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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 732 - January 5, 1878
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 732 - January 5, 1878" ***

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[Illustration: CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL

OF

POPULAR

LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

Fourth Series

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.

NO. 732.      SATURDAY, JANUARY 5, 1878.      PRICE 1½_d._]



HELENA, LADY HARROGATE.

BY JOHN B. HARWOOD, AUTHOR OF ‘LADY FLAVIA.’


CHAPTER I.--THREATENED.

‘No, my lord; I do not know him; nor, I think, does any one in the
village. But during the few weeks that I have been at High Tor
Churchtown, I have seen him very often indeed.’

The speaker was a young girl, of some twenty years at most. Her bearing
was grave and modest, and her attire scrupulously plain; but there are
cases in which sovereign beauty will assert herself, and Ethel Gray,
the newly appointed school-mistress, was more than pretty. That slender
form and faultless face, the dazzling purity of the complexion, and
the lustre of the violet eyes, that contrasted so well with the wealth
of dark hair simply braided back from the temples and twisted into a
massive coil--these conferred beauty, if ever woman, since Eve's time,
deserved to be called beautiful.

It was a bright balmy day in June, and through the large window of
the school-room, now open, floated the scent of flowers and the hum
of bees. Within the room, standing beside the teacher, were two
gentlemen; while on each side of the table stood the children, their
wondering eyes fixed upon the visitors. They well knew the kindly face
of the gray-haired Earl of Wolverhampton, the elder of the two, whose
park-gates were almost within sight of the school of which he was
patron. But they had never before seen the shrewd rugged features of
the middle-aged member of parliament, the Right Hon. Stephen Hammond,
Under-secretary of State, by whom he was accompanied.

Ethel Gray's words had been uttered in reply to an inquiry from the
Earl as to a swarthy man of sinister aspect and powerful build who was
lounging near the low gate of the school-house garden.

‘That is not a face,’ said the Earl, thinking of quarter-sessions,
tramps, gipsies, and poachers--‘which I am pleased to see here among
my good people.--What is your opinion, Hammond, of the owner of it?’

‘I think that I had rather not meet him on a dark night,’ answered the
Under-secretary with a smile. ‘But perhaps, after all, the man is only
some sailor newly paid off; though he has a reckless unpleasant look in
any case.’

Perceiving himself to be an object of attention to the occupants of the
school-room window, the rough fellow who had been lingering at the gate
now turned on his heel, and with an air half-defiant, half-abashed,
slunk away.

Nor was it long before the old Earl and his guest, with an urbane word
or two of leave-taking to the pretty teacher, quitted the school, and
re-entered the carriage, which had been awaiting them in the leafy lane
beyond. Lord Wolverhampton, as the horses' heads were turned towards
High Tor, looked and felt pleased. He took an interest in the schools,
as he did in every detail of his property; and he had been anxious
for the Under-secretary's approbation concerning them. The Right Hon.
Stephen Hammond had, in the course of the tour which he was hurriedly
making through the country, visited many such places of education,
probably with a view to Hansard and Blue-books; but he was frankly
willing to give its meed of praise to that of which his noble host was
the patron. And praise from Mr Hammond was worth the having.

The carriage rolled on between high banks crested with hazels and gay
with wild-flowers, until at last it passed between the sturdy gateposts
of blue Cornish granite, topped by the grim heraldic monsters which
the De Veres had borne on their shields in battle for many a year
before they had become possessed of the ancient barony of Harrogate
or the modern earldom of Wolverhampton. It was a pretty park enough
that of High Tor, with its huge sycamores and avenue of wych-elms, the
fallow-deer feeding peacefully among the ancient hawthorn trees, the
tinkling trout-stream, and the lofty crag that stood forth like a giant
sentinel, as though to protect the mansion itself, surrounded by its
gardens and shrubberies.

‘Those are fine beeches!’ observed Mr Hammond, pointing to a clump of
silvan Titans that reared their canopy of leaves on a hill far away.

‘Ah!’ said the Earl, as a momentary shade passed across his face;
‘those are not on my land. They are on the other side of the
ring-fence, and belong to Sir Sykes, at Carbery Chase.’

‘It was all one property once, I think?’ said Mr Hammond.

‘Yes; but that was a long time ago,’ rejoined the Earl; but he did not
enlarge upon the subject, and the carriage rolled in silence along the
well-kept road towards the house.

Meanwhile the man whose loitering near the school of High Tor had
attracted some notice, had cleared the village, and was traversing
one of those deep lanes, with high banks densely wooded, for which
that southern county is famous. The nut boughs almost interlaced their
slender branches over his head as he passed beneath their shadow,
and the ferns grew so thickly that it was but here and there, in
golden patches, that the broken sunbeams could filter through them.
The wayfarer was, however, to judge from appearances, by no means
one of those for whom the coy beauty of wild-flowers, or the soft
greenery of the woodlands, or the carol of the birds, could have any
peculiar attraction. He pushed on, not hurrying his pace, but moodily
indifferent to the hundred pretty sights and sounds that vainly invited
his attention.

In person the stranger was, as has been mentioned, powerfully built,
and still active and vigorous, although his crisp dark hair was
grizzled by age or hardship. His keen restless eyes, sullen mouth, and
lowering looks, were scarcely calculated to inspire confidence. His
sunburnt face had evidently known the heat of a fiercer sun than that
of Britain; and near the corner of the mouth there was a dull white
scar, half-hidden by the clustering beard. Mr Hammond's conjecture as
to the seafaring character of the man was perhaps warranted by his
attire, which was of a coarse blue pilot-cloth, such as is worn not by
sailors only, but by many dwellers on the coast, whose calling leads
them to associate with mariners; and as regarded his bearing, he might
as easily have been taken for an Australian digger or Cornish miner as
for a seaman.

Such as he was, Ethel Gray was right in saying that this man's darkling
face had been very frequently to be seen in the village of High Tor
during the few weeks of her residence there. Who he was or whence he
came, no one knew. But he did nothing illegal in loitering about the
trim straggling street; and as our modern system does not encourage
rural Dogberries to meddle with suspected ‘vagrom men,’ he was left
practically unmolested as he lounged to and fro, talking little, but
listening much in the tap-room of the village ale-house, where the
rustics recognised in him the merit of one who carried spare silver in
his pocket, and would invest a little of it in eleemosynary pots of
beer. Himself not over-communicative, he seemed to have an aptitude for
making others talk; and if to learn the politics of the parish was his
desire, he certainly ought to have become tolerably well versed in them.

The swarthy slouching fellow trudged on, indifferent to the pale blush
of the wild-roses, to the scent of the violets, or to the fresh clear
song of the blackbird. He was thinking, thinking deeply, perceptibly
indeed, had any one been there to watch him, for the veins and muscles
of his beetling brows swelled and rose frowningly, as they do with some
men while racking their brains. Presently he emerged into a broader
and drier road than the moist shady lane which he had traversed, and
saw before him the lodge-gates of a park, the stone piers of which
were surmounted by a pair of couchant greyhounds in marble. One of
the side-gates stood always open, since there exists an ancient right
of way through Carbery Chase; and unchallenged, the stranger passed
through the gateway and entered the demesne. It was a fair scene on
which he looked. The golden sunshine fell, as if lovingly, on the
rustling beech-trees and spreading oaks, the ferny dells and grassy
uplands, the ancient trees of the grand avenue, and the bold blue swell
of Dartmoor rising bleakly to the northward.

Full in front, seen through a vista of lofty elms, was the great
house, rising stately in its fair proportions; mullion and ogive, and
gable and turret, and every detail, to the very vanes that flashed
and glittered on roof and tower, looking very much as they must have
looked when Queen Elizabeth deigned to shew her skill as an archeress,
to the detriment of the dappled deer in the wide park beyond. The
silver-plumaged swans yet rode the tranquil waters of the mere, the
burnished pheasants exhibited their gaudy feathers on the sunny bank
beneath the fir-spinny, and the peacocks swept their gorgeous trains
along the stone terrace that skirted the house, as when Tudor royalty
had been feasted there.

It is seldom in England that two mansions of pretensions equal to High
Tor and Carbery Court lie so near together. But in point of splendour
there could be no comparison between the two. The grand Elizabethan
house, justly described in the red-bound county guide-book as ‘a
magnificent place, now the seat of Sir Sykes Denzil, Bart.,’ far
surpassed in size and in symmetry the smaller and older dwelling of
Sir Sykes's noble neighbour. No one would have credited the sunburnt
stranger with any great share of artistic taste or architectural
interest, yet he stood still at an angle of the road whence he could
command an uninterrupted view of Carbery Court, and shading his eyes
with his broad hand, gazed at it with an intentness that was not a
little remarkable. ‘A tidy crib!’ he muttered at last. ‘No wonder if a
chap would run a bit of risk, and pitch overboard any ballast in the
way of scruples, to be owner of such a place as that. And yet’----

He snapped his fingers contemptuously as he spoke, but nevertheless
broke off abruptly in his soliloquy, and drawing out from the
breast-pocket of his rough coat a leathern tobacco-pouch and a short
clay pipe, filled and lighted the latter, and leaning against the
huge bole of an elm-tree, smoked for some time in silence. But if
his outspoken self-communings had come to an end, it would seem
that the train of thought which had suggested them had sustained
no interruption, to judge by the stealthy glances which he cast
now and again towards the grand mansion, flanked as it was by all
the appliances of wealth--park and lake and gardens, home-farm and
stabling, pheasantry, and paddocks where thoroughbred colts disported
themselves during the brief period of liberty that precedes the
education of such equine aristocrats.

A stray policeman passing by would probably have set down the swarthy
stranger as an intending burglar taking a distant survey of the scene
of his projected operations; but the mixture of emotions which the
man's callous face expressed was of by far too complex a character
to be summed up in so commonplace a fashion. There was covetousness
to be sure, and perhaps a spice of malignity; but what appeared to
predominate was a species of cynical enjoyment of the thinker's own
cunning, not unusual with crafty but uneducated persons, who see
themselves on the brink of success. Whatever might be the nature of the
man's meditations, they were presently cut short by the sound of hoofs
on the smooth road near him, as a gentleman riding slowly from the
lodge-gates towards the house came in sight.

As the rider approached him, the man, who had been leaning against the
tree, started, and with an impatient gesture, knocked the ashes out
of his exhausted pipe; then jerking down his hat over his brows with
the air of one whose instinct or purpose it is to shun observation, he
strode off, striking into a side-road which led towards another gate
of the park, by which entrance could be made from the northward. Some
minutes of brisk walking brought him to the verge of the park, whence
he emerged into a wild and broken district of imperfectly cultivated
country lying at the foot of the Dartmoor uplands, that rolled away in
front of him to the edge of the horizon.

For some half a mile beyond the park-wall, the well-tilled fields,
the fences in good repair, and the trim aspect of the few dwellings
that studded the country, differed in no respect from such fields and
fences, such farms and cottages as lay between High Tor and Carbery.
But when the pedestrian reached a guide-post the pointing finger of
which was inscribed with the words, ‘To Nomansland, Dedman's Hollow,
and Dartmoor,’ he began to see before him evidences that he had left
behind him the carefully managed Carbery property, and had entered on
a barren region skirting the Royal Forest, and inhabited by a race
of squatters who wrested with difficulty a bare subsistence from the
sterile soil.

Passing on amid the ragged hedges, the lean cattle, squalid children,
and tumble-down hovels of this unattractive population, but
acknowledging twice or thrice a half-sullen nod or growl of recognition
on the part of some male member of the community who stood whistling
or chewing a straw at gate or gap, the wayfarer at last reached a spot
where, at the junction of four narrow lanes, stood a dilapidated house
of entertainment, its thatched roof stained and broken, and with not a
few of the panes in its unwashed windows rudely replaced by boards or
sackcloth. An inscription in faded letters over the low-browed doorway
had reference to a license to retail beer and spirits for consumption
on the premises, and tobacco; while a board nailed to a dead tree hard
by bore, in thin black characters, the name of _The Traveller's Rest_.
And into _The Traveller's Rest_ the stranger dived, with all the air of
one who feels himself at home.



CURLING.


When a black frost seals up the ground, and ice covers our ponds and
lochs, among the amusements then open to those north of the Tweed there
is none more healthful and exhilarating than the game of curling, the
mode of playing at which we shall presently explain for the benefit of
our non-initiated readers. This ‘manly Scottish exercise,’ as the old
poet Pennycuick calls it, is, as we once before hinted, the worthiest
rival of golf in Scotland. Alas, however, it fights this battle under
immense disadvantages; the good old times seem to have passed away,
when for weeks on end,

    O'er burn and loch the warlock Frost
      A crystal brig would lay,

and good ice might be confidently counted on for a long time. But being
a pastime solely depending upon ice, and good ice, for its existence,
this only makes the ardent votaries of the game the more eager to take
every advantage of such fleeting chances as the variable winters of our
day send them. Night has often been added to day, when the interest in
a great match has been more intense than the frost, and the ice has
shewn any signs of passing away.

It is _always_ a trial for a curler to see a sheet of ice unoccupied;
and when, on a Sunday, the ‘crystal brig’ on some fine loch lies
smooth and keen, who has not seen hopeful enthusiasts taking a glance
at the virgin expanse, with expression of countenance impossible
to misunderstand! The marvel is that the strong temptation is so
universally resisted, and that no effect has followed the example
set by that Bishop of Orkney two centuries ago, whose ‘process,’
says Baillie in his Letters, ‘came before us; he was a curler on the
Sabbath-day.’

No game promotes sociality more than curling; none unites on one common
platform the different classes of society better than it does.

    The tenant and his jolly laird,
      The pastor and his flock,

join in the game without patronage on one side or any loss of respect
on the other. Harmony and friendly feeling prevail; and if, on the ice
as elsewhere, all men are _not_ equal, it is because a quick eye, a
sound head, and a steady hand make now the shepherd, now the laird,
‘king o' a' the core.’

Though so eminently a Scottish game, evidence goes to prove that the
pastime was brought to us from the continent not very long ago--three
hundred years or so. Some ultra-patriotic curlers claim for it indeed a
native origin, or at least one lost in the mists of antiquity, citing a
passage in _Ossian_ to prove that the Fingalian heroes beguiled their
winters with the game, because in one passage it is said ‘Swaran bends
at the stone of might;’ but this notwithstanding, it is quite clear
that, as in the case of golf, we are indebted to outsiders for the
first rough sketches of the ‘roaring game.’ The technical language of
the game is all of Low Country origin, and it is supposed to have been
introduced into this country by the Flemish emigrants who settled in
Scotland about the end of the fifteenth century. No mention of it is
made by any writer for long after this; but it must have been well
known in 1607, for Camden, in his _Britannia_, published in that year,
says that in the little island of Copinsha, near the Orkneys, ‘are to
be found in great plenty excellent stones for the game called curling.’

At this time and for long after, the game appears to have been merely
a rough kind of quoiting on ice; indeed for a great part of the last
century its common name in this country was _Kuting_. The stones of
that day, rough undressed blocks--so different from the polished
missiles now used--had no handle, but merely a kind of hollow or niche
for the finger and thumb, and were evidently intended to be _thrown_
for at least part of the course. Since these days, great strides have
been taken in the improvement of the game; now it is highly scientific,
and with its many delicate strokes, its ‘wicks,’ calculations of
angles, of force, and of bias, it may without presumption be called
the billiards of ice. In some places, however, the old game with its
primitive implements, usually flattish stones from the bed of the
nearest stream, still holds its place under the name of ‘channelling.’

In the bead-roll of curling are no such mighty names as those that
golf boasts of; our winter game has not got mixed up with historic
events and personages, as the older pastime has; but what her devotees
lack in greatness is made up by the intense affection shewn by them in
all ages for their favourite sport. It appears to have been a great
game with poets. Allan Ramsay and Burns allude to it, and a host of
minor bards have sung its praises at varying lengths, but with uniform
appreciation of its excellences. One of the most eloquent passages in
Christopher North's _Winter Rhapsody_ deplores the failing popularity
of the game in his later days; for like many other good things, curling
has had its ups and downs in this world. In some few districts where
it once flourished for a time, the interest in the game has died out;
but of later years the establishment of so many clubs has given a
new impetus to the game, which now prospers in its season beyond all
former experience. The south-western districts of Scotland were long
the chosen home of curling, and the players of Lanark and Dumfriesshire
were specially renowned for their great skill in the art; but now it
has spread over the whole country, and the grand matches of the Royal
Caledonian Curling Club witness the friendly rivalry of worthy foemen
from Maidenkirk to John o' Groat's, and excite the enthusiasm of branch
clubs south of the Tweed, and even across the Atlantic.

At Edinburgh, perhaps as much as at any other place, has the game
prospered within the last century, though in one point the game has
lost a recognition it once had, if we believe the old tradition that,
about a hundred and fifty years ago, the Town-Council used to go to
the ice in all the pomp and circumstance that it now reserves for the
Commissioner's procession, with a band playing ‘appropriate airs’
before it, which discoursed sweet music while the fathers of the city
gave an hour or two to the game. The citizens then played on the Nor'
Loch, a sheet of water which in those days divided the Old Town from
the New; when it was drained they went to the ponds at Canonmills, and
subsequently to Duddingston Loch, where arose the Duddingston Curling
Club, instituted in 1795, which has done great things in infusing a new
spirit into the game. Among its members have been many fine curlers and
good fellows, famed in other fields than this; and even if the Club
had done nothing beyond giving us the capital songs of Sir Alexander
Boswell, Miller, and many others, it would have still deserved well of
its country.

Of late years, however, there has arisen a mightier than it--the Royal
Caledonian Curling Club--now forty years old, which numbers among its
members most curlers of note, both at home and abroad; and to which are
affiliated all the local societies, who once a year, when the weather
permits, send their chosen champions to contend at the grand match held
under the auspices of the Royal Club.

Let us now see how the game is played; and first we shall give what is
perhaps the earliest description of the game on record, that given by
Pennant in his _Tour_ in 1792. ‘Of all the sports of these parts,’ he
says, ‘that of curling is the favourite, and one unknown in England.
It is an amusement of the winter, and played on the ice by sliding
from one mark to another great stones of from forty to seventy pounds
weight, of a hemispherical form, with an iron or wooden handle at the
top. The object of the player is to lay his stone as near the mark
as possible, to guard that of his partner, which had been well laid
before, or to strike his antagonist's.’

The game is played on a carefully chosen piece of ice called the
‘rink,’ which should be forty-two yards long, unless special
circumstances--such as thaw and consequently ‘dull’ ice--require it
to be shortened. This piece of ice should be as level, smooth, and
free from cracks as possible; there is usually a trifling bias, which
however to the skilled curler rather adds interest to the game, as it
calls forth additional science in the play.

When the rink is chosen, a little mark is made at each end; this
is called the ‘tee;’ and near that point stands, in his turn, each
player, whose object is to hurl or slide his stones to the opposite
end, by a swinging motion of the arm. Each player also endeavours to
place his stones nearer the tee than those of his opponents. In this
respect curling is precisely similar in principle to the well-known
game of bowls. Round the tees are scratched several concentric circles
or ‘broughs,’ a foot or so apart from each other, by which means the
distance at which stones are lying from the goal is seen at a glance
at any time during the continuance of the ‘end.’ In the normally
long rink, a scratch called the hog-score--usually made wavy, to
distinguish it from any accidental crack--is drawn across the line
of play near each end, eight yards from the tee; and any stones that
have not had impetus enough imparted to them to carry them over this
line are ‘hogs,’ and are put off the ice as useless for that end. A
common number of players in one rink is eight--four against four; but
in some places more play on one side, and in others less, according
to circumstances. As a general rule each man plays two stones. The
game is counted by points; and each stone of a side closer than their
antagonists' nearest, is a point which scores towards the game. It will
be observed that ‘tees,’ ‘broughs,’ and ‘hog-scores’ are in duplicate,
for as in quoits and bowls, ends are changed after each round.

As in bowls so in curling, the office of ‘skip’ of each side is usually
given to the best player; and on his tact and judgment, besides
knowledge of the exact amount of confidence he can place on the skill
of each of his followers depends much of the success of his side. His
chief duty is to stand at the tee for the purpose of directing and
advising the play of each of his fellows, always playing last himself,
that the critical shot on which perhaps victory or defeat hangs, may
be in the best possible hands. Thus, in a rink of four players a side,
the skips stand directors until their third men have played both their
stones; upon which they proceed to the other end and play theirs.

The course of a game is generally something like this, though in no
sport are there greater variations, or more circumstances calling forth
all that judgment, skill, and experience only can teach. The ‘lead’
or first player's object is simple: he tries to ‘draw’ his shot--that
is, to play his stone up the ice towards the end where stands his skip
directing, so that the stone may lie if possible within the rings;
and if he is a skilful player, his stone rests say a few feet short
of the tee. The lead of the opposite side probably does as nearly the
same, or with a little more force applied he perhaps knocks out his
opponent's stone and lies in its place. Each of the leads having played
two stones, the turn of the second player now comes. If an opposing
stone lies near the tee, this player tries to change places with it by
driving it away; but if a stone of his own side is next the tee, his
play will be to ‘guard’ it--that is, to lay his own stone in a direct
line before it, so that the enemy may be less likely to dislodge it. As
the game proceeds it gets more intricate--the stones round the tee may
have been so placed that the ‘winner’ is perfectly guarded from direct
attack. Then is the time for the display of science: an experienced
player by a cunning twist of the wrist may make his stone curl so as
to carry it past the one that is supposed to guard the winning stone;
or he may hit a stone near the winner in an oblique direction, and so
cannon off it on to the winning stone and knock _it_ away. This last is
called ‘wicking,’ and is exactly a stroke of the same kind so necessary
in billiards.

And so the game goes on--a game of give and take; but as Græme says,
who can

                  Follow the experienced player
    Through all the mysteries of his art, or teach
    The undisciplined how to wick, to guard,
    Or ride full out the stone that blocks the pass!

Stories innumerable are told of the delicate feats of aiming performed
by enthusiasts of the game; and it is wonderful what skill is often
shewn in the shots taken by good curlers with their unwieldy looking
weapons; the narrow ‘ports’ or openings between two stones that they
can make their missiles pass through, and the dexterity they shew in
calculating the bias of the ice and the exact amount of angle necessary
to make their cannons. This too, with stones thirty or forty pounds in
weight!

Each player provides himself with a broom to sweep up the ice before a
too lazy stone; and upon judicious sweeping much of the game depends.
The shouts of ‘Soop! soop!’ that follow the signal of the skip; the
excited gestures of the ‘capering combatants;’ the constant cries of
victory or defeat after the frequent changes of fortune; the general
exhilaration of spirits attending a healthy and exciting exercise in
the bracing air of winter--all tend to make the scene an extraordinary
one. Of course if, instead of the ordinary match or game among the
members of a club, we are witnessing a ‘bonspiel’ or match between two
rival clubs or parishes, the excitement is much intensified. Wraps put
on by the careful goodwives' hands before the curlers left home are
recklessly cast aside; brawny arms vigorously ply the besoms; strong
lungs shout out encouragement; and the engrossed combatants await
the issue of a shot in all the attitudes so cunningly portrayed in
Sir George Harvey's well-known picture. Of course the point of most
breathless interest is when perhaps one shot must decide the game. Hear
how that inimitable curling song-writer, the Rev. Dr Duncan, describes
that moment:

    A moment's silence, still as death,
    Pervades the anxious thrang, man,
    Then sudden bursts the victors' shout,
    Wi' hollos loud and lang, man;
    Triumphant besoms wave in air,
    And friendly banters fly, man;
    Whilst, cold and hungry, to the inn
    Wi' eager steps they hie, man;

where awaits them the true curlers' dinner of ‘beef and greens;’ to
which simple viands the appetites, sharpened by the keen frost, do
ample justice. And if a temperate tumbler of toddy is emptied, what
then? A merry evening is spent; and however keen the contest has been,
or strong the rivalry between closely matched parishes, we can always
say with the old song:

    They met baith merry in the morn,
      At night they parted friends.

During these jovial evenings, ‘in words the fight renewed is fought
again,’ and many stories of past curling are told--one of which we
shall take an early opportunity of offering to our readers.



MUSIC AND POETRY.


Art in its different developments may be said to express one
idea--beauty. As in different parts of the world different languages
are spoken, which all express the same thoughts and feelings, though in
different ways, so all the arts are but the various ways of expressing
the one moving spirit, the one idea, which is beauty. Painting exhibits
or expresses beauty of colour; Sculpture, beauty of form; Architecture,
beauty of proportion; Music, beauty of harmony; Poetry, beauty of
thought. Each is in some measure transferable to, or capable of part
expression by, the others. Thus painting may exhibit the beauty of
form as in sculpture, and architecture may combine the beauties both
of painting and sculpture, while poetry can in some measure unite the
properties of each art.

The various thoughts and feelings of humanity are capable of being
expressed in art, in every branch of it. Joy and sorrow, triumph and
despair, can be expressed alike faithfully by music, painting, or
poetry. The pain that is never entirely absent from this painful earth,
aches in sculpture, in verse, and in melody; the love that beats in
the great heart of the universe, breathes from the canvas, the marble,
and the minstrel. Two arts especially are so blended as to be almost
synonymous--Music and Poetry. Poetry is inarticulate music, harmony is
song without words. Poetry is perhaps the highest of all arts, because
all the others appeal to the soul through the external senses; while
poetry, without sound, without beauty either of form or colour, unites
the power of all. Something of the earth is necessary to the production
of the other arts; pigments, marbles, strings, instruments of various
sorts are indispensable to all except poetry; therefore poetry is the
divine art, for it comes direct from the soul. Exquisite word-painting
describes a scene as vividly as any painting; perfect rhythm is the
purest harmony, and all art is combined in a poem which depicts with
the fidelity of painting, which is symmetrical with the perfect
proportions of architecture, and which breathes the melody of music.

From the earliest ages, songs have been the heart-notes of nations;
the simplest form of poetry, yet the most popular, because written
directly from the heart to the heart. Heroic deeds were celebrated in
song, love-stories were immortalised in song, ere there was a note of
written music or a word of written verse. Thus the twin-sister arts
music and poetry, in their infancy scarce distinguishable, passed on
hand in hand; but with the lapse of years they grew more divided, their
different features becoming more developed, until now, their triumphs
have apparently raised a barrier between them, and people forget that
they are twin; but the chord of sympathy is still there. The union
is not _less_; it is only less visible, because more intricate. It
is impossible briefly to state all the points where the sister-muses
are at one; let us simply, by pointing out a few examples from the
great masters of each, attempt to shew that music and poetry are still
closely allied.

The three great moving powers of humanity are Faith, Reason,
Passion--the Soul, the Head, the Heart. Faith, reverence, worship, or
by whatever name may be called that feeling in man which causes him to
adore a being greater than himself, has been expressed in poetry by
Milton; in music by Handel. Reason, the thoughts of the human mind, the
gropings after a true philosophy, has been expressed in the poetry of
Shelley, in the music of Mendelssohn. Passion--each varied emotion that
throbs in the heart of man, is expressed in the poetry of Byron, in the
music of Beethoven. Others might be cited, and resemblances carried
to any extent between poets and musicians; but the above may suffice,
being not merely fanciful definitions, but thorough truths, fully borne
out in fact; not ideal but real.

There is first the poetry and music in which the feeling of worship,
the element of religion, is prime agent. Milton can be fairly taken as
the poet of reverence. Owing to the peculiar circumstances of his life
and times, the great power of his verse is a cry against the follies
and sins of a debased people, an earnest cry for more strength of
purpose, more firmness of will. It all strives to exalt a Deity who was
like to be forgotten by a nation steeped in the vices and frivolities
of Cavalier times. Grand and impressive his verse flows on, a mighty
flood, with the hidden strength which shews itself in calm still
progress.

Like the full rich notes of the organ sound the words of Milton, as
also the noble chords of Handel, whose music, like Milton's verse,
is full of adoration. Strange that both in their later years were
blind. Could it be that the closing of the eyes of the flesh opened
the eyes of the soul to a clearer vision and a more real conception of
the Deity? The majesty of God, the insignificance of man, the eternal
triumph of good over evil, are their themes, and in the same tones are
they uttered. Handel and Milton sound like one voice, now in tones of
beseeching tenderness--_Miserere Domine_ wailing forth the plaint of
sorrow in accents piteous with the burden of woe; again with righteous
indignation they witheringly scathe the enemies of the truth and the
spirit of evil; and, in _Gloria in Excelsis_ they unite in praising the
power of the Deity above all names, the one spirit, the ‘I am’ of the
universe.

From the earliest times until now, man has been trying to solve the
riddle of existence, eagerly striving after a true philosophy which
shall satisfactorily explain to his reason all the complex mechanism
of his nature. The highest intellect has vainly striven to pierce the
mysteries of time and eternity, until the torch of reason becomes
only an _ignis fatuus_, leading to dangerous wilds, where there is
no path. In poetry the pure reason of man has had few such brilliant
exponents as Shelley. Gifted with daring imagination, his genius darted
in its wild flight like the lightning from out the storm-cloud; far
above the earth his spirit seemed to float, while he breathed forth
his marvellous song and toyed with the clouds and the spirits of the
spheres. Intellect was his god; he revelled in the beauty of Nature
and in the mystic shadows of psychological dreams. His eager soul was
ever yearning for a something undefined to satisfy the vague longings
of a mind that will take nothing for granted, that cannot believe what
it does not understand. Therefore the works of Shelley are admirable
examples of the poetry of the _intellect_.

Mendelssohn is his counterpart in music; there is the same vivid
imagination, the same perfection of harmony, the same wealth of
melody in the works of both. His music displays a rich intellect and
a brilliant fancy; in it there is mechanical perfection; there is
all that knowledge and education can do; heart only is awanting. His
cultured mind conjures up sweet sounds, delicate airy visions, grand
solemn strains; but there is never a touch of passion in it all.
Carefully polished into perfection, the intricacies of his music convey
the idea that a vast amount of effort and labour has been bestowed on
their production. But in this he differs from Shelley, for Shelley's
song is free, spontaneous as a bird's, and in it there is the fire, the
passion which Mendelssohn lacks.

Thus, though there are slight differences in the way in which the
intellect is developed in the works of those two masters, yet they both
exhibit, above all, the reason, the intellect of man in its highest
state of culture. Rich, melodious, dreamy are they both; and each
leaves on the listener the same impression as of wandering through a
land of perfect loveliness, peopled by beautiful spirits, chanting
music now full of exquisite fancies, and again uttering wild cries
for that rest and peace which the intellect alone cannot give. A fairy
world is that dream-land of Shelley and of Mendelssohn.

Ever nearer to human nature is the music of the heart, the one thing
in the universe that changes not. Intellect with the advancing
ages advances and changes; religions vary in different lands; but
although languages, manners, everything be different, the heart of man
remains the same: ‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.’
Difference of language or of creed is no barrier to the appreciation of
Shakspeare, of Mozart, of Raphael. True genius speaks to human nature
from the depths of an intensest sympathy, a melody, a thought, which no
boundary-line can limit, no distinction of race retard.

How is it that the sublimest music and the most entrancing verse are
the results of sorrow? How is it that ‘sweetness is wrung out of pain,
as the juice is crushed away from the cane?’ Out of the fire comes the
purified gold, and out of the furnace of trial and pain and sorrow,
comes that perfect sympathy which lies at the root of genius. Pain
develops faculties which would otherwise lie dormant, and thus out of
much suffering grew the deathless song of Byron and the immortal music
of Beethoven. Nursed by neglect, fostered by contempt, grew their
soul-children into a life which triumphed over the scorn which had
slighted their infancy--beautiful soul-children, that shall live for
ever in the eternal youth of genius. So long as the heart of humanity
shall continue to throb, so long shall continue Byron's verse and
Beethoven's harmonies. The _heart_, with its passionate longings, its
hope and despair, its delight and its utter weariness, is embodied in
the works of both. Strains of infinite tenderness and burning notes of
passionate intensity, go to the heart of the listener with that strange
undefinable power--that thrill, which is the charm of Beethoven's
music. That composer once remarked that ‘music should strike fire from
the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.’ His music
has accomplished both. The works of other musicians may delight or
astonish; Weber's sweet notes have a home in many hearts, and Mozart's
versatile genius has given to dramatic music its highest expression;
but we venture to say that none exercises that marvellous fascination,
none weaves the spell of enchantment which dwells in the burning notes
of the master musician.

And in Byron's poetry there is the same indescribable attraction,
because there is the same power. At present it is the fashion to
sneer at his magnificent genius, to humble it ever the lower, the
higher is raised the present school, who write of vague shadowy
beings, and are strangely destitute of genuine life or passion. The
conventional society of the present time is most fittingly mirrored in
the conventional poetry of the day. Anything like tender emotion is
carefully concealed. In the poetry of Byron there is no straining after
effect, no halting for a word or a metaphor; on, ever on flows the
song in a resistless tide. His poetry, like that of Burns, his equally
gifted brother, is not _made_; it breathes, it burns; and is a genuine
creation. In Byron's poetry love and hate are no mere affectations;
they are genuinely depicted, and meant; while sorrow is touched with
the tender cadence of a real grief. There beats in all his verse a
true throbbing heart, with all the inconsistencies of temperament which
belong to human nature. _There_ is the secret of his power, the magic
of his verse, which must live so long as hearts shall beat to the tune
of love, and there are sorrows in this world of unrest.

The universality of this heart-music is easily understood, even though
the intellect of man be ever changing; and each new science in its turn
alter the aspect of affairs; each new philosophy seem to overthrow the
previous schools. As knowledge becomes more extended, materialism wages
a sterner battle against idealism, and a ‘reason’ that must comprehend
all the mysteries of existence, that must apply the crucible to
everything, bids fair to abolish ‘heart’ altogether, as an antiquated
emotion; and yet throughout all ages to come, the one touch of nature
will still make ‘the whole world kin.’

Unaffected in the main by religion or education, we see the same
feelings, with all their varying moods, in the inhabitants of the
sunniest climes or of the lands of winter snows. Thus is the heart
of man ever the same. True genius speaks to that heart; hence it is
universal, and can never die. The language of Homer is now esteemed
dead, but is the _Iliad_ dead? The land of Dante has been steeped in
a long sleep, but has the _Inferno_ been forgotten? The birthplace
of Michael Angelo is disputed, but none disputes the power of his
imperishable marbles.

Bright in the beauty of eternal youth, live the song-notes of genius
whether in verse or music; age cannot mar the freshness of their
charm; time cannot lessen the power of their fascination. Empires are
overthrown, victories lost and won, kingdoms once in the first rank
are fallen behind, and young nations are spurring on to the front; the
world, ever in a turmoil, is a perpetual kaleidoscope of change; but
through the clang of battle these voices sound triumphant, and still to
the weary and the suffering they whisper peace and comfort.



THE BELL-RINGER.

IN FOUR CHAPTERS.


CHAPTER I.--THE DUMB PEAL.

Over hill and dale, over woodland and moor, over fields and hedgerows,
the snow has thrown her mantle of purity, concealing all defects with
a skilful hand, and making a landscape of fairy-like beauty, enhanced
by the rays of the sun. On the church belonging to the village of
Linden, its beauty was strikingly revealed, as it lay upon every
moulding, and clothed the ivy clustering the tower, contrasted by
patches of dark-green leaves where the wind had relieved them of
their snowy burden, and tracing the outline of each narrow pointed
window and jutting buttress. The graves were thickly covered with
Nature's winding-sheet, and even the mossy tombstones in this village
‘God's-acre’ were whitened by the same pure covering, for the wind had
ceased for some hours, and a ghostly silence pervaded the resting-place
of the dead, until the striking of the village clock in a dull muffled
tone warned the occupants of some adjacent cottages that it was four
o'clock. Clouds of a light gray colour hung low over the earth, and
Nature reposed in a silence that is often the precursor of a storm.

The village of Linden was situated in a valley, picturesquely green
in summer, but subject to heavy snow-drifts in winter, which at times
rendered the road nearly impassable; a fact which was painfully
apparent to a solitary traveller who was toiling wearily on his way
at the time my story opens. As he drew near the churchyard, which
was situated at the entrance to the village, he paused to rest on
the low wall surrounding the inclosure, and drew his plaid around
him, as a protection from the cold, for he shook in every limb, and
his breath went and came in short uneven gasps. A labourer returning
from his work gave him a countryman's ‘good-e'en,’ but he made no
reply; an urchin clambered over the stile to take a short cut through
the sacred precincts, and stared hard as he brushed past the muffled
form; still he moved not, although the fast-deepening gloom of the
short December day was sufficient to urge him to hasten to a shelter
for the night. At last, as the church clock struck the quarter past
four, the stranger rose, and mounting the stile, stepped down into
the churchyard. Removing his plaid from his face, he looked earnestly
around, without fear that he should challenge recognition; he was
alone with the dead. Stumbling with some uncertainty among the graves,
he made for a distant corner, where a door in the ivy-covered wall
and a neatly kept path (from which the snow had been lately swept)
leading to the chancel door, shewed it to be a private entrance to the
churchyard. In this corner stood a cross of Scotch granite, decked with
wreaths of _immortelles_, and still discernible in the twilight was the
inscription:

         In Beloved Remembrance of
     ALICE, Wife of CHARLES PEREGRINE,
    who died August 12, 18--, Aged 52.
            Her End was Peace.

With eyes which seemed to strain themselves in his eagerness to read
this inscription, the traveller gathered in the meaning of what he
read, and with cold benumbed fingers painfully traced each carved
letter, to make the dread assurance doubly sure. Clasping the cross,
he sank upon his knees, and indulged in an agony of grief; at last his
emotion overcame him; the fatigue he had previously endured augmented
his suffering; his arms released their hold, and he slid from his
kneeling position on to the ground, lying in an unconscious state on
the verge of a newly dug grave, side by side with the one over which he
had been weeping; and in this dangerous position for a time we leave
him.

At a quarter to eight Nathan Boltz, who was master of the belfry, the
bells, and the ringers, who rung the curfew at eight o'clock, and the
morning bell at five in summer and six in winter, who was sexton and
parish clerk, and one of the principal members of the choir, came to
perform his usual duty. The tolling of the curfew over, Nathan turned
aside to inspect the grave he had lately dug; his astonishment was
intense at stumbling over a prostrate form, and but for his activity he
would have been precipitated into the narrow house so lately prepared
by him. Putting down his lantern, he raised the insensible figure,
and bore it in his arms to his cottage, close at hand; once there
he managed to unlock the door, and placed the stranger gently on the
floor. Running back swiftly for his lantern, Nathan returned with it,
closed and locked his door upon intruders, and brought its light upon
the face of his guest. No sooner had he done this than he started back
in dismay. He knew the man, although he had not seen him for fifteen
years, and time had worked startling changes in that cold impassive
face.

‘'Tis he at last!’ whispered Nathan, as if fearful of being overheard,
although he was alone. For a moment he felt as David might have felt
with Saul sleeping before him; then the passion in his face died out,
and he used every means to restore the sufferer. For some time his
efforts were in vain, but at last he was successful; and the first
glance bestowed upon him by the stranger shewed that he too was
recognised, although neither of them spoke.

Nathan was at his post next morning when the funeral cortège came
quietly through the grounds surrounding the Hall, and was met by the
vicar near the chancel door; but Nathan's mind was preoccupied, and he
scarcely heard or saw anything which took place. He went through his
duties mechanically, even to filling up the grave in silence, although
many lingered near him to speak of her who lay beneath. They thought
him strange, but held him in too much respect to venture a remark.

Squire Peregrine of Linden Hall had been a widower only a few months,
having been left with seven daughters, who might have been termed the
widower's garland. Alas! for that fragile beauty which fading rapidly
droops into an early grave. The funeral of one fair girl had just taken
place; and for Hilda Peregrine, the bell-ringers would on that evening
ring a dumb peal, which should speak to every heart in its sorrow, and
prove their sympathy with the bereaved. Six months before, they had
rung for the mother, little anticipating the early removal of one of
her children; she had passed away from them, beloved to the last. Was
it any wonder that the men took their way to the belfry in silence,
guided by the light of the lantern flashing on the snow-covered paths?
The bell-ringers of Linden could boast of no slight skill in their
manipulation of the splendid chime of eight bells which were wont to
speak their stirring language to the villages for miles around. The
sweet and musical bells of Linden had been a recent gift from the
ladies of the Hall, and each bell bore upon it the name of the giver.
Nathan Boltz preceded the ringers into the belfry. See him as he stands
there divested of his wraps, and revealed by the light of candles
burning in sconces fixed in the wall. He is a tall and stalwart man of
thirty-five, with a muscular development rarely excelled, inherited
from his father, a Dutch sailor. His face, of a true Saxon type, is
remarkable for its repose and force of expression; firmness without
obstinacy in the mouth and chin; benevolence written on the expansive
forehead; forgiveness and charity in the clear dark gray eye.

Nathan Boltz was truly one of Nature's gentlemen; a self-educated
man, a great reader, a deep thinker, a humble imitator of the Divine
Master. This was the man who, unaware of his true greatness, lived a
life of real enjoyment in zealously performing his duties and working
for his daily bread. He had no desire to extend his sphere beyond
his native village; the simple drama of his life had been played out
amidst its rural scenes, and it had not been destitute of pathos and
variation. Nathan had had a deep sorrow, which had washed his soul in
its tumultuous waters and left it stranded upon the Rock of Ages; and
when the memory of this sorrow came upon him, his voice took a deeper
tone in the chants and hymns, and a shadow would obscure the brightness
of his face. He had, like all his fellow-creatures, many faults; but
the good in him outbalanced the evil.

‘Now!’ cried Nathan. Instantly the men were at their posts. Every hand
grasped its respective rope; and there echoed forth on the night-air
the solemn far-sounding peal, carrying the melody down to earth,
catching it and bearing it to heaven above.

    Hark to their dull unchanging roll!
      As heavily on it floats,
    And speaks of the dead to the mourner's soul
      With its wildly solemn notes.

The cottagers opened their doors, and every heart answered its response
of regret and hope as the bells rang on. At last it was over; the
solemn sound died gradually away, and the silence which followed seemed
the more expressive from the contrast.

       *       *       *       *       *

Old Father Time rings many changes; hour by hour and day by day they
steal upon us, imperceptibly but surely; and we mark their advent but
slightly, until at our yearly gatherings, when friend meets friend and
long-severed ties are reunited, the missing links shew many a vacant
chair, and faces filled with joy in meeting their beloved once more,
ever and anon cloud over, as memory recalls departed joys which never
can return.

We return with the mourners to the Hall, where the sisters can scarcely
realise the loss of her who has so lately been taken from them.
Patricia, the eldest, possesses her father's hauteur of disposition
and commanding manner. Gertrude, the second, resembles her mother in
person and disposition. Of the four younger sisters, two of them were
twins, and were a counterpart of their elder sister. The remaining two
had been trained by her whom they lamented, and were, like her, beloved
by all who knew them. The sisters sat together in the drawing-room,
awaiting the entrance of their father and another member of the family
regarded in the light of a son--their cousin, Oliver Peregrine, whose
marriage with Patricia was necessarily delayed by her sister Hilda's
death. These constituted the family dinner-party.

Oliver Peregrine grew impatient at the decorous silence preserved by
his uncle, who in spite of his calm demeanour, was feeling the death
of this daughter more than he cared to shew. The servants who waited
had felt real affection for her, and their sorrow was not an outward
form. But the delay of the marriage chafed Oliver's temper, and with
difficulty he responded to his uncle's desire that all mention of it
might be for the present suppressed. Let us describe him. He was about
forty years of age; tall, thin, and stooping; his hair and moustache of
a faint sandy hue, his light-blue eyes uncertain and cruel-looking, the
mouth thin and compressed; haughty towards his dependents, possessing
an unblemished reputation, heir to the greater part of his uncle's
wealth, demanding respect, of love gaining none. He was a man who
looked suspiciously on every action of those around him, at the same
time given to concealment himself. He was an accomplished scholar, and
had been educated for a learned profession, being the orphan son of a
younger brother; but as the heir of Squire Peregrine, he followed his
studies as a recreation, and spent most of his time at the Hall.

Dinner was proceeding in the manner just described, when up the
snow-covered avenue a carriage rolled silently and swiftly; and
presently the butler handed a card to his master. Squire Peregrine
rose immediately; and all felt the interruption a welcome one. ‘My old
friend Colonel Lindsay,’ he said in explanation, ‘whom I have not seen
for many years.--Come with me, Patricia, and bid him welcome.’

They left the room; and after a short interval returned, bringing
Colonel Lindsay with them. Introductions followed, and he took his seat
at the table. No one present made mention of the time which had elapsed
since last he had visited them. Many changes of a painful character had
taken place during the interval, and the Colonel avoided all mention
of them until he found himself alone with his old friend. But when
Patricia and her sisters had left the dining-room, and Oliver with a
slight apology had followed them, the Colonel, in a few feeling words,
referred to the death of Squire Peregrine's wife and daughter; then
suddenly changing his tone, he added: ‘And where is the boy? Where is
Bertram?’

Squire Peregrine's face grew of an ashen paleness, as in a low voice he
answered: ‘Lindsay, I have no son.’

‘Dead?’ said the Colonel in a penetrating tone, as if he would read the
heart of his old friend.

‘To me and my family for ever. Name him no more!’

The Colonel took no notice of his tone. ‘His faults?’ he pressed--‘his
faults?’

No one else would have so dared to interrogate Squire Peregrine; yet
again he answered: ‘Abduction and forgery;’ and his old friend noticed
that he placed the word forgery last.

‘I do not believe it, Charles,’ he said calmly. ‘Against whom were
these crimes committed?’

‘Against a pure and innocent village girl, and against myself. He fled,
and all I could do was to try not to discover him. The girl is dead. To
the last she shielded him. He is the first Peregrine who has so fallen,
and his name is cut off from amongst us. God grant he may be dead!’

‘He is innocent!’ returned the Colonel in a firm tone.

Squire Peregrine stared at him as if he thought him mad. ‘How can you
prove that?’ he said hurriedly.

‘I have no proof but my remembrance of him as a lad, and an inward
conviction that you have been deceived. Did his mother believe him
guilty?’

‘I cannot say. I did not allow her to mention him. My two youngest
daughters are not aware they have a brother.’

The Colonel did not press the matter further, but changed the
subject, relating incidents of his life abroad, and making the time
pass pleasantly to his old friend. But that night the Colonel sat in
deep thought over the decaying embers of his fire, and had come to
a resolution before he sought his couch. The result was that Dobson
the butler furnished him with full particulars of the sad event; and
unknown to Oliver Peregrine the prosperity of that worthy was on the
wane.



EXPERIENCES IN CAMP AND COURT.


An interesting and gossiping volume of personal reminiscences,
entitled _Camp, Court, and Siege: a Narrative of Personal Adventure
and Observation during two Wars, 1861-65, 1870-71_ (Sampson Low &
Co.), has been given to the world by Colonel Hoffman, an officer whose
position during two great wars enabled him to record much that escaped
the notice of other observers. Colonel Hoffman held an important post
in the Federal army during the American civil war, and at its close
received an appointment in the diplomatic service of his country. As
Secretary to the American Legation in Paris, and _chargé d'affaires_
during the temporary absence of the United States minister, Mr
Washburne, he witnessed the events which preceded the Franco-German
war, and afterwards remained in Paris, in common with other members of
his Embassy, during the siege. The recollections he has strung together
relate rather to the byways than to the beaten track of history during
these periods; and it is this fact which gives his unpretending volume
its chief interest and novelty. Our readers will probably be amused in
spending with us a short time over its pages.

Colonel Hoffman was in 1862 captain on the staff of Brigadier-general
Williams at Hatteras, an island which lies in the direct route of
vessels bound from the West Indies to Baltimore, New York, &c. The
‘guileless natives’ of this place are, we are informed, well known as
wreckers, and in pursuit of this calling they adopt a plan which is
simple but effective. A half-wild kind of horse called a ‘marsh pony,’
is bred upon the island, and one of these animals is caught, one of
its legs is tied up, a lantern slung to its neck, and the pony is thus
driven along the beach on a stormy night. The effect is just that of
a vessel riding at anchor; but other ships approaching are soon made
unpleasantly aware of the difference between a merchantman riding out
the gale, and this Hatteras decoy.

From Hatteras, Captain Hoffman was ordered to join General Butler's
expedition to New Orleans, and proceeded in a vessel which took three
regiments, numbering three thousand souls. A fact which transpired on
the voyage he commends to the attention of those parish authorities in
England who refuse to enforce the Vaccination Act. A man who had been
ill with small-pox, but was supposed to be cured, was on board this
vessel, and two days after they had sailed his disease broke out again.
The men among whom he lay were packed as close as herrings in a barrel,
yet only one took it. They had all been vaccinated within sixty days.

Ship Island, off Mobile in the Gulf of Mexico, was their first
destination to await supplies for the expedition. An odd thing here was
the abundance of fresh water obtainable everywhere by digging a hole
two feet deep in the sand; in two hours it became full, but after using
it for a week the water would be found brackish, when all that was
necessary to procure another supply was to dig a hole as before. And
yet the island scarcely rises five feet above the sea. While staying
at this place the writer witnessed a curious freak of lightning.
Eight prisoners were sleeping side by side in a circular tent, when a
terrible thunderstorm broke out. The sentry stood leaning against the
tent-pole, with the butt of his musket on the ground and the bayonet
touching his shoulder. The lightning struck the tent-pole, leaped to
the bayonet and tore the stock to splinters, but only slightly stunned
the sentry; thence it passed along the ground and struck the first
prisoner, killing him; glided by the six inside men without injury to
them, but struck and killed the eighth man as it disappeared.

We now come to the writer's reminiscences of warfare.

A characteristic anecdote is told of General Sherman's coolness. ‘He
had a pleasant way of riding up in full sight of the enemy's batteries
accompanied by his staff. Here he held us while he criticised the
manner in which the enemy got his guns ready to open on us. Presently a
shell would whiz over our heads, followed by another somewhat nearer.
Sherman would then quietly remark: “They are getting the range now; you
had better scatter.” As a rule we did not wait for a second order.’
On one occasion Sherman sent out a strong party to reconnoitre, and
Captain Hoffman asked permission to accompany them. It was given; and
the general added: ‘By the way, captain, when you are over there, just
ride up and draw their fire, and see where their guns are. They won't
hit you.’ The order was obeyed, and Hoffman was not hit; but he does
not recommend the experiment to his friends.

There are occasionally amenities in warfare, and imbittered as was
the conflict between North and South, still some curious instances
occurred. At the siege of Port Hudson the soldiers on both sides
established a sort of _entente cordiale_. Growing weary of trying
to pick each other off through loopholes, one would tie a white
handkerchief to his bayonet and wave it above the parapet; and
presently a similar signal would be made on the other side. This meant
a truce; and in a moment the men would swarm out on both sides, and
commence chaffing each other. After a while some one would cry out:
‘Get under cover now, Johnnie,’ or ‘Look out now, Yank; we are going to
fire,’ when handkerchiefs would be lowered and hostilities recommence.
No one dared to violate this tacit truce without notice; had any one
done so, his comrades would have roughly handled him.

A striking instance is noted of the effect produced by the imagination
when exalted by the excitement of battle. A staff-officer by Captain
Hoffman's side dropped his bridle, threw up his arms, and said: ‘I am
hit; my boot is full of blood.’ He was helped from his horse, and sent
to the ambulance, the captain mentally wishing him farewell. Next day
he appeared at headquarters as well as ever; he had been struck by a
spent ball, which had broken the skin, but inflicted no serious injury.
Captain Hoffman saw the same effect produced on another occasion. A man
limped from the field supported by two others, and said his leg was
broken. He was pale as death, and had the chaplain to read to him; but
the surgeon was surprised to find no hole in his stocking, and cutting
it off, nothing was discernible but a black-and-blue mark on the leg.
Men notoriously brave may thus occasionally be imposed upon by their
imagination.

Woman's wit, in the opinion of Colonel Hoffman, played an important
part at times in the conflict, the ‘rebels’ gaining many an advantage
over the Northern men by its influence. ‘In such matters,’ he remarks,
‘one woman is worth a wilderness of men. I recollect one day we
sent a steam-boat full of rebel officers (exchanged prisoners) into
the Confederacy. They were generally accompanied by their wives and
children. Our officers noticed the most extraordinary number of dolls
on board--every child had a doll--but they had no suspicions. A lady
told me afterwards that every doll was filled with quinine; the sawdust
was taken out, and quinine substituted. Depend upon it that female wit
devised that trick.’

Woman's ingenuity also displayed itself in other ways. A bag of
intercepted letters from the Confederate side gave an instance. A
Southern young lady, writing to her brother-in-law in Mobile, narrated
how she had successfully played a trick upon a Boston newspaper,
compelling it to unwittingly belaud its foes. She sent them a poem
called _The Gypsy's Wassail_, the original in Sanscrit, with a
translation in English, expressing every patriotic and loyal sentiment.
The ‘Sanscrit’ was simply English written backward, and properly
adjusted, read as follows:

    God bless our brave Confederates, Lord!
    Lee, Johnson, Smith, and Beauregard!
    Help Jackson, Smith, and Johnson Joe
    To give them fits in Dixie, oh!

The _Wassail_ was published with a compliment to the ‘talented
contributor;’ but in a few days the trick was discovered and exposed.

We pass on to the writer's European recollections. He received his
appointment to the Legation at Paris in 1866, when the imperial court
was at the height of its splendour. The Emperor, when he designed to
be, was always happy in his reception of diplomates, and the formal
introductory speeches were followed by informal conversations. He liked
to ventilate his English, but could not speak the language perfectly.
To an American officer (Colonel Hay) he observed, for instance:
‘You have made _ze_ war in _ze_ United States?’ (_Vous avez fait la
guerre?_)--meaning, ‘Did you serve?’ The colonel was strongly tempted
to tell his Majesty it was not he made the war, but Jeff. Davis. The
Empress spoke English not so fluently as the Emperor, but with less
accent. American ladies were always well received by her, and her balls
were sometimes called by the envious _bals américains_. If the Embassy
desired one or two presentations beyond the usual number, the inquiry
was generally made: ‘Is it a young and pretty woman?’ and if it were,
there was no difficulty, for the Empress was pleased to have her balls
set off by beautiful and well-dressed women.

Comparison is favourable we are told, in American eyes, to British over
the French imperial display on a very important occasion--the opening
of parliament by the sovereign, as contrasted with that of the Corps
Législatif. The spectacle in this country bears the palm, says Colonel
Hoffman, both in splendour and interest. Her Majesty's demeanour is
much admired. ‘Short and stout as is the Queen, she has the most
graceful and stately walk perhaps in Europe. It is a treat to see her
move.’ The Empress of the French, however, created great enthusiasm
on these occasions. ‘Her beauty, her grace, and her stately bearing
carried the enthusiasm to its height. You would have sworn that every
man there was ready to die for his sovereign. Within less than four
years she sought in vain for one of them to stand by her in her hour of
danger.’

In the year of the last Paris Exhibition (1867), Napoleon III.
entertained in his capital the Emperor of Russia and the King of
Prussia, the latter accompanied by Bismarck and Moltke. Sixty
thousand men passed before the sovereigns in review, and it was on
the return from the spectacle that the Emperor Alexander was shot at
by a Pole. The ball struck the horse of one of the equerries, and
blood spurted from the animal upon the Emperor's second son, who was
with him in the carriage. It was reported that the Emperor of the
French turned to his imperial guest and said: ‘Sire, we have been
under fire together for the first time to-day.’ To which the Emperor
replied with much solemnity of manner: ‘Sire, we are in the hands
of Providence.’ That evening the writer saw the Russian Emperor at
a ball at his own Embassy, not more than two hundred persons being
present. He looked pale and _distrait_, and Madame Haussmann, wife
of the celebrated baron, was trying, but without much tact, to make
conversation with him. ‘He looked over her head, as if he did not see
her, and finally turned upon his heel and left her. It was not perhaps
polite, but it was very natural. The Emperor and Empress of the French
made extraordinary exertions to enliven the ball; but there was a
perceptible oppression in the air.’ The would-be assassin was not
condemned to death, the jury finding ‘extenuating circumstances.’

On the outbreak of war in 1870, the American Legation was requested
to undertake the protection of North German subjects in France, and
procured the consent of the French government thereto. Thirteen
distinct nationalities, European and South American, eventually came
under the same protection, and caused plenty of employment. Partly on
this account, when the representatives of the great European powers
had left Paris for Tours, after the downfall of the Empire, the United
States Legation remained, and its members endured the unpleasant
experiences of the siege. To Colonel Hoffman, however, the anticipation
of this was a matter of perfect indifference--or rather he looked
forward to it with some degree of liking. ‘I had quite a curiosity
to be a besieged. I had been a besieger at Port Hudson, and thought
that I would like to experience the other sensation. The sensation is
not an unpleasant one, especially in a city like Paris. If you have
been overworked or harassed, the relief is very great. There is a
calm or sort of Sunday rest about it that is quite delightful. In my
experience, the life of the besieged is altogether the most comfortable
of the two.’ And the writer professes to think that the suffering
endured in famous sieges, and the heroism of the inhabitants, have been
much exaggerated. There were, however, many points of considerable
difference between the circumstances attendant upon the siege of
Paris and that, say, of Saragossa or Plevna. The Germans never made a
bombardment in earnest. ‘We were being bombarded, but after a very
mild fashion. I have since talked with a German general who commanded
at the quarter whence most of the shells entered the city. He assured
me that there never was the slightest intention to bombard Paris. If
there had been, it would have been done in a very different style.’ But
shells fell during nineteen days into the city, and nearly two hundred
people were killed by the explosions. In both bombardments, that by the
Germans and afterwards by the French government troops, much of the
mischief done is reported to have been caused by the mere wantonness
of the artillerymen, who under such circumstances are eager to hit
something, it matters little what it may be. Indifference acts also on
the side of the besieged, and during the worst of the bombardment, men
and boys were to be seen lurking in the Champs Elysées near the Arch,
and darting to secure the fragments of an exploded shell while they
were still too hot to hold, or crying _Obus!_ and suddenly squatting,
to watch the effect upon elderly gentlemen passing by. A large business
was done in these fragments as relics after the siege.

As regards provisions, the members of the Legation were of course as
well off as it was possible to be under the circumstances. The staple
diet, however, which Mr Washburne and the Secretary preferred to
expensive luxuries, was ‘our national pork and beans, and the poetic
fish-ball.’ Occasionally they indulged in small portions of elephant,
yak, camel, reindeer, porcupine, &c., at an average rate of four
dollars a pound. This meat came from the Jardin d'Acclimation, where it
was found impossible to get food for the animals. Colonel Hoffman gives
the preference among these varieties of flesh to that of the reindeer,
which resembles venison, but he thinks all these meats but poor
substitutes for beef and mutton. Horseflesh was the main stay of the
population in the way of fresh meat; it was rationed and sold by the
government at reasonable prices, nine and a half ounces per day being
allowed to each adult. It is ‘poor stuff at best,’ says the writer. ‘It
has a sweet, sickening flavour. The only way I found it eatable was as
mince mixed with potato.’

The transmission and receipt of intelligence gave rise to some of the
most memorable experiences of the siege, and what was done by balloons
and pigeons is likely to form a precedent for similar episodes in all
time. The French had always a fancy for ballooning, and were probably
in advance of the rest of the world in this respect. They soon started
a service of mail-balloons twice a week from Paris, despatching them
at first in the afternoon; but it was found that they did not rise
quickly enough to escape Prussian bullets, and the hour of departure
was therefore changed to one in the morning. The speed of the balloons
was sometimes marvellous. One descended in Norway on the very morning
it left Paris. Another fell into the sea off the coast of Holland a
few hours after its departure, and the passengers were rescued by a
fishing-smack. Out of ninety-seven balloons despatched, ninety-four
arrived safely--about the proportion, says Colonel Hoffman, of railway
trains in these later times. Two fell into the hands of the enemy,
and one was supposed to have been drifted out to sea and lost. A
balloon was seen off Eddystone Lighthouse; and a few days afterwards
a gentleman spending the winter at Torquay received a letter from the
rector at Land's End, stating that a number of letters had drifted
ashore, supposed to have been lost from a balloon, and among them was
one addressed to him. It proved to be a balloon-letter from Colonel
Hoffman, and is still preserved as a souvenir of the siege--and the
sea. The pigeon experiment Colonel Hoffman considers proved a failure,
as so few birds succeeded in reaching their destination. Two or three
times, however, a carrier arrived safely, bringing with it one of
those marvels of scientific skill, which under the microscope revealed
correspondence equal to the contents of a good-sized newspaper.

Not nearly sufficient, in the writer's opinion, was done in the way of
sorties from Paris. He contends that the garrison should have made a
sortie every night, with sometimes a thousand and sometimes a hundred
thousand men. ‘Had they done so,’ he says, ‘they would have soon worn
out the Germans with constant _alertes_, and with comparatively little
fatigue to themselves. But the entire French army was in want of
organisation.’ On the other hand, the members of the naval service have
Colonel Hoffman's warmest admiration. ‘The officers,’ he says, ‘are a
very superior class of men, and the sailors under them fought gallantly
during the war, for there was a large number of them detailed to the
army. They felt strongly the deterioration of the sister-service.’ The
colonel was once dining at a Versailles restaurant near a French naval
officer, when one of the army, accompanied by two non-commissioned
officers, entered and made a great disturbance. ‘_Cette pauvre armée
française! cette pauvre armée française!_’ muttered the naval officer.



SHAMROCK LEAVES.

BEGGARS.


The poorhouse and the policeman have considerably abated Irish
mendicants, especially in the towns; but in the country and in remote
places, ‘the long-remembered beggar’ is still an institution. The
workhouse is held in abhorrence by this class of vagrant, and any
amount of suffering is preferred to the confinement, the enforced
cleanliness, and the discipline it involves. The Irish poor are, as a
rule, indifferent to creature comforts. They love their liberty under
hedge and open sky; and resemble the dog in the fable, who preferred
his precarious bone and freedom to the good feeding and luxuries of his
tied-up friend. A wretched old woman, decrepit and barefoot, appearing
on the hall-door steps of a house she was in the habit of visiting,
would be remonstrated with in vain by her patrons, however delicately
the obnoxious subject, the poorhouse, was approached.

‘Now, Biddy, it is all very well in summer to go about; but in this
bitter wintry weather, would it not be better to go where you would
have a good bed and shelter, and be warmed and fed and comfortably
clothed, instead of shivering about, ragged and hungry? Why not
try--only for a while, you know, till summer comes back--why not try
the poorhouse?’

‘The poorhouse!’ (firing up); ‘I'd rather die than go there! I'd rather
lie down under the snow at the side of the road and _die_! But sure the
neighbours will help me. There isn't one 'ill refuse me an air of the
fire or a night's lodging, or maybe a bit and sup of an odd time. And
you're going to give me something yourself, my lady, avourneen, you
are! Don't I see it in yer face? You're going to bring out the dust of
dry tay and the grain of sugar and the couple o' coppers to the poor
old granny. Ah yes! And maybe the sarvant-maids will have an ould cast
petticoat to throw to her, for to keep the life in her ould carcase
this perishing day.’

Before the famine of 1846-7, which brought about a change in the food
of the peasantry, systematic begging was the annual custom. Potatoes
were then the sole food of the working-classes, and the farmers paid
their labourers by allowances of potato-ground (half or quarter acres),
with seed to till it. Money, therefore, was little in circulation
among the lower orders. In the interval between the consumption of
the old potatoes and the coming in of the new--expressively known as
‘the bitter six weeks’--there were occasionally great privation and
distress. Whole families turning out of their cabin and leaving it with
locked door, might at this time be seen trooping along the roads--the
father away ‘harvesting’ or getting work where he could. As they went
along, stopping at every cabin on their route, a few potatoes would be
handed to them--less or more, according as the stock of the donors was
holding out--so that by nightfall the bag on the mother's back would
have increased to sufficient proportions to furnish a good meal for the
family. And thus they continued to live until the new potatoes were
fit to dig, when the cabin-door was unlocked, and plenty once more the
order of the day.

The charity of the poor to the poor is very touching, and nowhere do we
see more of this than in Ireland. The people are naturally good-natured
and full of kindly impulses; and they attach moreover, a superstitious,
almost religious value to the blessing of the poor, with an equal dread
of their curse.

A fatal instance of the latter feeling occurred near Limerick some
years since.

A young man fell in love with a girl who did not return his affection;
telling him plainly that it was useless to persevere, as she never
could care for him. He took his disappointment so much to heart that he
fled the country and went off to America.

Maddened with rage and despair at the loss of her only son--the darling
of her heart and her sole support, for she was a widow--the bereaved
mother went straight from the ship that took away her boy, to the young
woman's house. Kneeling down on the threshold, and stretching her arms
to heaven with frantic gesticulation, she called down its vengeance
upon her trembling hearer, pouring forth a torrent of imprecations upon
her head.

By the broken heart of her son--by the widow's hearth made desolate--by
the days and nights of lonely misery before her, she cursed the girl!
And the latter, appalled by her bitter eloquence, and superstitiously
convinced that those awful curses would ‘cleave to her like a garment,’
never rallied from the terror and the shock to her nerves of this
vindictive outbreak. She went into a decline, haunted by the woman's
dreadful words; and her death confirmed the popular belief.

To return to our subject. Although the use of Indian meal and
griddle-bread as articles of food in place of the exclusive potato,
together with increased wages and the payment of labour in cash instead
of kind, have abolished the annual begging migrations, mendicants
still abound. The tourist season brings them out, as numerous as the
flies in summer, and equally troublesome. A party of English clergymen
visiting Killarney were pestered, as most travellers are there, by
beggars. These reverend gentlemen had, for greater convenience, adopted
the usual tourist costume, with the exception of one who belonged to
the ultra High Church party, and retained his clerical garb in all
its strictness. His dress caused him to be mistaken by the peasantry
wherever he went for a Roman Catholic priest; and he was not a little
startled when, in Tralee, a girl flung herself down on her knees before
him in the muddy street to ask his blessing. The abject obeisance of
the people to their priests in those days, was an unaccustomed sight to
an English clergyman.

The traveller in question soon became accustomed to the position, and
used it for the benefit of his party. Tormented on one occasion by the
importunities of a crowd of beggars who followed them, he suddenly
stopped. Drawing a line across the road with his stick, he cried to the
clamorous troop: ‘Pass that mark, and the curse of the priest will be
upon you!’ All fled in a moment!

Another time the same individual utilised the mistake in the cause of
humanity. The party were travelling on a jaunting-car, and going up a
steep hill, the driver was flogging his horse unmercifully.

‘My friend,’ said the clergyman, addressing the man, ‘do you know what
will happen to you, if you do that--when you go to the next world?’

‘O no, yer Riverence. And sure how could I?--What is it now?’ pulling
off his hat and looking greatly frightened.

‘You will be turned into a horse, and devils will be employed to flog
you, just as you're flogging now that poor beast of yours.’

‘Ah, don't, yer Riverence--don't say that now! for the love of heaven,
sir, don't! An' I'll promise on my two knees to give him the best of
thratement from this out, and never to lay whip into him that way
again.’

The beggars in towns are often very caustic in their remarks, and
indulge in personalities more witty than polite, when unsuccessful in
their demands.

A late well-known Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, remarkable for
a peculiarly shaped and very ugly nose, resisting the importunities
of a woman for ‘a ha'penny for the honour of the blessed Vargin,’ she
turned upon him with: ‘The Lord forgive you! And that He may presarve
yer eyesight, I pray; for faix 'tis yerself has the bad nose for
spectacles.’

Another spiteful old beldam of the same stamp attacked Sir A. B. for
alms, following him down the whole length of Sackville Street. The
baronet had tender feet, which with other uncomely infirmities, caused
his gait to be none of the most graceful.

‘Ye won't give it--won't ye?’ broke out the woman in an angry whine. ‘O
thin, God help the poor! And look now; if yer heart was as soft as yer
feet, it wouldn't be in vain we'd be axing yer charity this day.’

‘That the “grace of God” may never enter into your house but on
parchment!’ was the terse and bitter anathema in which another gave
vent to her wrathful disappointment. She knew that all writs are on
parchment, and had probably learned from cruel experience the formula
with which they commence: ‘Victoria, by the grace of God, Queen, &c.’

The ingenious proceedings of Captain C---- touching the mendicant
fraternity, should not be omitted while on the subject.

When about to be quartered with his men in Mullingar, a friend told him
before going there that the place was infested with beggars; and that
his predecessor, the commanding officer of the last troop, had been
greatly annoyed by them. The captain listened attentively, resolving to
take his measures. On the night of his arrival at the hotel he called
up the waiter.

‘I am informed,’ he said, ‘that you have a great many beggars in this
town.’

‘Well, yes, sir; we certainly have,’ replied the waiter.

‘I wish to see them all--all collected together under the windows of
this hotel. Do you think that could be managed?’

‘If you wish it, sir. O yes; Certainly, sir,’ said the man, with the
usual waiter-like readiness to promise everything under the sun; albeit
a little taken aback at so unusual a request.

‘Very well; let them be all here to-morrow at twelve o'clock precisely.’

Such a motley assemblage of rags and wretchedness as presented itself
under the hotel windows next day was seldom seen. The tidings had
spread like wild-fire; and from every lane and alley of the town
came crowding in the blind, the lame, the maimed, the aged--beggary,
deformity, idiotcy, and idleness in all their varieties. Curiosity and
greed were equally on the _qui vive_, and the excitement of the eager
crowd may be imagined.

At length the captain appeared on the balcony. There was a breathless
silence.

‘Are you all here,’ he said, ‘every one?’

‘Every mother's sowl of us, plaze your honour, barring Blind Bess with
her crippled son, and the Gineral.’

‘Then call Blind Bess and the General,’ said the captain. ‘I want you
all.’

‘Sure enough, here's Bess,’ cried a voice, as a double-barrelled
mendicant in the shape of a blind woman with a sturdy cripple strapped
on her shoulders, came hurrying up.

‘And here's the Gineral driving like mad up the street. But sure yer
honour won't give _him_ anything--a gintleman that keeps his carriage!’
shouted a wag in the crowd.

A dilapidated old hand-cart dragged by a girl now made its appearance.
It was covered at top with a piece of tattered oil-cloth, and from a
hole cut in the middle of this protruded the head of ‘the Gineral,’
decorated with the remains of an old cocked-hat. The shrivelled face of
the old cripple was half covered with a grizzly beard, and his rheumy
eyes peered helplessly about in a feeble stare.

‘Now,’ said the captain, ‘ladies and gentlemen’---- A murmur in the
crowd, especially among the feminine portion.

‘Ah thin, bless his darlin' face; 'tis he that has the civil tongue in
him, and knows how to spake to the poor!’

‘Not a bit o' pride in him; no more than in the babby unborn!’

‘Sure any one to look at him would know he was good! Isn't it wrote
upon his features?’

‘No nagur [niggard] like the one was here before him, that never gave a
poor man as much as a dog would keep in his fist.’

‘Ladies and gentlemen--you are, I am told, all here assembled. I have
requested your attendance in order to state that I have given, for your
benefit, one pound to the parson, and one pound to the priest of the
parish; and further to inform you that during my stay in Mullingar, not
a single farthing beyond these sums will I bestow on any one of you!’

A howl of disappointment rose from the listeners. The captain did not
wait to note the effect of his words. He disappeared into his room in
time to be out of reach of the chorus of abuse with which--their first
surprise over--his speech was received by his enraged audience.



WOODCOCK GOSSIP.


From a recent number of that entertaining journal of sports and
pastimes, _Land and Water_, we take the following account of the
curious habits of the woodcock.

‘Probably no kind of game is more keenly sought after in this country
than this, the head of the Snipe family; and we will undertake to say
that many an ardent gunner, who has become aware that some of these
birds of passage have already reached our shores, will keep a more
than usual sharp look-out for “cock” when beating up his coverts for
pheasants and such-like perennial game. It is astonishing what a fillip
to the day's sport a single woodcock added to the bag will give. Row
after row of cock-pheasants, noble in proportions, and in their really
beautifully variegated plumage, may be laid out with other game on
the lawn at the evening count-up, and the host may proudly scan these
evidences of the prowess of himself and his guests and the excellence
of his preserves; but his eye will always seek its goal in that little
russet-coloured bird, the only representative of his species, amongst
the other spoils of the chase. The man too who has been lucky enough
to have shot him, no matter how indifferently he has behaved at those
occasional “rocketers” that have presented themselves to him during
the day, is regarded as the hero of the party. The reasons why this
annual visitant has such distinguished attention paid him, and always
such a warm welcome awaiting his arrival, are that, compared with other
game, he is scarce, peculiar, inconstant in his habits, difficult to
shoot, and last, but not least, unsurpassed by any, and equalled by
few other birds that fly in these islands, as a gastronomic delicacy.
There are very few places in England where even in the most favourable
seasons woodcock are found in sufficient numbers to warrant shooting
expeditions being organised purposely for their pursuit, but they
are generally taken with the rest, extra vigilance being observed
in beating out all likely localities. The first immigration of the
woodcock from the continent generally takes place some time in October,
when he will be generally found near the coast for some few days after
landing. He is purely a winter visitant and nocturnal, and arrives
in England with an easterly wind, and by the light of the moon or in
the early dawn. If the elements are unfavourable to his flight, or he
is too weak to accomplish the whole journey without a rest, he drops
wherever he can find a rock or an island in his course. Lighthouse
keepers sometimes find him dead on the lantern, and occasionally, on
Lundy Island, woodcocks are found in considerable numbers, thin and
weak, and but the shadow of what they will be a few days after their
arrival at their favourite boring-grounds. During migration-time the
inhabitants used to set nets from house to house in the street of
Heligoland to trap them, and probably do so now.

‘As soon as they have recovered strength enough after landing they
disperse, and take up their quarters generally in the neighbourhood of
springs and soft boggy grounds, but there is no dependence to be placed
on their movements. A dozen may be seen in one covert to-day, while
to-morrow not a single bird can be found in the whole district. To-day
they are flushed amongst the heather on the hill-sides; to-morrow in
the deepest and most thickly-wooded dells, or under the hollies and
laurels in the home-covert drives. To describe the personal appearance
of this confirmed rover is not necessary, as his long beak, bright
eye, _tête carrée_, old-oak coloured body, and his black-and-white
tipped tail, are well known, and although there are occasionally found
specimens somewhat differing in colour and size, one may live in an
ordinary cocking district for twenty years and never meet with one of
these variations in the colour of his coat, although some very much
varying in proportions from their fellows may be killed in the same
district every season.

‘His peculiarities may perhaps be worth notice. His wings are each
provided with a little symmetrical, pointed feather, found at the
extremity of what is known as the bastard wing, which feather was many
years ago sought after by miniature-painters for mounting, to use as a
brush in the exercise of their art. The ear is a curious structure,
is as proportionately large as that of the owl, and is situated at
the extremity of the gape of the beak. The eyeball is enormous, and
together with the ear, occupies nearly all the external space on either
side of the head. The sexes are almost undistinguishable by external
marks, although some naturalists affirm that the outermost feather in
the wing of the hen-bird presents a stripe of white on the exterior
veil, which in that of the cock-bird is regularly spotted with black;
this is a very fine distinction, and not always to be depended on.
Another criterion is the size, which offers a peculiarity in that the
hen is generally the larger bird. Woodcock are great gluttons, and
to this fact we think it very probable their solitariness is partly
attributable. Like a goose to a Cornishman--Cornishmen are reputed
heavy feeders--one boring-ground may be enough for one woodcock, but is
“starvation for two.” Recognising this fact, apparently our long-billed
friends do not usurp each other's feeding-ground, having probably an
instinctive knowledge that the tenant in possession can find sufficient
accommodation for the vermiform portions of life to be found therein.
Hence a feeding-ground seldom yields more than one woodcock, although
when that one is shot its place is very commonly found occupied by
another the next day. Where the latter came from, or why it did not
jointly occupy with the former tenant--except for the reason adduced
above--is a mystery.

‘The manner of flight of a woodcock when flushed is very irregular.
Sometimes he will flap lazily down a ride in front of you like an old
red owl startled from his noonday sleep and stupefied by the glare
of the sun. At other times he will rise and dart about and zigzag
amongst the stems of the trees with a velocity scarcely credible
after witnessing an example of one of the owl-like flights previously
mentioned. When he indulges in his twisting and darting tricks, he is a
wonderfully easy bird to miss. Sometimes he will fly off slowly for a
short distance, turn sharply to the right or left behind a tree, bush,
hedge, or other object, dart swiftly onwards for fifty yards or so,
and suddenly drop, or perhaps, as if receiving a new impetus from his
sudden change of direction, speed away to some far-distant shelter. In
covert, however, a woodcock's ulterior point, whatever peculiarities
of flight he may indulge in on being flushed, is generally the first
opening between the tree-tops; when shooting, therefore, as a general
rule fire at the first glimpse, no matter how near he is--for the
chances are it is the only sight of him you will obtain--and hold the
second barrel ready for the aforesaid opening, through which, if you
keep a sharp look-out, you may see him dart.’



A TRIUMPH OF ART.


On the Peacock island in Potsdam we find amongst the white marble
statues an image of Rachel, the celebrated French tragedian, placed
there in memory of her triumph over a monarch who had been by no means
friendly disposed towards her. We mean Nicholas, Emperor of Russia,
whose dislike to her had been caused by her republican sympathies and
turbulent sentiments, which he abhorred, and on account of which he had
prohibited her entrance into Russia; he is even known to have said
that he wished never to set eyes on her. This inclement verdict of the
powerful monarch was no small stumbling-block in the great tragedian's
way, for Russia is a mine of gold; foreign artists and many a Rachel
and Patti of our days might relate wonderful, almost fabulous tales of
costly gems raining down upon them on the stage amid the enthusiastic
cheers of an enchanted audience.

Therefore Mademoiselle Rachel was highly pleased when in the summer of
1852 she received an invitation to act before the court at Potsdam,
where the Emperor Nicholas was just then staying as the king of
Prussia's guest. The famous actress had been desired to recite several
scenes from French plays, but neither in costume nor in company of
other actors. She therefore arrived attired in black, the most costly
lace covering her beautiful arms and shoulders; but the gentleman who,
by the king's orders, was at the station to receive her, expressed
his doubts whether the royal and imperial party would not object to
so melancholy and mournful an apparel; and on reaching the palace,
the artist was kindly invited by the late Princess Charles (sister to
the Empress Augusta, and wife of the Emperor's brother) to wear a few
gayer-looking things of her own. Such an offer could not be refused,
and Mademoiselle Rachel appeared in the gardens adorned with roses. On
inquiring for the stage, she was told that there was none erected, and
that she was expected to stand on a grass plot in front of the seats of
her noble audience. This demand roused her quick temper, so that she
was on the point of returning to Berlin, when her official attendant,
the above-mentioned gentleman, pacified her by remarking that she would
be on the same level with the audience, that her art would prove the
greater for the want of any stage apparatus; and (last but not least)
he reminded her of how much was at stake--an enormous honorarium
and perhaps the repeal of that fatal interdiction. After a moment's
hesitation and a struggle with herself, Mademoiselle Rachel took her
cicerone's arm, and suffered him to lead her to the spot destined for
her performance.

The evening was lovely; the moon, half-hidden behind a group of
poplars, threw her silvery light on the pond and the gently murmuring
fountain. A few torches and lights illuminated the face of the artist,
while the court sat in the shadow. Deep silence ensued upon her
appearance--one could hear the crickets chirp--and then she began
her orations. The listeners seemed spell-bound: that was not human
speech, it was music dropping from her lips. She was determined to
be irresistible; and she succeeded so well, that even the hitherto
unfriendly Emperor himself, won by her art, rose from his seat when she
had ended, and meeting her half-way, kissed her hand in presence of the
assembled court, assuring her that henceforth she would be welcome in
Russia.

What were the praises, flatteries, and congratulations of the others
who were crowding round the happy artist, compared to the homage
rendered to her by the mighty ruler of Europe's vastest country, the
monarch from whom a sign ordered thousands of his subjects to be or not
to be!

Thus was one of the greatest autocrats in Europe won over by the acting
and the elocution of--a woman!



EDITORIAL NOTE.


In entering on the forty-seventh year of CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL, we are
able to say with some pride that at no period in its long career has
the work, to judge from its circulation, been more acceptable. In other
words, the issue is greater than ever, notwithstanding the numerous
rivals in cheap literature that have sprung up, and to which we have
never had any particular objection; for in this as everything else
there is room for all. This prolonged and even increased appreciation
of the JOURNAL is, however, a little surprising. From the time we
penned the opening address in 1832, a kind of new world has sprung
up. We feel ourselves to be surrounded by masses of people who have
no recollection of the backward state of affairs in the reign of
William IV., because they were not then born. Our professed object, as
originally set out, was to offer some elements of popular instruction,
without trenching on matters of political or religious discussion,
and that was done to the best of our ability. Originally the humbler
classes were chiefly aimed at, but it soon became apparent that the
work found its main supporters among families of a considerably higher
station in society; aspiring youths in the middle classes, especially,
adopting it as a weekly favourite. We are happy to think that among the
sons and grandsons of those early patrons the work is received with
undiminished interest. While one generation has succeeded another,
we have in the varying fashions of the day never swerved from the
principle on which we set out. Obloquy and vulgar persecution have been
employed to gain us over to take a side. All in vain. At the outset we
had resolved that nothing should induce us to become the sycophants of
any sect or party whatever, and we can safely aver that that resolution
has been kept. What others may do is nothing to us.

Does not the result bear the useful moral, that honest independence
of principle is best after all? Dozens of rivals patronised by sects
and parties have within recollection gone down; and here we are after
six-and-forty years as lively as ever--rather better. It is well
understood that CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL is a publication which does not
intrude any peculiar views on religion or politics; that it tries
to avoid controversial topics; and aims only at offering wholesome
amusement and instruction--in short, always something which will, if
possible, elevate and amuse, while in no respect offending. We feel
that that has been the rôle assigned to us by Providence, and we intend
to keep it. Encouraged by ever-increasing success, we shall continue
to spare no pains in making the work an entertaining MAGAZINE for the
family fireside. In offering these few explanations, the EDITORS--which
in the present case is almost equivalent to PUBLISHERS--again have
pleasure in acknowledging their obligations to the long roll of writers
who help to sustain them in their efforts.

    W. & R. C.

       *       *       *       *       *

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

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._





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