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Title: Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, March 1885
Author: Various
Language: English
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                           Eclectic Magazine



     New Series.    }                        { Old Series complete
  Vol. XLI., No. 3. }      MARCH, 1885.      { in 63 vols.




Escapes of political and other convicts from Western Siberia are more
frequent than is generally supposed, but from Eastern Siberia, though
often attempted, they seldom succeed. Save for convicts under sentence
of penal servitude, and actually imprisoned, it is easy to elude
the vigilance of the police and get away from a convict village or
settlement, but it is almost impossible to get out of the country. The
immense distances to be traversed, the terrible climate, lack of money,
the absolute necessity of keeping to the high roads, prove, except in
very few instances, insuperable obstacles to final success. In order
to be really free, moreover, it is imperative for a fugitive not alone
to pass the frontier of European Russia, but to reach some country
where he runs no risk of falling into the clutches of the imperial
police. Even in Germany he is liable to be recaptured, and is really
safe only in England, France, or Switzerland. Hence, to make good a
flight from Eastern Siberia requires a conjuncture of so many favorable
and nearly impossible circumstances as to render a complete escape a
rare and remarkable event. But the incentives to escape are as great
as the obstacles to success. No life can be more horrible than that
of a political exile in the far east or far north of Siberia. Even at
Irkoutsk the mean temperature is fifty degrees below the freezing-point
of Réaumur; for many months of the year the sun in some parts of the
country shines but two or three hours in the twenty-four, and for days
together darkness covers the face of the land. A man untrained to
manual labor, or unacquainted with the arts of trapping and killing
wild animals and collecting peltry, turned adrift in the remoter parts
of Siberia, runs the risk of perishing of hunger and cold. A Russian
refugee, now at Geneva, tells that, during his sojourn in Eastern
Siberia, he spent the greater part of the long winter in bed, rising
only to swallow some rancid oil, the sole food he could obtain. To
escape from such a life as this a man will risk almost anything. Even
incarceration in a central prison, or the penal servitude of the mines,
can hardly be more terrible. The trouble is, that the way to freedom
lies through Western Siberia and Russia in Europe. The road south is
barred by the wild tribes that haunt the frontiers of Mongolia and
Manchuria, who either kill or give up to the Russians all the fugitives
that fall into their hands.

On the other hand, the escape of a prisoner or of a convict under
sentence of penal servitude is far more difficult than the flight of
an involuntary exile; the latter may leave when he will, the former
must either break out of prison or evade his guardians, and being soon
missed he runs great risk of being quickly recaptured. How, in one
instance at least, by boldness, address, presence of mind, and good
luck, the difficulties were overcome, the following narrative, related,
as nearly as possible, in Debagorio Mokrievitch's own words, will show.
Other fugitives, for instance Nicolas Lopatin, a gentleman now living
in Geneva, who escaped from Vercholensk in 1881, may have encountered
great hardships, but, being exiles at large, they were neither so soon
missed nor so quickly pursued. Debagorio was under sentence of penal
servitude, and the flight from Siberia of a man condemned to penal
servitude is almost unexampled. Even rarer than an escape is the true
account of one, related by the fugitive himself. Imaginary accounts
exist in plenty, but, so far as I am aware, no authentic personal
narrative of an escape from Eastern Siberia—at any rate in English or
French—has ever before been given to the world.

I first heard of Mokrievitch in May, 1881, a few days after his
arrival in Geneva, and through the kindness of Prince Krapotkine
obtained (and communicated to a London newspaper) a brief sketch of
his fellow-exile's adventures; but for certain reasons, that exist
no longer, it was not considered expedient to publish the full and
complete account which the reader will find in the following pages.



On the evening of February 11, 1879, several friends of the
revolutionary cause, of whom I was one, met at Yvitchevitche's
lodgings, in the house Kossarovsky, Yleanski Street, Kieff, the town
where I was then living. After a short conversation, Anton, myself,
and several others left the house with the intention of passing the
rest of the evening with our friend, Madame Babitchev. The inevitable
samovar was bubbling on the table, our hospitable hostess gave us a
warm welcome, cigarettes were lighted, conversation was joined, and an
hour or more passed very pleasantly.

Anton was the first to leave, and he could hardly have reached the
street when we were startled by a loud report like the firing of a
pistol. We stared at each other in consternation, and Strogov, running
into the ante-room, looked through the window and listened at the door,
in order to find out what had happened. In a few minutes he came back
with satisfactory tidings. Nothing unusual seemed to be stirring in
the street; and he attributed the report we had heard to the banging
of a door in a neighboring café. So we resumed our conversation and
our tea-drinking with quiet minds. But five minutes later we were
again disturbed; this time by sounds the character of which there was
no mistaking. The trampling of heavy feet in the vestibule, hurried
exclamations, words of command, and the rattling of arms, told us only
too well with whom we had to do.

The police were upon us.

Notwithstanding our desire to resist, we knew that we should be
compelled to yield without a blow. There was not a weapon amongst us.
A few seconds were passed in anxious thought. Then the double-winged
doors were thrown violently open, and we saw that the ante-room
was occupied by a detachment of soldiers, with bayonets lowered and
ready to charge. From the right flank came the words, loud and clear:
“Will you surrender, gentlemen? I am the officer in command of
the detachment.”

I looked round and recognized in the officer with the gendarme uniform
and drawn sword, Soudeikin in person, then a subaltern in the Kieff
gendarmerie, later the famous chief of the political police of the

Despite the imposing military array, the haughty bearing of the
officer, the glittering bayonets and stern looks of the soldiers, and
the unpleasant sense of having fallen into their toils, the whole
affair seemed to me just a little amusing, and I could not help
smiling, and saying, in answer to Soudeikin's summons, “Are we then a
fortress, Mr. Officer, that you call upon us to surrender?”

“No; but your comrades....” the rest of the sentence, owing to the din,
I did not catch.

“What comrades?” I asked.

“You will soon see,” replied Soudeikin.

Then he ordered his men to search us, after which we were to be taken
to the police office.

The searching over, we were surrounded by thirty or forty soldiers,
with arms at the trail, and conducted to the Libed police station. Even
before we reached our destination we could see that something unusual
had happened. The building was lighted up, and there was an excited
crowd about the door. After mounting the staircase we were led into
the waiting-room. It was filled with armed men. Pushing my way with
some difficulty through the press, I saw on the other side of the room
several of our friends. But, my God, what a state they were in! Posen
and Steblin Kamensky were bound hand and foot; the cords so tightly
drawn that their elbows, forced behind their backs, actually touched.
Close to them were Mesdames Arnfeld, Sarandovitch, and Patalizina. It
was evident that something extraordinary had befallen in the house
of Kossarovsky, shortly after we left. I could not, however, ask our
friends any questions, for that would have been taken as proof that we
were acquainted. Yet, from a few words dropped here and there, I soon
learnt what had come to pass. They had resisted the police, a gendarme
had been killed, and all whom we had left at the meeting arrested.

I had hardly made this discovery when a disturbance was heard in
the next room—trampling of feet, loud exclamations, and voices in
contention, one of which I seemed to know. The next moment a man burst
into the reception-room, literally dragging behind him two gendarmes,
who tried in vain to stop him. His dishevelled hair, pale face, and
flaming eyes, showed that he had been engaged in a struggle beyond his

In a few minutes he was garotted and forced into a seat near us.

“Separate the prisoners one from another!” cried Colonel Novitzki.

On this each of us was immediately surrounded by four soldiers.

“If they resist, use your bayonets!” said the colonel.

After a short interval we were called one after another into the next
room. I was called the last. On responding to the summons I found
myself in the presence of several gendarmes and officers of police, by
whom I was searched a second time.

“Have the goodness to state your name,” said Colonel Novitzki, after
the operation was completed.

“I would rather not,” I answered.

“In that case I shall tell you who you are.”

“You will do me a great pleasure,” I replied.

“You are called Debagorio Mokrievitch,” said the colonel.

“Yes, that is your name,” put in Soudeikin.

“I am delighted to make your acquaintance, colonel,” I answered, giving
the military salute.

It would have been useless to deny my identity. My mother, my brother,
and my sister were living at Kieff, and I did not want to have them
compelled to confront the police and ordered to recognize me.


We were lodged in the principal prison of Kieff. On April 20,
we received copies of the indictment, drawn up by Strelnikoff,
prosecuting advocate to the Military Tribunal (he was afterwards killed
at Odessa). We were, in all, fourteen prisoners, accused of sedition,
of belonging to secret political societies, and of resisting the
police. In order to give greater publicity to the trial, we resolved to
have ourselves defended by counsel from St. Petersburg and put forward
a request to this effect. But after some delay we were informed that if
we wanted advocates, we must choose them from among the candidates for
judgeships attached to the tribunal of Kieff, and therefore dependent
for promotion on the functionary by whom the prosecution was to be
conducted. Deeming this a practical denial of justice, we determined to
take no active part whatever in the proceedings.

At six o'clock on the morning of April 20, we were taken before the
tribunal. Eight of our party were men, six women. The first thing that
struck me was the strength of the escort—more than a hundred Cossacks,
besides gendarmes and policemen. Officers were running from group to
group, giving orders and making arrangements, as if they were preparing
for a general action. The women were led off first, after which we men
were placed in a large barred carriage, so spacious indeed that we
could all seat ourselves comfortably.

Then the procession moved off. At its head rode Gubernet, the chief of
the police. After him came the captain of the gendarmerie, Rudov, an
old schoolfellow of mine. Our carriage was surrounded by Cossacks, the
rear-rank men carrying loaded carbines. All the horses were put to the
gallop, and the police, who feared a manifestation in our favor, had
cleared the streets of spectators, and ordered a complete suspension of
traffic. Not a figure without uniform was to be seen, and strong bodies
of troops occupied every street corner.

I need not describe the trial—if trial it can be called: it lasted four
days, and ended in the condemnation of three of our number to death;
the rest were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. My sentence
was fourteen years and ten months' penal servitude.

We were led back to prison with precisely the same precautions as had
been observed when we were taken before the tribunal. The people
were not allowed by their presence in the street to show even silent
sympathy, either with us, or with the cause for which we suffered and
so many had perished.

After the verdict and the sentence life became a little easier for
us. Instead of being compelled to take exercise one by one, we were
now allowed to meet and walk about freely in the prison yard. The
police had an object in granting us this indulgence. Before the trial
several attempts had been made to take our photographs; but this we had
resolutely refused to allow. For those who cherish hopes of regaining
their liberty, the possession of their likeness by the police is
strongly to be deprecated. We were now informed by the authorities
of the gaol that unless we complied with their wishes in this matter
our meetings and our walks would be stopped. We enjoyed our social
intercourse immensely. It was an unspeakable comfort to us. Three of
our little company were under sentence of death, the fate of three
others trembled in the balance, and would be made known only at the
foot of the scaffold. It was not possible that we could long remain
together, and we offered to comply with the wish of our gaolers
on condition that we should not be separated until the last. This
condition being accepted, our photographs were taken.

The quarters of several of us were in an upper story of the prison, and
from our grated windows we could watch the construction of the gallows.
The place of execution was a plain about two-thirds of a mile from the
prison gates. Those doomed to death, being on a lower story, did not
witness these ghastly preparations, and none of us, of course, gave
them a hint of what was going on.

At length, and only too swiftly, came the 13th of May. We had been
told nothing, but from the completion of the gallows, the behavior
of the warders, and from other signs, we thought that the executions
were fixed for the following day. The condemned thought so themselves.
Although we did our utmost to keep outwardly calm, the farewells that
evening were unspeakably sad. Most touching and agonizing of all was
the parting of those who were to die on the morrow with those who
expected to follow them a little later on to the scaffold and the
grave. Two months afterwards Beltchomsky and Anisim Fedorow were hanged
on the same gallows.

Five thousand soldiers and gendarmes escorted our doomed friends to the
place of execution. On previous occasions the authorities had thought
it well to do their hanging early in the morning, while people slept.
This time they did it with pomp, circumstance and parade. The cavalcade
of death did not leave the prison gates until nearly noon; traffic was
suspended, but the streets were crowded with spectators, and when the
bodies of our comrades swung in the air, the military band struck up a
lively tune, as if they were rejoicing over some great victory.


From the time of the execution to the date of our departure for
Siberia nothing noteworthy came to pass. All sorts of rumors were
current touching our destination and our fate. Every day brought a new
conjecture or a fresh story. It was said that we were to be confined in
one of the dreaded central prisons—that we were to be immured in the
casemates of St. Peter and St. Paul—that we were to be sent to Eastern
Siberia, to Western Siberia—to the island of Sakhalin—that we were not
to be sent anywhere, but to stay where we were.

At length, on May 30, the question was settled. Ten prisoners, of
whom I made one, were summoned to the office, and told that we were
forthwith to take our departure—whither, our custodians refused to say.
The next proceeding was to put two of our friends, who did not belong
to the privileged order, in irons and shave their heads. We others,
being nobles, were to be spared this indignity until we reached our
destination. For the present we were required only to don the ordinary
convict costume, consisting of a long gray capote, marked on the back
with a yellow ace for those sentenced to simple transportation, and
with two aces for those condemned to penal servitude.

“Will you not tell us whither we are going?” asked one of our number of
General Gubernet, as we stepped into the van.

“To Eastern Siberia,” said the General, who stood near the door.

Then I knew my fate—fourteen years hard labor—possibly in a region of
almost endless night, and as cold as the Polar regions.

The station of Koursk, the cities of Mzensk, Moscow, and Nijni Novgorod
are passed in quick succession. At Nijni Novgorod we leave the railway
and continue our journey, as far as Perm, by water. It is only here
that we begin to realize that we are really on the road to Siberia.
We are transferred to little three-horse carriages, with a soldier in
front and a gendarme by the side of each prisoner. By leaning a little
forward it is possible to see the vast horizon before us, and the
forests and mountains that stretch for unknown distances on either side
of the road. It is difficult to describe the feelings of a captive who
for months, or it may be for years, has been under bolt and bar, and
whose views have been limited to the blank walls of a prison, when he
once more breathes the free air of heaven, and beholds nature in all
her grandeur and her beauty. It is as if the liberty for which his soul
has never ceased to yearn were opening to him her arms and bidding him
be free.

The country through which we were passing was thinly peopled, and
buildings and houses were few and far between. The broad highway was
bordered in some places by brushwood, in others by immense forests.
All sorts of fancies flitted through my brain. I thought of home—of
father, mother and friends—of the cause, of the incidents of my trial,
and the dreary future that lay before me: fourteen years' hard labor in
Eastern Siberia—a hell hopeless as any conceived in the brain of Dante.
And then plans of escape surged through my mind, each wilder and more
fantastic than its fellow.

We travel night and day, always with the same soldier and gendarme,
though not always with the same driver. On one occasion we change
horses at midnight, and shortly afterwards I see that my guards are
overcome by sleep. They nod and rouse themselves in turn; their
efforts to keep awake are laughable. As for me, my thoughts hinder
sleep, but an idea occurs to me, and I nod too, and, drawing myself
into my corner, I snore. The stratagem succeeds. A few minutes later
my gendarme is snoring loud enough to waken the dead. The soldier who
sits before me embraces his rifle with both hands and feet, and sways
to and fro with the motion of the tarantass, now and then incoherently
muttering in a guttural voice. He is deep in dreamland. I rise softly
and look out into the night. A million stars are shining in the clear
sky, and I can see that we are passing through a thick forest. A
spring, a bound, and I could be among those trees. Once there, my
guards can no more find me than the wolf that steals through the
covert, for I am fleet of foot and eager for freedom. But dressed in
this convict costume, how long should I be able to keep my freedom? To
regain Russia, I must follow the highroad, and the first soldier or
gendarme I met would arrest me. True, I might throw away my capote,
with its double ace, but I had no hat, and a bare-headed man would
invite attention even more than one clad in the costume of a felon.
Worse still, I had no arms. I could neither defend myself against wild
animals nor kill game; and if I am compelled to take to the woods, game
may be the only food I shall be able to procure.

No; I must abandon the idea now, and watch for a more favorable
opportunity hereafter. As I come reluctantly to this conclusion I
remember—it seemed like an inspiration—that the gendarme has a hat on
his head and a revolver by his side. Why not take them? He is still
fast asleep, snoring, if possible, harder than ever. I shall never have
such another chance. I will do it: two minutes more and then—freedom.

I almost shout.

Holding my breath, and trying to still the beatings of my heart, I
creep close to the sleeping man, and lay my hand gently on the hat.
He makes no sign, and the next moment the hat is under my capote. Now
the revolver! I lay hold of the butt, and try to draw it from the
gendarme's belt. It does not come out easily—I pull again—pull a second
time, and am preparing to pull a third time, when the snoring suddenly

Quick as thought, I shrink into my corner, breathe deeply and pretend
to sleep. The gendarme rouses himself, mutters, and passes his hand
over his head. Then he searches all about him, and, evidently alarmed
by the loss of his hat, he sleeps no more.

“Hallo, brother!” I say, “you seem to have lost your hat.”

“I am afraid I have, sir,” he answers in a puzzled voice, at the same
time scratching his head by way, probably, of keeping it warm.

“You see what it is to sleep on the road, my friend! Suppose, now, I
had slipped out of the carriage! Nothing would have been easier.”

“Oh, but you never thought of such a thing, and I am sure you would not
do it, sir.”

“But why?” I ask.

“Because I have done you no harm, and you do not want to get a poor
fellow into trouble! You know yourself how severely gendarmes are dealt
with who let their prisoners escape.”

“Very well, brother, here is your hat which I found and hid—just to
frighten you a bit.”

Just then we reached another station, and the poor fellow as he put on
his head-gear thanked me quite pathetically, as much for not running
away as for restoring his property.


At Krasnovarski we were put in prison again, and there remained
several weeks, awaiting further orders as to our disposal, for,
notwithstanding what we had been told at Kieff, there appeared to be
some doubt touching the fate in store for us. At length came the final
instructions. We were to march with the chain-gang of common prisoners
to Irkoutsk. It was then that, as an expedient for avoiding penal
servitude and eventually regaining my liberty, the idea of effecting an
exchange first occurred to me. The device is one frequently practised
among the outlaws of Siberia. This is the method of it:—Two prisoners
make a bargain, whereby one of the contracting parties takes the name
and certificate and assumes the crime of the other, and _vice versâ_.
There is, in fact, a complete change of identities, and the one who
gains by the exchange settles the difference by a money payment. The
result is that the man condemned to hard labor becomes a Siberian
settler, and the other takes his place at the mines or in gaol. The
bargain may appear an unequal one, but a moneyless man will sometimes
do a great deal for a small sum of ready cash—especially if he has a
passion for gambling or drink—and there is always the possibility that,
when the deceit is discovered, the more extreme penalty may not be
enforced. In the meantime, moreover, the supposed political prisoner,
who is generally of noble birth, enjoys a consideration and some
material advantages which are denied to the common malefactor.

During the long tramp of the chain gang these substitutions are
effected without much difficulty. The escort being changed every two
days, it is impossible for the members of it, in so short a time, to
familiarize themselves with the names and condition of the ten or
twelve score prisoners who compose the convoy. They can do no more than
count heads, and when the officer in command of the party has delivered
to his successor the same number of convicts, in each category, which
he received from his predecessor, his task is fully acquitted. Whether
they are the same persons he cannot undertake to say, and is never

On August 20, or thereabouts—I am not sure to a day—we were once more
_en route_, this time on foot. From Krasnovarski the distance is 700
English miles, and the journey, it was reckoned, would occupy about two
months. I had thus ample time to make the acquaintance of my convict
comrades and carry out the substitution.

We were now put under an altogether different _régime_. Hitherto we had
not been able to exchange a word with anybody. I saw about me only my
fellow political convicts, and might speak, when occasion required, to
none but my guards. Now we were allowed to communicate freely with each
other, and with the rather mixed society of which we formed a part.
The gang consisted of 170 persons of both sexes and of every class and
age; from the babe in its mother's arms to the old man with snow-white
hair. Most of them were peasants; yet several among us could claim the
privileges of nobility. But the strength of the convoy diminished as we
went on, for Krasnovarski is within the limits of Eastern Siberia, and
several prisoners were left as colonists at the villages through which
we passed.

The escort consisted of an officer and thirty soldiers, armed with
old-fashioned muskets. A detachment of three or four marched at the
head of the column. The others marched at the side and were supposed to
form a military chain. But it was so weak, relatively to its duties,
as to be almost worthless, the convoy being increased to a portentous
length by the baggage-wagons and the families of the prisoners who were
following them into exile. After the baggage-wagons came two carriages
occupied by gentlemen malefactors of the nobility, and three in which,
when they were footsore, rode the political prisoners.

About six o'clock in the evening the convoy generally reached the
“half-stage,” a building in which we pass the night. After a march of
two days, or of a full day, we had a day's rest at one of the buildings
known as _étapes_, or stages. On these occasions the prisoners are
ranged in front of the building and counted. If the count be right
the gates are opened, and with cries of joy the weary wayfarers throw
themselves into the court. Then, pushing and hustling, clanking their
chains and cursing like demons, they fight their way into the house,
struggling desperately for the best places. The first comers take
possession of the benches; the others lie where they can. When all
are inside the gates are closed, but the doors are not barred until

The “stage” is a small wooden barrack—with a large court, formed of
palisades, in the rear—divided into several compartments, one of which
is assigned to the nobles of the convoy; but like all the others it is
far too little for its destined purpose. The prisoners are as closely
packed as herrings in a barrel. A few only can find places on the
benches. The others have to sleep on the damp and dirty floor. Next to
the benches the most desirable spot is under them, for there it is a
little cleaner and the sleepers are less likely to be disturbed than
on the open floor.

The struggle for places over, the barrack-yard becomes very lively.
The prisoners are preparing the evening meal; some laying fires,
others putting a few scanty morsels of food into a pot—for our fare is
terribly meagre; others bringing water and making tea. After supper we
are again counted, driven inside, and left there for the night. No one
is allowed to go out for any purpose whatever; but as a substitute for
latrines large wooden pails are placed in the corridor. The presence of
these abominations among so many people in ill-ventilated rooms renders
the air unutterably foul; its odor is something quite peculiar, as all
who have had occasion to enter the prisoners' quarters at night, or,
still worse, early in the morning, well know.

In the same corridor, but at the other end, is the _maidan_, a sort of
itinerant shop, which serves at the same time as a club and gambling
saloon; for the prisoners are much given to play. This _maidan_ is an
institution common to every Siberian convoy and gaol. The _markitant_,
or keeper of it, is always a prisoner. The post, which is much coveted
and very profitable, is sold to the highest bidder, and the proceeds
of the sale, often considerable, are added to the common hoard. For
one of the first proceedings of the prisoners is to form themselves
into a society, which is a faithful reproduction of the rural _mir_.
They elect a _starosta_, who also acts as general cashier, and appoint
him an assistant. The authorities, on their part, always recognise
this system of self-government, and acknowledge the authority of the
_starosta_. All orders are communicated through him, and he makes all
payments on behalf of the community. He acts, in short, as general
intermediary between the prisoners and their custodians—bribes, when
it is necessary, the agents of justice, and pays a regular tribute to
the executioner, in consideration whereof that official is good enough,
often at the risk of his own back, to wield his whip with all possible
consideration for the feelings of his victim.

The scene in the _markitant's_ den on a rest day was very queer, and,
well painted, would make a striking picture: the players round the
capote-covered table, as excited and as intent over their game as if
they were playing for thousands of roubles instead of fractions of
kopecs—the shouting and gesticulating onlookers, following with keenest
interest the varying fortunes of the game—a ruined gambler bargaining
with the _markitant_ for an advance on a coat, a pair of shoes, or an
old watch—a convict asleep on the floor—another mending a rent in his
clothes—a third hammering at his irons. He is widening the rings that
shackle his legs, in order that he may slip them off when he is on the
road—walking in irons not being precisely an amusement. The sentries
and the officers cannot fail to hear the clang of the hammer, but the
custom of removing irons while on the march is so common as to have the
force of a recognised regulation, and is seldom, if ever, objected to
by the commander of an escort.

Day followed day with unvarying monotony, but every one brought us
nearer to our destination, and though I had not yet ventured to
effect an exchange, I never wavered in my resolution to escape on the
first favorable opportunity. Almost every day we met vagabonds, as
runaway convicts are called, making for Russia. Their dress, their
closely cropped hair, and their general appearance left no doubt as
to their quality. Yet neither the officer of the escort nor the local
authorities paid the least attention to them, so common are fugitive
convicts on Siberian roads. When they met us they would draw on one
side, sometimes saluting the officer. I have known old friends meet in
this way.

“Hallo, Ivan Ivanovitch, how goes it?” would call out one of the tramps
to a man whom he recognised in the chain gang.

“Ah, is that you, Iliouschka?” would answer the other pleasantly.
“What! have you become a vagabond[1] already?”

“Yes, I am on the lookout for cheap lodgings; I dare say I shall soon
get accommodated.”

This in allusion to the certainty, sooner or later, of his recapture.

Political prisoners on the march enjoy privileges which are denied
to ordinary convicts. They are not fettered; they can, when so
disposed, ride in the carriages which accompany the convoy, and they
are allowed fifteen kopecs (threepence) a day for food. On the other
hand, the orders in our regard given to the officers of the escort
were exceedingly stringent; orders, however, which for the most part
it was impossible to execute. For instance, they were enjoined to
keep us always apart, and not let us on any account mix with the
other prisoners. But the weakness of the escort, and, above all, the
arrangement of the buildings at the _étapes_, or halting-places,
rendered observance of this injunction so extremely difficult that it
was seldom enforced.


We were within fourteen days of Irkoutsk before I succeeded in
effecting an exchange of identities with a convict condemned to simple
exile. Many others followed my example. Of the 170 men who composed the
convoy, not more than fifty were under sentence of penal servitude, and
at least twenty of them obtained substitutes. So far as the prisoners
were concerned, this was done quite openly; concealment, in fact, would
have been impossible, even if it had been necessary—and it was not
necessary; for so long as the convoy held together, and the communistic
organisation endured, betrayal was not to be feared. The traitor would
have died within a few hours of his treason by the hand of one of his
comrades—and this all knew.

My substitute, a peasant by origin and a burglar by profession, agreed
to the exchange of identities in consideration of a sum of sixteen
shillings in coin, a pair of boots and a flannel blouse. Two days
before our arrival at the _étape_, where it was arranged to carry the
agreement into effect, I pretended to have a bad toothache, bound up
my face with a pocket-handkerchief, and at the half-way halting-place
remained all the time on the bench that served for a bed, as if I were
distracted with pain. This I did to hide my features from the soldiers
of the escort, one of whom, sharper than his fellows, might otherwise
possibly discover the stratagem. The risk was too great, my longing for
liberty too intense, to permit me to neglect a single precaution.

Exchanges were most easily effected at the principal halting-places
because the escort was changed there. Among the common prisoners
the transaction was conducted in the simplest way imaginable. At
the roll-call the contracting parties answered respectively to each
other's name, took each other's places, and the thing was done. In
the case of a political prisoner under special surveillance, just
then very stringent, the operation entailed greater risk and demanded
more care. I arranged with my substitute that the moment we arrived at
the _étape_ in question, he should follow me to an obscure corner of
the barrack-yard—to speak plainly, to the latrine. The plan succeeded
to admiration. In a few minutes we had exchanged dresses. Pavlov,
my burglar friend, was transformed into a political prisoner of the
nobility, and I became a common malefactor in irons. Though in face as
unlike as possible, we were about the same height and build, and, at a
distance, might easily be mistaken one for another.

The delivery of the gang to the new escort went off without difficulty.
Pavlov lay on a bench with his face bound up. Nobody took any notice
either of him or of me, and when the old escort marched away, we knew
we were safe. The moment they were gone, I went into the common room
and got myself shaved and my hair cut close to my head, so that my
coiffure might resemble that of my new comrades.

I wondered then, and I have often wondered since, at the ease with
which my custodians were deceived in the matter of this substitution.
On the register I was set down as a former medical student. I had,
therefore, been a member of a university; Pavlov, on the other hand,
was almost wholly illiterate. He could hardly open his mouth without
betraying his origin and showing his ignorance. His appearance,
moreover, was little in harmony with his new character. I, as a
noble, had worn my hair and beard long, while his head was closely
cropped, and he wore no beard at all. How could all this fail to excite
suspicion? For three weeks, he acted as my substitute, and it never
seems to have occurred either to the officers of the escort or the
authorities of Irkoutsk that the _soi-disant_ Debagorio Mokrievitch
was _not_ the real Simon Pure. But for the denunciation—of which I
shall speak presently—I do not believe the secret ever would have been
discovered, always supposing that Pavlov kept the compact, and he
really behaved very well. One day an officer of the escort, seeing
by the register that I was a medical student, consulted my substitute
touching some ailment he had, and Pavlov, with an impudence that
bordered on the sublime, gave him the benefit of his advice. He was
fortunately not called upon to put his prescription in writing.

It may be asked why I did not profit by the laxity of the escort
during the first part of the journey to escape before we reached
our destination. Because I should have been missed at the first
halting-place, and by means of the telegraph and an active pursuit,
immediately recaptured; I could have had only a few hours' start, and I
wanted, at the least, several days.

After the substitution, I marched as a common felon on foot, carrying
my irons; my allowance was reduced to twopence a-day, while Pavlov had
threepence, and could vary the monotony of the way by riding in one of
the carriages provided for the political prisoners.

About October 20, 1879, we reached Irkoutsk, where we were to be
received and inspected by the higher authorities. Towards eight o'clock
in the evening, we entered the central prison and were taken into
a large room with three doors and two exits. One of these was open
and led into an adjoining room, where the inspection took place. Our
starosta standing on the doorstep, called the prisoners one by one,
and each, as he was summoned, went into the room, carrying with him
his poor belongings, in order that it might be ascertained if he still
possessed the articles given him by the Crown. This done, he passed on
into a further apartment, where the prisoners were to be quartered for
the night.

At length came my turn.

“Pavlov!” shouts the starosta.

“Here,” I answered, and, taking up my bag, I enter the audience
chamber, and find myself in the presence of several important-looking
functionaries, sitting at a big table covered with registers.

“Paul Pavlov?” says the presiding councillor, and then, after favoring
me with a fugitive glance, he bends once more over his books.

“Yes, your nobleness,” I reply, doing my best to speak and look like a
peasant prisoner.

“For what crime were you judged?”

“For burglary, your nobleness.”

“Are the effects given you by the Government all in order?”

“They are, your nobleness.”

“Two shirts, two pairs of drawers, woollen trousers, great coat,
pelisse, a pair of boots, leg irons?” enumerated the councillor, in a
rapid, monotonous voice.

As each article is named, I say, “It is here,” and during the
interrogation an obscure personage fumbles in my bag to verify my

This concluded the inspection, and after surrendering my fetters, which
I removed without the help of a blacksmith, I passed into the apartment
where I was to remain as a prisoner until they took me to the village
where I had to be interned as a settler.

I had not long to wait. The fifth day after our arrival, the remaining
vagabonds of the gang were sent further east, and there remained only
the ordinary exiles and prisoners under sentence of penal servitude. An
important consequence of the departure of the vagabonds—old offenders
who formed the bulk of the convoy—was the break-up of our communistic
organisation, and the subsequent revelation of my secret.

On the following day the involuntary colonists, of whom I was now one,
started for our final destination, a village some forty miles from
Irkoutsk, and on November 1st, we arrived at Talminsky, the end of our
long journey. For the last time we were paraded and counted in the
court of the _volost_. Then, after our effects had been again examined,
we received our registers and were handed over to the clerk of the
village, who had orders to find us quarters.

The escort went one way, we went another, and we walked through the
streets of the great village free men—within the limits assigned to us.


If I meant to escape I had no time to lose. At any moment I was liable
to be betrayed. My comrades among the colonists, as also the prisoners
we had left at Irkoutsk, all knew who I was. Any of these, by turning
traitor, could earn a considerable reward; even a slight indiscretion
might reveal the secret, and the disclosure of my identity to the
authorities would lead to my immediate arrest. It was therefore
necessary to go at once; yet I could not start on so long a journey
without money, and I did not possess a kopeck. So I sold my great coat,
my woollen trousers, and my gloves, for a rouble and a half. It was
not much. After this depletion of my wardrobe, my costume left a good
deal to be desired. A regulation pelisse, a fur cap, thin trousers,
and ordinary underclothing, did not afford much protection against
the intense cold of a Siberian winter. But I dared not hesitate. On
November 2d, at ten o'clock, before noon, I set out from the village.
The morning though cold was clear and quiet. I made no attempt to hide
my quality; it was evident to everybody. My yellow regulation pelisse
and closely cropped head showed clearly enough that I was a vagabond.
But this gave me little anxiety; I had observed that in Eastern Siberia
vagabonds were neither arrested nor questioned. It would be the same
with me, I thought, and in this expectation I was not disappointed.
My journey as a vagabond lasted about eight days, and I suffered much
both from hunger and cold. In the valleys—for the country was hilly—I
often experienced a cold so intense that I thought my limbs would
freeze as I walked. Sometimes the valley bottoms were filled with a
thick fog. Going through one of those fogs was like taking a bath of
pins and needles—so keen was the cold—and, though on these occasions I
always ran, one of my knees became frost-bitten—my pelisse not being
long enough to cover my legs, which were clothed only in light cotton

I generally passed the night in the bath-room of some peasant after the
manner of vagabonds, for nobody in Siberia, however poor, is without a
vapor bath, the vapor being produced by pouring water on red-hot stones.

One afternoon, just as night was closing in, I reached a village
and sought a lodging. I had heard from the experienced vagabonds of
the gang that it was always better to ask charity or help from the
poor than from the well-to-do. Never, they said, when you are on the
tramp, knock at the door of a rich man's house. Go rather to the most
wretched cabin you can find.

This rule, based on a wide experience and a profound truth—for the
poor naturally receive more sympathy from the poor than from the
well-to-do—I deemed it expedient to follow. At the end of the village
in question I found a cabin of unprepossessing aspect, and, concluding
that it was exactly what I wanted, I went in, making, as I entered, the
sign of the cross before the picture of a saint, as is the custom in
Russia. Then I greeted my hosts.

“Good day, my boy,” answered the peasant, an old man with a long white
beard, in a kindly voice.

“Could you sell me a bit of bread?” I asked; for though I travelled as
a vagabond I did not like to beg after the manner of vagabonds, and
always tendered a piece of money for what I received.

“Yes, you can have bread,” said the old man, handing me a loaf.

“Thank you, father; and may I pass the night in your house?”

“I fear that is impossible, my boy. You are a vagabond, aren't you?
They are very severe just now about vagabonds, the police are. If you
take in a man without a passport you may get fined. Where do you come
from, my boy?”

“From the convoy.”

“I thought so. I was right then. You are a vagabond.”

I answered with a supplicatory gesture, and I dare say I looked cold
enough and wretched enough to move the compassion of a harder-hearted
man than this good old peasant.

“You fellows generally sleep in the baths, don't you?” he said, after a
pause. “Well, go into mine if you like; I can put you nowhere else. And
I have heated it to-day; you will be warm.”

So picking up my loaf, and laying on the table a few kopecks—nobody
ever thinks of bargaining with a wanderer—I leave the house. The bath
is hard by, and on going in I find that it is quite warm, as the old
man had said. The heat is so great, indeed, that I can dispense with my

These peasants' bath-rooms are seldom supplied with a chimney. The
stones are heated in the middle of the room, and the smoke, after
blackening the rafters, finds its way out as best it can. There were no
windows, and, in order to look round, I had to light one of the tallow
candles which I carried in my bag. They were very useful for rubbing my
feet with after a long march. I was in no hurry to sleep, and before
lying down on the wooden bench which was to be my couch I had a little
operation to perform. My yellow pelisse proclaimed my quality a long
way off. That was an inconvenience, and in certain easily conceivable
circumstances, might lead to awkward consequences. I meant to change
its color. This I did by smearing the garment with a mixture composed
of tallow from my candles and soot from the wall. It was not a very
fast black perhaps, but it answered the purpose. Henceforth, nobody,
without a pretty close inspection, would perceive that I was a vagabond
on the tramp.

This done, I lay down on the bench and was soon fast asleep. I must
have slept an hour or two when I was wakened by the creaking of the
door, and I heard the heavy steps of a man entering the room. As it
was pitch dark I could not see him, and I did not think it worth while
to strike a light. The newcomer seemed to be of the same opinion, for,
without speaking a word, he groped his way towards my bench and laid
down beside me. Though he touched my body he made no remark, and a
few moments later I could tell by his regular breathing that he was
fast asleep. Then I slept again, and did not open my eyes until I was
wakened by the cold—for the bath-room had lost all its warmth, and the
temperature was far below freezing-point. So I rose from my couch,
donned my pelisse, and, though the sun had not yet risen, I left my
snoring bed-fellow, whom I never saw, to his slumbers and resumed my

My plan was to reach the house of a friend about 150 miles from the
village where I had been interned. To traverse a region as large as
Europe without money was quite out of the question, and even if I had
succeeded in doing so it would have been impossible, without papers,
either to cross the frontier or leave the country. It is hardly
necessary to say that I took care never to ask my way. That would have
been a great imprudence. And there was little need, for the roads in
Siberia are so few that it is scarcely possible to go wrong. According
to my reckoning I was still about thirty miles from my destination.
Shortly after leaving the village I saw, near a little cabin by the
road-side, a man who eyed me keenly. From his short hair and stubby
beard I guessed that he was a recently arrived colonist who had come
into the country with a chain gang.

“Won't you come in, brother,” he said, “and rest yourself and take a
cup of tea?”

I accepted the invitation with pleasure, for I had not broken my fast.
We entered the cabin together. It was very small, and on a brick hearth
was sitting a woman, probably the exile's wife. My host asked me to
take a seat and began to prepare the samovar, an appliance which is
found in every Siberian cottage. As we drank we talked.

“Is it a long time since you left the gang?” asked my entertainer.

“Quite lately. I belonged to convoy number four.”

“You have turned vagabond then, brother?”

“Yes, what is the good of staying here?”

“You are quite right,” returned the exile bitterly. “The country is
abominable. I shall do the same thing myself in a month or two. Which
way do you go—by the Angara road?”

I gave him an itinerary, though not exactly the one I meant to follow.

“I know all these places well,” observed my host. “But do you know you
will have to be prudent. The authorities hereabouts are very vicious
just now. They arrest every wayfarer they see. You must look out, my
brother, or they will arrest you.”

“What would you advise me to do, then,” I asked, greatly alarmed at
this news.

“I will tell you, brother; listen!”

And then he gave me very valuable information; described the villages
through or near which I should have to pass, indicating at the same
time those that were dangerous and the footpaths by which I might avoid
them. He gave me the names and described the dwellings of the peasants
with whom I might lodge, and, in a word, told me everything which it
imported a wandering outlaw to know.

“But why,” I asked, “are the police so active just now? I thought this
road was one of the safest for vagabonds in the whole country.”

“God knows. Perhaps they have found a body somewhere and are looking
for the murderer.”

I made no remark, but I thought it was much more likely that they had
discovered my flight and were looking for me. And so it proved.

After finishing the tea we talked a little longer, and as I took my
leave I thanked my host warmly for his hospitality and information.

When I reached the last village before that at which lived my friend,
I was quite overcome with fatigue, and faint with hunger and cold;
but I counted on a long and quiet rest in the cottage of a peasant
woman whose address had been given me by the friendly exile. It was
at the extremity of the village, and to get thither I had to pass the
headquarters of the communal authorities. In the light of the exile's
warning, and my own fears, this seemed a sufficiently dangerous
enterprise. Albeit I put on an air of indifference and took care not to
increase my pace, yet I could not avoid an occasional backward glance
to see if I was being followed. No one, however, seemed to notice
me, and I reached my destination without receiving any unpleasant
attentions. The peasant woman welcomed me kindly, if not very
effusively. But she was a dear good soul, gave me of her best, and let
me lie on a bench and pass the night in her house.

About two hours before sunrise my hostess came into the kitchen and
began to busy herself with preparations for breakfast. But I remained
stretched on my bench; the cottage was warm. I felt very comfortable,
and I saw no reason for hurry. The day was before me, and I had not far
to go. So I turned round on my wooden couch and was just sinking into
a second slumber when I heard the sound of bells, such as post-chaises
and mail-carts in Russia invariably carry.

“Bells!” I cried, starting up. “Does a mail-coach run on this road?”

“No,” answered the peasant, “we have no mail-coach here; it is probably
a private carriage which is passing through the village.”

Meanwhile the bells came nearer; then the sound suddenly ceased, as it
seemed not far from the cottage. I did not like this at all. What could
it mean?

“Would you mind going to see what or whose carriage it is?” I said. She
went, and as the door closed behind her, I jumped off my bench and put
on my clothes.

In a few minutes she was back with the news that the carriage belonged
to the gendarmes, and that they were questioning the _starosta_ and the

“The gendarmes!” I exclaimed, “who says so—where are they from?”

“From Irkoutsk. It is the coachman himself who told me. He thinks they
are after a political runaway.”

“In that case, I had better be going,” I said, laughing. “They
may perhaps think I am the man. Now look here—if they ask you any
questions, know nothing. If you do it may be worse for you; they may
make you pay a fine. Good-by” (putting the last of my kopecks on the

“Good-by,” answered my hostess; “don't be uneasy. I shall not say a
word.” She was a worthy woman, and a friend in need, that old peasant.

I went out. It was still dark, and I might creep through the village
without being seen. The last of the houses passed, I ran at the top
of my speed, for I felt sure that the pursuers were at my heels, and
the possibility of being retaken enraged me almost past endurance. I
had been denounced shortly after leaving the settlement, of that there
could be no doubt. But how had the police managed to trace me so soon?
I had been very careful, neglected no conceivable precaution, given
misleading answers to all who questioned me about my past movements
and future plans. I had made long _detours_ to avoid the larger
villages, and during the latter part of my journey put up only with
the most trusted friends of vagabond wanderers. Yet the gendarmes
had followed me step by step to my very last resting-place, and but
for the friendly warning of the bells I should certainly have been
recaptured, for I could not have left the village by daylight without
being seen. Even now I was in imminent danger; my safety absolutely
depended on my reaching my friend's house at once, and lying a long
time in hiding. Though I had never been there, I knew the place so
well by description—its situation and appearance were so vividly
impressed on my mind—that I could find it, even in the dark, without
asking a question. It was only about seven miles from the village I
had just left. But how could I get thither unperceived? For if I was
seen by a single person entering my friend's house, it might be the
ruin of us both. Something must be decided on the instant. Day was
dawning, the gendarmes were behind me, and by the barking of the dogs
I reckoned that the village where dwelt my friend could not be more
than two miles away. I looked round. On one side of the road were
open fields; on the other thick brushwood grew. As yet, I had not
met a soul,—nobody could tell the gendarmes in which direction I had
gone—but it was now no longer dark, and if I went on, I might encounter
a peasant or a wayfarer any moment. Only one thing could be done; I
must hide somewhere—even at the risk of being frozen stiff—and remain
hidden until sundown, when I might perchance gain my friend's house
unperceived. Among the bushes! Yes, that was the place, I could lie
_perdu_ there all day. But just as I was about to put this plan into
execution, another thought came to trouble me. How about my footsteps?
Fresh snow had fallen in the night, and the police could follow me to
my hiding-place as easily as a hound tracks a deer to its lair. And
then I bethought me of an ingenious artifice, about which I had read
in some romance. Turning my face to the road I walked backward toward
the bushes, taking care at every step to make a distinct impression
on the snow. It was now quite daylight, and a little way off I could
see two summer cabins of the Buriats—in winter always empty. Thither I
went, always backward, and entering one of the cabins remained there
the whole day and far into the night. When I thought all the peasants
would be indoors, I stole quietly out, and going stealthily and with
many precautions to my friend's house, knocked in fear and misgiving at
his door.

To my great relief he opened it himself.

“I should not have recognised you, if I had not just heard all your
history,” he said, after we had exchanged greetings.

“I am very curious to see myself,” I returned, approaching a mirror
which hung on the wall. “I have not seen a looking-glass since my

I was so much altered that I hardly knew myself. I saw before me the
reflection of a wild, strange, haggard face, and I could almost have
believed I was somebody else.

“When did you hear of my flight?” I asked.

“To-day. There has been quite an inquest here. The gendarmes questioned
everybody and searched every house. They followed you step by step to
the last village. They found out where you passed the night, and then
they seem to have lost the scent entirely. Where have you been?”

I told him.

“Did anybody see you come here?”

“Not a soul.”

“Good. All the same, you must not stay here an hour longer than we can
help. It would be too dangerous. The police are baffled; but they have
by no means given up the quest, and as likely as not will be here again
to-morrow. You must not sleep here.”

“Where then?”

“At my farm. But first of all you must change your skin.”

As he spoke, my friend in need opened a cupboard, and took therefrom
some garments in which, when I had arrayed myself and had a good wash,
I looked and felt like a new man.

“Is your farm far from here?” I asked, as we sat down to supper.

“About twenty-five versts (fifteen miles), in the depth of the
forest, far from any highway. Hunting parties from Irkoutsk visit us
there sometimes. Your coming will, therefore, be no surprise for the
servants. It is true your hair is just a little short (looking at my
head); but that is nothing. You have had typhoid fever, and are going
to recruit your strength in the forest. You look haggard enough to have
had three fevers.”

An hour later we were _en route_, my friend, who had lived many years
in the country, himself taking the reins, and he contrived matters so
well that nobody in the house knew either of my coming or my going. The
police were thrown completely off the scent.


As I learnt subsequently, my identity and my stratagem were revealed
to the authorities by one of my comrades of the convoy shortly after I
left Irkoutsk. But when the gendarmes went to the village of Talminsky,
I had already vanished. Every effort was, however, made to retake
me, the quest being kept up night and day for six weeks. Then it was
rumored that a body found in the forest had been identified as mine,
and that I had perished of hunger. According to another story, I had
been arrested at Nijni Oudinsk, and was being brought back to Irkoutsk.
Among the vagabonds who at this time were captured right and left on
the high roads throughout the province, were several whom it pleased to
call themselves by my name. The deceit was naturally soon detected, but
while it lasted the deceivers enjoyed certain advantages, which helped
to render their detention tolerable. Instead of walking they rode in
carriages, and were accompanied by an escort, and being regarded as
important prisoners, they were both better fed and better treated than
common malefactors, while their audacity rendered them highly popular
with their vagabond and convict comrades. There were at one time no
fewer than four false Debagorio Mokrievitches in the jail of Irkoutsk.
The police sought me with great diligence among the political exiles
of the province; a most stupid proceeding on their part, for to take
refuge with the politicals would have been putting my head in the
lion's mouth.

Three other men who about the same time attempted to escape were all

I stayed in Siberia a year, making during that time several journeys to
the eastward of Irkoutsk. At length the police having abandoned all
hope of finding me, I resolved to leave the country. A passport being
absolutely necessary, I borrowed the name and obtained the papers of a
gentleman recently deceased—Ivan Alexandrovitch Selivanoff. It was in
the winter of 1880 that I set out on my long journey of 3,600 miles. I
travelled post, by way of Irkoutsk, Krasnoiarsk and Tomsk—towns through
which, a twelvemonth before, I had passed as a prisoner. Rather a bold
undertaking in the circumstances; but as I possessed an itinerary-card
signed by the governor of the province, giving me the right to relays
of horses, I ran no great danger, and left the home of my hospitable
friend with an easy mind.

During the journey I met from time to time gangs of prisoners on the
way from Russia to Irkoutsk. The clanking of the irons, the yellow
pelisses, the worn faces, the weary walk, and the shorn heads of these
unfortunates—how familiar they all were, and how the sight of them
thrilled me to the soul! And behind the chain gang came the wagons of
the political prisoners, among whom, more than once, I recognized the
face of a dear friend. But instead of jumping from my carriage and
folding the poor fellows in my arms, I had to look the other way!

All went well with me, but once I had a terribly narrow escape of
falling a second time into the toils. It so chanced that I passed
through the province of Tobolsk in company with a tchinovnik
(government employé), whose acquaintance I had made on the road, a
big-paunched, rosy-cheeked fellow, with merry eyes and a mellow voice;
and, being on his way home after a long absence, in high good humor and
full of fun. Once at the end of a long day's journey, we arrived about
midnight at a town in the neighborhood of Tobolsk, and, being tired and
sleepy, resolved to pass the rest of the night there. So we went into
the travellers' room, ordered tea, and handed our itinerary cards to
the starosta of the station, in order that he might make the necessary
entries in the travellers' book. Before going to the sleeping room we
requested that the horses might be ready at seven o'clock next morning.

I slept the sleep of the just, rose betimes, and called for the

“Are the horses ready?” I asked. “And be good enough to bring hither
our itinerary-cards.”

“The station-master will himself bring your itinerary-cards, and as for
the horses they are already yoked up.”

Half-an-hour later the station-master (otherwise director), came into
our room, holding in his hand the itinerary-cards.

“I am sorry to trouble you,” he said politely; “but I should like to
know which of you young gentlemen is Ivan Alexandrovitch Selivanoff?”

“At your service sir,” I answered, stepping forward.

The station-master looked at me with a ludicrous expression of
bewilderment and surprise.

“A thousand pardons,” he said at length, with a low bow. “But really—I
don't quite understand. The fact is, I knew Mr. Selivanoff, and here I
see the same surname and Christian name; the name of the father is also
the same, the tchin (rank) likewise! Yet I was told he had died—more
than a year ago—but when I saw his name on the card I thought the news
must be false, and I came to assure myself. I see that I am mistaken.
A thousand pardons, sir, a thousand pardons,” and again he saluted me
still more profoundly than before.

I felt as if the ground were opening under my feet, and was thinking
how on earth I should get out of the scrape, when my companion
came—without knowing it—to the rescue.

“What a capital joke!” he shouted, clapping me on the back, and
laughing so that he could hardly speak. “One might suppose that the
worthy director takes you for an escaped prisoner with a dead man's
passport. Ha, ha, ha, what a capital joke to be sure!”

And holding his big belly with both hands, he balanced himself first on
one foot and then the other, laughing the while, until he could hardly

“You are quite right,” I said, also laughing, though with considerable
effort. “It is really an excellent joke. But seriously (turning to
the station-master), the thing is easily explained. In the part I
come from the Selivanoffs are as plentiful as blackberries. The late
Ivan Alexandrovitch, your friend, and I were kinsmen, and had a great
affection for each other; the name is so common in the province that I
could introduce you to a dozen of my namesakes any day.”

The station-master seemed satisfied with this explanation. At any rate,
he made no objection to our departure, and shortly afterwards we were
once more _en route_. But my companion, the tchinovnik did not cease
laughing for a long time. “To take you for a fugitive convict with a
false passport!” he would say “it is really too good,” and whenever he
remembered the incident he would laugh as if he never meant to stop.
I remembered it, as may be supposed, with very different feelings.
The escape was a very narrow one, and showed me how much I was still
at the mercy of the slightest mishap. But this proved to be my last
adventure and my last peril. In May, 1881, I reached Geneva, and felt
that I was at last really free.

       *       *       *       *       *

As most stories of Russian revolutionary life have necessarily, if they
be true, a tragical termination, readers of the foregoing narrative
may be pleased to know that M. Mokrievitch is still in a land where he
feels really free. Though one of the heroes of Russian liberty he has
not yet become one of its martyrs. But the time may come when he, as
many other fugitives have done, will return to the volcanic soil of
his native country, there to take part in the struggle to death which,
though unseen, goes always on, and must continue without truce and
without surcease until the sun of Freedom shall dawn in the Empire of
the Night.—_Contemporary Review._


[1] As vagabonds are frequently mentioned in this narrative, and
Mokrievitch himself became one of them, it may be well to explain
that the wanderers so designated are simply tramps unfurnished with
passports. A double stream of these waifs is always on the move through
Siberia—one towards the east, the other towards the west—the latter
free, the former generally in bonds. Many of the involuntary settlers
either do not take kindly to work, or find their lot intolerable, and
so make off on the first opportunity, begging their way, and living on
the charity of the peasants, who never refuse a destitute traveller a
crust of bread and a night's lodging. Not a few of these wanderers sink
under the hardships to which they are exposed, or freeze to death in
the forests, and the survivors are nearly always arrested before they
reach the frontier of European Russia; but they cause the police a
world of trouble. Having no papers, they are able to give false names,
and deny being fugitive transports—which they almost invariably do.
There is then nothing for it but to write to whatever address a man may
give—generally some remote village—and inquire if he is known there.
Should the answer be in the negative, the fact is taken as proof of the
paperless one's guilt, and he is sent back in chains to the interior
of Siberia. As likely as not, however, it will be in the affirmative,
for there prevails among these outcasts a strange yet regular trade in
what the vagabonds call “nests.” For instance, Ivan Ivanovitch, being
in want of money, sells to Peter Iliouschka, who has a few kopecs to
spare, the name and address of some mujik of his acquaintance, who
long ago left his native village for parts unknown—or, perhaps, his
own name and address. This is Peter's nest, and when he falls into
the hands of the police he tells them he is Paul Lubovitch, from, let
us say, Teteriwino, in the government of Koursk. On this, a missive
is sent to the _starosta_ of Teteriwino, who replies, in due course,
to the effect that the village did once possess a Paul Lubovitch, but
whether the person in question be the same man he is unable to say.
The next proceeding is to send the _soi-disant_ Paul to Teteriwino for
identification. This proceeding naturally results in the detection of
the imposture, whereupon our friend Peter is condemned to a new term of
exile, and sent back whence he came.



Mr. Traill's recent volume has recalled the poet-philosopher who
died just fifty years ago, leaving a strongly marked but indefinite
impression upon the mind of his time. The volume has done something
to renew and vivify the impression both in respect of Coleridge's
poetry and criticism. His work as a critic has never, perhaps, been
better or more completely exhibited. It is recognised generously in
all its largeness and profundity, as well as delicacy and subtlety;
and justice is especially done to his Shakesperian commentary, which
in its richness, variety, felicity, combined with depth and acuteness,
is absolutely unrivalled. But Mr. Traill cannot be said to have even
attempted any estimate of Coleridge as a spiritual thinker. It may be
questioned how far he has recognised that there is a spiritual side to
all his thought, without which neither his poetry nor his criticism can
be fully understood, cleverly as they may be judged.

It is not only out of date, but outside of all intelligent judgment
to quote at this time of day Mr. Carlyle's well-known caricature from
his _Life of Sterling_, and put readers off with this as a “famous
criticism.” We now know how to value utterances of this kind, and the
unhappy spirit of detraction which lay beneath such wild and grotesque
humors. Carlyle will always remain an artist in epithets—but few will
turn to him for an intelligent or comprehensive estimate of any great
name of his own or of recent time.

We propose to look at Coleridge for a little as a religious thinker,
and to ask what is the meaning and value of his work in this respect
now that we can calmly and fully judge it. If Coleridge was anything,
he was not only in his own view, as Mr. Traill admits, but in the
view of his generation, a religious philosopher. It is not only the
testimony of men like Hare, or Sterling, or Maurice, or even Cardinal
Newman, but of John Stuart Mill, that his teaching awakened and
freshened all contemporary thought. He was recognised with all his
faults as a truly great thinker, who raised the mind of the time and
gave it new and wide impulses. This judgment we feel sure will yet
verify itself. If English literature ever regains the higher tone of
our earlier national life—the tone of Hooker and Milton and Jeremy
Taylor—Coleridge will be again acknowledged, in Julius Hare's words, as
“a true sovereign of English thought.” He will take rank in the same
line of spiritual genius. He has the same elevation of feeling, the
same profound grasp of moral and spiritual ideas, the same wide range
of vision. He has, in short, the same love of wisdom, the same insight,
the same largeness—never despising nature or art, or literature, for
the sake of religion, still less ever despising religion for the sake
of culture. In reading over Coleridge's prose works again, returning
to them after a long past familiarity, I am particularly struck by
their massive and large intellectuality, akin to our older Elizabethan
literature. There is everywhere the play of great power—of imagination
as well as reason—of spiritual perception as well as logical subtlety.

To speak of Coleridge in this manner as a great spiritual power, an
eminently healthy writer in the higher regions of thought, may seem
absurd to some who think mainly of his life, and of the fatal failure
which characterised it. It is the shadow of this failure of manliness
in his conduct, as in that of his life-long friend, Charles Lamb, which
no doubt prompted the great genius who carried manliness, if little
sweetness, from his Annandale home, to paint both the one and the other
in such darkened colors. We have not a word to say on behalf of the
failings of either. They were deplorable and unworthy; but it is the
fact, notwithstanding, that the mind of both retained a serenity and
a certain touch of respectfulness which are lacking in their great
Scottish contemporary. They were both finer-edged than Carlyle. They
inherited a more delicate and polite personal culture; and delicacy can
never be far distant from true manliness. Neither of them could have
written of the treasures of old religion as Carlyle did in his _Life
of Sterling_. Whether they accepted for themselves those treasures or
not, they would have spared the tender faith of others and respected
an ancient ideal. And this is the higher attitude. Nothing which has
ever deeply interested humanity or profoundly moved it, is treated
with contempt by a good and wise man. It may call for and deserve
rejection, but never insult. Unhappily this attitude of mind, reserved,
as well as critical, reverent as well as bold, has been conspicuously
absent in some of the most powerful and best known writers of our era.

There is a striking contrast between the career of Coleridge and that
of his friend Wordsworth. Fellows in the opening of their poetic
course, they soon diverged widely. With a true instinct, Wordsworth
devoted himself, in quietness and seclusion, to the cultivation
of his poetic faculty. He left aside the world of politics and of
religious thought, strongly moved as he had been by the interests of
both. It may be said that Wordsworth continued a religious thinker
as well as poet all his life. And to some extent this is true. The
“Wanderer” is a preacher and not only a singer. He goes to the heart
of religion, and lays again its foundations in the natural instincts
of man. But while Wordsworth's poetry was instinct with a new life of
religious feeling, and may be said to have given a new radiancy to its
central principles,[2] it did not initiate any movement in Christian
thought. In religious opinion Wordsworth soon fell back upon, if he
ever consciously departed from, the old line of Anglican traditions.
The vague Pantheism of the _Excursion_ implies rather a lack of
distinctive dogma than any fresh insight into religious problems or
capacity of co-ordinating them in a new manner. And so soon as definite
religious conceptions came to the poet, the Church in her customary
theology became a satisfactory refuge. The _Ecclesiastical Sonnets_
mark this definite stage in his spiritual development. Wordsworth
did for the religious thought of his time something more and better
perhaps than giving it any definite impulse. While leaving it in
the old channels, he gave it a richer and deeper volume. He showed
with what vital affinity religion cleaves to humanity, in all its
true and simple phases, when uncontaminated by conceit or frivolity.
Nature and man alike were to him essentially religious, or only
conceivable as the outcome of a Spirit of life, “the Soul of all the
worlds.”[3] Wordsworth, in short, remained as he began, a poet of a
deeply religious spirit. But he did not enter the domain of theological
speculation or attempt to give any new direction to it.

In all this Coleridge is his counterpart. He may be said to have
abandoned poetry just when Wordsworth in his retirement at Grasmere
(1799) was consecrating his life to it. Whether it be true, according
to De Quincey, that Coleridge's poetical power was killed by the habit
of opium-eating, it is certainly true that the harp of Quantock[4]
was never again struck save for a brief moment. The poet Coleridge
passed into the lecturer and the poetical and literary critic, and
then, during the final period of his life, from 1816 to 1834, into
the philosopher and theologian. It is to this latter period of his
life in the main that his higher prose writings belong, and especially
the well-known _Aids to Reflection_ which—disparaged as it is by Mr.
Traill—may be said to contain, as his disciples have always held to
contain, all the finer substance of his spiritual thought. It is true
that it is defective as a literary composition. We are even disposed to
allow that it has “less charm of thought, less beauty of style,” and
in some respects even less “power of effective statement,”[5] than is
common with Coleridge; but withal it is his highest work. These very
defects only serve to bring out the more its strong points, when we
consider the wonderful hold the book has taken of many minds, and how
it has been the subject of elaborate commentary.[6] It is a book, we
may at the same time say, which none but a thinker on divine things
will ever like. All such thinkers have prized it greatly. To many such
it has given a new force of religious insight; for its time, beyond all
doubt, it created a real epoch in Christian thought. It had life in it;
and the living seed, scattered and desultory as it was, brought forth
fruit in many minds.

What, then, were its main contributions to religious thought, and in
what respects generally is Coleridge to be reckoned a spiritual power?

(1.) First, and chiefly, in the _Aids to Reflection_, Coleridge may
be said to have transformed and renewed the current ideas of his
time about religion. He was, we know, a man of many ambitions never
realised; but of all his ambitions, the most persistent was that of
laying anew the foundations of spiritual philosophy. This was “the
great work” to which he frequently alluded as having given “the
preparation of more than twenty years of his life.”[7] Like other
great tasks projected by him, it was very imperfectly accomplished;
and there will always be those in consequence who fail to understand
his influence as a leader of thought. We are certainly not bound to
take Coleridge at his own value, nor to attach the same importance as
he did to some of his speculations. No one, indeed, knew better than
Coleridge himself that there was nothing new in his Platonic Realism.
It was merely a restoration of the old religious metaphysic which had
preceded “the mechanical systems,” that became dominant in the reign
of Charles the Second. He himself constantly claims to do nothing
more than re-assert the principles of Hooker, of Henry More, of John
Smith, and Leighton, all of whom he speaks of as “Platonizing divines!”
But the religious teaching of Coleridge came upon his generation as
a new breath, not merely or mainly because he revived these ancient
principles, but because he vitalised anew their application to
Christianity, so as to transform it from a mere creed, or collection of
articles, into a living mode of thought, embracing all human activity.
Coleridge was no mere metaphysician. He was a great interpreter of
spiritual facts—a student of spiritual life, quickened by a peculiarly
vivid and painful experience; and he saw in Christianity, rightly
conceived, at once the true explanation of the facts of our spiritual
being and the true remedy for their disorder. He brought human nature,
not merely on one side, but all sides, once more near to Christianity,
so as to find in it not merely a means of salvation in any limited
evangelical sense, but the highest Truth and Health—a perfect
philosophy. His main power lies in this subjective direction, just as
here it was that his age was most needing stimulus and guidance.

The Evangelical School, with all its merits, had conceived of
Christianity rather as something superadded the highest life of
humanity than as the perfect development of that life; as a scheme
for human salvation authenticated by miracles, and, so to speak,
interpolated into human history rather than a divine philosophy,
witnessing to itself from the beginning in all the higher phases of
that history. And so Philosophy, and no less Literature, and Art, and
Science, were conceived apart from religion. The world and the Church
were not only antagonistic in the Biblical sense, as the embodiments
of the Carnal and the Divine Spirit—which they must ever be; but they
were, so to speak, severed portions of life divided by outward signs
and badges: and those who joined the one or the other were supposed to
be clearly marked off. All who know the writings of the Evangelical
School of the eighteenth and earlier part of the nineteenth century,
from the poetry of Cowper and the letters of his friend Newton, to the
writings of Romaine, John Forster, and Wilberforce, and even Chalmers,
will know how such commonplaces everywhere reappear in them. That they
were associated with the most devout and beautiful lives, that they
even served to foster a peculiar ardor of Christian feeling and love of
God, cannot be disputed. But they were essentially narrow and false.
They destroyed the largeness and unity of human experience. They not
merely separated religion from art and philosophy, but they tended to
separate it from morality.

Coleridge's most distinctive work was to restore the broken harmony
between reason and religion, by enlarging the conception of both, but
of the latter especially,—by showing how man is essentially a religious
being having a definite spiritual constitution, apart from which the
very idea of religion becomes impossible. Religion is not, therefore,
something brought to man, it is his highest education. Religion, he
says, was designed “to improve the nature and the faculties of man, in
order to the right governing of our actions, to the securing the peace
and progress, eternal and internal, of individuals and communities.”
Christianity is in the highest degree adapted to this end; and nothing
can be a part of it that is not duly proportioned thereto. In thus
vindicating the rationality of religion, Coleridge had a twofold task
before him, as every such thinker has. He had to assert against the
Epicurean and Empirical School the spiritual constitution of human
nature, and against the fanatical or hyper-evangelical school the
reasonable working of spiritual influence. He had to maintain, on the
one hand, the essential divinity of man, that “there is more in him
than can be rationally referred to the life of nature and the mechanism
of organisation,” and on the other hand to show that this higher life
of the spirit is throughout rational—that it is superstition and not
true religion which professes to resolve “men's faith and practice”
into the illumination of such a spirit as they can give no account
of,—such as does not enlighten their reason or enable them to render
their doctrine intelligible to others. He fights, in short, alike
against materialistic negation and credulous enthusiasm.

The former he meets with the assertion of “a spirituality in man,” a
self-power or Will at the root of all his being. “If there be aught
spiritual in man, the will must be such. If there be a will, there
must be a spirituality in man.” He assumes both positions, seeing
clearly—what all who radically deal with such a question must see—that
it becomes in the end an alternative postulate on one side and the
other. The theologian cannot prove his case, because the very terms
in which it must be proved are already denied _ab initio_ by the
materialist. But no more can the materialist, for the same reason,
refute the spiritual thinker. There can be no argument where no common
premiss is granted. Coleridge was quite alive to this, yet he validly
appeals to common experience. “I assume,” he says, “a something the
proof which no man can give to another, yet every man may find for
himself. If any man assert that he has no such experience, I am
bound to disbelieve him, I cannot do otherwise without unsettling
the foundation of my own moral nature. For I either find it as an
essential of the humanity common to him and to me, or I have not found
it at all.... All the significant objections of the materialist and
necessitarian,” he adds, “are contained in the term morality, and all
the objections of the infidel in the term religion. These very terms
imply something granted, which the objector in each case supposes not
granted. A moral philosophy is only such because it assumes a principle
of morality, a will in man, and so a Christian philosophy or theology
has its own assumptions resting on three ultimate facts, namely, the
reality of the law of conscience; the existence of a responsible will
as the subject of that law; and lastly, the existence of God....
The first is a fact of consciousness; the second, a fact of reason
necessarily concluded from the first; and the third, a fact of history
interpreted by both.”

These were the radical data of the religious philosophy of Coleridge.
They imply a general conception of religion which was revolutionary
for his age, simple and ancient as the principles are. The evangelical
tradition brought religion to man from the outside. It took no concern
of man's spiritual constitution beyond the fact that he was a sinner
and in danger of hell. Coleridge started from a similar but larger
experience, including not only sin, but the whole spiritual basis on
which sin rests. “I profess a deep conviction,” he says, “that man is a
fallen creature,” “not by accident of bodily constitution or any other
cause, but as diseased in his will—in that will which is the true and
only strict synonyme of the word I, or the intelligent Self.” This
“intelligent Self” is a fundamental conception lying at the root of his
system of thought. Sin is an attribute of it, and cannot be conceived
apart for it, and conscience, or the original sense of right and wrong
governing the will. Apart from these internal realities there is no
religion, and the function of the Christian Revelation is to build
up the spiritual life out of these realities—to remedy the evil, to
enlighten the conscience, to educate the will. This effective power
of religion comes directly from God in Christ. Here Coleridge joins
the Evangelical School, as indeed every school of living Christian
Faith. This was the element of Truth he found in the doctrine of
Election as handled “practically, morally, humanly,” by Leighton. Every
true Christian, he argues, must attribute his distinction not in any
degree to himself—“his own resolves and strivings,” “his own will and
understanding,” still less to “his own comparative excellence,”—but to
God, “the being in whom the promise of life originated, and on whom
its fulfilment depends.” Election so far is a truth of experience.
“This the conscience requires; this the highest interests of morality
demand.” So far it is a question of facts with which the speculative
reason has nothing to do. But when the theological reasoner abandons
the ground of fact and “the safe circle of religion and practical
reason for the shifting sand-wastes and mirages of speculative
theology,” then he uses words without meaning. He can have no insight
into the workings or plans of a Being who is neither an object of his
senses nor a part of his self-consciousness.

Nothing can show better than this brief exposition how closely
Coleridge in his theology clung to a base of spiritual experience,
and sought to measure even the most abstruse Christian mysteries by
facts. The same thing may be shown by referring to his doctrine of
the Trinity, which has been supposed the most transcendental and, so
to speak, “Neo-Platonist” of all his doctrines. But truly speaking
his Trinitarianism, like his doctrine of Election, is a moral rather
than a speculative truth. The Trinitarian idea was, indeed, true to
him notionally. The full analysis of the notion “God” seemed to him
to involve it. “I find a certain notion in my mind, and say that is
what I understand by the term God. From books and conversation I find
that the learned generally connect the same notion with the same word.
I then apply the rules laid down by the masters of logic for the
involution and evolution of terms, and prove (to as many as agree with
my premisses) that the notion 'God' involves the notion 'Trinity,'” So
he argued, and many times recurred to the same Transcendental analysis.
But the truer and more urgent spiritual basis of the doctrine of the
Trinity, even to his own mind, was not its notional but its moral
necessity. Christ could only be a Saviour as being Divine. Salvation is
a Divine work. “The idea of redemption involves belief in the Divinity
of our Lord. And our Lord's Divinity again involves the Trinitarian
idea, because in and through this idea alone the Divinity of Christ can
be received without breach of faith in the Unity of the Godhead.” In
other words, the best evidence of the doctrine of the Trinity, is the
compulsion of the spiritual conscience which demands a Divine Saviour;
and only in and through the great idea of Trinity in Unity does this
demand become consistent with Christian Monotheism.[8]

These doctrines are merely used in illustration, as they are by
Coleridge himself in his _Aids to Reflection_. But nothing can show in
a stronger light the general character of the change which he wrought
in the conception of Christianity. From being a mere traditional
creed, with Anglican and Evangelical, and it may be added Unitarian
alike, it became a living expression of the spiritual consciousness.
In a sense, of course, it had always been so. The Evangelical made
much of its living power, but only in a practical and not in a
rational sense. It is the distinction of Coleridge to have once more
in his age made Christian doctrine alive to the reason as well as the
conscience—tenable as a philosophy as well as an evangel. And this
he did by interpreting Christianity in the light of our moral and
spiritual life. There are aspects of Christian truth beyond us—_Exeunt
in mysteria_. But all Christian truth must have vital touch with our
spiritual being, and be so far at least capable of being rendered in
its terms, or, in other words, be conformable to reason.

There was nothing absolutely new in this luminous conception, but
it marked a revolution of religious thought in the earlier part of
our century. The great principle of the Evangelical theology was
that theological dogmas were true or false without any reference to
a subjective standard of judgment. They were true as pure data of
revelation, or as the propositions of an authorised creed settled
long ago. Reason had, so far, nothing to do with them. Christian
truth, it was supposed, lay at had in the Bible, an appeal to which
settled everything. Coleridge did not undervalue the Bible. He gave
it an intelligent reverence. But he no less reverenced the spiritual
consciousness or divine light in man; and to put out this light, as
the Evangelical had gone far to do, was to destroy all reasonable
faith. This must rest not merely on objective data, but on internal
experience. It must have not merely authority without, but _rationale_
within. It must answer to the highest aspiration of human reason, as
well as the most urgent necessities of human life. It must interpret
reason and find expression in the voice of our higher humanity, and so
enlarge itself as to meet all its needs.

If we turn for a moment to the special exposition of the doctrines
of sin and redemption which Coleridge has given in the _Aids to
Reflection_, it is still mainly with the view of bringing out more
clearly his general conception of Christianity as a living movement of
thought rather than a mere series of articles or a traditionary creed.

In dealing first with the question of sin, he shows how its very idea
is only tenable on the ground of such a spiritual constitution in man
as he has already asserted. It is only the recognition of a true will
in man—a spirit or supernatural in man, although “not necessarily
miraculous”—which renders sin possible. “These views of the spirit and
of the will as spiritual,” he says more than once, “are the groundwork
of my scheme.” There was nothing more significant or fundamental in
all his theology. If there is not always a supernatural element in
man in the shape of spirit and will, no miracles or anything else can
ever authenticate the supernatural to him. A mere formal orthodoxy,
therefore, hanging upon the evidence of miracles, is a suspension
bridge without any real support. So all questions between infidelity
and Christianity are questions here, at the root, and not what are
called “critical” questions as to whether this or that view of the
Bible be right, or this or that traditionary dogma be true. Such
questions are, truly speaking, inter-Christian questions, the freest
views of which all Churches must learn to tolerate. The really vital
question is whether there is a divine root in man at all—a spiritual
centre, answering to a higher spiritual centre in the universe. All
controversies of any importance come back to this. Coleridge would have
been a great Christian thinker if for no other reason than this, that
he brought all theological problems back to this living centre, and
showed how they diverged from it. Apart from this postulate, sin was
inconceivable to him; and in the same manner all sin was to him sin of
origin or “original sin.” It is the essential property of the will that
it can originate. The phrase original sin is therefore “a pleonasm.”
If sin was not original, or from within the will itself, it would not
deserve the name. “A state or act that has not its origin in the will
may be a calamity, deformity, disease, or mischief, but a sin it cannot

Again he says: “That there is an evil common to all is a fact, and
this evil must, therefore, have a common ground. Now this evil ground
cannot originate in the Divine will; it must, therefore, be referred
to the will of man. And this evil ground we call original sin. It
is a mystery, that is, a fact which we see, but cannot explain; and
the doctrine a truth which we apprehend, but can neither comprehend
nor communicate. And such by the quality of the subject (namely, a
responsible will) it must be, if it be truth at all.”

This inwardness is no less characteristic of Coleridge's treatment of
the doctrine of atonement or redemption. It is intelligible so far as
it comes within the range of spiritual experience. So far its nature
and effects are amply described or figured in the New Testament,
especially by St. Paul. And the apostle's language, as might be
expected, “takes its predominant colors from his own experience, and
the experience of those whom he addressed.” “His figures, images,
analogies, and references,” are all more or less borrowed from this
source. He describes the Atonement of Christ under four principal
metaphors: 1. Sin-offering, sacrificial expiation. 2. Reconciliation,
atonement, καταλλάγη. 3. Redemption, or ransom from slavery. 4.
Satisfaction, payment of a debt. These phrases are not designed to
convey to us all the Divine meaning of the atonement, for no phrases or
figures can do this; but they set forth its general aspect and design.
One and all they have an intelligible relation to our spiritual life,
and so clothe the doctrine for us with a concrete living and practical
meaning. But there are other relations and aspects of the doctrine of
atonement that transcend experience, and consequently our powers of
understanding. And all that can be said here is, “exit in mysteria.”
The rationalism of Coleridge is at least a modest and self-limiting
rationalism. It clears the ground within the range of spiritual
experience, and floods this ground with the light of reason. There is
no true doctrine can contradict this light, or shelter itself from its
penetration. But there are aspects of Christian doctrine that outreach
all grasp of reason, and before which reason must simply be silent. For
example, the Divine act in redemption is “a causative act—a spiritual
and transcendent mystery _that passeth all understanding. 'Who knoweth
the mind of the Lord, or being his councillor who hath instructed
him?' Factum est._” This is all that can be said of the mystery of
redemption, or of the doctrine of atonement on its Divine side.

And here emerges another important principle of the Coleridgian
theology. While so great an advocate of the rights of reason in
theology, of the necessity, in other words, of moulding all its facts
in a synthesis intelligible to the higher reason he recognises strongly
that there is a province of Divine truth beyond all such construction.
We can never understand the fulness of Divine mystery, and it is
hopeless to attempt to do so. While no mind was less agnostic in the
modern sense of the term, he was yet with all his vivid and large
intuition, a Christian agnostic. Just because Christianity was Divine,
a revelation, and not a mere human tradition, all its higher doctrines
ended in a region beyond our clear knowledge. As he himself said, “If
the doctrine is more than a hyperbolical phrase it must do so.” There
was great pregnancy in this as in his other conceptions; and probably
no more significant change awaits the theology of the future, than the
determination of this province of the unknown, and the cessation of
controversy, as to matters which come within it, and therefore admit of
no dogmatic settlement.

(2.) But it is more than time to turn to the second aspect, in
which Coleridge appears as a religious leader of the thought of the
nineteenth century. The _Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit_ was not
published till six years after his death, in 1840; and it is curious to
notice their accidental connection with the _Confessions of a Beautiful
Soul_, which had been translated by Carlyle some years before.[9]
These _Confessions_, in the shape of seven letters to a friend, gather
together all that is valuable in the Biblical criticism of the author
scattered through his various writings; and although it may be
doubtful whether the volume has ever attained the circulation of the
_Aids to Reflection_, it is eminently deserving—small as it is, nay,
because of its very brevity—of a place beside the larger work. It is
eminently readable, terse and nervous, as well as eloquent in style.
In none of his writings does Coleridge appear to greater advantage, or
touch a more elevating strain, rising at times into solemn music.

The _Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit_ were of course merely one
indication of the rise of a true spirit of criticism in English
theology. Arnold, Whately, Thirlwall, and others, it will be seen,
were all astir in the same direction, even before the _Confessions_
were published. The notion of verbal inspiration, or the infallible
dictation of Holy Scripture, could not possibly continue after the
modern spirit of historical inquiry had begun. As soon as men plainly
recognised the organic growth of all great facts, literary as well as
others, it was inevitable that they should see the Scriptures in a new
light, as a product of many phases of thought in course of more or
less perfect development. A larger and more intelligent sense of the
conditions attending the origin and progress of all civilisation, and
of the immaturities through which religious as well as moral and social
ideas advance, necessarily carried with it a changed perception of the
characteristics of Scriptural revelation. The old Rabbinical notion
of an infallible text was sure to disappear. The new critical method
besides is, in Coleridge's hands, rather an idea—a happy and germinant
thought—than a well-evolved system. Still to him belongs the honor of
having first plainly and boldly announced that the Scriptures were to
be read and studied, like any other literature, in the light of their
continuous growth, and the adaptation of their parts to one another.

The divinity of Scripture appears all the more brightly, when thus
freely handled. “I take up the work,” he says, “with the purpose to
read it as I should read any other work—so far as I can or dare. For
I neither can nor dare throw off a strong and awful prepossession
in its favor, certain as I am that a large part of the light and
life in and by which I see, love, and embrace the truths and the
strengths organised into a living body of faith and knowledge have
been directly or indirectly derived to me from the sacred volume.”
All the more reason why we should not make a fetish of the Bible, as
the Turk does of the Koran. Poor as reason may be in comparison with
“the power and splendor of the Scriptures,” yet it is and must be for
him a true light. “While there is a Light higher than all, even the
_Word that was in the beginning_;—the Light of which light itself is
but the Schechinah and cloudy tabernacle;—there is also a 'Light that
lighteth every man that cometh into the world;' and the spirit of man
is declared to be 'the candle of the Lord,'” “If between this Word,” he
says, “and the written letter I shall anywhere seem to myself to find a
discrepance, I will not conclude that such there actually is. Nor, on
the other hand, will I fall under the condemnation of those that would
_lie for God_, but, seek as I may, be thankful for what I have and

Such is the keynote of the volume. The supremacy of the Bible as a
divinely inspired literature is plainly recognised from the first.
Obviously it is a book above all other books in which deep answers to
deep, and our inmost thoughts and most hidden griefs find not merely
response, but guidance and assuagement. And whatever there _finds_ us
“bears witness for itself that it has proceeded from the Holy Spirit.”
“In the Bible,” he says again, “there is more that _finds_ me than I
have experienced in all other books put together; the words of the
Bible find me at greater depths of my being, and whatever finds me
brings with it an irresistible evidence of its having proceeded from
the Holy Spirit.”

But there is much in the Bible that not only does not find us in
the Coleridgian sense, but that seems full of contradictions, both
moral and historical; the psalms in which David curses his enemies;
the obviously exaggerated ages attributed to the patriarchs; and the
incredible number of the armies said to be collected by Abijah and
Jeroboam (2 Chron. xiii. 3), and other incidents familiar to all
students of Scripture. What is to be made of such features of the
Bible? According to the old notion of its infallibility such parts
of Scripture, no less than its most elevating utterances of “lovely
hymn and choral song and accepted prayer of saint and prophet,” were
to be received as dictated by the Holy Spirit. They were stamped
with the same Divine authority. Coleridge rightly enough emphasises
this view as that of the fathers and reformers alike; but he no less
rightly points out that not one of them is consistent in holding to
their general doctrine. Their treatment of the Scriptures in detail
constantly implies the fallacy of the Rabbinical tradition to which
they yet clung. He no less forcibly points out that the Scriptures
themselves make no such pretension to infallibility, “explicitly or by
implication.” “On the contrary, they refer to older documents, and on
all points express themselves as sober-minded and veracious writers
under ordinary circumstances are known to do.” The usual texts quoted,
such as 2 Tim. iii. 16, have no real bearing on the subject. The little
we know as to the origin and history of many of the books of the
Bible, of “the time of the formation and closing of the canon,” of its
selectors and compilers, is all opposed to such a theory. Moreover,
the very nature of the claim stultifies itself when examined. For “how
can infallible truth be infallibly conveyed in defective and fallible

But if the tenet of verbal inspiration has been so long received and
acted on “by Jew and Christian, Greek, Roman, and Protestant, why can
it not now be received?” “For every reason,” answered Coleridge, “that
makes me prize and revere these Scriptures;—prize them, love them,
revere them beyond all other books.” Because such a tenet “falsifies
at once the whole body of holy writ, with all its harmonious and
symmetrical gradations.” It turns “the breathing organism into a
colossal Memnon's head, a hollow passage for a voice,” which no man
hath uttered, and no human heart hath conceived. It evacuates of all
sense and efficacy the fact that the Bible is a Divine literature
of many books, “composed in different and widely distant ages under
the greatest diversity of circumstances and degrees of light and
information.” So he argues in language I have partly quoted and
partly summarised. And then he breaks forth into a magnificent passage
about the song of Deborah, a passage of rare eloquence with all its
desultoriness, but which will hardly bear separation from the context.
The wail of the Jewish heroine's maternal and patriotic love is heard
under all her cursing and individualism—mercy rejoicing against
judgment. In the very intensity of her primary affections is found the
rare strength of her womanhood; and sweetness lies near to fierceness.
Such passages probably give us a far better idea of the occasional
glory of the old man's talk as “he sat on the brow of Highgate Hill,”
than any poor fragments of it that have been preserved. Direct and to
the point it may never have been, but at times it rose into an organ
swell with snatches of unutterable melody and power.

(3.) But Coleridge contributed still another factor to the impulsion
of religious thought in his time. He did much to revive the historic
idea of the Church as an intellectual as well as a spiritual
commonwealth. Like many other ideas of our older national life this
had been depressed and lost sight of during the eighteenth century.
The Evangelical party, deficient in learning generally, was especially
deficient in breadth of historical knowledge. Milner's History, if
nothing else, serves to point this conclusion. The idea of the Church
as the mother of philosophy and arts and learning, as well as the nurse
of faith and piety, was unknown. It was a part of the Evangelical
creed, moreover, to leave aside as far as possible mere political and
intellectual interests. These belonged to the world, and the main
business of the religious man was with religion as a personal affair,
of vast moment, but outside all other affairs. Coleridge helped once
more to bring the Church as he did the gospel into larger room as a
great spiritual power of manifold influence.

This volume _On the Constitution of Church and State according to the
idea of each_ was published in 1830, and was the last volume which
the author himself published. The Catholic Emancipation question had
greatly excited the public mind, and some friend had appealed to
Coleridge expressing astonishment that he should be in opposition to
the proposed measure. He replied that he is by no means unfriendly to
Catholic emancipation, while yet “scrupling the means proposed for
its attainment.” And in order to explain his difficulties he composed
a long letter to his friend which is really an essay or treatise,
beginning with the fundamental principles of his philosophy and ending
with a description of antichrist. The essay is one of the least
satisfactory of his compositions from a mere literary point of view,
and is not even mentioned by Mr. Traill in his recent monograph. But
amidst all its involutions and ramblings it is stimulating and full
of thought on a subject which almost more than any other is liable to
be degraded by unworthy and sectarian treatment. Here, as everywhere
in Coleridge's writings, we are brought in contact with certain large
conceptions which far more than cover the immediate subject in hand.

It has been sometimes supposed that Coleridge's theory of the Church
merely revived the old theory of the Elizabethan age so powerfully
advocated by Hooker and specially espoused by Dr. Arnold in later
times. According to this theory the Church and State are really
identical, the Church being merely the State in its educational and
religious aspect and organisation. But Coleridge's special theory
is different from this, although allied to it. He distinguishes the
Christian Church as such from any national church. The former is
spiritual and catholic, the latter institutional and local. The former
is opposed to the “world,” the latter is an estate of the realm. The
former has nothing to do with states and kingdoms. It is in this
respect identical with the “spiritual and invisible church known
only to the Father of Spirits,” and the compensating counterpoise of
all that is of the world. It is, in short, the Divine aggregate of
what is really Divine in all Christian communities, and more or less
ideally represented “in every true church.” A national church again
is the incorporation of all the learning and knowledge—intellectual
and spiritual—in a country. Every nation in order to its true health
and civilisation requires not only a land-owning or permanent class
along with a commercial, industrial, and progressive class, but
moreover, an educative class to represent all higher knowledge, “to
guard the treasures of past civilisation,” to bind the national life
together in its past, present, and future, and to communicate to all
citizens a clear understanding of their rights and duties. This third
estate of the realm Coleridge denominated the “Clerisy,” and included
not merely the clergy, but, in his own language, “the learned of all
denominations.” The knowledge, which it was their function to cultivate
and diffuse, embraced not only theology, although this pre-eminently
as the head of all other knowledge, but law, music, mathematics, the
physical sciences, “all the so-called liberal arts and sciences, the
possession and cultivation of which constitute the civilisation of a

This is at any rate a large conception of a national church. It is put
forth by its author with all earnestness, although he admitted that it
had never been anywhere realised. But it was his object “to present the
_Idea_ of a national church as the only safe criterion by which we can
judge of existing things.” It was only when “we are in full and clear
possession of the ultimate aim of an institution” that we can ascertain
how far “this aim has ever been attained in other ways.”

These, very briefly explained, are the main lines along which Coleridge
moved the national mind in the third decade of this century. They
may seem to some rather impalpable lines, and hardly calculated to
touch the general mind. But they were influential, as the course of
Christian literature has since proved. Like his own genius, they were
diffusive rather than concentrative. The Coleridgian ideas permeated
the general intellectual atmosphere, modifying old conceptions in
criticism as well as theology, deepening if not always clarifying the
channels of thought in many directions, but especially in the direction
of Christian philosophy. They acted in this way as a new circulation
of spiritual air all around, rather than in conveying any new body of
truth. The very ridicule of Carlyle testifies to the influence which
they exercised over aspiring and younger minds. The very emphasis with
which he repudiates the Coleridgian metaphysic probably indicates that
he had felt some echo of it in his own heart.—_Fortnightly Review._


[2] Admiration, Hope, and Love. _Excursion_, b. iv.

[3] Admiration, Hope, and Love. _Excursion_, b. ix.

[4] Not only the _Ancient Mariner_ and the first part of _Christabel_,
but also _Kubla Khan_ were composed at Nether Stovey among the Quantock
Hills in 1797. The second part of _Christabel_ belongs to the year
1800, and was written at Keswick, although not published till 1816.
Nothing of the same quality was ever produced by Coleridge, although he
continued to write verses.

[5] It is strange, however, to find Mr. Traill commending Coleridge's
very last volume (1830) _On the Constitution of Church and State_, as
“yielding a more characteristic flavor of the author's style” than
the _Aids to Reflection_. Characteristic, no doubt, this volume is of
the author's mode of thought; but in point of style, it and his _Lay
Sermon_ or _Statesman's Manual_ in 1816 appear to us the most desultory
and imperfect of all his writings.

[6] By Dr. James Marsh, an American divine, whose preliminary essay
is prefaced to the fifth English edition, and by Mr. Green in his
_Spiritual Philosophy_ (1865), founded on Coleridge's teaching.

[7] _Spiritual Philosophy, founded on the Teaching of the late Samuel
Taylor Coleridge._ By Jos. Henry Green, F.R.S., D.C.L. 1865.

[8] This was a favorite thought with Coleridge, as for example, in his
_Literary Remains_ (vol. i. p. 393-4): “The Trinity of Persons in the
Unity of the Godhead would have been a necessary idea of my speculative
reason. God must have had co-eternally an adequate idea of Himself in
and through which He created all things. But this would only have been
a speculative idea. Solely in consequence of our redemption does the
Trinity become a doctrine, the belief of which as real is commanded by

[9] In his well-known translation of _Wilhelm Meister_.



At the period when the following incidents occurred I was living with
my father at The Grove, a large old house in the immediate neighborhood
of a little town. This had been his home for a number of years; and I
believe I was born in it. It was a kind of house which, notwithstanding
all the red and white architecture, known at present by the name of
Queen Anne, builders nowadays have forgotten how to build. It was
straggling and irregular, with wide passages, wide staircases, broad
landings; the rooms large but not very lofty; the arrangements leaving
much to be desired, with no economy of space; a house belonging to a
period when land was cheap, and, so far as that was concerned, there
was no occasion to economise. Though it was so near the town, the
clump of trees in which it was environed was a veritable grove. In
the grounds in spring the primroses grew as thickly as in the forest.
We had a few fields for the cows, and an excellent walled garden.
The place is being pulled down at this moment to make room for more
streets of mean little houses,—the kind of thing, and not a dull house
of faded gentry, which perhaps the neighborhood requires. The house
was dull, and so were we, its last inhabitants; and the furniture was
faded, even a little dingy,—nothing to brag of. I do not, however,
intend to convey a suggestion that we were faded gentry, for that was
not the case. My father, indeed, was rich, and had no need to spare any
expense in making his life and his house bright if he pleased; but he
did not please, and I had not been long enough at home to exercise any
special influence of my own. It was the only home I had ever known; but
except in my earliest childhood, and in my holidays as a schoolboy, I
had in reality known but little of it. My mother had died at my birth,
or shortly after, and I had grown up in the gravity and silence of a
house without women. In my infancy, I believe, a sister of my father's
had lived with us, and taken charge of the household and of me; but
she, too, had died long, long ago, my mourning for her being one of
the first things I could recollect. And she had no successor. There
was, indeed, a housekeeper and some maids,—the latter of whom I only
saw disappearing at the end of a passage, or whisking out of a room
when one of “the gentlemen” appeared. Mrs. Weir, indeed, I saw nearly
every day; but a curtsey, a smile, a pair of nice round arms which she
caressed while folding them across her ample waist, and a large white
apron, were all I knew of her. This was the only female influence in
the house. The drawing-room I was aware of only as a place of deadly
good order, into which nobody ever entered. It had three long windows
opening on the lawn, and communicated at the upper end, which was
rounded like a great bay, with the conservatory. Sometimes I gazed into
it as a child from without, wondering at the needlework on the chairs,
the screens, the looking-glasses which never reflected any living face.
My father did not like the room, which probably was not wonderful,
though it never occurred to me in those early days to inquire why.

I may say here, though it will probably be disappointing to those
who form a sentimental idea of the capabilities of children, that it
did not occur to me either, in these early days, to make any inquiry
about my mother. There was no room in life, as I knew it, for any such
person; nothing suggested to my mind either the fact that she must
have existed, or that there was need of her in the house. I accepted,
as I believe most children do, the facts of existence, on the basis
with which I had first made acquaintance with them, without question
or remark. As a matter of fact, I was aware that it was rather dull
at home; but neither by comparison with the books I read, nor by the
communications received from my school-fellows, did this seem to me
anything remarkable. And I was possibly somewhat dull too by nature,
for I did not mind. I was fond of reading, and for that there was
unbounded opportunity. I had a little ambition in respect to work,
and that too could be prosecuted undisturbed. When I went to the
university, my society lay almost entirely among men; but by that time
and afterwards, matters had of course greatly changed with me, and
though I recognised women as part of the economy of nature, and did not
indeed by any means dislike or avoid them, yet the idea of connecting
them at all with my own home never entered into my head. That continued
to be as it had always been, when at intervals I descended upon the
cool, grave, colorless place, in the midst of my traffic with the
world; always very still, well-ordered, serious—the cooking very good,
the comfort perfect—old Morphew, the butler, a little older (but very
little older, perhaps on the whole less old, since in my childhood I
had thought him a kind of Methuselah), and Mrs. Weir, less active,
covering up her arms in sleeves, but folding and caressing them just
as always. I remember looking in from the lawn through the windows
upon that deadly-orderly drawing-room, with a humorous recollection of
my childish admiration and wonder, and feeling that it must be kept
so forever and ever, and that to go into it would break some sort of
amusing mock mystery, some pleasantly ridiculous spell.

But it was only at rare intervals that I went home. In the long
vacation, as in my school holidays, my father often went abroad with
me, so that we had gone over a great deal of the Continent together
very pleasantly. He was old in proportion to the age of his son, being
a man of sixty when I was twenty, but that did not disturb the pleasure
of the relations between us. I don't know that they were ever very
confidential. On my side there was but little to communicate, for I
did not get into scrapes nor fall in love, the two predicaments which
demand sympathy and confidences. And as for my father himself, I was
never aware what there could be to communicate on his side. I knew
his life exactly—what he did almost at every hour of the day; under
what circumstances of the temperature he would ride and when walk;
how often and with what guests he would indulge in the occasional
break of a dinner-party, a serious pleasure—perhaps, indeed, less a
pleasure than a duty. All this I knew as well as he did, and also his
views on public matters, his political opinions, which naturally were
different from mine. What ground, then, remained for confidence? I did
not know any. We were both of us of a reserved nature, not apt to enter
into our religious feelings, for instance. There are many people who
think reticence on such subjects a sign of the most reverential way
of contemplating them. Of this I am far from being sure; but, at all
events, it was the practice most congenial to my own mind.

And then I was for a long time absent, making my own way in the world.
I did not make it very successfully. I accomplished the natural fate
of an Englishman, and went out to the Colonies; then to India in a
semi-diplomatic position; but returned home after seven or eight
years, invalided, in bad health and not much better spirits, tired
and disappointed with my first trial of life. I had, as people say,
“no occasion” to insist on making my way. My father was rich, and had
never given me the slightest reason to believe that he did not intend
me to be his heir. His allowance to me was not illiberal, and though he
did not oppose the carrying out of my own plans, he by no means urged
me to exertion. When I came home he received me very affectionately,
and expressed his satisfaction in my return. “Of course,” he said, “I
am not glad that you are disappointed, Philip, or that your health is
broken; but otherwise it is an ill wind, you know, that blows nobody
good—and I am very glad to have you at home. I am growing an old man—”

“I don't see any difference, sir,” said I; “everything here seems
exactly the same as when I went away—”

He smiled, and shook his head. “It is true enough,” he said, “after we
have reached a certain age we seem to go on for a long time on a plane,
and feel no great difference from year to year; but it is an inclined
plane—and the longer we go on, the more sudden will be the fall at the
end. But at all events it will be a great comfort to me to have you

“If I had known that,” I said, “and that you wanted me, I should have
come in any circumstances. As there are only two of us in the world—”

“Yes,” he said, “there are only two of us in the world; but still I
should not have sent for you, Phil, to interrupt your career.”

“It is as well, then, that it has interrupted itself,” I said, rather
bitterly; for disappointment is hard to hear.

He patted me on the shoulder and repeated, “It is an ill wind that
blows nobody good,” with a look of real pleasure which gave me a
certain gratification too; for, after all, he was an old man, and the
only one in all the world to whom I owed any duty. I had not been
without dreams of warmer affections, but they had come to nothing—not
tragically, but in the ordinary way. I might perhaps have had love
which I did not want, but not that which I did want,—which was not a
thing to make any unmanly moan about, but in the ordinary course of
events. Such disappointments happen every day; indeed, they are more
common than anything else, and sometimes it is apparent afterward that
it is better it was so.

However, here I was at thirty stranded—yet wanting for nothing, in a
position to call forth rather envy than pity from the greater part of
my contemporaries,—for I had an assured and comfortable existence, as
much money as I wanted, and the prospect of an excellent fortune for
the future. On the other hand, my health was still low, and I had no
occupation. The neighborhood of the town was a drawback rather than
an advantage. I felt myself tempted, instead of taking the long walk
into the country which my doctor recommended, to take a much shorter
one through the High Street, across the river, and back again, which
was not a walk but a lounge. The country was silent and full of
thoughts—thoughts not always very agreeable—whereas there were always
the humors of the little urban population to glance at, the news to be
heard, all those petty matters which so often make up life in a very
impoverished version for the idle man. I did not like it, but I felt
myself yielding to it, not having energy enough to make a stand. The
rector and the leading lawyer of the place asked me to dinner. I might
have glided into the society, such as it was, had I been disposed for
that—everything about me began to close over me as if I had been fifty,
and fully contented with my lot.

It was possibly my own want of occupation which made me observe with
surprise, after a while, how much occupied my father was. He had
expressed himself glad of my return; but now that I had returned, I saw
very little of him. Most of his time was spent in his library, as had
always been the case. But on the few visits I paid him there, I could
not but perceive that the aspect of the library was much changed. It
had acquired the look of a business-room, almost an office. There were
large business-like books on the table, which I could not associate
with anything he could naturally have to do; and his correspondence
was very large. I thought he closed one of those books hurriedly as I
came in, and pushed it away, as if he did not wish me to see it. This
surprised me at the moment, without arousing any other feeling; but
afterward I remembered it with a clearer sense of what it meant. He
was more absorbed altogether than I had been used to see him. He was
visited by men sometimes not of very prepossessing appearance. Surprise
grew in my mind without any very distinct idea of the reason of it;
and it was not till after a chance conversation with Morphew that my
vague uneasiness began to take definite shape. It was begun without
any special intention on my part. Morphew had informed me that master
was very busy, on some occasion when I wanted to see him. And I was a
little annoyed to be thus put off. “It appears to me that my father is
always busy,” I said, hastily. Morphew then began very oracularly to
nod his head in assent.

“A deal too busy, sir, if you take my opinion,” he said.

This startled me much, and I asked hurriedly, “What do you mean?”
without reflecting that to ask for private information from a servant
about my father's habits was as bad as investigating into a stranger's
affairs. It did not strike me in the same light.

“Mr. Philip,” said Morphew, “a thing 'as 'appened as 'appens more often
than it ought to. Master has got awful keen about money in his old age.”

“That's a new thing for him,” I said.

“No, sir, begging your pardon, it ain't a new thing. He was once broke
of it, and that wasn't easy done; but it's come back, if you'll excuse
me saying so. And I don't know as he'll ever be broke of it again at
his age.”

I felt more disposed to be angry than disturbed by this. “You must be
making some ridiculous mistake,” I said. “And if you were not so old a
friend as you are, Morphew, I should not have allowed my father to be
so spoken of to me.”

The old man gave me a half-astonished, half-contemptuous look. “He's
been my master a deal longer than he's been your father,” he said,
turning on his heel. The assumption was so comical that my anger could
not stand in face of it. I went out, having been on my way to the door
when this conversation occurred, and took my usual lounge about, which
was not a satisfactory sort of amusement. Its vanity and emptiness
appeared to be more evident than usual to-day. I met half a dozen
people I knew, and had as many pieces of news confided to me. I went up
and down the length of the High Street. I made a small purchase or two.
And then I turned homeward—despising myself, yet finding no alternative
within my reach. Would a long country walk have been more virtuous?—it
would at least have been more wholesome—but that was all that could
be said. My mind did not dwell on Morphew's communication. It seemed
without sense or meaning to me; and after the excellent joke about his
superior interest in his master to mine in my father, was dismissed
lightly enough from my mind. I tried to invent some way of telling
this to my father without letting him perceive that Morphew had been
finding faults in him, or I listening; for it seemed a pity to lose so
good a joke. However, as I returned home, something happened which put
the joke entirely out of my head. It is curious when a new subject of
trouble or anxiety has been suggested to the mind in an unexpected way,
how often a second advertisement follows immediately after the first,
and gives to that a potency which in itself it had not possessed.

I was approaching our own door, wondering whether my father had
gone, and whether, on my return, I should find him at leisure—for I
had several little things to say to him—when I noticed a poor woman
lingering about the closed gates. She had a baby sleeping in her
arms. It was a spring night, the stars shining in the twilight, and
everything soft and dim; and the woman's figure was like a shadow,
flitting about, now here, now there, on one side or another of the
gate. She stopped when she saw me approaching, and hesitated for a
moment, then seemed to take a sudden resolution. I watched her without
knowing, with a prevision that she was going to address me, though
with no sort of idea as to the subject of her address. She came up to
me doubtfully, it seemed, yet certainly, as I felt, and when she was
close to me, dropped a sort of hesitating curtsey, and said, “It's Mr.
Philip?” in a low voice.

“What do you want with me?” I said.

Then she poured forth suddenly, without warning or preparation, her
long speech—a flood of words which must have been all ready and waiting
at the doors of her lips for utterance. “Oh, sir, I want to speak to
you! I can't believe you'll be so hard, for you're young; and I can't
believe he'll be so hard if so be as his own son, as I've always heard
he had but one, 'll speak up for us. Oh, gentleman, it is easy for the
likes of you, that, if you ain't comfortable in one room, can just
walk into another; but if one room is all you have, and every bit of
furniture you have taken out of it, and nothing but the four walls
left—not so much as the cradle for the child, or a chair for your man
to sit down upon when he comes from his work, or a saucepan to cook him
his supper—”

“My good woman,” I said, “who can have taken all that from you? surely
nobody can be so cruel?”

“You say it's cruel!” she cried with a sort of triumph. “Oh, I knowed
you would, or any true gentleman that don't hold with screwing poor
folks. Just go and say that to him inside there, for the love of God.
Tell him to think what he's doing, driving poor creatures to despair.
Summer's coming, the Lord be praised, but yet it's bitter cold at night
with your counterpane gone; and when you've been working hard all day,
and nothing but four bare walls to come home to, and all your poor
little sticks of furniture that you've saved up for, and got together
one by one, all gone—and you no better than when you started, or rather
worse, for then you was young. Oh, sir!” the woman's voice rose into a
sort of passionate wail. And then she added, beseechingly, recovering
herself—“Oh, speak for us—he'll not refuse his own son—”

“To whom am I to speak? who is it that has done this to you?” I said.

The woman hesitated again, looking keenly in my face—then repeated with
a slight faltering, “It's Mr. Philip?” as if that made everything right.

“Yes; I am Philip Canning,” I said; “but what have I to do with this?
and to whom am I to speak?”

She began to whimper, crying and stopping herself. “Oh, please, sir!
it's Mr. Canning as owns all the house property about—it's him that our
court and the lane and everything belongs to. And he's taken the bed
from under us, and the baby's cradle, although it's said in the Bible
as you're not to take poor folks's bed.”

“My father!” I cried in spite of myself—“then it must be some agent,
some one else in his name. You may be sure he knows nothing of it. Of
course I shall speak to him at once.”

“Oh, God bless you, sir,” said the woman. But then she added, in a
lower tone—“It's no agent. It's one as never knows trouble. It's him
that lives in that grand house.” But this was said under her breath,
evidently not for me to hear.

Morphew's words flashed through my mind as she spoke. What was this?
Did it afford an explanation of the much occupied hours, the big
books, the strange visitors? I took the poor woman's name, and gave
her something to procure a few comforts for the night, and went
indoors disturbed and troubled. It was impossible to believe that my
father himself would have acted thus; but he was not a man to brook
interference, and I did not see how to introduce the subject, what to
say. I could but hope that, at the moment of broaching it, words would
be put into my mouth, which often happens in moments of necessity,
one knows not how, even when one's theme is not so all-important as
that for which such help has been promised. As usual, I did not see
my father till dinner. I have said that our dinners were very good,
luxurious in a simple way, everything excellent in its kind, well
cooked, well served, the perfection of comfort without show—which is
a combination very dear to the English heart. I said nothing till
Morphew, with his solemn attention to everything that was going, had
retired—and then it was with some strain of courage that I began.

“I was stopped outside the gate to-day by a curious sort of
petitioner—a poor woman, who seems to be one of your tenants, sir, but
whom your agent must have been rather too hard upon.”

“My agent? who is that?” said my father, quietly.

“I don't know his name, and I doubt his competence. The poor creature
seems to have had everything taken from her—her bed, her child's

“No doubt she was behind with her rent.”

“Very likely, sir. She seemed very poor,” said I.

“You take it coolly,” said my father, with an upward glance,
half-amused, not in the least shocked by my statement. “But when a man,
or a woman either, takes a house, I suppose you will allow that they
ought to pay rent for it.”

“Certainly, sir,” I replied, “when they have got anything to pay.”

“I don't allow the reservation,” he said. But he was not angry, which I
had feared he would be.

“I think,” I continued, “that your agent must be too severe. And this
emboldens me to say something which has been in my mind for some
time”—(these were the words, no doubt, which I had hoped would be put
into my mouth; they were the suggestion of the moment, and yet as I
said them it was with the most complete conviction of their truth)—“and
that is this: I am doing nothing; my time hangs heavy on my hands. Make
me your agent. I will see for myself, and save you from such mistakes;
and it will be an occupation—”

“Mistakes? What warrant have you for saying these are mistakes?” he
said testily; then after a moment: “This is a strange proposal from
you, Phil. Do you know what it is you are offering?—to be a collector
of rents, going about from door to door, from week to week; to look
after wretched little bits of repairs, drains, etc.; to get paid,
which, after all, is the chief thing, and not to be taken in by tales
of poverty.”

“Not to let you be taken in by men without pity,” I said.

He gave me a strange glance, which I did not very well understand, and
said, abruptly, a thing which, so far as I remember, he had never in my
life said before, “You've become a little like your mother, Phil—”

“My mother!” The reference was so unusual—nay, so unprecedented—that I
was greatly startled. It seemed to me like the sudden introduction of
a quite new element in the stagnant atmosphere, as well as a new party
to our conversation. My father looked across the table, as if with some
astonishment at my tone of surprise.

“Is that so very extraordinary?” he said.

“No; of course it is not extraordinary that I should resemble my
mother. Only—I have heard very little of her—almost nothing.”

“That is true.” He got up and placed himself before the fire, which
was very low, as the night was not cold—had not been cold heretofore
at least; but it seemed to me now that a little chill came into the
dim and faded room. Perhaps it looked more dull from the suggestion
of a something brighter, warmer, that might have been. “Talking of
mistakes,” he said, “perhaps that was one: to sever you entirely from
her side of the house. But I did not care for the connection. You
will understand how it is that I speak of it now when I tell you—”
He stopped here, however, said nothing more for a minute or so, and
then rang the bell. Morphew came, as he always did, very deliberately,
so that some time elapsed in silence, during which my surprise grew.
When the old man appeared at the door—“Have you put the lights in the
drawing-room, as I told you?” my father said.

“Yes, sir; and opened the box, sir; and it's a—it's a speaking

This the old man got out in a great hurry, as if afraid that his master
would stop him. My father did so with a wave of his hand.

“That's enough. I asked no information. You can go now.”

The door closed upon us, and there was again a pause. My subject had
floated away altogether like a mist, though I had been so concerned
about it. I tried to resume, but could not. Something seemed to
arrest my very breathing: and yet in this dull respectable house of
ours, where everything breathed good character and integrity, it was
certain that there could be no shameful mystery to reveal. It was some
time before my father spoke, not from any purpose that I could see,
but apparently because his mind was busy with probably unaccustomed

“You scarcely know the drawing-room, Phil,” he said at last.

“Very little. I have never seen it used. I have a little awe of it, to
tell the truth.”

“That should not be. There is no reason for that. But a man by himself,
as I have been for the greater part of my life, has no occasion for a
drawing-room. I always, as a matter of preference, sat among my books;
however, I ought to have thought of the impression on you.”

“Oh, it is not important,” I said; “the awe was childish. I have not
thought of it since I came home.”

“It never was anything very splendid at the best,” said he. He lifted
the lamp from the table with a sort of abstraction, not remarking even
my offer to take it from him, and led the way. He was on the verge
of seventy, and looked his age; but it was a vigorous age, with no
symptoms of giving way. The circle of light from the lamp lit up his
white hair, and keen blue eyes, and clear complexion; his forehead was
like old ivory, his cheek warmly colored: an old man, yet a man in
full strength. He was taller than I was, and still almost as strong.
As he stood for a moment with the lamp in his hand, he looked like a
tower in his great height and bulk. I reflected as I looked at him that
I knew him intimately, more intimately than any other creature in the
world,—I was familiar with every detail of his outward life; could it
be that in reality I did not know him at all?

       *       *       *       *       *

The drawing-room was already lighted with a flickering array of
candles upon the mantelpiece and along the walls, producing the pretty
starry effect which candles give without very much light. As I had not
the smallest idea what I was about to see, for Morphew's “speaking
likeness” was very hurriedly said, and only half comprehensible in the
bewilderment of my faculties, my first glance was at this very unusual
illumination, for which I could assign no reason. The next showed me a
large full-length portrait, still in the box in which apparently it had
travelled, placed upright, supported against a table in the centre of
the room. My father walked straight up to it, motioned to me to place a
smaller table close to the picture on the left side, and put his lamp
upon that. Then he waved his hand towards it, and stood aside that I
might see.

It was a full-length portrait of a very young woman—I might say, a
girl, scarcely twenty—in a white dress, made in a very simple old
fashion, though I was too little accustomed to female costume to be
able to fix the date. It might have been a hundred years old, or
twenty, for aught I knew. The face had an expression of youth, candor,
and simplicity more than any face I had ever seen—or so, at least, in
my surprise, I thought. The eyes were a little wistful, with something
which was almost anxiety—which at least was not content—in them; a
faint, almost imperceptible, curve in the lids. The complexion was
of a dazzling fairness, the hair light, but the eyes dark, which
gave individuality to the face. It would have been as lovely had the
eyes been blue—probably more so—but their darkness gave a touch of
character, a slight discord, which made the harmony finer. It was
not, perhaps, beautiful in the highest sense of the word. The girl
must have been too young, too slight, too little developed for actual
beauty; but a face which so invited love and confidence I never saw.
One smiled at it with instinctive affection. “What a sweet face!” I
said. “What a lovely girl! Who is she? Is this one of the relations you
were speaking of on the other side?”

My father made me no reply. He stood aside, looking at it as if he knew
it too well to require to look,—as if the picture was already in his
eyes. “Yes,” he said, after an interval, with a long-drawn breath, “she
was a lovely girl, as you say.”

“Was?—then she is dead. What a pity!” I said; “what a pity! so young
and so sweet!”

We stood gazing at her thus, in her beautiful stillness and calm—two
men, the younger of us full grown and conscious of many experiences,
the other an old man—before this impersonation of tender youth. At
length he said, with a slight tremulousness in his voice, “Does nothing
suggest to you who she is, Phil?”

I turned round to look at him with profound astonishment, but he turned
away from my look. A sort of quiver passed over his face. “That is your
mother,” he said, and walked suddenly away, leaving me there.

My mother!

I stood for a moment in a kind of consternation before the white-robed
innocent creature, to me no more than a child; then a sudden laugh
broke from me, without any will of mine: something ludicrous, as well
as something awful, was in it. When the laugh was over, I found myself
with tears in my eyes, gazing, holding my breath. The soft features
seemed to melt, the lips to move, the anxiety in the eyes to become
a personal inquiry. Ah, no! nothing of the kind; only because of the
water in mine. My mother! oh, fair and gentle creature, scarcely
woman—how could any man's voice call her by that name! I had little
idea enough of what it meant,—had heard it laughed at, scoffed at,
reverenced, but never had learned to place it even among the ideal
powers of life. Yet, if it meant anything at all, what it meant was
worth thinking of. What did she ask, looking at me with those eyes?
what would she have said if “those lips had language”? If I had known
her only as Cowper did—with a child's recollection—there might have
been some thread, some faint but comprehensible link, between us; but
now all that I felt was the curious incongruity. Poor child! I said to
myself; so sweet a creature: poor little tender soul! as if she had
been a little sister, a child of mine—but my mother! I cannot tell how
long I stood looking at her, studying the candid, sweet face, which
surely had germs in it of everything that was good and beautiful; and
sorry, with a profound regret, that she had died and never carried
these promises to fulfilment. Poor girl! poor people who had loved
her! These were my thoughts: with a curious vertigo and giddiness of
my whole being in the sense of a mysterious relationship, which it was
beyond my power to understand.

Presently my father came back: possibly because I had been a long time
unconscious of the passage of the minutes, or perhaps because he was
himself restless in the strange disturbance of his habitual calm. He
came in and put his arm within mine, leaning his weight partially upon
me, with an affectionate suggestion which went deeper than words. I
pressed his arm to my side: it was more between us two grave Englishmen
than any embracing.

“I cannot understand it,” I said.

“No. I don't wonder at that; but if it is strange to you, Phil, think
how much more strange to me! That is the partner of my life. I have
never had another—or thought of another. That—girl! If we are to meet
again, as I have always hoped we should meet again, what am I to say to
her—I, an old man? Yes; I know what you mean. I am not an old man for
my years; but my years are threescore and ten, and the play is nearly
played out. How am I to meet that young creature? We used to say to
each other that it was forever, that we never could be but one, that it
was for life and death. But what—what am I to say to her, Phil, when I
meet her again, that—that angel? No, it is not her being an angel that
troubles me; but she is so young! She is like my—my granddaughter,” he
cried, with a burst of what was half sobs, half laughter; “and she is
my wife—and I am an old man—an old man! And so much has happened that
she could not understand.”

I was too much startled by this strange complaint to know what to say.
It was not my own trouble, and I answered it in the conventional way.

“They are not as we are, sir,” I said; “they look upon us with larger,
other eyes than ours.”

“Ah! you don't know what I mean,” he said quickly; and in the interval
he had subdued his emotion. “At first, after she died, it was my
consolation to think that I should meet her again—that we never
could be really parted. But, my God, how I have changed since then!
I am another man—I am a different being. I was not very young even
then—twenty years older than she was: but her youth renewed mine. I was
not an unfit partner; she asked no better: and knew as much more than I
did in some things—being so much nearer the source—as I did in others
that were of the world. But I have gone a long way since then, Phil—a
long way; and there she stands just where I left her.”

I pressed his arm again. “Father,” I said, which was a title I seldom
used, “we are not to suppose that in a higher life the mind stands
still.” I did not feel myself qualified to discuss such topics, but
something one must say.

“Worse, worse!” he replied; “then she too will be like me, a different
being, and we shall meet as what? as strangers, as people who have lost
sight of each other, with a long past between us—we who parted, my God!

His voice broke and ended for a moment: then while, surprised and
almost shocked by what he said, I cast about in my mind what to reply,
he withdrew his arm suddenly from mine, and said in his usual tone,
“Where shall we hang the picture, Phil? It must be here in this room.
What do you think will be the best light?”

This sudden alteration took me still more by surprise, and gave me
almost an additional shock; but it was evident that I must follow the
changes of his mood, or at least the sudden repression of sentiment
which he originated. We went into that simpler question with great
seriousness, consulting which would be the best light. “You know I can
scarcely advise,” I said; “I have never been familiar with this room. I
should like to put off, if you don't mind, till daylight.”

“I think,” he said, “that this would be the best place.” It was on the
other side of the fireplace, on the wall which faced the windows—not
the best light, I knew enough to be aware, for an oil-painting. When
I said so, however, he answered me with a little impatience,—“It does
not matter very much about, the best light. There will be nobody to
see it but you and me. I have my reasons——” There was a small table
standing against the wall at this spot, on which he had his hand as he
spoke. Upon it stood a little basket in very fine lace-like wickerwork.
His hand must have trembled, for the table shook, and the basket fell,
its contents turning out upon the carpet,—little bits of needlework,
colored silks, a small piece of knitting half done. He laughed as
they rolled out at his feet, and tried to stoop to collect them, then
tottered to a chair, and covered for a moment his face with his hands.

No need to ask what they were. No woman's work had been seen in the
house since I could recollect it. I gathered them up reverently and put
them back. I could see, ignorant as I was, that the bit of knitting was
something for an infant. What could I do less than put it to my lips?
It had. been left in the doing—for me.

“Yes, I think this is the best place,” my father said a minute after,
in his usual tone.

We placed it there that evening with our own hands. The picture was
large, and in a heavy frame, but my father would let no one help me
but himself. And then, with a superstition for which I never could
give any reason even to myself, having removed the packings, we closed
and locked the door, leaving the candles about the room, in their soft
strange illumination lighting the first night of her return to her old

That night no more was said. My father went to his room early, which
was not his habit. He had never, however, accustomed me to sit late
with him in the library. I had a little study or smoking-room of my
own, in which all my special treasures were, the collections of my
travels and my favorite books—and where I always sat after prayers, a
ceremonial which was regularly kept up in the house. I retired as usual
this night to my room, and as usual read—but to-night somewhat vaguely,
often pausing to think. When it was quite late, I went out by the glass
door to the lawn, and walked round the house, with the intention of
looking in at the drawing-room windows, as I had done when a child.
But I had forgotten that these windows were all shuttered at night,
and nothing but a faint penetration of the light within through the
crevices bore witness to the instalment of the new dweller there.

In the morning my father was entirely himself again. He told me without
emotion of the manner in which he had obtained the picture. It had
belonged to my mother's family, and had fallen eventually into the
hands of a cousin of hers, resident abroad—“A man whom I did not like,
and who did not like me,” my father said; “there was, or had been,
some rivalry, he thought: a mistake, but he was never aware of that.
He refused all my requests to have a copy made. You may suppose, Phil,
that I wished this very much. Had I succeeded, you would have been
acquainted, at least, with your mother's appearance, and need not have
sustained this shock. But he would not consent. It gave him, I think, a
certain pleasure to think that he had the only picture. But now he is
dead—and out of remorse, or with some other intention, has left it to

“That looks like kindness,” said I.

“Yes; or something else. He might have thought that by so doing he was
establishing a claim upon me.” my father said: but he did not seem
disposed to add any more. On whose behalf he meant to establish a claim
I did not know, nor who the man was who had laid us under so great
an obligation on his deathbed. He _had_ established a claim on me at
least: though, as he was dead, I could not see on whose behalf it was.
And my father said nothing more. He seemed to dislike the subject.
When I attempted to return to it, he had recourse to his letters or
his newspapers. Evidently he had made up his mind to say no more.

Afterwards I went into the drawing-room to look at the picture once
more. It seemed to me that the anxiety in her eyes was not so evident
as I had thought it last night. The light possibly was more favorable.
She stood just above the place where, I make no doubt, she had sat in
life, where her little work-basket was—not very much above it. The
picture was full-length, and we had hung it low, so that she might
have been stepping into the room, and was little above my own level
as I stood and looked at her again. Once more I smiled at the strange
thought that this young creature, so young, almost childish, could be
my mother; and once more my eyes grew wet looking at her. He was a
benefactor, indeed, who had given her back to us. I said to myself,
that if I could ever do anything for him or his, I would certainly do,
for my—for this lovely young creature's sake.

And with this in my mind, and all the thoughts that came with it, I am
obliged to confess that the other matter, which I had been so full of
on the previous night, went entirely out of my head.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is rarely, however, that such matters are allowed to slip out of
one's mind. When I went out in the afternoon for my usual stroll—or
rather when I returned from that stroll—I saw once more before me
the woman with her baby whose story had filled me with dismay on the
previous evening. She was waiting at the gate as before, and—“Oh,
gentleman, but haven't you got some news to give me?” she said.

“My good woman—I—have been greatly occupied. I have had—no time to do

“Ah!” she said, with a little cry of disappointment, “my man said not
to make too sure, and that the ways of the gentlefolks is hard to know.”

“I cannot explain to you,” I said, as gently as I could, “what it is
that has made me forget you. It was an event that can only do you good
in the end. Go home now, and see the man that took your things from
you, and tell him to come to me. I promise you it shall be put right.”

The woman looked at me in astonishment, then burst forth, as it
seemed, involuntarily,—“What! without asking no questions?” After
this there came a storm of tears and blessings, from which I made
haste to escape, but not without carrying that curious commentary
on my rashness away with me—“Without asking no questions?” It might
be foolish, perhaps: but after all how slight a matter. To make the
poor creature comfortable at the cost of what—a box or two of cigars,
perhaps, or some other trifle. And if it should be her own fault, or
her husband's—what then? Had I been punished for all my faults, where
should I have been now. And if the advantage should be only temporary,
what then? To be relieved and comforted even for a day or two, was not
that something to count in life? Thus I quenched the fiery dart of
criticism which my _protégée_ herself had thrown into the transaction,
not without a certain sense of the humor of it. Its effect, however,
was to make me less anxious to see my father, to repeat my proposal
to him, and to call his attention to the cruelty performed in his
name. This one case I had taken out of the category of wrongs to be
righted, by assuming arbitrarily the position of Providence in my own
person—for, of course, I had bound myself to pay the poor creature's
rent as well as redeem her goods—and, whatever might happen to her
in the future, had taken the past into my own hands. The man came
presently to see me who, it seems, had acted as my father's agent in
the matter. “I don't know, sir, how Mr. Canning will take it,” he
said. “He don't want none of those irregular, bad-paying ones in his
property. He always says as to look over it and let the rent run on is
making things worse in the end. His rule is, 'Never more than a month,
Stevens:' that's what Mr. Canning says to me, sir. He says, 'More than
that they can't pay. It's no use trying.' And it's a good rule; it's a
very good rule. He won't hear none of their stories, sir. Bless you,
you'd never get a penny of rent from them small houses if you listened
to their tales. But if so be as you'll pay Mrs. Jordan's rent, it's
none of my business how it's paid, so long as it's paid, and I'll send
her back her things. But they'll just have to be took next time,” he
added, composedly. “Over and over: it's always the same story with them
sort of poor folks—they're too poor for anything, that's the truth,”
the man said.

Morphew came back to my room after my visitor was gone. “Mr. Philip,”
he said, “you'll excuse me, sir, but if you're going to pay all the
poor folk's rent as have distresses put in, you may just go into the
court at once, for it's without end—”

“I am going to be the agent myself, Morphew, and manage for my father:
and we'll soon put a stop to that,” I said, more cheerfully than I felt.

“Manage for—master,” he said, with a face of consternation. “You, Mr.

“You seem to have a great contempt for me, Morphew.”

He did not deny the fact. He said with excitement, “Master, sir—master
don't let himself be put a stop to by any man. Master's—not one to be
managed. Don't you quarrel with master, Mr. Philip, for the love of
God.” The old man was quite pale.

“Quarrel!” I said. “I have never quarreled with my father, and I don't
mean to begin now.”

Morphew dispelled his own excitement by making up the fire, which was
dying in the grate. It was a very mild spring evening, and he made up a
great blaze which would have suited December. This is one of many ways
in which an old servant will relieve his mind. He muttered all the time
as he threw on the coals and wood. “He'll not like it—we all know as
he'll not like it. Master won't stand no meddling, Mr. Philip,”—this
last he discharged at me like a flying arrow as he closed the door.

I soon found there was truth in what he said. My father was not angry;
he was even half amused. “I don't think that plan of yours will
hold water, Phil. I hear you have been paying rents and redeeming
furniture—that's an expensive game, and a very profitless one. Of
course, so long as you are a benevolent gentleman acting for your own
pleasure, it makes no difference to me. I am quite content if I get my
money, even out of your pockets—so long as it amuses you. But as my
collector, you know, which you are good enough to propose to be——”

“Of course I should act under your orders,” I said; but at least you
might be sure that I would not commit you to any—to any——” I paused for
a word.

“Act of oppression,” he said with a smile—“piece of cruelty,
exaction—there are half-a-dozen words——”

“Sir——” I cried.

“Stop, Phil, and let us understand each other. I hope I have always
been a just man. I do my duty on my side, and I expect it from others.
It is your benevolence that is cruel. I have calculated anxiously how
much credit it is safe to allow; but I will allow no man, or woman
either, to go beyond what he or she can make up. My law is fixed. Now
you understand. My agents, as you call them, originate nothing—they
execute only what I decide——”

“But then no circumstances are taken into account—no bad luck, no evil
chances, no loss unexpected.”

“There are no evil chances,” he said “there is no bad luck—they reap
as they sow. No, I don't go among them to be cheated by their stories
and spend quite unnecessary emotion in sympathising with them. You will
find it much better for you that I don't. I deal with them on a general
rule, made, I assure you, not without a great deal of thought.”

“And must it always be so?” I said. “Is there no way of ameliorating or
bringing in a better state of things?”

“It seems not,” he said; “we don't get 'no forrarder' in that direction
so far as I can see.” And then he turned the conversation to general

I retired to my room greatly discouraged that night. In former ages—or
so one is led to suppose—and in the lower primitive classes who still
linger near the primeval type, action of any kind was, and is, easier
than amid the complications of our higher civilisation. A bad man is
a distinct entity, against whom you know more or less what steps to
take. A tyrant, an oppressor, a bad landlord, a man who lets miserable
tenements at a rack-rent (to come down to particulars), and exposes his
wretched tenants to all those abominations of which we have heard so
much—well! he is more or less a satisfactory opponent. There he is, and
there is nothing to be said for him—down with him! and let there be an
end of his wickedness. But when, on the contrary, you have before you
a good man, a just man, who has considered deeply a question which you
allow to be full of difficulty; who regrets, but cannot, being human,
avert, the miseries which to some unhappy individuals follow from the
very wisdom of his rule,—what can you do—what is to be done? Individual
benevolence at haphazard may baulk him here and there, but what have
you to put in the place of his well-considered scheme? Charity which
makes paupers? or what else? I had not considered the question deeply,
but it seemed to me that I now came to a blank wall, which my vague
human sentiment of pity and scorn could find no way to breach. There
must be wrong somewhere—but where? There must be some change for the
better to be made—but how?

I was seated with a book before me on the table, with my head supported
on my hands. My eyes were on the printed page, but I was not reading—my
mind was full of these thoughts, my heart of great discouragement and
despondency, a sense that I could do nothing, yet that there surely
must and ought, if I but knew it, be something to do. The fire which
Morphew had built up before dinner was dying out, the shaded lamp on
my table left all the corners in a mysterious twilight. The house was
perfectly still, no one moving: my father in the library, where, after
the habit of many solitary years, he liked to be left alone, and I
here in my retreat, preparing for the formation of similar habits. I
thought all at once of the third member of the party, the newcomer,
alone too in the room that had been hers; and there suddenly occurred
to me a strong desire to take up my lamp and go to the drawing-room
and visit her, to see whether her soft angelic face would give any
inspiration. I restrained, however, this futile impulse—for what could
the picture say?—and instead wondered what might have been had she
lived, had she been there, warmly enthroned beside the warm domestic
centre, the hearth which would have been a common sanctuary, the true
home. In that case what might have been? Alas! the question was no more
simple to answer than the other: she might have been there alone too,
her husband's business, her son's thoughts, as far from her as now,
when her silent representative held her old place in the silence and
darkness. I had known it so, often enough. Love itself does not always
give comprehension and sympathy. It might be that she was more to us
there, in the sweet image of her undeveloped beauty, than she might
have been had she lived and grown to maturity and fading, like the rest.

I cannot be certain whether my mind was still lingering on this not
very cheerful reflection, or if it had been left behind, when the
strange occurrence came of which I have now to tell: can I call it an
occurrence? My eyes were on my book, when I thought I heard the sound
of a door opening and shutting, but so far away and faint that if real
at all it must have been in a far corner of the house. I did not move
except to lift my eyes from the book, as one does instinctively the
better to listen; when——But I cannot tell, nor have I ever been able
to describe exactly what it was. My heart made all at once a sudden
leap in my breast. I am aware that this language is figurative, and
that the heart cannot leap: but it is a figure so entirely justified by
sensation, that no one will have any difficulty in understanding what
I mean. My heart leapt up and began beating wildly in my throat, in my
ears, as if my whole being had received a sudden and intolerable shock.
The sound went through my head like the dizzy sound of some strange
mechanism, a thousand wheels and springs, circling, echoing, working
in my brain. I felt the blood bound in my veins, my mouth became dry,
my eyes hot, a sense of something insupportable took possession of
me. I sprang to my feet, and then I sat down again. I cast a quick
glance round me beyond the brief circle of the lamplight, but there
was nothing there to account in any way for this sudden extraordinary
rush of sensation—nor could I feel any meaning in it, any suggestion,
any moral impression. I thought I must be going to be ill, and got
out my watch and felt my pulse: it was beating furiously, about 125
throbs in a minute. I knew of no illness that could come on like this
with out warning, in a moment, and I tried to subdue myself, to say to
myself that it was nothing, some flutter of the nerves, some physical
disturbance. I laid myself down upon my sofa to try if rest would help
me, and keep still—as long as the thumping and throbbing of this wild
excited mechanism within, like a wild beast plunging and struggling,
would let me. I am quite aware of the confusion of the metaphor—the
reality was just so. It was like a mechanism deranged, going wildly
with ever-increasing precipitation, like those horrible wheels that
from time to time catch a helpless human being in them and tear him to
pieces: but at the same time it was like a maddened living creature
making the wildest efforts to get free.

When I could bear this no longer I got up and walked about my room;
then having still a certain command of myself, though I could not
master the commotion within me, I deliberately took down an exciting
book from the shelf, a book of breathless adventure which had always
interested me, and tried with that to break the spell. After a few
minutes, however, I flung the book aside; I was gradually losing all
power over myself. What I should be moved to do,—to shout aloud, to
struggle with I know not what; or if was I going mad altogether, and
next moment must be a raving lunatic,—I could not tell. I kept looking
round, expecting I don't know what: several times with the corner of
my eye I seemed to see a movement, as if some one was stealing out
of sight; but when I looked straight, there was never anything but
the plain outlines of the wall and carpet, the chairs standing in
good order. At last I snatched up the lamp in my hand and went out of
the room. To look at the picture? which had been faintly showing in
my imagination from time to time, the eyes, more anxious than ever,
looking at me from out the silent air. But no; I passed the door of
that room swiftly, moving, it seemed, without any volition of my own,
and before I knew where I was going, went into my father's library with
my lamp in my hand.

He was still sitting there at his writing-table; he looked up
astonished to see me hurrying in with my light. “Phil!” he said,
surprised. I remember that I shut the door behind me, and came up to
him, and set down the lamp on his table. My sudden appearance alarmed
him. “What is the matter?” he cried. “Philip, what have you been doing
with yourself?”

I sat down on the nearest chair and gasped, gazing at him. The wild
commotion ceased, the blood subsided into its natural channels, my
heart resumed its place, I use such words as mortal weakness can to
express the sensations I felt. I came to myself thus, gazing at him,
confounded, at once by the extraordinary passion which I had gone
through, and its sudden cessation. “The matter?” I cried; “I don't know
what is the matter.”

My father had pushed his spectacles up from his eyes. He appeared to
me as faces appear in a fever, all glorified with light which is not
in them—his eyes glowing, his white hair shining like silver; but his
look was severe. “You are not a boy, that I should reprove you; but you
ought to know better,” he said.

Then I explained to him, so far as I was able, what had happened. Had
happened? nothing had happened. He did not understand me—nor did I,
now that it was over, understand myself; but he saw enough to make him
aware that the disturbance in me was serious, and not caused by any
folly of my own. He was very kind as soon as he had assured himself of
this, and talked, taking pains to bring me back to unexciting subjects.
He had a letter in his hand with a very deep border of black when I
came in. I observed it, without taking any notice or associating it
with anything I knew. He had many correspondents, and although we
were excellent friends, we had never been on those confidential terms
which warrant one man in asking another from whom a special letter has
come. We were not so near to each other as this, though we were father
and son. After a while I went back to my own room, and finished the
evening in my usual way, without any return of the excitement which,
now that it was over, looked to me like some extraordinary dream. What
had it meant? had it meant anything? I said to myself that it must be
purely physical, something gone temporarily amiss, which had righted
itself. It was physical; the excitement did not affect my mind. I was
independent of it all the time, a spectator of my own agitation—a clear
proof that, whatever it was, it had affected my bodily organisation

Next day I returned to the problem which I had not been able to solve.
I found out my petitioner in the back street, and that she was happy
in the recovery of her possessions, which to my eyes indeed did not
seem very worthy either of lamentation or delight. Nor was her house
the tidy house which injured virtue should have when restored to its
humble rights. She was not injured virtue, it was clear. She made me a
great many curtseys, and poured forth a number of blessings. Her “man”
came in while I was there, and hoped in a gruff voice that God would
reward me and that the old gentleman 'd let 'em alone. I did not like
the looks of the man. It seemed to me that in the dark lane behind the
house of a winter's night he would not be a pleasant person to find in
one's way. Nor was this all: when I went out into the little street,
which it appeared was all, or almost all, my fathers property, a number
of groups formed in my way, and at least half-a-dozen applicants sidled
up. “I've more claims nor Mary Jordan any day,” said one; “I've lived
on Squire Canning's property one place and another, this twenty year.”
“And what do you say to me,” said another; “I've six children to her
two, bless you, sir, and ne'er a father to do for them.” I believed
in my father's rule before I got out of the street, and approved
his wisdom in keeping himself free from personal contact with his
tenants. Yet when I looked back upon the swarming thoroughfare, the
mean little houses, the women at their doors all so open-mouthed, and
eager to contend for my favor, my heart sank within me at the thought
that out of their misery some portion of our wealth came—I don't care
how small a portion: that I, young and strong, should be kept idle
and in luxury, in some part through the money screwed out of their
necessities, obtained sometimes by the sacrifice of everything they
prized! Of course I know all the ordinary commonplaces of life as well
as anyone—that if you build a house with your hands or your money, and
let it, the rent of it is your just due, and must be paid. But yet——

“Don't you think, sir,” I said, that evening at dinner, the subject
being reintroduced by my father himself, “that we have some duty
towards them when we draw so much from them?”

“Certainly,” he said; “I take as much trouble about their drains as I
do about my own.”

“That is always something, I suppose.”

“Something! it is a great deal—it is more than they get anywhere else.
I keep them clean, as far as that's possible. I give them at least the
means of keeping clean, and thus check disease, and prolong life—which
is more, I assure you, than they've any right to expect.”

I was not prepared with arguments as I ought to have been. That is all
in the Gospel according to Adam Smith, which my father had been brought
up in, but of which the tenets had begun to be less binding in my day.
I wanted something more, or else something else; but my views were not
so clear, nor my system so logical and well-built, as that upon which
my father rested his conscience, and drew his percentage with a light

Yet I thought there were signs in him of some perturbation. I met him
one morning coming out of the room in which the portrait hung, as if
he had gone to look at it stealthily. He was shaking his head, and
saying, “No, no,” to himself, not perceiving me, and I stepped aside
when I saw him so absorbed. For myself, I entered that room but little.
I went outside, as I had so often done when I was a child, and looked
through the windows into the still and now sacred place, which had
always impressed me with a certain awe. Looked at so, the slight figure
in its white dress seemed to be stepping down into the room from some
slight visionary altitude, looking with that which had seemed to me at
first anxiety, which I sometimes represented to myself now as a wistful
curiosity, as if she were looking for the life which might have been
hers. Where was the existence that had belonged to her, the sweet
household place, the infant she had left? She would no more recognize
the man who thus came to look at her as through a veil with mystic
reverence, than I could recognize her. I could never be her child to
her, any more than she could be a mother to me.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus time passed on for several quiet days. There was nothing to make
us give any special heed to the passage of time, life being very
uneventful and its habits unvaried. My mind was very much preoccupied
by my father's tenants. He had a great deal of property in the town
which was so near us,—streets of small houses, the best paying property
(I was assured) of any. I was very anxious to come to some settled
conclusion: on the one hand, not to let myself be carried away by
sentiment; on the other, not to allow my strongly roused feelings
to fall into the blank of routine, as his had done. I was seated
one evening in my own sitting-room busy with this matter,—busy with
calculations as to cost and profit, with an anxious desire to convince
him, either that his profits were greater than justice allowed, or that
they carried with them a more urgent duty than he had conceived.

It was night, but not late, not more than ten o'clock, the household
still astir. Everything was quiet—not the solemnity of midnight
silence, in which there is always something of mystery, but the
soft-breathing quiet of the evening, full of the faint habitual sounds
of a human dwelling, a consciousness of life about. And I was very busy
with my figures, interested, feeling no room in my mind for any other
thought. The singular experience which had startled me so much had
passed over very quickly, and there had been no return. I had ceased
to think of it: indeed I had never thought of it save for the moment,
setting it down after it was over to a physical cause without much
difficulty. At this time I was far too busy to have thoughts to spare
for anything, or room for imagination: and when suddenly in a moment
without any warning, the first symptom returned, I started with it into
determined resistance, resolute not to be fooled by any mock influence
which could resolve itself into the action of nerves or ganglions. The
first symptom, as before, was that my heart sprang up with a bound, as
if a cannon had been fired at my ear. My whole being responded with a
start. The pen fell out of my fingers, the figures went out of my head
as if all faculty had departed: and yet I was conscious for a time at
least of keeping my self-control. I was like the rider of a frightened
horse, rendered almost wild by something which in the mystery of its
voiceless being it has seen, something on the road which it will not
pass, but wildly plunging, resisting every persuasion, turns from,
with ever increasing passion. The rider himself after a time becomes
infected with this inexplainable desperation of terror, and I suppose
I must have done so: but for a time I kept the upper hand. I would
not allow myself to spring up as I wished, as my impulse was, but sat
there doggedly, clinging to my books, to my table, fixing myself on
I did not mind what, to resist the flood of sensation, of emotion,
which was sweeping through me, carrying me away. I tried to continue
my calculations. I tried to stir myself up with recollections of the
miserable sights I had seen, the poverty, the helplessness. I tried
to work myself into indignation; but all through these efforts I felt
the contagion growing upon me, my mind falling into sympathy with
all those straining faculties of the body, startled, excited, driven
wild by something I knew not what. It was not fear. I was like a ship
at sea straining and plunging against wind and tide, but I was not
afraid. I am obliged to use these metaphors, otherwise I could give no
explanation of my condition, seized upon against my will, and torn from
all those moorings of reason to which I clung with desperation—as long
as I had the strength.

When I got up from my chair at last, the battle was lost, so far as
my powers of self-control were concerned. I got up, or rather was
dragged up, from my seat, clutching at these material things round me
as with a last effort to hold my own. But that was no longer possible;
I was overcome. I stood for a moment looking round me feebly, feeling
myself begin to babble with stammering lips, which was the alternative
of shrieking, and which I seemed to choose as a lesser evil. What I
said was, “What am I to do?” and after a while, “What do you want me
to do?” although throughout I saw no one, heard no voice, and had in
reality not power enough in my dizzy and confused brain to know what I
myself meant. I stood thus for a moment looking blankly round me for
guidance, repeating the question, which seemed after a time to become
almost mechanical. What do you want me to do? though I neither knew to
whom I addressed it nor why I said it. Presently—whether in answer,
whether in mere yielding of nature, I cannot tell—I became aware of a
difference: not a lessening of the agitation, but a softening, as if my
powers of resistance being exhausted, a gentler force, a more benignant
influence, had room. I felt myself consent to whatever it was. My heart
melted in the midst of the tumult; I seemed to give myself up, and
move as if drawn by some one whose arm was in mine, as if softly swept
along, not forcibly, but with an utter consent of all my faculties to
do I knew not what, for love of I knew not whom. For love—that was
how it seemed—not by force, as when I went before. But my steps took
the same course: I went through the dim passages in an exaltation
indescribable, and opened the door of my father's room.

He was seated there at his table, as usual, the light of the lamp
falling on his white hair: he looked up with some surprise at the sound
of the opening door. “Phil,” he said, and, with a look of wondering
apprehension on his face, watched my approach. I went straight up to
him, and put my hand on his shoulder. “Phil, what is the matter? What
do you want with me? What is it?” he said.

“Father, I can't tell you. I come not of myself. There must be
something in it, though I don't know what it is. This is the second
time I have been brought to you here.”

“Are you going——?” he stopped himself. The exclamation had been begun
with an angry intention. He stopped, looked at me with a scared look,
as if perhaps it might be true.

“Do you mean mad? I don't think so. I have no delusions that I know of.
Father, think—do you know any reason why I am brought here? for some
cause there must be.”

I stood with my hand upon the back of his chair. His table was covered
with papers, among which were several letters with the broad black
border which I had before observed. I noticed this now in my excitement
without any distinct associations of thoughts, for that I was not
capable of; but the black border caught my eye. And I was conscious
that he, too, gave a hurried glance at them, and with one hand swept
them away.

“Philip,” he said, pushing back his chair, “you must be ill, my poor
boy. Evidently we have not been treating you rightly: you have been
more ill all through than I supposed. Let me persuade you to go to bed.”

“I am perfectly well,” I said. “Father, don't let us deceive one
another. I am neither a man to go mad nor to see ghosts. What it is
that has got the command over me I can't tell: but there is some cause
for it. You are doing something or planning something with which I have
a right to interfere.”

He turned round squarely in his chair with a spark in his blue eyes. He
was not a man to be meddled with. “I have yet to learn what can give
my son a right to interfere. I am in possession of all my faculties, I

“Father,” I cried, “won't you listen to me? no one can say I have
been undutiful or disrespectful. I am a man, with a right to speak
my mind, and I have done so; but this is different. I am not here by
my own will. Something that is stronger than I has brought me. There
is something in your mind which disturbs—others. I don't know what I
am saying. This is not what I meant to say: but you know the meaning
better than I. Some one—who can speak to you only by me—speaks to you
by me; and I know that you understand.”

He gazed up at me, growing pale, and his under lip fell. I, for
my part, felt that my message was delivered. My heart sank into a
stillness so sudden that it made me faint. The light swam in my eyes:
everything went round with me. I kept upright only by my hold upon the
chair; and in the sense of utter weakness that followed I dropped on my
knees I think first, then on the nearest seat that presented itself,
and covering my face with my hands, had hard ado not to sob, in the
sudden removal of that strange influence, the relaxation of the strain.

There was silence between us for some time; then he said, but with a
voice slightly broken, “I don't understand you Phil. You must have
taken some fancy into your mind which my slower intelligence——Speak out
what you want to say. What do you find fault with? Is it all—all that
woman Jordan?”

He gave a short forced laugh as he broke off, and shook me almost
roughly by the shoulder, saying, “speak out! what—what do you want to

“It seems, sir, that I have said everything.” My voice trembled more
than his, but not in the same way. “I have told you that I did not come
by my own will—quite otherwise. I resisted as long as I could: now all
is said. It is for you to judge whether it was worth the trouble or

He got up from his seat in a hurried way. “You would have me as—mad as
yourself,” he said, then sat down again as quickly. “Come, Phil: if it
will please you, not to make a breach, the first breach, between us,
you shall have your way. I consent to your looking into that matter
about the poor tenants. Your mind shall not be upset about that even
though I don't enter into all your views.”

“Thank you,” I said; “but father, that is not what it is.”

“Then it is a piece of folly,” he said, angrily. “I suppose you
mean——but this is a matter in which I choose to judge for myself.”

“You know what I mean,” I said, as quietly as I could, “though I don't
myself know; that proves there is good reason for it. Will you do one
thing for me before I leave you? Come with me into the drawing-room——”

“What end,” he said, with again the tremble in his voice, “is to be
served by that?”

“I don't very well know; but to look at her, you and I together, will
always do something for us, sir. As for the breach, there can be no
breach when we stand there.”

He got up, trembling like an old man, which he was, but which he never
looked like, save at moments of emotion like this, and told me to take
the light; then stopped when he had got half-way across the room. “This
is a piece of theatrical sentimentality,” he said. “No, Phil, I will
not go. I will not bring her into any such——Put down the lamp, and if
you will take my advice, go to bed.”

“At least,” I said, “I will trouble you no more, father, to-night. So
long as you understand, there need be no more to say.”

He gave me a very curt “good-night,” and turned back to his papers—the
letters with the black edge, either by my imagination or in reality,
always keeping uppermost. I went to my own room for my lamp, and then
alone proceeded to the silent shrine in which the portrait hung. I at
least would look at her to-night. I don't know whether I asked myself,
in so many words, if it were she who—or if it was any one—I knew
nothing; but my heart was drawn with a softness—born, perhaps, of the
great weakness in which I was left after that visitation—to her, to
look at her, to see perhaps if there was any sympathy, any approval in
her face. I set down my lamp on the table where her little work-basket
still was: the light threw a gleam upward upon her,—she seemed more
than ever to be stepping into the room, coming down towards me, coming
back to her life. Ah no! her life was lost and vanished: all mine stood
between her and the days she knew. She looked at me with eyes that
did not change. The anxiety I had seen at first seemed now a wistful
subdued question; but that difference was not in her look but in mine.

       *       *       *       *       *

I need not linger on the intervening time. The doctor who attended
us usually, came in next day “by accident,” and we had a long
conversation. On the following day a very impressive yet genial
gentleman from town lunched with us—a friend of my father's, Dr.
something; but the introduction was hurried, and I did not catch his
name. He, too, had a long talk with me afterwards—my father being
called away to speak to some one on business. Dr. —— drew me out on the
subject of the dwellings of the poor. He said he heard I took great
interest in this question, which had come so much to the front at the
present moment. He was interested in it too, and wanted to know the
view I took. I explained at considerable length that my view did not
concern the general subject, on which I had scarcely thought, so much
as the individual mode of management of my father's estate. He was a
most patient and intelligent listener, agreeing with me on some points,
differing in others; and his visit was very pleasant. I had no idea
until after of its special object: though a certain puzzled look and
slight shake of the head when my father returned, might have thrown
some light upon it. The report of the medical experts in my case,
however, had been quite satisfactory, for I heard nothing more of them.
It was, I think, a fortnight later when the next and last of these
strange experiences came.

This time it was morning, about noon,—a wet and rather dismal spring
day. The half-spread leaves seemed to tap at the window, with an appeal
to be taken in; the primroses, that showed golden upon the grass at
the roots of the trees, just beyond the smooth-shorn grass of the
lawn, were all drooped and sodden among their sheltering leaves. The
very growth seemed dreary—the sense of spring in the air making the
feeling of winter a grievance, instead of the natural effect which it
had conveyed a few months before. I had been writing letters and was
cheerful enough, going back among the associates of my old life, with,
perhaps, a little longing for its freedom and independence, but at the
same time a not ungrateful consciousness that for the moment my present
tranquillity might be best.

This was my condition—a not unpleasant one—when suddenly the now
well-known symptoms of the visitation to which I had become subject
suddenly seized upon me,—the leap of the heart; the sudden, causeless,
overwhelming physical excitement, which I could neither ignore nor
allay. I was terrified beyond description, beyond reason, when I became
conscious that this was about to begin over again: what purpose did it
answer, what good was in it? My father, indeed, understood the meaning
of it, though I did not understand: but it was little agreeable to
be thus made a helpless instrument without any will of mine, in an
operation of which I knew nothing; and to enact the part of the oracle
unwillingly, with suffering and such a strain as it took me days to
get over. I resisted, not as before, but yet desperately, trying with
better knowledge to keep down the growing passion. I hurried to my
room and swallowed a dose of a sedative which had been given me to
procure sleep on my first return from India. I saw Morphew in the hall,
and called him to talk to him, and cheat myself, if possible, by that
means. Morphew lingered, however, and, before he came, I was beyond
conversation. I heard him speak, his voice coming vaguely through the
turmoil which was already in my ears, but what he said I have never
known. I stood staring, trying to recover my power of attention,
with an aspect which ended by completely frightening the man. He
cried out at last that he was sure I was ill, that he must bring me
something; which words penetrated more or less into my maddened brain.
It became impressed upon me that he was going to get some one—one of
my father's doctors, perhaps—to prevent me from acting, to stop my
interference,—and that if I waited a moment longer I might be too
late. A vague idea seized me at the same time, of taking refuge with
the portrait—going to its feet, throwing myself there, perhaps, till
the paroxysm should be over. But it was not there that my footsteps
were directed. I can remember making an effort to open the door of the
drawing-room, and feeling myself swept past it, as if by a gale of
wind. It was not there that I had to go. I knew very well where I had
to go,—once more on my confused and voiceless mission to my father, who
understood, although I could not understand.

Yet as it was daylight, and all was clear, I could not help noting
one or two circumstances on my way. I saw some one sitting in the
hall as if waiting—a woman, a girl, a black-shrouded figure, with a
thick veil over her face: and asked myself who she was, and what she
wanted there? This question, which had nothing to do with my present
condition, somehow got into my mind, and was tossed up and down upon
the tumultuous tide like a stray log on the breast of a fiercely
rolling stream, now submerged, now coming uppermost, at the mercy of
the waters. It did not stop me for a moment, as I hurried towards my
father's room, but it got upon the current of my mind. I flung open my
father's door, and closed it again after me, without seeing who was
there or how he was engaged. The full clearness of the daylight did not
identify him as the lamp did at night. He looked up at the sound of the
door, with a glance of apprehension; and rising suddenly, interrupting
some one who was standing speaking to him with much earnestness and
even vehemence, came forward to meet me. “I cannot be disturbed at
present,” he said quickly; “I am busy.” Then seeing the look in my
face, which by this time he knew, he too changed color. “Phil,” he
said, in a low, imperative voice, “wretched boy, go away—go away; don't
let a stranger see you——”

“I can't go away,” I said. “It is impossible. You know why I have come.
I cannot, if I would. It is more powerful than I——”

“Go, sir,” he said; “go at once—no more of this folly. I will not have
you in this room. Go——go!”

I made no answer. I don't know that I could have done so. There had
never been any struggle between us before; but I had no power to do
one thing or another. The tumult within me was in full career. I
heard indeed what he said, and was able to reply; but his words, too,
were like straws tossed upon the tremendous stream. I saw now with my
feverish eyes who the other person present was. It was a woman, dressed
also in mourning similar to the one in the hall; but this a middle-aged
woman, like a respectable servant. She had been crying, and in the
pause caused by this encounter between my father and myself, dried her
eyes with a handkerchief, which she rolled like a ball in her hand,
evidently in strong emotion. She turned and looked at me as my father
spoke to me, for a moment with a gleam of hope, then falling back into
her former attitude.

My father returned to his seat. He was much agitated too, though doing
all that was possible to conceal it. My inopportune arrival was
evidently a great and unlooked-for vexation to him. He gave me the only
look of passionate displeasure I have ever had from him, as he sat down
again: but he said nothing more.

“You must understand,” he said, addressing the woman, “that I have said
my last words on this subject. I don't choose to enter into it again
in the presence of my son, who is not well enough to be made a party
to any discussion. I am sorry that you should have had so much trouble
in vain; but you were warned beforehand, and you have only yourself to
blame. I acknowledge no claim, and nothing you can say will change my
resolution. I must beg you to go away. All this is very painful and
quite useless. I acknowledge no claim.”

“Oh, sir,” she cried, her eyes beginning once more to flow, her speech
interrupted by little sobs. “Maybe I did wrong to speak of a claim.
I'm not educated to argue with a gentleman. Maybe we have no claim.
But if it's not by right, oh, Mr. Canning, won't you let your heart be
touched by pity? She don't know what I'm saying, poor dear. She's not
one to beg and pray for herself, as I'm doing for her. Oh, sir, she's
so young! She's so lone in this world—not a friend to stand by her, nor
a house to take her in! You are the nearest to her of any one that's
left in this world. She hasn't a relation—not one so near as you——oh!”
she cried, with a sudden thought, turning quickly round upon me, “this
gentleman's your son! Now I think of it, it's not your relation she is,
but his, through his mother! That's nearer, nearer! Oh, sir! you're
young; your heart should be more tender. Here is my young lady that
has no one in the world to look to her. Your own flesh and blood: your
mother's cousin—your mother's——”

My father called to her to stop, with a voice of thunder. “Philip,
leave us at once. It is not a matter to be discussed with you.”

And then in a moment it became clear to me what it was. It had been
with difficulty that I had kept myself still. My breast was laboring
with the fever of an impulse poured into me, more than I could contain.
And now for the first time I knew why. I hurried towards him, and took
his hand, though he resisted, into mine. Mine were burning, but his
like ice: their touch burnt me with its chill, like fire. “This is what
it is?” I cried. “I had no knowledge before. I don't know now what is
being asked of you. But, father—understand! You know, and I know now,
that some one sends me—some one—who has a right to interfere.”

He pushed me away with all his might. “You are mad,” he cried. “What
right have you to think——? Oh, you are mad—mad! I have seen it coming

The woman, the petitioner, had grown silent, watching this brief
conflict with the terror and interest with which women watch a struggle
between men. She started and fell back when she heard what he said,
but did not take her eyes off me, following every movement I made.
When I turned to go away, a cry of indescribable disappointment and
remonstrance burst from her, and even my father raised himself up and
stared at my withdrawal, astonished to find that he had overcome me so
soon and easily. I paused for a moment, and looked back on them, seeing
them large and vague through the mist of fever. “I am not going away,”
I said. “I am going for another messenger—one you can't gainsay.”

My father rose. He called out to me threateningly, “I will have nothing
touched that is hers. Nothing that is hers shall be profaned——”

I waited to hear no more: I knew what I had to do. By what means it was
conveyed to me I cannot tell; but the certainty of an influence which
no one thought of calmed me in the midst of my fever. I went out into
the hall, where I had seen the young stranger waiting. I went up to
her and touched her on the shoulder. She rose at once, with a little
movement of alarm, yet with docile and instant obedience, as if she
had expected the summons. I made her take off her veil and her bonnet,
scarcely looking at her, scarcely seeing her, knowing how it was: I
took her soft, small, cool, yet trembling hand into mine; it was so
soft and cool, not cold, it refreshed me with its tremulous touch. All
through I moved and spoke like a man in a dream, swiftly, noiselessly,
all the complications of waking life removed, without embarrassment,
without reflection, without the loss of a moment. My father was still
standing up, leaning a little forward as he had done when I withdrew,
threatening, yet terror-stricken, not knowing what I might be about to
do, when I returned with my companion. That was the one thing he had
not thought of. He was entirely undefended, unprepared. He gave her one
look, flung up his arms above his head, and uttered a distracted cry,
so wild that it seemed the last outcry of nature—“Agnes!” then fell
back like a sudden ruin, upon himself, into his chair.

I had no leisure to think how he was, or whether he could hear what I
said. I had my message to deliver. “Father,” I said, laboring with my
panting breath, “it is for this that heaven has opened, and one whom
I never saw, one whom I know not, has taken possession of me. Had we
been less earthly we should have seen her—herself, and not merely her
image. I have not even known what she meant. I have been as a fool
without understanding. This is the third time I have come to you with
her message, without knowing what to say. But now I have found it out.
This is her message. I have found it out at last.”

There was an awful pause—a pause in which no one moved or breathed.
Then there came a broken voice out of my father's chair. He had not
understood, though I think he heard what I said. He put out two feeble
hands. “Phil—I think I am dying—has she—has she come for me?” he said.

We had to carry him to his bed. What struggles he had gone through
before I cannot tell. He had stood fast, and had refused to be moved,
and now he fell—like an old tower, like an old tree. The necessity
there was for thinking of him saved me from the physical consequences
which had prostrated me on a former occasion. I had no leisure now for
any consciousness of how matters went with myself.

His delusion was not wonderful, but most natural. She was clothed in
black from head to foot, instead of the white dress of the portrait.
She had no knowledge of the conflict, of nothing but that she was
called for, that her fate might depend on the next few minutes. In
her eyes there was a pathetic question, a line of anxiety in the lids,
an innocent appeal in the looks. And the face the same: the same lips,
sensitive, ready to quiver; the same innocent, candid brow; the look
of a common race, which is more subtle than mere resemblance. How I
knew that it was so, I cannot tell, nor any man. It was the other—the
elder—ah no! not elder; the ever young, the Agnes to whom age can never
come—she who they say was the mother of a man who never saw her—it was
she who led her kinswoman, her representative, into our hearts.

       *       *       *       *       *

My father recovered after a few days: he had taken cold, it was said,
the day before—and naturally, at seventy, a small matter is enough to
upset the balance even of a strong man. He got quite well; but he was
willing enough afterwards to leave the management of that ticklish kind
of property which involves human well-being in my hands, who could move
about more freely, and see with my own eyes how things were going on.
He liked home better, and had more pleasure in his personal existence
in the end of his life. Agnes is now my wife, as he had, of course,
foreseen. It was not merely the disinclination to receive her father's
daughter, or to take upon him a new responsibility, that had moved him,
to do him justice. But both these motives had told strongly. I have
never been told, and now will never be told, what his griefs against
my mother's family, and especially against that cousin, had been; but
that he had been very determined, deeply prejudiced, there can be no
doubt. It turned out after, that the first occasion on which I had
been mysteriously commissioned to him with a message which I did not
understand, and which for that time he did not understand, was the
evening of the day on which he had received the dead man's letter,
appealing to him—to him, a man whom he had wronged—on behalf of the
child who was about to be left friendless in the world. The second
time, further letters, from the nurse who was the only guardian of the
orphan, and the chaplain of the place where her father had died, taking
it for granted that my father's house was her natural refuge—had been
received. The third I have already described, and its results.

For a long time after, my mind was never without a lurking fear that
the influence which had once taken possession of me might return again.
Why should I have feared to be influenced—to be the messenger of a
blessed creature, whose wishes could be nothing but heavenly? Who can
say? Flesh and blood is not made for such encounters: they were more
than I could bear. But nothing of the kind has ever occurred again.

Agnes had her peaceful domestic throne established under the picture.
My father wished it to be so, and spent his evenings there in the
warmth and light, instead of in the old library, in the narrow circle
cleared by our lamp out of the darkness, as long as he lived. It is
supposed by strangers that the picture on the wall is that of my wife;
and I have always been glad that it should be so supposed. She who was
my mother, who came back to me and became as my soul for three strange
moments and no more, but with whom I can feel no credible relationship
as she stands there, has retired for me into the tender regions of
the unseen. She has passed once more into the secret company of those
shadows, who can only become real in an atmosphere fitted to modify and
harmonise all differences, and make all wonders possible—the light of
the perfect day.—_Blackwood's Magazine._




Most people are more or less vaguely aware that there existed in
England, towards the end of the last century, a school of poets,
or poetasters, called Della Cruscan; and Mrs. Oliphant not long
ago suggested, in her _Literary History_, that a sketch of their
eccentricities might not be unamusing. I propose, accordingly, for
the edification of the curious, to recount a few particulars of the
Della Cruscan writers, in the days of their prosperity and the days of
their collapse. They were, let it at once be admitted, a feeble and a
frivolous folk; yet I think that a moral may suggest itself when their
story has been told.

In the year 1784 Mr. Robert Merry, a bachelor of thirty, had been for
some years domiciled at Florence. That his position and prospects
were not of a very definite order was owing to no defect of nurture
or opportunity. He had been educated at Harrow, at the same time as
Sheridan, and afterwards at Christ's College, Cambridge, and was
originally intended for the Bar. To Lincoln's Inn he accordingly made a
pretence of belonging till the death of his father, who was a Governor
of the Hudson's Bay Company; the family connection with the North Seas
being still perpetuated in the name of Merry's Island. Robert Merry
at once took advantage of the independence which came to him on his
father's death to abandon the Bar and buy himself a commission in the
Guards. His liking for high play and high society kept him, for a short
time, amused in his new position. He grew, however, once more restless;
wandered on the Continent; and became, in the phraseology of the day,
a man of letters and of leisure. His love of letters he gratified, at
Florence, by becoming a member of the Italian Academy, the Accademia
della Crusca, and his love of letters and leisure combined by joining
himself to an English society who called themselves the “Oziosi,” and,
no doubt, took good care to merit that designation.

The leading spirit of this coterie was no less a personage than Mrs.
Piozzi, happily married at last, and safely escaped from the malice
of her cold-blooded daughters, and from the virulence with which the
English journals had inveighed against her choice of a second husband.
Even now the memory of her domestic troubles tended to inspire her
with a dejection which the master-pieces of Florentine sculpture were,
oddly enough, powerless to remove. As she herself described it, in
lines at which one cannot help smiling, sincere as they perhaps were,—

    The slave and the wrestlers, what are they to me,
      From plots and contention removed?
    And Job with still less satisfaction I see,
      When I think on the pains I have proved.

The homage of her countrymen, however, did much to enliven her
despondency; and she complacently records in her journals some of the
compliments paid her by her fellow-members of the “Oziosi.” They used
to address her in this style:—

    E'en so when Parsons pours his lay,
      Correctly wild, or sweetly strong,
    Or Greathead charms the listening day,
      With English or Italian song,
    Or when, with trembling wing I try,
      Like some poor wounded bird, to fly,
    Your fostering smiles you ne'er refuse,
      But are the Pallas and the Muse!

The Parsons and Greathead of this all-round panegyric of Merry's were
two members of the “Oziosi” clique: Parsons, a bachelor with a tendency
to flirt, to “trifle with Italian dames,” as Mrs. Piozzi poetically
put it; Greathead, the newly-married husband of a beautiful wife. Both
Parsons and Greathead were voluminous contributors to the society's
Album, which soon assumed formidable dimensions. The staple of the
contents consisted of high-flown compliments in verse. Parsons, for
instance, would write to Greathead's wife:—

    O blest with taste, with Genius blest,
    Sole mistress of thy Bertie's breast,
    Who to his love-enraptured arms are given
    The rich reward his virtues claim from Heaven.

And Bertie, as in duty bound, would reply in kind, bidding the sallow
Arno pause and listen to the lays of Parsons. As an alternative to
these panegyrics, they wrote _Dithyrambics to Bacchus_, _Odes to the
Siroc_, or lines on that latest novelty, Montgolfier's air-balloon.
Mrs. Greathead was, in fact, as Parsons informs us, the only member of
the society who contributed nothing but the inspiration of her charms.

Some of these poems were printed in an _Arno Miscellany_, of which
only a few copies were privately circulated. It was a subsequent
and larger collection, published in 1785, under the name of _The
Florence Miscellany_, which first made its way to England, and drew the
attention of the English public to the rising school of versifiers.
Horace Walpole characterized their productions as “mere imitations of
our best poets,” that is to say, of Milton, Gray, and Collins. How
justly, may be inferred from the opening stanza of Merry's _Ode on a
distant prospect of Rome_:—

    When Rome of old, terrific queen,
      High-placed on Victory's sounding car,
    With arm sublime and martial mien,
      Brandished the flaming lance of war,
    Low crouched in dust lay Afric's swarthy crowd,
    And silken Asia sank, and barbarous Britain bowed.

The imitations of Milton and Collins are of a like description. Such
as it was, the book was a success, and samples of its contents were
reproduced, after the fashion of the day, in the newspapers and
magazines—the _Gentleman's_, the _European_, the _Universal Magazine_,
and so forth. Of the quality of the poems, critically considered,
and of the Della Cruscan poetry generally, I shall have something to
say farther on. In the meantime, it may, perhaps, be worth while to
disinter a ludicrous passage in one of Merry's contributions to the
_Florence Miscellany_. The “Oziosi” had one day agreed that each of
them should produce by the evening a story or poem which should “excite
horror by description.” Mrs. Piozzi's production will be found in her
_Autobiography_, and is by no means devoid of merit. Merry brought a
poem (“a very fine one,” says Mrs. Piozzi), in which he introduced the
following remarkable ghost, which I commend to the attention of the new
Psychical Society:—

  While slow he trod this desolated coast,
  From the cracked ground uprose a warning ghost;
  Whose figure, all-confused, was dire to view,
  And loose his mantle flowed, of shifting hue;
  _He shed a lustre round; and sadly pressed
  What seemed his hand upon what seemed his breast;
  Then raised his doleful voice, like wolves that roar
  In famished troops round Orcas' sleepy shore,_—
  “Approach yon antiquated tower,” he cried,
  “There bold Rinaldo, fierce Mambrino, died,” etc.

But I must not linger over the _Florence Miscellany_, which was but the
prelude to those melodious bursts which filled the spacious times of
George III. with the music of Della Crusca and Anna Matilda. A year or
two after its publication the Florence coterie broke up, and returned
to England.

The first note of the concert was struck by Robert Merry, who, in
June 1787, sent to the _World_ a poem entitled _The Adieu and Recall
to Love_, subscribing himself Della Crusca, a nickname which had
been given to him at Florence, on account of his connection, already
mentioned, with the Italian Academy. The _World_ was a daily morning
paper, price threepence, which in more than one respect resembled its
modern namesake. A contemporary satirist, writing under the modest
pseudonym of “Horace Juvenal,” describes how the young lady of 1787—

    Reluctant opes her eyes, 'twixt twelve and one,
    To skim the _World_, or criticise the _Sun_,
    And when she sees her darling friend abused
    Is half enraged, yet more than half-amused.

And another poet portrays two unlucky baronets, Sir Gregory Turner
and Sir John Miller—husband of Lady Miller of Bath Easton vase
celebrity—lamenting the ridicule with which the same newspaper had
overwhelmed them:—

    Woe wait the week, Sir John, and cursed the hour,
    When harmless gentlemen felt satire's power,
    When, raised from insignificance and sloth,
    The _World_ began to ridicule us both.

“In this paper,” says Gifford, “were given the earliest specimens of
those audacious attacks on all private character, which the town first
smiled at for their quaintness, then tolerated for their absurdity;
and now that other papers, equally wicked and more intelligible, have
ventured to imitate it, will have to lament to the last hour of British
liberty.” That literary history is self-repeating, and that prophecies
are mostly mistaken, are not new reflections; yet it is difficult to
avoid making them when we compare those days with these.

But beyond its function as a purveyor of social gossip, no newspaper
was then considered complete without a Poet's Corner, consecrated to
sentimental effusions and labored impromptus—“Complimentary verses to
the brilliancy of the Hon. Mrs. N——h's Eyes,” or “Lines on Lady T—e—l's
Ring.” In publishing his poem in the _World_, Della Crusca did but
select the natural and recognized arena of the eighteenth-century poet.
It may be as well to quote the greater part of _The Adieu and Recall to
Love_, in order to give some notion of the calibre of the verses which
were to found a school:—

    Go, idle Boy, I quit thy bower,
    The couch of many a thorn and flower;
    Thy twanging bow, thine arrow keen,
    Deceitful Beauty's timid mien;
    The feigned surprise, the roguish leer,
    The tender smile, the thrilling tear,
    Have now no pangs, no joys for me,
    So fare thee well, for I am free!
    Then flutter hence on wanton wing,
    Or lave thee in yon lucid spring,
    Or take thy beverage from the rose,
    Or on Louisa's breast repose;
    I wish thee well for pleasures past,
    Yet, bless the hour, I'm free at last,
    But sure, methinks, the altered day
    Scatters around a mournful ray;
    And chilling every zephyr blows,
    And every stream untuneful flows.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Alas! is all this boasted ease
    To lose each warm desire to please,
    No sweet solicitude to know
    For others' bliss, or others' woe,
    A frozen apathy to find,
    A sad vacuity of mind?
    Oh, hasten back, then, heavenly Boy,
    And with thine anguish bring thy joy!
    Return with all thy torments here,
    And let me hope, and doubt, and fear;
    Oh, rend my heart with every pain,
    But let me, let me love again.

I suppose what will strike most readers with regard to these lines
is that they are decidedly fluent, and utterly commonplace. That,
however, is not the light in which a critic of the last quarter of
the eighteenth century would regard them. Amid the dead level of
sing-song couplets, the milk-and-water decency of Hayley, the chill
and prolix classicism of Pye, the ineffable mediocrity of a thousand
Pratts and Polwheles—the fluency of Merry passed, according to the
critic's leanings, for fire or for fustian; and the phraseology,
which afterwards became hackneyed, was then startling. Take, for
instance, Horace Walpole's criticism of the new poetic departure. “It
is refreshing to read natural easy poetry, full of sense and humor,
instead of that unmeaning, labored, painted style now in fashion of
the Della Cruscas and Co., of which it is impossible ever to retain a
couplet, no more than one could remember how a string of emeralds and
rubies were placed in a necklace. Poetry has great merit if it is the
vehicle and preservative of sense, but it is not to be taken in change
for it.” Poetry the vehicle and preservative of sense—that is the
critical canon which would have made Walpole as blind to Della Crusca's
merits, had he happened to possess any, as it made him keen-sighted for
his defects.

It may, nevertheless, be doubted whether Della Crusca would have caused
so great a stir in literature, had it not been for several collateral
circumstances, of which the first and most important was the appearance
in the _World_, some ten days later, of “Anna Matilda,” with a poem
entitled _To Della Crusca, the Pen_.

    Oh, seize again thy golden quill,
    And with its point my bosom thrill,
    With magic touch explore my heart,
    And bid the tear of passion start.
    Thy golden quill Apollo gave,
    Drenched first in bright Aonia's wave.
    He snatched it fluttering through the sky,
    Borne on the vapor of a sigh;
    It fell from Cupid's burnished wing
    As forcefully he drew the string,
    Which sent his keenest, surest dart,
    Through a rebellious, frozen heart,
    That had, till then, defied his power,
    And vacant beat through each dull hour.
    Be worthy, then, the sacred loan!
    Seated on Fancy's air-built throne;
    Immerse it in her rainbow hues,
    Nor, what the Godheads bid, refuse.
    Apollo Cupid shall inspire,
    And aid thee with their blended fire;
    The one poetic language give,
    The other bid thy passion live,
    With soft ideas fill thy lays,
    And crown with Love thy wintry days!

The shuttlecock of correspondence, thus fairly started, was diligently
tossed to and fro in the _World_ by the two pseudonymous writers; Della
Crusca “seized his quill” again and again, and his ideal passion for
the invisible Anna Matilda gained in fervor of expression with every
fortnight. It is obvious that here was just that element of mystery, of
romance, which creates a _furore_ and sets a fashion.

The lady who signed herself “Anna Matilda” was Mrs. Hannah Cowley, the
wife of an absent East India captain, then in her forty-fifth year,
and known to-day as the authoress of the _Belle's Stratagem_, a play
which still, and deservedly, keeps the stage. Her biographer records
the beginning of her literary career as follows: “In the year 1776,
some years after her marriage, a sense of power for dramatic writing
suddenly struck her whilst sitting with her husband at the theatre.
'So delighted with this?' said she to him; 'why, I could write as
well myself.' She then wrote _The Runaway_. Many will recollect the
extraordinary success with which it was brought out.” Her habits of
composition were not, perhaps, likely to result in poetry of much
excellence. “Catching up her pen immediately as the thought struck her,
she always proceeded with the utmost facility and celerity. Her pen
and paper were so immediately out of sight again, that those around
her could scarcely tell when it was she wrote. She was always much
pleased with the description of Michael Angelo making the marble fly
around him, as he was chiselling with the utmost swiftness, that he
might shape, however roughly, his whole design in unity with one clear
conception.” Her preparatory note to her collected “Anna Matilda”
poems bears out this account. “The beautiful lines of _The Adieu and
Recall to Love_ struck her so forcibly that, without rising from the
table at which she read, she answered them. Della Crusca's elegant
reply surprised her into another, and thus the correspondence most
unexpectedly became settled. Anna Matilda's share in it had little to
boast; but she has one claim of which she is proud, that of having been
the first to point out the excellence of Della Crusca; if there can be
merit in discerning what is so very obvious.” She further apologizes
for one of her poems to Della Crusca, on the ground that it was written
while sitting for her portrait, the painter interrupting her with
“Smile a little,” or “More to the right.” Only that class of mind which
grows incredulous when informed that orators prepare their speeches,
will expect much from such methods of workmanship.

Nevertheless, to Mrs. Cowley appears to belong the credit, or
discredit, of giving to the Della Cruscan poetry a certain turn
or development which did much to make it popular. A hint of this
development may be seen in the description of the pen, which was
“borne on the vapor of a sigh.” It took final shape in such phrases as

    Hushed be each ruder note! Soft silence spread
    With ermine hand thy cobweb robe around.

          Was it the shuttle of the Morn,
          That wove upon the cobweb'd thorn
          Thy airy lay?

        Or in the gaudy spheroids swell
        Which the swart Indian's groves illume.

      Gauzy zephyrs fluttering o'er the plain,
      In Twilight's bosom drop their filmy rain.

          Bid the streamy lightnings fly
          In liquid peril from thine eye.

              Summer tints begemmed the scene,
        And silky ocean slept in glossy green.

A large and amusing assortment of this ambitious verbiage, which
subsequently became in the eyes of the critics the sole “differentia”
of Della Cruscan verse, may be seen in the notes to Gifford's _Baviad_.
It was, however, an after-development, proceeding from a gradual
consciousness of flagging powers; the feeling which induced Charles
Reade's Triplet to “shove his pen under the thought, and lift it by
polysyllables to the true level of fiction.”

The other members of the Florence coterie, who, as I have said, were
now back in England, speedily began to swell the Della Cruscan chorus
in the columns of the _World_ and the _Oracle_. Bertie Greathead as
“Reuben” became Della Crusca's rival, on paper, in the affections of
Anna Matilda; and Parsons, signing himself “Benedict,” in memory of a
sojourn in the Benedictine convent of Vallombrosa, deluged with sonnets
an imaginary Melissa. Whether Mrs. Piozzi contributed anything beyond
tea-party patronage, appears to be doubtful; but, as was only to be
expected, London already possessed a score of indigenous rhymesters,
eager to pursue the triumph and partake the gale. One of the principal
of these was Edward Jerningham, _alias_ “The Bard,” who is commemorated
in Macaulay's neat sentence: “Lady Miller who kept a vase wherein fools
were wont to put verses, and Jerningham who wrote verses fit to be
put into the vase of Lady Miller.” His brother, Sir William, of Cossy
Hall, in Norfolk, kept an album which rivalled in celebrity the vase of
Bath Easton, and “The Bard” had been a determined poetaster for the
last thirty years. He is described as “a mighty gentleman, who looks
to be painted, and is all daintification in manner, speech, and dress,
singing to his own accompaniment on the harp, whilst he looks the
gentlest of all dying Corydons.” Fashionable poets seldom suffer from
lack of appreciation. Burke wrote of Jerningham's poem _The Shakespeare
Gallery_, “I have not for a long time seen anything so well finished.
The author has caught new fire by approaching in his perihelion so near
to the sun of our poetical system.” I think we may be certain, after
reading _The Shakespeare Gallery_, that the patron of Crabbe did not
read it.

Another Della Cruscan songstress was Mrs. Robinson, _alias_ “Laura
Maria,” known to the public as a former mistress of the Prince of
Wales, and authoress of various novels. In rapidity of composition she
emulated Mrs. Cowley. “Conversing one evening with Mr. Richard Burke”
(the Burke family appear to have been sometimes unfortunate in their
poetical acquaintances) “respecting the facility with which modern
poetry was composed, Mrs. Robinson repeated nearly the whole of those
beautiful lines, 'To him who will understand them.' This improvisatore
produced in her auditor not less surprise than admiration, when
solemnly assured by its author that this was the first time of its
being repeated. Mr. Burke entreated her to commit the poem to writing,
a request which was readily complied with; and Mrs. Robinson had
afterwards the gratification of finding this offspring of her genius
inserted in the _Annual Register_, with a flattering encomium from the
pen of the eloquent and ingenious editor.” She was one of Merry's most
ardent admirers.

    Winged Ages picture to the dazzled view
    Each marked perfection of the sacred few,
    Pope, Dryden, Spenser, all that Fame shall raise,
    From Chaucer's gloom, till Merry's lucid days.

Her Della Cruscan poems were published under the signature of “Laura,”
and she was followed by Cesario, Carlos, Adelaide, Orlando, Arno, and
fifty more whose identity can no longer be determined.

A year after his first appearance in the _World_, Della Crusca printed
his poems in a volume, and Anna Matilda speedily followed suit. But
this was not enough for the reading public. They further greedily
absorbed a collection of Della Cruscan verse, published as _The Poetry
of the “World,”_ by Major Topham, the creator and editor of that
paper, who, in a dedication to Sheridan, observes: “Of their merit,
I am free to say I know no modern poems their superior. I am more
happy that your opinion has confirmed mine.” It will be well to make
allowance for changing literary fashions before we make too sure that
Sheridan is here misrepresented. _The Poetry of the “World”_ afterwards
ran through at least four editions as _The British Album_. As we
read the publisher's advertisement of this work, which still abounds
on second-hand bookstalls—_immorimur studiis lapsoque renascimur
ævo_—we seem to be walking in the Bond Street of the Prince Regent.
“Two beautiful volumes this day published, embellished with genuine
portraits of the real Della Crusca and Anna Matilda, engraved in a very
superior manner from faithful pictures, under the title of _The British
Album_, being a new edition, revised and corrected by their respective
authors, of the celebrated poems of Della Crusca, Anna Matilda, Arley,
Laura, Benedict, and the elegant Cesario, “the African Boy;” and
others, signed The Bard, by Mr. Jerningham; General Conway's elegy
on Miss C. Campbell; Marquis of Townshend's verses on Miss Gardiner;
Lord Derby's lines on Miss Farren's portrait.” It is unfortunate
that the only pseudonym in the list which it is of much interest to
decipher, should still remain a mystery. It is to “Arley” that we owe
the admittedly excellent ballad of “Wapping old Stairs,” which first
appeared in the _World_ for November 29th, 1787, and shines, a solitary
pearl, in the pages of the _British Album_.

The Della Cruscan mania was at its height—“bedridden old women and
girls at their samplers began to rave,”—when Gifford, in search of a
quarry for a seasonable satire, came before the town with the _Baviad_.
Of this poem I shall say but little, as it is better known than the
writings which it satirised. It contains passages of a certain coarse
and rank vigor not difficult of attainment by a student of Dryden and
Juvenal. There is, in fact, a sort of Billingsgate raciness about
the _Baviad_; and the notes, which are better written than the poem,
contain much amusing matter. The imputation made against the Della
Cruscan love-poetry of licentious warmth is, however, wholly absurd—as
absurd as the charge made by Mathias, the author of _The Pursuits of
Literature_, that Merry—

    Proves a designer works without design,
    And fathoms Nature with a Gallic line;

a notion which arose merely from the fact that he identified himself
with the anarchists of France, and wrote odes for the Revolution
Society, thereby acquiring the name, as Madame d'Arblay tells us, of
“Liberty Merry,” and no doubt also the reputation for free-thinking
then associated with everything French. As for detecting any breach of
decorum in the mannered and falsetto gallantries of insincere Reubens
addressing imaginary Annas, the idea was only possible to a satirist
who started with the determination to fling all the mud he could find;
and, it must be added, when he flung it at irreproachable characters
such as Mrs. Piozzi, he did but excite a certain revulsion of sympathy
for the victims. Nor was this Gifford's only misrepresentation. He
asserted, in order to bring in an apt quotation from Martial, that
the interview which finally took place between Merry and Mrs. Cowley,
produced mutual disgust. This is not the testimony of Della Crusca
himself in the poem of _The Interview_.

    My song subsides, yet ere I close
    The lingering lay that feeds my woes,
    Ere yet forgotten Della Crusca runs
    To torrid gales or petrifying suns,
    Ere, bowed to earth, my latest feeling flies,
    And the big passion settles on my eyes;
    Oh, may this sacred sentiment be known,
    That my adoring heart is Anna's own!

Such is the immortality of poetic attachments—

    For ever wilt thou love and she be fair.

That the poet was shortly afterward “married to another,” is sufficient
to explain the cessation of the correspondence, from which Gifford
argues that the interview resulted in aversion. And he might further
have reflected that when a poet is reduced to talk of “petrifying suns”
his correspondence has been known to cease for lack of ideas.

The satirised poets did their best to retaliate on Gifford by
abusive sonnets in the newspapers; and Mr. Jerningham wrote a feebly
vituperative poem on Gifford and Mathias. The Della Cruscans had,
undeniably, the worst of the battle. The efficacy of Gifford's satire
in putting an end to the school is, however, more than doubtful. It is
true that it afterwards came to be considered, naturally enough, that
he had given the Della Cruscans their death-blow. Scott, for instance,
writing in 1827, observes that the _Baviad_ “squabashed at one blow
a set of coxcombs who might have humbugged the world long enough”;
but that is not the evidence of contemporary witnesses. Seven years
after the publication of the _Baviad_, Mathias, in the preface to _The
Pursuits of Literature_, remarks that “even the _Baviad_ drops from
Mr. Gifford's pen have fallen off like oils from the plumage of the
Florence and Cruscan geese. I am told that Mr. Greathead and Mr. Merry
yet write and speak, and Mr. Jerningham (poor man!) still continues
'sillier than his sheep.”

This statement is in far better accordance both with the facts and the
probabilities of the case. Satire, even first-rate satire, does not
kill follies. They gradually die of inanition, or are crowded out by
newer fashions. Laura Matilda's dirge in the _Rejected Addresses_ is a
standing monument of the vitality of Della Cruscanism more than twenty
years after its supposed death-blow.

The career as stage-writers of Merry, Greathead, and Jerningham, their
bad tragedies and bad farces, do not belong to my present subject.
Of the subsequent history of one or two of them a word may, however,
be said. Jerningham lived to publish, as late as 1812, two editions
of a flaccid poem, called _The Old Bard's Farewell_, after which he
disappears from life and literature. Mrs. Cowley, perhaps the most
interesting of the group, died in rural and religious retirement at
Tiverton, in 1809. Mrs. Piozzi, as is well known, outlived all her
contemporaries, and witnessed the popularity of a modern literature of
which she had no very high opinion.

As for Della Crusca, he married, in 1791, Miss Brunton, an actress,
whose sister became Countess of Craven, and who had played the heroine
in his tragedy of _Lorenzo_. His reply to the remonstrances of his
aunt on the _mésalliance_ shall be quoted, to show that he had his
lucid intervals. “She ought,” he said, “to be proud that he had brought
a woman of such virtue and talents into the family. Her virtue his
marrying her proved; and her talents would all be thrown away by taking
her off the stage.” Nevertheless, he afterwards weakly yielded to his
relations, and withdrew her from the stage against her own inclination,
thereby depriving himself of a source of income with which, as
a gambler and _bon vivant_, he could ill afford to dispense. He
accordingly quitted England, and must have betaken himself to France,
an adventure which befell him in Paris, in September, 1792, being thus
amusingly given by Horace Walpole:—

 In the midst of the massacre of Monday last, Mr. Merry, immortalized,
 not by his verses, but by those of the _Baviad_, was mistaken for the
 Abbé Maury, and was going to be hoisted to the _lanterne_. He cried
 out that he was Merry, the poet: the ruffians, who probably had never
 read the scene in Shakespeare, yet replied, “Then we will hang you for
 your bad verses”; but he escaped better than Cinna, I don't know how,
 and his fright cost him but a few “gossamery tears,” and I suppose
 he will be happy to re-cross the “silky ocean,” and shed dolorous
 nonsense in rhyme over the woes of _this_ happy country.

But England was not to see much more of Merry. English society was
probably not so kind to the Radical husband of an actress as it had
been to the bachelor of fashion. He withdrew, with his wife, to
America, in 1796, and died, three years afterwards, of apoplexy, in his
garden at Baltimore.

Merry did not fail to find in his own day apologists of some
pretensions to taste. I find in the notes to George Dyer's poem, _The
Poet's Fate_, published in 1797—which contains early and interesting
laudations not only of his school-fellows Lamb and Coleridge, but also
of Wordsworth and Southey—the following reference to Merry:—“But,
after all, though the hero of the _Baviad_ betrayed glitter and
negligence—though he misled the taste of some, too much inclined to
admire and imitate defects, yet Merry's writings possess poetical
merits; and the spirit of liberty and benevolence which breathes
through them is ardent and sincere.” The criticism may be incorrect,
but it is worth noting, because it is the criticism of a contemporary.
Had it not been for Coleridge's fervently expressed admiration
for Bowles's sonnets, which so perplexes critics who do not judge
literature from a historical point of view, the world would have
continued to sneer at him, with Byron, as “simple Bowles,” and to know
him only by Byron's line. The fact is, literary history will never
be intelligently written, till it is studied in the spirit of the
naturalist, to whom the tares are as interesting as the wheat. We may,
perhaps, give the Della Cruscans, with their desperate strainings after
poetic fire and poetic diction, the credit of having done something to
shake the supremacy of versified prose; of having forwarded, however
feebly, the poetic emancipation which Wordsworth and Coleridge were to
consummate. The false extravagance of Della Crusca may have cleared
the way for the truthful extravagance of Keats. It is, I am aware,
customary to attribute the regeneration of English poetry to the French
Revolution, which “shook up the sources of thought all over Europe,”
but the critics who use these glib catch-words are in no hurry to point
out a concrete chain of logical connection between Paris mobs and
sequestered poets. Plain judges will ever consider it a far cry from
_The Rights of Man_ to _Christabel_. At all events, Dyer was right in
deprecating the savagery of Gifford's satire. The question

    Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

will apply to other schools and fashions besides that of the “elegant
Cesario's,” whom Leigh Hunt designated _par excellence_ as “the plague
of the Butterflies.” And here, I think, we touch upon the moral which I
promised at the outset.

It is not very long since the country, to which Della Crusca ultimately
betook himself, received to her shores the reputed prophet of
Æstheticism, whose career, in other respects, presented remarkable
parallels with that of Robert Merry. Each made his poetical appearance
in the columns of a newspaper called the _World_; each professed
Republican opinions; each wrote poems not remarkable for truth to
nature or sobriety of diction; each represented a school; and the
name of each became as a red rag to the Giffords who played the
part of the bull in the china shop. But it is not with this clumsy
rage that posterity will regard our follies; nor is it useful, or
desirable, that we should now so regard them. It is with a smile of
amused anticipation, it is with a bland and philosophic interest,
that the antiquarian of the future will turn to the pages of _Punch_
or the libretto of _Patience_, to read of the Anna Matildas who
lately delighted to apparel themselves in what Bramston called
“shape-disguising sacks”—the Della Cruscas who took Postlethwaite for a
great poet.—_National Review._



There are people in the world who are very fond of asking what they
call point-blank questions. They generally profess to hate all
shilly-shallying, and they are at no pains to hide their suspicion that
anyone who declines to say yes or no to any question which they choose
to ask has either his intellect clouded by metaphysics or has not the
courage of his opinions. The idea that it is often more difficult to
ask a sensible question than to answer it, and that a question, however
pointed it may sound, may for all that be so blunt and vague that no
accurate and honest thinker would care or dare to answer it, never
enters their mind; while the thought that there are realms of knowledge
where indefinite language is more appropriate, and in reality more
exact and more truthful than the most definite phraseology, is scouted
as mere fencing and intellectual cowardice.

One of those point-blank questions which has been addressed to me
by several reviewers of my books is this, “Tell us, do you hold that
man began as a savage or not?” To say that man began as a savage, and
that the most savage and degraded races now existing present us with
the primeval type of man, seems to be the shibboleth of a certain
school of thought, a school with which on many points I sympathize, so
long as it keeps to an accurate and independent inquiry into facts,
and to an outspoken statement of its discoveries, regardless of all
consequences, but from which I totally dissent as soon as it tries to
make facts subservient to theories. I am told that my own utterances
on this subject have been ambiguous. Now even granting this, I could
never understand why a certain hesitation in answering so difficult a
question should rouse such angry feelings, till it began to dawn on me
that those who do not unreservedly admit that man began as a savage
are supposed to hold that man was created a perfect and almost angelic
being. This would amount to denying the gospel of the day, that man was
the offspring of a brute, and hence, I suppose, the Anathema.

Now I may say this, that though I have hesitated to affirm that man
began as a savage, whatever that may mean, I have been even more
careful not to commit myself to the opinion that man began as an angel,
or as a child, or as a perfect rational being. I strongly object to
such alternatives as that if man did not begin as a savage he must
have begun as a child. It would be dreadful if, because there is no
sufficient evidence to enable us to form a decided opinion on any given
subject, we were to be driven into a corner by such alternatives,
instead of preserving our freedom of judgment until we have the
complete evidence before us.

But in our case the evidence is as yet extremely scanty, and, from the
nature of the case, will probably always remain so. If we want to prove
that man began as a child, what evidence can we produce? If we appealed
to history, history is impossible before the invention of language; and
what language could the primitive child have spoken, what life could
it have lived, without a father and without a mother? If we give up
history and appeal to our inner consciousness, our reason, nay, our
very imagination, collapses when approaching the problem how such a
child could have been born, how such a child could have been nourished,
reared, and protected from wild animals and other dangers. We feel we
have come to the end of our tether, and are running our head against a
very old, but a very solid, wall.

Has Kant then written in vain; and is it still supposed that our senses
or our reason can ever reach transcendent truths? Has the lesson to
be taught again and again that both our senses and our reason have
their limits; that we are indeed tethered, and that it is no proof
of intellectual strength or suppleness to try to stand on our own
shoulders? We are so made that neither can our senses perceive nor can
our reason conceive the real beginning and end of anything, whether in
space or in time. And yet we imagine we can form a definite conception
of the true beginning of mankind.

Then what remains? There remains the humbler and yet far nobler task
of studying the earliest records of man's life on earth: to go back as
far as literature, language, and tools will allow us, and for a time to
consider that as primitive which, whether as a tool, or as a word, or
as a proverb, or as a prayer, is the last we can reach, and seems at
the same time so simple, so rational, so intelligible, as to require
no further antecedents. That is the true work of the historian, and of
the philosopher too; and there is plenty of work left for both of them
before they dive into the whirlpool of their inner consciousness to
find there the primordial savage.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be driven into a corner by such a
question as “Did man begin as a savage or as a child?” we have a
perfect right to ask the question, What is meant by these two words,
_savage_ and _child_?

Has any one ever attempted to define the meaning of savage, and to
draw a sharp line between a savage and a non-savage? Has any one ever
attempted to define the meaning of child, if used in opposition to
savage or brute? Have we been told whether by child is meant a suckling
without a mother, or a boy who can speak, and count, and reason
without a father? Lastly, are savage and child really terms that
mutually exclude each other? May not a savage be a child, and may not a
child be a savage?

How, then, is any one who has given serious thought to the problem of
the origin of mankind to answer such a question as “Tell me, do you
hold that man began as a savage or as a child?”

When we read some of the more recent works on anthropology, the
primordial savage seems to be not unlike one of those hideous
india-rubber dolls that can be squeezed into every possible shape, and
made to utter every possible noise. There was a time when the savage
was held up to the civilised man as the inhabitant of a lost paradise—a
being of innocence, simplicity, purity, and nobility. Rousseau ascribed
to his son of nature all the perfection which he looked for in vain
in Paris and London. At present, when so many philosophers are on the
lookout for the missing-link between man and beast, the savage, even
if he has established his right to the name of man, cannot be painted
black enough. He must be at least a man who maltreats his women,
murders his children, kills and eats his fellow-creatures, and commits
crimes from which even animals would shrink.

This devil-savage, however, of the present anthropologist is as much
a wild creation of scientific fancy as the angel-savage of former
philosophers. The true Science of Man has no room for such speculations.

Sometimes the history of a name can take the place of its definition,
but this is hardly so in our case. The Greeks spoke of barbarians
rather than of savages, and the Romans followed their example, though
they might possibly have called the national heroes and sages of
Germany and Britain not only _barbari_ but _feri_—that is, savages not
very far removed from _feræ_, or wild beasts. Our own word _savage_,
and the French _sauvage_, meant originally a man who lived in the
woods, a _silvaticus_. It was at first applied to all who remained
outside the cities, who were not _cives_, or civilised, and who in
Christian times were also called _heathen_—that is, dwellers on the

But all this does not help us much. Of course the Spaniards called
the inhabitants of America savages, though it is now quite generally
conceded that the Spanish conquerors supplanted a higher civilisation
than they established.[10] The first discoverers of India called the
naked Brahmans savages, though they could hardly have followed them
in their subtle arguments on every possible philosophical topic. Even
by us New Zealanders and Zulus are classed as savages. And yet a Zulu
proved a match for an English bishop; and some of the Maori poems and
proverbs may rightly claim a place by the side of English popular
poems and proverbs. Nothing is gained if it is said that a savage is
the opposite of a civilised man. Civilisation is the product of the
uninterrupted work of many generations; and if savage meant no more
than an uncivilised man, it is no great discovery to say that the first
man must have been a savage. No doubt he could not have been acquainted
even with what we consider the fundamental elements of civilisation,
such as the arts of reading, writing, and arithmetic. His dress must
have been very scanty, his food very primitive, his dwelling very
uncomfortable, his family life very unrestrained. And yet, for all
that, he might have been very far removed from the brute; nay, he might
have been a perfect man, doing his duty in that state of life into
which it pleased God to call him.

Civilisation, as it is well known, is as vague a term as savagery.
When Alexander, the pupil of Aristotle, the representative of Greek
civilisation, stood before the naked philosophers of India, who were
ὑλόβιοι dwellers in the forest, can we hesitate to say which of the
two was the true savage and which the sage? To the New Zealander
who has been brought into contact with European civilisation, his
former so-called savage life seems to have gained little by recent
improvements. A grand Maori chief, reputed to have been one of the
strongest men in his youth, thus speaks of the old days:[11]—

 In former times we lived differently; each tribe had its territory;
 we lived in _pas_ placed high upon the mountains. The men looked
 to war as their only occupation, and the women and the young people
 cultivated the fields. We were a strong and a healthy people then.
 When the Pakeha came, everything began to die away, even the natural
 animals of the country. Formerly, when we went into a forest, and
 stood under a tree, we could not hear ourselves speak for the noise
 of the birds—every tree was full of them. Then we had pigeons and
 everything in plenty; now many of the birds have died out.... In
 those times the fields were well tilled, there was always plenty of
 provisions, and we wore few clothes—only our own mats of feathers.
 Then the missionaries came and took our children from the fields, and
 taught them to sing hymns: they changed their minds, and the fields
 were untilled. The children came home and quoted Gospel on an empty
 stomach. Then came the war between the Pakeha and the Maori that split
 up our homes, and made one tribe fight against the other; and after
 the war came the Pakeha settlers, who took our lands, taught us to
 drink and to smoke, and made us wear clothes that brought on disease.
 What race could stand against them? The Maori is passing away like
 the _Kiwi_, the _Tui_, and many other things, and by-and-by they will
 disappear just like the leaves of the trees, and nothing will remain
 to tell of them but the names of their mountains and their rivers!

This is the view which a so-called savage takes of the benefits of
European civilisation as contrasted with the contentment and happiness
in which his forefathers had passed through this life. Let us now hear
what a highly educated American, a scholar and a philosopher, Mr.
Morgan, says of the character of the Iroquois, who are often quoted as
specimens of extreme savagery:—

 No test of friendship was too severe; no sacrifice to repay a favor
 too great; no fidelity to an engagement too inflexible for the red
 man. With an innate knowledge of the freedom and dignity of man, he
 has exhibited the noblest virtues of the heart, and the kindest deeds
 of humanity, in those sylvan retreats we are wont to look upon as
 vacant and frightful solitudes.

No one would suspect Morgan of exaggeration or sentimentality. And
if it should be objected that these were private virtues only, and
no proof of true civilisation or a well-organised society among the
Iroquois, the same writer tells us:[12]—

 They achieved for themselves a more remarkable civil organisation, and
 acquired a higher degree of influence, than any other race of Indian
 lineage, except those of Mexico and Peru. In the drama of European
 colonisation they stood for nearly two centuries with an unshaken
 front against the devastations of war, the blighting influence of
 foreign intercourse, and the still more fatal encroachments of
 a restless and advancing border population. Under their federal
 system, the Iroquois flourished in independence, and were capable of
 self-protection long after the New England and Virginia races had
 surrendered their jurisdictions and fallen into the condition of
 dependent nations; and they now stand forth upon the canvas of Indian
 history, prominent alike for the wisdom of their civil institutions,
 their sagacity in the administration of the league, and their courage
 in its defence.

The words of another author also may be quoted, who tells us:[13]—

 Their legislation was simple, and the penalties which gave law its
 sanctions well defined. Their league stood in the consent of the
 governed. It was a representative popular government, conceived in
 the wisdom of genuine statesmanship, and with the sagacity to provide
 against some of the dangers which beset popular institutions. It is
 said that the framers of our own (the American) government borrowed
 some of its features from the Iroquois league. Whether or not this be
 true, it is a matter of history that as early as 1755 a suggestion
 came from the Iroquois nation to the colonies that they should unite
 in a confederacy like their own for mutual protection.

It is the fashion to quote against these favorable statements cases
of cruelty committed by the Red Indians or the New Zealanders in
their wars among themselves and in their resistance to their white
enemies. But let us not forget the bloody pages of our own history.
We should probably say that the eighteenth century was one of the
most brilliant in the history of Europe. We should probably assign to
England at that time a foremost place among European countries, and
we know how high a position Scotchmen took during the last century
in general culture, in philosophy, in science, and statesmanship.
Yet, in his “History of England in the Eighteenth Century,” Mr. Lecky
describes the common people of Scotland as broken into fierce clans,
ruled by wild chieftains; as thieves and cattle-lifters, kidnappers
of men and children to be sold as slaves; as ferocious barbarians,
besotted with the most brutal ignorance, and the grossest and gloomiest
superstitions, possessed of the rudest modes of agriculture, scratching
the earth with a crooked piece of wood for a plough, and for a harrow
a brush attached to the tail of a horse, otherwise devoid of harness;
their food, oatmeal and milk, mixed with blood drawn from the living
cow; their cooking, revolting and filthy, boiling their beef in the
hide, and roasting fowls in their feathers, with many like customs and
demoralising habits unknown to aboriginal life among the Red Indians.

It will be clear after these few specimens, which might have been
considerably increased, that we shall make no step in advance if we
continue to use the word savage so vaguely as it has been hitherto
used. To think is difficult, but it becomes utterly impossible if we
use debased or false coin. I have been considered too inquisitive for
venturing to ask anthropologists what they meant by a fetish, but I
must expose myself once more to the same reproach by venturing to ask
them to state plainly what they mean by a savage.

Whatever other benefits a study of the science of language may confer,
there is one which cannot be valued too highly—namely, that it makes us
not only look _at_ words, but _through_ words. If we are told that a
savage means an uncivilised man, then, to say that the first man was a
savage is saying either nothing or what is self-evident. Civilisation
consists in the accumulated wisdom of countless generations of men,
and to say that the first generation of men was uncivilised is
therefore pure tautology. We are far too tolerant with respect to such
tautologies. How many people, for instance, have been led to imagine
that such a phrase as the survival of the fittest contains the solution
of the problem of the survival of certain species and the extinction
of others? To the student of language the survival of the fittest is a
mere tautology, meaning the survival of the fittest to survive, which
is the statement of a fact, but no solution of it.

It is easy to say that the meaning of savage has been explained
and defined by almost every writer on anthropology. I know these
explanations and definitions, but not one of them can be considered as
answering the requirements of a scientific definition.

Some anthropologists say that savage means wild and cruel. But in
that case no nation would be without its savages. Others say that
savages are people who wear little or no clothing. But in that case
the greatest philosophers, the gymnosophists of India, would have
to be classed as savages. If it means people without a settled form
of government, without laws and without a religion, then, go where
you like, you will not find such a race. Again, if people who have
no cities and no central government are to be called savages, then
the Jews would have been savages, the Hindus, the Arabs, the ancient
Germans, and other of the most important races in the history of
the world. In fact, whatever characteristics are brought forward as
distinctive of a savage, they can always be met by counter-instances,
showing that each definition would either include races whom no one
dares to call savage, or exclude races whom no one dares to call
civilised. It used to be imagined that the use of letters was the
principal circumstance that distinguishes a civilised people from a
herd of savages incapable of knowledge or reflection. Without that
artificial help, to quote the words of Gibbon, “the human memory soon
dissipates or corrupts the ideas committed to her charge, and the
nobler faculties of the mind, no longer supplied with models or with
materials, gradually forget their powers, the judgment becomes feeble
and lethargic, the imagination languid or irregular.” Such arguments
might pass in the days of Gibbon, but after the new light that has been
thrown on the ancient history of some of the principal nations of the
world they are no longer tenable.

No one would call the ancient Brahmans savages, and yet writing was
unknown to them before the third century B.C. Homer, quite apart from
his blindness, was certainly unacquainted with writing for literary
purposes. The ancient inhabitants of Germany, as described by Tacitus,
were equally ignorant of the art of writing as a vehicle of literature;
yet for all that we could not say, with Gibbon, that with them the
nobler faculties of the mind had lost their powers, the judgment had
become feeble, and the imagination languid.

And as we find that the use of letters is by no means an indispensable
element of true civilisation, we should arrive at the same conclusion
in examining almost every discovery which has been pointed out as a
_sine quâ non_ of civilised life. Every generation is apt to consider
the measure of comfort which it has reached as indispensable to
civilised life, but very often, in small as well as great things, what
is called civilised to-day may be called barbarous to-morrow. Races who
abstain from eating the flesh of animals are apt to look on carnivorous
people as savages; people who abstain from intoxicating drinks
naturally despise a nation in which drunkenness is prevalent. What
should we say if we entered a town in which the streets were neither
paved nor lighted, and in which the windows were without glass; where
we saw no carriages in any of the thoroughfares, and where, inside the
houses, ladies and gentlemen might be seen eating without forks and
wearing garments that had never been washed? And yet even in Paris no
street was paved before 1185. In London Holborn was first paved in
1417, and Smithfield in 1614, while Berlin was without paved streets
far into the seventeenth century. No houses had windows of glass before
the twelfth century, and as late as the fourteenth century anything
might be thrown out of window at Paris, after three times calling out
“_Gare l'eau!_” Shirts were an invention of the Crusades, and the fine
dresses which ladies and gentlemen wore during the Middle Ages were
hardly ever washed, but only refreshed from time to time with precious
scents. In 1550 we are told that there existed in Paris no more than
three carriages—one belonging to the Queen, the other to Diane de
Poitiers, and the third to René de Laval. In England coaches (so called
from the Hungarian _kossi_) date from 1580, though whirlicotes go
back to the fourteenth century. So far as we know, neither Dante nor
Beatrice used forks in eating, and yet we should hardly class them as

It is easy to say that all these are matters of small importance. No
doubt they are, but we often see them treated as matters of great
importance, when we speak of races with red skins or black skins.
With us civilisation, whether consisting of these small or great
matters, has often become a burden, a check rather than a help to
the free development of all that is noble in human nature; while
many conditions of life which we are inclined to call barbarous were
almost essential for the growth of the human mind during its earlier
stages. Can we imagine a religion growing up in modern Paris? Would
a travelling bard, such as Homer, find an audience in the streets of
London? Would a Socrates be listened to by the professors of Berlin? A
Panini sitting almost naked under a pippal tree and composing the rules
of his marvellous grammar of Sanskrit, a Bâdârâya_n_a with dishevelled
hair, spinning out of his mind the subtle web of Vedânta philosophy,
would be shunned as wild creatures by a young English officer, and
yet, on the ladder that leads to the highest excellence of intellect,
how many steps would the former stand above the latter! For carrying
out the chief objects of our life on earth, very little of what is now
called civilisation is really wanted. Many things are pleasant, without
being really essential to our fulfilling our mission on earth. For
laying the foundations of society, for settling the broad principles of
law and morality, for discovering the deep traces of order and unity in
nature, and for becoming conscious of the presence of the Divine within
and without, a life in the forests, on the mountains, ay, even in the
desert, is far more favorable than a lodging in Bond Street.

The latest attempt which has been made at defining the true character
of a savage restricts the distinctive characteristics of a savage to
three—(1) that he murders his children, (2) that he kills and eats his
fellow-men, (3) that he disregards certain laws of nature.

Now in that sense it seems quite clear that the first man could not
have been a savage, for if he had murdered his children we should not
be alive; if he had eaten his fellow-men, supposing there were any to
eat, again we should not be alive; and if he had disregarded certain
laws of nature, in that case also, probably, we should not be alive.

What, then, is to be done? Are we to say that there never were any
savages, or that it is impossible to distinguish between a savage and
a non-savage? Certainly not. All we have to do is to be on our guard
against a very common trick of language, or rather against a very
common mistake of philosophers, who imagine that the same name must
always mean the same thing. All the difficulties hitherto detailed
which have prevented anthropologists from agreeing on any real
definition of savage have arisen from their having mixed up under the
same name at least two totally different classes of men, both called
savages in ordinary parlance, but each occupying its own place in the
history of the world. How this should have happened is difficult to
explain, but I think we can trace the first beginnings in the works
of some of the earlier anthropologists, who were carried away by the
idea that we can study in the illiterate races of the present day, such
as we find in Africa, America, and Polynesia, the true character of
the primitive man, as he emerged new-born from the bowels of nature.
Scientific ethnologists have long since awaked from this fond dream,
but the primitive savage has remained as a troublesome legacy in other
quarters. Nothing can be more interesting than the study of races who
have no literature, but whose former history may be read in their
languages and their tools, and whose present state of civilisation or
savagery may certainly be used to throw collateral light on many phases
in the history of more highly civilised nations. Only let us remember
that these races and their languages are as old as the most civilised
races and their languages, while their history, if so we may call it,
seldom carries us back beyond the mere surface of the day. If we in
England are old, the Fuegians are not a day younger. If the question
as to the age of the European and American races could be settled by
geological evidence, it would seem as if America is now able to produce
human skulls older than the Neanderthal skull.[14] No one, so far as
I know, has ever succeeded in proving that after man had once been
evolved or created, a new evolution or creation of man took place,
attested by contemporaneous witnesses. The Duke of Argyll goes so far
as to maintain[15] that those who hold the opinion that different races
of men represent different species, or a species which spread from more
than one place, stand outside the general current of scientific thought.

But while scientific anthropologists have long given up the idea that,
if we want to know the condition of primitive man, we must study it
among the Fuegians or Eskimos, the subject has lost none of its charms.
It is, no doubt, a very amusing occupation to run through the books of
modern and ancient travellers, traders, or missionaries, to mark with
pencil a strange legend here, and an odd custom there, to point out
a similarity between a Shâman and an Archbishop, between a Hottentot
and Homer. This kind of work can be done in the intervals of more
serious studies, and if it is done with the facile pen of a journalist
or the epigrammatic eloquence of a young lawyer, nothing can be more
delightful. But it is dangerous work—so dangerous that the prejudice
that has lately arisen among scientific anthropologists against
Agriology seems justified, at least to a certain extent. There are
truly scholarlike works on savages. I say scholarlike intentionally,
because they are based on a scholarlike study of the languages spoken
by the races whose mental organisation has to be analysed. The works
of Bishops Callaway and Caldwell, of Brinton and Horatio Hale, of
Gill, Bleek, and Hahn, the more general compilations of Waitz, Tiele,
Lubbock, Tylor, and Reville, the clever contributions of A. Lang,
John Fiske, and others, are but the first that occur to my mind as
specimens of really useful work that may be done in this line. But the
loose and superficial appeals to savages as the representatives of a
brand-new humanity, fresh from the hands of the potter, the ignorant
attempts at explaining classical myths from Melanesian tattle, the wild
comparisons of Hebrew customs with the outrages of modern cannibals,
have at last met with their well-merited reward, and the very name of
savage is gradually disappearing from the best works on anthropology
and philosophy.

And yet there are savages, only we must distinguish. There are, as
I pointed out long ago, two classes of savages, to say nothing of
minor subdivisions—namely, _progressive_ and _retrogressive_ savages.
There is a hopeful and a hopeless barbarism, there is a growing and
a decaying civilisation. We owe a great deal to the Duke of Argyll,
particularly in his last great work, _The Unity of Nature_, for having
laid so much stress on the fact that of all works of nature man is the
one most liable to two kinds of evolution, one ascending and the other
descending. Like the individual, a whole family, tribe, or race of men
may, within a very short time, rise to the highest pitch of virtue and
culture, and in the next generation sink to the lowest level of vice
and brutality.

The first question, therefore, which we have to ask when we have to
speak of savages, is whether there is any indication of their having
once reached a higher stage from which they have descended, or whether
they are only just ascending from that low but healthy level which must
precede every attempt at what we call civilisation. We may call both
by the same name of savages, but, if we do so, we must always remember
that, from an historical point of view, no two stages in civilised life
can be more apart from each other than that of the retrogressive and
that of the progressive savage.

But even after we have laid down this broad line of demarcation, we
shall by no means find it easy to catch either a progressive or a
retrogressive savage _pur et simple_. If looking out for retrogressive
or decaying savages, most people would naturally think of Fuegians,
Tasmanians, Hottentots, Ashantis, Veddas, and Red Indians, and one of
the strongest proofs of their decay would be derived from the fact that
they are dying out wherever they are brought in contact with European
civilisation. Now it is true that the Tasmanians have become extinct,
and that several of the Red Indian tribes, too, have actually been
destroyed by our civilisation. But we must not generalise too quickly.
Some of these very tribes, the Red Indians,[16] seem to be recovering,
seem to increase again, and to be able to hold their own against the
baneful influences which threatened to destroy them. The negroes also
are by no means dwindling away. On the contrary, they are increasing
both in Africa and in America. We must therefore be careful before we
deny the recuperative powers even of retrogressive savages, and we must
look for other evidence beyond mere statistics in support of their
hopeless degeneracy.

Historical evidence of such gradual degeneracy is, from the nature of
the case, almost impossible. We must trust, therefore, to less direct
proof. I believe there is some distinct historical evidence in the
case of the Central and South American races, that at the time of the
arrival of Columbus and his successors civilisation had really been
decaying for some time in America.[17] But in nearly all other cases
we have to look out for other proofs in support of a higher antecedent
civilisation possessed by tribes who, as we know them at present, have
to be classed as savages. Such proofs, if they exist, must be sought
for in language, religion, customs, tools, and works of art.

As I look upon language neither as a ready-made gift of God nor as a
natural growth of the human mind, but as, in the true sense of the
word, a work of human art, I must confess that nothing has surprised
me so much as the high art displayed in the languages of so-called
savages. I do not wish to exaggerate; and I know quite well that a
great abundance of grammatical forms, such as we find in these savage
dialects, is by no means a proof of high intellectual development.
But if we consider how small is the number of words and ideas in the
ordinary vocabulary of an English peasant,[18] and if then we find
that one dialect of the Fuegians, the Tagan, consists of about 30,000
words,[19] we certainly hesitate before venturing to classify the
possessors of so vast an inherited wealth as the descendants of poor
savages, more savage than themselves. Such facts cannot be argued away.
We cannot prevent people from despising religious concepts different
from their own, or from laughing at customs which they themselves could
never adopt. But such a treasure of conceptual thought as is implied
in the possession of a vocabulary of 30,000 entries cannot be ignored
in our estimate of the antecedents of this Fuegian race. I select the
Fuegians as a crucial test simply because Darwin[20] selected them as
the strongest proof of his own theory, and placed them almost below
the level reached by the most intelligent animals. I have always had a
true regard for Darwin, and what I admired in him more than anything
else was his fearlessness, his simple devotion to truth. I believe
that if he had seen that his own theories were wrong, he would have
been the first to declare it, whatever his followers might have said.
But in spite of all that, no man can resist the influence of his own
convictions. When Darwin looked at the Fuegians, he no doubt saw what
he tells us, but then he saw it with Darwinian eyes. According to his
account, the party of Fuegians whom he saw resembled the devils which
come on the stage in such plays as _Der Freischütz_.[21] “Viewing such
men, one can hardly believe,” he says, “that they are fellow-creatures,
and inhabitants of the same world” (p. 235). “Their language, according
to our notions, scarcely deserves to be called articulate. Captain Cook
has compared it to a man clearing his throat, but certainly no European
ever cleared his throat with so many hoarse, guttural, and clicking

Now, even with regard to their physical aspect, Darwin must have either
been very unlucky in the Fuegians whom he met, or he cannot have kept
himself quite free from prejudice. Captain Parker Snow, in his _Two
Years Cruise of Tierra del Fuego_ (London 1857), speaks of them as
without the least exaggeration really beautiful representatives of the
human race. Professor Virchow, when exhibiting a number of Fuegians
at Berlin, strongly protested against the supposition of the Fuegians
being by nature an inferior race, so that they might be considered as a
connecting link between ape and man. But what shall we say of Darwin's
estimate of the Fuegian language? Here we can judge for ourselves,
and I doubt whether, so far as this sound is concerned, anyone would
consider Fuegian as inferior to English. Giacomo Bove, when speaking of
the Tagan dialect, says, “le parole di quella sono dolci, piacevoli,
piene di vocali.” And though he admits that some of the other dialects
are harsher, yet that is very far as yet from the sound of clearing the

And, even if the sound of their language was as guttural as some of
the Swiss dialects, how shall we account for the wealth of their
vocabulary? Every concept embodied in their language is the result of
hard intellectual labor; and although here again excessive wealth may
be an embarrassment, yet there remains enough to prove a past that must
have been very different from the present.

The workman must at least have been as great as his work; and if
the ruins of Central America tell us of architects greater than any
that country could produce at present, the magnificent ruins in the
dialects, whether of Fuegians, Mohawks, or Hottentots, tell us of
mental builders whom no one could match at present. Even in their
religious beliefs there are here and there rays of truth which could
never have proceeded from the dark night of their actual superstitions.
The Fuegians, according to Captain FitzRoy, believe in a just god and a
great spirit moving about in forests and mountains. They may believe in
a great deal more, but people who believe in a great spirit in forests
and mountains, and in a just god, are not on the lowest step of the
ladder leading from earth to heaven.

The Duke of Argyll, in examining the principal races that are commonly
called savage, has pointed out that degraded races generally inhabit
the extreme ends of continents or tracts of country almost unfit for
human habitation, or again whole islands difficult of access except
under exceptionally favorable conditions. He naturally concludes that
they did not go there of their own free will, but that they represent
conquered races, exiles, weaklings, cowards, criminals, who saved
nothing but their life in their flight before more vigorous conquerors,
or in their exile from countries that had thrown them off like poison.
Instead of looking on the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego as children
of the soil, Autochthones, or the immediate descendants of the mythical
Proanthropoi, the Duke points out that it is far more likely they may
have come from the north; that their ancestors may have participated
in the blessings of the soil and climate of Chili, Peru, Brazil,
or Mexico, possibly in the early civilisation of that part of the
world; and that the wretchedness of the country into which they were
driven fully accounts for their present degradation. Take away the
wretchedness of their present home, educate a baby, as Captain FitzRoy
did, under the beneficent influences of an English sky and of European
civilisation, and in one generation, as Mr. Darwin tells us, “his
intellect was good, and his disposition nice.”

It is quite fair that those who oppose this theory should call upon the
Duke to establish his view by the evidence of language. If the Fuegians
were the descendants of the same race which reached a high pitch of
civilisation in Peru, Mexico, or Central America, their language ought
to show the irrefragable proof of such descent. If it did, his position
would be impregnable. Unfortunately the materials now at hand have not
yet been sufficiently examined to enable us to say either yes or no.
Nor must we forget that language, when it is not fixed by a popular
literature, is liable among nomadic tribes to unlimited variation.
The number of languages spoken[22] throughout the whole of North
and South America has been estimated to considerably exceed twelve
hundred; and on the northern continent alone more than five hundred
distinct languages are said to be spoken, which admit of classification
among seventy-five ethnical groups, each with essential linguistic
distinctions, pointing to its own parent stock. Some of these languages
are merely well-marked dialects, with fully developed vocabularies.
Others have more recently acquired a dialectic character in the
breaking up and scattering of dismembered tribes, and present a very
limited range of vocabulary, suited to the intellectual requirements
of a small tribe or band of nomads. The prevailing condition of life
throughout the whole North American continent was peculiarly favorable
to the multiplication of such dialects and their growth into new
languages, owing to the constant breaking up and scattering of tribes,
and the frequent adoption into their numbers of the refugees from other
fugitive broken tribes, leading to an intermingling of vocabularies
and fresh modifications of speech. It is to be hoped that the study
of native American languages may before long receive that attention
which it so fully deserves. It must be taken up in good earnest, and
with all the accuracy which we are accustomed to in a comparative study
of Indo-European languages. All ethnological questions must for the
present be kept in abeyance till the linguistic witness can be brought
into court, and it would be extraordinary if the laurels that can here
be gained should fail to stimulate the ambition of some young scholar
in America.

As to the Fuegians at Cape Horn, so at the North Pole the Eskimos,
however low their present state of civilisation, have been looked upon
as immigrants from a centre of civilisation located in a more temperate
zone. The Eskimo leads the only life that is possible in his latitudes.
Why he should have migrated there, unless driven by _force majeure_,
is impossible to say. Unless we are willing to admit a special Eskimo
Adam, we have no choice except to look upon him either as a withering
offshoot of the American moundbuilders, or as a weak descendant of
Siberian nomads.

In Africa, the most degraded races, the Bushmen, are clearly a
corruption of the Hottentots, while it is well known that some
eminent ethnologists look upon the Hottentots as degraded emigrants
from Egypt. How much higher the civilisation of Africa stood in
former ages, we know from the monuments of Egypt and Nubia, from the
histories of Phœnicia, Carthage, and Numidia. If among the ruins of
these ancient centres of civilisation we now find tribes whom European
travellers would call savage, we see again that in the evolution of man
retrogression is as important an element as progression.

Even in Australasia, where we meet with the most repulsive customs and
the most hopeless barbarism, the Duke of Argyll shows that, according
to the principles of evolution, the separation of the islands from the
Asiatic continent would date from a period anterior to the age of man,
and that here too man must be an immigrant, a degraded offshoot from
that branch of the human race which in China or India has risen to some
kind of civilised life. For further details the pages in the last book
of the Duke of Argyll, particularly chapter x., on the “Degradation of
Man,” should be consulted. It must suffice here to quote his summing

 Instead of assuming these (savage) tribes to be the nearest living
 representatives of primeval man, we should be more safe in assuming
 them to represent the widest departure from that earliest condition of
 our race which, on the theory of development, must of necessity have
 been associated at first with the most highly favorable conditions of
 external nature.

We have thus seen that, wherever we seem to lay hold of primeval
savages who are supposed to represent to us the unchanged image of the
primeval man, the evidence of their having been autochthonous in the
places where we now find them is very weak, the proofs that they have
never changed are altogether wanting; while geographical, physical,
and linguistic considerations make it probable, though no more, that
they originally came from more favored countries, that they were driven
in the struggle for life into inhospitable climates, and that in
accommodating themselves to the requirements of their new homes they
gradually descended from a higher level of civilisation, indicated by
their language and religion, to that low level in which we find them
now. Some of them have sunk so low that, like individual members of the
noblest families in Europe, they can no longer be reclaimed. Others,
however, though shaken by sudden contact with the benefits and the
dangers of a higher civilisation, may regain their former health and
vigor, and, from having been retrogressive savages, become once more
progressive in the great struggle for existence.

But if in the cases just mentioned we feel inclined to recognise the
influence of degradation, and if we class such races as the Fuegians,
the Eskimos, the Bushmen and Hottentots, the Papuans and brown
Polynesians, as retrogressive savages, the question arises where we
can hope to find specimens of the progressive savage, or rather of the
natural man, who might teach us something of what man may have been
before civilisation completely changed him into an artificial being,
forgetful of the essential purposes of life, and who feels at home no
longer in fields and forests, on rivers or mountains, but only in that
enchanted castle of custom and fashion which he has erected for himself
out of the unmeaning fragments of former ages?

My answer is that after we have collected the primitive tools and
weapons which lie buried beneath the abodes of civilised man, our best
chance of learning some of the secrets of primitive civilisation is to
study the sacred hymns and the ancient legends of India, the traditions
embodied in the Homeric poems, and whatever has been preserved to us
of the most ancient literature of the progressive races of the world,
the Italic, Celtic, Slavonic, and Teutonic races. This of course
applies to the Aryan race only. The Semitic races are represented to
us in their progress from a nomadic to a more or less civilised life
in the Old Testament, in the earliest ballads of the Arabs, and in
passages scattered in the inscriptions of Assyrians, Babylonians, and
Phœnicians. China too in its ancient literature allows us an insight
into the age of a nascent society, while Egypt discloses to us the most
ancient of all civilisations, which can boast of a literature at a time
when the very idea of writing was as yet unknown to all other nations.

It is easy to say that all this is modern. In one sense no doubt it
is. The Vedic literature, the most ancient of the whole Aryan race,
presupposes a succession of intellectual strata which no chronology
can measure. The language of the Veda is a work of art which it must
have taken generations to build up. But is it reasonable to expect
anything less modern in the history of the human race? And is there not
a continuity in language and thought which allows us to see even in
these literary remains, call them as modern as you like, something of
the first dawn of human life. French is a very modern language, but in
_chien_ we still hear the Sanskrit _ṥvan_; in _journal_ we recognise
the old Vedic deity _Dyaus_. In the same way we can go back from
what is common to Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, to what was the common
language of the Aryans before they broke up in different nationalities.
In that common Aryan vocabulary, again, we can distinguish between
what is radical and primitive and what is formal and secondary. Thus
we may go back beyond all so-called historical limits to a stage of
primitive thought, represented by a small number of radical concepts,
and a still smaller number of formal elements. And is not that enough?
Is it not more historical and more trustworthy, at all events, than
all _à priori_ speculations? and have we not at least a right to
demand this from our _à priori_ friends, that, in running their tunnel
from the other end, they should take care that when it emerges into
the daylight of history it should meet the tunnel which comparative
philology, mythology, and theology have carefully dug out on the
opposite side through the solid rock of facts? It will never do for
_à priori_ theories to run counter to _à posteriori_ facts. It is a
fact, for instance, proved by historical evidence, that fetichism
represents a secondary stage in the growth of religion, and that it
presupposes an earlier stage, in which the name and the concept of
something divine, the predicate of every fetich, was formed. It would
be fatal, therefore, to any system of _à priori_ reasoning if it placed
fetichism before that phase in the development of human thought which
is represented by the first formation of divine concepts. It would be a
real hysteron-proteron.

Again, it is a fact, proved by historical evidence, that all the words
of the Aryan languages are derived from definite roots, expressive of
definite concepts. It would therefore be fatal, again, to any system
of _à priori_ reasoning if it attempted to derive words direct from
more or less inarticulate cries or imitations of cries, and not from
that small number of roots which has been proved to supply all that is
really wanted in explanation of all the facts of Aryan speech.

Again, it is a fact, proved by historical evidence, that most of the
ancient deities of the Aryan nations have names expressive of the
great powers of nature, and it would be an insult to all historical
scholarship if our _à priori_ friends were to attempt to prove once
more that the worship of Zeus was derived from a general reverence
felt for a gentleman of the name of Sky, or the belief in Eos from
a sentimental devotion excited by a young lady of the name of Dawn.
I believe it will be admitted by all honest anthropologists that the
philological identification of one single word, Dyaus in the Veda and
Zeus in Homer, has done more for rectifying our ideas of the true
course of ancient Aryan civilisation than all the myths and customs of
savages put together.

There was a time when the students of Oriental literature were inclined
to claim an extravagant antiquity for the books which they had rescued
from oblivion. But that tendency has now been changed into the very
opposite. There may be traces of it among Chinese, sometimes among
Egyptian and Accadian scholars, but wherever we have to deal with a
real literature, whether in India, Persia, or Palestine, scholars are
far more anxious to point out what is modern than what is ancient,
whether in the Veda the Avesta, or the Old Testament. I certainly do
not feel guilty of ever having claimed an excessive antiquity for the
Rig-Veda. From the very first, though I placed the whole of Vedic
literature before Buddhism, say the sixth century B.C. and though,
owing to the changes in language, style, and thought which are clearly
perceptible in different parts of Vedic literature, owing also to
certain astronomical dates, I ventured to place it between 1000 and
1500 B.C., yet I have never concealed my impression that some portions
of the Veda may turn out to be of far more recent origin.[23]

But is not that sufficient? Is it not perfectly marvellous that so
much that is really old, so much that carries us back more than 3,000
years, should have been preserved to us at all? Why will people ask
for what is impossible? Savages they say, do not read and write, and
yet they want to have trustworthy information from literary documents
composed by those very savages who cannot read and write. Among the
Aryan nations, I do not believe in any written books before the sixth
century B.C. In China, books may have been older, papyri are older in
Egypt, and clay tablets in Babylon. But even when literature began,
the very last that ancient people do is to write about themselves,
about their manners and customs. What we know of the manners and
customs of ancient people, when they were still passing through that
phase which we call progressive savagery, comes to us from strangers
only. As modern travellers give us full accounts of the life of savages
who cannot speak and write for themselves, our only chance of learning
something about our own ancestors, before they began to write, would
be from ancient travellers who were interested in these promising
savages. Now it is a piece of excessive good luck that, with regard to
one of the Aryan races, with regard to our own Teutonic ancestors, we
possess such a book, written by a stranger who felt deeply interested
in German savages, and who has told us what they were, before they
could write and tell us themselves what they were. If we want to study
the progressive savage, not as he ought to have been, according to _à
priori_ philosophy, nor as he might have been, according to what we see
among Fuegians of the present day, but as he really was according to
the best information that could be collected by the best of historians,
we must, read and read again the _Germania_ of Tacitus.

If history means the evidence of contemporary eye-witnesses, I doubt
whether history will ever enable us to see further into the natural
transition of barbarism into civilisation than in the _Germania_ of
Tacitus. To divide civilisation from barbarism by a sharp line is of
course impossible. There are remnants of barbarism in the most advanced
state of civilisation, and there are sparks of civilisation in the most
distant ages of barbarism—at least of that healthy barbarism which is
represented to us in the _Germania_, and of which we find but scanty
fragments in the ancient literature of the civilising nations of the

Here we may see ourselves as we were not quite two thousand years ago.
Here we may see from how small beginnings the highest civilisation may
be reached. Here we may study the natural man as he really was, in some
respects certainly a savage, but a progressive savage, as we know from
his later history, and certainly without one sign of that corruption
and decay which is so plainly visible in Hottentots and Papuans.

This book, the account of the site, the manners, and the inhabitants of
Germany, by Tacitus, has had various fates. To every German, to every
member of the Teutonic race, it has always been a kind of national
charter, a picture of a golden age, adorned with all that is considered
most perfect, pure, and noble in human nature; whereas French _savants_
have often either ridiculed the work of Tacitus as a mere romance,
or so interpreted his words as to turn the ancient Germans into real

This controversy has been carried on during several centuries. M.
Guizot, for instance, in his _History of Civilisation_ completely
ignoring the distinction between retrogressive and progressive savages,
tried to show that there was little to choose between the Germans of
Tacitus and the Red Indians of the present day.

This controversy became embittered by a curious circumstance. Whereas
Tacitus and other Roman writers spoke in glowing terms of the Teutonic
races, their remarks on the Gauls, the ancient inhabitants of France,
were not only far from complimentary, but happened to touch on points
on which Frenchmen are particularly sensitive. Tertullian, who was
a great admirer of the Jews, was very wroth with Tacitus because he
used very anti-Semitic language. He actually calls Tacitus a “brawler,
and the greatest teller of lies,”[24] The French do not differ much
from that opinion, not so much because Tacitus spoke ill of the Jews,
and likewise of the Celts of Gaul, as because he spoke so well of
the _paysans du Danube_. The ancient classical writers dwell rather
strongly on the unfavorable side of the Celtic character. It is well
known how low an opinion Aristotle formed of Celtic morality. Strabo
says that the Celts are simple, but proud and sensitive, fond of
dress and ornaments. It is even hinted that they dyed their hair,
and allowed their mustache to grow, so that it interfered with the
comfort of eating and drinking.[25] Strabo goes on to say that they
are not malicious, but reckless, changeable, fond of innovation, and
never to be depended on. They are quick in their resolutions, but
often inconsiderate, fond of war, brave, but intolerably conceited if
victorious, and quite demoralised if defeated. Polybius confirms that
their first onslaught is terrible, but both Cæsar and Livy agree as to
their want of steadiness and perseverance. Other Latin authors add that
they are unmanageable and inclined to revolutions, and that, owing to
continual factions, many are obliged to leave the country, and to try
their fortunes as adventurers elsewhere. Still darker colors were added
by others to this picture of national depravity. The state of morality
in Gaul was such that it was considered infamous for a father to be
seen in company with his son before the latter had come of age. At the
death of a nobleman his widow was, as a matter of course, subjected to
a trial as to whether she had been the cause of her husband's death.
Strabo affirms that it was their custom to cut off the heads of their
enemies after a battle, and to hang them on the heads of their horses,
or nail them over their doors. While German scholars composed this
mosaic out of all the stones that classical writers had ever thrown at
the inhabitants of Gaul, French writers retaliated by either throwing
discredit on Tacitus, the supposed encomiast of the Germans, or by
showing that the account which Tacitus gives of the ancestors of the
Teutonic race proves better than anything else that, at his time, the
Germans had not yet emerged from a state of the grossest barbarism, and
were incapable, therefore, as yet of vices of which they maintain are
the outcome of a more advanced state of civilisation.

To my mind, apart from any national idiosyncrasies, the description
which Tacitus gives us of the Germans, as he had seen them, is
perfectly unique and invaluable as a picture of what I should willingly
call the life of progressive savages. What should we give if, besides
the hymns of the Rig-Veda, we had the accounts of travellers who
had actually seen the ancient Rishis of India with their flocks and
families, their priests and sacrifices, their kings and battles? What
should we give if, besides the Homeric poems, we had the work of an
eyewitness who could describe to us the real Troy, and the real fight
between Greece and Asia Minor? This is what Tacitus has done for
Germany, and at a time when the ancient religion was still living,
when the simple laws of a primitive society were still observed, and
when the epic poems of a later time were still being sung as ballads
at the feasts of half-naked warriors! In Tacitus, therefore, and not
in the missionary accounts of Melanesian savages, should we study the
truly primitive man, primitive in the only sense in which we shall ever
know of primitive man, and primitive certainly in a far truer sense
than Papuans or Fuegians are likely to be in the nineteenth century.
I cannot understand how an historian like Guizot could have allowed
himself to be so much misguided by national prejudice as to speak of
Tacitus as a kind of Montaigne or Rousseau, who, in a fit of disgust
with his own country, drew a picture of Germany as a mere satire on
Roman manners, or to call the _Germania_ “the eloquent sulking of
a patriotic philosopher who wishes to see virtue where he does not
find the disgraceful effeminacy and the elegant depravity of an old
society.” Surely the work of Tacitus cannot have been very fresh in the
memory of the great French historian when he delivered this judgment.
If Tacitus, like Rousseau or Voltaire, had intended to draw the picture
of an ideal barbarism, would he have mentioned the many vices of the
German Utopia, the indolence of the Germans, their drunkenness, their
cruelty to slaves, their passion for gambling, and their riotous
revels? Besides, three-fourths of his book treat of subjects which
have no bearing whatever on Roman society, nay, which are of so little
interest to the general reader that I doubt whether many Romans would
have taken the trouble to read them. The facts which came to the
knowledge of Tacitus are so loosely strung together that his book looks
more like a collection of memoranda than the compact and pointed
pamphlet of a political satirist. We need only read the letters of
Voltaire on England, or Montalembert's pamphlet, _De l'Angleterre_,
in order to perceive the difference between a political satire and
an historical memoir. No doubt a man of the temper of Tacitus would
naturally dwell with satisfaction on the bright side of the German
character, and, while holding before the eyes of his own nation the
picture of a brave and simple, religious and independent race, might
naturally think of what Rome once had been, and was no longer. But
there is no more sarcasm or satire in his work than is inseparable from
a straightforward statement of facts when addressed to ears no longer
accustomed to the sound of unvarnished truth.

So little did M. Guizot perceive the unique character of the _Germania_
of Tacitus as an historical document of the earliest stage of society,
that he amused himself with collecting from various books of travel a
number of facts observed among the very lowest races in America and
Africa, which, as he thinks, form an exact parallel to the statements
of Tacitus with regard to the good and bad qualities of the Germans.
His parallel columns, which occupy nearly ten pages, are certainly
amusing, but they prove nothing, least of all that there was no
difference between the healthy sons of Germany and the tattooed
cannibals of New Zealand. If they prove anything, it is that there
is one kind of barbarism through which every nation has to pass, the
childhood and wild youth of a race, to be followed by the mature vigor
of a nation's manhood, and that there is another kind of barbarism
which leads to nothing, but ends in mere brutality, shrinking from
contact with higher civilisation and succumbing when it attempts to
imitate with monkeyish delight the virtues and vices of a more advanced
society. Why is it that the fresh breezes of European civilisation
proved fatal to the consumptive barbarism of the wretched inhabitants
of Australia, while the strong constitution of the Germans of Tacitus
resisted even the poisonous vapors of Roman life? When the results are
so different, surely there must be a difference in the antecedents,
and though M. Guizot is successful in showing that in some respects
the ancient Germans did the same things and said the same things as
Ojibways and Papuans, he forgets in drawing his conclusion the old
proverb, _Si duo dicunt idem, non est idem_.

After these remarks it will perhaps seem less surprising that students
of antiquity should decline to answer the point-blank question whether
man began his life on earth as a savage. Every definition that has
been attempted of a savage in general, has broken down as soon as
it was confronted with facts. The only characteristic of the savage
which remained, and was strong enough to withstand the sharpest
cross-examination, was cannibalism. But I am not aware that even the
most extreme believers in the primitive savage would insist on his
having been necessarily a cannibal, a kind of human Kronos, swallowing
his own kith and kin.

Every attempt to place the savage who can _no longer_ be called
civilised in the place of the savage who can _not yet_ be so-called,
could only end, as it has, in utter confusion of thought.

Something, however, will be gained, or at all events some kind of
mutual understanding will become possible, if in future discussions on
the character of primitive man a careful distinction is made between
the two kinds of savages, the progressive and the retrogressive. When
that distinction has once been grasped, the question whether man began
as a savage has no longer anything perplexing about it. Man certainly
began as a savage, but as a progressive savage. He certainly did not
begin with an innate knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic; but,
on the other hand, there is nothing to lead us to suppose that he was
a being altogether foul and filthy, that when he grew up he invariably
ill-treated his wife or wives, and that still later in life he passed
his time in eating his children.

If we must need form theories or reason by analogy on the primitive
state of man, let us go to the nearest _ci-près_, such as the Vedic
Hindus, or the Germans as described by Cæsar and Tacitus, but not to
Fuegians, who in time and probably in space also are the most widely
removed from the primitive inhabitants of our globe. If we knew
nothing of the manners and customs of the Saxons, when they first
settled in these isles, should we imagine that they must have resembled
the most depraved classes of modern English society? Let us but once
see clearly that the Fuegian, whether as described by Darwin or by
Parker Snow, is the most modern of human beings, and we shall pause
before we see in him the image of the first ancestor of the human race.
Wherever we look we can see the rise and fall of the human race. We
can see it with our own eyes, if we look at the living representatives
of some of our oldest and noblest families; we can read it in history
if we compare ancient India with modern India, ancient Greece with
modern Greece. The idea that the Fuegian was salted and preserved for
us during many thousands of years, so that we might study in him the
original type of man, is nothing but a poetical sentiment unsupported
alike by fact, analogy, and reason.

I know full well that when I speak of the Germans of Tacitus or of
the Aryans of the Veda as the _ci-près_ of primitive man, all the
indications of modern, or at all events of secondary and tertiary
thought which I have pointed out myself in the hymns of the Rig-Veda,
and which might easily be collected from the book of Tacitus, will
be mustered against me. Must I quote the old saying again: _Est
quoddam prodire tenus si non datur ultra_? All I maintain is that
these historical documents bring us as near to the primitive man as
historical documents can bring us; but that the nearest point within
our reach is still very far from the cradle of the human race, no one
has pointed out more often than myself.

There is, however, plenty of work still to be done in slowly following
up the course of human progress and tracing it back to its earliest
stages, as far as literary, monumental, and traditional documents will
allow us to do so. There are many intricate windings of that historical
river to be explored, many riddles to be solved, many lessons to be
learnt. One thing only is quite certain—namely, that the private diary
of the first man will never be discovered, least of all at Cape Horn.

I have thus tried to show how untenable is the theory which would
boldly identify the modern savage with primitive man, and how cautious
we ought to be whenever we take even a few hints here and there from
degraded tribes of the present day in order to fill out our imaginary
picture of the earliest civilisation of our race. Some lessons, and
even important lessons, may be learnt from savages, if only they
are studied in a truly scholarlike spirit, as they have been, for
instance, by Callaway and Codrington, by Waitz and Tylor. But if the
interpretation of an Homeric custom or myth requires care, that of
African or Polynesian customs or myths requires ten times greater care,
and if a man shrinks from writing on the Veda because he does not know
Sanskrit, he should tremble whenever he writes the names of Zulus,
unless he has some idea of what Bântu grammar means.

In arguing so far, I have carefully kept to the historical point of
view, though I am well aware that the principal traits in the imaginary
picture of primitive man are generally taken from a very different
source. We are so made that for everything that comes before us we have
to postulate a cause and a beginning. We therefore postulate a cause
and a beginning for man. The ethnologist is not concerned with the
first cause of man, but he cannot resist the craving of his mind to
know at least the beginning of man.

Most ethnologists used to hold that, as each individual begins as
a child, mankind also began as a child; and they imagined that a
careful observation of the modern child would give them some idea of
the character of the primeval child. Much ingenuity has been spent on
this subject since the days of Voltaire, and many amusing books have
been the result, till it was seen at last that the modern baby and the
primeval baby have nothing in common but the name, not even a mother or
a nurse.

It is chiefly due to Darwin and to the new impulse which he gave to
the theory of evolution that this line of argument was abandoned as
hopeless. Darwin boldly asked the question whose child the primeval
human baby could have been, and he answered it by representing the
human baby as the child of non-human parents. Admitting even the
possibility of this _transitio in aliud genus_, which the most honest
of Darwin's followers strenuously deny, what should we gain by this
for our purpose—namely, for knowing the primitive state of man, the
earliest glimmerings of the human intellect? Our difficulties would
remain exactly the same, only pushed back a little further.

Disappointing as it may sound, the fact must be faced, nevertheless,
that our reasoning faculties, wonderful as they are, break down
completely before all problems concerning the origin of things. We
may imagine, we may believe, anything we like about the first man; we
can know absolutely nothing. If we trace him back to a primeval cell,
the primeval cell that could become a man is more mysterious by far
than the man that was evolved from a cell. If we trace him back to a
primeval pro-anthropos, the pro-anthropos is more unintelligible to us
than even the protanthropos would be. If we trace back the whole solar
system to a rotating nebula, that wonderful nebula which by evolution
and revolution could become an inhabitable universe is, again, far more
mysterious than the universe itself.

The lesson that there are limits to our knowledge is an old lesson,
but it has to be taught again and again. It was taught by Buddha, it
was taught by Socrates, and it was taught for the last time in the
most powerful manner by Kant. Philosophy has been called the knowledge
of our knowledge; it might be called more truly the knowledge of
our ignorance, or, to adopt the more moderate language of Kant, the
knowledge of the limits of our knowledge.—_Nineteenth Century._


[10] Charles Hawley, _Addresses before the Cayuga County Historical
Society_, 1883-84, p. 31.

[11] _The King Country; or, Explorations in New Zealand_, by T. H.
Kerry; see Nicholls in the _Academy_, Aug. 23, 1884, p. 113.

[12] _The League of the Iroquois_, p. 12.

[13] Hawley, _l.c._, p. 17.

[14] See, however, Daniel Wilson, _Pre-Aryan American Man_, p. 47.

[15] _Unity of Nature_, p. 393.

[16] _The Indians in the United States._—In an interesting paper read
at a recent meeting of the Académie des Sciences, M. Paul Passy,
who has recently returned from a visit to the North-Western States
of America, endeavored to show that the generally accepted theory
of the eventual disappearance of the “red man” is erroneous, and
that though certain tribes have been exterminated in war and others
decimated by disease and “firewater,” the contact of civilisation is
not necessarily fatal to the Indians. M. Passy states that there are
at present 376,000 Indians in the country, of whom 67,000 have become
United States citizens. The Indians in the reserve territories are in
part maintained by the Government, many of them, however, earning their
living by shooting and fishing, and also by agriculture. The progress
which they have made in farming is shown by the fact that they had
under cultivation in 1882 more than 205,000 acres of land, as against
157,000 in India. Moreover, the total Indian population, exclusive
of the Indians who are citizens of the United States and of those in
Alaska, had increased during the same interval by more than 5,000. M.
Passy says that the Federal Government, though not doing nearly so
much as it should for the education of Indian children, devoted a sum
of $365,515 to this purpose in 1882, and in the State of New York the
six Iroquois “nations” settled there have excellent schools, which
three-fourths of their children regularly attend. The five “nations”
in Indian territory are also well cared for in this respect, having 11
schools for boarders, and 198 day schools attended by 6,183 children.
In 1827, a Cherokee invented a syllabic alphabet of 85 letters, and
this alphabet is now used for the publication of a newspaper in the
Cherokee language. In addition to the tribes in cantonments, a great
many children (about 8,000) are disseminated among the schools in the
different States. There are also three normal and industrial schools in
which, apart from elementary subjects, the boys are taught agriculture
and different trades, and the girls sewing, cooking, and housekeeping.
A journal in the Dakota tongue, called the _Yapi Oaye_, is published
at Chicago for the benefit of the pupils in that region, and it is
said that the Indians of the territories show themselves very anxious
to learn, so much so that the Ometras of Nebraska have sold part of
their territory so as to be able to keep up their schools. M. Passy
adds that the Americans differ very much in their estimate of the sum
required for providing all the young Indians with a sound education,
some of them putting it as high as $10,000,000, while the lowest
estimate is $3,000,000, or ten times as much as is now being spent.
His conclusion is that if the Indians are destined to disappear, it
will be because they become fused with the other citizens of the United
States.—_Times_, Sept. 8, 1884.

[17] See Hawley, _l.c._, p. 31.

[18] _Lectures on Science of Language_, vol. i. p. 308.

[19] See Giacomo Bove, _Viaggio alla Patagonia ed alla Terra del
Fuoco_, in _Nuova Antologia_, Dec. 15, 1881.

[20] _Travels_, Deutsch von Dieffenbach. Braunschweig, 1844, p. 229.

[21] Darwin, _Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H.M.'s Ships
“Adventure” and “Beagle,”_ 1839, vol. iii. p. 226.

[22] D. Wilson, _Pre-Aryan American Man_, p. 4.

[23] _Rig-Veda-Sanhita, the Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans, translated by
M. M._, Vol. i. p. xxxix.

[24] Tertullian, _Apolog._ 16: “rabula et mendaciorum loquacissimus.”

[25] See Strabo, iv. 196; Plin. xvii. 12; Liv. xxxviii. 17.



The Marquis de Dangeau wrote, in his journal for the 1st of October,
1684: “Aujourd'hui est mort le bonhomme Corneille.” The illustrious
dramatist was an old man, for he had been born in 1606. He was a good
old fellow in his way, being always an honest and upright man, though
the appellation “le bonhomme” was less frequently given to him than to
La Fontaine.

Had it been as much the fashion fifty years ago as now to honor great
men by anniversaries, in the year 1836 a more gracious homage might
have been paid to the author of _Le Cid_. At Christmastime in that year
this play burst upon Paris. As a bombshell carries with it destruction,
the _Cid_ gave sudden and unexpected delight to all who saw it. It
is the first of French tragedies that has left a mark; no earlier
tragedy is now generally remembered. Corneille woke up to find himself
famous. It appears that, though he was by no means a novice, he was as
much astonished as anyone at the great success of his play. The Court
liked it, and the town liked it. It was at once translated into many
languages. In France people learnt passages of it by heart, and for
a while there was a popular saying, “Cela est beau comme le _Cid_.”
If the good folk in Paris had only bethought themselves in 1836 of
celebrating the bi-centenary of the appearance of the _Cid_ the event
would have sounded happier than of now celebrating the author's death.
But fashion rules much in this world. It has not yet become fashionable
to recollect the date of a great man's great work—fifty years ago it
had not become fashionable to have centenaries at all; so that now,
all other excuses failing, we must seize upon the bi-centenary of
Corneille's death as a date upon which to honor him. Let us hope that
on the 6th of June, 1906, the ter-centenary of his birth, a more joyful
note may be sung.

We have said that Pierre Corneille was a good old fellow in his way,
but it was his misfortune that his way was not more like that of other
men. He was very poor during the last ten or twelve years of his
life. He walked out one day with a friend, and went into a shop to
have his shoe mended. During the operation he sat down upon a plank,
his friend sitting beside him. After the cobbler had finished his job
Corneille took from his purse three bits of money to pay for his shoe,
and when the two gentlemen got home Corneille's friend offered him
his purse, but he declined all assistance. Corneille was of a proud
and independent nature. He is reported to have said of himself, “Je
suis saoûl de gloire, mais affamé d'argent.” He has been accused of
avarice—unjustly, we think—because he tried to get as much money as he
could for his plays. If a man wants money he will try to obtain that
which he thinks should belong to him. And if he wants it badly, his
high notions of dignity—if it be only mock dignity—will go to the wall.
No fine gentleman nowadays would think it beneath him to take £100
from a publisher or from a theatrical manager after it had been fairly
earned. Some ask for their £100 before it has been earned. Two hundred
years ago a poet was supposed to be paid with honor and glory, but,
unfortunately for himself, Corneille wanted more solid acknowledgment.
And two hundred years ago the rights of authorship were not so well
understood as now. In France, as in England, very few men could have
lived by their pen alone. It is true that the dramatists were among the
most fortunate, but many years had elapsed since Corneille's plays had
been popular at the theatre. In 1670 Molière, as theatrical manager,
had given him 2,000 francs for a piece. This was considered a large
sum, and it may be doubted if Molière's company ever got back their
money. The play was _Tite et Bérénice_, and it was played alternately
with _Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme_. We may judge which of the two plays
we should like to see best. Corneille had to make the most of his
2,000 francs, for his pension, supposed to be paid to him every year
from the Civil List, was always delayed. The year was made to have
fifteen months! Sometimes the pension was not paid at all. So that poor
Corneille was hard pressed for money in the latter years of his life,
from 1672 to 1684, while his years of greatest triumph had been from
1636 to 1642. And he had small resources except what had come to him
from writing. His two sons went into the army, and he had to provide
for them at a time when his payments from the theatre were diminishing.
There is no evidence which should make us think he was avaricious or
greedy for money.

In his manner Corneille was apt to be awkward and ungainly. A
contemporary says that when he first saw him he took him for a
tradesman at Rouen. Rouen was his birthplace, and there he lived until
his avocations compelled him, against his will, to live in Paris.
Like La Fontaine, he made a poor figure in society. He did not talk
well. He was not good company, and his friends were bound to confess
that he was rather a bore. Those who knew him well enough would hint
to him his defects, at which he would smile, and say, “I am none the
less Pierre Corneille.” But his physiognomy, when observed, was far
from commonplace. His nephew, Fontenelle, says of him: “His face was
pleasant enough; a large nose, a good mouth, his expression lively, and
his features strongly marked and fit to be transmitted to posterity in
a medal or in a bust.” Corneille begins a letter to Pellisson with the
following verses, describing himself:

    En matière d'amour je suis fort inégal,
    Je l'écris assez bien, je le fais assez mal;
    J'ai la plume féconde et la bouche stérile,
    Bon galant au théâtre et fort mauvais en ville;
    Et l'on peut rarement m'écouter sans ennui
    Que quand je me produis par la bouche d'autrui.

This is a charming little bit of autobiography. And in the same letter,
after the verses, the old poet says, “My poetry left me at the same
time as my teeth.”

All this he writes, laughing in his sleeve. But often enough he was
melancholy and depressed. Again we quote from Fontenelle: “Corneille
was of a melancholy temperament. He required stronger emotions to make
him hopeful and happy than to make him mournful or despondent. His
manner was brusque, and sometimes rude in appearance, but at bottom
he was very easy to live with, and he was affectionate and full of
friendliness.” When he heard of large sums of money being given to
other men for their plays, for pieces that the world liked perhaps
better than his own, he got unhappy, for he felt that his glory was
departing from him. Need we go back two hundred years to find instances
of men who have become unhappy from similar causes? There are many such
in London and in Paris at this moment. Early in his career, before the
days of the _Cid_, he was proud of his calling. He gloried in being
one of the dramatic authors of his time. He says:—

    Le théâtre est un fief dont les rentes sont bonnes.

And also:—

    Mon travail sans appui monte sur le théâtre,
    Chacun en liberté l'y blâme ou l'idolâtre.

Then he had the ball at his feet, and all the world was before him. He
had just made his name, and was honored by Richelieu—being appointed
one of his five paid authors. But minister and poet did not like each
other. The autocrat was in something of the same position towards his
inferior as is the big boy towards the little boy who gets above him at
school. The big boy wanted to thrash the little boy, and the little boy
wouldn't have it; but at last he had to suffer for his precociousness.
The big boy summoned other little boys to his assistance, and made them
administer chastisement to the offender. This was the examination of
the _Cid_ by the Academy.

    “En vain, contre le _Cid_ un ministre se ligue,
    Tout Paris pour Chimène a les yeux de Rodrigue;
    L'Académie en corps a beau le censurer,
    Le public révolté s'obstine à l'admirer.”

Corneille was a voluminous writer. He wrote nearly as many plays as
Shakespeare, but his later ones are not equal to those of his best
days. And he wrote a translation in verse of the _Imitatione Christi_.
This was a pecuniary success. The book was bought and eagerly read,
though now it is rarely taken down from the shelf. But his prose,
unlike Racine's, which charms by its grace, is insignificant. And,
unlike Racine, his speech when he was received into the French Academy
was dull, and disappointed everybody. An Academical reception is one
of the occasions in which Frenchmen have always expected that the
recipient of honor should distinguish himself. But it was not in
Corneille's power to please his audience by making a speech. We need
not be too heavy upon him because his glory was not universal. As he
said of himself, he was none the less Pierre Corneille. Readers have
generally extolled Corneille too highly, or have not given him his due
praise. This is partly from the fact that after his great success he
wrote much that was unworthy of his former self; and partly, we believe
at least, that even in his best plays he is too spasmodic. His fine
lines come out too much by starts, amidst much that is uninteresting.
The famous “Qu'il mourût” (_Horace_, Act III., sc. 6) is very grand,
and the next line, though not English in sentiment, is fine. But the
four succeeding lines are washy, and take away from the dignity of what
has just gone before. Instinctively Corneille was a dramatist, and
had it not been for the laws of the unities which bound him down to
conventional and unwise rules, he would in all probability have risen
higher in the world's esteem. He was also a poet, having the gift of
poetical expression more at his command than the larger measure of
composition in prose. His lines are often sweet and very stirring,
for he was moved towards his subject with a true feeling of poetic
chivalry. None of his lines is more quoted than one in which he proudly
spoke of himself:—

    Je ne dois qu'à moi seul toute ma renommée.

    —_Gentleman's Magazine._




Charles Dickens was a very little and very sickly boy, but he had
always the belief that this circumstance had brought to him the
inestimable advantage of having greatly inclined him to reading.

When money troubles came upon his parents, the poor little fellow was
taken away from school and kept for some time at an occupation most
distasteful to him, with every surrounding that could jar on sensitive
and refined feelings. But the great hardship, and the one which he felt
most acutely, was the want of the companionship of boys of his own age.
A few years later on we read in “Mr. Forster's Life” a schoolfellow's
description of Charles Dickens: “A healthy-looking boy, small, but
well-built, with a more than usual flow of spirits, inclining to
harmless fun, seldom, if never, I think, to mischief. He usually held
his head more erect than lads ordinarily do, and there was a general
smartness about him.” This is also a very good personal description of
the man.

I have never heard him refer in any way to his own childish days,
excepting in one instance, when he would tell the story of how, when
he lived at Chatham he and his father often passed Gad's Hill in their
walks, and what an admiration he had for the red-brick house with its
beautiful old cedar trees, and how it seemed to him to be larger and
finer than any other house; and how his father would tell him that if
he were to be very persevering and were to work hard he might perhaps
some day come to live in it. I have heard him tell this story over and
over again, when he had become the possessor of the very place which
had taken such a hold upon his childish affections. Beyond this, I
cannot recall a single instance of any allusion being made by him to
his own early childhood.

He believed the power of observation in very young children to be close
and accurate, and he thought that the recollection of most of us could
go further back than we supposed. I do not know how far my own memory
may carry me back, but I have no remembrance of my childhood which is
not immediately associated with him.

He had a wonderful attraction for children and a quick perception of
their character and disposition; a most winning and easy way with
them, full of fun, but also of a graver sympathy with their many small
troubles and perplexities, which made them recognise a friend in him at

I have often seen mere babies, who would look at no other stranger
present, put out their tiny arms to him with unbounded confidence,
or place a small hand in his and trot away with him, quite proud and
contented at having found such a companion; and although with his own
children he had sometimes a sterner manner than he had with others,
there was not one of them who feared to go to him for help and advice,
knowing well that there was no trouble too trivial to claim his
attention, and that in him they would always find unvarying justice and
love. When any treat had to be asked for, the second little daughter,
always a pet of her father's, was pushed into his study by the other
children, and always returned triumphant. He wrote special prayers
for us as soon as we could speak, interested himself in our lessons,
would give prizes for industry, for punctuality, for neat and unblotted
copy-books. A word of commendation from him was indeed most highly
cherished, and would set our hearts glowing with pride and pleasure.

His study, to us children, was rather a mysterious and awe-inspiring
chamber, and while he was at work no one was allowed to enter it. We
little ones had to pass the door as quietly as possible, and our little
tongues left off chattering. But at no time through his busy life was
he too busy to think of us, to amuse us, or to interest himself in all
that concerned us. Ever since I can remember anything I remember him
as the good genius of the house, and as its happy, bright, and funny
genius. He had a peculiar tone of voice and way of speaking for each of
his children, who could tell, without being called by name which was
the one addressed. He had funny songs which he used to sing to them
before they went to bed. One in particular, about an old man who caught
cold and rheumatism while sitting in an omnibus, was a great favorite,
and as it was accompanied by sneezes, coughs, and gesticulations,
it had to be sung over and over again before the small audience was

I can see him now, through the mist of years, with a child nearly
always on his knee at this time of the evening, his bright and
beautiful eyes full of life and fun. I can hear his clear sweet voice
as he sang to those children as if he had no other occupation in the
world but to amuse them; and when they grew older, and were able
to act little plays, it was their father himself, who was teacher,
manager, and prompter to the infant amateurs. These theatricals were
undertaken as earnestly and seriously as were those of the grown up
people. He would teach the children their parts separately; what to do
and how to do it, acting himself for their edification. At one moment
he would be the dragon in “Fortunio,” at the next one of the seven
servants, then a jockey—played by the youngest child, whose little legs
had much difficulty to get into the tiny top-boots—until he had taken
every part in the play.

As with his grown-up company of actors, so with his juvenile company,
did his own earnestness and activity work upon them and affect each
personally. The shyest and most awkward child would come out quite
brilliantly under his patient and always encouraging training.

At the juvenile parties he was always the ruling spirit. He had
acquired by degrees an excellent collection of conjuring tricks, and on
Twelfth Night—his eldest son's birthday—he would very often, dressed as
a magician, give a conjuring entertainment, when a little figure which
appeared from a wonderful and mysterious bag, and which was supposed
to be a personal friend of the conjuror, would greatly delight the
audience by his funny stories, his eccentric voice and way of speaking,
and by his miraculous appearances and disappearances. Of course a plum
pudding was made in a hat, and was always one of the great successes
of the evening. I have seen many such puddings, but no other conjurer
has been able to put into a pudding all the love, sympathy, fun, and
thorough enjoyment which seemed to come from the hands of this great
magician. Then, when supper time came, he would be everywhere at once,
serving, cutting up the great twelfth cake, dispensing the bonbons,
proposing toasts, and calling upon first one child and then another
for a song or recitation. How eager the little faces looked for each
turn to come round, and how they would blush and brighten up when the
magician's eyes looked their way!

One year, before a Twelfth Night dance, when his two daughters were
quite tiny girls, he took it into his head that they must teach him
and his friend John Leech the polka. The lessons were begun as soon as
thought of, and continued for some time. It must have been rather a
funny sight to see the two small children teaching those two men—Mr.
Leech was over six feet—to dance, all four as solemn and staid as

As in everything he undertook, so in this instance, did Charles
Dickens throw his whole heart into the dance. No one could have taken
more pains than he did, or have been more eager and anxious, or more
conscientious about steps and time than he was. And often, after the
lesson was over, he would jump up and have a practice by himself.
When the night of the party came both the small dancing mistresses
felt anxious and nervous. I know that the heart of one beat very fast
when the moment for starting off arrived. But both pupils acquitted
themselves perfectly, and were the admiration of all beholders.

Sir Roger de Coverley was always the finale to those dances, and was
a special favorite of Charles Dickens, who kept it up as long as
possible, and was as unflagging in his dancing enthusiasm as was his
own “Fizziwig” in his.

There can be but little doubt that the children who came to those
parties, and who have lived to grow up to be men and women, remember
them as something bright and sunny in their young lives, and must
always retain a loving feeling for their kind and genial host.

In those early days when he was living in Devonshire Terrace, his
children were quite babies. And when he paid his first visit to
America—accompanied by Mrs. Dickens—they were left under the care of
some relations and friends. Anyone reading “The Letters of Charles
Dickens” must be touched by his frequent allusions to these children,
and by the love and tenderness expressed in his longings to see them

I can recall but very little of those days. I can remember our being
obliged to spend much of the time at the house of a dear and good
friend, but where the children of the house were very severely and
sternly brought up. And I can remember how my little sister used to
cry whenever she had to go there. I have also a vague remembrance of
the return of the travellers, and of being lifted up to a gate and
kissing my father through the bars. I do not know how the gate came to
be shut, but imagine that he, in his impatience and eagerness to see us
again, must have jumped out of the carriage before there was time for
the gate to be opened.

I cannot at all recall his appearance at this time, but know from old
portraits that his face was beautiful. I think he was fond of dress,
and must have been rather a dandy in his way. Carrying my memory
further on, I _can_ remember him as very handsome. He had a most
beautiful mouth, sensitive, strong, and full of character. This was,
unfortunately, hidden when he took to wearing—some years afterwards—a
beard and mustache. But this is the only alteration I can remember in
him, as to me his face never seemed to change at all. He had always an
active, young, and boyish-looking figure, and a way of holding his head
a little thrown back, which was very characteristic. This carriage of
the head, and his manner altogether, are exactly inherited by one of
his sons.

Charles Dickens was always a great walker, but in these days he rode
and drove more than he did in later years. He was fond of the game of
battledore and shuttlecock, and used constantly to play with friends on
summer evenings. There is a little drawing by the late Daniel Maclise,
where a shuttlecock is to be seen in the air. This is suggestive of
many and many a pleasant evening in the garden, which was shut in all
round by a high wall, and where, in summer time, a tent was always put
up, and where, after dinner the family would adjourn for “dessert,”
This was always considered by us a special treat.

As the children grew older, there were evenings when they would be
allowed to drive out into the country, and then get out of the carriage
and walk with “Papa.” It seems now as if the wild flowers which used
to be gathered on those evenings in the country lanes were sweeter
and more beautiful than any which grow nowadays! The very lanes have
all disappeared and grown into houses. But the memory of the one who
originated those treats, and who was the good spirit of the time, can
_never_ be blotted out.

Charles Dickens brought a little white Havannah spaniel with him from
America, and from that time there were always various pets about the
house. In particular there was an eagle and a raven. The eagle had a
sort of grotto made for him in the garden, to which he was chained,
and being chained he was not quite such an object of terror to the
children as the raven was. This raven, with its mischievous nature,
delighted in frightening them. One of the little daughters had very
chubby, rosy legs, and the raven used to run after and peck at them,
until poor “Tatie's leds” became a constant subject for commiseration.
Yet the raven was a great source of amusement to the family, and there
were countless funny stories about him. He was especially wicked to
the eagle; as soon as his food was brought to him, the raven would
swoop down upon it, take it just beyond the eagle's reach, mount guard
over it, dancing round it, and chuckling. When he considered he had
tantalised the poor bird enough, he would eat the food as deliberately
and slowly as possible, and then hop away perfectly contented with
himself. He was not the celebrated Grip of “Barnaby Rudge,” but was
given after the death of that bird.

In bringing up his children, Charles Dickens was always most anxious
to impress upon them that as long as they were honest and truthful, so
would they always be sure of having justice done to them. To show how
strongly he felt about this, and what a horror he had of their being
frightened, or in any way unnecessarily intimidated, his own words
shall be quoted:—

“In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever
brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely
felt as injustice. It may only be small injustice that the child can
be exposed to; but the child is small, and its rocking-horse stands as
many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter.” And
again:—“It would be difficult to overstate the intensity and accuracy
of an intelligent child's observation. At that impressible time of
life, it must sometimes produce a fixed impression. If the fixed
impression be of an object terrible to the child, it will be (for want
of reasoning upon) inseparable from great fear. Force the child at such
a time, be Spartan with it, send it into the dark against its will, and
you had better murder it.”

He was always tender with us, as I have said, in our small troubles
and trials. When the time came for the eldest son to be sent to a
boarding-school, there was great grief in the nursery at Devonshire
Terrace, and he came unexpectedly upon one of his daughters who was
putting away some school-books, and crying bitterly at the time. To
him the separation could not have seemed such a terrible one, as the
boy was certainly to come home once a month, if not once a week. But
he soothed the weeping child, and reasoned with her, using much the
same arguments as he did years afterwards, when the well-beloved Plorn
went to Australia—namely, that these partings were “Hard, hard things,
but must be borne,” until at last the sobs ceased, and the poor aching
little heart had found consolation in his loving sympathy.

There are so many people, good, kind, and affectionate, but who can
_not_ remember that they once were children themselves, and looked out
upon the world with a child's eyes _only_!

A third daughter was born in Devonshire Terrace, but only lived to be
nine months old. Her death was very sudden, and happened while Charles
Dickens was presiding at a public dinner. He had been playing with the
baby before starting for the dinner, and the little thing was then as
well and as bright as possible.

An evening or two after her death, some beautiful flowers were sent
and were brought into the study, and the father was about to take them
upstairs and place them on the little dead baby, when he suddenly gave
away completely. It is always very terrible to see a man weep; but
to see your own father weep, and to see this for the first time as a
child, fills you with a curious awe.

When the grave where the little Dora was buried was opened, a few
years ago, and the tiny coffin was seen lying at the bottom of it,
the remembrance of that evening in the study at Devonshire Terrace was
fresh in the minds of some of those who were standing at the grave.

It was always a great honor and delight to any of the children to have
any special present from “Papa,” and on the occasion of a daughter's
birthday a watch had been promised, and the day was eagerly looked
forward to by the whole of the family. When the morning arrived,
Charles Dickens was not well, and was unable to get up to breakfast,
but the little girl was sent for, and went up to his bedside in a state
of trembling and anxious expectation. He put his arms round her and
kissed her, wishing her “Many happy returns of the day,” and took a
case from under his pillow and opened it. But when she saw first a gold
watch, and then when he turned it and showed an enamelled back, with
her initials also in enamel, it was many seconds before the joyful Oh!
could be gasped out; but when it _did_ come, and she met her father's
eyes, I don't think they were freer from a certain sort of moisture
than were those of the happy and delighted child.

When the move was made from Devonshire Terrace to Tavistock House—a far
larger and handsomer house than the old home—Charles Dickens promised
his daughters a better bedroom than they ever had before, and told
them that he should choose “the brightest of papers” for it, but that
they were not to see “the gorgeous apartment” until it was ready for
their use. But when the time came for the move, and the two girls were
shown their room, it surpassed even their expectations. They found
it full of love and thoughtful care, and as pretty and as fresh as
their hearts could desire, and with not a single thing in it which had
not been expressly chosen for them, or planned by their father. The
wall-paper was covered with wild-flowers, the two little iron bedsteads
were hung with a flowery chintz. There were two toilet-tables, two
writing-tables, two easy chairs, etc., etc., all so pretty and elegant,
and this in the days when bedrooms were not, as a rule, so luxurious as
they are now.

Notwithstanding his constant and arduous work, he was never too busy to
be unmindful of the comfort and welfare of those about him, and there
was not a corner in any of his homes, from kitchen to garret, which was
not constantly inspected by him, and which did not boast of some of his
neat and orderly contrivances. We used to laugh at him sometimes and
say we believed that he was personally acquainted with every nail in
the house.

It was in this home, some few years later, that the first grown-up
theatricals were given. And these theatricals were very remarkable,
in that nearly every part was filled by some celebrated man in either
literature or art.

Besides being a really great actor, Charles Dickens as a manager
was quite incomparable. His “company” was as well trained as any
first-class professional company, and although always kind and
pleasant, he was feared and looked up to by every member of his
company. The rehearsals meant business and hard work, and sometimes
even tears to a few, when all did not go quite satisfactorily. Each one
knew that there could be no trifling, no playing at work. As in the
children's performances so in these later ones did he know every part,
and enter heart and soul into each character. If any new idea came into
his head, he would at once propound it to the actor or actress, who,
looking upon that earnest face and active figure, would do his or her
very best to gain a managerial smile of approval.

He had a temporary theatre built out into the garden, and the scenes
were painted by some of the greatest scene-painters of the day. A
drop-scene, representing Eddystone lighthouse, by the late Clarkson
Stanfield, R.A., was afterwards framed and covered with glass, and hung
in the entrance hall of Gad's Hill.

In the play called “The Lighthouse,” written by Mr. Wilkie Collins, the
great effect at the end of an act was to come from a storm, and the
rehearsing of this storm was a very serious matter indeed. There was
a long wooden box with peas in it, to be moved slowly up and down to
represent rain—a wheel to be turned for wind—a piece of oilcloth to be
dashed upon oilcloth and slowly dragged away, for the waves coming up
and then receding, carrying the pebbles along with them—a heavy weight
rolled about upon the floor above the stage, for thunder, etc., etc.

At the time of the storm the manager's part kept him on the stage,
but during rehearsal he somehow or other managed to be in the hall
where the storm was worked, as well as on the stage, for he sometimes
appeared with the rain, sometimes with the wind, sometimes with the
thunder, until he had seen each separate part made perfect. This storm
was pronounced by the audience a most wonderful success. I know there
was such a noise “behind the scenes” that we could not hear ourselves
speak, and it was most amusing to watch all the actors in their sailor
dresses and their various “make-ups,” gravely and solemnly pounding
away at these raw materials.

Then the suppers after these evenings were so delightful! Many and many
of the company, besides the dear manager, have passed away, but many
still remain to remember them.

Until he came into possession of Gad's Hill, Charles Dickens was in
the habit of removing his whole household to some seaside place every
summer. For many years Broadstairs was the favorite spot, and for some
seasons he rented a house there, called Fort House. It stood on a
hill surrounded by a nice garden, a little out of the town, and close
to the cliff, and was a home of which he was very fond. Since those
days the name of it has been changed to Bleak House. During these
seaside visits he would take long walks, in all weathers—and always
accompanied by one faithful friend and companion—and would get as brown
and as weather-beaten as any of the sailors about, of whom he was the
special favorite. I think he had some of the sailor element in himself.
One always hears of sailors being so neat, handy, and tidy, and he
possessed all these qualities to a wonderful extent. When a sea captain
retires, his garden is always the trimmest about, the gates are painted
a bright green, and of course he puts up a flag-staff. The garden at
Gad's Hill was the trimmest and the neatest, green paint was on every
place where it could possibly be put, and the flag staff had an endless
supply of flags.

There was one year spent in Italy, when the children were still
very young, and another year in Switzerland, at Lausanne; but after
Broadstairs, Boulogne became the favorite watering-place. It was here,
in a charming villa, quite out of the town, that he and his youngest
son, “The Plorn,” would wander about the garden together admiring the
flowers, the little fellow being taught to show his admiration by
holding up his tiny arms. It was a pretty sight to watch them down the
long avenue, the baby looking so sweet in its white frock and blue
ribbons, either carried in his father's arms, or toddling by his side
with his little hand in his, and a most perfect understanding between
them! There were always anecdotes to be told of the Plorn after these
walks, when his father invariably wound up with the assertion that he
was “a noble boy.” Being the youngest of the family, he was made a
great pet of, especially by his father, and was kept longer at home
than any of his brothers had been.

Charles Dickens writes to his sister-in-law in the year 1856:—“Kiss
the Plorn for me, and expound to him that I am always looking forward
to meeting him again, among the birds and flowers in the garden on
the side of the hill at Boulogne.” And when he had to part with this
son in 1868, he says in a letter to a friend, “Poor Plorn is gone to
Australia. It was a hard parting at the last. He seemed to me to become
once more my youngest and favorite little child as the day drew near,
and I did not think I could have been so shaken.” The housekeeper at
his office, who saw him after he had taken leave of the boy, told “how
she had never seen the master so upset, and that when she asked him
how Mr. Edward went off he burst into tears, and couldn't answer her a

During the years spent at Tavistock House one of his daughters was,
for a time, a great invalid, and after a worse attack of illness than
usual her father suggested that she should be carried as far as the
study, and lie on the sofa there, while he was at work. This was of
course considered an immense privilege, and even if she had not felt as
weak and ill as she did, she would have been bound to remain as still
and quiet as possible. For some time there was no sound to be heard
in the room but the rapid working of the pen, when suddenly he jumped
up, went to the looking-glass, rushed back to his writing-table and
jotted down a few words; back to the glass again, this time talking to
his own reflection, or rather to the simulated expression he saw there,
and was trying to catch before drawing it in words, then back again to
his writing. After a little he got up again, and stood with his back to
the glass, talking softly and rapidly for a long time, then _looking_
at his daughter, but certainly never _seeing_ her, then once more back
to his table, and to steady writing until luncheon time. It was a
curious experience, and a wonderful thing to see him throwing himself
so entirely _out_ of himself and _into_ the character he was writing
about. His daughter has very seldom mentioned this incident, feeling
as if it would be almost a breach of confidence to do so. But in these
reminiscences of her father, she considers it only right that this
experience should be mentioned, showing as it does his characteristic
earnestness and method of work.

Often, after a hard morning's writing, when he has been alone with his
family, and no visitors in the house, he has come in to luncheon and
gone through the meal without uttering a word, and then has gone back
again to the work in which he was so completely absorbed. Then again,
there have been times when his nerves have been strung up to such a
pitch that any sudden noise, such as the dropping of a spoon, or the
clatter of a plate, seemed to cause him real agony. He never could bear
the least noise when he was writing, and waged a fierce war against all
organ-grinders, bands, etc.

In 1856 the purchase of Gad's Hill was made. Charles Dickens had never
been inside the house until it was his own. For once we may hope and
believe that a childish dream was realised, for certainly some of the
happiest years of his home-life were spent in the house he had so
coveted and admired when he was quite a small boy. “It has never been
to me like any other house,” were his own words.

For the first three years, Gad's Hill was only used by him as a summer
residence, but after the sale of Tavistock House, in 1860, it became
his home; and from this time, until the year of his death, his great
delight was to make “the little freehold” as comfortable, complete,
and pretty as possible. Every year he had some “bright idea,” or
some contemplated “wonderful improvement” to propound to us. And it
became quite a joke between him and his youngest daughter—who was
constantly at Gad's Hill—as to what the next improvement was to be.
These additions and alterations gave him endless amusement and delight,
and he would watch the growing of each one with the utmost eagerness
and impatience. The most important _out_-door “improvement” he made,
was a tunnel to connect the garden with the shrubbery, which lay on
the opposite side of the high road, and could only be approached by
leaving the garden, crossing the road, and unlocking a gate. The work
of excavation began, of course from each side, and on the day when it
was supposed that the picks would meet and the light appear, Charles
Dickens was so excited that he had to “knock off work,” and stood for
hours waiting for this consummation, and when at last it did come to
pass, the workmen were all “treated,” and there was a general jubilee.
This “improvement” was a great success, for the shrubbery was a nice
addition to the garden, and moreover in it, facing the road, grew two
very large and beautiful cedar-trees. Some little time after Monsieur
Fechter sent his friend a two-roomed châlet, which was placed in the
shrubbery. The upper room was prettily furnished, and fitted all round
with looking-glasses to reflect the view, and was used by Charles
Dickens as a study throughout the summer. He had a passion for light,
bright colors, and looking-glass. When he built a new drawing-room he
had two mirrors sunk into the wall opposite each other, which, being so
placed, gave the effect of an endless corridor. I do not remember how
many rooms could thus be counted, but he would often call some of us,
and ask if we could make out another room, as _he_ certainly could.

For one “improvement” he had looking-glass put into each panel of the
dining-room door, and showing it to his youngest daughter said, with
great pride, “Now, what do you say to _this_, Katie?” She laughed and
said, “Well, really, papa, I think when you're an angel your wings will
be made of looking-glass, and your crown of scarlet geraniums!”

He loved all flowers, but especially bright flowers, and scarlet
geraniums were his favorite of all. There were two large beds of these
on the front lawn, and when they were fully out, making one scarlet
mass, there was blaze enough to satisfy even _him_. Even in dress he
was fond of a great deal of color, and the dress of a friend who came
to his daughter's wedding quite delighted him because it was trimmed
with a profusion of cherry-colored ribbon. He used constantly to speak
about it afterwards in terms of the highest admiration.

The large dogs at Gad's Hill were quite a feature of the place,
and were also rather a subject of dread to outsiders. But this was
desirable, as the house really required protection, standing as it
did on the high road, which was frequented by tramps of a wild and
low order, who, in the hopping season, were sometimes even dangerous;
and the dogs, though as gentle as possible to their own people, knew
that they were the guardians of the place, and were terribly fierce
to all intruders. Linda—a St. Bernard, and a beautiful specimen of
that breed—had been as a puppy living in the garden at Tavistock House
before she was taken to Gad's Hill. She and Turk, a mastiff, were
constant companions in all their master's walks. When he was away
from home, and the ladies of the family were out alone with the dogs,
Turk would at once feel the responsibility of his position, and guard
them with unusual devotion, giving up all play in an instant when he
happened to see any suspicious-looking figure approaching; and he never
made a mistake in discovering the tramp. He would then keep on the
outside of the road, close to his mistresses, with an ominous turning
up of the lip, and with anything but the usually mild expression in his
beautiful large brown eyes, and he would give many a look back before
he thought it safe to be off again on his own account. Of all the large
dogs— and there were many at different times—these two were the best
loved by their dear master.

Mrs. Bouncer, a little white Pomeranian with black eyes and nose, the
very sweetest and most bewitching of her sex, was a present to the
eldest daughter, and was brought by her, a puppy of only six weeks old,
to Tavistock House. “The boys,” knowing that the little dog was to
arrive, were ready to receive their sister at the door, and escorted
her, in a tremendous state of excitement, up to the study. But when
the little creature was put down on the floor to be exhibited to
Charles Dickens, and showed her pretty figure and little bushy tail
curling tightly over her back, they could keep quiet no longer, but
fairly screamed and danced with delight. From that moment he took to
the little dog and made a pet of her, and it was he who gave her the
name of Mrs. Bouncer. He delighted to see her out with the large dogs,
because she looked “so preposterously small” by the side of them.
He had a peculiar voice and way of speaking for her, which she knew
perfectly well and would respond to at once, running to him from any
part of the house or garden directly she heard the call. To be stroked
with a foot had great fascinations for Mrs. Bouncer, and my father
would often and often take off his boot of an evening and sit stroking
the little creature while he read or smoked for an hour together.
And although there were times, I fear, when her sharp bark must have
irritated him, there never was an angry word for Bouncer.

Then there was Dick, the eldest daughter's canary, another important
member of the household, who came out of his cage every morning at
breakfast time and hopped about the table, pecking away at anything
he had a fancy for, and perching upon the heads or shoulders of those
present. Occasionally he would have naughty fits, when he would
actually dare to peck his master's cheek. He took strong likes and
dislikes, loving some people and really hating others. But a word from
his mistress called him to order at once, and he would come to her when
so called from any part of the room. After she had been away from home
she always on her return went to the room where Dick lived and put
her head just inside the door. At the very sight of her the bird would
fly to the corner of his cage and sing as if his little throat would
burst. Charles Dickens constantly followed his daughter and peeped into
the room behind her, just to see Dick's rapturous reception of his
mistress. When this pet bird died he had him buried in the garden, and
a rose-tree planted over his grave, and wrote his epitaph:—

    _This is the grave of
    The best of birds.
    Born at Broadstairs, Midsr. 1851.
    Died at Gad's Hill Place, 14th Oct., 1866._

While Dick lived cats were of course tabooed, and were never allowed
about the house; but after his death a white kitten called Williamina
was given to one of the family, and she and her numerous offspring had
a happy home at Gad's Hill.

This cat ingratiated herself into favor with every one in the house,
but she was particularly devoted to the master. Once, after a family
of kittens had been born, she had a fancy that they should live in the
study. So she brought them up, one by one, from the kitchen floor,
where a comfortable bed had been provided for them, and deposited them
in a corner of the study. They were taken down stairs by order of the
master, who said he really could _not_ allow the kittens to be in his
room. Williamina tried again, but again with the same result. But
when the third time she carried a kitten up the stairs into the hall,
and from there to the study window, jumping in with it in her mouth,
and laying it at her master's feet, until the whole family were at
last before him, and she herself sat down beside them and gave him an
imploring look, he could resist no longer, and Williamina carried the
day. As the kittens grew up they became very rampagious, and swarmed
up the curtains and played on the writing-table, and scampered among
the book-shelves, and made such a noise as was never heard in the study
before. But the same spirit which influenced the whole house must have
been brought to bear upon those noisy little creatures to keep them
still and quiet when necessary, for they were never complained of, and
they were never turned out of the study until the time came for giving
them away and finding good homes for them. One kitten was kept, and,
being a very exceptional cat, deserves to be specially mentioned. Being
deaf, he had no name given him, but was called by the servants “the
master's cat,” in consequence of his devotion to him. He was always
with his master, and used to follow him about the garden and sit with
him while he was writing. One evening they were left together, the
ladies of the house having gone to a ball in the neighborhood. Charles
Dickens was reading at a small table on which a lighted candle was
placed, when suddenly the candle went out. He was much interested in
his book, relighted the candle, gave a pat to the cat, who he noticed
was looking up at him with a most pathetic expression, and went on with
his reading. A few minutes afterwards, the light getting dim, he looked
up and was in time to see Puss deliberately put out the candle with his
paw, and then gaze again appealingly at his master. This second appeal
was understood, and had the desired effect. The book was shut, and Puss
was made a fuss with and amused till bed-time. His master was full of
this anecdote when we all met in the morning.

During the summer months there was a constant succession of visitors at
Gad's Hill, with picnics, long drives, and much happy holiday-making.
At these picnics there was a frequent request to this lover of light
and color of “_Please_ let us have the luncheon in the shade at any
rate.” He came to his daughter one day and said he had “a capital idea”
about picnic luncheons. He wished each person to have his or her own
ration neatly done up in one parcel, to consist of a mutton pie, a
hard-boiled egg, a roll, a piece of butter, and a packet of salt. Of
course this idea was faithfully carried out, but was not always the
rule, as when the choice of food was put to the vote, it was found that
many people cared neither for mutton-pie nor hard-boiled egg. But “the
capital idea” of separate rations was always followed as closely as

Charles Dickens was a most delightful and genial host, had the power of
putting the shyest people at ease with him at once, and had a charm in
his manner peculiarly his own and quite indescribable. The charm was
always there whether he was grave or gay, whether in his very funniest
or in his most serious and earnest mood.

He was a strict master in the way of insisting upon everything being
done perfectly and exactly as he desired, but, on the other hand, was
most kind, just, and considerate.

His punctuality was a remarkable characteristic, and visitors used to
wonder how it was that everything was done to the very minute, “almost
by clockwork,” as some of them would remark.

It is a common saying now in the family of some dear friends, where
punctuality is not _quite_ so well observed, “What would Mr. Dickens
have said to this?” or, “Ah! my dear child, I wish you could have been
at Gad's Hill to learn what punctuality means!”

Charles Dickens was very fond of music, and not only of classical
music. He loved national airs, old tunes, songs, and ballads, and was
easily moved by anything pathetic in a song or tune, and was never
tired of hearing his special favorites sung or played. He used to like
to have music of an evening, and duets used to be played for hours
together, while he would read or walk up and down the room. A member
of his family was singing a ballad one evening while he was apparently
deep in his book, when he suddenly got up, saying, “You don't make
enough of that word,” and he sat down by the piano, showed her the
way in which he wished it to be emphasized, and did not leave the
instrument until it had been sung to his satisfaction. Whenever this
song was sung, which it often was, as it became a favorite with him, he
would always listen for that word, with his head a little on one side,
as much as to say, “I wonder if she will remember.”

There was a large meadow at the back of the garden in which, during the
summer-time, many cricket matches were held. Although never playing
himself, he delighted in the game, and would sit in his tent, keeping
score for one side, the whole day long. He never took to croquet; but
had lawn-tennis been played in the Gad's Hill days, he would certainly
have enjoyed it. He liked American bowls, at which he used constantly
to play with his male guests. For one of his “improvements” he had
turned a waste piece of land into a croquet-ground and bowling-green.

In the meadow he used to practice many of his “readings;” and any
stranger passing down the lane and seeing him gesticulating and hearing
him talking, laughing, and sometimes it may be weeping, must surely
have thought him out of his mind! The getting up of these “readings”
gave him an immense amount of labor and fatigue, and the sorrowful
parts tried him greatly. For instance, in the reading of “Little
Dombey,” it was hard work for him so to steel his heart as to be able
to read the death without breaking down or displaying too much emotion.
He often told how much he suffered over this story, and how it would
have been impossible for him to have gone through with it had he not
kept constantly before his eyes the picture of his own Plorn alive and
strong and well.

His great neatness and tidiness have already been alluded to, as also
his wonderful sense of order. The first thing he did every morning,
before going to work, was to make a complete circuit of the garden,
and then to go over the whole house, to see that everything was in
its place. And this was also the first thing he did upon his return
home, after long absence. A more thoroughly orderly nature never
existed. And it must have been through this gift of order that he was
enabled to make time—notwithstanding any amount of work—to give to the
minutest household details. Before a dinner-party the _menu_ was always
submitted to him for approval, and he always made a neat little plan
of the table, with the names of the guests marked in their respective
places, and a list of “who was to take in who” to dinner, and had
constantly some “bright idea” or other as to the arrangement of the
table or the rooms.

Among his many attributes, that of a doctor must not be forgotten.
He was invaluable in a sick room, or in any sudden emergency; always
quiet, always cheerful, always useful and skilful, always doing the
right thing, so that his very presence seemed to bring comfort and
help. From his children's earliest days his visits, during any
time of sickness, were eagerly longed for and believed in, as doing
more good than those even of the doctor himself. He had a curiously
magnetic and sympathetic hand, and his touch was wonderfully soothing
and quieting. As a mesmerist he possessed great power, which he used,
most successfully, in many cases of great pain and distress. He had a
strong aversion to saying good-bye, and would do anything he possibly
could to avoid going through the ordeal. This feeling must have been
natural to him, for as early as the “Old Curiosity Shop” he writes:
“Why is it we can better bear to part in spirit than in body, and while
we have the fortitude to bid farewell have not the nerve to say it? On
the eve of long voyages, or an absence of many years, friends who are
tenderly attached will separate with the usual look, the usual pressure
of the hand, planning one final interview for the morrow, while each
well knows that it is but a feint to save the pain of uttering that
one word, and that the meeting will never be! Should possibilities be
worse to bear than certainties?” So all who love him, and who know the
painful dislike _he_ had to that word, are thankful that he was spared
the agony of that last, long Farewell.

Almost the pleasantest times at Gad's Hill were the winter gatherings
for Christmas and the New Year, when the house was more than full, and
the bachelors of the party had to be “put up” in the village. At these
times Charles Dickens was at his gayest and brightest, and the days
passed cheerily and merrily away. He was great at games, and many of
the evenings were spent in playing at Yes and No, Proverbs, Russian
Scandal, Crambo, Dumb Crambo—in this he was most exquisitely funny—and
a game of Memory, which he particularly liked.

The New Year was always welcomed with all honors. Just before twelve
o'clock everybody would assemble in the hall, and he would open the
door and stand in the entrance, watch in hand—how many of his friends
must remember him thus, and think lovingly of the picture!—as he
waited, with a half-smile on his attentive face, for the bells to
chime out the New Year. Then his voice would break the silence with,
“A Happy New Year to us all.” For many minutes there would be much
embracing, hand-shaking, and good-wishing; and the servants would all
come up and get a hearty shake of the hand from the beloved “master.”
Then hot spiced wine would be distributed, and good-health drunk all
round. Sometimes there would be a country dance, in which the host
delighted, and in which he insisted upon every one joining, and he
never allowed the dancing—and real dancing it was too—to flag for an
instant, but kept it up until even _he_ was tired and out of breath,
and had at last to clap his hands, and bring it to an end. His thorough
enjoyment was most charming to witness, and seemed to infect every one

One New Year's Day at breakfast, he proposed that we should act some
charades, in dumb show, that evening. This proposal being met with
enthusiasm, the idea was put into train at once. The different parts
were assigned, dresses were discussed, “properties” were collected, and
rehearsing went on the whole day long. As the home visitors were all
to take part in the charades, invitations had to be sent to the more
intimate neighbors to make an audience, an impromptu supper had to be
arranged for, and the day was one of continual bustle and excitement,
and the rehearsals were the greatest fun imaginable. A dear old friend
volunteered to undertake the music, and he played delightfully all
through the acting. These charades made one of the pleasantest and most
successful of New Year's evenings spent at Gad's Hill.

But there were not only grown-up guests invited to the pretty cheerful
home. In a letter to a friend Charles Dickens writes: “Another
generation begins to peep above the table. I once used to think what a
horrible thing it was to be a grandfather. Finding that the calamity
falls upon me without my perceiving any other change in myself, I
bear it like a man.” But as he so disliked the name of grandfather as
applied to himself, those grandchildren were taught by him to call him
“Venerables.” And to this day some of them still speak of him by this
self-invented name.

Now there is another and younger family who never knew “Venerables,”
but have been all taught to know his likeness, and taught to know his
books by the pictures in them, as soon as they can be taught anything,
and whose baby hands lay bright flowers upon the stone in Westminster
Abbey, every June 9 and every Christmas Eve. For in remembrance of his
love for all that is gay in color, none but the brightest flowers, and
also some of the gorgeous American leaves, sent by a friend for the
purpose, are laid upon the grave, making that one spot in the midst of
the vast and solemn building bright and beautiful.

In a letter to Plorn before his departure for Australia, Charles
Dickens writes: “I hope you will always be able to say in after life,
that you had a kind father.” And to this hope, each one of his children
can answer with a loving, grateful heart, that so it was.—_Cornhill



I think the only enjoyable time of the day, during the burning summer
in dusty, dirty, dilapidated Peking, is the very early morning, before
the sun rises high, and while the air still feels fresh, and one can
enjoy sitting in the cool courts which take the place of gardens, and
listen to the quaint music of the pigeons as they fly overhead. This
is no dove-like cooing, but a low melodious whistle like the sighing
of an Eolian harp or the murmur of telegraph wires thrilled by the
night wind. It is produced by the action of cylindrical pipes like two
finger-ends, side by side, about an inch and a half in length. These
are made of very light wood and filled with whistles. Some are globular
in form and are constructed from a tiny gourd. These little musical
boxes are attached to the tail feathers of the pigeon in such a manner
that as he flies the air shall blow through the whistle, producing the
most plaintive tones, especially as there are often many pigeons flying
at once—some near, some distant, some just overhead, some high in the
heavens; so the combined effect is really melodious. I believe the
Pekingese are the only people who thus provide themselves with a dove
orchestra, though the use of pigeons as message-bearers is common to
all parts of the Empire.

There is one form of insect life here which is a terrible
nuisance—namely, the sand-flies, which swarm in multitudes. They are
too cruel, every one is bitten, and the irritation is so excessive that
few people have sufficient determination to resist scratching. So of
course there is a most unbecoming prevalence of red spots, suggestive
of a murrain of measles!

I have been told that I am singularly unfortunate in the season of my
visit, and that if only I had come in September I should have found
life most enjoyable (I recollect some of the residents at Aden likewise
assuring me that they really learnt to think their blazing rock quite
pleasant!) I suppose that I am spoilt by memories of green Pacific
isles and sweet sea breezes, so I can only compassionate people who,
till two months ago, were ice-bound—shut off from the world by a frozen
river—and now are boiled and stifled!

Such of them, however, as can get away from their work in the city
have the delightful resource of going to the hills, and establishing
themselves as lodgers at one of the many almost forsaken temples, where
a few poor priests are very glad to supplement their small revenues by
a sure income of barbaric coin. The Pekingese themselves are in the
habit of thus making summer trips to the hills—so many of the temples
have furnished rooms to let—with a view to encouraging the combination
of well-paid temple service with this pleasant change of air.

I am told that many of these temples are charmingly situated, and have
beautifully laid-out grounds. A group called “The Eight Great Temples”
is described as especially attractive. They are dotted on terraces
along the face of the western mountains, about twelve miles from the
city, and among their attractions are cool pools in shady grottoes all
overgrown with trailing vines and bright blossoms; stone fountains,
where numberless gold-fish swim in crystalline water, which falls from
the mouth of a great marble dragon; curious inscriptions in Thibetan
and Chinese characters, deeply engraven on the rocks and colored red;
fine groups of Scotch firs, and old walnut-trees; and in springtime I
am told that our dear familiar lilac blossoms in perfection. Then there
are all manner of quaintly ornamental pagodas and temples, great and
small, with innumerable images and pictures, and silken hangings, and
all the paraphernalia so attractive to the artistic eye.

Among the points of chief interest in the immediate neighborhood of
Peking, the Summer Palace of course holds a foremost place, and there I
found my way yesterday by paying the penalty of eight hours of anguish
in a hateful springless cart, which is the cab of Peking, and the only
mode of locomotion for such as are not the happy possessors of horses.

The manifold interests of the day, however, far more than compensated
for the drawbacks of even dust and bumping, which is saying a great
deal. A member of one of the Legations had kindly undertaken to show me
the various points of interest to the north-west of the city, and we
agreed to try and escape some heat by starting at 3.30 A.M., at which
hour I was accordingly ready, waiting in the courtyard to open the
gate. It was a most lovely morning, the clear moonlight mingling with
the dawn, and the air fresh and pleasant. I had full leisure to enjoy
it, for the carter, who had promised to be at the Japanese Legation by
three, was wrapped in slumber. So my companion had to begin his day's
work by a two miles' walk to fetch me. Luckily, my carter had been
more faithful, so we started in very fair time; indeed, I profited by
the delay, for as we passed through the great northern gate, there on
the dusty plain—just outside the walls—we came in for a grand review
of the Eight Banners, by Prince Poah of the Iron Crown. Such a pretty,
animated scene, with all these Tartar regiments galloping about, and
their gay standards flashing through the smoke of artillery and the
dust-clouds, which seem to blend the vast plain with the blue distant
hills and the great gray walls and huge three-storied keep which forms
the gateway.

The latter is that Anting Gate of which we heard so much at the time
when it was given up to the British army after the sacking of the
Summer Palace; not, however, till their big guns were planted on the
raised terraces within the sacred park of the Temple of Earth, all
ready to breach the walls.

The Prince's large blue tent was pitched on a slightly rising ground
apart from the others, and was constantly surrounded by gorgeous
officers in bright yellow raiment, with round, flat black hats and long
feathers, who were galloping to and fro, directing grand charges of
cavalry. It did seem so funny to see a whole army of ponies; for there
are no horses here, unless the foreign residents chance to import any.

These Eight Banners are all Manchus or Mongol Tartars, or at any rate
are descended from such, Chinese troops being ranged under the green
standard. These Eight Banners which, as I have said, are multiplied,
are plain white, red, blue, and yellow, and the same colors repeated,
and distinguished by a white edge and white spot. These companies are
supposed to defend different sides of the city, the colors having some
mystic relation to the points of the compass; except that yellow is in
the middle, where it guards the Imperial Palace. Red guards the south,
blue the north, and white the west, whilst the east is nominally given
up to the green standard, which, however, being composed of Chinamen,
is not admitted to the honor of guarding the forbidden city. I am told
that the Banner Army numbers upwards of a hundred thousand men, who
supply Tartar garrisons for the principal cities of the Empire.

We got out of the cart and secured a good position on a small hillock,
whence we had a capital view. A number of Tartar soldiers who were
off duty gathered round, and were quite captivated by the loan of my
opera-glasses. Then they showed us their wretched firearms (which
certainly did not look as if any European could have superintended the
arsenal where they were manufactured), and also their peculiar belts,
containing charges of powder only, and yet we are told that in addition
to first-class firearms, which are being ceaselessly manufactured at
the Government arsenals at Tientsin, Shanghai, Canton, Foochow, Nankin,
and other less important places, the Chinese Government spares no
expense in buying both ammunition and firearms of European manufacture.
I suppose they are kept in reserve for real war!

A picturesque company of archers rode by on stout ponies, holding their
bridles in the right hand, and in the left their bows, the arrows being
cased in a leathern quiver, slung across the shoulders. As to their
swords, instead of hanging from the waist, they are stuck under the
saddle-flap; each man's cap is adorned with the tails of two squirrels,
which is the correct military decoration. Now though we Scots are quite
ready to believe that blackcocks were created for the express purpose
of bequeathing their tails to adorn the caps of the London Scottish
(the said tails having very much the jovial, independent character of
the bird itself), it really is impossible to see the fitness of things
in selecting poor little squgs as military emblems, unless to suggest
the wisdom of he who fights and runs away! Anyhow, it now seems as if
we might find a profitable market for all the thousands of squirrel's
tails which are annually wasted in our north-country woods. I quite
forgot to take note of the fan and the pipe, which I am told are
invariable items in the accoutrements of the Chinese soldiers.[26]

Returning to our cart we next drove to the Ta-tsoon-tsu, or Temple
of the Great Bell. It is a large Buddhist monastery. The priests,
who occupy separate houses, are a civil, kindly lot, very different
from the Lamas of the Yung-ho-Kung! There are curious paintings of
Buddhist saints in the halls; but the great object of interest is the
huge bell, which is said to be the largest hanging bell in the world.
Anyhow, it is a wonderful piece of casting, being nearly eighteen feet
high and forty-five feet in circumference, and is of solid bronze four
inches thick. It is one of eight great bells which were cast by command
of the Emperor Yung-lo about A.D. 1400, and this giant is said to
have cost the lives of eight men, who were killed during the process
of casting. The whole bell, both inside and out, is covered with an
inscription in embossed Chinese characters about half an inch long,
covering even the handle, the total number being 84,000! I am told that
this is a whole classic.

This gigantic bell hangs in a two-storied pagoda, and underneath the
beam from which it is suspended hangs a little bell, and a favorite
amusement of Chinese visitors to the temple is to ascend to a gallery,
whence they throw small coins at the little bell, in hopes of
hitting it, on the same principle, I suppose, that they spit chewed
prayer-papers at certain gods in the hope of hitting them! The throwing
of cash is certainly more profitable to the priests, as the coins fall
into a rim round the great bell and become temple property. This great
bell, which is struck on the outside by a suspended ram of wood, is
only sounded when—in times of drought—the Emperor in person or the
Imperial Princes as his deputies come to this temple to pray for rain.
Theoretically, they are supposed not to rise from their knees till the
rain falls in answer to their prayer, and responsive to the vibrations
of the mighty bell.

There is sore need of rain now, so I suppose the bell will be struck
ere long. Apparently it is reserved as a last resource, for already the
little Emperor and the Empresses Regent have been pleading for rain in
the gorgeous yellow tiled temple at the entrance to the Forbidden City,
and Prince Yeh, as the Emperor's deputy, has been repeatedly sent to
pray for rain in a most strange open-air temporary sanctuary close to
the Bell Temple. We discovered this quite by chance, having observed a
large circular inclosure in the middle of a field of standing corn.

We halted and went to see what it was, and we found that it consisted
of eight screens of coarse yellow mats, with great yellow dragons
designed on them. Four of the screens form a circle having four gaps.
The other four are straight, and are placed outside, so as to guard and
conceal the entrances. In the centre a square raised platform of earth
forms a rude altar, at the four corners of which are four vases of the
coarsest pottery, containing plants; straggling and much trampled corn
grows between and around them, as in the field outside. In a small tent
close by we found a sleepy watchman, who told us about the Prince's
devotional visits to this very primitive oratory.

After four hours of intolerably weary jolting in our dreadful cart,
we arrived at Wan-Shu-Shan, which is the only portion of the grounds
of the Summer Palace (the Yuen-Ming-Yuen) to which foreigners are
still admitted, as they have there wrought such hopeless ruin that I
suppose it is not thought worth while to shut them out; and truly it is
sickening even now to look on such a scene of devastation. The park,
which is now once more closed to the barbarians, contains fine palatial
buildings, faced with colonnades and altogether of a very Italian type,
having been built under the direction of the Jesuits, but the beautiful
pleasure grounds, where we wandered over wooded hills all strewn with
beautiful ruins, is purely Chinese, and as such is to me far more

Our first halt was beside a well whose waters are so deliciously
crystalline and cold that they seemed to our parched and dusty throats
as a true elixir. So famous is this pure spring that the daily supply
for the Imperial Palace is brought thence in barrels, in a cart flying
a yellow flag, with an inscription in black characters stating that it
travels on the Emperor's business—a warning to all men to make way for
it. The water near the city is all bad and brackish, so such a spring
as this is a priceless boon.

This wonderland has been so often described since its destruction,
that in its present aspect the whole seems familiar ground; but it is
new to me to learn anything concerning it in its palmy days, from the
pen of an eyewitness, and so I have been much interested in reading a
curious account of these Imperial pleasure-grounds written in 1743 by
Mons. Attiret, a French missionary, whose talent for painting led to
his receiving an order to make drawings for the Emperor at the Summer

He tells how he and his companions were conducted to Peking by a
Chinese official, who would on no account allow them to look out of
the windows of their covered boats to observe the country, still less
to land at any point. The latter part of the journey they were carried
in litters, in which they were shut up all the day long, only halting
at wretched inns. Naturally, when they were released from this tedious
captivity and beheld these beautiful grounds—the Yuen-Ming-Yuen—the
Garden of gardens, they supposed themselves in Paradise, and here they
seem to have remained for a considerable time.

M. Attiret describes the ornamental buildings, containing the most
beautiful and valuable things that could be obtained in China, the
Indies, and even Europe—ancient vases of fine porcelain, silk cloths
of gold and silver, carved furniture of valuable wood, and all manner
of rare objects. He counted no less than two hundred of these palaces,
each of which he declared to be large enough to accommodate the
greatest nobleman in Europe with all his retinue. Some of these towns
were built of cedar-wood, brought at great expense from a distance of
fifteen hundred miles; some were gilded, painted, and varnished. Many
had their roofs covered with glazed tiles of different colors, red,
yellow, blue, green, and purple, arranged in patterns.

What chiefly astonished the artist was the variety which had been
obtained in designing these pleasure houses, not only as regarded their
general architecture but such minor details as the forms of the doors
and windows, which were round, oval, square, and of all manner of
angled figures, while some were shaped like fans, others like flowers,
vases, birds, beasts, and figures.

In the courts and passages he saw vases of porcelain, brass, and marble
filled with flowers, while in the outer courts stood mythological
figures of animals, and urns with perfumes burning in them, resting on
marble pedestals.

Most of these buildings were but one story high, and, being built
on artificially raised ground, were approached by rough steps of
artificial rock work. Some of these were connected one with another by
fanciful winding porticoes or colonnades, which in places were raised
on columns, and in others were so led as to wind by the side of a grove
or by a river bank.

Wonderful ingenuity was displayed in so placing these houses as to
secure the greatest possible variety of situation, and to command
the most varied views. Every natural feature of the ground had been
elaborated, so as to produce charming landscapes, which could scarcely
be recognised as artificial; hills, of from ten to sixty feet in
height, were constructed, divided by little valleys and watered by
clear streams forming cascades and lakes, one of which was five miles
in circumference. On its calm waters floated beautiful pleasure-boats,
including one magnificent house-boat for the amusement of the ladies of
the palace.

In every direction, winding paths led to quaint little pavilions and
charming grottoes, while artificial rock-work was made the nursery for
all manner of beautiful flowers, much care being bestowed on securing
a great variety for every season of the year. Flowering trees were
scattered over the grassy hills, and their blossoms perfumed the air.
Each stream was crossed at frequent intervals by most picturesque and
highly ornamental bridges of wood, brick or freestone adorned with
fanciful kiosks, in which to repose while admiring the view. He says
the triumph of art was to make these bridges twist about in such an
extraordinary manner that they were often three times as long as if
they had been led in a direct line. Near some of them were placed some
very remarkable triumphal arches, either of elaborately carved wood or
of marble.

M. Attiret awards the palm of beauty to a palace of a hundred
apartments, standing in an island in the middle of the large lake, and
commanding a general view of all the other palaces, which lay scattered
round its shores, or half concealed among the groves, which were so
planted as to screen them from one another. Moreover, from this point
all the bridges were visible, as each rivulet flowed to the lake, round
which the artificial hills rose in a series of terraces, forming a
sort of amphitheatre.

On the brink of the lake were network houses for all manner of strange
waterfowl, and in a large reservoir, inclosed by a lattice work of fine
brass wire, were a multitude of beautiful gold and silver fish. Other
fish there were of all manner of colors—red, blue, green, purple, and
black—these were likewise inclosed. But the lake must have been well
stocked, as fishing was one of the favorite recreations of the nobles.

Sometimes there were mimic sea-fights and other diversions for the
entertainment of the Court, and occasionally illuminations, when every
palace, every boat, almost every tree was lighted up, and brilliant
fireworks, which M. Attiret declared far exceeded anything of the sort
he had witnessed in France or Italy.

As to the variety of lanterns displayed at the great Feast of Lanterns,
it was altogether amazing. From the ceiling of every chamber in every
palace, they were suspended from the trees on the hills, the kiosks on
the bridges. They were shaped like fishes, birds, and beasts, vases,
fruits, flowers, and boats of different form and size. Some were made
of silk, some of horn, glass, mother-of-pearl, and a thousand other
materials. Some were painted, some embroidered, some so valuable that
it seemed as if they could not have been produced under a thousand
crowns. On every rivulet, river, and lake floated lanterns made in the
form of little boats, each adding something to the fairy-like scene.

At the time when the Barbarian army so ruthlessly forced their way into
this Chinese paradise it was in the most perfect order—a feature by no
means common even in the houses of the greatest mandarins.

Forty small palaces, each a marvel of art, occupied beautiful sites
within the grounds, and the footpaths leading from one to another were
faultlessly neat. The sheets of ornamental water, lakes, and rivers
were all clean, and each marble bridge was a separate object of beauty,
while from out the dense foliage on the hill, yellow tiled roofs,
curled up at the ends, gleamed like gold in the sunlight.

Within the palace were stored such treasures of exquisitely carved
jade, splendid old enamels, bronzes, gold and silver, precious jewels
of jade and rubies, carved lapis lazuli, priceless furs and richest
silks, as could only have been accumulated by a long dynasty of
Celestial rulers.

Cruel indeed was the change when a few hours later the allied forces
arrived. The English cavalry was the first to reach the ground, but did
not enter. The French quickly followed by another approach, and at once
proceeded to sack the palace; so that when the British were allowed to
join in the work of devastation and indiscriminate plunder, all the
most obviously valuable treasure had already been removed, while the
floors were strewn knee-deep with broken fragments of priceless china,
and every sort of beautiful object too cumbersome or too fragile for
rough and ready removal, and therefore ruthlessly smashed with the butt
ends of muskets, to say nothing of the piles of most gorgeous silks and
satins and gold embroideries, which lay unheeded among the ruins.

Then when the best of the steeds had been stolen, the doors were locked
and Indian troops were posted to guard the treasures that remained (no
easy task), till it should be possible to divide them equally between
the forces. When this had been done the share apportioned to the
British was at once sold by public auction, in order that an immediate
distribution of prize money might allay the very natural jealousy which
would otherwise have been aroused by the sight of French soldiers laden
with the Sycee silver and other treasures which they had appropriated.

But though wagon-loads of what seemed the most precious objects
were removed, these were as nothing compared with what was left and
destroyed, when the order was given to commence the actual demolition
of the principal buildings: a work on which two regiments were employed
for two whole days, ere the hand of the destroyer was stayed by a
treaty of peace, and so happily a few wonderful and unique buildings
still remain as a suggestion of vanished glories.

Of course all this was done with the best possible intentions, by way
of punishing the Emperor himself and his great nobles for the official
deeds of treachery, rather than injure the innocent citizens of Peking.
Yet it seems that these would have accepted any amount of personal loss
and suffering rather than this barbarous destruction of an Imperial
glory—an act which has so impressed the whole nation with a conviction
that all foreigners are barbarous Vandals, that it is generally coupled
with their determined pushing of the opium trade. These two crimes
form the double-barrelled weapon of reproach wherewith Christian
missionaries in all parts of the Empire are assailed, and their work
grievously hindered.

We devoted about three hours to exploring these beautiful grounds, of
which might well be said, “Was never scene so sad so fair!” Even the
ornamental timber was cut for firewood by the allied barbarians, though
enough remains to beautify the landscape.

The grounds are enclosed by a handsome wall of dark-red sandstone with
a coping of glazed tiles, and its warm color contrasts pleasantly
with the rich greens of the park and the lovely blue lake with its
reedy shores, and floating lotus blossoms. One of the most conspicuous
objects is a very handsome stone bridge of seventeen arches, graduated
from quite small arches on either side to very high ones in the centre.
It is commonly called the marble bridge, because of its beautiful white
marble balustrades with about fifty pillars on either side, on each of
which sits a marble lion, and of all these I am told that no two are
quite alike. Each end of this bridge is guarded by two large lions,
also of marble. This bridge connects the mainland with an island about
a quarter of a mile in circumference; it is entirely surrounded with a
marble balustrade like that of the bridge. In the centre of the isle
is an artificial mound, on which, approached by flights of steps, and
enclosed by yet another marble balustrade, are the ruins of what must
have been a beautiful temple.

Another very striking bridge, which spans a stream flowing into the
lake, is called the Camel's Hump, and has only one very steep arch,
about forty feet high. What makes this look so very peculiar is the
fact that the banks on either side are almost level with the stream,
so the elevation is purely fanciful. The bridge also has a beautiful
marble balustrade.

A third, very similar to this last, crosses another winding of the
stream, where it flows through flooded rice-fields, and so appears like
an extension of the lake. Along this stream there is a fine avenue of
willow-trees fully a mile in length.

Ascending a wooded hill, which is dotted all over with only partially
destroyed buildings, we thence had a most lovely view of all the
park, looking down on the blue lake, the winding streams, the various
bridges, the blue mountain range, and the distant city of Peking with a
foreground of most picturesque temple buildings and fine Scotch firs,
dark rocks and green creepers.

Though the general feeling is one of desolation (as one climbs
stairways, passing between numberless mounds of rubble, entirely
composed of beautifully glazed tiles of every color of the rainbow, and
all in fragments), there are, nevertheless, some isolated buildings
which happily have quite escaped. Among these are several most
beautiful seven-story pagodas. Of one, which is octagonal, the lower
story is adorned with finely sculptured Indian gods. Two others are
entirely faced and roofed with the loveliest porcelain tiles—yellow
gold, bright green, and deep blue. They are exquisitely delicate and
are quite intact; even the tremulous bells suspended from the leaves
still tinkling with every breath of air.

Another building, which is still almost perfect, is a beautiful little
bronze temple, near to which is a fine triple pai-low, or commemorative
arch, and there are others of indescribable form, such as a little
globe resting on a great one, and the whole surmounted by a spire
representing fourteen canopies. But nothing save colored sketches (of
which I secured a few) could really give any idea of this strange place
or of these singular buildings.

On the summit of the hill there still stands a very large two-storied
brick building, entirely faced with glittering glazed tiles of dazzling
yellow, emerald green, and blue, with a double roof of yellow porcelain
tiles; among its decorations are a multitude of images of Buddha in
brown china. It is approached by a grand triple gateway of white marble
and colored tiles, like one we saw at the Confucian temple in the city
of Peking.

There are also a great variety of huge stone pillars and tablets, all
highly sculptured; the dragon and other mythical animals appearing
in all directions. There are bronze beasts and marble beasts, but
only those of such size and weight as to have baulked all efforts of
thieving visitors, whether native or foreign, whose combined efforts
have long since removed every portable image and ornament.

To me the most interesting group of ruins is a cluster of very
ornamental small temple buildings, some with conical, others, with
tent-shaped roofs, but all glazed with the most brilliantly green
tiles, and all the pillars and other woodwork painted deep red.
On either side of the principal building are two very ornamental
pagoda-shaped temples, exactly alike, except that the green roof of one
is surmounted by a dark-blue china ornament, the other by a similar
ornament in bright yellow.

Each is built to contain a large rotatory cylinder on the prayer-wheel
principle, with niches for a multitude of images. In fact they are
small editions of two revolving cylinders with five hundred disciples
of Buddha, which attracted me at the great Lama temple as being the
first link to Japanese Scripture-wheels, or Thibetan prayer-wheels
which I have seen in China, and the existence of which has apparently
passed unnoticed. It is needless to add that of course every image has
been stolen, and only the revolving stands now remain in a most rickety

When we could no longer endure the blazing heat, we descended past what
appears to have been the principal temple, of which absolutely nothing
remains standing—only a vast mound of brilliant fragments of broken
tiles, lying on a great platform; steep zigzag stairs brought us to the
foot of the hill, where great bronze lions still guard the forsaken

Parched with thirst, we returned to the blessed spring of truly living
water, and drank and drank again, cup after cup, till the very coolies
standing by laughed. Then once again climbing into the horrible
vehicle of torture, we retraced our morning route, till we reached a
very nice clean restaurant, where we ordered luncheon. We were shown
into a pretty little airy room upstairs, commanding a very fine view of
the grounds we had just left. After the preliminary tiny cup of pale
yellow tea, basins of boiling water were brought in, with a bit of
flannel floating in each, that we might wash off the dust in orthodox
Chinese fashion. The correct thing is to wring out the flannel, and
therewith rub the face and neck with a view to future coolness.

Luncheon (eaten with chop sticks, which I can now manage perfectly)
consisted of the usual series of small dishes, little bits of cold
chicken with sauce, little bits of hot chicken boiled to rags, morsels
of pork with mushrooms, fragments of cold duck with some other sort of
fungus, watery soup, scraps of pigs' kidneys with boiled chestnuts,
very coarse rice, pickled cucumber, garlic and cabbage, patty of
preserved shrimps, all in infinitesimal portions, so that, but for the
plentiful supply of rice, hungry folk would find it hard to appease the
inner wolf. Tiny cups of rice wine followed by more tea completed the
repast for which a sum equivalent to sixteen shillings was demanded,
and of course refused; nevertheless, necessitating a troublesome

We hurried away as soon as possible, being anxious to visit a very
famous Lama temple, the “Wang-Tzu,” or Yellow Temple. As we drove along
I was amazed to notice how singularly numerous magpies are hereabouts.
They go about in companies of six or eight, and are so tame and saucy
that they scarcely take the trouble to hop aside as we pass.

Though the drive seemed very long still, we never suspected anything
amiss till suddenly we found ourselves near the gates of the city; when
we discovered that our worthy carter, assuming that he knew the time
better than we did, and that we should be locked out of the city at
sunset, had deliberately taken a wrong road, and altogether avoided
the Yellow Temple. Reluctantly yielding to British determination, he
sorrowfully turned, and we had to endure a long extra course of bumping
ere we reached the temple, which is glazed with yellow tiles (an
Imperial privilege which is conceded to Lamas).

This is a very large Lama monastery, full of objects of interest, of
which the most notable is a very fine white marble monument to a grand
Lama who died here. It is of a purely Indian design, and all round
it are sculptured scenes in the life and death of Buddha, Of course,
having lost so much time, we had very little to spare here, so once
more betook us to the cart and jolted back to Peking.

As we crossed the dreary expanse of dusty plain, a sharp wind sprang
up, and we had a moderate taste of the horrors of a dust-storm, and
devoutly hope never to be subjected to a real one.

The dread of being locked out is by no means unfounded. Punctually
at a quarter to six, one of the soldiers on guard strikes the gong
which hangs at the door, and continues doing so for five minutes
with slow regular strokes. Then a quickened beat gives notice that
only ten minutes' grace remains, then more and more rapidly fall the
strokes, and the accustomed ear distinguishes five varieties of beat,
by which it is easy to calculate how many minutes remain. From the
first stroke every one outside the gate hurries towards them, and
carts, foot passengers, and riders stream into the city with much noise
and turmoil. At six o'clock precisely the guard unite in a prolonged
unearthly shout, announcing that time is up. Then the ponderous gates
are closed, and in another moment the rusty lock creaks, and the city
is secure for the night.

Then follows the frightful and unfragrant process of street watering,
of which we had full benefit, as our tired mule slowly dragged us back
to our haven of rest under the hospitable roof of the London Missionary


[26] The annual returns of the very necessary squirrel slaughter in
the woods of Altyre, of Cawdor Castle, Beaufort Castle, and Darnaway
Castle, each average one thousand squirrels. Thus these four estates
might furnish four thousand tails per annum.


Most foreign visitors to Naples are inclined to think that the Camorra
is as entirely a thing of the past as the Swiss guards that used to
protect the King of the Two Sicilies, or the military pageant that was
formerly held in honor of Santa Maria Piedigrotta, the Madonna who was
once nominated commander-in-chief of the Neapolitan armies, and led
them to victory. Young men with gorgeous, if somewhat tawdry, caps
and jewelry are no longer to be seen sauntering through the streets
and markets with an insolent air of mastery which no one dares to
question; and the old man who used to collect money for the lamps of
the Madonna—a request which, somehow, no coachman ever refused—have
vanished from the cabstands. The outward glory of the Camorra has
passed away; it is anxious now to conceal instead of displaying its
power; but among the older residents in Naples there are many who
believe that this strange secret society has never exercised a greater
influence than it does at present, though it is possible that the
interest it is said to have lately taken in politics may lead to its
fall. In fact, such an interference in public affairs is a distinct
departure from the principles on which the earlier traditions of the
association were founded.

The whole subject is of course shrouded in mystery. There are
important points connected with it on which it is impossible to obtain
trustworthy information, as all who have any real knowledge of the
facts have the strongest personal reasons for concealing them. Still,
the organization of the lower ranks of the society is well known to the
police, and it is by no means impossible to form a clear conception
of its real character and aims, though it is necessary to sift every
statement made about them with unusual care, as the inquirer must be
on his guard not only against the romance and exaggeration of popular
fancy, but also against a desire to mislead. It is only by inadvertence
that any correct information is likely to be given, and as soon as
the stranger exhibits an interest in the subject, he is supplied with
a splendid stock of pure inventions. He must look and listen, and
refrain from questioning as much as possible, unless he has the good
fortune to meet an intelligent official connected with the police, or
still better one who served the deposed dynasty. Before entering on the
subject itself, however, a digression will be necessary in order to
explain to English readers how such an association could be formed, and
what were the circumstances that favored its growth and have hitherto
secured its existence.

With respect to Sicily, Dr. Franchetti tells us that, whenever several
men combine to support their own interests in opposition to those
of their neighbors, that is Mafia. Where the condition of society
is favorable, such combinations become exceedingly powerful. The
strongest, the most enterprising, and the most violent inhabitants
unite together. The will of each member is law in as far as the outside
world is concerned; in executing it his companions will shrink neither
from force nor fraud, and all they expect is that he should be ready
to render similar services in his turn. When such a body has been
formed in a district where the law is not powerful enough to hold it
in check, the other members of the community must either tamely submit
to its oppressions, put themselves under its protection, or form a
new Mafia of their own. Now the Camorra is only a fully-developed and
highly-organized Mafia.

It owes its long existence and its great influence chiefly to two
circumstances. Family feeling in Naples is much stronger than in the
North. Not only do parents and children, brothers and sisters cling
together through life, but even distant cousins are recognized as
relations whose interests must be guarded and advanced. If your cook's
uncle happens to have a friend who is a butcher, nothing will induce
him to buy your meat at any other shop; if your boy is sent to fetch a
cab, he will waste half an hour looking for some distant acquaintance
of his aunt's. As soon as you take a servant your custom becomes the
property of his family connections. If you attempt to prevent this,
you only embitter your life with a vain endeavor to thwart petty
intrigues. If you dismiss your man, you only change your set of
tradesmen; if you submit good humoredly, you soon begin to be regarded
as a patron of the whole family, and will therefore be treated with all
fitting consideration and esteem. The single members will serve you
honestly, and even go out of their way to please you. It is clear that
a society so clannish is excellently suited for a Mafia.

On the other hand, the uncertainty of the law under the old dynasty
might well serve as an excuse for a good deal of self-assertion and
self-defence. The tyranny of the Bourbons, it is true, was chiefly
exercised upon the educated members of the middle class, whom they
suspected, not unjustly, of designs against their rule. For the poor
and the uneducated they did a good deal, often in a rather unwise
way, and they never seem intentionally to have oppressed them. But
the police are generally said to have been corrupt, the influence of
the man of birth and wealth was great, and it was doubtless at times
capriciously exercised. Against this the individual was powerless; when
a large number were bound together by secret pledges, they could ensure
respect and consideration.

It must not, however, be thought that there was anything heroic even
in the old Camorra. It was not a league of justice and freedom, but
simply an association which was pledged to advance the interests of
its members, to right their wrongs, and to protect them to the utmost
against every external power, including that of the law. And it has
always maintained this character. Though it has occasionally done acts
of justice and mercy, these are by no means its chief, or even an
important, object; though many of its members belong to the criminal
classes, it is not a society for the furtherance of crime. It pays no
respect to the law except from prudential motives, and, as it has often
dirty work to do, it makes use of dirty hands; but many men in all
classes who are otherwise perfectly honest and respectable belong to
it, and find their advantage in doing so.

To a certain extent, however, the aims of the Camorra have grown with
the growth of its power. In the face of so powerful an association,
it became necessary for those who did not belong to it to take steps
to guard their own interests, and most of them did so by seeking its
protection. This could be obtained by the payment of a tribute which
consisted either of a fixed tax or of a percentage on profits. Thus the
association claims, and has long claimed, a right to levy an impost on
all meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables exposed for sale in the markets,
on all goods sold in the streets, on the winnings in all games of
chance played in public, and on all cab hire. Very stringent laws have
been enacted against this practice, and the Government has from time to
time made energetic efforts to suppress it, but without success. The
peasants and fishermen are eager to pay the illegal tax. The threat not
to accept it will awe the most refractory among them into obedience to
the other regulations of the Association, for they know that if the
countenance of the Society is withdrawn, it will soon become impossible
for them to visit the market. For a week or two they may thrive under
the exceptional care of the police, but as soon as the attention of the
authorities relaxes, customers will be crowded away from their stalls,
their goods will be pilfered, and their boats or carts, as the case may
be, either seriously injured or put vexatiously out of gear. The mere
fact that the Camorra has ceased to favor So-and-so is enough to expose
him to the violence and the wiles of half the roughs and thieves of
the district, as well as to the tricks and torments of the most impish
crowd of street boys that any European town can show.

The Camorra dues are, therefore, an insurance against theft and
annoyance. Those who pay them are not members of the fraternity, they
for the most part know nothing of its constitution, and they can make
no claim upon it, except for protection, on their way from the gates
of the town to the market-place, and during their stay there. This,
however, is highly valuable, and it is honestly exercised. Some years
ago a party of fishermen brought a rather unusual supply to market, and
left their wares standing at the accustomed place while they went into
a neighboring coffee-house to breakfast. They were stolen, and the men
applied to the official representative of the Camorra as naturally
an Englishman would to the police. He asked some questions, took a
few notes, and then bid them leave the market for a time, and come
back at a certain hour. They did so, and on their return found their
fish standing where they had originally left it, “not a sardine was
missing.” Such events are constantly occurring.

The almost unlimited influence which the association exercises over
the criminal classes is due less to the fact that many of them are
enrolled among its members than to the extraordinary information it can
command as to any detail of city life. In every district it has a body
of highly-trained agents, as to whose education and organization we may
perhaps have an opportunity of saying something in a future number.
These men are all eye and ear, and if a question is proposed to them by
their superiors as to the private life of any one who resides in their
district, it will go hard if they are not able to supply a trustworthy
answer in a few days. Hence it would be almost impossible for a
criminal to escape the officers of justice if the Camorra sincerely
desired his arrest. It never interferes in such matters, however,
except when one of its members or tributaries has been wronged, and
compensation is refused. This rarely happens; but when it does it is
said that its vengeance is swift and implacable, while it takes the
perfectly legal form of a judicial sentence. Nor does the victim escape
from its power when the prison gates close upon him. Some members of
the association are almost sure to be confined within the same gloomy
precincts, and they spare no pains to render the life of the foe of
their society intolerable by a thousand petty vexations which the
gaolers could not prevent, even if they cared to incur the personal
danger of endeavoring to do so. As a rule, they prefer to stand on a
good footing with the Camorrists, and to employ their influence in
keeping the other prisoners in order.

When a dispute arises, either in the streets or market-places, between
persons who have purchased the protection of the association, it is
usually referred to one of its agents whose decision is regarded
as final, and so great is the reputation of many of these men for
justice and fair play, that they are frequently requested to arbitrate
on matters with which they have officially no concern whatever. On
such occasions it is usual to make a present to the amateur judge,
proportionate in worth to the matter he has settled, or at least to
invite him to a sumptuous dinner. In a similar way these Camorrists
form the court of honor of the lazzaroni. All questions of vendetta
which have their origin in a sense of honor rather than personal
hatred are submitted to them, and it is only just to recognize that
they almost invariably do their best to bring about a reconciliation,
though they themselves are notoriously ready to use their knives. In
a word, whatever the ultimate purposes of the Camorra may be—they are
doubtless always lawless, and not unfrequently criminal—its influence
over the poorer classes is not an unmixed evil. It is unscrupulous
both in forming and executing its designs, but when its own interests
are not involved, it can be both just and merciful. There are honest
and well-to-do tradesmen in Naples who would never have risen from the
gutter, if, in their boyhood, the Camorra had not given them a fair
start and something more.—_Saturday Review._


The above heading was suggested to us by a friend as the subject of a
paper some months back, but it was not until much time had elapsed,
and not a little reflection had been devoted to the matter, that
we felt ourselves constrained to admit its unwelcome truth. For to
acknowledge that Irish humor is on the wane is a serious admission at
the present day, when we are suffering from an undoubted dearth of
that commodity on this side of the Channel; when laughter has been
effectually quenched at St. Stephen's; when our interest in the best
comic paper is almost entirely centred in the illustrations, and not
the text; and when we have grown to be strangely dependent upon
America for light reading of all sorts. This year—an exceptionally
uninteresting year for the reader—has, it is true, been marked by a new
departure or a reaction in the direction of startling sensation and
melodramatic plots—engendered perhaps by a desire to escape from the
unromantic common placeness of our daily surroundings, culminating in
Mr. Stevenson's tale, “The Bodysnatcher,” in the Christmas number of
the _Pall Mall Gazette_, which literally reeks of the charnel-house.
But this movement, apart from its general literary or constructive
merit, is from its very nature opposed to sunshine and mirth. The
advent of a new humorist was hailed by some critics on the appearance
of “Vice Versâ,” but his second considerable contribution to fiction,
“The Giant's Robe,” is anything but a cheerful book. Lastly, at
least two conscious and elaborate attempts have been made during the
last six months to transplant the squalid anatomical photography of
Zola into the realm of English fiction. Where, then, in these latter
days are we to look for native humorists? Not in the ranks of Irish
politicians surely, for the Irish political fanatic is anything but a
comic personage, and the whole course of the Nationalist agitation has
been unredeemed by any humorous passage. There are no Boyle Roches,
or O'Connells, or Dowses, or even O'Gormans, to be found amongst
the followers of Mr. Parnell. The cold, impassive address of their
leader, utterly un-Irish in its character, and, perhaps, only the more
effective on that account, has infected them all. Mr. O'Donnell has now
and then let fly a sardonic shaft; but Mr. Justin McCarthy reserves his
graceful pleasantry for the pages of his novels, save no one occasion
when Mr. Gladstone pounced down on a “bull” of preternatural magnitude.
Acrimony, virulence, and powers of invective, these are abundantly
displayed by Messrs. Sexton, Healy, and O'Brien; but as for humor,
there is none of it. For otherwise would they not have seen the logical
outcome of their decision (we speak of the Nationalists as a whole)
to rename the Dublin streets,—we mean the corollary that they should
in many cases divest themselves also of their indubitably Sassenach
patronymics in favor of Celtic and national names? From their own point
of view, Charles Stewart Parnell is an odious combination, and should
give place, let us say, to Brian Boroihme O'Toole. If we turn from
politics to literature, we shall find much the same state of things
prevailing. Irishmen are remarkably successful as journalists, but
the prizes of that profession draw them away from their own country;
their lives are spent amid other surroundings, less favorable to the
development of their characteristic humor, which encourage their facile
wits to waste themselves in mere over-production. Some of the very
best specimens of recent Irish verse are to be found in the pages of
_Kottabos_, a magazine supported by the members of Trinity College,
Dublin. But although it is hardly a good sign that the best work of
this kind should flourish under Academic patronage, we have been
sincerely grieved to learn that _Kottabos_ is no more, and the goodly
company of _Kottabistæ_ finally disbanded.

If we descend to the other end of the social scale, we shall find that
a variety of causes have conspired to diminish or even destroy the
sense of humor with the possession of which tradition has credited
the Irish peasant. It is only fair, however, to premise that much of
what strikes an appreciative visitor as humorous in the speech of an
Irish peasant is wholly unconscious in the speaker, and arises from
his casting his sentences in the diffuse form of his mother-tongue, or
from his use of imposing phrases picked up from the books read during
his school-time. The first of these causes probably accounts for many
picturesque expressions, such as “to let a screech out of oneself;”
where an Englishman would merely say, “to shout,” or “screech;” the
second explains the use of words like “extricate,” “congratulate,” by
bare-legged gossoons in remote mountain glens. Among the destructive
agents alluded to above, the tourist occupies a prominent position. For
when the native inhabitants at any favorite place of resort found that
it paid them to amuse the visitors, they cultivated the faculty and
spoilt it in the cultivation. If we are asked for an example, we have
only to mention the Killarney guide, a creature who is to every true
Irishman _anathema_,—a tedious retailer of stories concocted during
the slack season. A more serious cause of decay of late years has been
the emigration which is slowly draining certain districts of the South
and West of the cream of their population. In some parts of Kerry it
is well-nigh impossible to get young and vigorous laborers; and the
national game of “hurly” has completely died out, in consequence of
the dearth of able-bodied players. We regard this as a serious loss,
for though matches between the teams of rival villages often led to
subsequent “ructions,” the game was a fine one and a good outlet for
the excitable side of the Celtic character, which now finds a far less
healthy field for expansion. All attempts to teach the peasants cricket
have failed. Though fine athletes and unsurpassed jumpers, they lacked
the coolness, the patience, and faculty of co-operating so essential
to success in cricket. From this absence of vigorous youth, there
results a dearth of “play-boys”—_i.e._, jokers, merry fellows—which is
not likely to be remedied in this generation. Even in former years,
before the _entente cordiale_ between landlord and tenant had been
so rudely severed, it struck us as a symptom of decadence—unless,
may-be, it was a mere compliment to the “quality,”—that on all festive
gatherings where gentle and simple met on a friendly footing, the
singers as often as not chose for the delectation of their superiors
some old popular music-hall song of six or seven seasons back, which
had filtered down from London through the provinces to Dublin, and
so slowly made its way into our remote district. Thus we have heard
“The Grecian Bend” rendered with the richest brogue imaginable, which
partly alleviated the Philistinism of the song. The Irish peasantry,
it should be remarked, do not sing Moore's Irish melodies, with few
exceptions, in spite of the charm of the airs to which the words are
wedded, which is an adequate proof, if any were wanted, that he has
no claim to be considered a national poet. Few readers realise that
by far his finest work is in the domain of satire, on which his title
to immortality is far more securely based than on his erotic dactyls.
Nor do the peasants, as a rule, know much of Lover, whose amusing
ballads have a great and well-merited popularity in the middle and
upper classes of Irish society. The reason of this is, perhaps, to be
found in the character of the music, generally Lover's own, which is
a sort of compromise between an Irish melody of the flowing type and
the modern drawing-room ballad. Genuine Irish music is a barbarous
thing enough—a wild, nasal chant, freely embellished with trills and
turns—and to this setting the peasantry in the outlying districts
still sing a good many songs in Irish or in English, in the latter
case generally translations. To this must be added a certain number of
ballads which trace their source to the events of the last few years.
Nothing can be gained from an attempt to write down the Land League
from a literary point of view, and we are very far from harboring such
an intention. But these songs are, in the main, dreary and abusive, as
one might naturally expect, for the events of recent years have not
been conducive to mirth in Ireland. Here is a fragment from one on the
landlords of Ireland:—

    “The bare, barren mountains and bog, I must state,
    The poor Irish farmer he must cultivate;
    Whilst the land-shark is watching
    His chance underhand,
    To gobble his labor, his house, and his land.
    But the Devil is fishing, and he'll soon get a pull,
    Of those bad landlords and agents
    His net is near full....
    Then hurrah! for the Land League,
    And Parnell so brave;
    Each bad landlord, my boys,
    We'll muzzle him tight.
    May the banner of freedom
    And green laurels wave
    O'er the men of the Land League,
    And Parnell so brave.”

Irish humor is not dead yet, but it is decaying or dormant; and if
ever, in spite of the malign influence of the Gulf Stream, and the
Nationalist Party, and a sense of their past wrongs, and race-hatred,
and half-a-dozen other drawbacks, Ireland should recover her sanity and
grow prosperous and contented, then, and not till then, may we expect
to see her sons grow merry as well as wise,—unless, indeed, their sense
of humor is entirely improved out of them in the process. Judging
from the character of the men of Antrim, this is not impossible. But
valuable as is the gift of humor, the harmony of Great Britain would
not be too dearly bought by its sacrifice.—_The Spectator._


The late general election in Germany showed results which have signally
verified Prince Bismarck's calculations on the tendencies of modern

The Liberalists, who represent the opinions of the Manchester school,
lost a great number of seats—no less than forty-four; while signal
victories were won by the Conservatives, the Catholics, and the
Socialists. The doctrines of the Liberals were treated with unequivocal
contempt in the large cities, and several members of the party
retained their seats only through the support grudgingly given to
them by Socialist electors at the second ballot. At the first ballot
the Socialists testified to their absolute hatred of the Liberals
by voting for Conservative or Catholic candidates in constituencies
where they were not strong enough to carry candidates of their own;
but at the second ballot they dictated terms to the sorely mortified
party whose overthrow they had caused, and agreed to assist Liberals
who promised to vote for a repeal of the law against Socialists. The
Liberals swallowed the leek and made the promise, though throughout
the electoral campaign they had denounced the Socialists as the worst
enemies of human progress. The Socialists, on their side, went to the
polls as if obeying the injunction which Ferdinand Lassalle laid upon
working-men eighteen months before his death[27]: “I have always been
a Republican, but, promise me, my friends, that if ever a struggle
should take place between the Divine Right Monarchy and the miserable
Liberal middle-class, you will fight on the King's side against the

German Conservatives have regretted that Lassalle died at least six
years too soon, for it is supposed that if he had witnessed the
triumphs of Bismarck's policy and the unification of Germany after
the war of 1870, he would have used his influence over the working
classes to make them trust the great and successful champion of their
nation. This, however, is doubtful, for the post-mortem examination of
Lassalle's body revealed that he had in him the germs of disease by
which his intellect would have gradually deteriorated. He had become a
voluptuary before he died, and had he lived a little longer he might
simply have been dazzled by the conqueror s glory, and have lost his
influence by accepting honors and favors too readily as the reward of
his homage. On the other hand, if Lassalle had remained head-whole
and heart-whole, Bismarck and he could not have lived together. Both
giants, one must have succumbed to the other after some formidable
encounter. The two spent an afternoon in company at the height of
the _Conflikt-Zeit_, when Bismarck was wrestling with the Liberal
opposition in the Prussian Parliament. They smoked and drank beer,
laughed like old friends over the events of the day, talked long and
with deepening earnestness over the world's future, and separated
well pleased with each other. But Lassalle is believed to have shown
his hand a little too openly to his host. There were points where the
policy of the two blended, and one point of ultimate convergence might
have been found if Lassalle's only object had been to seek it; but his
personal ambition was at least equal to his zeal as a reformer. “He is
a composer,” said Edward Lasker, “who will never think his music well
executed unless he conducts the orchestra.”

It is well to remember what were the views of Lassalle about Germany,
and how much they differed from those of his inferior successor in
the leadership of the Socialists, Karl Marx. In a historical tragedy,
“Franz von Sickingen,” which Lassalle published in 1859, he declared
that “the sword is the god of this world, the word made flesh, the
instrument of all great deliverances, the necessary tool of all useful
undertakings.” In the 3d scene of Act III. Franz von Sickingen, the
hero in whom Lassalle portrays himself, exclaims against the sordid
ambition of petty princes, adding: “How are you to make the soul of a
giant enter into the bodies of pigmies?... what we want is a strong
and united Germany free from the yoke of Rome—an empire under an
evangelical emperor.”[28]

This has been also the wish of Bismarck's life—and this wish he has
realised; the obstacles he had to surmount before achieving success
offer a most curious subject for study. The political difficulties have
furnished matter for many books, but something remains to be said of
the social difficulties.

“A conqueror's enemies are not all in front of him,” said Wallenstein,
and we know Voltaire's apologue about that “grain of sand in the eye
which checked Alexander's march.” Bismarck, like other great fighters,
has had to shake off friends—real friends—tugging at his arm. He has
had to foil boudoir cabals more powerful than Parliamentary majorities.
He has got into those little scrapes which Lord Beaconsfield compared
to sudden fogs in a park: “You may have the luck to walk straight
home through them, or they may cause you to go miles out of your way
and to miss anything, from a dinner to an appointment on which all
your prospects depend.” Bismarck again has known the worry and agony
of being unable to convince persons of thick head or of timorous
conscience, whose co-operation was absolutely indispensable to him.
Lord Chesterfield well said that the manner of a man's discourse is of
more weight than the matter, for there are more people with ears to be
charmed than with minds to understand. Bismarck is no charmer; he has
had to contend with the disadvantage of cumbersome speech moved by
slow thoughts, and of a temper inflammable as touchwood. For many years
he was considered by those who knew him best to be more of a trooper
than a politician.

Lord Ampthill once found him reading Andersen's story on the Ugly
Duckling, which relates how a duck hatched a swan's egg, and how the
cygnet was jeered at by his putative brethren, the ducklings, until one
day a troop of lordly swans, floating down the river, saluted him as
one of their race. “Ah,” observed Bismarck, “it was a long time before
my poor mother could be persuaded that in hatching me she had not
produced a goose.”

Bismarck was born in 1814, and at the age of seventeen went to the
University of Göttingen. Here he joined a _Verbindung_—one of those
student associations whose members wear flat caps of many colors,
hold interminable _Kneipen_ or beer-carousals, and fight rapier duels
with the members of other clubs. Bismarck's _Verbindung_ was select,
containing none but the sons of noblemen, and it called itself by
Kotzebue's name, out of antagonism to a Liberal club which was named
after Karl Sand, Kotzebue's murderer.[29] There hangs in one of the
rooms at Varzin, a pencil sketch of young Otto Bismarck fighting
with a “Sandist” who was the great swashbuckler of his party. Both
combatants are dressed, as is still the custom for such meetings, in
padded leather jackets, tall hats, iron spectacles with wire netting
over the glasses, and they wear thick stocks covering all the neck and
throat. Only parts of the face are exposed, the object of the fighters
being not to inflict deadly injuries, but to slit each other's cheeks,
or to snip off the tip of a nose. Bismarck's adversary, named Konrad
Koch, was a towering fellow with such a long arm that he had all the
advantage; and after a few passes he snicked Bismarck along the left
cheek down to the chin, making a wound of which the scar can be seen
to this day. But before the duel he had bragged that he would make the
“Kotzebuan” wear the “Sandist” color, red—and, laughing triumphantly at
the fulfilment of his threat, as he saw Bismarck drenched in blood, he
so infuriated the latter that the Kotzebuan insisted on having another
bout. This was contrary to the regulations of student duels, which
always end with first blood, so Bismarck had to take patience until
his cut was healed, and until he could prove his fitness to meet Koch
again, by worsting a number of Sandists. The rapier duels were, and are
now, regular Saturday afternoon pastimes, taking place in a gymnastic
room, and the combatants on either side being drawn by lot; but it is
a rule that, when a student has beaten an opponent, he may decline
duelling with him again until this antagonist works his way up to him,
so to say, by prevailing over all other swordsmen who may care to
challenge him. Bismarck had to fight nearly half-a-dozen duels before
he could cross swords with Koch again, but on this second occasion he
dealt the Sandist a master-slash on the face and remained victorious.

This series of duels had some important consequences. A satirical
paper called _Der Floh_ (_The Flea_), which was published at Hanover,
inserted an article against student fights, and pretty clearly
designated young Bismarck as a truculent fellow. Bismarck went to
Hanover, called on the editor of the paper, and holding up to his nose
the cutting of the offensive article, requested him to swallow it.
One version of the story says that the editor's mouth was forced open
and that the article was thrust into it in a pellet; another version
states that a scrimmage ensued and that the student, after giving and
receiving blows and kicks, was hustled out of the office. But it is
certain that the affair reached the ears of the Rector of Göttingen
University, who sent for Bismarck and rebuked him in a paternal way for
his pugnacity. Bismarck did not accept the reproof. To the Rector's
astonishment he made an indignant speech, expressing his detestation
of Frenchmen, French principles and revolutionary Germans, whom he
called Frenchmen in disguise. He prayed that the sword of Joshua might
be given him to exterminate all these. “Well, my young friend, you
are preparing great trouble for yourself,” remarked the Rector, with
a shake of the head; “your opinions are those of another age.” “Good
opinions re-flower like the trees after winter,” was Bismarck's answer.

At this time, however, Bismarck's principles were not yet well set.
The son of a Pomeranian squire, he had the _Junker's_ abhorrence of
Radicals, and from the study of J. J. Rousseau's “Emile,” he had
derived the idea that all cities are nests of corruption. Though he
execrated Rousseau's name, he was so far his disciple as to look
upon country life as the perfect life; in fact, he was an idealist,
and he was often sadly at a loss for arguments with which to refute
the reasoning of political opponents. This tormented him, for he did
not wish to be a man like that Colonel in Hacklander's “Tale of the
Regiment,” who said of a philosopher: “I felt the fellow was going
to convince me, so I kicked him down stairs.” From Göttingen he
went to the University of Berlin, and there vexed his soul in many
disputations, without acquiring the consciousness that he was growing
really strong in logic. At last he heard in a Lutheran church a sermon
which left a lasting impression on his mind. He has often spoken of it
since as “my Pentecost.”

The preacher was treating of infidelity in connection with Socialist
aspirations, and he observed that men could not live without faith
in some ideal. Those men who reject the doctrine of immortality and
of a world after this, delude themselves with visions of an earthly
paradise. The Socialist's dream is nothing else; and his shibboleths
of equality, fraternity and co-operation, are but a paraphrase of the
Christian's “love one another.” Love is not necessary to the fulfilment
of the Socialist's schemes than it is to the realisation of one's image
of Heaven. A world in which there shall be no poor—in which each man
shall receive according to his needs and work to the full measure of
his capacities, having no individual advancement to expect from his
industry, but content to see other men, less capable, fed out of the
surplus of his earnings—what would this be but a paradise purged of all
human passions—envy, jealousy, covetousness and sloth? Unless there
were universal love, how could all the members of a Socialist community
be expected to work to their utmost? And if every man did not work his
best, so that the weak and the clumsy might live at the expense of the
strong and the clever, how could the community exist?

This was the substance of the sermon which Bismarck heard, and those
words “the Socialist's Earthly Paradise” have remained fixed in his
memory ever since as a terse demonstration as to the inanity of
Socialism. State Socialism is of course another matter, and very early
in life Bismarck came to the conclusion that the wise ruler must try to
make himself popular by humoring the fancies of the people, whatever
they may be, and however they may vary. If he can divert the people's
fancies towards the objects of his own preference, so much the better,
and it must be part of his business to endeavor to do this. But if
he cannot lead, he must seem to lead while letting himself be pushed
onward. “The people must be led without knowing it,” said Napoleon in a
letter which he wrote to Fouché to decline Barrère's offer of pamphlets
extolling the Emperor's policy. Bismarck has described universal
suffrage as “the government of a house by its nursery;” but he added:
“You can do anything with children if you play with them.”

It has been one of the secrets of Bismarck's strength that he has never
let himself be imposed upon by inflated talk about the “majesty of
the People.” The Democracy has been in his eyes a mere multitude of
mediocrities. “_Cent imbéciles ne font pas un sage_,” said Voltaire,
and though La Rochefoucauld inclines to the contrary opinion in some
of his well-known aphorisms,[30] it is a provable fact that the only
successful rulers are those who have had eyes enabling them to analyse
the component elements of a crowd. As sportsmen delight in tales of
the chase, and soldiers in anecdotes of war, so Bismarck has always
taken a peculiar pleasure in stories showing how one man by presence of
mind has mastered an angry mob, or outwitted it, or coaxed it into good
humor. A sure way to make him laugh is to tell him such stories, and it
must be added that he likes them all the better when they exhibit the
_bon enfant_ side of the popular character.

During the siege of Paris, whilst he was at Versailles, a pass was
applied for by a relation of M. Cuvillier Fleury, the eminent critic
and member of the French Academy. The Chancellor at once gave the
pass, saying: “M. Fleury is an admirable man. I know a capital story
about him.” The story was this: M. Fleury, who had been tutor to the
Duc d'Aumale, was in 1848 Private Secretary to the Duchess of Orleans.
When the revolution of February broke out, a rabble invaded the Palais
Royal, where the Princess resided, and began smashing works of art,
pictures, statuettes, and nicknacks. All the household was seized with
panic except M. Fleury, who, throwing off his coat, smeared his face
and hands with coal, caught up a poker, and rushed among the mob,
shouting: “Here, I'll show you where the best pictures are.” So saying,
he plied his poker upon furniture of no value, and, thus winning the
confidence of the roughs, was able to lead them out of the royal
apartments into the kitchen regions, where they spent their patriotic
fury upon the contents of the larder and cellar. The sequel of this
story is very droll, and Bismarck relates it with great relish. A few
days after he had saved the Palais Royal, M. Fleury was recognised in
the streets as the Duchess of Orleans's Secretary, and mobbed. He was
being somewhat roughly hustled when a hulking water-carrier elbowed his
way through the throng and roared: “Let that man be! He is one of the
right sort. He led us to the pillage of the Palais Royal the other day!”

Bismarck once told Lord Bloomfield that he had the highest opinion of
Charles Mathews, the actor. It turned out that this opinion was not
based on any particular admiration for Mathews's professional talent,
but on his coolness during a theatrical riot which Bismarck witnessed
during a visit to London. Mathews was manager of a theatre, and for
want of pay, part of his company had struck work. It was impossible to
perform the piece advertised, so pit and gallery grew clamorous. In
the midst of the hubbub, Mathews came before the curtain and jovially
announced that, although he must disappoint the audience of the comedy
which they had expected, he was ready to perform anything they pleased,
provided only that he could satisfy the majority. A voice from the
gallery sang out: “'Box and Cox.'” “Well, that is an excellent play,”
said Mathews gravely, “but before my honorable friend puts a motion
for its performance, I think he should explain to the audience why
he prefers it to all others.” This turned a general laugh against
the “mover,” who of course became bashful and could explain nothing.
Mathews then made a chaffing little speech on the comparative merits of
various plays, and at length withdrew, saying that as he could discern
nothing like unanimity among the audience, he thought it best that they
should all agree to meet him another day, but that meanwhile those who
liked to apply for their money at the doors should have it. It seems
that a number of men had come to the theatre on purpose to create a
disturbance, but Mathews's banter put the whole audience into good
humor, and the house was emptied without any riot.[31]

Bismarck has another favorite story about mobs. When the Grand
Duke Constantine of Russia went as Viceroy to Poland in 1862, he
was received in the streets of Warsaw with cries of “Long live the
Constitution!” A Prussian, Count Perponcher, who was present, asked a
vociferating Pole who “Constitutiona” was? “I suppose it's his wife,”
answered the Pole. “Well, but he has children,” said Perponcher,
“so you should cry: “Hurrah for Constitutiona and the little
Constitutions,”” which the Pole at once did. Hearing Bismarck tell this
anecdote—not for the first time probably—his son-in-law Count Rantzau,
once said: “You can make a mob cry anything by paying a few men among
them a mark apiece to start the shouting.” “_Nein_, but you need not
waste your marks,“ demurred the Chancellor, ”_es gibt immer Esel genug,
die schreien unbezahlt_.” (There are always asses to bray gratis).

The knowledge of how men can be swayed involves an accurate estimate of
the influence which oratory exercises over them. Bismarck, as we have
said, is not eloquent, and it is one of his maxims that a man of many
words cannot be a man of action. “The best Parliamentary speeches”—he
said, in conversation with M. Pouyer Quertier about M. Thiers—“are
those which men have delivered to criticise other men's work, or to set
forth what they themselves were _going_ to do, or to apologize for what
they have left undone.”

Action speaks for itself. “When I hear of ministers in parliamentary
countries making long speeches to defend their policy, it always
strikes me that there has been very little policy; and I am reminded
of those big dishes of stew which our frugal German housewives serve
up on Mondays with the remnants of Sunday's dinner—lots of cabbage and
carrots, making a great show, with small scraps of meat.”

Action fascinates the masses as much as speech,[32] for it demands
courage, which is of all virtues the rarest.[33] Pastor Stocker, of
anti-Semitic renown, relates that Bismarck once asked him whether
there were any text in the Bible saying, “All men are cowards?” “No,
you are thinking of the text: 'The Cretans are all liars,'” said
Stocker. “Liars—cowards, it comes to much the same thing,” answered
Bismarck; “but it's not true only of the Cretans;” and he then asked
Stocker whether the latter had met many thoroughly brave men. The Court
pastor replied that there might be several definitions of courage; but
Bismarck interrupted him with a boisterous laugh: “Oh, yes, the moral
courage of letting one's face be smacked rather than fight a duel; I
have met plenty of men who had that.”

Bismarck's own courage is that of a mastiff, and in early life it
often got him into scrapes. We have remarked how some of these might
have been detrimental to his whole career. Whilst he was doing his
One Year Voluntariate in the Prussian Light Infantry, he paid a visit
to Schleswig, which was then under Danish rule. One day, wearing
his uniform, he was seated in a _Brauerei_ when he overheard two
gentlemen holding a political conversation and expressing extreme
Liberal sentiments. With amazing impudence he walked up to their
table and requested that: “If they must talk nonsense, they would use
an undertone.” The two Schleswigers told the _Junker_ to mind his
own business, whereupon Bismarck caught up a beer-jug and dashed its
contents in their faces. This affair caused very serious trouble.
Bismarck was taken into custody and ordered out of the country. On
joining his regiment he was placed under arrest again, and there was
an interchange of diplomatic notes about him. He only escaped severe
punishment through powerful intercession being employed at Court on his

Some years later when Bismarck had been appointed to the Legation at
Frankfort (a post which he owed to the delight with which Frederick
William IV. had read his bluff speeches in the Prussian Lower House),
he was present at a public ball, where a member of the French Corps
Législatif, M. Jouvois de Clancy, was pointed out to him as a noted
fire-eater. This gentleman had been a Republican, but had turned his
coat after the _coup d'état_. He was a big man with dandified airs,
but evidently not much accustomed to society, for he had brought his
hat—not a compressible one—into the ball-room; and in waltzing he held
it in his left hand. The sight of the big Frenchman careering round the
room with his hat extended at arm's length was too much for Bismarck's
sense of fun; so, as M. Jouvois revolved past him, he dropped a copper
coin into the hat. One may imagine the scene. The Frenchman, turning
purple, stopped short in his dancing, led back his partner to her
place, and then came with flashing eyes to demand satisfaction. There
would have been assault and battery on the spot if friends had not
interposed; but on the following day the Frenchman and the Prussian met
with pistols and the former was wounded. Unfortunately for Bismarck,
M. Jouvois knew Louis Schneider, the ex-comedian, who had become Court
Councillor to Frederick William IV., and was that eccentric monarch's
favorite companion. Schneider had but a moderate fondness for Bismarck,
and he represented his act of _gaminerie_ in so unfavorable a light to
the King that his Majesty instructed the Foreign Office to read the
newly appointed diplomatist a severe lecture.

Bismarck has never liked Frenchmen. His feelings towards them savor
of contempt in their expression, but there is more of hatred than of
genuine disdain in them, and much of this hatred has its source in
religious fervor. Bismarck is a believer. The sceptical levity of
most Frenchmen, the profanity and licentiousness of their literature,
their want of reverence for all things, whether of Divine or of human
ordinance—all this shocks the statesman, who still reads his Bible
with a simple faith, and who has attentively noted the doom which is
threatened to nations who are disobedient, During the Franco-German
War, Countess Bismarck, hearing that her husband had lost the
travelling-bag in which he carried his Bible, sent him another with
this naïve letter: “As I am afraid you may not be able to buy a Bible
in France, I send you two copies of the Scriptures, and have marked the
passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel _which relate to France_—also
the verse in the Psalms which says that 'The unbeliever shall be rooted

Carlyle saw affinities between the character of Cromwell and that of
Bismarck, but the only resemblance between the two men is physical.
One may question how far Cromwell was a believer: he certainly had as
little respect for sacred words as he had for cathedrals and kings,
and he juggled with texts of Scripture as it suited his purpose.
Bismarck has never canted. His acknowledgments of Divine mercies have
only been expressed where national triumphs were concerned—never where
his own personal enterprises had to be lauded. On the other hand, he
has evinced strong religious scruples under circumstances when few
men would have credited him with such. He has spent more sleepless
hours from thinking over the deposition of George V. of Hanover than
Cromwell did from fretting over Charles I.'s execution. He reconciled
that deposition with the dictates of his reason, but not with those
of his faith in the inviolability of kings. When it had been decided
to annex Hanover, the Crown lawyers were instructed to draw up a
report of legal justifications for this measure; but when Bismarck had
read half through this document, he threw it aside with irritation:
“Better nothing than that—it reminds me of Teste's Memorandum on the
confiscation of the estates of the Orleans family.”[34]

Again Bismarck, while making it the chief occupation of his life to
study how the Plebs might be managed, has never stooped to such immoral
means for this purpose as the French officials of the Second Empire
employed. He was deeply interested in Napoleon III.'s experiments
with universal suffrage. The whole system of plébiscites, official
candidatures, prefectoral newspapers, and electoral districts, so
arranged that peasant votes should neutralise those of Radical
working-men, seemed to him “very pretty,” as he once told a disgusted
Republican refugee. But the encouragement given by De Morny, De
Persigny, and others to every kind of immorality that could amuse the
people—frivolous newspapers, improper novels and plays, gambling clubs,
and outrageous fashions in dress—this was a very different affair. De
Morny was fond of quoting the anecdote about Alcibiades having cut off
the tail of his dog to give the Athenians something to talk about,
and during Bismarck's short stay in Paris as Ambassador in 1862, he
and the Prussian statesman had more than one conversation about the
art of ruling. Bismarck had the frankness to say that he looked upon
the comedies of Dumas the younger, and indeed on most French plays of
the lighter sort, as grossly corrupting to the public morals. “_Panem
et circenses_,” smiled De Morny. “_Panem et saturnalia_,” muttered

Another point upon which De Morny and Bismarck could not agree,
was about the qualities that are requisite in a public servant. De
Morny cared nothing for character. The men whom he recommended for
prefectships or posts in the diplomatic service were, for the most
part, adventurers—brilliant, witty, _diseurs de rien_ and cajolers
of the other sex. “A French Ambassador,” he maintained, “should
always consider himself accredited _auprès des reines_.” Bismarck
loathes ladies' men: and he had the poorest opinion of Napoleon III.'s
diplomatists. His own ideal of a State functionary is the blameless
man without debts or entanglements—laborious, but not pushing,
well-educated but not abounding in ideas, a man in all things obedient.
His sneering judgment on plenipotentiaries like M. Benedetti and the
Duc de Gramont is well known. He called them “dancing dogs without
collars.” They never seemed to have a master, he complained, “but stood
up on their hind legs and performed their antics without authority
from man alive. If they barked, you were sure to hear a voice from
Paris crying to them to be quiet. If they fawned you might expect to
see them receive some sly kick, warning them that they ought to be up
and biting.” Bismarck conceived some liking and respect for Napoleon
III., whom he saw to be better than his _entourage_. Had the Emperor's
health remained good, the war of 1870 would doubtless never have taken
place; but so early as 1862 Bismarck perceived that Napoleon III.'s
bodily ailments were causing an indolence of mind that left the Emperor
at the mercy of intriguing counsellors; and what he observed in his
subsequent visits to Paris in 1867 and to Plombières in 1868, confirmed
these impressions. His ceaseless study of France as the great enemy
that would have to be coped with soon, moreover added to his deep and
moody detestation of that country. When the formal declaration of war
by France reached Berlin in July 1870, Count Bismarck was staying for
a few days at Varzin. The news was communicated to him by a telegram
which was put into his hands just as he was returning from a drive. He
at once sprang into his carriage, to go to the railway station, and
on his way through the village of Wussow, he saw the parish minister
standing at the door of his manse. “I said nothing to him,” ejaculated
Bismarck, in relating the story long afterwards to some friends,
“but I just made a sign as of two sabre-cuts crosswise, and he quite

The pastor of Wussow understood the sign of the cross in sword-cuts to
mean crusade, and as such the war against France was viewed by all good
Prussians. Bismarck and the village clergyman were at one in regarding
the French people as the Beast of the Apocalypse, and Paris as Babylon.
Such sentiments are not incompatible with Christian piety, for there
must be militants in the Church. But where Bismarck ceases to be a
Christian in the common acceptance of that term, is in his exaggerated
contempt for almost all men as individuals.[35]

His want of charity—we do not of course mean in almsgiving, for
in this respect he is as generous as the Princess, his wife,
allows him to be—is the most unamiable and disconcerting trait
in his nature. Disconcerting because misanthrophy is an evidence
of moral short-sightedness, begetting timidity and rendering a
man incapable of forming disciples to carry on his work. Without
trustfulness, a statesman can make no real friends. It may be said
that uncharitableness like Bismarck's must be the result of many
disenchantments; but a man who only keeps rooks and ravens must not
complain that all birds are black. The men who were at different times
Bismarck's most zealous helpmates—Count Harry Arnim, Herr Delbrück,
Count Stolberg and Count Eulenborg—were all discarded as soon as they
gave the smallest sign, not of mutiny, but of independence. Bismarck
would not accept advice or remonstrance from them; he required on
all occasions that blind obedience which is not loyal service, but
servility. For the same cause he would never employ Herr Edward Lasker,
whose great talents as a financier and parliamentary debater would have
been of immense value to the monarchy. He has rejected the advances
of Herr Bennigsen, the Hanoverian founder of the _Nationalverein_,
who is now leader of the National Liberals; and those of Dr. Rudolph
Gneist, who is one of the ablest politicians in Germany, but who had
the misfortune to take the wrong side during the _Conflikt-Zeit_.
Opposition, as Bismarck has often taken care to impress upon his
hearers, shall never be _regierungsfähig_ so long as he holds office.
He abominates the Parliamentary system which brings to power men who
have begun life as demagogues agitating for the abolition of this and
that, and who, afterwards, are obliged to make shameless recantations,
or to quibble away their words. The contrary system of selecting
for his assistants only men who have never sown political wild oats
is, however, compelling Bismarck to rely now on such henchmen as
Herr Von Puttkamer and Herr Hofmann. The former is the Chancellor's
brother-in-law, an excellent subordinate, supple as a glove, but with
no originality of mind or firmness that could enable him to remain
Home Minister if he were not propped up in this post. Herr Hofmann is
also a mere painstaking bureaucrat, who, if he did not hear the voice
of command, would be quite inapt to think for himself. Of late Prince
Bismarck is said to have been training his son, Count Herbert to act
as his Secretary and to take his place by-and-by. Count Herbert is a
clever man, but dynasties of _maires du palais_ have never succeeded
in any country, and it is strange Bismarck should have forgotten that
the Hohenzollern dynasty has owed its rapid rise to a respect for that
principle which he is now ignoring, namely the selection of the best
men without favoritism. If independence of mind and character have been
eyed with suspicion by the Prussian kings, as they now are by the
Chancellor, Germany would have had no Bismarck.

The popular idea of a genial, soldierly, blunt-spoken Bismarck is a
wrong one. Bismarck can be jovial among friends and good-humoredly
affable with strangers; but genial he is not. There is a sarcastic
tone in his voice which grates on the ears of all who are brought in
contact with him for the first time, and his unconcealed mistrust for
the rectitude of all public men, of no matter what country, who do not
happen to be in his good graces at the time, is too often offensive. It
must be remembered that when Bismarck has quarrelled with public men,
it has generally been because, having changed an opinion himself, he
has been unable to persuade men to do the same at a moment's notice.
Turn by turn, Free-trader and Protectionist, inclining one day to the
Russian, another to the Austrian alliance, coquetting at one time
with England, then with Italy, and even with France, he has ever been
actuated by the sole desire to use every passing wind which might push
the interest of his Government. He has declined to formulate any policy
in details, because against such a policy parties might coalesce,
whereas by veering and tacking often, he throws disunion among his
opponents. He appropriates what is best in the new designs of this or
that party, takes for his Sovereign and himself the credit of carrying
them into execution, and then leaves the original promoters with a
sense that power has gone out of them—that they have been played with,
but that they have nothing to complain of.

This policy of variations, however, has exposed Bismarck to some
cutting rebukes from loyal Prussians whose consciences were not
acrobatic. The trouble with Count Harry Arnim began when this
diplomatist—“_Der Affe_,” as he was nicknamed by his familiars—said to
Countess Von Redern, at one of the Empress Augusta's private parties,
that he had hitherto been trying to walk on his feet in Paris, but
that from “his latest instructions he gathered that he was expected
until further notice to walk on his hands.” The saying was reported to
Bismarck and made “his three hairs bristle.” “The 'Ape' has only been
employed, because we thought him quadrumanous,“ he exclaimed, and from
that moment there was war between the two men.

Another time Bismarck had to bear a snub from a young nobleman of the
House of Hatzfelt. This gentleman, being left in charge of a Legation
during the absence of the Minister, sent home a despatch embodying
views favorable to the policy which the Chancellor had, until then,
been pursuing towards the country where the attaché was residing.
But it so chanced that the Chief of the Legation had been summoned
to Berlin on purpose to receive instructions for a change of policy;
so that when the attaché's despatch arrived, it gave no pleasure in
Wilhelmstrasse, and the Chancellor spoke testily of its writer as a
”_Schafsköpf_.” Hearing this, the attaché resigned. He was a young man
of high spirit, who had many friends at Court, and it was pointed out
to the Chancellor by an august peacemaker, that the young fellow had
not been very well-treated. Somewhat grudgingly—for he does not like
to make amends—the Chancellor was induced to send his Secretary to the
ex-attaché offering to reinstate him. But the recipient of this dubious
favor drew himself up stiffly and said: “Germany has not fallen to so
low a point that she needs to be served by _Schafsköpf_; and for the
rest, you may tell the Chancellor that I have not been trained to turn

It has been mentioned that Bismarck has had to contend with many a
boudoir cabal. The Empress Augusta's long antipathy to him is no
secret, and the Chancellor has never had to congratulate himself much
on the friendliness of the Crown Prince's and Princess's circle. The
ill-will of royal ladies enlists that of many other persons influential
in society; but it stands to Bismarck's honor that he has never used
newspapers to combat these drawing-room foes. The revelations made to
the public some years since by an ex-member of the “Reptile's Bureau”
were no doubt in the main true, and they showed that the Chancellor had
raised the art of “nobbling” the Press to a high pitch of perfection.
Not only had he, all over Germany, newspapers supported in part out of
the Secret Service Fund and inspired wholly by the Press Bureau, but
he has been accused of employing hirelings on the staffs of newspapers
reputed as independent, and through these he was in a position to
procure the insertion of articles in foreign journals, these effusions
being afterwards reprinted in German papers as genuine expressions of
foreign opinion.

All this constituted a very powerful organization, which the Chancellor
might have used with telling effect in fighting society caballers.
But while he has not scrupled to direct the heaviest artillery of his
newspapers and not unfrequently torpedo attacks against open political
opponents, he would never let his difficulties with “_die Wespen_” as
he called society aggressors, be made the subjects of Press comments.
Newspapers, guilty of assailing members of the Imperial family or of
the Court household, have been unsparingly prosecuted by his orders.
“_Er is kein Journaliste!_” exclaimed a too zealous partisan-writer,
who had gone to the Chancellerie with a proposal for creating in
Berlin a newspaper like the Paris _Figaro_, “_er könne sich nicht
auf die feine Malice zu verstehen_.” This may be rendered as, “He
won't throw mud;” and it is no small compliment to the integrity of a
statesman, whom his enemies are wont to describe as more astute than
Machiavelli, and more unscrupulous than Richelieu.[37]

In the autumn of the present year the Pope gave a commission to the
painter Lenbach to paint a portrait of Prince Bismarck. The Chancellor
agreed to sit; the artist went several times to Varzin, and people have
been asking ever since what is the meaning of this strange fancy of Leo
XIII.'s to have a portrait of the arch-enemy of Rome, the formidable
champion of the Kulturkampf. A French journalist has suggested that
there is at the Vatican an artistic Index Expurgatorius—a _Galerie des
Réprouvés_—and that Bismarck's portrait is to hang there in the place
of honor, between that of Dositheus the Samaritan, and Isaac Laquedem
the Wandering Jew.

It is more likely that the Pope aspires to some political
_rapprochement_ with Germany, and if he have such a hope it must have
come to him from the knowledge that the Chancellor would not object
to a reconciliation. But if Bismarck consents to make peace with the
Vatican, and to find some official post for Herr Windhorst, it would
not be that any of his own private Lutheran prejudices against Rome
have vanished. He is a doughty Protestant in whose religion there is
no variableness, but he may veer on the Kulturkampf as he did on that
of free trade, simply because, having failed, after doing his best, to
crush the Catholics, he will see no use in recommencing the struggle.
And whatever is useless seems to Bismarck a thing which should not be
attempted, indeed, many of his great triumphs hitherto have been won
by shaking hands with yesterday's enemy, and saying “Let us two stand
together.” Before long the world may see Prince Bismarck recognise
the Roman Catholic Church as one of the greatest living forces of
Continental Conservatism, and enlist its services in the work of
“dishing” both Liberals and Socialists. It is significant that in
one of his few autumn speeches, Bismarck was heard quoting Joseph De
Maistre's dictum about the Soldier and the Priest being the sentries of
civilisation.—_Temple Bar._


[27] Lassalle was killed in a duel in 1864, at the age of thirty-nine.

[28] In the play, Charles V. has a long conference with Franz, but
ends by saying of him what Bismarck must have said to himself about
Lassalle: “The man is great, but his is not the greatness which I seek,
and which I can employ.”

    “Der mann ist gross, doch ist es nicht die Grösse,
    Welche ich suche und gebrauchen kann.”

[29] Karl Sand, a student of Erlangen, assassinated Kotzebue at Manheim
in 1819, and having ineffectually tried to commit suicide, was executed
in the following year. In striking Kotzebue, he meant, as he said, “to
exterminate the apologist of despotism.”

[30] “Personne n'a de l'esprit, comme tout le monde.” “On peut avoir
plus d'esprit qu'un autre, mais non plus d'esprit que tous les autres.”

[31] Prince Bismarck does not care much about the theatre, and it
may be mentioned that when he visited Paris in 1867, Offenbach's
“Grande Duchesse,” which, as a skit upon militaryism, made so many
laugh, excited in him only anger. He was especially indignant at the
song of “Here is the Sabre of my Sire.” “You can't expect a pair
of Jews (Offenbach and Ludovic Halévy) to feel any reverence for
military traditions,” he said; “but now 'Le Sabre de mon Père' will
be associated with ludicrous ideas in the minds of Frenchmen, and old
generals will be ashamed to give their swords to their sons on account
of this odious jingle.” At this same visit to Paris, however, Bismarck
saw a performance of Sardou's “Nos bons Villageois” at the Gymnase,
and he laughed loudly at the scene in which a Colonel, who is Mayor
of his village, makes all the municipal Councillors sign a document
acknowledging that they are “a troop of donkeys.”

[32] Two of Bismarck's heroes in history are Wallenstein and William
the Silent. He once said of Marshal von Moltke: “Lucky man, he need
only make his one speech a year in the Reichstag and then the echoes
of cannon seem to be speaking for him!” Marshal von Moltke, however,
speaks as well as he writes. His _Letters_ to his late wife, while he
was travelling in Turkey and the Danubian Provinces, are faultless
in their composition, instructive, amusing, and models of style. All
the qualities which distinguish them are to be found in the Marshal's
speeches, which are clear, short, and captivate the attention, not
less by what they contain than by the tuneful voice in which they are

[33] Some years ago, when a young Prussian officer of noble family
was turned out of the army for declining a challenge on conscientious
grounds, an English clergyman sent Prince Bismarck a copy of the Diary
of Mr. Adams, who was American Minister of the Court of St. James's
at the beginning of this century. Mr. Adams speaks with admiration of
the efforts which were being made to put down duelling in England by
force of public opinion. Prince Bismarck, in courteously acknowledging
the book, wrote: “There is much good sense in England, but you have
not done away with duelling, as you suppose. There is more of it among
your schoolboys, who fight with fists, than among those of any other
country; and this may prevent the necessity for much fighting in
after-life. English boys take rank at school according to their pluck,
and hold that rank afterwards.”

[34] M. Teste had been one of Louis Philippe's Ministers. Getting into
disgrace through financial jobberies, which subjected him to criminal
proceedings, he had to resign his portfolio and retire altogether from
public life. To revenge himself on Louis Philippe's family (though no
member of it had had any share in his ruin) he privately drew up for
Napoleon III. the report that was required to justify the seizure of
the Orleans property. No respectable lawyer could be found to do this

[35] After a dinner at Count Lehndorff's the conversation once fell
upon religious topics, and Bismarck exclaimed: “I cannot understand
how without faith in a revealed religion we can believe in God; nor do
I see how, without faith in a God, Dispenser of all good and Supreme
Judge, a man can do his duty. If I were not a Christian, I should not
remain at my post. It can yield me nothing more in the way of honors;
the exercise of power is no longer a pleasure but a worry, since I
can never carry out the simplest scheme without struggles, trying to
a man of my age and weak health. If I were ambitious of popularity, I
could get it by retiring. All men would speak well of me if I lived
in retirement. I should then perhaps have more real power than I have
now. I should certainly have more power to help my friends. But it is
because I believe in a Divine dispensation which has marked out Germany
for great destinies that I remain at my post. I have a duty to perform
and must continue to do it so long as I am permitted. If I am stricken
down and rendered incapable for work, then I shall know that my time of
rest has come; but not till then.”

[36] Bismarck has never had much veneration either for diplomatists or
diplomacy. Here is an extract of a letter which he wrote to his wife
in 1851 when he was at Frankfort: “In the art of saying nothing and
in a great many words, I am making rapid progress. I write many pages
of letters which read like leading articles, and if Manteuffel, after
perusing them, can tell what they are about, he certainly knows more
than I. Every one of us pretends to believe that his colleagues are
full of ideas and plans; and yet all the time the whole body of us
knows nothing, and each is aware that the others know nothing. No man,
not even the most malicious sceptic of a democrat, can believe what
charlatanism and big pretence is all this diplomacy.”

It may be remarked, in view of Prince Bismarck's opinions on duelling,
that for an affront like that which he offered to the young attaché,
a French Admiral, the Bailli de Suffren, was killed by a lieutenant.
The affront was offered on the high seas; the subaltern bore it at the
time without a murmur, but on returning to France he resigned and sent
the admiral a challenge, saying: “You are no longer my superior now. We
are both gentlemen and you owe me a reparation.” In Germany this would
have been impossible, for the attaché must have belonged either to the
_Landwehr_ or the _Landsturm_, so that the Chancellor as a general of
the _Landwehr_ remained always his superior. Thus in military countries
one of the chief excuses for duelling—namely, that it enables a man to
punish the insolence of office—cannot be urged.

[37] A fact that speaks well for Prince Bismarck is that ladies are
not afraid of him. Napoleon I. made women cower; they knew that
his Corsican spitefulness would disdain no means of retaliation
for a slight or an injury. But ladies have often been maliciously
epigrammatical, or downright saucy to the Chancellor, without having
anything worse to fear from him than scowls and grumbles.


The limner's art in Persia has few patrons, and the professional
draughtsman of the present day in that country must needs be an
enthusiast, and an art-lover for art's sake, as his remuneration is so
small as to be a mere pittance; and the man who can live by his brush
must be clever indeed. The Persians are an eminently practical people,
and buy nothing unless it be of actual utility; hence the artist has
generally to sink to the mere decorator; and as all, even the very
rich, expect a great deal for a little money, the work must be scamped
in order to produce a great effect for a paltry reward. The artists,
moreover, are all self-taught, or nearly so, pupilage merely consisting
of the drudgery of preparing the canvas, panel, or other material for
the master, mixing the colors, filling in backgrounds, varnishing,
&c. There are no schools of art, no lectures, no museums of old or
contemporary masters, no canons of taste, no drawing from nature or the
model, no graduated studies, or system of any kind. There is, however,
a certain custom of adhering to tradition and the conventional;
and most of the art workmen of Iran, save the select few, are mere
reproducers of the ideas of their predecessors.

The system of perspective is erroneous; but neither example nor
argument can alter the views of a Persian artist on this subject.
Leaving aside the wonderful blending of colors in native carpets,
tapestries, and embroideries, all of which improve by the toning
influence of age, the modern Persian colorist is remarkable for his
skill in the constant use of numerous gaudy and incongruous colors, yet
making one harmonious and effective whole, which surprises us by its
daring, but compels our reluctant admiration.

Persian pictorial art is original, and it is cheap; the wages of a
clever artist are about one shilling and sixpence a day. In fact, he is
a mere day-laborer, and his terms are, so many days' pay for a certain
picture. In this pernicious system of time-work lies the cause of the
scamping of many really ingenious pieces of work.

As a copyist the Persian is unrivalled; he has a more than Chinese
accuracy of reproduction; every copy is a fac-simile of its original,
the detail being scamped, or the reverse, according to the scale of
payment. In unoriginal work, such as the multiplication of some popular
design, a man will pass a lifetime, because he finds it pay better to
do this than to originate. This kind of unoriginal decoration is most
frequent in the painted mirror cases and book-covers, the designs of
which are ancient; and the painter merely reproduces the successful and
popular work of some old and forgotten master.

But where the Persian artist shines is in his readiness to undertake
any style or subject; geometrical patterns—and they are very clever
in originating these; scroll-work scenes from the poets; likenesses,
miniatures, paintings of flowers or birds; in any media, on any
substance, oils, water, or enamel, and painting on porcelain; all are
produced with rapidity, wonderful spirit, and striking originality. In
landscape, the Persian is very weak; and his attempts at presenting the
nude, of which he is particularly fond, are mostly beneath contempt. A
street scene will be painted in oils and varnished to order “in a week”
on a canvas a yard square, the details of the painting desired being
furnished in conversation. While the patron is speaking, the artist
rapidly makes an outline sketch in white paint; and any suggested
alterations are made in a few seconds by the facile hand of the _ustad
nakosh_ (master-painter), a term used to distinguish the artist from
the mere portrait-painter or _akkas_, a branch of the profession
much despised by the artists, a body of men who consider their art a
mechanical one, and their guild no more distinguished than those of
other handicraftsmen.

A Persian artist will always prefer to reproduce rather than originate,
because, as a copy will sell for the same price as an original, by
multiplication more money can be earned in a certain time, than by the
exercise of originality. Rarely, among the better class of artists,
is anything actually out of drawing; the perspective is of course
faulty, and resembles that of early specimens of Byzantine art. Such
monstrosities as the making the principal personages giants, and the
subsidiaries dwarfs, are common; while the beauties are represented as
much bejewelled; but this is done to please the buyer's taste, and the
artist knows its absurdity. There is often considerable weakness as
to the rendering of the extremities; but as the Persian artist never
draws, save in portraiture, from the life, this is not to be wondered

The writer has before him a fair instance of the native artist's
rendering of the scene at the administration of the bastinado. This
picture is an original painting in oils, twenty-four inches by sixteen
on _papier-mâché_. The details were given to the artist by the writer
in conversation, sketched by him in white paint on the _papier mâché_
during the giving of the order, in the course of half an hour; and the
finished picture was completed, varnished, and delivered in a week. The
price paid for this original work in oils in 1880 was seven shillings
and sixpence. The costumes are quite accurate in the minutest detail;
the many and staring colors employed are such as are in actual use;
while the general _mise en scène_ is very correct.

Many similar oil-paintings were executed for the writer by Persian
artists, giving graphic renderings of the manners and customs of this
little-known country. They were always equally spirited, and minutely
correct as to costume and detail, at the same low price; a small
present for an extraordinarily successful performance gladdening the
heart of the artist beyond his expectations.

As to original work by Persian artists in water-color, remuneration
is the same—so much per diem. A series of water-colors giving minute
details of Persian life were wished; and a clever artist was found
as anxious to proceed as the writer was to obtain the sketches. The
commission was given, and the subjects desired carefully indicated
to the artist, who, by a rapid outline sketch in pencil, showed his
intelligence and grasp of the subject. The writer, delighted at the
thought of securing a correct and permanent record of the manners and
customs of a little-known people, congratulated himself. But, alas!
he counted his chickens before hatching; for the artist, on coming
with his next water-color, demanded, and received, a double wage. A
similar result followed the finishing of each drawing; and though
the first only cost three shillings, and the second six, the writer
was reluctantly compelled to stop his commissions, after paying four
times the price of the first for his third water-color, on the artist
demanding twenty-four shillings for a fourth—not that the work was
more, but as he found himself appreciated, the wily painter kept
to arithmetical progression as his scale of charge; a very simple
principle, which all artists must devoutly wish they could insist on.

For a reduced copy of a rather celebrated painting, of which the
figures were life-size, of what might be called, comparatively
speaking, a Persian old master—for this reduction, in oils, fourteen
inches by eight, and fairly well done, the charge was a sovereign.
The piece was painted on a panel. The subject is a royal banqueting
scene in Ispahan—the date a century and a half ago. The dresses are
those of the time—the ancient court costume of Persia. The king in a
brocaded robe is represented seated on a carpet at the head of a room,
his drinking-cup in his hand; while his courtiers are squatted in two
rows at the sides of the room, and are also carousing. Minstrels and
singers occupy the foreground of the picture; and a row of handsome
dancing-girls form the central group. All the figures are portraits of
historical personages; and, in the copy, the likenesses are faithfully

The palaces of Ispahan are decorated with large oil paintings by the
most eminent Persian artists of their day. All are life-size, and none
are devoid of merit. Some are very clever, particularly the likenesses
of Futteh Ali Shah and his sons, several of whom were strikingly
like their father. As Futteh Ali Shah had an acknowledged family of
seventy-two, this latter fact is curious. These paintings are without
frames, spaces having been made in the walls to receive them. The
Virgin Mary is frequently represented in these mural paintings; also
a Mr. Strachey, a young diplomate who accompanied the English mission
to Persia in the reign of our Queen Elizabeth, is still admired as
a type of adolescent beauty. He is represented with auburn hair in
the correct costume of the period; and copies of his portrait are
still often painted on the pen-cases of amateurs. These pen-cases, or
_kalamdans_, are the principal occupation of the miniature-painter.
As one-fourth of the male population of Persia can write, and as each
man has one or more pen-cases, the artist finds a constant market for
his wares in their adornment. The pen-case is a box of _papier-mâché_
eight inches long, an inch and a half broad, and the same deep. Some of
them, painted by artists of renown, are of great value, forty pounds
being a common price to pay for such a work of art by a rich amateur.
Several fine specimens may be seen in the Persian Collection at the
South Kensington Museum. It is possible to spend a year's hard work
on the miniatures painted on a pen-case. These are very minute and
beautiful. The writer possesses a pen-case, painted during the lifetime
of Futteh Ali Shah, a king of Persia who reigned long and well. All the
faces—none more than a quarter of an inch in diameter—are likenesses;
and the long black beard of the king reaching to his waist, is not
exaggerated, for such beards are common in Persia.

Bookbinding in Persia is an art, and not a trade; and here the flower
and bird painter finds his employment. Bright bindings of boards
with a leather back are decorated by the artist, principally with
presentments of birds and flowers, both being a strange mixture of
nature and imagination; for if a Persian artist in this branch thinks
that he can improve on nature in the matter of color, he attempts
it. The most startling productions are the result; his nightingales
being birds of gorgeous plumage, and the colors of some of his flowers
saying much for his imagination. This method of “painting the lily” is
common in Persia; for the narcissus—bouquets of which form the constant
ornament in spring of even the poorest homes—is usually “improved” by
rings of colored paper, silk, or velvet being introduced over the inner
ring of the petals. Startling floral novelties are the result; and
the European seeing them for the first time, is invariably deceived,
and cheated into admiration of what turns out afterwards to be a
transparent trick. Of course, this system of binding each book in an
original cover of its own, among a nation so literary as the Persians,
gives a continuous and healthy impetus to the art of the flower-painter.

Enamelling in Persia is a dying art. The best enamels are done on
gold, and often surrounded by a ring or frame of transparent enamel,
grass-green in color. This green enamel, or rather transparent paste,
is supposed to be peculiar to the Persian artist. At times, the gold is
hammered into depressions, which are filled with designs in enamel on a
white paste, the spaces between the depressions being burnished gold.
Large _plaques_ are frequently enamelled on gold for the rich; and
often the golden water-pipes are decorated with enamels, either alone,
or in combination with incrusted gems.

Yet another field remains to the Persian artist—that of engraving
on gold, silver, brass, copper, and iron. Here the work is usually
artistically good, and always original, no two pieces being alike.

Something must be said about the artist and his studio. Abject poverty
is the almost universal lot of the Persian artist. He is, however, an
educated man, and generally well-read. His marvellous memory helps him
to retain the traditional attributes of certain well-known figures:
the black-bearded Rustum (the Persian Hercules), and his opponent
the Deev Suffid or White Demon; Leila and Mujnūn, the latter of whom
retired to the wilderness for love of the beautiful Leila; and in a
painfully attenuated state, all his ribs being very apparent, is always
represented as conversing with the wild beasts, who sit around him
in various attitudes of respectful attention. Dr. Tanner could never
hope to reach the stage of interesting emaciation to which the Persian
artists represent Mujnūn to have attained. Another popular subject is
that of Solomon in all his glory.

These legends are portrayed with varying art but unquestionable
spirit, and often much humor; while the poetical legends of the
mythical history of ancient Persia, full of strange imagery, find apt
illustrators in the Persian artist. The palmy days of book-illustration
have departed; the cheap reprints of Bombay have taken away the
_raison d'être_ of the caligraphist and book-illustrators, and the few
really great artists who remain are employed by the present Shah in
illustrating his great copy of the _Arabian Nights_ by miniatures which
emulate the beauty and detail of the best specimens of ancient monkish
art, or in making bad copies of European lithographs to “adorn” the
walls of the royal palaces.

As for the painter's studio, it is usually a bare but light apartment,
open to the winds, in a corner of which, on a scrap of matting, the
artist kneels, sitting on his heels. (It tires an oriental to sit
in a chair.) A tiny table a foot high holds all his materials; his
paints are mixed on a tile; and his palette is usually a bit of
broken crockery. His brushes he makes himself. Water-pipe in mouth—a
luxury that even an artist can afford, in a country where tobacco
is fourpence a pound—his work held on his knee in his left hand,
without a mahl-stick or the assistance of a color-man, the artist
squats contentedly at his work. He is ambitious, proud of his powers,
and loves his art for art's sake. Generally, he does two classes of
work—the one the traditional copies of the popular scenes before
described, or the painting on pen cases—by this he lives; the other
purely ideal, in which he deals with art from a higher point of view,
and practises the particular branch which he affects.

As a painter of likenesses, the Persian seldom succeeds in flattering.
The likeness is assuredly obtained; but the sitter is usually “guyed,”
and a caricature is generally the result. This is not the case in the
portraits of females, and in the ideal heads of women and children.
The large dreamy eye and long lashes, the full red lips, and naturally
high color, the jetty or dark auburn locks (a color caused by the use
of henna, a dye) of the Persian women in their natural luxuriance, lend
themselves to the successful production of the peculiarly felicitous
representation of female beauty in which the Persian artist delights.
Accuracy in costume is highly prized, and the minutiæ of dress are
indicated with much aptness, the varied pattern of a shawl or scarf
being rendered with almost Chinese detail. Beauty of the brunette
type is the special choice of the artist and amateur, and “salt”—as a
high-colored complexion is termed—is much admired.

Like the ancient Byzantine artist, the Persian makes a free use of
gold and silver in his work. When wishing to represent the precious
metals, he first gilds or silvers the desired portion of the canvas or
panel, and then with a fine brush puts in shadows, etc. In this way a
strangely magnificent effect is produced. The presentments of mailed
warriors are done in this way; and the jewelled chairs, thrones, and
goblets in which the oriental mind delights. Gilt backgrounds, too, are
not uncommon, and their effect is far from displeasing.

The painting of portraits of Mohammed, Ali, Houssein, and Hassan—the
last three, relatives of the Prophet, and the principal martyred
saints in the Persian calendar, is almost a trade in itself, though
the representation of the human form is contrary to the Mohammedan
religion, and the saints are generally represented as veiled and
faceless figures. Yet in these particular cases, custom has overridden
religious law, and the _Schamayūl_ (or portrait of Ali) is common.
He is represented as a portly personage of swarthy hue; his dark and
scanty beard, which is typical of the family of Mohammed, crisply
curled; his hand is grasping his sword; and he is usually depicted as
wearing a green robe and turban (the holy color of the _Seyyuds_ or
descendants of the Prophet). A nimbus surrounds his head; and he is
seated on an antelope's skin, for the Persians say that skins were used
in Arabia before the luxury of carpets was known there.

Humble as is the lot of the Persian artist, he expects to be treated by
the educated with consideration, and would be terribly hurt at any want
of civility. One well-known man, Agha Abdullah of Shiraz, generally
insisted on regaling the writer with coffee, which he prepared himself
when his studio was visited. To have declined this would have been
to give mortal offence. On one of these visits, his little brasier
of charcoal was nearly extinguished, and the host had recourse to a
curious kind of fire-igniter, reviver, or rather steam-blast, that
as yet is probably undescribed in books. It was of hammered copper,
and had a date on it that made it three hundred years old. It was
fairly well modelled; and this curious domestic implement was in the
similitude of a small duck preening its breast; consequently, the open
beak, having a spout similar to that of a tea-kettle, was directed
downwards. The Persian poured an ounce or so of water into the copper
bird, and placed it on the expiring embers. Certainly the result
was surprising. In a few minutes the small quantity of water boiled
fiercely; a jet of steam was emitted from the open bill, and very
shortly the charcoal was burning brightly. The water having all boiled
away, the Persian triumphantly removed this scientific bellows with his
tongs, and prepared coffee.

No mention has been made of the curious bazaar pictures, sold for a few
pence. These cost little, but are very clever, and give free scope for
originality, which is the great characteristic of the Persian artist.
They consist of studies of town-life, ideal pictures of dancing-girls,
and such-like. All are bold, ingenious, and original. But bazaar
pictures would take a chapter to themselves, and occupy more space than
can be spared.—_Chambers's Journal._



Perhaps in the entire range of insect anatomy there is no point more
truly marvellous than the manner in which the respiratory system is
modified, in order to suit it to the peculiar requirements of its

In many ways the structure of the insects is wonderful enough. They are
gifted with muscles of extraordinary strength, and are yet destitute
of bones to which those muscles can be attached; they possess a
circulatory system, and are yet without a heart; they perform acts
involving the exercise of certain mental qualities, and are yet without
a brain. But, more remarkable still, they breathe atmospheric air
without the aid of lungs.

And this for a very good reason. It can be neither too often nor too
strongly insisted upon that, throughout animated nature, Structure
is in all cases subservient to Habit. If in any animal we find some
singular development in bodily form, we may be quite sure that there
is a peculiarity in the life-history which renders such development of
particular service, and so may often gain very complete information
with regard to the habits by a mere glance at external characteristics.
If, for example, the general shape is cylindrical, the toes webbed, and
the hair set closely against the body, we may safely conclude that the
animal is one intended for a life in the water. If the form is conical,
the limbs short, and the claws large and strong, that it is one which
burrows in the earth. If the jaws are large and massive, the teeth long
and sharply pointed, and the muscular power is concentrated principally
into the fore-parts of the body, that it is a beast of prey. And so on
with minor details.

And this rule holds equally good in the case of the insects, which are
devoid of lungs for the very sufficient reason that those organs are
necessarily weighty, and consequently unsuitable to the requirements
of beings which are in great measure creatures of air. In all animals
intended for a more or less aerial existence every particle of
superfluous weight must be dispensed with, in order that the strain
upon the muscles of flight may be reduced to the least possible
degree. Take the bats, and see how the skeleton has been attenuated
until it scarcely seems capable of affording the necessary rigidity
to the frame. Take the birds, and see how a large portion of the body
is occupied by supplementary air-cells, which permeate the very bones
themselves, and thus minimize the weight without detracting from the
strength. And so also with the insects, but in a different manner.

For in them the very lungs themselves are taken away, and replaced by a
respiratory system of great simplicity, and yet of wonderful intricacy,
which penetrates to every part of the structure, and simultaneously
aerates the whole of the blood contained in the body. In other words,
an insect is one large Lung.

       *       *       *       *       *

If we take any moderately large insect, say a wasp or a hornet, we
can see, even with the naked eye, that a series of small spot-like
marks runs along either side of the body. These apparent spots, which
are generally eighteen or twenty in number, are in fact the apertures
through which air is admitted into the system, and are generally formed
in such a manner that no extraneous matter can by any possibility find
entrance. Sometimes they are furnished with a pair of horny lips, which
can be opened and closed at the will of the insect; in other cases
they are densely fringed with stiff, interlacing bristles, forming a
filter, which allows air, and air alone, to pass. But the apparatus, of
whatever character it may be, is always so wonderfully perfect in its
action that it has been found impossible to inject the body of a dead
insect with even so subtle a medium as spirits of wine, although the
subject was first immersed in the fluid, and then placed beneath the
receiver of an air-pump.

The apertures in question, which are technically known as “spiracles,”
communicate with two large breathing-tubes, or “tracheæ,” which extend
through the entire length of the body. From these main tubes are given
off innumerable branches, which run in all directions, and continually
divide and subdivide until a wonderfully intricate network is formed,
pervading every part of the structure, and penetrating even to the
antennæ and claws.

Physiologists tell us that if in the human frame the nerves, the
muscles, and the veins and arteries could be separated from one
another, while retaining their own relative positions, each would be
found to possess the perfect human form. In other words, there would be
the nerve-man, the muscle-man, and the blood-vessel-man, as well as the
bone-man which supplies the framework of the whole. In the same way we
may speak of the tracheal, or breathing-tube insect; for the two main
tubes and the endless ramifications of their branches, if they could
be detached from the surrounding tissues while themselves suffering no
displacement, would exhibit to us the form of the insect from which
they were taken, and that so exactly that in many cases we should
almost be able to recognize the species.

In the smaller branches of these air-vessels considerable variety
is to be found. Some retain their tubular character to their very
termination. Others assume a curious beaded form, dilating at short
intervals into small chambers; while yet others abruptly resolve
themselves into sac-like reservoirs, in which a comparatively large
quantity of air is stored up. From the larger vessels are thrown off
vast numbers of exceedingly delicate filaments, so small that a very
powerful microscope is necessary in order to detect them, which float
loosely in the blood, and furnish it with the constant supply of oxygen
necessary for its purification.

Now, we may well ask ourselves how it is that these tubes, which
are of almost inconceivable delicacy, should remain open during the
various movements of which the flexible body is capable. Why is it, for
instance, that the air-supply of the lower leg is not cut off when the
limb is bent at the knee-joint? or from the head, when that important
part of the frame is tucked away beneath the body? How does the
Earwig contrive to breathe while folding its wings by the aid of its
tail-forceps? or many of the Cocktail-beetles when curled up in their
peculiar attitude of repose?

The answer to these questions is simple enough, and may be discovered
by a glance at one of the most familiar of our own inventions—the
flexible gas-tube. This preserves its tubular form no matter to what
degree it may be bent or twisted, for coiled closely within it is a
spiral wire, which obliges the interior of the pipe to retain its
diameter almost unaltered alike when straight or curved. And as with
this, so with the tracheæ of the insect, whose walls are formed of a
double layer, the one lying inside the other, while between the two,
and surrounding the inner, is coiled a fine but very strong elastic
thread, whose convolutions allow the vessel to be bent in any required
direction without losing its cylindrical form. By the exercise of a
little care the anatomist can often unwind an inch or two of this
spiral thread from a single branch of the tracheæ of a tolerably large
insect, so closely is it coiled, and so elastic its character.

It will thus be seen that each expansion of the respiratory muscles
causes the air to rush to every part of the body, the entire bulk of
the blood being consequently aerated at each respiration. This fact is
a most important one, for, as it is not necessary that the blood should
be brought to a definite centre, as in the higher animals, before it
can be re-vivified, and then despatched through another series of
vessels upon its errand of invigorating the frame, the necessity for
a circulatory system is almost wholly at an end, and a large amount
of weight consequently dispensed with. Insects have neither veins nor
arteries, one principal vessel running along the back, and the blood
passing slowly through this, and flowing between the various organs of
the body until it again enters it at the opposite extremity to that
from which it emerged.

Nor is this all. With ourselves, as with the higher animals in general,
nearly one-half of the blood, the venous, is always effete and useless,
requiring to pass through the lungs before it can again be rendered
fit for service. When this is vivified and pumped back by the heart
into the system, that which was before arterial becomes venous in its
turn; and so on. But not in the case of the insects. The whole bulk of
their blood is arterial, if we may use the expression in speaking of
animals which do not possess a vascular system. In other words, being
incessantly vivified throughout the body, owing to the comprehensive
character of the respiratory apparatus, no portion of it becomes at
any time effete from the exhaustion of the contained oxygen. Blood
so thoroughly and continually aerated, therefore, can practically
perform double work, and need be far less in volume than in beings
whose circulation is conducted upon different principles. The tracheal
structure, consequently, while itself detracting from rather than
adding to the substance of the body, permits of the abolition, not
only of lungs, but also of veins and arteries and of a considerable
proportion of the blood, so that the weight of the insect is reduced to
the least possible degree.

There is yet another point to be considered, and that a very curious
and at present unexplained one. Upon careful investigation we find that
the tracheæ extend beyond the limits of the circulation, showing that
they must serve some secondary purpose in addition to that generally
attributed to them. For nature provides nothing in vain, and would not
without good and sufficient reason have carried the breathing-tubes
farther than necessary for their primary object of regenerating the
blood. As to what this purpose may be, however, we have no certain
knowledge, and can only conjecture that it is in some way connected
with the olfactory system. It is well known that the sense of scent
is in many insects very highly developed, enabling them to ascertain
the position of their food while yet at a considerable distance.
Burying-beetles and blowflies, for instance, will detect the faintest
odor of putrid carrion, and will wing their way without hesitation to
the spot whence it proceeds. Ivy-blossom, again, will attract almost
every butterfly and moth in the neighborhood, and this clearly by
reason of its peculiar fragrance.

It may be, therefore, that the perfection of the organs of scent in
insects is due to the fact that they are distributed throughout the
body, instead of being localized as is the case with animals higher in
the scale. That they must be connected with the respiratory apparatus
would seem, judging by analogy, to be indisputable, for, so far as we
know, an odor cannot be appreciated unless the air containing it be
allowed to pass more or less rapidly over the olfactory nerves. And in
no other part of an insect's structure could this requisite so well be
observed as in the tracheæ themselves, through which a stream of air is
continually passing, and which penetrate to the remotest parts of the

With so wonderful a respiratory system, it naturally follows that an
insect must be particularly susceptible to the effects of any poisonous
vapor, which, being immediately carried to all parts of the body, must
speedily be attended by fatal results. And this is the case in a very
marked degree. A moth or beetle, which will live for hours, and even
days, after receiving an injury which would cause instant death to
a more highly organized being, will yet succumb in a few seconds to
the fumes of ether or chloroform, owing to the fact that the deadly
influence is simultaneously exerted upon all the nerve-centres of the
body, instead of being confined to one or two alone.

So much for the respiratory system of insects as a group. We have seen
how air is admitted into the body, how the entire bulk of the blood
is continuously aerated, and how every particle of needless weight
has carefully been dispensed with. There are many species, however,
whose mode of life renders necessary certain further developments, in
order that respiration may be carried on under circumstances which
would otherwise render it impossible. Such, for example, are the
various aquatic insects, which, while spending the greater part of
their existence beneath the surface of the water, must yet be enabled
to command a continual supply of atmospheric air. They are not, as a
rule, furnished with gills like the fish, for it is necessary that they
should be able to leave their ponds and streams at will, and become for
the time terrestrial or aerial beings, subject to the same conditions
as others of their class. But they are, nevertheless, provided with
certain modifications of structure, which enable them to breathe with
equal ease, whether submerged in the water, crawling upon the ground,
or flying through the air.

Even in these modifications there is considerable variety, dependent
in all cases upon the requirements of the individual species. The
Water-beetles, for instance, which must be able to lurk concealed among
the weeds, &c., until a victim comes within their reach, and then to
pursue and overtake it, carry down with them a supply of air in a
kind of reservoir, situated between the body and the wing-cases. The
former of these is concave and the latter convex, so that a chamber
of considerable size is formed, containing sufficient for their
requirements during a tolerably long period of time. And in these
insects the spiracles, instead of being situated along the sides of
the body, are placed upon the upper surface of the abdomen, so that
they open into the air-chamber itself, and allow the respiration to be
carried on without the slightest difficulty or inconvenience.

There is only one drawback to this arrangement, and that is, that the
increased buoyance prevents the insect from remaining beneath the water
excepting at the expense of active exertion, unless it can find some
submerged object to which to cling. Even this disadvantage, however,
is more apparent than real, for, while on the watch for prey, it is
necessary for the insect to remain as motionless as possible, and,
when engaged in swimming, the peculiar action of the oar-like limbs
neutralizes the tendency to rise towards the surface.

Upon an average, a water-beetle remains from fifteen to twenty
minutes without requiring to breathe; this period being capable of
considerable extension should occasion arise. I have forced one of
these insects, for instance, to stay beneath the surface for nearly
an hour and a half, by alarming it as often as it attempted to rise.
Generally speaking, however, before the first half hour is over, the
beetle allows itself to float to the surface, protrudes the tips of
the wing-cases, and expels the exhausted air from the cavity beneath
them; a fresh supply is then taken in, and the insect again dives, the
entire operation occupying barely a second of time.

The Water Scorpion affords us an instance of a perfectly different

Here we have a being, feeding upon living prey, which it must capture
for itself, and yet sluggish and slow of foot. By stratagem alone,
therefore, can it hope to succeed, and it accordingly lies hidden among
the dead leaves, sticks, &c., at the bottom of the water until some
luckless insect passes within reach of its jaw-like fore-limbs. But
this may not occur for hours, and it is imperatively necessary that no
alarm should be given by frequent journeys to the surface in search of
air. So, the extremity of the body is furnished with a curious organ
consisting of two long filaments, which are, in reality, tubular, and
which serve to convey air to the spiracles. The extreme tips of these
project slightly above the surface when the insect is at rest at the
bottom of the pond, so that respiration can be carried on without
difficulty, and without necessitating the slightest change of position.

A still more curious structure, although of very much the same
character, is afforded us by the grubs of the common Drone-fly. These
are inhabitants of the thickest and most fetid mud, dwelling entirely
beneath its surface, and consequently cut off from all personal
communication with the atmosphere. But from the end of the body
proceeds a long tube, which can be lengthened or shortened at will,
somewhat after the manner of a telescope, and which conveys air to the
spiracles just as do the tail filaments of the water scorpion. Unable
to change their position, these “rat-tailed maggots,” as they are
popularly called, are yet independent of any alteration in the depth of
the water above them, for the air-tube can be instantly regulated to
the required length, and so insure an uninterrupted supply of air.

Yet another system we find employed in the case of the grub of the
Dragon-fly, which stands almost alone among insects in its power of
extracting the necessary oxygen from the water itself. This is one of
the most rapacious of living beings, ever upon the watch for prey, and
securing its victims, not by stealth and fraud, but by open attack.
Its swimming powers, consequently, are of a very high order, and are
due to an organ which serves the double purpose of locomotion and
respiration, and which is one of the most wonderful pieces of structure
to be found in the whole of the insect world.

If a dragon-fly grub be even casually examined, a curious five-pointed
appendage will be noticed at the extremity of the body. If these
five points be carefully separated they will be seen to surround the
entrance to a tubular passage, of about the diameter of an ordinary
pin. This passage runs throughout almost the entire length of the body,
and, by the expansion and contraction of the abdominal muscles, can be
opened and closed at will.

When open, of course, it is instantly filled with water; when closed,
the contents are driven out with some little force. Consequently, the
action of the ejected fluid upon the surrounding water drives the
insect sharply forward, just as a sky-rocket rises into the air owing
to the action of the expelled gases upon the atmosphere. As soon as the
effect of the first stroke is at an end a second contraction of the
body takes place, and the operation is repeated as often as necessary.
The water, while in the swimming tube, however, is exhausted of its
oxygen, for the entrances to the respiratory system are inside instead
of outside the body, and act in much the same manner as do the gills
of a fish. The insect, therefore, is not obliged to visit the surface
of the water at all, and can continue to search for prey without

Such are some of the many modifications brought about in insect
structure by the requirements of the respiratory organs alone. Each,
as will be noticed, is specially adapted to individual wants, and each
is absolutely perfect in its own way, insuring a continual supply of
oxygen for the purification of the blood, whatever the conditions under
which life may be carried on.—_Good Words._




“_A chacun selon son travail_, To each man according to his work,
that's my way of looking at it. Go by that motto and things will soon
come right.”

I heard this said, with great emphasis, by Pierre Nigaud to some of his
mates as I entered the workshop. I went there every month to collect
the contributions to a Provident Insurance Club, to which several of
the men belonged. Pierre was on the whole an industrious as well as
clever workman, and had joined the club readily, as he thought it right
to save something for his wife and children, and to provide for a rainy
day, as the saying is.

I had observed, however, that Pierre on the last occasion when I saw
him was less frank than he used to be, and did not hand over his money
with the same cheerful goodwill as formerly. What was the cause I did
not know, but he soon made it plain. He had been listening to some
plausible people, or reading some shallow treatises that made him
discontented with his lot.

“I was just saying when you came in,” he began, “_A chacun selon son
travail_, To each man according to his work. Don't you think that a
good motto?”

“Well, it sounds good, but it depends how you apply it, and what you
are talking about.”

“I was talking, I and my mates, about the great inequality among
people. Riches are distributed in a very strange and, I say, unjust
fashion. Is it not unjust that, while so many poor fellows have to work
hard to gain a few pence a day, there are wealthy Nabobs who haul in
gold by shovelfuls? I read in a paper the other day that the English
Duke of Westminster has an income of twenty millions of francs, which
brings him at least 50,000 francs a day!”

“Quite true, and he is far from being the most wealthy man you might
name, I believe the Californian Mackay has about seventy millions of
income. Rothschild, of Frankfort, left more than a milliard. Astor
and Vanderbilt, of New York, and other millionaires on both sides the
ocean, have untold wealth.”

“There, you see,” said Pierre; “and what appears to me the worst
wrong of all is that these huge incomes belong to people who do next
to nothing, while poverty is oftenest the lot of those who work and
toil the hardest. I call this downright injustice. _A chacun selon son
travail._ The riches ought to be with those that work. That's my way of
looking at it.”

“All right, Pierre,” said I; “there is a good deal of truth in what you
say. It is quite true that in regard to the distribution of wealth, as
in regard to many other things, this world is far from being perfect.
But do you think that if you had the re-arrangement of society, and the
redistribution of riches, you could proceed on some other and better

“Certainly. I believe, without any presumption, that I could,” said
Pierre. “What seems to me difficult is not to make things better, but
to make them any worse than they are now!”

One of the workmen here said that nothing was simpler than to take the
surplus wealth of these rich men, and divide it amongst the deserving

“That plan is just a little too simple,” I remarked. “All the millions
of a Rothschild would go a very little way, if divided among the
population of Paris alone, and we should soon have to resort to other
schemes to redress the ever-renewed inequalities. No; no; what I want
Pierre to show us is some better system of society, and he thinks he
has the key to the problem in his favorite motto, _A chacun selon son
travail_. But just let me remind you that in ancient times there was
a king of Spain who was a bit of an astronomer; and looking at the
heavens, and wondering at the complicated movements of the stars, he
said that if he had been consulted in the matter he could have made a
much better and simpler arrangement. Your purpose is not so ambitious
and presumptuous as his, for the heavens are the work of the Almighty,
who has imposed upon Nature certain fixed laws; whereas the laws of
society are the work of men, and men are liable to err. Let us then
hear what improvement you can suggest in the laws and usages which
regulate the distribution of wealth.”

Pierre was somewhat taken aback, for he felt that the existing
arrangements of society were very complex, and it was not easy to
determine where the reform should begin.

“Well,” said I, “let us suppose that a number of persons were set on
shore upon an island, where none had any rights or property beyond the
others. Let us suppose that there are as yet no laws, that there is no
government, no past history: all are free and equal, and you have full
power to organise the distribution of wealth in this new society, and
to decide what is to be the share of each. Come now, you have a _carte
blanche_, let us hear what you would do.”

“Well,” said Pierre, “I should begin by deciding that every one was to
do what he would and what he could, and that every one should keep what
he was able by his work and industry to obtain. _A chacun selon son
travail_: behold my fundamental rule!”

“It is an excellent rule,” I said, “and I do not think any one could
find a better. It appears to me to be just, and also eminently
practical, for it would stimulate every one to produce by his industry
as much as he could. I see by this that you are no advocate of

“Certainly not,” said Pierre. “Communism is a very good thing in a
family, where every one exerts himself to work for those he loves, and
accepts without murmur his share of work, certain that the mother, or
whoever is housekeeper, manages the common purse with thrift, and in
the interest of all. But in a large society, I do not think that men
are equally willing to exert themselves for those whom they have no
knowledge of and no special attachment to. Besides, in Communism under
the State, the manager holding the purse strings would be no other than
the Government, and I would not have confidence in its management being
wise and economical.”

“I quite agree with you. But let us return to your plan. After
establishing your principle, “to each one the produce of his labor,”
what would you do then?”

“Nothing at all; every one would then stand on his own bottom. He that
works well would have sufficient, and he who did no work would have

“You do not imagine,” I observed, “that you would obtain equality by
these conditions? Since every one has to take his part in the work, it
is evident that these parts will be small or great, according as each
is industrious or not. You would soon come to have in your new society
the rich and the poor.”

“Well, perhaps; but at all events there would be none too rich or too

“How do you know that? Here are two families: in one the habits of
work, of order, of economy, are hereditary; the other is given, from
father to son, to idleness, improvidence, and dissipation. The distance
that separates these families, small at first, must go on increasing,
till in the natural course of things, sooner or later, there would come
to be the same inequality as between Rothschild and a beggar. It would
only be a question of time.”

Pierre's companions, who were listening attentively to the discussion,
here murmured assent, or what would correspond to the “Hear, hear!” of
more formal debates. Pierre, however, merely remarked that this result
might seem opposed to his views, but that he nevertheless accepted it;
“because,” said he, “in this case the inequality of riches would at
least be the result of work and of the efforts of each worker. There
would be no injustice.”

“Pardon me, Pierre, but I think that your motto is still causing you
to cherish some illusions. Let me show you my way of looking at it. _A
chacun selon son travail_, you say, To every one the product of his
own industry. But what is the proprietor to do with the product of his
labor? He will no doubt sell all that is over and above what he needs
for his own use, and the price of what is sold will form his income.
But the price of things depends on a variety of conditions independent
of our personal labor and our own will; such for instance, as the
vicissitudes of seasons and the variations of the markets. Out of a
difference of ten francs in the price of wine may result the fortune
or the ruin of a proprietor, and that proves nothing as to his having
himself labored well or ill. The revenue or net profit is rarely in
exact proportion to the labor bestowed, in farming or vine-growing or
any other industry. What we call chance will always play its part in
the affairs of this world, and in the new world which you are planning
you cannot hinder Fortune from dispensing her favors in an unequal
fashion; it is not without reason that she is represented with a
bandage over her eyes!”

“Ah, bah!” exclaimed Pierre; “you disconcert me with your suppositions.
What do you want? I firmly believe that in my colony, as everywhere,
there will be good and bad luck, but while the chances are equal for
all, and there is no place for wrong-doing or trickery, I console
myself. At least you will admit that my principle, _A chacun le produit
de son travail_, will have this good result, that it will render
impossible the existence of rich idle people who pass their life in
doing nothing.”

“Are you quite sure of that, Pierre? If any one after working ten or
twenty years has produced enough property to suffice for his wants
during the remainder of his days, do you pretend to hinder him from
spending in his own way, in idleness if he pleases, what he had amassed
by his labors?”

“Certainly not, because such a one would be living on the product of
his own toil. Let a man rest in the evening after having worked hard
in the morning, and let him live in ease in his old age after having
produced enough by the toil of his youth; I see no harm in that. I
have no wish to condemn the members of my colony to forced labor in
perpetuity. The only idlers that I wish to exclude are those who live
without ever having worked at all or produced anything—the _rentiers_,
as they call them, or idle people, who live on their income, or the
interest of their money.”

“Stop now, Pierre; do you admit that a man who has obtained anything by
his labor has the right to do what he pleases with it?”


“Here is a man who has made a loaf of bread. You admit his right to
eat it all if he is hungry, or to set part of it aside if he has not
appetite at the time for all of it, or even to throw some of it away,
as he pleases.”

“Yes, it is a consequence of my principle, _A chacun le produit de son
travail_. He who creates wealth has the right to dispose of it as he
pleases. But what has that to do with your argument?”

“Just this. If he who produces a thing can do what he pleases with
it, he can surely give it where he pleases. If, then, it suits me to
make every day a loaf for you, and to give it to you; still more, if
it pleases me to give to you out of my property or to bequeath to you
after my death enough bread, or, what comes to the same thing, enough
money to support you during your life, you will have acquired the
means of walking about with your hands in your pockets like an idle
gentleman. You will, in fact, have become a _rentier_.”

Never,” said Pierre, “never. If I allowed such parasites to exist in my
new society it would be no better than the old.”

“Then don't talk any more about your motto, _A chacun le produit de
son travail_. If you adopt this principle you must adopt also its
consequences, whether you like them or not. If, according to your
system, you admit to every one the right of disposing of the fruit of
his labor, you must admit the right to receive as well as to give.
Where the worker is master of his own property it depends on him
whether he will create a _rentier_, and you cannot prevent him except
by decreeing that he is incapable of disposing of what belongs to
him. Beware of what must happen otherwise. If in your new society you
prevented parents from giving or leaving to their children the property
they have amassed, there would be risk of their amassing far less or
of dissipating what they had already been able to accumulate by their
industry and thrift, which would be a great loss for all. We must
allow, in fact, and it is to the honor of human nature, that there are
very many in this world who work more and save more for their children
and for others rather than for themselves.”

“Well, sir, if in my new society there must eventually be rich
and poor, workers and non-workers: if the portion of each is not
necessarily proportioned to their labor then how, I wish to know, would
this new society which I have taken such trouble to plan and organise,
how would it differ from the society in which we now live?”

“In nothing at all, my good friend, and this it just what I wished to
demonstrate to you. You see that the world in which we live is, after
all, not so badly organised, seeing that the new one which you have
tried to create on better principles, as you imagined, turns out, at
the end of the account, to be an exact reproduction of the existing
system.”—_Leisure Hour._



During the past year there has been a considerable amount of
discussion, within the circumference of a comparatively inconsiderable
circle, as to the social position of the professional actor. It is
a subject that crops up from time to time, attracting more or less
attention to itself, from those outside the boundary, according to
whatever may happen to be the prevalent artistic development, or the
latest fashionable craze. The tone of the disputants and the weight
of their individual character must, of course, be taken into account.
The actor is of all professors of any kind of art the one who is most
before the public. The result of his study is ephemeral: “he struts
and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more,” though
nowadays the strutting and fretting are not by any means limited to
the hour upon the stage; and at the present time there seems to be
some anxiety on the part of the children of Thespis to obtain such
an authoritative definition of their status, as shall put their
position in society above all question, by placing them on a level
with the members of the recognised professions. It is asserted that
the professional actor is far differently situated now from what he
was fifty, or even thirty years ago. Actor and actress are, it is
pointed out, received everywhere, petted, fêted, lionized, and made
much of; our young men of birth and education but of limited purse,
take to the stage, professionally, as a honorable means of earning
their livelihood, just as the youngest son of a good, but impoverished
family, used to be sent into the Church in order to hold a family
living. Further, it has been said that for our young ladies to go on
the stage is not now considered, as heretofore, a disgrace, but, on
the contrary, rather a plume in their bonnet. Altogether it may be
fairly inferred that there has recently been a movement theatrewards,
favorable to the social prospects of the professional actor. But has it
been anything more than this? Is the actor's calling one whit nearer
being recognised as on a social equality with the regular professions
than it was fifty years ago?

Throughout this article I shall use the word “society” in its widest
and most comprehensive acceptation, except of course where its
limitation is expressly stated.

A “status in society” means a certain standing among one's fellow
subjects, fixed by law, recognised by traditional usage, and
acknowledged by every one, from the highest to the lowest. Formerly, it
must be admitted, that as one of the “rogues and vagabonds” by Act of
Parliament the actor, _quâ_ actor, had no more status in society than
the professional beggar with whom he was unjustly classed.

    “The strolling tribe, a despicable race,
    Like wandering Arabs, shift from place to place.”

And even now, when this blot on our statute-book has been erased,
a respectable theatrical company, travelling in the provinces, is
described in the law courts as “a company of strolling players.”
Undoubtedly, in a liberal age, the actor's disabilities have been
removed; but is he not asking for what is an impossibility from the
very nature of the case, when he advances a claim for the recognition
of his “calling” as on an equality with the acknowledged professions,
which, of themselves, confer a certain honorable _status_ on their
members, stamping them, so far, gentlemen? A man who is a gentleman
by birth and education is, as Mrs. Micawber phrases it, “eligible”
for the best society; and he can only forfeit his social position by
misconduct. Now, one question is, does “going on the stage” imply
forfeiture of social position? To consider this impartially we must
get entirely away from Leo Hunter associations and cliques established
on the mutual-admiration principle. The test cases are soon and easily
put. Let us suppose the case of the son of an impoverished peer. He
cannot afford to be idle. He has a liking for the bar: he passes his
examination and becomes a barrister; or he has an inclination for
the Church, and there being a family living vacant, and plenty of
interest to get him on, he takes orders. In either case does he forfeit
his social position? Certainly not: if anything, he improves it by
becoming a member of an honorable and dignified profession. Supposing
he has money, and prefers soldiering or sailoring to doing absolutely
nothing, does he forfeit his social position by becoming an officer?
Certainly not: on the contrary he improves his already good social
status. I maintain that, _prima facie_, for a man to be an officer,
a barrister, or a clergyman, is in itself a passport to any English
society. Wherever he is personally unknown, it is assumed that he is
a gentleman, until the contrary is proved; and this assumption is on
the strength of his profession only. Let the rank of our hypothetical
peer's son be subsequently discovered, and for that representative
portion of society which has “entertained an angel unawares,” he has
the recommendation of his nobility _plus_ the social position implied
by his profession.

But how if the son of our “poor nobleman” have a taste for theatricals,
and, after being at Eton and Oxford, determine on “adopting the stage
as a profession,” or, as it might be more correctly put, “in lieu of
a profession.” What will his noble father and his relatives say to
this step? Will they be as pleased as if he were going into the army,
or to the bar, or into the Church? Not exactly. If he became an
officer, a barrister, or a clergyman, the event would be officially
notified in due form; but if he went on the stage there would be
startling paragraphs in the papers announcing “The Son of an Earl on
the Stage,” “The Honorable Mr. So-and-So has adopted the profession
of the stage, &c., &c.” “Well, and why not?” some will exclaim; and
others will commend his pluck, and say, “Quite right too.” I entirely
agree with them. But the point is, has the young gentleman taken a
step up the social ladder, or has he gone more than two or three down?
Has he improved his position, or injured it? Certainly, as matters
stand, there can be but one answer,—the step he has taken has seriously
affected the position to which his birth and education entitle him.

As a barrister on circuit I have supposed him received _quâ_ barrister
with his legal brethren; as an officer, quartered in a garrison town,
we know he will be received _quâ_ officer, with his brother officers,
and no questions asked; and I have alluded to the satisfaction that
will be felt (snobbery of course is taken for granted everywhere)
when his rank is discovered. But as a player with other players in a
country town, will he be received by society, it being understood that
_because_ he is a player, _therefore_ he is a gentleman by birth and
education? On becoming a soldier, or a barrister, does any one change
his name? No: but on going “on the stage” it is the rule for any one
to conceal his identity under some name widely different from his
own, just as he conceals his individuality behind the footlights with
cosmetics, burnt cork, and an eccentric wig. When it is ascertained
who he is, will this same society, which would have received him as a
barrister, be satisfied and delighted? No, probably scandalised. It
will be with these simple, old-fashioned persons a foregone conclusion
that this scion of a noble house must be a loose sort of fellow, and
they will decide that the less they see of him the better.

There is one reason why the aspirant for Thespian honors (if such he
really be) should change his name, and that is the chance of failure.
If he goes on the stage as somebody else, and fails as somebody else,
very few will hear of it, and he may quit “the boards” none the worse,
perhaps for the experience; but for some considerable time, until in
fact he has “lived it down,” he will be very careful to conceal this
episode in his career from the world at large.

Before getting at the very essence of the difficulty, I will ask in
what light do our upper-middle class, and upper-lower middle class, and
the remainder of that form (the public school divisions are useful)
regard the stage as a means of earning a livelihood?

We must put out of the case entirely all instances of genius. An
histrionic genius _will_ be an actor, and his success will justify
his choice. The force of his genius will take him everywhere. Genius
excuses a multitude of faults and solecisms. We must, too, leave out of
the question cases of exceptional talent, where there is more than an
occasional spark of the _feu sacré_. Whether histrionic genius could be
better utilised than on the stage, may occur to some serious minds with
a decided anti-theatrical bias. But the histrion for the stage, and the
stage for the histrion, and we must take the stage as it is for what it
is, and not for what it is not. Such a reform of the stage, as shall
give its members something like the status they very properly covet,
is a matter for future consideration. Let it be understood then—and I
cannot impress this too often on those who do me the honor of reading
my contribution towards the discussion,—that I am only speaking of very
ordinary men and women taking to the stage as a means of earning their
livelihood. The men first; it is not yet awhile _place aux dames_, when
professions are concerned.

Whatever theatrical biography I have taken up, I can call to mind
but very few instances of a man going on the stage with the full
approbation of his relatives. Let his parents be small or large
tradesmen, civil servants, clerks in the City, no matter what, they
rarely took kindly to their son “going on the stage.” It was so: is it
not so now? The bourgeois is as dead against his son becoming an actor
as ever he was. Scratch the British bourgeois and you'll come upon the

Supposing a tradesman, free from narrow prejudices, and theatrically
inclined, a regular theatre-goer in fact,—will he be one whit more
favorable to his son's becoming an actor? No: rather the contrary. He
will not indeed regard him as going straight to a place unmentionable,
as probably he will not consider the religious bearings of the
“vocation” at all, but he will not give the youth his blessing, and he
may contemplate omitting his name from his will. Supposing this same
son had told his father that he wanted to be a barrister, and in order
to do so he should like, as a first step, to serve as a clerk in a
solicitor's office, wouldn't the old tradesman be pleased? Certainly.
He might, indeed, prove to the lad that if he would stick to the
business he would be better off for a certainty, but, all the same, the
youth's aspirations would give his parent considerable pleasure. And,
to be brief, here is a case which will bring the question directly home
to every one; given equality in every other respect, and which would
be preferred as a son-in-law, the ordinary actor, or the briefless

The question of the social status of the stage is still more important
as affecting ladies who have to earn their livelihood. At the present
day there are more chances of suitable employment for educated,
respectably-connected girls than there were fifty years ago. As yet,
however, the demand exceeds the supply. Few occupations insure to
successful ladies such good pay as stage-playing; but, as in the
previous instances, “on the spear side,” so now we must consider the
case of girls of ordinary intelligence, well brought up, not by any
means geniuses, with no particular talent, and who have to earn their
living. If they cannot paint plates and doileys, or copy pictures in
oils, if they object to any clerkly drudgery that has something menial
in it, and if, as has been affirmed, they “turn with a sigh of relief
towards the vista of the stage,” let us see what this “vista” has to
offer, and on what terms. And to do this we had better take a glance at
“professional,” _i.e._, “theatrical” life.

What Tom Robertson, whose personal experience of every variety of
theatrical life was considerable, in his thoroughly English (let
us be grateful for this, at all events) play of _Caste_ left to the
imagination, in giving us Eccles as a widower, and bestowing an honest,
hard-working lover on Polly (this was a mistake, except as a concession
to respectability, for Polly was never meant to be a Mrs. Sam Gerridge,
a small tradesman's wife, or, if she were, so much the worse for Sam),
M. Halévy in his _Monsieur et Madame Cardinal_ has put before his
readers very plainly. The scenes in Georges Ohnet's _Lise Flueron_ are
not merely peculiar to the French stage; and only to those who want
to know the seamy side of a strolling player's life would I recommend
_A Mummer's Wife_, but not otherwise, as the realism of Mr. Moore's
story is repulsive. Be it remembered, however, that the best chance for
girls who seek an engagement at a London theatre, is to travel with a
company “on tour,” and so learn experience by constant and frequently
varying practice. “The Stage” is an art, and not a profession, and
an art which, as a means of obtaining a bare livelihood, is open to
everybody possessing ordinary natural faculties, offering employment
without requiring from the applicants any special qualification or
any certificate from schoolmaster, pastor, or master, and therefore
it must be the resort of all who, unable or unwilling to do anything
else, are content to earn their few shillings a week, and to be in
the same category with Garrick, Macready, Phelps, and Kean; for the
“super” who earns his money by strict attention to business, and who
has night after night, for a lifetime, no more than a few lines to say,
is briefly described in the census as “Actor,” as would be the leading
tragedian or comedian of the day. He is a supernumerary, _i.e._, a
supernumerary actor; and a supernumerary, abbreviated to “super,”
attached to the theatre, he lives and dies. In civil and Government
offices there are supernumeraries. They are supernumerary clerks, and
none the less clerks on that account. If taken on to the regular staff
they cease to be called supernumeraries, and if a super on the stage
should exhibit decided histrionic talent, he, too, would cease to be a
super and become an actor, that is, he would drop the qualification
of “supernumerary.” So for the “extra ladies,” as they are politely
termed, who are the female supers. As a rule, the extras are a good,
hard-working people as you will find anywhere. They have “come down”
to this, and in most cases consider their position as a descent in the
social scale, no matter what they may have been before. A few may take
the place for the sake of obtaining “an appearance,” with a view to
something better; some as a means of honest livelihood, and to help
the family in its “little house in Stangate;” and others, to whom a
small salary is not so much an object as to obtain relief from the
monotony of evenings at home, take to the stage in this, or any other
capacity, as “extras” in burlesque, in pantomime, or as strengthening a
chorus; and to these the theatre is a source of profitable amusement.
These being some of the essential component parts of most theatrical
companies, would any of us wish our daughters to “go on the stage?”

There can be but one answer to this: No; certainly we would rather
they did not choose the stage as the means of earning a livelihood.
But some objector will say, “Surely my daughter need not associate
with such persons as you describe.” I answer No; she need not off
the stage, but how is she to avoid it in the theatre? Your daughter,
my dear sir, is not all at once a Mrs. Siddons; she is a beginner.
Perhaps she never will be a Mrs. Siddons; perhaps she will never get
beyond playing a soubrette, or, if she cannot deliver her lines well,
and has not the fatal gift of beauty, she may, being there only to
earn her livelihood, be compelled to remain among the extras. At all
events, she cannot expect to consort in the theatre with the stars and
with the leading ladies. The manageress may “know her at home,” and do
everything she can for her; but she cannot be unjust to others, and
your daughter must dress in the same room with the “extras,” just as
Lord Tomnoddy, should he choose to take the Queen's shilling, must put
up with the other privates in barracks. The officers may have “known
him at home,” but that can't be helped now. Your daughter, my dear
lady, goes on to the stage in preference to being a governess, to earn
money to relieve her parents of a burden, and to replenish the family
purse. Excellent motive! But can you, her mother, always be with her?
Can you accompany her to rehearsals, and be with her every evening in
the dressing-room of the theatre, where there are generally about a
dozen others, more or less according to the accommodation provided by
the theatre? If you make your companionship a _sine quâ non_, will it
not prevent any manager from engaging your daughter? They cannot have
the dressing-rooms full of mothers; they cannot spare the space, and
mothers cannot be permitted to encumber green-rooms and the “wings.”
You may have implicit confidence in your child and in her manager
and manageress, but the latter have something else to do besides
looking after your daughter. “Some theatres,” you will say, “are more
respectable than others.” True; but your daughter having to earn her
daily bread by her profession, cannot select her theatre. It is a hard
saying, that beggars must not be choosers. Lucky for your daughter
if she obtains employment in a small theatre where only comedy is
played.[38] But the chances are against her, and she will be compelled
to take the first engagement that offers itself, which will probably be
at some large theatre where there is employment for any number of extra
ladies, and where the salaries are really very good, if your daughter
is only showy enough to make herself an attraction. You ask “what sort
of attraction?” Well, have you any objection to her appearing as a
page in an extravaganza? Consider that anyone who plays Shakespeare's
heroines, Viola or Rosalind, must wear much the same costume; but the
other ladies who play pages, and some of whom will be her companions in
the dressing-room, are they just the sort of girls you would like your
daughter to be with every evening of her life? If your well-brought-up
daughter does go there one of two things will happen,—she will be
either so thoroughly disgusted at all she hears and sees that she will
never go near the place after the first week, or she will unconsciously
deteriorate in tone, until the fixed lines of the moral boundary have
become blurred and faint. If among these surroundings a girl remain
pure in heart, it is simply nothing short of a miracle of grace. Would
you like to expose your daughter to this atmosphere? Of course not.
How can I put the question? but I _do_ put the question, after giving
you the information of the facts of the case. Even in a first-class
theatre, for a Shakespearian revival, there must be a large number of
all sorts engaged, and with them, your daughter, as beginner, will have
to consort, and she cannot have her mother always at her elbow. Besides
her mother cannot neglect her other daughters, or her household duties,
to attend to the youthful actress.

Now supposing a young lady at once obtains an engagement at a reputable
theatre, and is cast for a good part. What then? Then the atmosphere of
the theatre at its best is not a pleasant one. Your daughter will be
astonished at the extraordinary variations of manner, from the abjectly
servile to the free-and-easy, described in Mr. Namby's case as “Botany
Bay gentility.” She will hear everybody “my dearing” one another. At
first she will not understand half that is said, and very little that
is meant. When they all warm to their work, the veneer of politeness is
soon rubbed off, and actor and actress are seen as the real artistes
they are. The stage manager comes out strongly too; strange words are
used, and whether it be high art or not that is being illustrated,
there is pretty sure to be a considerable amount of forcible language
employed in the excitement of the moment. Your daughter's ideas of
propriety will be rudely shocked at every turn. When she ceases to be
even astonished, she will be unconsciously deteriorating.

There is one sort of girl to whom all this does no harm, and that is
the girl who comes of a hard-working professional theatrical family,
who has been decently brought up in the middle of it all from a child,
whose father and mother are in the theatre, thoroughly respectable
people, and as careful of their daughter s morals as though she were
the niece of a bishop. Such a girl as this, if she remain on the
stage, will be a tolerable actress, always sure of an engagement.
She will marry a decent, respectable actor, of some one connected
with theatricals, will bring up a family excellently, will be really
religious without ostentation, will never lose her self-respect, and
in her own way be perfectly domesticated, happy and contented. Or she
may marry some one in a good social position: if so, she will quit
the stage without regret, because she is not of the stuff of which
great actresses are made; but she will look back on her theatrical
experience with affection for her parents to whom she owed so much.
She is neither Esther, nor Polly Eccles, nor is she in the position of
the well-brought-up young lady we have been considering. But she is an
admirable woman, in whatever station of life her lot may be cast, and
not a bit of a snob.

For a young lady, travelling with a company would be simply impossible,
unless accompanied by her mother, or by some trustworthy relative.
A manageress might undertake the guardianship and execute the trust
conscientiously. But this is an exceptional case.

There is another point, and a very important one, to be considered,
and that is the artistic temperament. If a young lady of attractive
personal appearance possesses histrionic talent, then in proportion to
her talent will be her temperament. She will be impulsive, passionate,
impressionable, self-willed, impatient of control, simple, confiding,
and vain, but artistically vain, and desirous of applause. She will be
illogical, inconsistent, full of contradictions, fond of variety, and
unable to exist without excitement. It only requires her to be a genius
to be duped by the first schemer that throws himself in her way.

So, when the theatrical profession is brought before you, my dear
madam, as a calling for your daughter to follow, you see that on the
one hand there is mediocrity and deterioration of character, and on the
other success, at, probably, a ruinous price. This does not apply, and
again I impress it on my readers, to those who are to the manner born.
They will lead jog-trot lives, study their parts, make puddings, act
mechanically every night, knit socks in the green-room, and be virtuous
and happy to the end of their days. Their artistic temperament will
not lead them very far astray, unless they have the _feu sacré_, and
then, it is likely, they will make a hasty marriage, repent at leisure,
and try to forget they ever bore a husband's name by making one for
themselves. In some recent French romance an ex-actress is warning her
daughter who has married a prince, against the fascinations of a young
painter. The princess turns on her mother with, “Est ce ma faute à
moi si j'ai dans les veines du sang d'artiste?” And the ex-comédienne
feels the full force of her daughter's retort, which has in it a
certain amount of truth. Public life has great dangers for young women
of the artistic temperament: mothers cannot be always with them, and
sheep-dogs are expensive and untrustworthy. Chance or ill-luck may
bring your daughter, madam, to the stage, but you would not choose it
for her, that is, the stage, being as it is, and as it is likely to be
under the present conditions. When those conditions are altered for the
better, it will be time enough for society to change its opinion on the

But, it is urged, the present state of the stage is a vast improvement
on the past; that the actor is a person of more consideration than
formerly, and not necessarily tabooed from all society, but on the
contrary, he is to be met in the very best drawing-rooms. It may be
that a few, whom you may count on the fingers of both hands, have the
_entrée_ to the best society. It may be so; I am not in a position
to deny it. But their genius, or talent, and their unblemished
reputation have combined to place them on that pedestal exalted above
their fellows. But was it not always so? Have there not always been a
privileged few among the actors, as among other citizens of the Great
Republic of Art and Letters, who have been admitted to the assemblies
of the great, and whose hospitality the great have condescended to
accept in return? Go back thirty years and at least a dozen names
of prominent actors and actresses will occur to us as having been
received in the best society. Now, in their time, the number of
West-end theatres was about one-third of what it is at the present day.
Therefore, if five actors were received by society then, there should
be fifteen received now. If there are not, the stage of to-day is
socially on the same level with the stage of thirty years ago, and has
not advanced a step; if the number of presentable actors is, nowadays,
less, then the stage has retrograded. I cannot make out that there are
more received than formerly. There are a few University men on the
stage, men of birth and education, entitled to be received in good
society. But now we are speaking of only a section of society, and are
begging the original question.

And why, from the nature of the case, cannot the stage ever rank
with the recognised professions? Because, as a means of earning a
livelihood, that is as a mere employment, the stage is open to all
the world. Unlike painting, literature, and music, it requires no
special knowledge of any sort; it can be practised as well by the
unlearned as, though not with the same facility, by the learned. It is
a self-educating profession. Physical gifts, up to a certain point,
will make up for deficiency in talent: but given talent, and with
perseverance and application even for the most illiterate, success
is certain. Given genius, then “reading and writing” seem to “come
by nature,” and though there may always be a little difficulty with
the spelling, yet triumph is sure and swift. The stage requires no
matriculation; but for an actor of talent, who loves his art, there is
no limit to his studies,—one helps another, one leads to another. As
far as society is concerned, there should be no one more thoroughly
qualified to play a leading part in the very highest, the most
intellectual, and most cultivated society, than the actor or actress,
who is rising in or who has reached the summit of “the profession.”
Scarcely a subject can be named that is not, in its degree, almost
essential—a strong word, but on consideration used correctly—to
the perfection of the actor's art. A first-rate actor should be an
admirable Crichton. The best preparation for the stage is, as I have
elsewhere insisted, a thorough education. True, that it is so for
every calling, but especially for the stage. To belong to the bar of
England is an honor in itself, even though the barrister never gets a
brief and could do nothing with it if he did. To belong to the stage of
England is _not_ an honor in itself. To the genius, the talents, and
the private worth of our eminent actors in the past and in the present,
our stage owes its lustre. They owed nothing to the stage, the stage
everything to them.

The desire to raise the social status of the actor so that the term
actor shall be “synonymous with gentleman,” is worthy of all praise. To
make it possible for young ladies of education to take to acting as a
means of earning a livelihood, would be a great social benefit.

When a youth, well brought up, takes to the stage, he should not be
immediately treated as a pariah. On the contrary, if ever there be a
time in a young man's career when more than ever he stands in need
of good home traditions, the companionship of his equals, and the
encouragement of his superiors, it is when he has honestly chosen, as
a means of earning his living, the stage as a profession. That, for
evident reasons, it has been usually selected by the dissolute, the
idle, and those to whom any restraint is distasteful, accounts to a
great extent for the disrepute in which the stage has been held. Of
course the statute-book and the puritanism of the seventeenth century
have much to answer for in the popular estimate of the players. There
is a strong leaven of Puritanism amongst us, and, in some respects,
so much the better; but also among very excellent people of various
religious opinions, there has been, and it exists now, a sort of vague
idea that the stage has always been under the positive ban of the
Church. In the temporary laws and regulations of different countries,
enforced by narrow-minded men, civil or ecclesiastical, may be found
the origin of this mistaken notion. The Church has never pronounced
the stage the anathema. On the contrary, she has patronised the stage,
and the first mimes who entered France from Italy rather resembled
members of a religious order in their pious fervor, than actors of a
later date in their laxity. If players were refused Christian burial,
it was when they had neither lived nor died as even nominal Christians,
and in such cases even “maimed rites” would savor of hypocrisy. In
France the actors themselves were under this hallucination. M. Regnier
tells us how in 1848 a deputation of comedians went to Monseigneur
Affre to ask him to get the sentence of excommunication removed from
the theatrical profession. “L'illustre prélat leur répondit qu'il n'y
avait pas à la lever, parcequ'elle n'avait jamais été formulée, et que
les comédiens français, comme les comédiens de tous les autres pays
catholiques, pouvaient participer aux sacraments.”

It would be a comparatively easy task to trace the origin of this
floating but perfectly false tradition, but I have already overrun
the limit of this article. In the time of Louis XIII. the actors were
excellent church-goers, had their children baptised, frequented the
sacraments, and were on the best terms with curés of Paris; and it
will be a consolation to those actors among us who, like the doll in
the song, “pine for higher society” to be reminded, that the grand
monarch himself did not disdain to stand god-father at the font to the
first-born of Molière, and to do the like office to the third child of
Domenico Biancolelli, the Italian harlequin.

Our leading actors and actresses of the present day will naturally
strive, no less than those of the past, to do their best for the stage,
and, in return, the patrons of the drama will do their best for them.
But to claim for it, as its right, the social status of the recognised
professions, and to be fussily indignant with society at large for
refusing to acknowledge this groundless claim, is degrading to an art
which should be as independent and as exalted as virtue, and content
with virtue's reward.—_Fortnightly Review._


[38] The process of obtaining an engagement is the same for a lady as
a gentleman, _i.e._ a visit to an agent's office, &c., &c. Here is an
advertisement which evidently offers a rare chance:—

“Wanted, ladies of attractive appearance, with good singing voices.
Can be received for long pantomime season. Dresses found. Salaried
engagement (an exceptionable opportunity for clever amateurs desirous
of adopting the profession).”


In the market-place at Santa Fé, in Mexico, peasant women from the
neighboring villages bring in for sale trayfuls of living ants, each
about as big and round as a large white currant, and each entirely
filled with honey or grape-sugar, much appreciated by the ingenuous
Mexican youth as an excellent substitute for Everton toffee. The method
of eating them would hardly command the approbation of the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It is simple and primitive, but
decidedly not humane. Ingenuous youth holds the ant by its head and
shoulders, sucks out the honey with which the back part is absurdly
distended, and throws away the empty body as a thing with which it
has now no further sympathy. Maturer age buys the ants by the quart,
presses out the honey through a muslin strainer, and manufactures it
into a very sweet intoxicating drink, something like shandygaff, as I
am credibly informed by bold persons who have ventured to experiment
upon it, taken internally.

The curious insect which thus serves as an animated sweetmeat for
the Mexican children is the honey-ant of the Garden of the Gods; and
it affords a beautiful example of Mandeville's charming paradox that
personal vices are public benefits—_vitia privata humana commoda_. The
honey-ant is a greedy individual who has nevertheless nobly devoted
himself for the good of the community by converting himself into a
living honey-jar, from which all the other ants in his own nest may
help themselves freely from time to time, as occasion demands. The
tribe to which he belongs lives underground, in a dome-roofed vault,
and only one particular caste among the workers, known as rotunds from
their expansive girth, is told off for this special duty of storing
honey within their own bodies. Clinging to the top of their nest,
with their round, transparent abdomens hanging down loosely, mere
globules of skin enclosing the pale amber-colored honey, these Daniel
Lamberts of the insect race look for all the world like clusters of
the little American Delaware grapes, with an ant's legs and head stuck
awkwardly on to the end instead of a stalk. They have, in fact,
realised in everyday life the awful fate of Mr. Gilbert's discontented
sugar-broker, who laid on flesh and “adipose deposit” until he became
converted at last into a perfect rolling ball of globular humanity.

The manners of the honey-ant race are very simple. Most of the members
of each community are active and roving in their dispositions, and
show no tendency to undue distension of the nether extremities. They
go out at night and collect nectar or honey-dew from the gall-insects
on oak-trees; for the gall-insect, like love in the old Latin saw, is
fruitful both in sweets and bitters, _melle et felle_. This nectar
they then carry home, and give it to the rotunds or honey-bearers, who
swallow it and store it in their round abdomen until they can hold
no more, having stretched their skins literally to the very point of
bursting. They pass their time, like the Fat Boy in “Pickwick,” chiefly
in sleeping, but they cling upside down meanwhile to the roof of their
residence. When the workers in turn require a meal, they go up to the
nearest honey-bearer and stroke her gently with their antennæ. The
honey-bearer thereupon throws up her head and regurgitates a large drop
of the amber liquid. (“Regurgitates” is a good word, which I borrow
from Dr. McCook, of Philadelphia, the great authority upon honey-ants;
and it saves an immense deal of trouble in looking about for a
respectable periphrasis). The workers feed upon the drops thus exuded,
two or three at once often standing around the living honey-jar, and
lapping nectar together from the lips of their devoted comrade. This
may seem at first sight rather an unpleasant practice on the part
of the ants; but, after all, how does it really differ from our own
habit of eating honey which has been treated in very much the same
unsophisticated manner by the domestic bee?

Worse things than these, however, Dr. McCook records to the discredit
of the Colorado honey-ant. When he was opening some nests in the
Garden of the Gods, he happened accidentally to knock down some of the
rotunds, which straightway burst asunder in the middle, and scattered
their store of honey on the floor of the nest. At once the other ants,
tempted away from their instinctive task of carrying off the cocoons
and young grubs, clustered around their unfortunate companion, like
street boys around a broken molasses barrel, and instead of forming
themselves forthwith into a volunteer ambulance company, proceeded
immediately to lap up the honey from their dying brother. On the other
hand, it must be said, to the credit of the race, that (unlike the
members of Arctic expeditions) they never desecrate the remains of the
dead. When a honey-bearer dies at his post, a victim to his zeal for
the common good, the workers carefully remove his cold corpse from the
roof where it still clings, clip off the head and shoulders from the
distended abdomen, and convey their deceased brother piecemeal, in two
detachments, to the formican cemetery, undisturbed. If they chose,
they might only bury the front half of their late relation, while they
retained his remaining moiety as an available honey-bag: but from this
cannibal proceeding ant-etiquette recoils in decent horror; and the
amber globes are “pulled up galleries, rolled along rooms, and bowled
into the graveyard, along with the juiceless heads, legs, and other
members.” Such fraternal conduct would be very creditable to the worker
honey-ants, were it not for a horrid doubt insinuated by Dr. McCook
that perhaps the insects don't know they could get at the honey by
breaking up the body of their lamented relative. If so, their apparent
disregard of utilitarian considerations may really be due not to their
sentimentality but to their hopeless stupidity.

The reason why the ants have taken thus to storing honey in the living
bodies of their own fellows is easy enough to understand. They want to
lay up for the future, like prudent insects that they are; but they
can't make wax, as the bees do, and they have not yet evolved the
purely human art of pottery. Consequently—happy thought—why not tell
off some of our number to act as jars on behalf of the others? Some of
the community work by going out and gathering honey; they also serve
who only stand and wait—who receive it from the workers, and keep it
stored up in their own capacious india-rubber maws till further notice.
So obvious is this plan for converting ants into animated honey-jars,
that several different kinds of ants in different parts of the world,
belonging to the most widely distinct families, have independently hit
upon the very self-same device. Besides the Mexican species, there is
a totally different Australian honey-ant, and another equally separate
in Borneo and Singapore. This last kind does not store the honey in
the hind part of the body, technically known as the abdomen, but in
the middle division which naturalists call the thorax, where it forms
a transparent bladder-like swelling, and makes the creature look as
though it were suffering with an acute attack of dropsy. In any case,
the life of a honey-bearer must be singularly uneventful, not to say
dull and monotonous; but no doubt any small inconvenience in this
respect must be more than compensated for by the glorious consciousness
that one is sacrificing one's own personal comfort for the common good
of universal anthood. Perhaps, however, the ants have not yet reached
the Positivist stage, and may be totally ignorant of the enthusiasm of

Equally curious are the habits and manners of the harvesting ants,
the species which Solomon seems to have had specially in view when he
advised his hearers to go to the ant—a piece of advice which I have
also adopted as the title of the present article, though I by no means
intend thereby to insinuate that the readers of this magazine ought
properly to be classed as sluggards. These industrious little creatures
abound in India: they are so small that it takes eight or ten of them
to carry a single grain of wheat or barley; and yet they will patiently
drag along their big burden for five hundred or a thousand yards to
the door of their formicary. To prevent the grain from germinating,
they bite off the embryo root—a piece of animal intelligence outdone
by another species of ant, which actually allows the process of
budding to begin, so as to produce sugar, as in malting. After the
last thunderstorms of the monsoon the little proprietors bring up
all the grain from their granaries to dry in the tropical sunshine.
The quantity of grain stored up by the harvesting ants is often so
large that the hair-splitting Jewish casuists of the Mishna have
seriously discussed the question whether it belongs to the landowner
or may lawfully be appropriated by the gleaners. “They do not appear,”
says Sir John Lubbock, “to have considered the rights of the ants.”
Indeed our duty towards insects is a question which seems hitherto to
have escaped the notice of all moral philosophers. Even Mr. Herbert
Spencer, the prophet of individualism, has never taken exception to
our gross disregard of the proprietary rights of bees in their honey,
or of silkworms in their cocoons. There are signs, however, that the
obtuse human conscience is awakening in this respect; for when Dr. Loew
suggested to bee-keepers the desirability of testing the commercial
value of honey-ants, as rivals to the bee, Dr. McCook replied that “the
sentiment against the use of honey thus taken from living insects,
which is worthy of all respect, would not be easily overcome.”

There are no harvesting ants in Northern Europe, though they extend
as far as Syria, Italy, and the Riviera, in which latter station I
have often observed them busily working. What most careless observers
take for grain in the nests of English ants are of course really
the cocoons of the pupæ. For many years, therefore, entomologists
were under the impression that Solomon had fallen into this popular
error, and that when he described the ant as “gathering her food in
the harvest” and “preparing her meat in the summer,” he was speaking
rather as a poet than as a strict naturalist. Later observations,
however, have vindicated the general accuracy of the much-married king
by showing that true harvesting ants do actually occur in Syria, and
that they lay by stores for the winter in the very way stated by that
early entomologist, whose knowledge of “creeping things” is specially
enumerated in the long list of his universal accomplishments.

Dr. Lincecum of Texan fame has even improved upon Solomon by his
discovery of those still more interesting and curious creatures, the
agricultural ants of Texas. America is essentially a farming country,
and the agricultural ants are born farmers. They make regular
clearings around their nests, and on these clearings they allow nothing
to grow except a particular kind of grain, known as ant-rice. Dr.
Lincecum maintains that the tiny farmers actually sow and cultivate the
ant-rice. Dr. McCook, on the other hand, is of opinion that the rice
sows itself, and that the insects' part is limited to preventing any
other plants or weeds from encroaching on the appropriated area. In any
case, be they squatters or planters, it is certain that the rice, when
ripe, is duly harvested, and that it is, to say the least, encouraged
by the ants, to the exclusion of all other competitors. “After the
maturing and harvesting of the seed,” says Dr. Lincecum, “the dry
stubble is cut away and removed from the pavement, which is thus left
fallow until the ensuing autumn, when the same species of grass, and in
the same circle, appears again, and receives the same agricultural care
as did the previous crop.” Sir John Lubbock, indeed, goes so far as to
say that the three stages of human progress—the hunter, the herdsman,
and the agriculturist—are all to be found among various species of
existing ants.

The Saüba ants of tropical America carry their agricultural operations
a step further. Dwelling in underground nests, they sally forth upon
the trees, and cut out of the leaves large round pieces, about as big
as a shilling. These pieces they drop upon the ground, where another
detachment is in waiting to convey them to the galleries of the nest.
There they store enormous quantities of these round pieces, which
they allow to decay in the dark, so as to form a sort of miniature
mushroom bed. On the mouldering vegetable heap they have thus piled
up, they induce a fungus to grow, and with this fungus they feed their
young grubs during their helpless infancy. Mr. Belt, the “Naturalist
in Nicaragua,” found that native trees suffered far less from their
depredations than imported ones. The ants hardly touched the local
forests, but they stripped young plantations of orange, coffee, and
mango trees stark naked. He ingeniously accounts for this curious fact
by supposing that an internecine struggle has long been going on in
the countries inhabited by the Saübas between the ants and the forest
trees. Those trees that best resisted the ants, owing either to
some unpleasant taste or to hardness of foliage have in the long run
survived destruction; but those which were suited for the purpose of
the ants have been reduced to nonentity, while the ants in turn were
getting slowly adapted to attack other trees. In this way almost all
the native trees have at last acquired some special means of protection
against the ravages of the leaf-cutters; so that they immediately fall
upon all imported and unprotected kinds as their natural prey. This
ingenious and wholly satisfactory explanation must of course go far to
console the Brazilian planters for the frequent loss of their orange
and coffee crops.

Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of the Darwinian theory
(whose honors he waived with rare generosity in favor of the older
and more distinguished naturalist), tells a curious story about the
predatory habits of these same Saübas. On one occasion, when he was
wandering about in search of specimens on the Rio Negro, he bought a
peck of rice, which was tied up, Indian fashion, in the local bandanna
of the happy plantation slave. At night he left his rice incautiously
on the bench of the hut where he was sleeping; and next morning the
Saübas had riddled the handkerchief like a sieve, and carried away a
gallon of the grain for their own felonious purposes. The underground
galleries which they dig can often be traced for hundreds of yards;
and Mr. Hamlet Clark even asserts that in one case they have tunnelled
under the bed of a river where it is a quarter of a mile wide. This
beats Brunel on his own ground into the proverbial cocked hat, both for
depth and distance.

Within doors, in the tropics, ants are apt to put themselves
obtrusively forward in a manner little gratifying to any except the
enthusiastically entomological mind. The winged females, after their
marriage flight, have a disagreeable habit of flying in at the open
doors and windows at lunch time, settling upon the table like the
Harpies in the Æneid, and then quietly shuffling off their wings one at
a time, by holding them down against the table-cloth with one leg, and
running away vigorously with the five others. As soon as they have thus
disembarassed themselves of their superfluous members, they proceed
to run about over the lunch as if the house belonged to them, and to
make a series of experiments upon the edible qualities of the different
dishes. One doesn't so much mind their philosophical inquiries into the
nature of the bread or even the meat; but when they come to drowning
themselves by dozens, in the pursuit of knowledge, in the soup and the
sherry, one feels bound to protest energetically against the spirit
of martyrdom by which they are too profoundly animated. That is one
of the slight drawbacks of the realms of perpetual summer: in the
poets you see only one side of the picture—the palms, the orchids, the
humming-birds, the great trailing lianas; in practical life you see
the reverse side—the thermometer at 98°, the tepid drinking-water,
the prickly heat, the perpetual languor, the endless shoals of
aggressive insects. A lady of my acquaintance, indeed, made a valuable
entomological collection in her own dining-room, by the simple process
of consigning to pillboxes all the moths and flies and beetles that
settled upon the mangoes and star-apples in the course of dessert.

Another objectionable habit of the tropical ants, viewed practically,
is their total disregard of vested interests in the case of
house-property. Like Mr. George and his communistic friends, they
disbelieve entirely in the principle of private rights in real estate.
They will eat their way through the beams of your house till there is
only a slender core of solid wood left to support the entire burden.
I have taken down a rafter in my own house in Jamaica, originally 18
inches thick each way, with a sound circular centre of no more than
6 inches in diameter, upon which all the weight necessarily fell.
With the material extracted from the wooden beams they proceed to
add insult to injury by building long covered galleries right across
the ceiling of your drawing-room. As may be easily imagined, these
galleries do not tend to improve the appearance of the ceiling; and it
becomes necessary to form a Liberty and Property Defence League for
the protection of one's personal interests against the insect enemy. I
have no objection to ants building galleries on their own freehold, or
even to their nationalising the land in their native forests; but I
do object strongly to their unwarrantable intrusion upon the domain of
private life. Expostulation and active warfare, however, are equally
useless. The carpenter-ant has no moral sense, and is not amenable
either to kindness or blows. On one occasion, when a body of these
intrusive creatures had constructed an absurdly conspicuous brown
gallery straight across the ceiling of my drawing-room, I determined to
declare open war against them, and getting my black servant to bring
in the steps and a mop, I proceeded to demolish the entire gallery
just after breakfast. It was about twenty feet long, as well as I can
remember, and perhaps an inch in diameter. At one o'clock I returned to
lunch. My black servant pointed, with a broad grin on his intelligent
features, to the wooden ceiling. I looked up: in those three hours the
carpenter-ants had reconstructed the entire gallery, and were doubtless
mocking me at their ease, with their uplifted antennæ, under that safe
shelter. I retired at once from the unequal contest. It was clearly
impossible to go on knocking down a fresh gallery every three hours of
the day or night throughout a whole lifetime.

Ants, says Mr. Wallace, without one touch of satire, “force themselves
upon the attention of everyone who visits the tropics.” They do,
indeed, and that most pungently; if by no other method, at least by
the simple and effectual one of stinging. The majority of ants in
every nest are of course neuters, or workers, that is to say, strictly
speaking, undeveloped females, incapable of laying eggs. But they
still retain the ovipositor, which is converted into a sting, and
supplied with a poisonous liquid to eject afterwards into the wound.
So admirably adapted to its purpose is this beautiful provision of
nature, that some tropical ants can sting with such violence as to
make your leg swell and confine you for some days to your room; while
cases have even been known in which the person attacked has fainted
with pain, or had a serious attack of fever in consequence. It is not
every kind of ant, however, that can sting; a great many can only bite
with their little hard horny jaws, and then eject a drop of formic
poison afterwards into the hole caused by the bite. The distinction is
a delicate physiological one, not much appreciated by the victims of
either mode of attack. The perfect females can also sting, but not,
of course, the males, who are poor, wretched, useless creatures, only
good as husbands for the community, and dying off as soon as they have
performed their part in the world—another beautiful provision, which
saves the workers the trouble of killing them off, as bees do with
drones after the marriage flight of the queen bee.

The blind driver-ants of West Africa are among the very few species
that render any service to man, and that, of course, only incidentally.
Unlike most other members of their class, the driver-ants have no
settled place of residence; they are vagabonds and wanderers upon the
face of the earth, formican tramps, blind beggars, who lead a gipsy
existence, and keep perpetually upon the move, smelling their way
cautiously from one camping-place to another. They march by night,
or on cloudy days, like wise tropical strategists, and never expose
themselves to the heat of the day in broad sunshine, as though they
were no better than the mere numbered British Tommy Atkins at Coomassie
or in the Soudan. They move in vast armies across country, driving
everything before them as they go; for they belong to the stinging
division, and are very voracious in their personal habits. Not only
do they eat up the insects in their line of march, but they fall even
upon larger creatures and upon big snakes, which they attack first in
the eyes, the most vulnerable portion. When they reach a negro village
the inhabitants turn out _en masse_, and run away, exactly as if the
visitors were English explorers or brave Marines, bent upon retaliating
for the theft of a knife by nobly burning down King Tom's town or King
Jumbo's capital. Then the negroes wait in the jungle till the little
black army has passed on, after clearing out the huts by the way of
everything eatable. When they return they find their calabashes and
saucepans licked clean, but they also find every rat, mouse, lizard,
cockroach, gecko, and beetle completely cleared out from the whole
village. Most of them have cut and run at the first approach of the
drivers; of the remainder, a few blanched and neatly-picked skeletons
alone remain to tell the tale.

As I wish to be considered a veracious historian, I will not retail
the further strange stories that still find their way into books of
natural history about the manners and habits of these blind marauders.
They cross rivers, the West African gossips declare, by a number of
devoted individuals flinging themselves first into the water as a
living bridge, like so many six-legged Marcus Curtiuses, while over
their drowning bodies the heedless remainder march in safety to the
other side. If the story is not true, it is at least well invented;
for the ant-commonwealth everywhere carries to the extremest pitch the
old Roman doctrine of the absolute subjection of the individual to the
State. So exactly is this the case that in some species there are a few
large, overgrown, lazy ants in each nest, which do no work themselves,
but accompany the workers on their expeditions; and the sole use of
these idle mouths seems to be to attract the attention of birds and
other enemies, and so distract it from the useful workers, the mainstay
of the entire community. It is almost as though an army, marching
against a tribe of cannibals, were to place itself in the centre of a
hollow square formed of all the fattest people in the country, whose
fine condition and fitness for killing might immediately engross the
attention of the hungry enemy. Ants, in fact, have, for the most part,
already reached the goal set before us as a delightful one by most
current schools of socialist philosophers, in which the individual is
absolutely sacrificed in every way to the needs of the community.

The most absurdly human, however, among all the tricks and habits of
ants are their well-known cattle-farming and slaveholding instincts.
Everybody has heard, of course, how they keep the common rose-blight
as milch cows, and suck from them the sweet honey-dew. But everybody,
probably, does not yet know the large number of insects which they herd
in one form or another as domesticated animals. Man has, at most, some
twenty or thirty such, including cows, sheep, horses, donkeys, camels,
llamas, alpacas, reindeer, dogs, cats, canaries, pigs, fowl, ducks,
geese, turkeys, and silkworms. But ants have hundreds and hundreds,
some of them kept obviously for purposes of food; others apparently
as pets; and yet others again, as has been plausibly suggested, by
reason of superstition or as objects of worship. There is a curious
blind beetle which inhabits ants' nests, and is so absolutely dependent
upon its hosts for support that it has even lost the power of feeding
itself. It never quits the nest, but the ants bring it in food and
supply it by putting the nourishment actually into its mouth. But the
beetle, in return, seems to secrete a sweet liquid (or it may even be
a stimulant like beer, or a narcotic like tobacco) in a tuft of hairs
near the bottom of the hard wing-cases, and the ants often lick this
tuft with every appearance of satisfaction and enjoyment. In this case,
and in many others, there can be no doubt that the insects are kept for
the sake of food or some other advantage yielded by them.

But there are other instances of insects which haunt ants' nests,
which it is far harder to account for on any hypothesis save that of
superstitious veneration. There is a little weevil that runs about by
hundreds in the galleries of English ants, in and out among the free
citizens, making itself quite at home in their streets and public
places, but as little noticed by the ants themselves as dogs are in
our own cities. Then, again, there is a white woodlouse, something
like the common little armadillo, but blind from having lived so
long underground, which walks up and down the lanes and alleys of
antdom, without ever holding any communication of any sort with its
hosts and neighbors. In neither case has Sir John Lubbock ever seen
an ant take the slightest notice of the presence of these strange
fellow-lodgers. “One might almost imagine,” he says, “that they had the
cap of invisibility.” Yet it is quite clear that the ants deliberately
sanction the residence of the weevils and woodlice in their nests, for
any unauthorised intruder would immediately be set upon and massacred
outright. Sir John Lubbock suggests that they may perhaps be tolerated
as scavengers; or, again, it is possible that they may prey upon the
eggs or larvæ of some of the parasites to whose attacks the ants are
subject. In the first case, their use would be similar to that of the
wild dogs in Constantinople or the common black John-crow vultures in
tropical America: in the second case, they would be about equivalent to
our own cats or to the hedgehog often put in farmhouse kitchens to keep
down cockroaches.

The crowning glory of owning slaves, which many philosophic Americans
(before the war) showed to be the highest and noblest function of the
most advanced humanity, has been attained by more than one variety of
anthood. Our great English horse-ant is a moderate slave-holder; but
the big red ant of Southern Europe carries the domestic institution
many steps further. It makes regular slave-raids upon the nests of the
small brown ants, and carries off the young in their pupa condition.
By-and-by the brown ants hatch out in the strange nest, and, never
having known any other life except that of slavery, accommodate
themselves to it readily enough. The red ant, however, is still only
an occasional slaveowner; if necessary, he can get along by himself,
without the aid of his little brown servants. Indeed, there are free
states and slave states of red ants side by side with one another, as
of old in Maryland and Pennsylvania: in the first, the red ants do
their work themselves, like mere vulgar Ohio farmers; in the second,
they get their work done for them by their industrious little brown
servants, like the aristocratic first families of Virginia before the
earthquake of emancipation.

But there are other degraded ants, whose life-history may be humbly
presented to the consideration of the Anti-Slavery Society, as speaking
more eloquently than any other known fact for the demoralising effect
of slaveowning upon the slaveholders themselves. The Swiss rufescent
ant is a species so long habituated to rely entirely upon the services
of slaves that it is no longer able to manage its own affairs when
deprived by man of its hereditary bondsmen. It has lost entirely the
art of constructing a nest; it can no longer tend its own young,
whom it leaves entirely to the care of negro nurses; and its bodily
structure even has changed, for the jaws have lost their teeth, and
have been converted into mere nippers, useful only as weapons of war.
The rufescent ant, in fact, is a purely military caste, which has
devoted itself entirely to the pursuit of arms, leaving every other
form of activity to its slaves and dependents. Officers of the old
school will be glad to learn that this military insect is dressed, if
not in scarlet, at any rate in very decent red, and that it refuses to
be bothered in any way with questions of transport or commissariat. If
the community changes its nest, the masters are carried on the backs of
their slaves to the new position, and the black ants have to undertake
the entire duty of foraging and bringing in stores of supply for their
gentlemanly proprietors. Only when war is to be made upon neighboring
nests does the thin red line form itself into long file for active
service. Nothing could be more perfectly aristocratic than the views of
life entertained and acted upon by these distinguished slaveholders.

On the other hand, the picture has its reverse side, exhibiting clearly
the weak points of the slaveholding system. The rufescent ant has lost
even the very power of feeding itself. So completely dependent is each
upon his little black valet for daily bread, that he cannot so much
as help himself to the food that is set before him. Hüber put a few
slaveholders into a box with some of their own larvæ and pupæ, and a
supply of honey, in order to see what they would do with them. Appalled
at the novelty of the situation, the slaveholders seemed to come to
the conclusion that something must be done; so they began carrying
the larvæ about aimlessly in their mouths, and rushing up and down in
search of the servants. After a while, however, they gave it up and
came to the conclusion that life under such circumstances was clearly
intolerable. They never touched the honey, but resigned themselves to
their fate like officers and gentlemen. In less than two days, half
of them had died of hunger, rather than taste a dinner which was not
supplied to them by a properly constituted footman. Admiring their
heroism or pitying their incapacity, Hüber, at last, gave them just one
slave between them all. The plucky little negro, nothing daunted by
the gravity of the situation, set to work at once, dug a small nest,
gathered together the larvæ, helped several pupæ out of the cocoon,
and saved the lives of the surviving slaveowners. Other naturalists
have tried similar experiments, and always with the same result.
The slaveowners will starve in the midst of plenty rather than feed
themselves without attendance. Either they cannot or will not put the
food into their own mouths with their own mandibles.

There are yet other ants, such as the workerless _Anergates_, in which
the degradation of slaveholding has gone yet further. These wretched
creatures are the formican representatives of those Oriental despots
who are no longer even warlike, but are sunk in sloth and luxury, and
pass their lives in eating bang or smoking opium. Once upon a time,
Sir John Lubbock thinks, the ancestors of _Anergates_ were marauding
slaveowners, who attacked and made serfs of other ants. But gradually
they lost not only their arts but even their military prowess, and
were reduced to making war by stealth instead of openly carrying
off their slaves in fair battle. It seems probable that they now
creep into a nest of the far more powerful slave ants, poison or
assassinate the queen, and establish themselves by sheer usurpation in
the queenless nest. “Gradually,” says Sir John Lubbock, “even their
bodily force dwindled away under the enervating influence to which they
had subjected themselves, until they sank to their present degraded
condition—weak in body and mind, few in numbers, and apparently nearly
extinct, the miserable representatives of far superior ancestors,
maintaining a precarious existence as contemptible parasites of their
former slaves.” One may observe in passing, that these wretched
do-nothings cannot have been the ants which Solomon commended to the
favorable consideration of the sluggard; though it is curious that the
text was never pressed into the service of defence for the peculiar
institution by the advocates of slavery in the South, who were always
most anxious to prove the righteousness of their cause by most sure and
certain warranty of Holy Scripture.—_Cornhill Magazine._


 EPISODES OF MY SECOND LIFE. By Antonio Gallenga (Luigi Mariotti).
 English and American Experiences. Philadelphia: _J. B. Lippincott &

The autobiographer in this case (for the last year has been singularly
rich in interesting autobiography) is not in any degree, at least for
Americans, an eminent and well-known personage. But, in spite of this,
his record of experience and vicissitude is full of interest, and we
may almost say fascinating. His threescore years and ten have been
crowded with events which, if not in themselves strikingly dramatic,
are at least striking in the telling, for he has all the art of an
accomplished _raconteur_, simple, direct and vigorous in style, and
knowing perfectly when to glide over with little stress, when to put
on his color with a vigorous and lavish brush. Mr. Gallenga (this
being his true name) was in the latter part of his life a leading
correspondent of the London _Times_, having achieved a high reputation
in this direction prior to the days of Dr. Russell and Archibald
Forbes. His work and position brought him into confidential relations
with many of the most important men and events of Europe from 1840
to 1875, and he describes these in a racy fashion which will command
attention, we think.

Mr. Gallenga as a youth of twenty took part in the Italian struggle
for liberty in 1831, under the name of Luigi Mariotti. It was one of
those brief episodes of revolution with which Italy was convulsed so
often before the great final dead-lock came, which drove the hated
_Sedischi_ from her soil. The young patriot was for a short time in
prison, but finally escaped, and lived for a while as a tutor in
Tangiers. Thence he came to America, to carve a career for himself, and
located himself in Boston in 1836. Here he speedily found employment
as teacher, lecturer and writer, and was fortunate in securing the
friendship and goodwill of the leading people of the city. Boston was
then without dispute the only literary centre of the country, in spite
of a few brilliant names in New York, and Sig. Gallenga seems to have
found congenial employment and companionship from the outset. His
reminiscences of such men as Edward Everett, Fields, Ticknor, Prescott
and others are entertaining, and his sketch of the whole entourage of
Boston society is given with a refreshing _naïveté_, as well as with
graceful vivacity. Among the minor incidents which lend humor to the
book is the author's experience with a young American beauty, with
whom he was in love, and whom in his impulsive and passionate Italian
way, he clasped in his arms and kissed. He professes himself highly
astonished because the damsel was greatly enraged and ordered him from
the house, ending the acquaintance then and there. After spending four
years in America under unusually agreeable conditions, Mr. Gallenga,
who was still known under his pseudonym of Mariotti, took ship for
England, and bade a final farewell to the country of which he speaks in
such cordial and even affectionate terms. Settling in London good luck
still followed him. He secured introductions to prominent persons, was
accorded recognition at once, and became acquainted with many of the
people, both literary and otherwise, best worth knowing in England. A
great interest in Italian affairs and literature was then the rage,
and Mr. Gallenga, who was a scholar and an able writer, found ample
opportunity and occupation in contributing to the magazines and reviews
on subjects which he discussed _con amore_. A book which he published
gave him repute beyond that of a mere fugitive writer, and he was
fortunate in making literature lucrative as well as honorable. His
gossip about prominent people and occurrences in London forty years
ago, is very entertaining, and he shows as much skill in throwing light
on the English life of that day as he had done in describing America.
Twenty years of literary and professorial work, were frequently broken
up by long residences in Italy, during which he sat for a time in the
Italian Parliament, and helped to pave the way for that consolidation
of Italian interests which at last led to Solferino and Magenta, and
the grand result of Italian unity. He seems to have been accorded an
important place in the councils and deliberations of his nation, and
to have been an important agent in bringing about those relations
which freed Italy from foreign domination. In 1859 our author became
connected with the _Times_ as correspondent, and since that time has
been employed on many of the most delicate and important commissions.
He represented them in the Franco-Italian-Austrian War, and succeeded
Dr. Russell at the time of our late civil conflict; was sent repeatedly
to every part of Europe, and, for a good while had a roving commission
to write whatever he saw worth reporting and discussing, particularly
on the peoples and events of the Mediterranean seaboard countries, from
the straits of Gibraltar to the Dardanelles. Mr. Gallenga tells his
story (and he has much to tell) with the vivacity of an Italian and
with the ability of a trained man-of-letters. A number of books, mostly
on historical and political subjects, have given him a recognized
literary place aside from mere journalism, and he reviews a long,
diversified and interesting career with an interest and satisfaction
which he fully communicates to his readers. We have rarely read a
volume more packed with interesting matter, narrated with the skill
which comes of long training.

 STUDENTS, TEACHERS AND READERS. By Louis Heilprin. New York: _D.
 Appleton & Co._

The plan adopted in this handy reference book of historical dates
and events has been to deal separately with the events of different
countries, and an excellent system has been followed with great
thoroughness. The author is very well known as an industrious and
painstaking scholar, the results of whose work can be depended
on. About many historical dates there is much confusion, and the
difficulties in coming to a conclusion are great. Mr. Heilprin very
modestly states the obstacles in the way of perfect accuracy, and
convinces the reader that, if blunders have been made, they are such
as are absolutely unavoidable in the dire chaos which envelops many of
even the most important facts of history so far as certainty of year
is concerned. We may be sure that every caution and pains have been
taken by the author. In many cases where it is impossible to reach an
absolute statement, two dates are given, the preferable one stated
first. Such a book as this is of the greatest convenience, and one
that a well-informed or studious man can hardly afford to be without.
A remarkable seeming omission, however, is the non-assignment of date
to the Christian era, or any reference to the life and career that
gave it significance. The studious avoidal seems significant, but we
may explain it on the theory that the absolute date of Christ's birth
cannot be absolutely fixed within several years. On the whole, indeed,
with this one exception (perhaps an unavoidable one) the compilation
appears to be all such a work should.

 York: _Charles Scribner's Sons_.

The germ of this book was in an article called “Bermudan Days”
published in the _Atlantic Monthly_ for December, 1883, and we find
the paper incorporated with the work. The volume is a brightly written
account of a vacation of three months in the Bermudas, one of the most
charming sanitariums of our western seas. So much has been written
about the pleasant lotos-lands of the North and South Antilles, that
no new facts can be now told about them. But the old background of
cloudless skies, summer seas, and balmy ocean breezes, which make
such places as the Bahamas and the Bermudas earthly paradises, never
get tedious or dull when seen and felt through the medium of a fresh
and lively nature. In winter time especially, when the bleak cold of
the north starts the imagination travelling toward summer climates,
and those condemned to stay in cold weather, sigh for the delights
of the more fortunate voyager, such books as the one before us make
very pleasant reading. The author describes the attractions of
Bermudan life: its roses and sunshine, its novel sights and sounds,
the picturesque aspects of a primitive, contented, lazy population,
delightful sails over beautiful seas, and all the episodes of the
sojourn with the keenest enjoyment, and a skilful literary touch. The
very essence of an agreeable book of this kind is an utter lack of
anything like fine writing. Mrs. Dorr certainly shows good taste in
this matter, though one might fancy the temptation would be great to
try what is so often called word-painting. She tells us what she has to
say, and she has many good things to tell us, too, in a lively, racy,
picturesque, but utterly unpretentious way. Of course we do not expect
anyone to write a book about the Bermudas, without giving us something
of the oft-repeated tale of its history and traditions; but Mrs.
Dorr has spared us from overmuch, and does not weary the attention.
The enjoyable portion of the work is the personal impressions and
experiences of herself and her party. As every traveller or tourist
with a literary taste, finds it essential, nowadays, to serve the
sight-seeing up in book form, we can only wish that more of them had
the good taste and lively nature of the present author.

 ELEMENTS OF ZOOLOGY. (_Appleton's Science Text-Books._) By C. F.
 Holder, Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, etc., and T. B.
 Holder, A.M., Curator Zoology, American Museum of Natural History. New
 York: _D. Appleton & Co._

This new manual of one of the most interesting branches of science, is
equally adapted for the school or for family reading. The object of the
authors, which is to present in plain and concise language and in the
light of the latest research and investigation, the life history of the
various groups making up the animal kingdom has been well done. The
best authorities have been followed. The authors, too, have introduced
a great deal of matter of a descriptive and narrative matter, such as
will thoroughly interest their young readers, such as the growth of the
coral, nest-building fishes, luminous animals, animal electricians,
hibernation, mimicry, etc., things which make certain phases of science
almost like a fairy tale. The dry classification of science has but
little attraction except to the professional scientist, and the authors
have avoided this rock of dreariness as far as possible. The aim of the
book seems to be largely to encourage the reader to become an original
investigator, and to use his eyes and ears intelligently in observing
the order of animated nature. The cuts are nicely and cleanly made,
and the volume is very neat, though gotten up for service and not for

 THE REALITY OF RELIGION. By Henry J. Van Dyke, Jr., D.D. New York:
 _Charles Scribner's Sons_.

In this day of scepticism without, and dry-rot within, it well becomes
the champions of the Christian faith to enter the lists with the
keenest weapons furnished for the fight. Dr. Van Dyke argues, not
from the standpoint of the dialectician, or from that of the defender
of historical Christianity. It is the personal argument drawn from
needs of human nature which he has here elaborated. He says: “We do
not sneer at the dogmas of theology. They are certainly as important
as the dogmas of science. We do not despise the questions of ritual.
They are at least of equal consequence with the questions of social
order. But religion is infinitely beyond all these. It is more vital
and more profound. It does not appeal to the intellect alone. It is not
satisfied with the conclusions of logic. Nor does it rest at ease upon
the æsthetic sense. It reaches down into the very depths of the living,
throbbing, human heart, and stirs a longing which nothing outward and
formal can ever fill—_the longing for personal fellowship with God_.”
It is this need of religion in the soul as essential to satisfy its
truest and deepest longing which furnishes the keynote of the argument.
He insists that religion is as absolute a reality, which we can feel
and know in our spiritual life, as is the bread we eat to sustain our
physical life. Dr. Van Dyke considers the subject under the heads of
“A Real Religion Necessary;” “The Living God;” “The Living Soul” “The
Living Word;” “The Living Sacrifice;” and “The Living Christ.” In the
last, of course, we find the key-stone and cap, as well, of the logic
of his thesis. The work will give comfort and satisfaction to many
Christian souls, and is not unworthy of Dr. Van Dyke as an accomplished
stylist. Chastened, yet glowing, subdued, yet strong, the book is one
which should have a large number of readers among those devoted to the
interests of the Church of Christ.

 WIT. Philadelphia: _J. B. Lippincott & Co._

This collection has aimed to avoid both the characteristics of the
jest-book or of table-talk. Its place is between the two, being
compiled from the annals of conversation, and comprising at the same
time only those jests and stories which possess the stamp of wit as
distinguished from humor or drollery. That the collection is good,
one needs only to read the pleasant prefatory essay, which is very
gracefully and brightly written, to feel sure that the taste and
knowledge of the writer or editor have been well displayed in his work
of selection. It goes without saying that many of the anecdotes are old
and familiar. Many of the very best things ever said in the world, of
course, are what we term “Joe Millers.” That they should be otherwise,
would argue but bad taste on the part of our predecessors. But our
present author has gleaned in many an outlying field as well as in the
well travelled road, and gives us very satisfactory showing for his
literary excursus in new directions. Some of the stories in the book we
do not remember to have seen before in any similar work.


THE monument to Virgil at Pietole (which is supposed to be the Andes of
the Romans), near Mantua, was unveiled lately.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE death of a popular Russian novelist, B. M. Markievich, on the 30th
of last month, is reported from St. Petersburg.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE original autographs of the love-letters addressed by John Keats
to Miss Fanny Brawne in the years 1819-20 will be sold by Messrs.
Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge the first week in March, together with six
unpublished autograph letters of Charles Lamb.

       *       *       *       *       *

A PAMPHLET by Madame E. Coulombe is announced for immediate publication
by Mr. Elliot Stock. This lady was associated with Madame Blavatsky
for some years, and in this _brochure_ tells what she heard and saw of
Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophists with whom she came in contact in
India and elsewhere.

       *       *       *       *       *

TRINITY COLLEGE, Dublin, is about to start a new paper with the
title _The Dublin University Review_. The first number will appear
on February 1st, and the issue will be bi-monthly, except during the
long vacation. The paper will contain literary articles as well as
university news of every description, and will be owned by a limited
liability company.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE Incorporated Society of Authors propose to send a deputation to the
Prime Minister to urge the codification of the Copyright Acts, which
are fourteen in number. Several of the chief publishers, not of books
only, but also of prints and music, will be asked to join.

       *       *       *       *       *

A CONFERENCE of elementary teachers, international in its character,
has been summoned to meet at Havre. This is the first conference of the
kind which has been organized in France, and it is expected that the
Government will make a grant in aid of the expenses.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE article on Polish history and literature in the next volume of the
“Encyclopædia Britannica” will be from the pen of Mr. Morfill, who will
also contribute the articles on the Emperor Paul, and on Peter the

       *       *       *       *       *

MR. LOWE, correspondent of the _Times_ at Berlin, is engaged in writing
a biography of Prince Bismarck, which will appear next spring.

       *       *       *       *       *

M. SCHLUMBERGER, the well known numismatist, and M. Benoist have
lately been elected members of the Académie des Inscriptions et

       *       *       *       *       *

AN exhibition is to be held in the Imperial Library at Constantinople
of Turkish writing, bookbinding, and illumination, for which prizes are
to be given.

       *       *       *       *       *

ONE of the most important scholastic reforms now in progress in Turkey
is that relating to the study of the Arabic language. As now conducted,
this study absorbs years in a desultory way which might be applied
to the acquisition of other branches of knowledge. With the view to
abridge the course of study without impairing its quality, the Sultan
has determined on founding a special medresseh for teaching Arabic
on a scientific basis, and for this purpose has purchased from the
funds of the civil list the property of the Guedik Pasha Theatre at

       *       *       *       *       *

THE long lost and often found commentary on the “Atharva-veda” seems at
last on its way to publication. The whole of the commentary has not yet
been found, but two-thirds of it are now in the hands of the pandits
of Poona, who will prepare a critical publication of both text and
commentary. The text of the “Atharva-veda” was published in the early
days of Vedic scholarship by Roth and Whitney, and the latter scholar
has lately published a very useful index.

       *       *       *       *       *

WE are enabled to state, says the _Athenæum_, that a popular edition of
Her Majesty's recent work, “More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in
the Highlands,” is in the press, and will be ready for publication in
the course of a few weeks. The new edition will contain all the woodcut
illustrations which appeared in the original edition, together with
wood-engravings of the portraits, and will be uniform with the popular
edition of the Queen's previous work, “Leaves from the Journal of our
Life in the Highlands.”

       *       *       *       *       *

MR. ALEXANDER DEL MAR, according to the _Academy_, formerly Director
of the Bureau of Statistics of the United States, whose _History of
the Precious Metals_ was published in 1880, has in the press a work
on _The History of Money from the Earliest Times to the Middle Ages_,
upon which he has been occupied for many years past. It will shortly be
published by Messrs. Bell & Sons.

       *       *       *       *       *

FROM the _Academy_ we quote the following amusing paragraph:

“The _Magazin für die Literatur des In- und Auslandes_ continues to
be unfortunate when it meddles with the English language. Many of
our readers will be acquainted with Victor Scheffel's charming German
song—referring, we believe, to Heinrich von Ofterdingen—which has the
refrain, 'Der Heini von Steier ist wieder im Land.' The _Magazin_ of
January 10 publishes an 'English' translation of this poem, by Johanna
Baltz, from which we quote the following specimen:—

    “'To finches and swallows tells sweet nightingale:
    “The song of a violin fills woodland and vale!
    Ye twitt'ners, ye singers, now silence your cant—
    Hark, Heini von Steier returned to his land!”

    “'Shoemaker is waving his furcap in glee:
    “The merciful heaven forgets neven me!
    Now shoes will be costly, soleleather gets scant—
    Hark, Heini von Steier returned to his land.“'”

       *       *       *       *       *

THE eighty-ninth birthday of Dr. Ranke (December 21st) has excited
interest throughout Germany, and elicited many expressions of the
respect universally felt for him. The strength of the venerable
historian defies the increase of years, and he works daily at his home
in Berlin on the history which he hopes to complete.

       *       *       *       *       *

MR. C. E. PASCOE has issued a prospectus on the publication of
English books in America. He says in effect that, though the lack of
international copyright is one reason why English authors derive but
little profit from the sale of their works in America, another and
graver reason is, that as a class, they are in ignorance of the means
for getting the best out of existing conditions. The usual method of
procedure is for the English publisher to make proposals to an American
publisher, or for the representative of an American firm in London to
submit proposals to his principals in the United States. Mr. Pascoe
points to the danger of losing a lucrative sale that this method
entails. His prospectus, which is accompanied by letters from American
publishers and some well-known English authors, is worth attention. Mr.
Pascoe's address is 6 Southfields Road, West Hill, Wandsworth, S. W.

       *       *       *       *       *

AN early and hitherto unknown Arabic work has lately been added to
the Museum Library. It is entitled “Kitāb al-Mohabbir”, and contains
various historical notices and traditions relating to the ancient
Arabs and to the time of Mohammed and his immediate successors. The
author, Abu Sa'id al-Hasan al-Sukkari, lived in the third century
of the Hijrah, and is well known as one of the earliest editors and
commentators of the old poets, but the present work appears somehow to
have escaped notice; it is neither mentioned in the Fihrist, nor by Ibn
Khallikan or Soyuti. The two last-named authors state that Al-Sukkari
died A.H. 275; but according to Ibn Kāni' (Leyden Catalogue, vol. ii.
p. 8) he lived on to A.H. 290. The present work would show that the
former date is decidedly wrong; for it contains a brief sketch of
the Abbasides brought down by Al-Sukkari himself to the accession of
Al-Mo'tadid, _i.e._, A.H. 279.

       *       *       *       *       *

AMONG other recent additions to the Arabic collection, the following
are especially deserving of the attention of scholars: the earliest
extant history of the Moslem conquest of Egypt, Africa, and Spain,
by Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, who died A.H. 257, a twelfth century copy;
“Zubdat al-Tawarikh,” a history of the Seljuk-dynasty, written shortly
after its extinction, about A.H. 620, by Sadr al-Din Abul Hasan Ali
Ibn Abul Fawaris Nasir Husaini, a fine and apparently unique copy of
the thirteenth century; “Kitab al-Osul,” an extensive and hitherto
unknown work on Arabic grammar by one of the earliest writers on the
subject, Ibn al-Sarraj, who died A.H. 316, handsomely written, with all
vowels, A.H. 651; a fine and valuable copy of the “Makamat al-Hariri,”
written by a grandson of the author, A.H. 557 (_i.e._, forty years
after Hariri's death), and consequently earlier than any copy of that
standard work known to exist in European libraries.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE numbers of ladies attending the King's College classes at
Observatory Avenue have been very high during the term that has just
ended. The entries were nearly 600, which is a larger number than has
been reached since the first year, 1878, when the classes started, and
the present house hardly affords room for such numbers.

       *       *       *       *       *

IT is not generally known that the _Times_ attains its hundredth year
on the 1st of January, 1885. The prevailing notion is that the year in
which it was founded was 1788, the truth being that the 940th number
of the journal appeared on the first day in that year. The mistake is
due to confounding a change in the title with the foundation of the
journal. The actual facts are set forth in an article which Mr. Fraser
Rae contributes to the January number of the _Nineteenth Century_.
Amongst other things which will attract notice in that article is a
verbatim copy of the inscription on the tablets affixed in honor of the
conduct of the _Times_ in the case of Bogle _v._ Lawson in 1841, by a
committee of bankers and merchants of the City, in the Royal Exchange,
and over the entrance to the _Times_ printing office. As these tablets
are placed where the inscriptions on them cannot easily be read, and as
copies of these inscriptions are not given in the works dealing with
the City, the copy in the _Nineteenth Century_ is a piece of historical
information which will be novel to most readers.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE last number of _Shakspeariana_ contains the somewhat surprising
statement that Prof. Kuno Fischer is a convert to the Bacon-Shakspere
theory, and will lecture upon it at Heidelberg this winter. From the
same periodical we copy the following curious paragraph:—

“A very remarkable discovery has been placed on record by the Hon.
Ignatius Donnelly, who claims to have proof positive that Bacon was
the author of Shakspere's plays. This is accomplished by means of
a cipher which Bacon twice describes, whereby one writing could be
infolded and hidden in another. The words of the hidden story have
a definite relation to the acts and scenes of the plays, which is
determined by counting. Attracted by 'I. Henry IV.'; II., i., ii.,
iv., and IV., ii., in which he found the words 'Francis,' 'Bacon'
(twice), 'Nicholas' (twice), 'Bacon's,' 'son,' 'master,' 'Kings,'
'exchequer,' 'St. Albans'—the name of Bacon's place of residence—and,
in IV., ii., 'Francis' repeated twenty times on one page, Mr. Donnelly
applied his key to it, with the following result:—Elizabeth during
the Essex troubles became, as is known, incensed at the use made of
the play of 'Richard II.,' in which is represented the deposition and
killing of the King; and she made it one of the points of prosecution
which cost Essex his head, that he had hired the company of players
to which Shakspere belonged to represent it more than forty times in
open streets and in tavern yards, in order to prepare the public mind
for her own deposition and murder. History tells us that she caused
the arrest of Haywarde, who wrote a prose narrative of the deposition
of Richard II. and dedicated it to Essex, and he narrowly escaped a
State prosecution. Mr. Donnelly shows that at the same time Shakspere
was arrested as the author of the plays; he was threatened with the
torture, and disclosed to the officers of the Crown the fact that Bacon
was the real author of the plays. Bacon threw himself on the protection
of his uncle, Lord Burleigh, the great Lord Treasurer, who saved him
from exposure and prosecution, but revealed the truth to Elizabeth; and
this is the explanation of the fact, that, as long as Elizabeth lived,
she kept Bacon out of office and in poverty.”


George Sand's statue at La Châtre has set people thinking about her
afresh. At no time since “Indiana” and “Lelia” first revealed the
existence of a new writer of transcendent power, has her place in
French literature, and her influence on the social problems of the
time, and the question whether her artistic creations will or will not
live, been canvassed with more energy than during the past few weeks.
Some personal recollections of George Sand given by Mrs. Ellis, the
authoress of “Sylvestra,” may therefore be of interest: “Above twenty
years ago,” writes Mrs. Ellis, “I spent three days in a French hotel
(at Tours) with George Sand, without knowing who she was. She puzzled
me all the time, and had in person something of the same effect on
me that her character—attractive and repulsive—has still. She sat
opposite me at a narrow _table d'hôte_—a tall, large, strongly-built
woman, with features in proportion to her size. Her eyes were fine,
but her force of appearance was rather physical than intellectual. It
must have been the brain beneath the strong features which teased me
as it did, to make out to myself who she could be. She was mature,
but in no decline of force, massive, grave, and restful, with nothing
Gallic about her. The dark hair, eyes, and tint might have belonged to
Italy or Spain, quite as well as to France, and the bearing, better.
Her dress might have been called 'dowdy.' It was of the type of the
travelling Englishwoman, as French eyes see it, rather than French. I
think her 'robe' was brown, which did not become her at all. Crimson
would have suited her. She wore an ugly, large-brimmed, straw hat,
with broad lace falling over the brim, at a time when Frenchwomen had
hardly begun to wear hats, and—if my memory does not err—she wore it
at dinner. Her companion was an elderly and feeble man, seemingly
more than seventy. There was nothing in the appearance of the couple
(viewing them as married folk) unlike that of many other French pairs,
when, as is so often the case, the man 'ranges' himself at forty by
the side of a young lady of half his years. My perplexing neighbor
understood what I said to my husband in English, and offered me some
little courteous attentions. There was no real speech between us. If I
had known it was George Sand, I believe that I should not have spoken
more, as I had not long before read some unpleasing remarks in her
autobiography on the way in which she was annoyed by '_les Anglaises_,'
and on the '_étranges sifflements_' which they introduced into the
fine French tongue! She and I were the only two women in the hotel
who ever went into a sort of reading-room adjoining the house to look
at the newspapers. I had nearly settled with myself that she was a
lady country squire, such as I used to see drive into Tours on market
days, when one morning, on going, as I used to do, to the Imperial
library, to draw from old illuminated MSS., my friend, the librarian,
M. d'Orange, said to me, 'Madame, do you know that you have George Sand
in your hotel?' When I went back, she had just gone with the gentleman
who had lent her his name to travel with, for she was entered as his
'Comtesse' in the book of the hotel. He was a Radical Deputy. I told my
lively landlady, who declared that M. d'Orange '_n'en savait rien_,'
and opened her book to show me the names of M. le Comte and Madame la
Comtesse So-and-So. Then she said, 'If it was George Sand,' her books,
'_ma foi_,' of which she had read one or two—instancing a couple of the
best—were not '_grande chose_.' When I got back to England, I looked
at a fine lithographed portrait of George Sand, and saw it was the
woman. Perhaps it was for the best that I had not known who she was,
as my impression, which is still vivid, remains of her as she seemed,
and not such as my fancy would at once have set to work to make her
out. Thinking of her afterward, I was reminded of that passage in her
autobiography in which she tells how, in a moment of misery, she tested
her own strength by lifting a large heavy stone, and said to herself in
despair, 'And I may have to live forty years!' Also I thought of Alfred
de Musset's taunting her—she never forgot it—with having no _esprit_.
Of '_esprit Gallois_' she seems to have had little. The Northern races
had the uppermost in her making, I should say. I have a notion that
the Königsmarks were Pomeranian—of the Bismarck build—and had she not
the blood of the Counts Horn? I forget. However, Marshal Saxe spoke
for himself in her. Mr. Hamerton says that an intense desire to study
character had its strong share in her illicit liaisons with poets,
musicians, lawyers, novelists, etc., all being men above the common
run. But here, again, I cannot help thinking that race descent from
Augustus II. of Saxony and Aurore de Königsmark counted for much. Her
genuine feeling for the poor, and a sort of homely motherliness, seem
to have made her greatly loved by the Berry people.“—_Spectator._

       *       *       *       *       *

THE AMERICAN SENATE.—It is amusing to see discussions on the possible
abolition of the American Senate, in which the disputants on one side
do not seem to see that what they are proposing is the abolition of
the federal system altogether. It has been explained over and over
again—yet, as long as some seem not to understand so plain a matter,
it must be explained once more—that a proposal to abolish the American
Senate is quite a different matter from a proposal to abolish the
French Senate. With regard to the French Senate the question is simply
whether the business of the nation is likely to be best done by one
House or by two. With regard to the American Senate we have to go much
deeper. The House of Representatives represents the nation formed
by the union of all the separate States; the Senate represents the
separate States themselves. The federal nation is formed by the union
of States differing widely in size and power, but equal in rights and
dignity, each of which still keeps all such attributes of independent
commonwealths as it has not formally given up to the federal power. To
hinder alike the federal nation from being swamped by the States and
the States from being swamped by the federal nation, it is needful to
have one assembly in which each State has only that amount of voice to
which it is entitled by its population, and another assembly in which
each State, great and small, has an equal voice. If any party in the
United States wishes altogether to get rid of the federal system, if
they wish to get rid of the independence of the several States, if they
wish the great names of Massachusetts and Virginia to mean no more than
an English county or a French department, then let them propose the
abolition of the Senate of the United States, and not otherwise. Yet
even under a system where the Second Chamber is absolutely necessary,
we see the comparative weakness of Second Chambers; its abolition can
be discussed. And herein comes the wonderful wisdom of the founders
of the American Constitution in strengthening the Senate with those
powers of other kinds which make it something more than a Second
Chamber or Upper House. And mark further that the Swiss _Ständerath_
or _Conseil des États_, formed after the model of the American Senate,
like it absolutely necessary if Switzerland is to remain a federal
commonwealth, is far from holding the same position in the country
which the American Senate holds. For it is a mere partner with the
_Nationalrath_, and has not those special powers in and by itself which
the American Senate has. But mark again that the great position of the
American Senate is something which cannot exist along with our form
of executive government. A President may be asked formally to submit
his acts to be confirmed by one branch of the Legislature; a King can
hardly be asked to do so.—_Contemporary Review._

       *       *       *       *       *

SHAKESPEARE AND BALZAC.—Yacht life gives ample leisure. I had employed
part of mine in making sketches. One laughs at one's extraordinary
performances a day or two after one has completed them. Yet the attempt
is worth making. It teaches one to admire less grudgingly the work of
real artists who have conquered the difficulties. Books are less trying
to vanity, for one is producing nothing of one's own, and submitting
only to be interested or amused, if the author can succeed in either.
One's appetite is generally good on these occasions, and one can devour
anything; but in the pure primitive element of sea, and mountains,
and unprogressive peasantry, I had become somehow fastidious. I tried
a dozen novels one after the other without success; at last, perhaps
the morning we left Elversdale, I found on the library shelves ”_Le
Père Goriot_.” I had read a certain quantity of “Balzac” at other
times, in deference to the high opinion entertained of him. N——, a
fellow of Oriel, and once Member for Oxford, I remembered insisting
to me that there was more knowledge of human nature in “Balzac” than
in Shakespeare. I had myself observed in him a knowledge of a certain
kind of human nature which Shakespeare let alone—a nature in which
healthy vigor had been corrupted into a caricature by highly seasoned
artificial civilization. Hothouse plants, in which the flowers had
lost their grace of form and natural beauty, and had gained instead a
poison-loaded and perfumed luxuriance, did not exist in Shakespeare's
time, and if they had they would probably not have interested him.
However, I had not read “_Le Père Goriot_,” and as I had been assured
that it was the finest of Balzac's works, I sat down to it and
deliberately read it through. My first impulse after it was over was
to plunge into the sea to wash myself. As we were going ten knots,
there were objections to this method of ablution, but I felt that
I had been in abominable company. The book seemed to be the very
worst ever written by a clever man. But it, and N——'s reference to
Shakespeare, led me into a train of reflections. Le Père Goriot, like
King Lear, has two daughters. Like Lear, he strips himself of his own
fortune to provide for them in a distinguished manner. He is left to
poverty and misery while his daughters live in splendor. Why is Lear
so grand? Why is Le Père Goriot detestable? In the first place, all
the company in Balzac are bad. Le Père Goriot is so wrapped up in
his delightful children, that their very vices charm him, and their
scented boudoirs seem a kind of Paradise. Lear, in the first scene
of the play, acts and talks like an idiot, but still an idiot with a
moral soul in him. Take Lear's own noble nature from him, take Kent
away, and Edgar, and the fool, and Cordelia—and the actors in the play,
it must be admitted, are abominable specimens of humanity—yet even
so, leaving the story as it might have been if Marlowe had written
it instead of Shakespeare, Goneril and Regan would still have been
terrible, while the Paris dames of fashion are merely loathsome. What
is the explanation of the difference? Partly, I suppose, it arises from
the comparative intellectual stature of the two sets of women. Strong
natures and weak may be equally wicked. The strong are interesting,
because they have daring and force. You fear them as you fear panthers
and tigers. You hate, but you admire. M. Balzac's heroines have no
intellectual nature at all. They are female swine out of Circe's sty;
as selfish, as unscrupulous as any daughter of Adam could conveniently
be, but soft, and corrupt, and cowardly, and sensual; so base and low
that it would be a compliment to call them devils. I object to being
brought into the society of people in a book whom I would shut my eyes
rather than see in real life. Goneril and Regan would be worth looking
at in a cage in the Zoological Gardens. One would have no curiosity
to stare at a couple of dames caught out of Coventry Street or the
Quadrant. From Shakespeare to Balzac, from the sixteenth century to the
nineteenth, we have been progressing to considerable purpose. If the
state of literature remains as it has hitherto been, the measure of
our moral condition, Europe has been going ahead with a vengeance. I
put out the taste of “_Le Père Goriot_” with “Persuasion.” Afterwards
I found a book really worth reading, with the uninviting title of
“Adventures in Sport and War,” the author of it a young Marquis de
Compiègne, a ruined representative of the old French _noblesse_, who
appears first as a penniless adventurer seeking his fortune in America
as a birdstuffer, and tempted by an advertisement into the swamps of
Florida in search of specimens, a beggarly experience, yet told with
_naïveté_ and simplicity, truth and honor surviving by the side of
absolute helplessness. Afterwards we find him in France again, fighting
as a private in the war with Germany, and taken prisoner at Sedan; and
again in the campaign against the Commune, at the taking of Paris, and
the burning of the Tuileries—a tragic picture, drawn, too, with entire
unconsciousness of the condition to which Balzac, Madame Sand, and the
rest of the fraternity had dragged down the French nation.—_Longman's

       *       *       *       *       *

THE DREAD OF OLD AGE.—We all of us, or at least all of us who are
slipping past fifty, secretly dread old age, and regard with aversion
its usual, or traditionally usual, conditions; and the sight of a
man about whose years there can be no question, who has passed by
thirty years the average limit of human life, and by ten years an
extreme limit, and yet talks well, hears fairly well, sees perfectly
well and could walk like another but for weakness, is pleasantly
reassuring. If the man of a century can be like Sir Moses Montefiore,
the man of ninety may be only a little indolent, the man of eighty
hale and hearty, and the man of seventy retain “the fullest vigor of
his faculties.” That is one secret, we are convinced, of the decided
popularity of very old statesmen, and especially old statesmen of great
vigor, a sense among the middle-aged that if they who are so visible
can be so strong and active and full brilliancy, old age cannot be so
dreadful after all. An apprehension has been removed or lessened, and a
very keen one. Some of the dread no doubt is traditional, founded upon
boyish recollections, and even upon books, Shakespeare in particular
having expressed, in lines which have stuck in the national memory,
an unusually strong sense of the infirmities of age. His celebrated
lines were probably accurate at the time, for they are accurate now
when applied to certain classes of the very poor; but they no longer
describe the majority of the aged well-to-do. Whatever the cause,
whether improved sanitary appliances, or greater temperance, or, as
we should ourselves believe, an increase of the habit of persistently
using the mind, and consistently taking interest in events, it is
certain that the disease called senility is among the fully-fed
much rarer than it used to be. The old lose their hearing, and their
activity, and part of the keenness of their sight, and are supposed to
be grown duller alike to pleasure and to pain; but they much seldomer
become totally blind, or fatuous, or unable to control their features,
or incapable of guiding themselves about. Men of eighty-four or
five, who, in the early part of the century, would have fallen into
second childhood—then a disease recognized not only by doctors, but
by all men, and regarded as a sort of idiotcy—now talk easily, and
glide over little deficiencies of memory, and are, apart from a not
ungraceful physical weakness, truly men. The younger generation has,
however, scarcely realised the change in its full extent, and fears
age, therefore, unconsciously a little more acutely than it should,
though it has reason for some of its fear. The lot of the old is not
the happiest, even if they are fortunately placed. They suffer from
the certainty that such physical ills as they have cannot be cured,
and a fear that they will become worse, from a deficiency, not so much
of occupation as of imperative occupation, the business occupation of
middle-age and from that unconscious insolence of the babbling youth
around them, which is, perhaps, most felt by the aged when youth is
most loving and considerate. One does not want to be “considered” by a
baby. They suffer from a jar between their own impression of their own
wisdom, as a necessary product of their long experience, and a secret
doubt whether the young, who evidently think so differently, can be
all wrong, not to mention that actual disrespect which the peculiar
conceit of the young always appears to indicate even when it is not
intended. They suffer from their keen memory for disappointments, which
sometimes in the reflections of the old exaggerate their bulk till life
seems made up of little else—a phenomenon constantly observable in the
monologues of the uneducated and ill-restrained. And they suffer most
of all from the loss, ever-increasing as time slips along, not only
of those dearest to them, but of accustomed intimates, and especially
of friends who grow fewer not only from deaths, but from departures,
alienations, and changes of condition and feeling. The very old, as
far as our experience serves, are fortunate if, outside the circle of
blood relations, they retain even one or two close friends: and this to
some men and women, especially to those much dependent on conversation
to stimulate their natures and “put them in spirits,” is the most
irremediable of losses. They feel as if life had altered, and the very
sunlight were less inspiring. Add that all the indulgences of hope,
including day dreaming, become vapid—reason showing the unreality—and
gradually cease, and we may admit that even under favorable
circumstances old age is not an enviable condition, more especially
among Englishmen and Americans, who feel little of that instinctive
reverence for age, and belief in its nearness to the divine, which
characterises all Asia and a large portion of Southern Europe. The
Teutons think allusions to gray hairs, which Southerners regard as
solemn, and will accept even in a theatre with applause, a little
rhetorical or artificial. The respect for the old is not gone, but a
certain reverence is, if it ever existed among us, which, remembering
Shakespeare's lines and our own workhouse arrangements, we half incline
to doubt.—_Spectator._

A TRUE CRITIC.—He who has the genuine pictorial sense, of which not
even the idea can be given to those who have not got it, is quickly
discovered by those who have the same gift. They will detect him in
the gallery by many signs. He is guided by instinct to stand at the
right distance from the picture, which is not a mere matter of taste
as most folk think, but the distance at which the picture has the same
expanse to the eye as the real object replaced by it would have. A
little nearer or a little farther he feels the picture bearing falsely.
Falsely when things are represented which in the real view would alter
(as the picture objects cannot) in their mutual effects by advancing
towards or retreating from them. His eye goes right to the heart of
the picture; the spot made to be such by the artifice of the painter.
He is in no hurry to look elsewhere. He looks towards one point, but
he sees the rest sufficiently without peeping about. His consciousness
takes in the whole simultaneously, and for a while he examines nothing;
forgets that he sees a picture, and feels the quickening within of the
thoughts which such a scene might stir up. He can presently put aside
all this and criticise if he cares to do so, just as the musician can
cease from his tune and look to the strings or stops. For he is curious
about the mechanism of the delightful delusion as the musician or the
most enraptured of his audience may care to look into the arrangement
of a musical instrument. But the picture like the violin, is not in
operation at all while it is being examined.—_Art Journal._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and
punctuation remains unchanged.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.

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