconds. Repeat these movements
alternately, deliberately, and _perseveringly_, until a spontaneous
effort at respiration is perceived; immediately upon which, proceed to
try by every possible means to induce circulation and warmth.' However,
should the case of narcotism be _not_ a severe one, such extreme
measures as artificial respiration will not be called for, and in all
probability, after the use of those simpler remedies at first named,
sickness will occur, and this may be taken as a sign that the worst of
the evil is over.

And here let us once more emphatically state that in this and all
other cases we assume that a medical man is sent for, and that our
suggestions only refer to what is to be done _until_ he appears
upon the scene. Nothing is so annoying and so productive of harm as
for a non-professional person to be constantly making this and that
suggestion as to the treatment of a sufferer, when a medical man is
giving his best thought and skill to the case; but on the other hand
it is well for people--more especially women--to know what to do when
thrown upon their own resources.

Cases of poisoning from over-doses of opiates are of course only one
class of such-like accidents; and the accidental swallowing of irritant
poisons, embrocations, &c. often occur, and call for the utmost
promptitude of action and presence of mind on the part of those present.

In the less densely populated parts of the country, it is a positive
necessity that people should be able to rely upon themselves in cases
of emergency, for if a doctor is many miles distant, and it takes
several hours to fetch him, one might almost as well be without him,
where sharp practice is called for. To produce vomiting, one of the
best emetics we happen to know of is an American one. It consists of
a table-spoonful of common treacle (molasses it is called across the
water) and as much powdered alum stirred into it as the sticky compound
can be made to contain. Now alum is such a valuable drug in many ways
that it ought to be kept in every household medicine-chest; and treacle
is not usually hard to get. We have never seen this remedy tried in a
case of poisoning, but we _have_ seen its effect in croup; and anything
more decided and imperious in its action it would be difficult to
imagine. Such a dose might freely be given in _any_ case of poisoning;
and after the emetic has acted freely, we would give some soothing
mixture, such as thickened milk. There are various things which have
the power to a certain extent of protecting the coats of the stomach
from the action of irritant poisons; if the poison be an acid, the
scrapings off a white-washed wall or chalk and milk are good. Milk
almost stiffened with common brown sugar is one of them; sweet oil
taken to nauseation is another.

In all cases of poisoning, _loss of time_ is the one great thing to be
avoided; and the nearest remedy at hand is the best one to make use of.
Mustard and water, strong and plenty of it, is a capital emetic. Of
croup, that enemy of juvenile humanity, we must now speak a few words;
and we know of no better remedy than the American one above described,
combined with a hot bath and a hot blanket to roll the child well up in
afterwards.

The ignorance of the poor as to the treatment and still more the
prevention of the diseases of children is something appalling, and
there can be no doubt that thousands of little lives are annually
sacrificed to this Moloch.

'I can't tell what ails my child, ma'am,' said a labourer's wife to
the writer of this, one bitter day last winter, 'he's carrying on so
strange: crowing like a cock, and turning his-self almost black in the
face every nows and again.'

The infant in question was comfortably seated on a nice cold door-step,
and breathing as if he had swallowed a baby's rattle by mistake.
'Your child has the croup,' I said, picking up the unfortunate little
creature and carrying it to the fireside; 'and if you don't do
something for him at once, he'll very likely die.'

However something _was_ done for him, and he didn't die; but he had a
kick for his life all the same, and very little more door-step would
have finished him. Yet this poor woman was not an unloving mother; she
was only ignorant, and in her ignorance, assisting her child into the
grave she would have shed such bitter tears over.

From croup to diphtheria is a natural progression, and we would wish
to say a few, a very few words on this terrible disease; not as to its
treatment by the amateur nurse, for it is of the greatest importance
that such cases should have close medical care. It is then on the
subject of the operation called _tracheotomy_--that is, the making
an outward incision in the windpipe below the seat of the disease,
and inserting a tube for the purpose of respiration, that we would
speak--not to discuss it in its medical aspect, but simply to say a
word or two to nervous mothers who would shrink from the idea of the
surgeon's knife touching a sick child under any circumstances whatever.
Surely there can be no more pitiful sight to look upon than a child
dying of diphtheria--the eyes wild with fear, looking appealingly for
help from one troubled face to another; the little hand thrust into the
mouth in helpless, useless effort to dislodge the terrible leather-like
substance that is clogging up the throat, and making each breath a
sound so painful that for days and weeks to come it will not cease to
sound in our ears. What more agonising sight can the sick-room give us
to gaze upon? And yet doctors have told us of cases in which a mother
has had such an overpowering dread of the surgeon's knife, that even
when things come to such a state as this, she has positively refused to
allow of any attempt at alleviation of her child's agony by a simple
operation!

Now it is on this head we wish to say a few words of encouragement and
counsel. Tracheotomy is in the first place a _chance_--a very slight
chance in most cases--but still a chance for life; but if it does not
save life, it spares the child a death of awful suffering. The pain of
the operation itself is so momentary as not to be worth considering,
and relief is _instantaneous_. We are not speaking of recovery, but
simply of the difference between such a death as that described above
and the quiet 'falling asleep' of the child upon whom tracheotomy
has been performed; and this is what the writer saw--the frightened
appealing eyes; the pitiful effort at self-help; and then the instant
relief given by firm and skilful hands; and four-and-twenty hours
later, the quiet painless death; the boy smiling up into our faces as
the pure spirit fled to that place of rest and peace where 'there shall
be no more pain.' It was not a thing to be seen and forgotten.



LIFE IN A MILITARY PRISON.

BY A PRISON CHAPLAIN.


In an address lately delivered at Birmingham, Professor Tyndall says:
'I met some few years since in a railway carriage the governor of one
of our largest prisons. He was evidently an observant and reflective
man. He told me that the prisoners in his charge might be divided into
three classes. The first class consisted of persons who ought never to
have been in prison. External accident, and not internal taint, had
brought them within the grasp of the law, and what had happened to them
might happen to most of us. They were essentially men of sound moral
stamina, though wearing the prison garb. Then came the largest class,
formed of individuals possessing no strong bias moral or immoral,
plastic to the touch of circumstances, which would mould them into
either good or evil members of society. Thirdly came a class--happily
not a large one--whom no kindness could conciliate and no discipline
tame. They were sent into this world labelled "Incorrigible,"
wickedness being stamped as it were upon their organisations.'

As a matter of fact, there is a distinction made, and rightly made,
between the inmates of military prisons. They are divided into first,
second, and third classes; which you may call bad, worse, and worst, if
you are of the despairing type of philanthropist; or good, better, and
best, if you are a great believer in human nature, even in imprisoned
human nature. The first class wear a red stripe on the arm, and being
the best conducted, are given less work to do and more food. Class
number two are marked with a yellow stripe; while the third or lowest
class are distinguished by a white badge. A stranger might perhaps
shrink from all who wear white stripes as from 'incorrigibles;' but
some in the third class may be really very little more 'incorrigible'
than himself, for every prisoner, no matter what his character may
be, except in very special cases, is placed in the third class on his
reception. He then, by good conduct, becomes eligible for promotion
into the second class, and subsequently into the first. Rule one
hundred and sixty-six of the Regulations for Military Prisons, lays
down that 'the first class will be composed of those prisoners who,
from their quiet orderly habits and general good conduct under
punishment, may appear deserving of being promoted from the second
class after some experience has been gained of their characters.
Prisoners in either the first or the second class will also be liable
to be removed to a lower class for misconduct.' Though the first class
of prisoners are employed during the same hours as those prescribed
for the second class, the labour is of a less severe description:
picking oakum or drill being substituted for the deservedly hated crank
and shot exercise. Another privilege enjoyed by the first class is,
that they are never deprived of their bed, whereas, 'all prisoners
on reception are to sleep for the first week in the same manner as
a soldier on guard--that is, on a board without undressing--and
subsequently, the third-class prisoners are to sleep as on guard every
other night; and the second-class prisoners in the same manner every
third night: the prisoners of the first class being alone exempted
from this rule.' First and second class prisoners are employed in this
prison--which is no Castle of Indolence--at drill, shot exercise, the
crank, cleaning the passages and other parts of the premises from six
o'clock A.M. to six o'clock P.M.; and those of the third class from six
o'clock A.M. to eight o'clock P.M.; with the exception of regular times
for parades, chapel, and meals.

'If any man will not work neither let him eat,' is a motto strictly
adhered to by the authorities; for no prisoner is allowed meat-dinner
who is not employed at hard labour. Those not so engaged are only
given porridge and bread-and-milk. When labouring at hard work,
prisoners have a meat-dinner every Tuesday and Thursday. Eight ounces
of beef without bone and one pint of soup is the allowance. The first
class have an additional meat-dinner on Sundays. There is, we see,
considerable advantage to be gained by the prisoner, to reward his
ambition, should it prompt him to move upward into a higher class.
Now this is no trifling matter, for the very essence of good prison
discipline is the subordination of mere punishment to reformation;
and this system of classification tends not only to preserve a man's
self-respect, but to fan the spark of hope that otherwise might be
extinguished in his breast.

The justly celebrated novel _Never too late to Mend_ has made the
public in some degree familiar with the 'silent system' of prison
discipline. This system has been found not to work when sentences are
for a long period. Speech is discovered to be more than a luxury, being
essential to the mental health of prisoners. None now are condemned
to the silent system except those who are imprisoned for only a short
time. And how great is the punishment of not being allowed to speak,
is proved to the chaplain by this one fact. Nowhere are prayers so
diligently responded to and hymns sung with such _will_, if without
musical taste, as in the chapel of a military prison, for prisoners
recognise the service as an opportunity of convincing themselves that
they have not become dumb. Until this explanation was given by the
governor, I was full of admiration for religion, afterwards discovered
to be more loud-sounding than genuine.

Prisoners condemned to solitary confinement are forced to turn to
the wall on the approach of visitors or the superior officers of
the prison. 'Has my face assumed any terrific aspect? Am I so much
worse-looking than usual?' This is the thought that naturally comes
into one's mind on walking through a military prison for the first
time. Each man takes a quick glance at your Gorgon head, and then, fast
as lightning, turns his back to you and his face to the wall, until
your apparently baneful or bewitching influence has passed.

Another humiliation to which prisoners have to submit is that of having
their hair frequently cut short. A man must sink very low indeed
before he lose altogether personal vanity. It would seem as if there
were a peacock as well as an angel and a beast in each of us. For this
reason the regulation that requires the hair of all prisoners of the
third class to be cropped every fortnight is no slight punishment. It
is especially felt by those who leave the prison without having been
promoted to the second and first classes, in which a prisoner's hair is
permitted to grow during the last fortnight of imprisonment. How can a
man shew himself in respectable society, or take off his hat to a lady,
when that common act of courtesy would reveal the fact that his hair
was cut by--government?

Some may desire to know whether flogging has or has not been entirely
abolished. To the question, we answer: 'Yes; except for aggravated
breaches of prison discipline.' Nor is it easy to see in what other way
such cases can be dealt with. A man, let us suppose in a fit of sulky
stubbornness, does not attempt to pick his oakum. He is brought before
the governor, and sentenced to lose his supper and bed; that is, to be
obliged to sleep on the floor. On going back to his cell he says to
himself: 'What can I do now to avenge myself on the authorities?' and
he acts on the impulse that seizes him, which is to break the window
and destroy everything in his cell. Probably this sort of stubborn
ill-conditioned character is a coward; and if this be the case, nothing
is found to bring him to his senses so well as twenty-five lashes
administered in the presence of the governor and medical officer.

The punishments which we should like to see abolished, if others
without equal or greater disadvantages could be discovered, are the
crank and shot-drill. 'What is the crank?' may be asked by happy
people who have never had to do with prisons in any way. It is, we
answer, a Sisyphus' wheel that the prisoner is forced to turn twelve
or fourteen thousand times each day, for no other reason than because
the useless monotonous exercise is sufficiently hateful to him to be a
real punishment. 'To what purpose is this waste?' we may ask. Why is
this wheel not made to pump water or grind corn or do some other useful
work? Why should a man be degraded into a machine, and made to turn a
wheel merely for the sake of turning it? Will he not in this way lose
all self-respect? Yes; these are the unanswerable arguments against
the crank. But then its very uselessness is urged as an argument for
its retention. Suppose, for instance, that prisoners are employed in
gardens where vegetables are cultivated for barrack-use, what will
be the consequence? That soldiers will desire to abandon their own
profession for Adam's calling, and for this purpose will designedly get
into prison. If, again, the crank-wheel be utilised in any way, men
will feel that they are useful members of society, and will probably
prefer their new work to the dull routine and irksome duties of
barrack-life. Almost the same remarks are applicable to shot-drill, or
the very humiliating process of lifting six times each minute for three
hours per diem a thirty-six pound cannon-ball, for no other reason than
to put it down again three paces from where it originally lay. Nothing
can be more fatiguing and worrying than this process of putting the
shot there and back, there and back, there and back! But then we must
again remark, that to make prisons very comfortable is absolutely to
make them useless.

Almost all the inmates of military prisons are sentenced for such
crimes as these: Desertion--the commonest crime of all--making
away with kit, breaking out of barracks, insubordination. How is
desertion to be stopped? This is now a very difficult problem with the
authorities, and almost all officers give it as their opinion that the
plague of desertion can only be stayed by again having recourse to the
system lately abolished of branding the letter D on the deserter's
side. In the absence of this _Nota bene_, there is nothing to prevent a
soldier from enlisting over and over again in different corps, in order
to get a bounty and new kit on each occasion.

As regards insubordination, when you speak to a prisoner on the folly
of having resisted or disobeyed a non-commissioned officer, he will
generally give an answer somewhat as follows: 'Well, sir, when I came
back from foreign service I had a little money, and with this I drank
with some comrades more than was good for me. There is a corporal [or
sergeant] in the barrack-room who is always down on me; and upon that
day, having had a little too much, I could not stand his going on at
me; and so I--though indeed I tried to help myself doing so--just
struck him between his eyes.' There is no doubt that nine out of every
ten soldiers in military prisons have got into trouble through drink. A
soldier was once overheard describing the advantages of the Cape as a
station in these words: 'Drink is cheap, and you are always dry.' Men
of this stamp fill our military prisons.

In some cases the crime of insubordination is provoked by the petty
bullying and offensive manner of non-commissioned officers, though
their superiors do their best to check them. Officers are now easily
accessible, and are ready to give the youngest private an impartial
hearing. In all respects the position of a British soldier is now
greatly improved. Indeed it is not too much to say that life in a
military prison now is quite as endurable as was existence out of it to
the well-conducted soldier of forty years ago.



DESOLATE.


    Like a funereal pall,
    Darkness lies over all;
    Weirdly the owl doth call
      From her lone steep.
    Sadly the night-wind blows
    Over December snows;
    Vain 'tis my eyes to close--
      I cannot sleep.

    Thy voice is in my ear;
    Once more thy words I hear,
    Bringing now hope now fear,
      But always love;
    And thy sweet face doth rise
    Radiant with starry eyes,
    Cloudless as summer skies
      In heaven above.

    Once more at night's soft noon,
    Under the pensive moon
    Of a long vanished June,
      With thee I stray:
    As when in days of old
    All my heart's love I told,
    And to my pleading bold
      Thou saidst not nay.

    When thou wast by my side,
    Calmly the days did glide;
    Like an unruffled tide
      My life did flow.
    Then was each hour too brief;
    Now I but seek relief
    From my consuming grief,
      Rest from my woe.

    Now falls the scalding tear,
    Shed for the present drear;
    Shed for the past so dear,
      So quickly flown.
    Over thy lonely grave,
    Hard by the sounding wave,
    Madly the wind-gusts rave;
      I am alone.

    Yes; but my whole life through
    Leal have I been and true;
    True shall I be to you,
      As true as then;
    Till when that life is o'er,
    Skyward my soul shall soar,
    And on the heavenly shore
      We meet again.

        H. D.

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON,
and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._





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