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Title: The Apple-Tree Table and Other Sketches
Author: Melville, Herman
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Apple-Tree Table and Other Sketches" ***

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Edwards, Eric Lehtonen and the Online Distributed
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



  THE APPLE-TREE TABLE
  AND OTHER SKETCHES



  THE
  APPLE-TREE TABLE
  AND OTHER SKETCHES

  BY
  HERMAN MELVILLE


  _With an Introductory Note by_
  HENRY CHAPIN


  [Illustration]



  PRINCETON
  PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
  LONDON: HUMPHREY MILFORD
  OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  MCMXXII



  _Copyrighted and Published 1922 by Princeton University Press_
  _Printed by the Princeton University Press, Princeton, U. S. A._



Introductory Note


_The various prose sketches here reprinted were first published by
Melville, some in Harper's and some in Putnam's magazines, during the
years from 1850 to 1856. "Hawthorne and His Mosses," the only piece of
criticism in this collection, is particularly interesting viewed in the
light of Melville's friendship with Hawthorne while they were neighbors
at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The other sketches cover a variety of
homely subjects treated by Melville with a fresh humor, richly phrased
and curiously personal. Longer and in some ways more ambitious prose
pieces written about this same time have been collected under the
title of "Piazza Tales," but none of the sketches which follow have
heretofore been gathered into a book. This has now been done not only
to answer a growing demand for accessible reprints of Melville's work
but also in response to the literary appeal of the sketches themselves.
The author's phraseology and punctuation have, of course, been,
followed exactly._

     H. C.



  CONTENTS


  THE APPLE-TREE TABLE                                   9

  HAWTHORNE AND HIS MOSSES                              53

  JIMMY ROSE                                            87

  I AND MY CHIMNEY                                     109

  PARADISE OF BACHELORS AND THE TARTARUS OF MAIDS      167

  COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO                                    211

  THE FIDDLER                                          257

  POOR MAN'S PUDDING AND RICH MAN'S CRUMBS             271

  THE HAPPY FAILURE                                    301

  THE 'GEES                                            317



THE APPLE-TREE TABLE

_OR ORIGINAL SPIRITUAL MANIFESTATIONS_


When I first saw the table, dingy and dusty, in the furthest corner
of the old hopper-shaped garret, and set out with broken, be-crusted
old purple vials and flasks, and a ghostly, dismantled old quarto, it
seemed just such a necromantic little old table as might have belonged
to Friar Bacon. Two plain features it had, significant of conjurations
and charms--the circle and tripod; the slab being round, supported by
a twisted little pillar, which, about a foot from the bottom, sprawled
out into three crooked legs, terminating in three cloven feet. A very
satanic-looking little old table, indeed.

In order to convey a better idea of it, some account may as well be
given of the place it came from. A very old garret of a very old house
in an old-fashioned quarter of one of the oldest towns in America.
This garret had been closed for years. It was thought to be haunted;
a rumor, I confess, which, however absurd (in my opinion), I did not,
at the time of purchasing, very vehemently contradict; since, not
improbably, it tended to place the property the more conveniently
within my means.

It was, therefore, from no dread of the reputed goblins aloft, that,
for five years after first taking up my residence in the house, I
never entered the garret. There was no special inducement. The roof
was well slated, and thoroughly tight. The company that insured the
house, waived all visitation of the garret; why, then, should the
owner be over-anxious about it?--particularly, as he had no use for
it, the house having ample room below. Then the key of the stair-door
leading to it was lost. The lock was a huge old-fashioned one. To
open it, a smith would have to be called; an unnecessary trouble, I
thought. Besides, though I had taken some care to keep my two daughters
in ignorance of the rumor above-mentioned, still, they had, by some
means, got an inkling of it, and were well enough pleased to see the
entrance to the haunted ground closed. It might have remained so for a
still longer time, had it not been for my accidentally discovering, in
a corner of our glen-like, old, terraced garden, a large and curious
key, very old and rusty, which I at once concluded must belong to the
garret-door--a supposition which, upon trial, proved correct. Now, the
possession of a key to anything, at once provokes a desire to unlock
and explore; and this, too, from a mere instinct of gratification,
irrespective of any particular benefit to accrue.

Behold me, then, turning the rusty old key, and going up, alone, into
the haunted garret. It embraced the entire area of the mansion. Its
ceiling was formed by the roof, showing the rafters and boards on
which the slates were laid. The roof shedding the water four ways from
a high point in the centre, the space beneath was much like that of
a general's marquee--only midway broken by a labyrinth of timbers,
for braces, from which waved innumerable cobwebs, that, of a summer's
noon, shone like Bagdad tissues and gauzes. On every hand, some strange
insect was seen, flying, or running, or creeping, on rafter and floor.

Under the apex of the roof was a rude, narrow, decrepit step-ladder,
something like a Gothic pulpit-stairway, leading to a pulpit-like
platform, from which a still narrower ladder--a sort of Jacob's
ladder--led somewhat higher to the lofty scuttle. The slide of this
scuttle was about two feet square, all in one piece, furnishing a
massive frame for a single small pane of glass, inserted into it like
a bull's-eye. The light of the garret came from this sole source,
filtrated through a dense curtain of cobwebs. Indeed, the whole stairs,
and platform, and ladder, were festooned, and carpeted, and canopied
with cobwebs; which, in funereal accumulations, hung, too, from the
groined, murky ceiling, like the Carolina moss in the cypress forest.
In these cobwebs, swung, as in aerial catacombs, myriads of all tribes
of mummied insects.

Climbing the stairs to the platform, and pausing there, to recover my
breath, a curious scene was presented. The sun was about half-way up.
Piercing the little sky-light, it slopingly bored a rainbowed tunnel
clear across the darkness of the garret. Here, millions of butterfly
moles were swarming. Against the sky-light itself, with a cymbal-like
buzzing, thousands of insects clustered in a golden mob.

Wishing to shed a clearer light through the place, I sought to
withdraw the scuttle-slide. But no sign of latch or hasp was visible.
Only after long peering, did I discover a little padlock, imbedded,
like an oyster at the bottom of the sea, amid matted masses of weedy
webs, chrysalides, and insectivorous eggs. Brushing these away, I found
it locked. With a crooked nail, I tried to pick the lock, when scores
of small ants and flies, half-torpid, crawled forth from the keyhole,
and, feeling the warmth of the sun in the pane, began frisking around
me. Others appeared. Presently, I was overrun by them. As if incensed
at this invasion of their retreat, countless bands darted up from
below, beating about my head, like hornets. At last, with a sudden
jerk, I burst open the scuttle. And ah! what a change. As from the
gloom of the grave and the companionship of worms, men shall at last
rapturously rise into the living greenness and glory-immortal, so, from
my cobwebbed old garret, I thrust forth my head into the balmy air, and
found myself hailed by the verdant tops of great trees, growing in the
little garden below--trees, whose leaves soared high above my topmost
slate.

Refreshed by this outlook, I turned inward to behold the garret, now
unwontedly lit up. Such humped masses of obsolete furniture. An old
escritoire, from whose pigeon-holes sprang mice, and from whose secret
drawers came subterranean squeakings, as from chipmunks' holes in the
woods; and broken-down old chairs, with strange carvings, which seemed
fit to seat a conclave of conjurors. And a rusty, iron-bound chest,
lidless, and packed full of mildewed old documents; one of which, with
a faded red ink-blot at the end, looked as if it might have been the
original bond that Doctor Faust gave to Mephistopheles. And, finally,
in the least lighted corner of all, where was a profuse litter of
indescribable old rubbish--among which was a broken telescope, and a
celestial globe staved in--stood the little old table, one hoofed foot,
like that of the Evil One, dimly revealed through the cobwebs. What
a thick dust, half paste, had settled upon the old vials and flasks;
how their once liquid contents had caked, and how strangely looked the
mouldy old book in the middle--Cotton Mather's _Magnalia_.

Table and book I removed below, and had the dislocations of the one and
the tatters of the other repaired. I resolved to surround this sad
little hermit of a table, so long banished from genial neighborhood,
with all the kindly influences of warm urns, warm fires, and warm
hearts, little dreaming what all this warm nursing would hatch.

I was pleased by the discovery that the table was not of the ordinary
mahogany, but of apple-tree-wood, which age had darkened nearly to
walnut. It struck me as being an appropriate piece of furniture for
our cedar-parlor--so called, from its being, after the old fashion,
wainscoted with that wood. The table's round slab, or orb, was so
contrived as to be readily changed from a horizontal to a perpendicular
position; so that, when not in use, it could be snugly placed in a
corner. For myself, wife, and two daughters, I thought it would make
a nice little breakfast and tea-table. It was just the thing for a
whist-table, too. And I also pleased myself with the idea that it would
make a famous reading-table.

In these fancies, my wife, for one, took little interest. She
disrelished the idea of so unfashionable and indigent-looking a
stranger as the table intruding into the polished society of more
prosperous furniture. But when, after seeking its fortune at the
cabinet-maker's, the table came home, varnished over, bright as a
guinea, no one exceeded my wife in a gracious reception of it. It was
advanced to an honorable position in the cedar-parlor.

But, as for my daughter Julia, she never got over her strange emotions
upon first accidentally encountering the table. Unfortunately, it was
just as I was in the act of bringing it down from the garret. Holding
it by the slab, I was carrying it before me, one cobwebbed hoof thrust
out, which weird object at a turn of the stairs, suddenly touched my
girl, as she was ascending; whereupon, turning, and seeing no living
creature--for I was quite hidden behind my shield--seeing nothing
indeed, but the apparition of the Evil One's foot, as it seemed, she
cried out, and there is no knowing what might have followed, had I not
immediately spoken.

From the impression thus produced, my poor girl, of a very nervous
temperament, was long recovering. Superstitiously grieved at my
violating the forbidden solitude above, she associated in her
mind the cloven-footed table with the reputed goblins there. She
besought me to give up the idea of domesticating the table. Nor did
her sister fail to add her entreaties. Between my girls there was a
constitutional sympathy. But my matter-of-fact wife had now declared in
the table's favor. She was not wanting in firmness and energy. To her,
the prejudices of Julia and Anna were simply ridiculous. It was her
maternal duty, she thought, to drive such weakness away. By degrees,
the girls, at breakfast and tea, were induced to sit down with us at
the table. Continual proximity was not without effect. By and by, they
would sit pretty tranquilly, though Julia, as much as possible, avoided
glancing at the hoofed feet, and, when at this I smiled, she would look
at me seriously--as much as to say, Ah, papa, you, too, may yet do the
same. She prophesied that, in connection with the table, something
strange would yet happen. But I would only smile the more, while my
wife indignantly chided.

Meantime, I took particular satisfaction in my table, as a night
reading-table. At a ladies' fair, I bought me a beautifully worked
reading-cushion, and, with elbow leaning thereon, and hand shading my
eyes from the light, spent many a long hour--nobody by, but the queer
old book I had brought down from the garret.

All went well, till the incident now about to be given--an incident, be
it remembered, which, like every other in this narration, happened long
before the time of the "Fox Girls."

It was late on a Saturday night in December. In the little old
cedar-parlor, before the little old apple-tree table, I was sitting
up, as usual, alone. I had made more than one effort to get up and go
to bed; but I could not. I was, in fact, under a sort of fascination.
Somehow, too, certain reasonable opinions of mine, seemed not so
reasonable as before. I felt nervous. The truth was, that though, in
my previous night-readings, Cotton Mather had but amused me, upon
this particular night he terrified me. A thousand times I had laughed
at such stories. Old wives' fables, I thought, however entertaining.
But now, how different. They began to put on the aspect of reality.
Now, for the first time it struck me that this was no romantic
Mrs. Radcliffe, who had written the _Magnalia_; but a practical,
hard-working, earnest, upright man, a learned doctor, too, as well
as a good Christian and orthodox clergyman. What possible motive
could such a man have to deceive? His style had all the plainness
and unpoetic boldness of truth. In the most straightforward way, he
laid before me detailed accounts of New England witchcraft, each
important item corroborated by respectable townsfolk, and, of not a
few of the most surprising, he himself had been eye-witness. Cotton
Mather testified himself whereof he had seen. But, is it possible? I
asked myself. Then I remembered that Dr. Johnson, the matter-of-fact
compiler of a dictionary, had been a believer in ghosts, besides many
other sound, worthy men. Yielding to the fascination, I read deeper and
deeper into the night. At last, I found myself starting at the least
chance sound, and yet wishing that it were not so very still.

A tumbler of warm punch stood by my side, with which beverage, in a
moderate way, I was accustomed to treat myself every Saturday night;
a habit, however, against which my good wife had long remonstrated;
predicting that, unless I gave it up, I would yet die a miserable sot.
Indeed, I may here mention that, on the Sunday mornings following
my Saturday nights, I had to be exceedingly cautious how I gave way
to the slightest impatience at any accidental annoyance; because
such impatience was sure to be quoted against me as evidence of the
melancholy consequences of over-night indulgence. As for my wife, she,
never sipping punch, could yield to any little passing peevishness as
much as she pleased.

But, upon the night in question, I found myself wishing that, instead
of my usual mild mixture, I had concocted some potent draught. I felt
the need of stimulus. I wanted something to hearten me against Cotton
Mather--doleful, ghostly, ghastly Cotton Mather. I grew more and more
nervous. Nothing but fascination kept me from fleeing the room. The
candles burnt low, with long snuffs, and huge winding-sheets. But I
durst not raise the snuffers to them. It would make too much noise. And
yet, previously, I had been wishing for noise. I read on and on. My
hair began to have a sensation. My eyes felt strained; they pained me.
I was conscious of it. I knew I was injuring them. I knew I should rue
this abuse of them next day; but I read on and on. I could not help
it. The skinny hand was on me.

All at once--Hark!

My hair felt like growing grass.

A faint sort of inward rapping or rasping--a strange, inexplicable
sound, mixed with a slight kind of wood-pecking or ticking.

Tick! Tick!

Yes, it was a faint sort of ticking.

I looked up at my great Strasbourg clock in one corner. It was not
that. The clock had stopped.

Tick! Tick!

Was it my watch?

According to her usual practice at night, my wife had, upon retiring,
carried my watch off to our chamber to hang it up on its nail.

I listened with all my ears.

Tick! Tick!

Was it a death-tick in the wainscot?

With a tremulous step I went all round the room, holding my ear to the
wainscot.

No; it came not from the wainscot.

Tick! Tick!

I shook myself. I was ashamed of my fright.

Tick! Tick!

It grew in precision and audibleness. I retreated from the wainscot. It
seemed advancing to meet me.

I looked round and round, but saw nothing, only one cloven foot of the
little apple-tree table.

Bless me, said I to myself, with a sudden revulsion, it must be very
late; ain't that my wife calling me? Yes, yes; I must to bed. I suppose
all is locked up. No need to go the rounds.

The fascination had departed, though the fear had increased. With
trembling hands, putting Cotton Mather out of sight, I soon found
myself, candlestick in hand, in my chamber, with a peculiar rearward
feeling, such as some truant dog may feel. In my eagerness to get well
into the chamber, I stumbled against a chair.

"Do try and make less noise, my dear," said my wife from the bed.

"You have been taking too much of that punch, I fear. That sad habit
grows on you. Ah, that I should ever see you thus staggering at night
into your chamber."

"Wife," hoarsely whispered I, "there is--is something tick-ticking in
the cedar-parlor."

"Poor old man--quite out of his mind--I knew it would be so. Come to
bed; come and sleep it off."

"Wife, wife!"

"Do, do come to bed. I forgive you. I won't remind you of it to-morrow.
But you must give up the punch-drinking, my dear. It quite gets the
better of you."

"Don't exasperate me," I cried now, truly beside myself; "I will quit
the house!"

"No, no! not in that state. Come to bed, my dear. I won't say another
word."

The next morning, upon waking, my wife said nothing about the
past night's affair, and, feeling no little embarrassment myself,
especially at having been thrown into such a panic, I also was silent.
Consequently, my wife must still have ascribed my singular conduct to
a mind disordered, not by ghosts, but by punch. For my own part, as I
lay in bed watching the sun in the panes, I began to think that much
midnight reading of Cotton Mather was not good for man; that it had a
morbid influence upon the nerves, and gave rise to hallucinations. I
resolved to put Cotton Mather permanently aside. That done, I had no
fear of any return of the ticking. Indeed, I began to think that what
seemed the ticking in the room, was nothing but a sort of buzzing in my
ear.

As is her wont, my wife having preceded me in rising, I made a
deliberate and agreeable toilet. Aware that most disorders of the mind
have their origin in the state of the body, I made vigorous use of
the flesh-brush, and bathed my head with New England rum, a specific
once recommended to me as good for buzzing in the ear. Wrapped in my
dressing gown, with cravat nicely adjusted, and fingernails neatly
trimmed, I complacently descended to the little cedar-parlor to
breakfast.

What was my amazement to find my wife on her knees, rummaging about
the carpet nigh the little apple-tree table, on which the morning meal
was laid, while my daughters, Julia and Anna, were running about the
apartment distracted.

"Oh, papa, papa!" cried Julia, hurrying up to me, "I knew it would be
so. The table, the table!"

"Spirits! spirits!" cried Anna, standing far away from it, with pointed
finger.

"Silence!" cried my wife. "How can I hear it, if you make such a
noise? Be still. Come here, husband; was this the ticking you spoke of?
Why don't you move? Was this it? Here, kneel down and listen to it.
Tick, tick, tick!--don't you hear it now?"

"I do, I do," cried I, while my daughters besought us both to come away
from the spot.

Tick, tick, tick!

Right from under the snowy cloth, and the cheerful urn, and the smoking
milk-toast, the unaccountable ticking was heard.

"Ain't there a fire in the next room, Julia," said I, "let us breakfast
there, my dear," turning to my wife--"let us go--leave the table--tell
Biddy to remove the things."

And so saying I was moving towards the door in high self-possession,
when my wife interrupted me.

"Before I quit this room, I will see into this ticking," she said with
energy.

"It is something that can be found out, depend upon it. I don't believe
in spirits, especially at breakfast-time. Biddy! Biddy! Here, carry
these things back to the kitchen," handing the urn. Then, sweeping off
the cloth, the little table lay bare to the eye.

"It's the table, the table!" cried Julia.

"Nonsense," said my wife, "Who ever heard of a ticking table? It's on
the floor. Biddy! Julia! Anna! move everything out of the room--table
and all. Where are the tack-hammers?"

"Heavens, mamma--you are not going to take up the carpet?" screamed
Julia.

"Here's the hammers, marm," said Biddy, advancing tremblingly.

"Hand them to me, then," cried my wife; for poor Biddy was, at long
gun-distance, holding them out as if her mistress had the plague.

"Now, husband, do you take up that side of the carpet, and I will
this." Down on her knees she then dropped, while I followed suit.

The carpet being removed, and the ear applied to the naked floor, not
the slightest ticking could be heard.

"The table--after all, it is the table," cried my wife. "Biddy, bring
it back."

"Oh no, marm, not I, please, marm," sobbed Biddy.

"Foolish creature!--Husband, do you bring it."

"My dear," said I, "we have plenty of other tables; why be so
particular?"

"Where is that table?" cried my wife, contemptuously, regardless of my
gentle remonstrance.

"In the wood-house, marm. I put it away as far as ever I could, marm,"
sobbed Biddy.

"Shall I go to the wood-house for it, or will you?" said my wife,
addressing me in a frightful, businesslike manner.

Immediately I darted out of the door, and found the little apple-tree
table, upside down, in one of my chip-bins. I hurriedly returned with
it, and once more my wife examined it attentively. Tick, tick, tick!
Yes, it was the table.

"Please, marm," said Biddy, now entering the room, with hat and
shawl--"please, marm, will you pay me my wages?"

"Take your hat and shawl off directly," said my wife; "set this table
again."

"Set it," roared I, in a passion, "set it, or I'll go for the police."

"Heavens! heavens!" cried my daughters, in one breath. "What will
become of us!--Spirits! spirits!"

"Will you set the table?" cried I, advancing upon Biddy.

"I will, I will--yes, marm--yes, master--I will, I will. Spirits!--Holy
Vargin!"

"Now, husband," said my wife, "I am convinced that, whatever it is that
causes this ticking, neither the ticking nor the table can hurt us; for
we are all good Christians, I hope. I am determined to find out the
cause of it, too, which time and patience will bring to light. I shall
breakfast on no other table but this, so long as we live in this house.
So, sit down, now that all things are ready again, and let us quietly
breakfast. My dears," turning to Julia and Anna, "go to your room, and
return composed. Let me have no more of this childishness."

Upon occasion my wife was mistress in her house.

During the meal, in vain was conversation started again and again; in
vain my wife said something brisk to infuse into others an animation
akin to her own. Julia and Anna, with heads bowed over their tea-cups,
were still listening for the tick. I confess, too, that their example
was catching. But, for the time, nothing was heard. Either the ticking
had died quite away, or else, slight as it was, the increasing uproar
of the street, with the general hum of day so contrasted with the
repose of night and early morning, smothered the sound. At the lurking
inquietude of her companions, my wife was indignant; the more so, as
she seemed to glory in her own exemption from panic. When breakfast was
cleared away she took my watch, and, placing it on the table, addressed
the supposed spirits in it, with a jocosely defiant air:

"There, tick away, let us see who can tick loudest!"

All that day, while abroad, I thought of the mysterious table. Could
Cotton Mather speak true? Were there spirits? And would spirits haunt
a tea-table? Would the Evil One dare show his cloven foot in the bosom
of an innocent family? I shuddered when I thought that I myself,
against the solemn warnings of my daughters, had wilfully introduced
the cloven foot there. Yea, three cloven feet. But, towards noon, this
sort of feeling began to wear off. The continual rubbing against so
many practical people in the street, brushed such chimeras away from
me. I remembered that I had not acquitted myself very intrepidly either
on the previous night or in the morning. I resolved to regain the good
opinion of my wife.

To evince my hardihood the more signally, when tea was dismissed, and
the three rubbers of whist had been played, and no ticking had been
heard--which the more encouraged me--I took my pipe, and, saying that
bed-time had arrived for the rest, drew my chair towards the fire, and,
removing my slippers, placed my feet on the fender, looking as calm and
composed as old Democritus in the tombs of Abdera, when one midnight
the mischievous little boys of the town tried to frighten that sturdy
philosopher with spurious ghosts.

And I thought to myself, that the worthy old gentleman had set a good
example to all times in his conduct on that occasion. For, when at the
dead hour, intent on his studies, he heard the strange sounds, he did
not so much as move his eyes from his page, only simply said: "Boys,
little boys, go home. This is no place for you. You will catch cold
here." The philosophy of which words lies here: that they imply the
foregone conclusion, that any possible investigation of any possible
spiritual phenomena was absurd; that upon the first face of such
things, the mind of a sane man instinctively affirmed them a humbug,
unworthy the least attention; more especially if such phenomena
appear in tombs, since tombs are peculiarly the place of silence,
lifelessness, and solitude; for which cause, by the way, the old man,
as upon the occasion in question, made the tombs of Abdera his place of
study.

Presently I was alone, and all was hushed. I laid down my pipe, not
feeling exactly tranquil enough now thoroughly to enjoy it. Taking up
one of the newspapers, I began, in a nervous, hurried sort of way, to
read by the light of a candle placed on a small stand drawn close to
the fire. As for the apple-tree table, having lately concluded that it
was rather too low for a reading-table, I thought best not to use it
as such that night. But it stood not very distant in the middle of the
room.

Try as I would, I could not succeed much at reading. Somehow I seemed
all ear and no eye; a condition of intense auricular suspense. But ere
long it was broken.

Tick! tick! tick!

Though it was not the first time I had heard that sound; nay, though I
had made it my particular business on this occasion to wait for that
sound, nevertheless, when it came, it seemed unexpected, as if a
cannon had boomed through the window.

Tick! tick! tick!

I sat stock still for a time, thoroughly to master, if possible, my
first discomposure. Then rising, I looked pretty steadily at the table;
went up to it pretty steadily; took hold of it pretty steadily; but let
it go pretty quickly; then paced up and down, stopping every moment
or two, with ear pricked to listen. Meantime, within me, the contest
between panic and philosophy remained not wholly decided.

Tick! tick! tick!

With appalling distinctness the ticking now rose on the night.

My pulse fluttered--my heart beat. I hardly know what might not have
followed, had not Democritus just then come to the rescue. For shame,
said I to myself, what is the use of so fine an example of philosophy,
if it cannot be followed? Straightway I resolved to imitate it, even to
the old sage's occupation and attitude.

Resuming my chair and paper, with back presented to the table, I
remained thus for a time, as if buried in study, when, the ticking
still continuing, I drawled out, in as indifferent and dryly jocose a
way as I could; "Come, come, Tick, my boy, fun enough for to-night."

Tick! tick! tick!

There seemed a sort of jeering defiance in the ticking now. It seemed
to exult over the poor affected part I was playing. But much as the
taunt stung me, it only stung me into persistence. I resolved not to
abate one whit in my mode of address.

"Come, come, you make more and more noise, Tick, my boy; too much of a
joke--time to have done."

No sooner said than the ticking ceased. Never was responsive obedience
more exact. For the life of me, I could not help turning round upon the
table, as one would upon some reasonable being, when--could I believe
my senses? I saw something moving, or wriggling, or squirming upon the
slab of the table. It shone like a glow-worm. Unconsciously, I grasped
the poker that stood at hand. But bethinking me how absurd to attack a
glow-worm with a poker, I put it down. How long I sat spellbound and
staring there, with my body presented one way and my face another, I
cannot say; but at length I rose, and, buttoning my coat up and down,
made a sudden intrepid forced march full upon the table. And there,
near the centre of the slab, as I live, I saw an irregular little
hole, or, rather, short nibbled sort of crack, from which (like a
butterfly escaping its chrysalis) the sparkling object, whatever it
might be, was struggling. Its motion was the motion of life. I stood
becharmed. Are there, indeed, spirits, thought I; and is this one?
No; I must be dreaming. I turned my glance off to the red fire on the
hearth, then back to the pale lustre on the table. What I saw was no
optical illusion, but a real marvel. The tremor was increasing, when,
once again, Democritus befriended me. Supernatural coruscation as it
appeared, I strove to look at the strange object in a purely scientific
way. Thus viewed, it appeared some new sort of small shining beetle or
bug, and, I thought, not without something of a hum to it, too.

I still watched it, and with still increasing self-possession.
Sparkling and wriggling, it still continued its throes. In another
moment it was just on the point of escaping its prison. A thought
struck me. Running for a tumbler, I clapped it over the insect just in
time to secure it.

After watching it a while longer under the tumbler, I left all as it
was, and, tolerably composed, retired.

Now, for the soul of me, I could not, at that time, comprehend the
phenomenon. A live bug come out of a dead table? A fire-fly bug come
out of a piece of ancient lumber, for one knows not how many years
stored away in an old garret? Was ever such a thing heard of, or
even dreamed of? How got the bug there? Never mind. I bethought me
of Democritus, and resolved to keep cool. At all events, the mystery
of the ticking was explained. It was simply the sound of the gnawing
and filing, and tapping of the bug, in eating its way out. It was
satisfactory to think, that there was an end forever to the ticking. I
resolved not to let the occasion pass without reaping some credit from
it.

"Wife," said I, next morning, "you will not be troubled with any more
ticking in our table. I have put a stop to all that."

"Indeed, husband," said she, with some incredulity.

"Yes, wife," returned I, perhaps a little vaingloriously, "I have put
a quietus upon that ticking. Depend upon it, the ticking will trouble
you no more."

In vain she besought me to explain myself. I would not gratify her;
being willing to balance any previous trepidation I might have
betrayed, by leaving room now for the imputation of some heroic feat
whereby I had silenced the ticking. It was a sort of innocent deceit by
implication, quite harmless, and, I thought, of utility.

But when I went to breakfast, I saw my wife kneeling at the table
again, and my girls looking ten times more frightened than ever.

"Why did you tell me that boastful tale," said my wife, indignantly.
"You might have known how easily it would be found out. See this crack,
too; and here is the ticking again, plainer than ever."

"Impossible," I explained; but upon applying my ear, sure enough, tick!
tick! tick! The ticking was there.

Recovering myself the best way I might, I demanded the bug.

"Bug?" screamed Julia, "Good heavens, papa!"

"I hope sir, you have been bringing no bugs into this house," said my
wife, severely.

"The bug, the bug!" I cried; "the bug under the tumbler."

"Bugs in tumblers!" cried the girls; "not _our_ tumblers, papa? You
have not been putting bugs into our tumblers? Oh, what does--what
_does_ it all mean?"

"Do you see this hole, this crack here?" said I, putting my finger on
the spot.

"That I do," said my wife, with high displeasure. "And how did it come
there? What have you been doing to the table?"

"Do you see this crack?" repeated I, intensely.

"Yes, yes," said Julia; "that was what frightened me so; it looks so
like witch-work."

"Spirits! spirits!" cried Anna.

"Silence!" said my wife. "Go on, sir, and tell us what you know of the
crack."

"Wife and daughters," said I, solemnly, "out of that crack, or hole,
while I was sitting all alone here last night, a wonderful--"

Here, involuntarily, I paused, fascinated by the expectant attitudes
and bursting eyes of Julia and Anna.

"What, what?" cried Julia.

"A bug, Julia."

"Bug?" cried my wife. "A bug come out of this table? And what did you
do with it?"

"Clapped it under a tumbler."

"Biddy! Biddy!" cried my wife, going to the door. "Did you see a
tumbler here on this table when you swept the room?"

"Sure I did, marm, and 'bomnable bug under it."

"And what did you do with it?" demanded I.

"Put the bug in the fire, sir, and rinsed out the tumbler ever so many
times, marm."

"Where is that tumbler?" cried Anna. "I hope you scratched it--marked
it some way. I'll never drink out of that tumbler; never put it before
me, Biddy. A bug--a bug! Oh, Julia! Oh, mamma! I feel it crawling all
over me, even now. Haunted table!"

"Spirits! spirits!" cried Julia.

"My daughters," said their mother, with authority in her eyes, "go to
your chamber till you can behave more like reasonable creatures. Is it
a bug--a bug that can frighten you out of what little wits you ever
had? Leave the room. I am astonished, I am pained by such childish
conduct."

"Now tell me," said she, addressing me, as soon as they had withdrawn,
"now tell me truly, did a bug really come out of this crack in the
table?"

"Wife, it is even so."

"Did you see it come out?"

"I did."

She looked earnestly at the crack, leaning over it.

"Are you sure?" said she, looking up, but still bent over.

"Sure, sure."

She was silent. I began to think that the mystery of the thing began
to tell even upon her. Yes, thought I, I shall presently see my wife
shaking and shuddering, and, who knows, calling in some old dominie to
exorcise the table, and drive out the spirits.

"I'll tell you what we'll do," said she suddenly, and not without
excitement.

"What, wife?" said I, all eagerness, expecting some mystical
proposition; "what, wife?"

"We will rub this table all over with that celebrated 'roach powder'
I've heard of."

"Good gracious! Then you don't think it's spirits?"

"Spirits?"

The emphasis of scornful incredulity was worthy of Democritus himself.

"But this ticking--this ticking?" said I.

"I'll whip that out of it."

"Come, come, wife," said I, "you are going too far the other way, now.
Neither roach powder nor whipping will cure this table. It's a queer
table, wife; there's no blinking it."

"I'll have it rubbed, though," she replied, "well rubbed;" and calling
Biddy, she bade her get wax and brush, and give the table a vigorous
manipulation. That done, the cloth was again laid, and we sat down to
our morning meal; but my daughters did not make their appearance. Julia
and Anna took no breakfast that day.

When the cloth was removed, in a businesslike way, my wife went to work
with a dark colored cement, and hermetically closed the little hole in
the table.

My daughters looking pale, I insisted upon taking them out for a walk
that morning, when the following conversation ensued:

"My worst presentiments about that table are being verified, papa,"
said Julia; "not for nothing was that intimation of the cloven foot on
my shoulder."

"Nonsense," said I. "Let us go into Mrs. Brown's, and have an
ice-cream."

The spirit of Democritus was stronger on me now. By a curious
coincidence, it strengthened with the strength of the sunlight.

"But is it not miraculous," said Anna, "how a bug should come out of a
table?"

"Not at all, my daughter. It is a very common thing for bugs to come
out of wood. You yourself must have seen them coming out of the ends of
the billets on the hearth."

"Ah, but that wood is almost fresh from the woodland. But the table is
at least a hundred years old."

"What of that?" said I, gayly. "Have not live toads been found in the
hearts of dead rocks, as old as creation?"

"Say what you will, papa, I feel it is spirits," said Julia. "Do, do
now, my dear papa, have that haunted table removed from the house."

"Nonsense," said I.

By another curious coincidence, the more they felt frightened, the more
I felt brave.

Evening came.

"This ticking," said my wife; "do you think that another bug will come
of this continued ticking?"

Curiously enough, that had not occurred to me before. I had not thought
of there being twins of bugs. But now, who knew; there might be even
triplets.

I resolved to take precautions, and, if there was to be a second bug,
infallibly secure it. During the evening, the ticking was again heard.
About ten o'clock I clapped a tumbler over the spot, as near as I could
judge of it by my ear. Then we all retired, and locking the door of the
cedar-parlor, I put the key in my pocket.

In the morning, nothing was to be seen, but the ticking was heard.
The trepidation of my daughters returned. They wanted to call in the
neighbors. But to this my wife was vigorously opposed. We should be the
laughing-stock of the whole town. So it was agreed that nothing should
be disclosed. Biddy received strict charges; and, to make sure, was not
allowed that week to go to confession, lest she should tell the priest.

I stayed home all that day; every hour or two bending over the table,
both eye and ear. Towards night, I thought the ticking grew more
distinct, and seemed divided from my ear by a thinner and thinner
partition of the wood. I thought, too, that I perceived a faint
heaving up, or bulging of the wood, in the place where I had placed
the tumbler. To put an end to the suspense, my wife proposed taking
a knife and cutting into the wood there; but I had a less impatient
plan; namely, that she and I should sit up with the table that night,
as, from present symptoms, the bug would probably make its appearance
before morning. For myself, I was curious to see the first advent of
the thing--the first dazzle of the chick as it chipped the shell.

The idea struck my wife not unfavorably. She insisted that both Julia
and Anna should be of the party, in order that the evidence of their
senses should disabuse their minds of all nursery nonsense. For that
spirits should tick, and that spirits should take unto themselves
the form of bugs, was, to my wife, the most foolish of all foolish
imaginations. True, she could not account for the thing; but she had
all confidence that it could be, and would yet be, somehow explained,
and that to her entire satisfaction. Without knowing it herself, my
wife was a female Democritus. For my part, my present feelings were of
a mixed sort. In a strange and not unpleasing way, I gently oscillated
between Democritus and Cotton Mather. But to my wife and daughters
I assumed to be pure Democritus--a jeerer at all tea-table spirits
whatever.

So, laying in a good supply of candles and crackers, all four of us
sat up with the table, and at the same time sat round it. For a while
my wife and I carried on an animated conversation. But my daughters
were silent. Then my wife and I would have had a rubber of whist, but
my daughters could not be prevailed upon to join. So we played whist
with two dummies literally; my wife won the rubber and, fatigued with
victory, put away the cards.

Half past eleven o'clock. No sign of the bug. The candles began to
burn dim. My wife was just in the act of snuffing them, when a sudden,
violent, hollow, resounding, rumbling, thumping was heard.

Julia and Anna sprang to their feet.

"All well!" cried a voice from the street. It was the watchman, first
ringing down his club on the pavement, and then following it up with
this highly satisfactory verbal announcement.

"All well! Do you hear that, my girls?" said I, gayly.

Indeed it was astonishing how brave as Bruce I felt in company with
three women, and two of them half frightened out of their wits.

I rose for my pipe, and took a philosophic smoke.

Democritus forever, thought I.

In profound silence, I sat smoking, when lo!--pop! pop! pop!--right
under the table, a terrible popping.

This time we all four sprang up, and my pipe was broken.

"Good heavens! what's that?"

"Spirits! spirits!" cried Julia.

"Oh, oh, oh!" cried Anna.

"Shame!" said my wife, "it's that new bottled cider, in the cellar,
going off. I told Biddy to wire the bottles to-day."

I shall here transcribe from memoranda, kept during part of the night.

 "_One o'clock. No sign of the bug. Ticking continues. Wife getting
 sleepy._

 "_Two o'clock. No sign of the bug. Ticking intermittent. Wife fast
 asleep._

 "_Three o'clock. No sign of the bug. Ticking pretty steady. Julia and
 Anna getting sleepy._

 "_Four o'clock. No sign of the bug. Ticking regular, but not spirited.
 Wife, Julia, and Anna, all fast asleep in their chairs._

 "_Five o'clock. No sign of the bug. Ticking faint. Myself feeling
 drowsy. The rest still asleep._"

So far the journal.

--Rap! rap! rap!

A terrific, portentous rapping against a door.

Startled from our dreams, we started to our feet.

Rap! rap! rap!

Julia and Anna shrieked.

I cowered in the corner.

"You fools!" cried my wife, "it's the baker with the bread."

Six o'clock.

She went to throw back the shutters, but ere it was done, a cry came
from Julia. There, half in and half out its crack, there wriggled the
bug, flashing in the room's general dimness, like a fiery opal.

Had this bug had a tiny sword by its side--a Damascus sword--and a
tiny necklace round its neck--a diamond necklace--and a tiny gun in
its claw--brass gun--and a tiny manuscript in its mouth--a Chaldee
manuscript--Julia and Anna could not have stood more charmed.

In truth, it was a beautiful bug--a Jew jeweler's bug--a bug like a
sparkle of a glorious sunset.

Julia and Anna had never dreamed of such a bug. To them, bug had been
a word synonymous with hideousness. But this was a seraphical bug; or
rather, all it had of the bug was the B, for it was beautiful as a
butterfly.

Julia and Anna gazed and gazed. They were no more alarmed. They were
delighted.

"But how got this strange, pretty creature into the table?" cried Julia.

"Spirits can get anywhere," replied Anna.

"Pshaw!" said my wife.

"Do you hear any more ticking?" said I.

They all applied their ears, but heard nothing.

"Well, then, wife and daughters, now that it is all over, this very
morning I will go and make inquiries about it."

"Oh, do, papa," cried Julia, "do go and consult Madame Pazzi, the
conjuress."

"Better go and consult Professor Johnson, the naturalist," said my wife.

"Bravo, Mrs. Democritus!" said I. "Professor Johnson is the man."

By good fortune I found the professor in. Informing him briefly of the
incident, he manifested a cool, collected sort of interest, and gravely
accompanied me home. The table was produced, the two openings pointed
out, the bug displayed, and the details of the affair set forth; my
wife and daughters being present.

"And now, Professor," said I, "what do you think of it?"

Putting on his spectacles, the learned professor looked hard at the
table, and gently scraped with his penknife into the holes, but said
nothing.

"Is it not an unusual thing, this?" anxiously asked Anna.

"Very unusual, Miss."

At which Julia and Anna exchanged significant glances.

"But is it not wonderful, very wonderful?" demanded Julia.

"Very wonderful, Miss."

My daughters exchanged still more significant glances, and Julia,
emboldened, again spoke.

"And must you not admit, sir, that it is the work of--of--of sp--?"

"Spirits? No," was the crusty rejoinder.

"My daughters," said I, mildly, "you should remember that this is not
Madame Pazzi, the conjuress, you put your questions to, but the eminent
naturalist, Professor Johnson. And now, Professor," I added, "be
pleased to explain. Enlighten our ignorance."

Without repeating all the learned gentleman said--for, indeed, though
lucid, he was a little prosy--let the following summary of his
explication suffice.

The incident was not wholly without example. The wood of the table
was apple-tree, a sort of tree much fancied by various insects. The
bugs had come from eggs laid inside the bark of the living tree in the
orchard. By careful examination of the position of the hole from which
the last bug had emerged, in relation to the cortical layers of the
slab, and then allowing for the inch and a half along the grain, ere
the bug had eaten its way entirely out, and then computing the whole
number of cortical layers in the slab, with a reasonable conjecture
for the number cut off from the outside, it appeared that the egg must
have been laid in the tree some ninety years, more or less, before the
tree could have been felled. But between the felling of the tree and
the present time, how long might that be? It was a very old-fashioned
table. Allow eighty years for the age of the table, which would make
one hundred and fifty years that the bug had laid in the egg. Such, at
least, was Professor Johnson's computation.

"Now, Julia," said I, "after that scientific statement of the case
(though, I confess, I don't exactly understand it) where are your
spirits? It is very wonderful as it is, but where are your spirits?"

"Where, indeed?" said my wife.

"Why, now, she did not _really_ associate this purely natural
phenomenon with any crude, spiritual hypothesis, did she?" observed the
learned professor, with a slight sneer.

"Say what you will," said Julia, holding up, in the covered tumbler,
the glorious, lustrous, flashing, live opal, "say what you will, if
this beauteous creature be not a spirit, it yet teaches a spiritual
lesson. For if, after one hundred and fifty years' entombment, a mere
insect comes forth at last into light, itself an effulgence, shall
there be no glorified resurrection for the spirit of man? Spirits!
spirits!" she exclaimed, with rapture, "I still believe in them with
delight, when before I but thought of them with terror."

The mysterious insect did not long enjoy its radiant life; it expired
the next day. But my girls have preserved it. Embalmed in a silver
vinaigrette, it lies on the little apple-tree table in the pier of the
cedar-parlor.

And whatever lady doubts this story, my daughters will be happy to show
her both the bug and the table, and point out to her, in the repaired
slab of the latter, the two sealing-wax drops designating the exact
place of the two holes made by the two bugs, something in the same way
in which are marked the spots where the cannon balls struck Brattle
Street church.



HAWTHORNE AND HIS MOSSES

_BY A VIRGINIAN SPENDING JULY IN VERMONT_


A papered chamber in a fine old farmhouse, a mile from any other
dwelling, and dipped to the eaves in foliage--surrounded by mountains,
old woods, and Indian pools,--this surely, is the place to write of
Hawthorne. Some charm is in this northern air, for love and duty seem
both impelling to the task. A man of a deep and noble nature has seized
me in this seclusion. His wild, witch-voice rings through me; or, in
softer cadences, I seem to hear it in the songs of the hillside birds
that sing in the larch trees at my window.

Would that all excellent books were foundlings, without father or
mother, that so it might be we could glorify them, without including
their ostensible authors! Nor would any true man take exception to
this; least of all, he who writes, "When the artist rises high enough
to achieve the beautiful, the symbol by which he makes it perceptible
to mortal senses becomes of little value in his eyes, while his spirit
possesses itself in the enjoyment of the reality."

But more than this. I know not what would be the right name to put on
the title-page of an excellent book; but this I feel, that the names
of all fine authors are fictitious ones, far more so than that of
Junius; simply standing, as they do, for the mystical ever-eluding
spirit of all beauty, which ubiquitously possesses men of genius.
Purely imaginative as this fancy may appear, it nevertheless seems to
receive some warranty from the fact, that on a personal interview no
great author has ever come up to the idea of his reader. But that dust
of which our bodies are composed, how can it fitly express the nobler
intelligences among us? With reverence be it spoken, that not even in
the case of one deemed more than man, not even in our Saviour, did his
visible frame betoken anything of the augustness of the nature within.
Else, how could those Jewish eyewitnesses fail to see heaven in his
glance!

It is curious how a man may travel along a country road, and yet miss
the grandest or sweetest of prospects by reason of an intervening
hedge, so like all other hedges, as in no way to hint of the wide
landscape beyond. So has it been with me concerning the enchanting
landscape in the soul of this Hawthorne, this most excellent Man of
Mosses. His Old Manse has been written now four years, but I never read
it till a day or two since. I had seen it in the book-stores--heard
of it often--even had it recommended to me by a tasteful friend,
as a rare, quiet book, perhaps too deserving of popularity to be
popular. But there are so many books called "excellent," and so much
unpopular merit, that amid the thick stir of other things, the hint
of my tasteful friend was disregarded and for four years the Mosses
on the Old Manse never refreshed me with their perennial green. It
may be, however, that all this while the book, likewise, was only
improving in flavor and body. At any rate, it so chanced that this long
procrastination eventuated in a happy result. At breakfast the other
day, a mountain girl, a cousin of mine, who for the last two weeks has
every morning helped me to strawberries and raspberries, which, like
the roses and pearls in the fairy tale, seemed to fall into the saucer
from those strawberry-beds, her cheeks--this delightful creature,
this charming Cherry says to me--"I see you spend your mornings in the
haymow; and yesterday I found there Dwight's _Travels in New England_.
Now I have something far better than that, something more congenial to
our summer on these hills. Take these raspberries, and then I will give
you some moss." "Moss!" said I. "Yes, and you must take it to the barn
with you, and good-by to Dwight."

With that she left me, and soon returned with a volume, verdantly
bound, and garnished with a curious frontispiece in green; nothing
less than a fragment of real moss, cunningly pressed to a fly-leaf.
"Why, this," said I, spilling my raspberries, "this is the _Mosses from
an Old Manse_." "Yes," said cousin Cherry, "yes, it is that flowery
Hawthorne." "Hawthorne and Mosses," said I, "no more it is morning: it
is July in the country: and I am off for the barn."

Stretched on that new mown clover, the hillside breeze blowing over
me through the wide barn door, and soothed by the hum of the bees in
the meadows around, how magically stole over me this Mossy Man! and
how amply, how bountifully, did he redeem that delicious promise to
his guests in the Old Manse, of whom it is written: "Others could give
them pleasure, or amusement, or instruction--these could be picked
up anywhere; but it was for me to give them rest--rest, in a life of
trouble! What better could be done for those weary and world-worn
spirits? ... what better could be done for anybody who came within our
magic circle than to throw the spell of a tranquil spirit over him?" So
all that day, half-buried in the new clover, I watched this Hawthorne's
"Assyrian dawn, and Paphian sunset and moonrise from the summit of our
eastern hill."

The soft ravishments of the man spun me round about in a web of dreams,
and when the book was closed, when the spell was over, this wizard
"dismissed me with but misty reminiscences, as if I had been dreaming
of him."

What a wild moonlight of contemplative humor bathes that Old
Manse!--the rich and rare distilment of a spicy and slowly-oozing
heart. No rollicking rudeness, no gross fun fed on fat dinners, and
bred in the lees of wine,--but a humor so spiritually gentle, so
high, so deep, and yet so richly relishable, that it were hardly
inappropriate in an angel. It is the very religion of mirth; for
nothing so human but it may be advanced to that. The orchard of the
Old Manse seems the visible type of the fine mind that has described
it--those twisted and contorted old trees, "they stretch out their
crooked branches, and take such hold of the imagination that we
remember them as humorists and odd-fellows." And then, as surrounded
by these grotesque forms, and hushed in the noonday repose of this
Hawthorne's spell, how aptly might the still fall of his ruddy thoughts
into your soul be symbolized by: "In the stillest afternoon, if I
listened, the thump of a great apple was audible, falling without a
breath of wind, from the mere necessity of perfect ripeness." For no
less ripe than ruddy are the apples of the thoughts and fancies in this
sweet Man of Mosses.

_Buds and Bird Voices._ What a delicious thing is that! "Will the world
ever be so decayed, that spring may not renew its greenness?" And the
_Fire Worship_. Was ever the hearth so glorified into an altar before?
The mere title of that piece is better than any common work in fifty
folio volumes. How exquisite is this: "Nor did it lessen the charm of
his soft, familiar courtesy and helpfulness that the mighty spirit,
were opportunity offered him, would run riot through the peaceful
house, wrap its inmates in his terrible embrace, and leave nothing of
them save their whitened bones. This possibility of mad destruction
only made his domestic kindness the more beautiful and touching. It
was so sweet of him, being endowed with such power, to dwell day after
day, and one long lonesome night after another, on the dusky hearth,
only now and then betraying his wild nature by thrusting his red tongue
out of the chimney-top! True, he had done much mischief in the world,
and was pretty certain to do more; but his warm heart atoned for all.
He was kindly to the race of man; and they pardoned his characteristic
imperfections."

But he has still other apples, not quite so ruddy, though full as
ripe:--apples, that have been left to wither on the tree, after the
pleasant autumn gathering is past. The sketch of _The Old Apple Dealer_
is conceived in the subtlest spirit of sadness; he whose "subdued
and nerveless boyhood prefigured his abortive prime, which likewise
contained within itself the prophecy and image of his lean and torpid
age." Such touches as are in this piece cannot proceed from any common
heart. They argue such a depth of tenderness, such a boundless sympathy
with all forms of being, such an omnipresent love, that we must needs
say that this Hawthorne is here almost alone in his generation,--at
least, in the artistic manifestation of these things. Still more.
Such touches as these--and many, very many similar ones, all through
his chapters--furnish clues whereby we enter a little way into the
intricate, profound heart where they originated. And we see that
suffering, some time or other and in some shape or other,--this only
can enable any man to depict it in others. All over him, Hawthorne's
melancholy rests like an Indian-summer, which, though bathing a whole
country in one softness, still reveals the distinctive hue of every
towering hill and each far-winding vale.

But it is the least part of genius that attracts admiration. Where
Hawthorne is known, he seems to be deemed a pleasant writer, with
a pleasant style,--a sequestered, harmless man, from whom any deep
and weighty thing would hardly be anticipated--a man who means no
meanings. But there is no man, in whom humor and love, like mountain
peaks, soar to such a rapt height as to receive the irradiations of
the upper skies;--there is no man in whom humor and love are developed
in that high form called genius; no such man can exist without also
possessing, as the indispensable complement of these, a great, deep
intellect, which drops down into the universe like a plummet. Or,
love and humor are only the eyes through which such an intellect
views this world. The great beauty in such a mind is but the product
of its strength. What, to all readers, can be more charming than the
piece entitled _Monsieur du Miroir_; and to a reader at all capable of
fully fathoming it, what, at the same time, can possess more mystical
depth of meaning?--yes, there he sits and looks at me,--this "shape
of mystery," this "identical MONSIEUR DU MIROIR!" "Methinks I should
tremble now were his wizard power of gliding through all impediments in
search of me to place him suddenly before my eyes."

How profound, nay, appalling, is the moral evolved by the _Earth's
Holocaust_; where--beginning with the hollow follies and affectations
of the world,--all vanities and empty theories and forms are, one after
another, and by an admirably graduated, growing comprehensiveness,
thrown into the allegorical fire, till, at length, nothing is left but
the all-engendering heart of man; which remaining still unconsumed, the
great conflagration is naught.

Of a piece with this, is the _Intelligence Office_, a wondrous
symbolizing of the secret workings in men's souls. There are other
sketches still more charged with ponderous import.

_The Christmas Banquet_, and _The Bosom Serpent_, would be fine
subjects for a curious and elaborate analysis, touching the
conjectural parts of the mind that produced them. For spite of all the
Indian-summer sunlight on the hither side of Hawthorne's soul, the
other side--like the dark half of the physical sphere--is shrouded
in a blackness, ten times black. But this darkness but gives more
effect to the ever-moving dawn, that forever advances through it, and
circumnavigates his world. Whether Hawthorne has simply availed himself
of this mystical blackness as a means to the wondrous effects he makes
it to produce in his lights and shades; or whether there really lurks
in him, perhaps unknown to himself, a touch of Puritanic gloom,--this,
I cannot altogether tell. Certain it is, however, that this great
power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that
Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose
visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always
and wholly free. For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world
without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the
uneven balance. At all events, perhaps no writer has ever wielded this
terrific thought with greater terror than this same harmless Hawthorne.
Still more: this black conceit pervades him through and through. You
may be witched by his sunlight,--transported by the bright gildings in
the skies he builds over you; but there is the blackness of darkness
beyond; and even his bright gildings but fringe and play upon the
edges of thunder-clouds. In one word, the world is mistaken in this
Nathaniel Hawthorne. He himself must often have smiled at its absurd
misconception of him. He is immeasurably deeper than the plummet of
the mere critic. For it is not the brain that can test such a man; it
is only the heart. You cannot come to know greatness by inspecting it;
there is no glimpse to be caught of it, except by intuition; you need
not ring it, you but touch it, and you find it is gold.

Now, it is that blackness in Hawthorne, of which I have spoken that
so fixes and fascinates me. It may be, nevertheless, that it is too
largely developed in him. Perhaps he does not give us a ray of light
for every shade of his dark. But however this may be, this blackness
it is that furnishes the infinite obscure of his background,--that
background, against which Shakspeare plays his grandest conceits,
the things that have made for Shakspeare his loftiest but most
circumscribed renown, as the profoundest of thinkers. For by
philosophers Shakspeare is not adored, as the great man of tragedy
and comedy:--"Off with his head; so much for Buckingham!" This sort
of rant interlined by another hand, brings down the house,--those
mistaken souls, who dream of Shakespeare as a mere man of Richard the
Third humps and Macbeth daggers. But it is those deep far-away things
in him; those occasional flashings-forth of the intuitive Truth in
him; those short, quick probings at the very axis of reality;--these
are the things that make Shakspeare, Shakspeare. Through the mouths of
the dark characters of Hamlet, Timon, Lear, and Iago, he craftily says,
or sometimes insinuates the things which we feel to be so terrifically
true, that it were all but madness for any good man, in his own proper
character, to utter, or even hint of them. Tormented into desperation,
Lear, the frantic king, tears off the mask, and speaks the same
madness of vital truth. But, as I before said, it is the least part of
genius that attracts admiration. And so, much of the blind, unbridled
admiration that has been heaped upon Shakspeare, has been lavished
upon the least part of him. And few of his endless commentators and
critics seem to have remembered, or even perceived, that the immediate
products of a great mind are not so great as that undeveloped and
sometimes undevelopable yet dimly-discernible greatness, to which those
immediate products are but the infallible indices. In Shakspeare's
tomb lies infinitely more than Shakspeare ever wrote. And if I magnify
Shakspeare, it is not so much for what he did do as for what he did
not do, or refrained from doing. For in this world of lies, Truth is
forced to fly like a scared white doe in the woodlands; and only by
cunning glimpses will she reveal herself, as in Shakspeare and other
masters of the great Art of Telling the Truth,--even though it be
covertly and by snatches.

But if this view of the all-popular Shakspeare be seldom taken by his
readers, and if very few who extol him have ever read him deeply, or
perhaps, only have seen him on the tricky stage (which alone made, and
is still making him his mere mob renown)--if few men have time, or
patience, or palate, for the spiritual truth as it is in that great
genius--it is then no matter of surprise, that in a contemporaneous
age, Nathaniel Hawthorne is a man as yet almost utterly mistaken among
men. Here and there, in some quiet armchair in the noisy town, or
some deep nook among the noiseless mountains, he may be appreciated
for something of what he is. But unlike Shakspeare, who was forced
to the contrary course by circumstances, Hawthorne (either from
simple disinclination, or else from inaptitude) refrains from all
the popularizing noise and show of broad farce and blood-besmeared
tragedy; content with the still, rich utterance of a great intellect in
repose, and which sends few thoughts into circulation, except they be
arterialized at his large warm lungs, and expanded in his honest heart.

Nor need you fix upon that blackness in him, if it suit you not. Nor,
indeed, will all readers discern it; for it is, mostly, insinuated
to those who may best understand it, and account for it; it is not
obtruded upon every one alike.

Some may start to read of Shakspeare and Hawthorne on the same page.
They may say, that if an illustration were needed, a lesser light might
have sufficed to elucidate this Hawthorne, this small man of yesterday.
But I am not willingly one of those who, as touching Shakspeare at
least, exemplify the maxim of Rochefoucauld, that "we exalt the
reputation of some, in order to depress that of others";--who, to
teach all noble-souled aspirants that there is no hope for them,
pronounce Shakspeare absolutely unapproachable. But Shakspeare has
been approached. There are minds that have gone as far as Shakspeare
into the universe. And hardly a mortal man, who, at some time or
other, has not felt as great thoughts in him as any you will find
in Hamlet. We must not inferentially malign mankind for the sake
of any one man, whoever he may be. This is too cheap a purchase of
contentment for conscious mediocrity to make. Besides, this absolute
and unconditional adoration of Shakspeare has grown to be a part of
our Anglo-Saxon superstitions. The Thirty-Nine Articles are now Forty.
Intolerance has come to exist in this matter. You must believe in
Shakspeare's unapproachability, or quit the country. But what sort of a
belief is this for an American, a man who is bound to carry republican
progressiveness into Literature as well as into Life? Believe me, my
friends, that men, not very much inferior to Shakspeare are this day
being born on the banks of the Ohio. And the day will come when you
shall say, Who reads a book by an Englishman that is a modern? The
great mistake seems to be, that even with those Americans who look
forward to the coming of a great literary genius among us, they somehow
fancy he will come in the costume of Queen Elizabeth's day; be a writer
of dramas founded upon old English history or the tales of Boccaccio.
Whereas, great geniuses are parts of the times, they themselves are
the times, and possess a corresponding coloring. It is of a piece with
the Jews, who, while their Shiloh was meekly walking in their streets,
were still praying for his magnificent coming; looking for him in a
chariot, who was already among them on an ass. Nor must we forget that,
in his own lifetime, Shakspeare was not Shakspeare, but only Master
William Shakspeare of the shrewd, thriving, business firm of Condell,
Shakspeare and Co., proprietors of the Globe Theatre in London; and by
a courtly author, of the name of Chettle, was looked at as an "upstart
crow," beautified "with other birds' feathers." For, mark it well,
imitation is often the first charge brought against originality. Why
this is so, there is not space to set forth here. You must have plenty
of sea-room to tell the Truth in; especially when it seems to have an
aspect of newness, as America did in 1492, though it was then just as
old, and perhaps older than Asia, only those sagacious philosophers,
the common sailors, had never seen it before, swearing it was all water
and moonshine there.

Now I do not say that Nathaniel of Salem is a greater man than William
of Avon, or as great. But the difference between the two men is by no
means immeasurable. Not a very great deal more, and Nathaniel were
verily William.

This, too, I mean, that if Shakspeare has not been equalled, give the
world time, and he is sure to be surpassed in one hemisphere or the
other. Nor will it at all do to say that the world is getting grey and
grizzled now, and has lost that fresh charm which she wore of old, and
by virtue of which the great poets of past times made themselves what
we esteem them to be. Not so. The world is as young to-day as when it
was created; and this Vermont morning dew is as wet to my feet, as
Eden's dew to Adam's. Nor has nature been all over ransacked by our
progenitors, so that no new charms and mysteries remain for this latter
generation to find. Far from it. The trillionth part has not yet been
said; and all that has been said, but multiplies the avenues to what
remains to be said. It is not so much paucity as superabundance of
material that seems to incapacitate modern authors.

Let America, then, prize and cherish her writers; yea, let her glorify
them. They are not so many in number as to exhaust her goodwill. And
while she has good kith and kin of her own, to take to her bosom, let
her not lavish her embraces upon the household of an alien. For believe
it or not, England after all, is in many things an alien to us. China
has more bonds of real love for us than she. But even were there no
strong literary individualities among us, as there are some dozens
at least, nevertheless, let America first praise mediocrity even,
in her children, before she praises (for everywhere, merit demands
acknowledgment from every one) the best excellence in the children
of any other land. Let her own authors, I say, have the priority of
appreciation. I was much pleased with a hot-headed Carolina cousin of
mine, who once said,--"If there were no other American to stand by, in
literature, why, then, I would stand by Pop Emmons and his _Fredoniad_,
and till a better epic came along, swear it was not very far behind the
_Iliad_." Take away the words, and in spirit he was sound.

Not that American genius needs patronage in order to expand. For that
explosive sort of stuff will expand though screwed up in a vice, and
burst it, though it were triple steel. It is for the nation's sake,
and not for her authors' sake, that I would have America be heedful of
the increasing greatness among her writers. For how great the shame,
if other nations should be before her, in crowning her heroes of the
pen! But this is almost the case now. American authors have received
more just and discriminating praise (however loftily and ridiculously
given, in certain cases) even from some Englishmen, than from their own
countrymen. There are hardly five critics in America; and several of
them are asleep. As for patronage, it is the American author who now
patronizes his country, and not his country him. And if at times some
among them appeal to the people for more recognition, it is not always
with selfish motives, but patriotic ones.

It is true, that but few of them as yet have evinced that decided
originality which merits great praise. But that graceful writer, who
perhaps of all Americans has received the most plaudits from his own
country for his productions,--that very popular and amiable writer,
however good and self-reliant in many things, perhaps owes his chief
reputation to the self-acknowledged imitation of a foreign model, and
to the studied avoidance of all topics but smooth ones. But it is
better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. He who has
never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great. Failure is the true
test of greatness. And if it be said, that continual success is a proof
that a man wisely knows his powers,--it is only to be added, that, in
that case, he knows them to be small. Let us believe it, then, once for
all, that there is no hope for us in these smooth, pleasing writers
that know their powers. Without malice, but to speak the plain fact,
they but furnish an appendix to Goldsmith, and other English authors.
And we want no American Goldsmiths, nay, we want no American Miltons.
It were the vilest thing you could say of a true American author, that
he were an American Tompkins. Call him an American and have done, for
you cannot say a nobler thing of him. But it is not meant that all
American writers should studiously cleave to nationality in their
writings; only this, no American writer should write like an Englishman
or a Frenchman; let him write like a man, for then he will be sure
to write like an American. Let us away with this leaven of literary
flunkeyism towards England. If either must play the flunkey in this
thing, let England do it, not us. While we are rapidly preparing for
that political supremacy among the nations which prophetically awaits
us at the close of the present century, in a literary point of view,
we are deplorably unprepared for it; and we seem studious to remain
so. Hitherto, reasons might have existed why this should be; but no
good reason exists now. And all that is requisite to amendment in this
matter, is simply this; that while fully acknowledging all excellence
everywhere, we should refrain from unduly lauding foreign writers, and,
at the same time, duty recognize the meritorious writers that are our
own;--those writers who breathe that unshackled, democratic spirit of
Christianity in all things, which now takes the practical lead in this
world, though at the same time led by ourselves--us Americans. Let
us boldly condemn all imitation, though it comes to us graceful and
fragrant as the morning; and foster all originality though at first it
be crabbed and ugly as our own pine knots. And if any of our authors
fail, or seem to fail, then, in the words of my Carolina cousin, let
us clap him on the shoulder and back him against all Europe for his
second round. The truth is, that in one point of view this matter of
a national literature has come to pass with us, that in some sense we
must turn bullies, else the day is lost, or superiority so far beyond
us, that we can hardly say it will ever be ours.

And now, my countrymen, as an excellent author of your own flesh
and blood,--an unimitating, and, perhaps, in his way, an inimitable
man--whom better can I commend to you, in the first place, than
Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is one of the new, and far better generation of
your writers. The smell of young beeches and hemlocks is upon him; your
own broad prairies are in his soul; and if you travel away inland into
his deep and noble nature, you will hear the far roar of his Niagara.
Give not over to future generations the glad duty of acknowledging him
for what he is. Take that joy to yourself, in your own generation; and
so shall he feel those grateful impulses on him, that may possibly
prompt him to the full flower of some still greater achievement in
your eyes. And by confessing him you thereby confess others; you brace
the whole brotherhood. For genius, all over the world, stands hand in
hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round.

In treating of Hawthorne, or rather of Hawthorne in his writings (for
I never saw the man; and in the chances of a quiet plantation life,
remote from his haunts, perhaps never shall); in treating of his works,
I say, I have thus far omitted all mention of his _Twice Told Tales_,
and _Scarlet Letter_. Both are excellent, but full of such manifold,
strange, and diffusive beauties, that time would all but fail me to
point the half of them out. But there are things in those two books,
which, had they been written in England a century ago, Nathaniel
Hawthorne had utterly displaced many of the bright names we now revere
on authority. But I am content to leave Hawthorne to himself, and to
the infallible finding of posterity; and however great may be the
praise I have bestowed upon him, I feel that in so doing I have served
and honored myself, than him. For, at bottom, great excellence is
praise enough to itself; but the feeling of a sincere and appreciative
love and admiration towards it, this is relieved by utterance, and
warm, honest praise ever leaves a pleasant flavor in the mouth; and it
is an honorable thing to confess to what is honorable in others.

But I cannot leave my subject yet. No man can read a fine author, and
relish him to his very bones while he reads, without subsequently
fancying to himself some ideal image of the man and his mind. And if
you rightly look for it, you will almost always find that the author
himself has somewhere furnished you with his own picture. For poets
(whether in prose or verse), being painters by nature, are like their
brethren of the pencil, the true portrait-painters, who, in the
multitude of likenesses to be sketched, do not invariably omit their
own; and in all high instances, they paint them without any vanity,
though at times with a lurking something that would take several pages
to properly define.

I submit it, then, to those best acquainted with the man personally,
whether the following is not Nathaniel Hawthorne;--and to himself,
whether something involved in it does not express the temper of his
mind,--that lasting temper of all true, candid men--a seeker, not a
finder yet:

 A man now entered, in neglected attire, with the aspect of a thinker,
 but somewhat too roughhewn and brawny for a scholar. His face was full
 of sturdy vigor, with some finer and keener attribute beneath; though
 harsh at first, it was tempered with the glow of a large, warm heart,
 which had force enough to heat his powerful intellect through and
 through. He advanced to the Intelligencer, and looked at him with a
 glance of such stern sincerity, that perhaps few secrets were beyond
 its scope.

 "I seek for Truth," said he.

Twenty-four hours have elapsed since writing the foregoing. I have
just returned from the haymow, charged more and more with love and
admiration of Hawthorne. For I have just been gleaning through the
Mosses, picking up many things here and there that had previously
escaped me. And I found that but to glean after this man, is better
than to be in at the harvest of others. To be frank (though, perhaps,
rather foolish) notwithstanding what I wrote yesterday of these
Mosses, I had not then culled them all; but had, nevertheless, been
sufficiently sensible of the subtle essence in them, as to write as I
did. To what infinite height of loving wonder and admiration I may yet
be borne, when by repeatedly banqueting on these Mosses I shall have
thoroughly incorporated their whole stuff into my being--that, I cannot
tell. But already I feel that this Hawthorne has dropped germinous
seeds into my soul. He expands and deepens down, the more I contemplate
him; and further and further, shoots his strong New England roots into
the hot soil in my Southern soul.

By careful reference to the table of contents, I now find that I have
gone through all the sketches; but that when I yesterday wrote, I
had not at all read two particular pieces, to which I now desire to
call special attention--_A Select Party_ and _Young Goodman Brown_.
Here, be it said to all those whom this poor fugitive scrawl of mine
may tempt to the perusal of the Mosses, that they must on no account
suffer themselves to be trifled with, disappointed, or deceived by
the triviality of many of the titles to these sketches. For in more
than one instance, the title utterly belies the piece. It is as if
rustic demijohns containing the very best and costliest of Falernian
and Tokay, were labelled "Cider," "Perry," and "Elderberry wine." The
truth seems to be, that like many other geniuses, this Man of Mosses
takes great delight in hoodwinking the world,--at least, with respect
to himself. Personally, I doubt not that he rather prefers to be
generally esteemed but a so-so sort of author; being willing to reserve
the thorough and acute appreciation of what he is, to that party most
qualified to judge--that is, to himself. Besides, at the bottom of
their natures, men like Hawthorne, in many things, deem the plaudits of
the public such strong presumptive evidence of mediocrity in the object
of them, that it would in some degree render them doubtful of their own
powers, did they hear much and vociferous braying concerning them in
the public pastures. True, I have been braying myself (if you please to
be witty enough to have it so), but then I claim to be the first that
has so brayed in this particular matter; and, therefore, while pleading
guilty to the charge, still claim all the merit due to originality.

But with whatever motive, playful or profound, Nathaniel Hawthorne has
chosen to entitle his pieces in the manner he has, it is certain that
some of them are directly calculated to deceive--egregiously deceive,
the superficial skimmer of pages. To be downright and candid once
more, let me cheerfully say, that two of these titles did dolefully
dupe no less an eager-eyed reader than myself; and that, too, after
I had been impressed with a sense of the great depth and breadth
of this American man. "Who in the name of thunder" (as the country
people say in this neighborhood), "who in the name of thunder, would
anticipate any marvel in a piece entitled _Young Goodman Brown_?" You
would of course suppose that it was a simple little tale, intended as
a supplement to _Goody Two Shoes_. Whereas, it is deep as Dante; nor
can you finish it, without addressing the author in his own words--"It
shall be yours to penetrate, in every bosom, the deep mystery of
sin".... And with Young Goodman, too, in allegorical pursuit of his
Puritan wife, you cry out in your anguish:

 "Faith!" shouted Goodman Brown, in a voice of agony and desperation;
 and the echoes of the forest mocked him, crying, "Faith! Faith!" as if
 bewildered wretches were seeking her all through the wilderness.

Now this same piece entitled _Young Goodman Brown_, is one of the two
that I had not all read yesterday; and I allude to it now, because it
is, in itself, such a strong positive illustration of the blackness
in Hawthorne, which I had assumed from the mere occasional shadows of
it; as revealed in several of the other sketches. But had I previously
perused _Young Goodman Brown_, I should have been at no pains to draw
the conclusion, which I came to at a time when I was ignorant that the
book contained one such direct and unqualified manifestation of it.

The other piece of the two referred to, is entitled _A Select Party_,
which, in my first simplicity upon originally taking hold of the book,
I fancied must treat of some pumpkin-pie party in old Salem; or some
chowder party on Cape Cod. Whereas, by all the gods of Peedee, it is
the sweetest and sublimest thing that has been written since Spenser
wrote. Nay, there is nothing in Spenser that surpasses it, perhaps
nothing that equals it. And the test is this. Read any canto in _The
Faerie Queene_ and then read _A Select Party_, and decide which
pleases you most,--that is, if you are qualified to judge. Do not be
frightened at this; for when Spenser was alive, he was thought of
very much as Hawthorne is now,--was generally accounted just such a
"gentle" harmless man. It may be, that to common eyes, the sublimity
of Hawthorne seems lost in his sweetness,--as perhaps in that same
_Select Party_ of his; for whom he has builded so august a dome of
sunset clouds, and served them on richer plate than Belshazzar when he
banqueted his lords in Babylon.

But my chief business now, is to point out a particular page in this
piece, having reference to an honored guest, who under the name of the
Master Genius, but in the guise "of a young man of poor attire, with no
insignia of rank or acknowledged eminence," is introduced to the Man of
Fancy, who is the giver of the feast. Now, the page having reference
to this Master Genius, so happily expresses much of what I yesterday
wrote, touching the coming of the literary Shiloh of America, that I
cannot but be charmed by the coincidence; especially, when it shows
such a parity of ideas, at least in this one point, between a man like
Hawthorne and a man like me.

And here, let me throw out another conceit of mine touching this
American Shiloh, or Master Genius, as Hawthorne calls him. May it not
be, that this commanding mind has not been, is not, and never will be,
individually developed in any one man? And would it, indeed, appear so
unreasonable to suppose, that this great fulness and overflowing may
be, or may be destined to be, shared by a plurality of men of genius?
Surely, to take the very greatest example on record, Shakspeare cannot
be regarded as in himself the concretion of all the genius of his
time; nor as so immeasurably beyond Marlowe, Webster, Ford, Beaumont,
Jonson, that these great men can be said to share none of his power?
For one, I conceive that there were dramatists in Elizabeth's day,
between whom and Shakspeare the distance was by no means great. Let
any one, hitherto little acquainted with those neglected old authors,
for the first time read them thoroughly, or even read Charles Lamb's
_Specimens_ of them, and he will be amazed at the wondrous ability of
those Anaks of men, and shocked at this renewed example of the fact,
that Fortune has more to do with fame than merit,--though, without
merit, lasting fame there can be none.

Nevertheless, it would argue too ill of my country were this maxim to
hold good concerning Nathaniel Hawthorne, a man, who already, in some
few minds has shed "such a light as never illuminates the earth save
when a great heart burns as the household fire of a grand intellect."

The words are his,--in the _Select Party_; and they are a magnificent
setting to a coincident sentiment of my own, but ramblingly expressed
yesterday, in reference to himself. Gainsay it who will, as I now
write, I am Posterity speaking by proxy--and after times will make
it more than good, when I declare, that the American, who up to the
present day has evinced, in literature, the largest brain with the
largest heart, that man is Nathaniel Hawthorne. Moreover, that whatever
Nathaniel Hawthorne may hereafter write, _Mosses from an Old Manse_
will be ultimately accounted his masterpiece. For there is a sure,
though secret sign in some works which proves the culmination of the
powers (only the developable ones, however) that produced them. But I
am by no means desirous of the glory of a prophet. I pray Heaven that
Hawthorne may yet prove me an impostor in this prediction. Especially,
as I somehow cling to the strange fancy, that, in all men, hiddenly
reside certain wondrous, occult properties--as in some plants and
minerals--which by some happy but very rare accident (as bronze was
discovered by the melting of the iron and brass at the burning of
Corinth) may chance to be called forth here on earth; not entirely
waiting for their better discovery in the more congenial, blessed
atmosphere of heaven.

Once more--for it is hard to be finite upon an infinite subject, and
all subjects are infinite. By some people this entire scrawl of mine
may be esteemed altogether unnecessary, inasmuch "as years ago" (they
may say) "we found out the rich and rare stuff in this Hawthorne, who
you now parade forth, as if only you _yourself_ were the discoverer
of this Portuguese diamond in your literature." But even granting all
this--and adding to it, the assumption that the books of Hawthorne have
sold by the five thousand,--what does that signify? They should be sold
by the hundred thousand; and read by the million; and admired by every
one who is capable of admiration.



JIMMY ROSE


A time ago, no matter how long precisely, I, an old man, removed from
the country to the city, having become unexpected heir to a great old
house in a narrow street of one of the lower wards, once the haunt of
style and fashion, full of gay parlors and bridal chambers, but now,
for the most part, transformed into counting-rooms and warehouses.
There bales and boxes usurp the place of sofas; daybooks and ledgers
are spread where once the delicious breakfast toast was buttered. In
those old wards the glorious old soft-warfle days are over.

Nevertheless, in this old house of mine, so strangely spared, some
monument of departed days survived. Nor was this the only one. Amidst
the warehouse ranges some few other dwellings likewise stood. The
street's transmutation was not yet complete. Like those old English
friars and nuns, long haunting the ruins of their retreats after
they had been despoiled, so some few strange old gentlemen and ladies
still lingered in the neighborhood, and would not, could not, might
not quit it. And I thought that when, one spring, emerging from my
white-blossoming orchard, my own white hairs and white ivory-headed
cane were added to their loitering census, that those poor old souls
insanely fancied the ward was looking up--the tide of fashion setting
back again.

For many years the old house had been occupied by an owner; those
into whose hands it from time to time had passed having let it out to
various shifting tenants; decayed old townspeople, mysterious recluses,
or transient, ambiguous-looking foreigners.

While from certain cheap furbishings to which the exterior had been
subjected, such as removing a fine old pulpit-like porch crowning
the summit of six lofty steps, and set off with a broad-brimmed
sounding-board overshadowing the whole, as well as replacing the
original heavy window shutters (each pierced with a crescent in the
upper panel to admit an Oriental and moony light into the otherwise
shut-up rooms of a sultry morning in July) with frippery Venetian
blinds; while, I repeat, the front of the house hereby presented an
incongruous aspect, as if the graft of modernness had not taken in its
ancient stock; still, however it might fare without, within little or
nothing had been altered. The cellars were full of great grim, arched
bins of blackened brick, looking like the ancient tombs of Templars,
while overhead were shown the first-floor timbers, huge, square, and
massive, all red oak, and through long eld, of a rich and Indian color.
So large were those timbers, and so thickly ranked, that to walk in
those capacious cellars was much like walking along a line-of-battle
ship's gun-deck.

All the rooms in each story remained just as they stood ninety years
ago with all their heavy-moulded, wooden cornices, paneled wainscots,
and carved and inaccessible mantels of queer horticultural and
zoological devices. Dim with longevity, the very covering of the walls
still preserved the patterns of the times of Louis XVI. In the largest
parlor (the drawing-room, my daughters called it, in distinction
from two smaller parlors, though I did not think the distinction
indispensable) the paper hangings were in the most gaudy style.
Instantly we knew such paper could only have come from Paris--genuine
Versailles paper--the sort of paper that might have hung in Marie
Antoinette's boudoir. It was of great diamond lozenges, divided by
massive festoons of roses (onions, Biddy the girl said they were,
but my wife soon changed Biddy's mind on that head); and in those
lozenges, one and all, as in an over-arbored garden-cage, sat a grand
series of gorgeous illustrations of the natural history of the most
imposing Parisian-looking birds; parrots, macaws, and peacocks, but
mostly peacocks. Real Prince Esterhazies of birds; all rubies, diamonds
and Orders of the Golden Fleece. But, alas! the north side of this
old apartment presented a strange look; half mossy and half mildew;
something as ancient forest trees on their north sides, to which
particular side the moss most clings, and where, they say, internal
decay first strikes. In short, the original resplendence of the
peacocks had been sadly dimmed on that north side of the room, owing
to a small leak in the eaves, from which the rain had slowly trickled
its way down the wall, clean down to the first floor. This leak the
irreverent tenants, at that period occupying the premises, did not see
fit to stop, or rather, did not think it worth their while, seeing that
they only kept their fuel and dried their clothes in the parlor of the
peacocks. Hence many of the glowing birds seemed as if they had their
princely plumage bedraggled in a dusty shower. Most mournfully their
starry trains were blurred. Yet so patiently and so pleasantly, nay,
here and there so ruddily did they seem to hide their bitter doom, so
much of real elegance still lingered in their shapes, and so full, too,
seemed they of a sweet engaging pensiveness, meditating all day long,
for years and years, among their faded bowers, that though my family
repeatedly adjured me (especially my wife, who, I fear, was too young
for me) to destroy the whole hen-roost, as Biddy called it, and cover
the walls with a beautiful, nice, genteel, cream-colored paper, despite
all entreaties, I could not be prevailed upon, however submissive in
other things.

But chiefly would I permit no violation of the old parlor of the
peacocks or room of roses (I call it by both names) on account of its
long association in my mind with one of the original proprietors of
the mansion--the gentle Jimmy Rose.

Poor Jimmy Rose!

He was among my earliest acquaintances. It is not many years since he
died; and I and two other tottering old fellows took hack, and in sole
procession followed him to his grave.

Jimmy was born a man of moderate fortune. In his prime he had an
uncommonly handsome person; large and manly, with bright eyes of blue,
brown curling hair, and cheeks that seemed painted with carmine; but
it was health's genuine bloom, deepened by the joy of life. He was by
nature a great ladies' man, and like most deep adorers of the sex,
never tied up his freedom of general worship by making one willful
sacrifice of himself at the altar.

Adding to his fortune by a large and princely business, something like
that of the great Florentine trader, Cosmo the Magnificent, he was
enabled to entertain on a grand scale. For a long time his dinners,
suppers and balls, were not to be surpassed by any given in the
party-giving city of New York. His uncommon cheeriness; the splendor
of his dress; his sparkling wit; radiant chandeliers; infinite fund
of small-talk; French furniture; glowing welcomes to his guests; his
bounteous heart and board; his noble graces and his glorious wine; what
wonder if all these drew crowds to Jimmy's hospitable abode? In the
winter assemblies he figured first on the manager's list. James Rose,
Esq., too, was the man to be found foremost in all presentations of
plate to highly successful actors at the Park, or of swords and guns
to highly successful generals in the field. Often, also, was he chosen
to present the gift on account of his fine gift of finely saying fine
things.

"Sir," said he, in a great drawing-room in Broadway, as he extended
toward General G-- a brace of pistols set with turquoise, "Sir," said
Jimmy with a Castilian flourish and a rosy smile, "there would have
been more turquoise here set, had the names of your glorious victories
left room."

Ah, Jimmy, Jimmy! Thou didst excel in compliments. But it was inwrought
with thy inmost texture to be affluent in all things which give
pleasure. And who shall reproach thee with borrowed wit on this
occasion, though borrowed indeed it was? Plagiarize otherwise as they
may, not often are the men of this world plagiarists in praise.

But times changed. Time, true plagiarist of the seasons.

Sudden and terrible reverses in business were made mortal by mad
prodigality on all hands. When his affairs came to be scrutinized,
it was found that Jimmy could not pay more than fifteen shillings in
the pound. And yet in time the deficiency might have been made up--of
course, leaving Jimmy penniless--had it not been that in one winter
gale two vessels of his from China perished off Sandy Hook; perished at
the threshold of their port.

Jimmy was a ruined man.

It was years ago. At that period I resided in the country, but happened
to be in the city on one of my annual visits. It was but four or five
days since seeing Jimmy at his house the centre of all eyes, and
hearing him at the close of the entertainment toasted by a brocaded
lady, in these well-remembered words: "Our noble host; the bloom on
his cheek, may it last long as the bloom in his heart!" And they, the
sweet ladies and gentlemen there, they drank that toast so gayly and
frankly off; and Jimmy, such a kind, proud, grateful tear stood in his
honest eye, angelically glancing round at the sparkling faces, and
equally sparkling, and equally feeling, decanters.

Ah! poor, poor Jimmy--God guard us all--poor Jimmy Rose!

Well, it was but four or five days after this that I heard a clap of
thunder--no, a clap of bad news. I was crossing the Bowling Green in
a snow-storm not far from Jimmy's house on the Battery, when I saw a
gentleman come sauntering along, whom I remembered at Jimmy's table as
having been the first to spring to his feet in eager response to the
lady's toast. Not more brimming the wine in his lifted glass than the
moisture in his eye on that happy occasion.

Well, this good gentleman came sailing across the Bowling Green,
swinging a silver-headed rattan; seeing me, he paused: "Ah, lad, that
was rare wine Jimmy gave us the other night. Sha'n't get any more,
though. Heard the news? Jimmy's burst. Clean smash, I assure you. Come
along down to the Coffeehouse and I'll tell you more. And if you say
so, we'll arrange over a bottle of claret for a sleighing party to
Cato's to-night. Come along."

"Thank you," said I, "I--I--I am engaged."

Straight as an arrow I went to Jimmy's. Upon inquiring for him, the man
at the door told me that his master was not in; nor did he know where
he was; nor had his master been in the house for forty-eight hours.

Walking up Broadway again, I questioned passing acquaintances; but
though each man verified the report, no man could tell where Jimmy was,
and no one seemed to care, until I encountered a merchant, who hinted
that probably Jimmy, having scraped up from the wreck a snug lump of
coin, had prudently betaken himself off to parts unknown. The next man
I saw, a great nabob he was too, foamed at the mouth when I mentioned
Jimmy's name. "Rascal; regular scamp, Sir, is Jimmy Rose! But there
are keen fellows after him." I afterward heard that this indignant
gentleman had lost the sum of seventy-five dollars and seventy-five
cents indirectly through Jimmy's failure. And yet I dare say the share
of the dinners he had eaten at Jimmy's might more than have balanced
that sum, considering that he was something of a wine-bibber, and such
wines as Jimmy imported cost a plum or two. Indeed, now that I bethink
me, I recall how I had more than once observed this same middle-aged
gentleman, and how that toward the close of one of Jimmy's dinners
he would sit at the table pretending to be earnestly talking with
beaming Jimmy, but all the while, with a half furtive sort of tremulous
eagerness and hastiness, pour down glass after glass of noble wine, as
if now, while Jimmy's bounteous sun was at meridian, was the time to
make his selfish hay.

At last I met a person famed for his peculiar knowledge of whatever
was secret or withdrawn in the histories and habits of noted people.
When I inquired of this person where Jimmy could possibly be, he took
me close to Trinity Church rail, out of the jostling of the crowd, and
whispered me, that Jimmy had the evening before entered an old house
of his (Jimmy's), in C-- Street, which old house had been for a time
untenanted. The inference seemed to be that perhaps Jimmy might be
lurking there now. So getting the precise locality, I bent my steps
in that direction, and at last halted before the house containing
the room of roses. The shutters were closed, and cobwebs were spun
in their crescents. The whole place had a dreary, deserted air. The
snow lay unswept, drifted in one billowed heap against the porch, no
footprint tracking it. Whoever was within, surely that lonely man was
an abandoned one. Few or no people were in the street; for even at that
period one fashion of the street had departed from it, while trade had
not as yet occupied what its rival had renounced.

Looking up and down the sidewalk a moment, I softly knocked at the
door. No response. I knocked again, and louder. No one came. I knocked
and rung both; still without effect. In despair I was going to quit the
spot, when, as a last resource, I gave a prolonged summons, with my
utmost strength, upon the heavy knocker, and then again stood still;
while from various strange old windows up and down the street, various
strange old heads were thrust out in wonder at so clamorous a stranger.
As if now frightened from its silence, a hollow, husky voice addressed
me through the keyhole.

"Who are you?" it said.

"A friend."

"Then shall you not come in," replied the voice, more hollowly than
before.

Great heavens! this is not Jimmy Rose, thought I, starting. This is the
wrong house. I have been misdirected. But still, to make all sure, I
spoke again.

"Is James Rose within there?"

No reply.

Once more I spoke:

"I am William Ford; let me in."

"Oh, I can not, I can not! I am afraid of every one."

It _was_ Jimmy Rose!

"Let me in, Rose; let me in, man. I am your friend."

"I will not. I can trust no man now."

"Let me in, Rose; trust at least one, in me."

"Quit the spot, or--"

With that I heard a rattling against the huge lock, not made by
any key, as if some small tube were being thrust into the keyhole.
Horrified, I fled fast as feet could carry me.

I was a young man then, and Jimmy was not more than forty. It was
five-and-twenty years ere I saw him again. And what a change. He
whom I expected to behold--if behold at all--dry, shrunken, meagre,
cadaverously fierce with misery and misanthropy--amazement! the old
Persian roses bloomed in his cheeks. And yet poor as any rat; poor
in the last dregs of poverty; a pauper beyond almshouse pauperism; a
promenading pauper in a thin, threadbare, careful coat; a pauper with
wealth of polished words; a courteous, smiling, shivering gentleman.

Ah, poor, poor Jimmy--God guard us all--poor Jimmy Rose!

Though at the first onset of his calamity, when creditors, once fast
friends, pursued him as carrion for jails; though then, to avoid their
hunt, as well as the human eye, he had gone and denned in the old
abandoned house; and there, in his loneliness, had been driven half
mad, yet time and tide had soothed him down to sanity. Perhaps at
bottom Jimmy was too thoroughly good and kind to be made from any cause
a man-hater. And doubtless it at last seemed irreligious to Jimmy even
to shun mankind.

Sometimes sweet sense of duty will entice one to bitter doom. For what
could be more bitter now, in abject need, to be seen of those--nay,
crawl and visit them in an humble sort, and be tolerated as an old
eccentric, wandering in their parlors--who once had known him richest
of the rich, and gayest of the gay? Yet this Jimmy did. Without rudely
breaking him right down to it, fate slowly bent him more and more to
the lowest deep. From an unknown quarter he received an income of some
seventy dollars, more or less. The principal he would never touch, but,
by various modes of eking it out, managed to live on the interest. He
lived in an attic, where he supplied himself with food. He took but one
regular repast a day--meal and milk--and nothing more, unless procured
at others' tables. Often about the tea-hour he would drop in upon some
old acquaintance, clad in his neat, forlorn frock coat, with worn
velvet sewed upon the edges of the cuffs, and a similar device upon the
hems of his pantaloons, to hide that dire look of having been grated
off by rats. On Sunday he made a point of always dining at some fine
house or other.

It is evident that no man could with impunity be allowed to lead this
life unless regarded as one who, free from vice, was by fortune brought
so low that the plummet of pity alone could reach him. Not much merit
redounded to his entertainers because they did not thrust the starving
gentleman forth when he came for his alms of tea and toast. Some
merit had been theirs had they clubbed together and provided him, at
small cost enough, with a sufficient income to make him, in point of
necessaries, independent of the daily dole of charity; charity not sent
to him either, but charity for which he had to trudge round to their
doors.

But the most touching thing of all were those roses in his cheeks;
those ruddy roses in his nipping winter. How they bloomed; whether
meal or milk, and tea and toast could keep them flourishing; whether
now he painted them; by what strange magic they were made to blossom
so; no son of man might tell. But there they bloomed. And besides the
roses, Jimmy was rich in smiles. He smiled ever. The lordly door which
received him to his eleemosynary teas, know no such smiling guest as
Jimmy. In his prosperous days the smile of Jimmy was famous far and
wide. It should have been trebly famous now.

Wherever he went to tea, he had all of the news of the town to tell. By
frequenting the reading-rooms, as one privileged through harmlessness,
he kept himself informed of European affairs and the last literature,
foreign and domestic. And of this, when encouragement was given, he
would largely talk. But encouragement was not always given. At certain
houses, and not a few, Jimmy would drop in about ten minutes before the
tea-hour, and drop out again about ten minutes after it; well knowing
that his further presence was not indispensable to the contentment or
felicity of his host.

How forlorn it was to see him so heartily drinking the generous tea,
cup after cup, and eating the flavorous bread and butter, piece after
piece, when, owing to the lateness of the dinner hour with the rest,
and the abundance of that one grand meal with them, no one besides
Jimmy touched the bread and butter, or exceeded a single cup of
Souchong. And knowing all this very well, poor Jimmy would try to hide
his hunger, and yet gratify it too, by striving hard to carry on a
sprightly conversation with his hostess, and throwing in the eagerest
mouthfuls with a sort of absent-minded air, as if he ate merely for
custom's sake, and not starvation's.

Poor, poor Jimmy--God guard us all--poor Jimmy Rose!

Neither did Jimmy give up his courtly ways. Whenever there were ladies
at the table, sure were they of some fine word; though, indeed,
toward the close of Jimmy's life, the young ladies rather thought
his compliments somewhat musty, smacking of cocked hats and small
clothes--nay, of old pawnbrokers' shoulder-lace and sword belts. For
there still lingered in Jimmy's address a subdued sort of martial air;
he having in his palmy days been, among other things, a general of the
State militia. There seems a fatality in these militia generalships.
Alas! I can recall more than two or three gentlemen who from militia
generals became paupers. I am afraid to think why this is so. Is it
that this military learning in a man of an unmilitary heart--that is,
a gentle, peaceable heart--is an indication of some weak love of vain
display? But ten to one it is not so. At any rate, it is unhandsome, if
not unchristian, in the happy, too much to moralize on those who are
not so.

So numerous were the houses that Jimmy visited, or so cautious was he
in timing his less welcome calls, that at certain mansions he only
dropped in about once a year or so. And annually upon seeing at that
house the blooming Miss Frances or Miss Arabella, he would profoundly
bow in his forlorn old coat, and with his soft, white hand take hers in
gallant-wise, saying, "Ah, Miss Arabella, these jewels here are bright
upon these fingers; but brighter would they look were it not for those
still brighter diamonds of your eyes!"

Though in thy own need thou hadst no pence to give the poor, thou,
Jimmy, still hadst alms to give the rich. For not the beggar chattering
at the corner pines more after bread than the vain heart after
compliment. The rich in their craving glut, as the poor in their
craving want, we have with us always. So, I suppose, thought Jimmy Rose.

But all women are not vain, or if a little grain that way inclined,
more than redeem it all with goodness. Such was the sweet girl that
closed poor Jimmy's eyes. The only daughter of an opulent alderman, she
knew Jimmy well, and saw to him in his declining days. During his last
sickness, with her own hands she carried him jellies and blanc-mange;
made tea for him in his attic, and turned the poor old gentleman in his
bed. And well hadst thou deserved it, Jimmy, at that fair creature's
hands; well merited to have the old eyes closed by woman's fairy
fingers, who through life, in riches and in poverty, was still woman's
sworn champion and devotee.

I hardly know that I should mention here one little incident connected
with this young lady's ministrations, and poor Jimmy's reception of
them. But it is harm to neither; I will tell it.

Chancing to be in town, and hearing of Jimmy's illness, I went to
see him. And there in his lone attic I found the lovely ministrant.
Withdrawing upon seeing another visitor, she left me alone with him.
She had brought some little delicacies, and also several books, of such
a sort as are sent by serious-minded well-wishers to invalids in a
serious crisis. Now whether it was repugnance at being considered next
door to death, or whether it was but the natural peevishment brought on
by the general misery of his state; however it was, as the gentle girl
withdrew, Jimmy, with what small remains of strength were his, pitched
the books into the furthest corner, murmuring, "Why will she bring me
this sad old stuff? Does she take me for a pauper? Thinks she to salve
a gentleman's heart with Poor Man's Plaster?"

Poor, poor Jimmy--God guard us all--poor Jimmy Rose!

Well, well, I am an old man, and I suppose these tears I drop are
dribblets from my dotage. But Heaven be praised, Jimmy needs no man's
pity now.

Jimmy Rose is dead!

Meantime, as I sit within the parlor of the peacocks--that chamber from
which his husky voice had come ere threatening me with the pistol--I
still must meditate upon his strange example, whereof the marvel is,
how after that gay, dashing, nobleman's career, he could be content
to crawl through life, and peep about the marbles and mahoganies for
contumelious tea and toast, where once like a very Warwick he had
feasted the huzzaing world with Burgundy and venison.

And every time I look at the wilted resplendence of those proud
peacocks on the wall, I bethink me of the withering change in Jimmy's
once resplendent pride of state. But still again, every time I gaze
upon those festoons of perpetual roses, mid which the faded peacocks
hang, I bethink me of those undying roses which bloomed in ruined
Jimmy's cheek.

Transplanted to another soil, all the unkind past forgot, God grant
that Jimmy's roses may immortally survive!



I AND MY CHIMNEY


I and my chimney, two grey-headed old smokers, reside in the country.
We are, I may say, old settlers here; particularly my old chimney,
which settles more and more every day.

Though I always say, _I and my chimney_, as Cardinal Wolsey used to
say, "_I and my King_," yet this egotistic way of speaking, wherein I
take precedence of my chimney, is hereby borne out by the facts; in
everything, except the above phrase, my chimney taking precedence of me.

Within thirty feet of the turf-sided road, my chimney--a huge,
corpulent old Harry VIII of a chimney--rises full in front of me and
all my possessions. Standing well up a hillside, my chimney, like Lord
Rosse's monster telescope, swung vertical to hit the meridian moon, is
the first object to greet the approaching traveler's eye, nor is it the
last which the sun salutes. My chimney, too, is before me in receiving
the first-fruits of the seasons. The snow is on its head ere on my hat;
and every spring, as in a hollow beech tree, the first swallows build
their nests in it.

But it is within doors that the pre-eminence of my chimney is most
manifest. When in the rear room, set apart for that object, I stand
to receive my guests (who, by the way call more, I suspect, to see
my chimney than me) I then stand, not so much before, as, strictly
speaking, behind my chimney, which is, indeed, the true host. Not that
I demur. In the presence of my betters, I hope I know my place.

From this habitual precedence of my chimney over me, some even think
that I have got into a sad rearward way altogether; in short, from
standing behind my old-fashioned chimney so much, I have got to be
quite behind the age too, as well as running behindhand in everything
else. But to tell the truth, I never was a very forward old fellow,
nor what my farming neighbors call a forehanded one. Indeed, those
rumors about my behindhandedness are so far correct, that I have an odd
sauntering way with me sometimes of going about with my hands behind
my back. As for my belonging to the rear-guard in general, certain
it is, I bring up the rear of my chimney--which, by the way, is this
moment before me--and that, too, both in fancy and fact. In brief, my
chimney is my superior; my superior by I know not how many heads and
shoulders; my superior, too, in that humbly bowing over with shovel and
tongs, I much minister to it; yet never does it minister, or incline
over to me; but, if anything, in its settlings, rather leans the other
way.

My chimney is grand seignior here--the one great domineering object,
not more of the landscape, than of the house; all the rest of which
house, in each architectural arrangement, as may shortly appear, is,
in the most marked manner, accommodated, not to my wants, but to my
chimney's, which, among other things, has the centre of the house to
himself, leaving but the odd holes and corners to me.

But I and my chimney must explain; and as we are both rather obese, we
may have to expatiate.

In those houses which are strictly double houses--that is, where the
hall is in the middle--the fireplaces usually are on opposite sides;
so that while one member of the household is wanning himself at a fire
built into a recess of the north wall, say another member, the former's
own brother, perhaps, may be holding his feet to the blaze before a
hearth in the south wall--the two thus fairly sitting back to back. Is
this well? Be it put to any man who has a proper fraternal feeling.
Has it not a sort of sulky appearance? But very probably this style
of chimney building originated with some architect afflicted with a
quarrelsome family.

Then again, almost every modern fireplace has its separate
flue--separate throughout, from hearth to chimney-top. At least such
an arrangement is deemed desirable. Does not this look egotistical,
selfish? But still more, all these separate flues, instead of having
independent masonry establishments of their own, or instead of
being grouped together in one federal stock in the middle of the
house--instead of this, I say, each flue is surreptitiously honeycombed
into the walls; so that these last are here and there, or indeed almost
anywhere, treacherously hollow, and, in consequence, more or less weak.
Of course, the main reason of this style of chimney building is to
economize room. In cities, where lots are sold by the inch, small space
is to spare for a chimney constructed on magnanimous principles; and,
as with most thin men, who are generally tall, so with such houses,
what is lacking in breadth, must be made up in height. This remark
holds true even with regard to many very stylish abodes, built by
the most stylish of gentlemen. And yet, when that stylish gentleman,
Louis le Grand of France, would build a palace for his lady friend,
Madame de Maintenon, he built it but one story high--in fact in the
cottage style. But then, how uncommonly quadrangular, spacious, and
broad--horizontal acres, not vertical ones. Such is the palace, which,
in all its one-storied magnificence of Languedoc marble, in the garden
of Versailles, still remains to this day. Any man can buy a square foot
of land and plant a liberty-pole on it; but it takes a king to set
apart whole acres for a grand triannon.

But nowadays it is different; and furthermore, what originated in
a necessity has been mounted into a vaunt. In towns there is large
rivalry in building tall houses. If one gentleman builds his house
four stories high, and another gentleman comes next door and builds
five stories high, then the former, not to be looked down upon that
way, immediately sends for his architect and claps a fifth and a
sixth story on top of his previous four. And, not till the gentleman
has achieved his aspiration, not till he has stolen over the way by
twilight and observed how his sixth story soars beyond his neighbor's
fifth--not till then does he retire to his rest with satisfaction.

Such folks, it seems to me, need mountains for neighbors, to take this
emulous conceit of soaring out of them.

If, considering that mine is a very wide house, and by no means lofty,
aught in the above may appear like interested pleading, as if I did but
fold myself about in the cloak of a general proposition, cunningly to
tickle my individual vanity beneath it, such misconception must vanish
upon my frankly conceding, that land adjoining my alder swamp was
sold last month for ten dollars an acre, and thought a rash purchase
at that; so that for wide houses hereabouts there is plenty of room,
and cheap. Indeed so cheap--dirt cheap--is the soil, that our elms
thrust out their roots in it, and hang their great boughs over it,
in the most lavish and reckless way. Almost all our crops, too, are
sown broadcast, even peas and turnips. A farmer among us, who should
go about his twenty-acre field, poking his finger into it here and
there, and dropping down a mustard seed, would be thought a penurious,
narrow-minded husbandman. The dandelions in the river-meadows, and the
forget-me-nots along the mountain roads, you see at once they are put
to no economy in space. Some seasons, too, our rye comes up here and
there a spear, sole and single like a church-spire. It doesn't care to
crowd itself where it knows there is such a deal of room. The world
is wide, the world is all before us, says the rye. Weeds, too, it is
amazing how they spread. No such thing as arresting them--some of our
pastures being a sort of Alsatia for the weeds. As for the grass,
every spring it is like Kossuth's rising of what he calls the peoples.
Mountains, too, a regular camp-meeting of them. For the same reason,
the same all-sufficiency of room, our shadows march and countermarch,
going through their various drills and masterly evolutions, like the
old imperial guard on the Champs de Mars. As for the hills, especially
where the roads cross them the supervisors of our various towns have
given notice to all concerned, that they can come and dig them down
and cart them off, and never a cent to pay, no more than for the
privilege of picking blackberries. The stranger who is buried here,
what liberal-hearted landed proprietor among us grudges him six feet of
rocky pasture?

Nevertheless, cheap, after all, as our land is, and much as it is
trodden under foot, I, for one, am proud of it for what it bears; and
chiefly for its three great lions--the Great Oak, Ogg Mountain, and my
chimney.

Most houses, here, are but one and a half stories high; few exceed two.
That in which I and my chimney dwell, is in width nearly twice its
height, from sill to eaves--which accounts for the magnitude of its
main content--besides showing that in this house, as in this country at
large, there is abundance of space, and to spare, for both of us.

The frame of the old house is of wood--which but the more sets forth
the solidity of the chimney, which is of brick. And as the great
wrought nails, binding the clapboards, are unknown in these degenerate
days, so are the huge bricks in the chimney walls. The architect of the
chimney must have had the pyramid of Cheops before him; for, after that
famous structure, it seems modeled, only its rate of decrease towards
the summit is considerably less, and it is truncated. From the exact
middle of the mansion it soars from the cellar, right up through each
successive floor, till, four feet square, it breaks water from the
ridge-pole of the roof, like an anvil-headed whale, through the crest
of a billow. Most people, though, liken it, in that part, to a razed
observatory, masoned up.

The reason for its peculiar appearance above the roof touches upon
rather delicate ground. How shall I reveal that, forasmuch as many
years ago the original gable roof of the old house had become very
leaky, a temporary proprietor hired a band of woodmen, with their
huge, cross-cut saws, and went to sawing the old gable roof clean off.
Off it went, with all its birds' nests, and dormer windows. It was
replaced with a modern roof, more fit for a railway wood-house than an
old country gentleman's abode. This operation--razeeing the structure
some fifteen feet--was, in effect upon the chimney, something like the
falling of the great spring tides. It left uncommon low water all about
the chimney--to abate which appearance, the same person now proceeds to
slice fifteen feet off the chimney itself, actually beheading my royal
old chimney--a regicidal act, which, were it not for the palliating
fact that he was a poulterer by trade, and, therefore, hardened to such
neck-wringings, should send that former proprietor down to posterity in
the same cart with Cromwell.

Owing to its pyramidal shape, the reduction of the chimney inordinately
widened its razeed summit. Inordinately, I say, but only in the
estimation of such as have no eye to the picturesque. What care I, if,
unaware that my chimney, as a free citizen of this free land, stands
upon an independent basis of its own, people passing it, wonder how
such a brick-kiln, as they call it, is supported upon mere joists
and rafters? What care I? I will give a traveler a cup of switchel,
if he want it; but am I bound to supply him with a sweet taste? Men
of cultivated minds see, in my old house and chimney, a goodly old
elephant-and-castle.

All feeling hearts will sympathize with me in what I am now about to
add. The surgical operation, above referred to, necessarily brought
into the open air a part of the chimney previously under cover, and
intended to remain so, and, therefore, not built of what are called
weather-bricks. In consequence, the chimney, though of a vigorous
constitution, suffered not a little, from so naked an exposure; and,
unable to acclimate itself, ere long began to fail--showing blotchy
symptoms akin to those in measles. Whereupon travelers, passing my way,
would wag their heads, laughing; "See that wax nose--how it melts off!"
But what cared I? The same travelers would travel across the sea to
view Kenilworth peeling away, and for a very good reason: that of all
artists of the picturesque, decay wears the palm--I would say, the ivy.
In fact, I've often thought that the proper place for my old chimney is
ivied old England.

In vain my wife--with what probable ulterior intent will, ere long,
appear--solemnly warned me, that unless something were done, and
speedily, we should be burnt to the ground, owing to the holes
crumbling through the aforesaid blotchy parts, where the chimney joined
the roof. "Wife," said I, "far better that my house should burn down,
than that my chimney should be pulled down, though but a few feet.
They call it a wax nose; very good; not for me to tweak the nose of my
superior." But at last the man who has a mortgage on the house dropped
me a note, reminding me that, if my chimney was allowed to stand in
that invalid condition, my policy of insurance would be void. This was
a sort of hint not to be neglected. All the world over, the picturesque
yields to the pocketesque. The mortgagor cared not, but the mortgagee
did.

So another operation was performed. The wax nose was taken off, and a
new one fitted on. Unfortunately for the expression--being put up by
a squint-eyed mason, who, at the time, had a bad stitch in the same
side--the new nose stands a little awry, in the same direction.

Of one thing, however, I am proud. The horizontal dimensions of the new
part are unreduced.

Large as the chimney appears upon the roof, that is nothing to its
spaciousness below. At its base in the cellar, it is precisely twelve
feet square; and hence covers precisely one hundred and forty-four
superficial feet. What an appropriation of terra firma for a chimney,
and what a huge load for this earth! In fact, it was only because I
and my chimney formed no part of his ancient burden, that that stout
peddler, Atlas of old, was enabled to stand up so bravely under his
pack. The dimensions given may, perhaps, seem fabulous. But, like those
stones at Gilgal, which Joshua set up for a memorial of having passed
over Jordan, does not my chimney remain, even unto this day?

Very often I go down into my cellar, and attentively survey that vast
square of masonry. I stand long, and ponder over, and wonder at it. It
has a druidical look, away down in the umbrageous cellar there whose
numerous vaulted passages, and far glens of gloom, resemble the dark,
damp depths of primeval woods. So strongly did this conceit steal
over me, so deeply was I penetrated with wonder at the chimney, that
one day--when I was a little out of my mind, I now think--getting a
spade from the garden, I set to work, digging round the foundation,
especially at the corners thereof, obscurely prompted by dreams of
striking upon some old, earthen-worn memorial of that by-gone day,
when, into all this gloom, the light of heaven entered, as the masons
laid the foundation-stones, peradventure sweltering under an August
sun, or pelted by a March storm. Plying my blunted spade, how vexed was
I by that ungracious interruption of a neighbor who, calling to see me
upon some business, and being informed that I was below said I need not
be troubled to come up, but he would go down to me; and so, without
ceremony, and without my having been forewarned, suddenly discovered
me, digging in my cellar.

"Gold digging, sir?"

"Nay, sir," answered I, starting, "I was merely--ahem!--merely--I say I
was merely digging--round my chimney."

"Ah, loosening the soil, to make it grow. Your chimney, sir, you regard
as too small, I suppose; needing further development, especially at the
top?"

"Sir!" said I, throwing down the spade, "do not be personal. I and my
chimney--"

"Personal?"

"Sir, I look upon this chimney less as a pile of masonry than as
a personage. It is the king of the house. I am but a suffered and
inferior subject."

In fact, I would permit no gibes to be cast at either myself or my
chimney; and never again did my visitor refer to it in my hearing,
without coupling some compliment with the mention. It well deserves a
respectful consideration. There it stands, solitary and alone--not a
council--of ten flues, but, like his sacred majesty of Russia, a unit
of an autocrat.

Even to me, its dimensions, at times, seem incredible. It does not look
so big--no, not even in the cellar. By the mere eye, its magnitude can
be but imperfectly comprehended, because only one side can be received
at one time; and said side can only present twelve feet, linear
measure. But then, each other side also is twelve feet long; and the
whole obviously forms a square and twelve times twelve is one hundred
and forty-four. And so, an adequate conception of the magnitude of
this chimney is only to be got at by a sort of process in the higher
mathematics by a method somewhat akin to those whereby the surprising
distances of fixed stars are computed.

It need hardly be said, that the walls of my house are entirely free
from fireplaces. These all congregate in the middle--in the one grand
central chimney, upon all four sides of which are hearths--two tiers of
hearths--so that when, in the various chambers, my family and guests
are warming themselves of a cold winter's night, just before retiring,
then, though at the time they may not be thinking so, all their faces
mutually look towards each other, yea, all their feet point to one
centre; and, when they go to sleep in their beds, they all sleep round
one warm chimney, like so many Iroquois Indians, in the woods, round
their one heap of embers. And just as the Indians' fire serves, not
only to keep them comfortable, but also to keep off wolves, and other
savage monsters, so my chimney, by its obvious smoke at top, keeps off
prowling burglars from the towns--for what burglar or murderer would
dare break into an abode from whose chimney issues such a continual
smoke--betokening that if the inmates are not stirring, at least fires
are, and in case of an alarm, candles may readily be lighted, to say
nothing of muskets.

But stately as is the chimney--yea, grand high altar as it is, right
worthy for the celebration of high mass before the Pope of Rome, and
all his cardinals--yet what is there perfect in this world? Caius
Julius Caesar, had he not been so inordinately great, they say that
Brutus, Cassius, Antony, and the rest, had been greater. My chimney,
were it not so mighty in its magnitude, my chambers had been larger.
How often has my wife ruefully told me, that my chimney, like the
English aristocracy, casts a contracting shade all round it. She avers
that endless domestic inconveniences arise--more particularly from
the chimney's stubborn central locality. The grand objection with her
is, that it stands midway in the place where a fine entrance-hall
ought to be. In truth, there is no hall whatever to the house--nothing
but a sort of square landing-place, as you enter from the wide front
door. A roomy enough landing-place, I admit, but not attaining to the
dignity of a hall. Now, as the front door is precisely in the middle
of the front of the house, inwards it faces the chimney. In fact, the
opposite wall of the landing-place is formed solely by the chimney;
and hence--owing to the gradual tapering of the chimney--is a little
less than twelve feet in width. Climbing the chimney in this part, is
the principal staircase--which, by three abrupt turns, and three minor
landing-places, mounts to the second floor, where, over the front door,
runs a sort of narrow gallery, something less than twelve feet long,
leading to chambers on either hand. This gallery, of course, is railed;
and so, looking down upon the stairs, and all those landing-places
together, with the main one at bottom, resembles not a little a balcony
for musicians, in some jolly old abode, in times Elizabethan. Shall I
tell a weakness? I cherish the cobwebs there, and many a time arrest
Biddy in the act of brushing them with her broom, and have many a
quarrel with my wife and daughters about it.

Now the ceiling, so to speak, of the place where you enter the house,
that ceiling is, in fact, the ceiling of the second floor, not the
first. The two floors are made one here; so that ascending this turning
stairs, you seem going up into a kind of soaring tower, or lighthouse.
At the second landing, midway up the chimney, is a mysterious door,
entering to a mysterious closet; and here I keep mysterious cordials,
of a choice, mysterious flavor, made so by the constant nurturing
and subtle ripening of the chimney's gentle heat, distilled through
that warm mass of masonry. Better for wines is it than voyages to
the Indias; my chimney itself a tropic. A chair by my chimney in a
November day is as good for an invalid as a long season spent in Cuba.
Often I think how grapes might ripen against my chimney. How my wife's
geraniums bud there! Bud in December. Her eggs, too--can't keep them
near the chimney, an account of the hatching. Ah, a warm heart has my
chimney.

How often my wife was at me about that projected grand entrance-hall
of hers, which was to be knocked clean through the chimney, from one
end of the house to the other, and astonish all guests by its generous
amplitude. "But, wife," said I, "the chimney--consider the chimney: if
you demolish the foundation, what is to support the superstructure?"
"Oh, that will rest on the second floor." The truth is, women know
next to nothing about the realities of architecture. However, my wife
still talked of running her entries and partitions. She spent many long
nights elaborating her plans; in imagination building her boasted hall
through the chimney, as though its high mightiness were a mere spear of
sorrel-top. At last, I gently reminded her that, little as she might
fancy it, the chimney was a fact--a sober, substantial fact, which, in
all her plannings, it would be well to take into full consideration.
But this was not of much avail.

And here, respectfully craving her permission, I must say a few words
about this enterprising wife of mine. Though in years nearly old as
myself, in spirit she is young as my little sorrel mare, Trigger,
that threw me last fall. What is extraordinary, though she comes of
a rheumatic family, she is straight as a pine, never has any aches;
while for me with the sciatica, I am sometimes as crippled up as any
old apple-tree. But she has not so much as a toothache. As for her
hearing--let me enter the house in my dusty boots, and she away up
in the attic. And for her sight--Biddy, the housemaid, tells other
people's housemaids, that her mistress will spy a spot on the dresser
straight through the pewter platter, put up on purpose to hide it.
Her faculties are alert as her limbs and her senses. No danger of my
spouse dying of torpor. The longest night in the year I've known her
lie awake, planning her campaign for the morrow. She is a natural
projector. The maxim, "Whatever is, is right," is not hers. Her maxim
is, Whatever is, is wrong; and what is more, must be altered; and what
is still more, must be altered right away. Dreadful maxim for the wife
of a dozy old dreamer like me, who dote on seventh days as days of
rest, and out of a sabbatical horror of industry, will, on a week day,
go out of my road a quarter of a mile, to avoid the sight of a man at
work.

That matches are made in heaven, may be, but my wife would have been
just the wife for Peter the Great, or Peter the Piper. How she would
have set in order that huge littered empire of the one, and with
indefatigable painstaking picked the peck of pickled peppers for the
other.

But the most wonderful thing is, my wife never thinks of her end. Her
youthful incredulity, as to the plain theory, and still plainer fact of
death, hardly seems Christian. Advanced in years, as she knows she must
be, my wife seems to think that she is to teem on, and be inexhaustible
forever. She doesn't believe in old age. At that strange promise in
the plain of Mamre, my old wife, unlike old Abraham's, would not have
jeeringly laughed within herself.

Judge how to me, who, sitting in the comfortable shadow of my chimney,
smoking my comfortable pipe, with ashes not unwelcome at my feet,
and ashes not unwelcome all but in my mouth; and who am thus in a
comfortable sort of not unwelcome, though, indeed, ashy enough way,
reminded of the ultimate exhaustion even of the most fiery life; judge
how to me this unwarrantable vitality in my wife must come, sometimes,
it is true, with a moral and a calm, but oftener with a breeze and a
ruffle.

If the doctrine be true, that in wedlock contraries attract, by how
cogent a fatality must I have been drawn to my wife! While spicily
impatient of present and past, like a glass of ginger-beer she
overflows with her schemes; and, with like energy as she puts down
her foot, puts down her preserves and her pickles, and lives with
them in a continual future; or ever full of expectations both from
time and space, is ever restless for newspapers, and ravenous for
letters. Content with the years that are gone, taking no thought for
the morrow, and looking for no new thing from any person or quarter
whatever, I have not a single scheme or expectation on earth, save in
unequal resistance of the undue encroachment of hers.

Old myself, I take to oldness in things; for that cause mainly loving
old Montague, and old cheese, and old wine; and eschewing young people,
hot rolls, new books, and early potatoes and very fond of my old
claw-footed chair, and old club-footed Deacon White, my neighbor, and
that still nigher old neighbor, my betwisted old grape-vine, that of a
summer evening leans in his elbow for cosy company at my window-sill,
while I, within doors, lean over mine to meet his; and above all, high
above all, am fond of my high-mantled old chimney. But she, out of the
infatuate juvenility of hers, takes to nothing but newness; for that
cause mainly, loving new cider in autumn, and in spring, as if she
were own daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, fairly raving after all sorts of
salads and spinages, and more particularly green cucumbers (though all
the time nature rebukes such unsuitable young hankerings in so elderly
a person, by never permitting such things to agree with her), and has
an itch after recently-discovered fine prospects (so no graveyard be
in the background), and also after Swedenborganism, and the Spirit
Rapping philosophy, with other new views, alike in things natural and
unnatural; and immortally hopeful, is forever making new flower-beds
even on the north side of the house, where the bleak mountain wind
would scarce allow the wiry weed called hard-hack to gain a thorough
footing; and on the road-side sets out mere pipe-stems of young elms;
though there is no hope of any shade from them, except over the ruins
of her great granddaughter's gravestones; and won't wear caps, but
plaits her gray hair; and takes the Ladies' Magazine for the fashions;
and always buys her new almanac a month before the new year; and rises
at dawn; and to the warmest sunset turns a cold shoulder; and still
goes on at odd hours with her new course of history, and her French,
and her music; and likes a young company; and offers to ride young
colts; and sets out young suckers in the orchard; and has a spite
against my elbowed old grape-vine, and my club-footed old neighbor, and
my claw-footed old chair, and above all, high above all, would fain
persecute, until death, my high-mantled old chimney. By what perverse
magic, I a thousand times think, does such a very autumnal old lady
have such a very vernal young soul? When I would remonstrate at times,
she spins round on me with, "Oh, don't you grumble, old man (she always
calls me old man), it's I, young I, that keep you from stagnating."
Well, I suppose it is so. Yea, after all, these things are well
ordered. My wife, as one of her poor relations, good soul, intimates,
is the salt of the earth, and none the less the salt of my sea, which
otherwise were unwholesome. She is its monsoon, too, blowing a brisk
gale over it, in the one steady direction of my chimney.

Not insensible of her superior energies, my wife has frequently made
me propositions to take upon herself all the responsibilities of my
affairs. She is desirous that, domestically, I should abdicate; that,
renouncing further rule, like the venerable Charles V, I should retire
into some sort of monastery. But indeed, the chimney excepted, I have
little authority to lay down. By my wife's ingenious application of the
principle that certain things belong of right to female jurisdiction,
I find myself, through my easy compliances, insensibly stripped by
degrees of one masculine prerogative after another. In a dream I go
about my fields, a sort of lazy, happy-go-lucky, good-for-nothing,
loafing old Lear. Only by some sudden revelation am I reminded who
is over me; as year before last, one day seeing in one corner of the
premises fresh deposits of mysterious boards and timbers, the oddity of
the incident at length begat serious meditation. "Wife," said I, "whose
boards and timbers are those I see near the orchard there? Do you know
anything about them, wife? Who put them there? You know I do not like
the neighbors to use my land that way; they should ask permission
first."

She regarded me with a pitying smile.

"Why, old man, don't you know I am building a new barn? Didn't you know
that, old man?"

This is the poor old lady who was accusing me of tyrannizing over her.

To return now to the chimney. Upon being assured of the futility of her
proposed hall, so long as the obstacle remained, for a time my wife
was for a modified project. But I could never exactly comprehend it.
As far as I could see through it, it seemed to involve the general
idea of a sort of irregular archway, or elbowed tunnel, which was to
penetrate the chimney at some convenient point under the staircase,
and carefully avoiding dangerous contact with the fireplaces, and
particularly steering clear of the great interior flue, was to conduct
the enterprising traveler from the front door all the way into the
dining-room in the remote rear of the mansion. Doubtless it was a bold
stroke of genius, that plan of hers, and so was Nero's when he schemed
his grand canal through the Isthmus of Corinth. Nor will I take oath,
that, had her project been accomplished, then, by help of lights hung
at judicious intervals through the tunnel, some Belzoni or other might
have succeeded in future ages in penetrating through the masonry, and
actually emerging into the dining-room, and once there, it would have
been inhospitable treatment of such a traveler to have denied him a
recruiting meal.

But my bustling wife did not restrict her objections, nor in the end
confine her proposed alterations to the first floor. Her ambition was
of the mounting order. She ascended with her schemes to the second
floor, and so to the attic. Perhaps there was some small ground for
her discontent with things as they were. The truth is, there was no
regular passage-way up-stairs or down, unless we again except that
little orchestra-gallery before mentioned. And all this was owing to
the chimney, which my gamesome spouse seemed despitefully to regard as
the bully of the house. On all its four sides, nearly all the chambers
sidled up to the chimney for the benefit of a fireplace. The chimney
would not go to them; they must needs go to it. The consequence was,
almost every room, like a philosophical system, was in itself an entry,
or passage-way to other rooms, and systems of rooms--a whole suite of
entries, in fact. Going through the house, you seem to be forever going
somewhere, and getting nowhere. It is like losing one's self in the
woods; round and round the chimney you go, and if you arrive at all,
it is just where you started, and so you begin again, and again get
nowhere. Indeed--though I say it not in the way of fault-finding at
all--never was there so labyrinthine an abode. Guests will tarry with
me several weeks and every now and then, be anew astonished at some
unforseen apartment.

The puzzling nature of the mansion, resulting from the chimney, is
peculiarly noticeable in the dining-room, which has no less than nine
doors, opening in all directions, and into all sorts of places. A
stranger for the first time entering this dining-room, and naturally
taking no special heed at which door he entered, will, upon rising to
depart, commit the strangest blunders. Such, for instance, as opening
the first door that comes handy, and finding himself stealing up-stairs
by the back passage. Shutting that he will proceed to another, and be
aghast at the cellar yawning at his feet. Trying a third, he surprises
the housemaid at her work. In the end, no more relying on his own
unaided efforts, he procures a trusty guide in some passing person,
and in good time successfully emerges. Perhaps as curious a blunder as
any, was that of a certain stylish young gentleman, a great exquisite,
in whose judicious eyes my daughter Anna had found especial favor.
He called upon the young lady one evening, and found her alone in
the dining-room at her needlework. He stayed rather late; and after
abundance of superfine discourse, all the while retaining his hat
and cane, made his profuse adieus, and with repeated graceful bows
proceeded to depart, after fashion of courtiers from the Queen, and by
so doing, opening a door at random, with one hand placed behind, very
effectually succeeded in backing himself into a dark pantry, where
he carefully shut himself up, wondering there was no light in the
entry. After several strange noises as of a cat among the crockery,
he reappeared through the same door, looking uncommonly crestfallen,
and, with a deeply embarrassed air, requested my daughter to designate
at which of the nine he should find exit. When the mischievous Anna
told me the story, she said it was surprising how unaffected and
matter-of-fact the young gentleman's manner was after his reappearance.
He was more candid than ever, to be sure; having inadvertently
thrust his white kids into an open drawer of Havana sugar, under the
impression, probably, that being what they call "a sweet fellow," his
route might possibly lie in that direction.

Another inconvenience resulting from the chimney is, the bewilderment
of a guest in gaining his chamber, many strange doors lying between
him and it. To direct him by fingerposts would look rather queer; and
just as queer in him to be knocking at every door on his route, like
London's city guest, the king, at Temple-Bar.

Now, of all these things and many, many more, my family continually
complained. At last my wife came out with her sweeping proposition--in
toto to abolish the chimney.

"What!" said I, "abolish the chimney? To take out the backbone of
anything, wife, is a hazardous affair. Spines out of backs, and
chimneys out of houses, are not to be taken like frosted lead pipes
from the ground. Besides," added I, "the chimney is the one grand
permanence of this abode. If undisturbed by innovators, then in future
ages, when all the house shall have crumbled from it, this chimney will
still survive--a Bunker Hill monument. No, no, wife, I can't abolish my
backbone."

So said I then. But who is sure of himself, especially an old man,
with both wife and daughters ever at his elbow and ear? In time, I
was persuaded to think a little better of it; in short, to take the
matter into preliminary consideration. At length it came to pass that a
master-mason--a rough sort of architect--one Mr. Scribe, was summoned
to a conference. I formally introduced him to my chimney. A previous
introduction from my wife had introduced him to myself. He had been
not a little employed by that lady, in preparing plans and estimates
for some of her extensive operations in drainage. Having, with much
ado, exhorted from my spouse the promise that she would leave us to
an unmolested survey, I began by leading Mr. Scribe down to the root
of the matter, in the cellar. Lamp in hand, I descended; for though
up-stairs it was noon, below it was night.

We seemed in the pyramids; and I, with one hand holding my lamp over
head, and with the other pointing out, in the obscurity, the hoar mass
of the chimney, seemed some Arab guide, showing the cobwebbed mausoleum
of the great god Apis.

"This is a most remarkable structure, sir," said the master-mason,
after long contemplating it in silence, "a most remarkable structure,
sir."

"Yes," said I complacently, "every one says so."

"But large as it appears above the roof, I would not have inferred the
magnitude of this foundation, sir," eyeing it critically.

Then taking out his rule, he measured it.

"Twelve feet square; one hundred and forty-four square feet! Sir, this
house would appear to have been built simply for the accommodation of
your chimney."

"Yes, my chimney and me. Tell me candidly, now," I added, "would you
have such a famous chimney abolished?"

"I wouldn't have it in a house of mine, sir, for a gift," was the
reply. "It's a losing affair altogether, sir. Do you know, sir, that
in retaining this chimney, you are losing, not only one hundred and
forty-four square feet of good ground, but likewise a considerable
interest upon a considerable principal?"

"How?"

"Look, sir!" said he, taking a bit of red chalk from his pocket, and
figuring against a whitewashed wall, "twenty times eight is so and so;
then forty-two times thirty-nine is so and so--ain't it, sir? Well, add
those together, and subtract this here, then that makes so and so,"
still chalking away.

To be brief, after no small ciphering, Mr. Scribe informed me that
my chimney contained, I am ashamed to say how many thousand and odd
valuable bricks.

"No more," said I fidgeting. "Pray now, let us have a look above."

In that upper zone we made two more circumnavigations for the first and
second floors. That done, we stood together at the foot of the stairway
by the front door; my hand upon the knob, and Mr. Scribe hat in hand.

"Well, sir," said he, a sort of feeling his way, and, to help himself,
fumbling with his hat, "well, sir, I think it can be done."

"What, pray, Mr. Scribe; _what_ can be done?"

"Your chimney, sir; it can without rashness be removed, I think."

"I will think of it, too, Mr. Scribe," said I, turning the knob and
bowing him towards the open space without, "I will _think_ of it, sir;
it demands consideration; much obliged to ye; good morning, Mr. Scribe."

"It is all arranged, then," cried my wife with great glee, bursting
from the nighest room.

"When will they begin?" demanded my daughter Julia.

"To-morrow?" asked Anna.

"Patience, patience, my dears," said I, "such a big chimney is not to
be abolished in a minute."

Next morning it began again.

"You remember the chimney," said my wife.

"Wife," said I, "it is never out of my house and never out of my mind."

"But when is Mr. Scribe to begin to pull it down?" asked Anna.

"Not to-day, Anna," said I.

"_When_, then?" demanded Julia, in alarm.

Now, if this chimney of mine was, for size, a sort of belfry, for
ding-donging at me about it, my wife and daughters were a sort of
bells, always chiming together, or taking up each other's melodies at
every pause, my wife the key-clapper of all. A very sweet ringing, and
pealing, and chiming, I confess; but then, the most silvery of bells
may, sometimes, dismally toll, as well as merrily play. And as touching
the subject in question, it became so now. Perceiving a strange relapse
of opposition in me, wife and daughters began a soft and dirge-like,
melancholy tolling over it.

At length my wife, getting much excited, declared to me, with pointed
finger, that so long as that chimney stood, she should regard it as the
monument of what she called my broken pledge. But finding this did not
answer, the next day, she gave me to understand that either she or the
chimney must quit the house.

Finding matters coming to such a pass, I and my pipe philosophized
over them awhile, and finally concluded between us, that little as our
hearts went with the plan, yet for peace' sake, I might write out the
chimney's death-warrant, and, while my hand was in, scratch a note to
Mr. Scribe.

Considering that I, and my chimney, and my pipe, from having been so
much together, were three great cronies, the facility with which my
pipe consented to a project so fatal to the goodliest of our trio; or
rather, the way in which I and my pipe, in secret, conspired together,
as it were, against our unsuspicious old comrade--this may seem rather
strange, if not suggestive of sad reflections upon us two. But, indeed,
we, sons of clay, that is my pipe and I, are no whit better than the
rest. Far from us, indeed, to have volunteered the betrayal of our
crony. We are of a peaceable nature, too. But that love of peace
it was which made us false to a mutual friend, as soon as his cause
demanded a vigorous vindication. But, I rejoice to add, that better and
braver thoughts soon returned, as will now briefly be set forth.

To my note, Mr. Scribe replied in person.

Once more we made a survey, mainly now with a view to a pecuniary
estimate.

"I will do it for five hundred dollars," said Mr. Scribe at last, again
hat in hand.

"Very well, Mr. Scribe, I will think of it," replied I, again bowing
him to the door.

Not unvexed by this, for the second time, unexpected response, again
he withdrew, and from my wife, and daughters again burst the old
exclamations.

The truth is, resolved how I would, at the last pinch I and my chimney
could not be parted.

"So Holofernes will have his way, never mind whose heart breaks for
it," said my wife next morning, at breakfast, in that half-didactic,
half-reproachful way of hers, which is harder to bear than her most
energetic assault. Holofernes, too, is with her a pet name for any fell
domestic despot. So, whenever, against her most ambitious innovations,
those which saw me quite across the grain, I, as in the present
instance, stand with however little steadfastness on the defence,
she is sure to call me Holofernes, and ten to one takes the first
opportunity to read aloud, with a suppressed emphasis, of an evening,
the first newspaper paragraph about some tyrannic day-laborer, who,
after being for many years the Caligula of his family, ends by beating
his long-suffering spouse to death, with a garret door wrenched off
its hinges, and then, pitching his little innocents out of the window,
suicidally turns inward towards the broken wall scored with the
butcher's and baker's bills, and so rushes headlong to his dreadful
account.

Nevertheless, for a few days, not a little to my surprise, I heard
no further reproaches. An intense calm pervaded my wife, but beneath
which, as in the sea, there was no knowing what portentous movements
might be going on. She frequently went abroad, and in a direction
which I thought not unsuspicious; namely, in the direction of New
Petra, a griffin-like house of wood and stucco, in the highest style of
ornamental art, graced with four chimneys in the form of erect dragons
spouting smoke from their nostrils; the elegant modern residence
of Mr. Scribe, which he had built for the purpose of a standing
advertisement, not more of his taste as an architect, than his solidity
as a master-mason.

At last, smoking my pipe one morning, I heard a rap at the door, and
my wife, with an air unusually quiet for her brought me a note. As I
have no correspondents except Solomon, with whom in his sentiments,
at least, I entirely correspond, the note occasioned me some little
surprise, which was not dismissed upon reading the following:--

            NEW PETRA, April 1st.

 SIR--During my last examination of your chimney, possibly you may have
 noted that I frequently applied my rule to it in a manner apparently
 unnecessary. Possibly, also, at the same time, you might have observed
 in me more or less of perplexity, to which, however, I refrained from
 giving any verbal expression.

 I now feel it obligatory upon me to inform you of what was then but a
 dim suspicion, and as such would have been unwise to give utterance
 to, but which now, from various subsequent calculations assuming no
 little probability, it may be important that you should not remain in
 further ignorance of.

 It is my solemn duty to warn you, sir, that there is architectural
 cause to conjecture that somewhere concealed in your chimney is a
 reserved space, hermetically closed, in short, a secret chamber, or
 rather closet. How long it has been there, it is for me impossible
 to say. What it contains is hid, with itself, in darkness. But
 probably a secret closet would not have been contrived except for some
 extraordinary object, whether for the concealment of treasure, or for
 what other purpose, may be left to those better acquainted with the
 history of the house to guess.

 But enough: in making this disclosure, sir, my conscience is eased.
 Whatever step you choose to take upon it, is of course a matter of
 indifference to me; though, I confess, as respects the character of
 the closet, I cannot but share in a natural curiosity.

 Trusting that you may be guided aright, in determining whether it is
 Christian-like knowingly to reside in a house, hidden in which is a
 secret closet,

      I remain,

        With much respect,

          Yours very humbly,

            HIRAM SCRIBE.

My first thought upon reading this note was, not of the alleged mystery
of manner to which, at the outset, it alluded--for none such had I at
all observed in the master-mason during his surveys--but of my late
kinsman, Captain Julian Dacres, long a ship-master and merchant in
the Indian trade, who, about thirty years ago, and at the ripe age
of ninety, died a bachelor, and in this very house, which he had
built. He was supposed to have retired into this country with a large
fortune. But to the general surprise, after being at great cost in
building himself this mansion, he settled down into a sedate, reserved
and inexpensive old age, which by the neighbors was thought all the
better for his heirs: but lo! upon opening the will, his property was
found to consist but of the house and grounds, and some ten thousand
dollars in stocks; but the place, being found heavily mortgaged, was
in consequence sold. Gossip had its day, and left the grass quietly to
creep over the captain's grave, where he still slumbers in a privacy
as unmolested as if the billows of the Indian Ocean, instead of the
billows of inland verdure, rolled over him. Still, I remembered long
ago, hearing strange solutions whispered by the country people for
the mystery involving his will, and, by reflex, himself; and that,
too, as well in conscience as purse. But people who could circulate
the report (which they did), that Captain Julian Dacres had, in his
day, been a Borneo pirate, surely were not worthy of credence in their
collateral notions. It is queer what wild whimsies of rumors will,
like toadstools, spring up about any eccentric stranger, who settling
down among a rustic population, keeps quietly to himself. With some,
inoffensiveness would seem a prime cause of offense. But what chiefly
had led me to scout at these rumors, particularly as referring to
concealed treasure, was the circumstance, that the stranger (the same
who razeed the roof and the chimney) into whose hands the estate had
passed on my kinsman's death, was of that sort of character, that had
there been the least ground for those reports, he would speedily have
tested them, by tearing down and rummaging the walls.

Nevertheless, the note of Mr. Scribe, so strangely recalling the memory
of my kinsman, very naturally chimed in with what had been mysterious,
or at least unexplained, about him; vague flashings of ingots united
in my mind with vague gleamings of skulls. But the first cool thought
soon dismissed such chimeras; and, with a calm smile, I turned towards
my wife, who, meantime, had been sitting near by, impatient enough, I
dare say, to know who could have taken it into his head to write me a
letter.

"Well, old man," said she, "who is it from, and what is it about?"

"Read it, wife," said I, handing it.

Read it she did, and then--such an explosion! I will not pretend to
describe her emotions, or repeat her expressions. Enough that my
daughters were quickly called in to share the excitement. Although they
had never dreamed of such a revelation as Mr. Scribe's; yet upon the
first suggestion they instinctively saw the extreme likelihood of it.
In corroboration, they cited first my kinsman, and second, my chimney;
alleging that the profound mystery involving the former, and the
equally profound masonry involving the latter, though both acknowledged
facts, were alike preposterous on any other supposition than the secret
closet.

But all this time I was quietly thinking to myself: Could it be hidden
from me that my credulity in this instance would operate very favorably
to a certain plan of theirs? How to get to the secret closet, or how
to have any certainty about it at all, without making such fell work
with my chimney as to render its set destruction superfluous? That my
wife wished to get rid of the chimney, it needed no reflection to show;
and that Mr. Scribe, for all his pretended disinterestedness, was not
opposed to pocketing five hundred dollars by the operation, seemed
equally evident. That my wife had, in secret, laid heads together with
Mr. Scribe, I at present refrain from affirming. But when I consider
her enmity against my chimney, and the steadiness with which at the
last she is wont to carry out her schemes, if by hook or crook she can,
especially after having been once baffled, why, I scarcely knew at what
step of hers to be surprised.

Of one thing only was I resolved, that I and my chimney should not
budge.

In vain all protests. Next morning I went out into the road, where I
had noticed a diabolical-looking old gander, that, for its doughty
exploits in the way of scratching into forbidden inclosures, had
been rewarded by its master with a portentous, four-pronged, wooden
decoration, in the shape of a collar of the Order of the Garotte. This
gander I cornered and rummaging out its stiffest quill, plucked it,
took it home, and making a stiff pen, inscribed the following stiff
note:

              CHIMNEY SIDE, April 2.

 _Mr. Scribe_

 SIR:--For your conjecture, we return you our joint thanks and
 compliments, and beg leave to assure you, that

      We shall remain,

        Very faithfully,

          The same,

            I AND MY CHIMNEY.

Of course, for this epistle we had to endure some pretty sharp raps.
But having at last explicitly understood from me that Mr. Scribe's
note had not altered my mind one jot, my wife, to move me, among other
things said, that if she remembered aright, there was a statute placing
the keeping in private of secret closets on the same unlawful footing
with the keeping of gunpowder. But it had no effect.

A few days after, my spouse changed her key.

It was nearly midnight, and all were in bed but ourselves, who sat
up, one in each chimney-corner; she, needles in hand, indefatigably
knitting a sock; I, pipe in mouth, indolently weaving my vapors.

It was one of the first of the chill nights in autumn. There was a fire
on the hearth, burning low. The air without was torpid and heavy; the
wood, by an oversight, of the sort called soggy.

"Do look at the chimney," she began; "can't you see that something must
be in it?"

"Yes, wife. Truly there is smoke in the chimney, as in Mr. Scribe's
note."

"Smoke? Yes, indeed, and in my eyes, too. How you two wicked old
sinners do smoke!--this wicked old chimney and you."

"Wife," said I, "I and my chimney like to have a quiet smoke together,
it is true, but we don't like to be called names."

"Now, dear old man," said she, softening down, and a little shifting
the subject, "when you think of that old kinsman of yours, you _know_
there must be a secret closet in this chimney."

"Secret ash-hole, wife, why don't you have it? Yes, I dare say there is
a secret ash-hole in the chimney; for where do all the ashes go to that
drop down the queer hole yonder?"

"I know where they go to; I've been there almost as many times as the
cat."

"What devil, wife, prompted you to crawl into the ash-hole? Don't you
know that St. Dunstan's devil emerged from the ash-hole? You will
get your death one of these days, exploring all about as you do. But
supposing there be a secret closet, what then?"

"What then? why what should be in a secret closet but--"

"Dry bones, wife," broke in I with a puff, while the sociable old
chimney broke in with another.

"There again! Oh, how this wretched old chimney smokes," wiping her
eyes with her handkerchief. "I've no doubt the reason it smokes so is,
because that secret closet interferes with the flue. Do see, too, how
the jambs here keep settling; and it's down hill all the way from the
door to this hearth. This horrid old chimney will fall on our heads
yet; depend upon it, old man."

"Yes, wife, I do depend on it; yes indeed, I place every dependence on
my chimney. As for its settling, I like it. I, too, am settling, you
know, in my gait. I and my chimney are settling together, and shall
keep settling, too, till, as in a great feather-bed, we shall both have
settled away clean out of sight. But this secret oven; I mean, secret
closet of yours, wife; where exactly do you suppose that secret closet
is?"

"That is for Mr. Scribe to say."

"But suppose he cannot say exactly; what, then?"

"Why then he can prove, I am sure, that it must be somewhere or other
in this horrid old chimney."

"And if he can't prove that; what, then?"

"Why then, old man," with a stately air, "I shall say little more about
it."

"Agreed, wife," returned I, knocking my pipe-bowl against the jamb,
"and now, to-morrow, I will for a third time send for Mr. Scribe. Wife,
the sciatica takes me; be so good as to put this pipe on the mantel."

"If you get the step-ladder for me, I will. This shocking old chimney,
this abominable old-fashioned old chimney's mantels are so high, I
can't reach them."

No opportunity, however trivial, was overlooked for a subordinate fling
at the pile.

Here, by way of introduction, it should be mentioned, that besides the
fireplaces all round it, the chimney was, in the most haphazard way,
excavated on each floor for certain curious out-of-the-way cupboards
and closets, of all sorts and sizes, clinging here and there, like
nests in the crotches of some old oak. On the second floor these
closets were by far the most irregular and numerous. And yet this
should hardly have been so, since the theory of the chimney was, that
it pyramidically diminished as it ascended. The abridgment of its
square on the roof was obvious enough; and it was supposed that the
reduction must be methodically graduated from bottom to top.

"Mr. Scribe," said I when, the next day, with an eager aspect, that
individual again came, "my object in sending for you this morning
is, not to arrange for the demolition of my chimney, nor to have
any particular conversation about it, but simply to allow you every
reasonable facility for verifying, if you can, the conjecture
communicated in your note."

Though in secret not a little crestfallen, it may be, by my phlegmatic
reception, so different from what he had looked for; with much
apparent alacrity he commenced the survey; throwing open the cupboards
on the first floor, and peering into the closets on the second;
measuring one within, and then comparing that measurement with the
measurement without. Removing the fireboards, he would gaze up the
flues. But no sign of the hidden work yet.

Now, on the second floor the rooms were the most rambling conceivable.
They, as it were, dovetailed into each other. They were of all shapes;
not one mathematically square room among them all--a peculiarity which
by the master-mason had not been unobserved. With a significant, not to
say portentous expression, he took a circuit of the chimney, measuring
the area of each room around it; then going down stairs, and out of
doors, he measured the entire ground area; then compared the sum total
of the areas of all the rooms on the second floor with the ground area;
then, returning to me in no small excitement, announced that there was
a difference of no less than two hundred and odd square feet--room
enough, in all conscience, for a secret closet.

"But, Mr. Scribe," said I, stroking my chin, "have you allowed for the
walls, both main and sectional? They take up some space, you know."

"Ah, I had forgotten that," tapping his forehead; "but," still
ciphering on his paper, "that will not make up the deficiency."

"But, Mr. Scribe, have you allowed for the recesses of so many
fireplaces on a floor, and for the fire-walls, and the flues; in short,
Mr. Scribe, have you allowed for the legitimate chimney itself--some
one hundred and forty-four square feet or thereabouts, Mr. Scribe?"

"How unaccountable. That slipped my mind, too."

"Did it, indeed, Mr. Scribe?"

He faltered a little, and burst forth with, "But we must now allow
one hundred and forty-four square feet for the legitimate chimney.
My position is, that within those undue limits the secret closet is
contained."

I eyed him in silence a moment; then spoke:

"Your survey is concluded, Mr. Scribe; be so good now as to lay your
finger upon the exact part of the chimney wall where you believe this
secret closet to be; or would a witch-hazel wand assist you, Mr.
Scribe?"

"No, sir, but a crowbar would," he, with temper, rejoined.

Here, now, thought I to myself, the cat leaps out of the bag. I looked
at him with a calm glance, under which he seemed somewhat uneasy. More
than ever now I suspected a plot. I remembered what my wife had said
about abiding by the decision of Mr. Scribe. In a bland way, I resolved
to buy up the decision of Mr. Scribe.

"Sir," said I, "really, I am much obliged to you for this survey. It
has quite set my mind at rest. And no doubt you, too, Mr. Scribe, must
feel much relieved. Sir," I added, "you have made three visits to the
chimney. With a business man, time is money. Here are fifty dollars,
Mr. Scribe. Nay, take it. You have earned it. Your opinion is worth
it. And by the way,"--as he modestly received the money--"have you any
objections to give me a--a--little certificate--something, say, like a
steamboat certificate, certifying that you, a competent surveyor, have
surveyed my chimney, and found no reason to believe any unsoundness; in
short, any--any secret closet in it. Would you be so kind, Mr. Scribe?"

"But, but, sir," stammered he with honest hesitation.

"Here, here are pen and paper," said I, with entire assurance.

Enough.

That evening I had the certificate framed and hung over the dining-room
fireplace, trusting that the continual sight of it would forever put at
rest at once the dreams and stratagems of my household.

But, no. Inveterately bent upon the extirpation of that noble old
chimney, still to this day my wife goes about it, with my daughter
Anna's geological hammer, tapping the wall all over, and then holding
her ear against it, as I have seen the physicians of life insurance
companies tap a man's chest, and then incline over for the echo.
Sometimes of nights she almost frightens one, going about on this
phantom errand, and still following the sepulchral response of the
chimney, round and round, as if it were leading her to the threshold of
the secret closet.

"How hollow it sounds," she will hollowly cry. "Yes, I declare," with
an emphatic tap, "there is a secret closet here. Here, in this very
spot. Hark! How hollow!"

"Psha! wife, of course it is hollow. Who ever heard of a solid
chimney?" But nothing avails. And my daughters take after, not me, but
their mother.

Sometimes all three abandon the theory of the secret closet and return
to the genuine ground of attack--the unsightliness of so cumbrous a
pile, with comments upon the great addition of room to be gained by its
demolition, and the fine effect of the projected grand hall, and the
convenience resulting from the collateral running in one direction and
another of their various partitions. Not more ruthlessly did the Three
Powers partition away poor Poland, than my wife and daughters would
fain partition away my chimney.

But seeing that, despite all, I and my chimney still smoke our pipes,
my wife reoccupies the ground of the secret closet, enlarging upon
what wonders are there, and what a shame it is, not to seek it out and
explore it.

"Wife," said I, upon one of these occasions, "why speak more of that
secret closet, when there before you hangs contrary testimony of a
master mason, elected by yourself to decide. Besides, even if there
were a secret closet, secret it should remain, and secret it shall.
Yes, wife, here for once I must say my say. Infinite sad mischief has
resulted from the profane bursting open of secret recesses. Though
standing in the heart of this house, though hitherto we have all
nestled about it, unsuspicious of aught hidden within, this chimney may
or may not have a secret closet. But if it have, it is my kinsman's.
To break into that wall, would be to break into his breast. And that
wall-breaking wish of Momus I account the wish of a church-robbing
gossip and knave. Yes, wife, a vile eavesdropping varlet was Momus."

"Moses? Mumps? Stuff with your mumps and Moses?"

The truth is, my wife, like all the rest of the world, cares not
a fig for philosophical jabber. In dearth of other philosophical
companionship, I and my chimney have to smoke and philosophize
together. And sitting up so late as we do at it, a mighty smoke it is
that we two smoky old philosophers make.

But my spouse, who likes the smoke of my tobacco as little as she does
that of the soot, carries on her war against both. I live in continual
dread lest, like the golden bowl, the pipes of me and my chimney shall
yet be broken. To stay that mad project of my wife's, naught answers.
Or, rather, she herself is incessantly answering, incessantly besetting
me with her terrible alacrity for improvement, which is a softer name
for destruction. Scarce a day I do not find her with her tape-measure,
measuring for her grand hall, while Anna holds a yardstick on one side,
and Julia looks approvingly on from the other. Mysterious intimations
appear in the nearest village paper, signed "Claude," to the effect
that a certain structure, standing on a certain hill, is a sad blemish
to an otherwise lovely landscape. Anonymous letters arrive, threatening
me with I know not what, unless I remove my chimney. Is it my wife,
too, or who, that sets up the neighbors to badgering me on the same
subject, and hinting to me that my chimney, like a huge elm, absorbs
all moisture from my garden? At night, also, my wife will start as
from sleep, professing to hear ghostly noises from the secret closet.
Assailed on all sides, and in all ways, small peace have I and my
chimney.

Were it not for the baggage, we would together pack up and remove from
the country.

What narrow escapes have been ours! Once I found in a drawer a whole
portfolio of plans and estimates. Another time, upon returning after
a day's absence, I discovered my wife standing before the chimney in
earnest conversation with a person whom I at once recognized as a
meddlesome architectural reformer, who, because he had no gift for
putting up anything was ever intent upon pulling them down; in various
parts of the country having prevailed upon half-witted old folks to
destroy their old-fashioned houses, particularly the chimneys.

But worst of all was, that time I unexpectedly returned at early
morning from a visit to the city, and upon approaching the house,
narrowly escaped three brickbats which fell, from high aloft, at my
feet. Glancing up, what was my horror to see three savages, in blue
jean overalls, in the very act of commencing the long-threatened
attack. Aye, indeed, thinking of those three brickbats, I and my
chimney have had narrow escapes.

It is now some seven years since I have stirred from my home. My city
friends all wonder why I don't come to see them, as in former times.
They think I am getting sour and unsocial. Some say that I have become
a sort of mossy old misanthrope, while all the time the fact is, I am
simply standing guard over my mossy old chimney; for it is resolved
between me and my chimney, that I and my chimney will never surrender.



THE PARADISE OF BACHELORS AND THE TARTARUS OF MAIDS

THE PARADISE OF BACHELORS


It lies not far from Temple-Bar.

Going to it, by the usual way, is like stealing from the heated plain
into some cool, deep glen, shady among the harboring hills.

Sick with the din and soiled with the mud of Fleet Street--where the
Benedick tradesmen are hurrying by, with ledger-lines ruled along their
brows; thinking upon rise of bread and fall of babies--you adroitly
turn a mystic corner--not a street--glide down a dim, monastic way,
flanked by dark, sedate, and solemn piles, and still wending on, give
the whole careworn world the slip, and, disentangled, stand beneath the
quiet cloisters of the Paradise of Bachelors.

Sweet are the oases in Sahara; charming the isle-groves of August
prairies; delectable pure faith amidst a thousand perfidies: but
sweeter, still more charming, more delectable, the dreamy Paradise of
Bachelors, found in the stony heart of stunning London.

In mild meditation pace the cloisters; take your pleasure, sip your
leisure, in the garden waterward; go linger in the ancient library;
go worship in the sculptured chapel; but little have you seen, just
nothing do you know, not the kernel have you tasted, till you dine
among the banded Bachelors, and see their convivial eyes and glasses
sparkle. Not dine in bustling commons, during term-time, in the
hall; but tranquilly, by private hint, at a private table; some fine
Templar's hospitality invited guest.

Templar? That's a romantic name. Let me see. Brian de Bois Gilbert was
a Templar, I believe. Do we understand you to insinuate that those
famous Templars still survive in modern London? May the ring of their
armed heels be heard, and the rattle of their shields, as in mailed
prayer the monk-knights kneel before the consecrated Host? Surely a
monk-knight were a curious sight picking his way along the Strand,
his gleaming corselet and snowy surcoat spattered by an omnibus.
Long-bearded, too, according to his order's rule; his face fuzzy
as a pard's; how would the grim ghost look among the crop-haired,
close-shaven citizens. We know indeed--sad history recounts it--that a
moral blight tainted at last this sacred Brotherhood. Though no sworded
foe might outskill them in the fence, yet the work of luxury crawled
beneath their guard, gnawing the core of knightly troth, nibbling the
monastic vows, till at last the monk's austerity relaxed to wassailing,
and the sworn knights-bachelors grew to be but hypocrites and rakes.

But for all this, quite unprepared were we to learn that
Knights-Templars (if at all in being) were so entirely secularized as
to be reduced from carving out immortal fame in glorious battling for
the Holy Land, to the carving of roast mutton at a dinner-board. Like
Anacreon, do these degenerate Templars now think it sweeter far to fall
in banquet hall than in war? Or, indeed, how can there be any survival
of that famous order? Templars in modern London! Templars in their
red-cross mantles smoking cigars at the Divan! Templars crowded in a
railway train, till, stacked with steel helmet, spear, and shield, the
whole train looks like one elongated locomotive!

No. The genuine Templar is long since departed. Go view the
wondrous tombs in the Temple Church; see there the rigidly-haughty
forms stretched out, with crossed arms upon their stilly hearts, in
everlasting undreaming rest. Like the years before the flood, the bold
Knights-Templars are no more. Nevertheless, the name remains, and the
nominal society, and the ancient grounds, and some of the ancient
edifices. But the iron heel is changed to a boot of patent-leather;
the long two-handed sword to a one-handed quill; the monk-giver of
gratuitous ghostly counsel now counsels for a fee; the defender of the
sarcophagus (if in good practice with his weapon) now has more than one
case to defend; the vowed opener and clearer of all highways leading
to the Holy Sepulchre, now has it in particular charge to check, to
clog, to hinder, and embarrass all the courts and avenues of Law; the
Knight-combatant of the Saracen, breasting spear-point at Acre, now
fights law-points in Westminster Hall. The helmet is a wig. Struck by
Time's enchanter's wand, the Templar is to-day a Lawyer.

But, like many others tumbled from proud glory's height, like the
apple, hard on the bough but mellow on the ground, the Templar's fall
has but made him all the finer fellow.

I dare say those old warrior-priests were but gruff and grouty at the
best; cased in Birmingham hardware, how could their crimped arms give
yours or mine a hearty shake? Their proud, ambitious, monkish souls
clasped shut, like horn-book missals; their very faces clapped in
bomb-shells; what sort of genial men were these? But best of comrades,
most affable of hosts, capital diner is the modern Templar. His wit and
wine are both of sparkling brands.

The church and cloisters, courts and vaults, lanes and passages,
banquet-halls, refectories, libraries, terraces, gardens, broad walks,
domicils, and dessert-rooms, covering a very large space of ground,
and all grouped in central neighborhood and quite sequestered from the
old city's surrounding din; and everything about the place being kept
in most bachelor-like particularity, no part of London offers a quiet
wight so agreeable a refuge.

The Temple is, indeed, a city by itself. A city with all the best
appurtenances, as the above enumeration shows. A city with a park to
it, and flower-beds, and a riverside--the Thames flowing by as openly,
in one part, as by Eden's primal garden flowed the mild Euphrates.
In what is now the Temple Garden the old Crusaders used to exercise
their steeds and lances; the modern Templars now lounge on the benches
beneath the trees, and switching their patent-leather boots, in gay
discourse exercise at repartee.

Long lines of stately portraits in the banquet-halls, show what great
men of mark--famous nobles, judges, and Lord Chancellors--have in their
time been Templars. But all Templars are not known to universal fame;
though, if the having warm hearts and warmer welcomes, full minds and
fuller cellars, and giving good advice and glorious dinners, spiced
with rare divertisements of fun and fancy, merit immortal mention, set
down, ye muses, the names of R.F.C. and his imperial brother.

Though to be a Templar, in the one true sense, you must needs be a
lawyer, or a student at the law, and be ceremoniously enrolled as
member of the order, yet as many such, though they may have their
offices there, just so, on the other hand, there are many residents of
the hoary old domicils who are not admitted Templars. If being, say,
a lounging gentleman and bachelor, or a quiet, unmarried literary man,
charmed with the soft seclusion of the spot, you much desire to pitch
your shady tent among the rest in this serene encampment, then you must
make some special friend among the order, and procure him to rent, in
his name but at your charge, whatever vacant chamber you may find to
suit.

Thus, I suppose, did Dr. Johnson, that nominal Benedick and widower but
virtual bachelor, when for a space he resided here. So, too, did that
undoubted bachelor and rare good soul, Charles Lamb. And hundreds more,
of sterling spirits, Brethren of the Order of Celibacy, from time to
time have dined, and slept, and tabernacled here. Indeed, the place is
all a honeycomb of offices and domicils. Like any cheese, it is quite
perforated through and through in all directions with the snug cells of
bachelors. Dear, delightful spot! Ah! when I bethink me of the sweet
hours there passed, enjoying such genial hospitalities beneath those
time-honored roofs, my heart only finds due utterance through poetry;
and, with a sigh, I softly sing, "Carry me back to old Virginny!"

Such then, at large, is the Paradise of Bachelors. And such I found it
one pleasant afternoon in the smiling month of May, when, sallying from
my hotel in Trafalgar Square, I went to keep my dinner-appointment with
that fine Barrister, Bachelor, and Bencher, R.F.C. (he is the first and
second, and should be the third; I hereby nominate him), whose card I
kept fast pinched between my gloved forefinger and thumb, and every now
and then snatched still another look at the pleasant address inscribed
beneath the name, Number --, Elm Court, Templar.

At the core he was a right bluff, care-free, right comfortable, and
most companionable Englishman. If on a first acquaintance he seemed
reserved, quite icy in his air--patience; this champagne will thaw.
And, if it never do, better frozen champagne than liquid vinegar.

There were nine gentlemen, all bachelors, at the dinner. One was from
"Number --, King's Bench Walk, Temple"; a second, third and fourth,
and fifth, from various courts or passages christened with some
similarly rich resounding syllables. It was indeed a sort of Senate of
the Bachelors, sent to this dinner from widely-scattered districts,
to represent the general celibacy of the Temple. Nay it was, by
representation, a Grand Parliament of the best Bachelors in universal
London; several of those present being from distant quarters of the
town, noted immemorial seats of lawyers and unmarried men--Lincoln's
Inn, Furnival's Inn; and one gentlemen upon whom I looked with a sort
of collateral awe, hailed from the spot where Lord Verulam once abode a
bachelor--Gray's Inn.

The apartment was well up toward heaven; I know not how many strange
old stairs I climbed to get to it. But a good dinner, with famous
company, should be well earned. No doubt our host had his dining-room
so high with a view to secure the prior exercise necessary to the due
relishing and digesting of it.

The furniture was wonderfully unpretending, old, and snug. No new
shining mahogany, sticky with undried varnish; no uncomfortably
luxurious ottomans, and sofas too fine to use, vexed you in this sedate
apartment. It is a thing which every sensible American should learn
from every sensible Englishmen, that glare and glitter, gimcracks and
gewgaws, are not indispensable to domestic solacement. The American
Benedick snatches, down-town, a tough chop in a gilded show-box; the
English bachelor leisurely dines at home on that incomparable South
Down of his, off a plain deal board.

The ceiling of the room was low. Who wants to dine under the dome of
St. Peter's? High ceilings! If that is your demand, and the higher the
better, and you be so very tall, then go dine out with the topping
giraffe in the open air.

In good time the nine gentlemen sat down to nine covers, and soon were
fairly under way.

If I remember right, ox-tail soup inaugurated the affair. Of a rich
russet hue, its agreeable flavor dissipated my first confounding of its
main ingredient with teamster's gads and the rawhides of ushers. (By
way of interlude, we here drank a little claret.) Neptune's was the
next tribute rendered--turbot coming second; snow-white, flaky, and
just gelatinous enough, not too turtleish in its unctuousness. (At this
point we refreshed ourselves with a glass of sherry.) After these light
skirmishers had vanished, the heavy artillery of the feast marched
in, led by that well-known English generalissimo, roast beef. For
aids-de-camp we had a saddle of mutton, a fat turkey, a chicken-pie,
and endless other savory things; while for avant-couriers came nine
silver flagons of humming ale. This heavy ordnance having departed
on the track of the light skirmishers, a picked brigade of game-fowl
encamped upon the board, their camp-fires lit by the ruddiest of
decanters.

Tarts and puddings followed, with innumerable niceties; then cheese
and crackers. (By way of ceremony, simply, only to keep up good old
fashions, we here each drank a glass of good old port.)

The cloth was now removed; and like Blucher's army coming in at the
death on the field of Waterloo, in marched a fresh detachment of
bottles, dusty with their hurried march.

All these manoeuvrings of the forces were superintended by a surprising
old field marshal (I can not school myself to call him by the
inglorious name of waiter), with snowy hair and napkin, and a head like
Socrates. Amidst all the hilarity of the feast, intent on important
business, he disdained to smile. Venerable man!

I have above endeavored to give some slight schedule of the general
plan of operations. But any one knows that a good, general dinner is
a sort of pell-mell, indiscriminate affair, quite baffling to detail
in all particulars. Thus, I spoke of taking a glass of claret, and a
glass of sherry, and a glass of port, and a mug of ale--all at certain
specific periods and times. But those were merely the state bumpers,
so to speak. Innumerable impromptu glasses were drained between the
periods of those grand imposing ones.

The nine bachelors seemed to have the most tender concern for each
other's health. All the time, in flowing wine, they most earnestly
expressed their sincerest wishes for the entire well-being and lasting
hygiene of the gentlemen on the right and on the left. I noticed that
when one of these kind bachelors desired a little more wine (just for
his stomach's sake, like Timothy), he would not help himself to it
unless some other bachelor would join him. It seemed held something
indelicate, selfish and unfraternal to be seen taking a lonely,
unparticipated glass. Meantime, as the wine ran apace, the spirits of
the company grew more and more to perfect genialness and unconstraint.
They related all sorts of pleasant stories. Choice experiences in their
private lives were now brought out, like choice brands of Moselle or
Rhenish, only kept for particular company. One told us how mellowly he
lived when a student at Oxford; with various spicy anecdotes of most
frank-hearted noble lords, his liberal companions. Another bachelor, a
gray-headed man, with a sunny face, who, by his own account, embraced
every opportunity of leisure to cross over into the Low Countries,
on sudden tours of inspection of the fine old Flemish architecture
there--this learned, white-haired, sunny-faced old bachelor,
excelled in his descriptions of the elaborate splendors of those old
guild-halls, town-halls, and stadhold-houses, to be seen in the land
of the ancient Flemings. A third was a great frequenter of the British
Museum, and knew all about scores of wonderful antiquities, of Oriental
manuscripts, and costly books without a duplicate. A fourth had lately
returned from a trip to Old Granada, and, of course, was full of
Saracenic scenery. A fifth had a funny case in law to tell. A sixth
was erudite in wines. A seventh had a strange characteristic anecdote
of the private life of the Iron Duke, never printed, and never before
announced in any public or private company. An eighth had lately been
amusing his evening, now and then, with translating a comic poem of
Pulci's. He quoted for us the more amusing passages.

And so the evening slipped along, the hours told, not by a water-clock,
like King Alfred's but a wine-chronometer. Meantime the table seemed
a sort of Epsom Heath; a regular ring, where the decanters galloped
round. For fear one decanter should not with sufficient speed reach
his destination, another was sent express after him to hurry him; and
then a third to hurry the second; and so on with a fourth and fifth.
And throughout all this nothing loud, nothing unmannerly, nothing
turbulent. I am quite sure, from the scrupulous gravity and austerity
of his air, that had Socrates, the field marshal, perceived aught of
indecorum in the company he served, he would have forthwith departed
without giving warning. I afterward learned that during the repast,
an invalid bachelor in an adjoining chamber enjoyed his first sound
refreshing slumber in three long weary weeks.

It was the very perfection of quiet absorption of good living, good
drinking, good feeling, and good talk. We were a band of brothers.
Comfort--fraternal, household comfort, was the grand trait of the
affair. Also, you would plainly see that these easy-hearted men had no
wives or children to give an anxious thought. Almost all of them were
travelers, too; and without any twinges of their consciences touching
desertion of the fireside.

The thing called pain, the bugbear styled trouble--those two legends
seemed preposterous to their bachelor imaginations. How could men
of liberal sense, ripe scholarship in the world, and capacious
philosophical and convivial understanding--how could they suffer
themselves to be imposed upon by such monkish fables? Pain! Trouble!
As well talk of Catholic miracles. No such thing.--Pass the sherry,
Sir.--Pooh, pooh! Can't be!--The port, Sir, if you please. Nonsense;
don't tell me so.--The decanter stops with you, Sir, I believe.

And so it went.

Not long after the cloth was drawn our host glanced significantly upon
Socrates, who, solemnly stepping to a stand, returned with an immense
convolved horn, a regular Jericho horn, mounted with polished silver,
and otherwise chased and curiously enriched; not omitting two lifelike
goat's heads, with four more horns of solid silver, projecting from
opposite sides of the mouth of the noble main horn.

Not having heard that our host was a performer on the bugle, I was
surprised to see him lift this horn from the table, as if he were about
to blow an inspiring blast. But I was relieved from this, and set
quite right as touching the purposes of the horn, by his now inserting
his thumb and forefinger into its mouth; whereupon a slight aroma was
stirred up, and my nostrils were greeted with the smell of some choice
Rappee. It was a mull of snuff. It went the rounds. Capital idea this,
thought I, of taking snuff about this juncture. This goodly fashion
must be introduced among my countrymen at home, further ruminated I.

The remarkable decorum of the nine bachelors--a decorum not to be
affected by any quantity of wine--a decorum unassailable by any degree
of mirthfulness--this was again set in a forcible light to me, by now
observing that, though they took snuff very freely, yet not a man so
far violated the proprieties, or so far molested the invalid bachelor
in the adjoining room as to indulge himself in a sneeze. The snuff was
snuffed silently, as if it had been some fine innoxious powder brushed
off the wings of butterflies.

But fine though they be, bachelors' dinners, like bachelors' lives,
can not endure forever. The time came for breaking up. One by one
the bachelors took their hats, and two by two, and arm-in-arm they
descended, still conversing, to the flagging of the court; some going
to their neighboring chambers to turn over the Decameron ere retiring
for the night; some to smoke a cigar, promenading in the garden on the
cool riverside; some to make for the street, call a hack and be driven
snugly to their distant lodgings.

I was the last lingerer.

"Well," said my smiling host, "what do you think of the Temple here,
and the sort of life we bachelors make out to live in it?"

"Sir," said I, with a burst of admiring candor--"Sir, this is the very
Paradise of Bachelors!"


THE TARTARUS OF MAIDS

It lies not far from Woedolor Mountain in New England. Turning to the
east, right out from among bright farms and sunny meadows, nodding in
early June with odorous grasses, you enter ascendingly among bleak
hills. These gradually close in upon a dusky pass, which, from the
violent Gulf Stream of air unceasingly driving between its cloven walls
of haggard rock, as well as from the tradition of a crazy spinster's
hut having long ago stood somewhere hereabout, is called the Mad Maid's
Bellows'-pipe.

Winding along at the bottom of the gorge is a dangerously narrow
wheel-road, occupying the bed of a former torrent. Following this road
to its highest point, you stand as within a Dantean gateway. From
the steepness of the walls here, their strangely ebon hue, and the
sudden contraction of the gorge, this particular point is called the
Black Notch. The ravine now expandingly descends into a great, purple,
hopper-shaped hollow, far sunk among many Plutonian, shaggy-wooded
mountains. By the country people this hollow is called the Devil's
Dungeon. Sounds of torrents fall on all sides upon the ear. These rapid
waters unite at last in one turbid, brick-colored stream, boiling
through a flume among enormous boulders. They call this strange-colored
torrent Blood River. Gaining a dark precipice it wheels suddenly to
the west, and makes one maniac spring of sixty feet into the arms of a
stunted wood of gray-haired pines, between which it thence eddies on
its further way down to the invisible lowlands.

Conspicuously crowning a rocky bluff high to one side, at the
cataract's verge, is the ruin of an old saw-mill, built in those
primitive times when vast pines and hemlocks superabounded throughout
the neighboring region. The black-mossed bulk of those immense,
rough-hewn, and spike-knotted logs, here and there tumbled all
together, in long abandonment and decay, or left in solitary, perilous
projection over the cataract's gloomy brink, impart to this rude wooden
ruin not only much of the aspect of one of rough-quarried stone, but
also a sort of feudal, Rhineland, and Thurmberg look, derived from the
pinnacled wildness of the neighborhood scenery.

Not far from the bottom of the Dungeon stands a large whitewashed
building, relieved, like some great white sepulchre, against the
sullen background of mountain-side firs, and other hardy evergreens,
inaccessibly rising in grim terraces for some two thousand feet.

The building is a paper-mill.

Having embarked on a large scale in the seedsman's business (so
extensively and broadcast, indeed, that at length my seeds were
distributed through all the Eastern and Northern States, and even fell
into the far soil of Missouri and the Carolinas), the demand for paper
at my place became so great, that the expenditure soon amounted to a
most important item in the general account. It need hardly be hinted
how paper comes into use with seedsmen, as envelopes. These are mostly
made of yellowish paper, folded square; and when filled, are all but
flat, and being stamped, and superscribed with the nature of the seeds
contained, assume not a little the appearance of business letters
ready for the mail. Of these small envelopes I used an incredible
quantity--several hundred of thousands in a year. For a time I had
purchased my paper from the wholesale dealers in a neighboring town.
For economy's sake, and partly for the adventure of the trip, I now
resolved to cross the mountains, some sixty miles, and order my future
paper at the Devil's Dungeon paper-mill.

The sleighing being uncommonly fine toward the end of January, and
promising to hold so for no small period, in spite of the bitter cold
I started one gray Friday noon in my pung, well fitted with buffalo
and wolf robes; and, spending one night on the road, next noon came in
sight of Woedolor Mountain.

The far summit fairly smoked with frost; white vapors curled up from
its white-wooded top, as from a chimney. The intense congelation
made the whole country look like one petrification. The steel shoes
of my pung craunched and gritted over the vitreous, chippy snow, as
if it had been broken glass. The forests here and there skirting
the route, feeling the same all-stiffening influence, their inmost
fibres penetrated with the cold, strangely groaned--not in the swaying
branches merely, but likewise in the vertical trunk--as the fitful
gusts remorseless swept through them. Brittle with excessive frost,
many colossal tough-grained maples, snapped in twain like pipe-stems,
cumbered the unfeeling earth.

Flaked all over with frozen sweat, white as a milky ram, his nostrils
at each breath sending forth two horn-shaped shoots of heated
respiration, Black, my good horse, but six years old, started at a
sudden turn, where, right across the track--not ten minutes fallen--an
old distorted hemlock lay, darkly undulatory as an anaconda.

Gaining the Bellows'-pipe, the violent blast, dead from behind, all
but shoved my high-backed pung up-hill. The gust shrieked through the
shivered pass, as if laden with lost spirits bound to the unhappy
world. Ere gaining the summit, Black, my horse, as if exasperated by
the cutting wind, slung out with his strong hind legs, tore the light
pung straight up-hill, and sweeping grazingly through the narrow notch,
sped downward madly past the ruined saw-mill. Into the Devil's Dungeon
horse and cataract rushed together.

With might and main, quitting my seat and robes, and standing backward,
with one foot braced against the dashboard, I rasped and churned
the bit, and stopped him just in time to avoid collision, at a turn,
with the bleak nozzle of a rock, couchant like a lion in the way--a
road-side rock.

At first I could not discover the paper-mill.

The whole hollow gleamed with the white, except, here and there, where
a pinnacle of granite showed one wind-swept angle bare. The mountains
stood pinned in shrouds--a pass of Alpine corpses. Where stands the
mill? Suddenly a whirling, humming sound broke upon my ear. I looked,
and there, like an arrested avalanche, lay the large whitewashed
factory. It was subordinately surrounded by a cluster of other and
smaller buildings, some of which, from their cheap, blank air, great
length, gregarious windows, and comfortless expression, no doubt were
boarding-houses of the operatives. A snow-white hamlet amidst the
snows. Various rude, irregular squares and courts resulted from the
somewhat picturesque clusterings of these buildings, owing to the
broken, rocky nature of the ground, which forbade all method in their
relative arrangement. Several narrow lanes and alleys, too, partly
blocked with snow fallen from the roof, cut up the hamlet in all
directions.

When, turning from the traveled highway, jingling with bells of
numerous farmers--who, availing themselves of the fine sleighing, were
dragging their wood to market--and frequently diversified with swift
cutters dashing from inn to inn of the scattered villages--when, I
say, turning from that bustling main-road, I by degrees wound into
the Mad Maid's Bellows'-pipe, and saw the grim Black Notch beyond,
then something latent, as well as something obvious in the time and
scene, strangely brought back to my mind my first sight of dark and
grimy Temple Bar. And when Black, my horse, went darting through the
Notch, perilously grazing its rocky wall, I remembered being in a
runaway London omnibus, which in much the same sort of style, though
by no means at an equal rate, dashed through the ancient arch of Wren.
Though the two objects did by no means correspond, yet this partial
inadequacy but served to tinge the similitude not less with the
vividness than the disorder of a dream. So that, when upon reining up
at the protruding rock I at last caught sight of the quaint groupings
of the factory-buildings, and with the traveled highway and the Notch
behind, found myself all alone, silently and privily stealing through
deep-cloven passages into this sequestered spot, and saw the long,
high-gabled main factory edifice, with a rude tower--for hoisting
heavy boxes--at one end, standing among its crowded outbuildings and
boarding-houses, as the Temple Church amidst the surrounding offices
and dormitories, and when the marvelous retirement of this mysterious
mountain nook fastened its whole spell upon me, then, what memory
lacked, all tributary imagination furnished, and I said to myself, This
is the very counterpart of the Paradise of Bachelors, but snowed upon,
and frost-painted in a sepulchre.

Dismounting, and warily picking my way down the dangerous
declivity--horse and man both sliding now and then upon the icy
ledges--at length I drove, or the blast drove me, into the largest
square, before one side of the main edifice. Piercingly and shrilly the
shotted blast blew by the corner; and redly and demoniacally boiled
Blood River at one side. A long woodpile, of many scores of cords, all
glittering in mail of crusted ice, stood crosswise in the square. A
row of horse-posts, their north sides plastered with adhesive snow,
flanked the factory wall. The bleak frost packed and paved the square
as with some ringing metal.

The inverted similitude recurred--"The sweet, tranquil Temple garden,
with the Thames bordering its green beds," strangely meditated I.

But where are the gay bachelors?

Then, as I and my horse stood shivering in the wind-spray, a girl ran
from a neighboring dormitory door, and throwing her thin apron over her
bare head, made for the opposite building.

"One moment, my girl; is there no shed hereabouts which I may drive
into?"

Pausing, she turned upon me a face pale with work, and blue with cold;
an eye supernatural with unrelated misery.

"Nay," faltered I, "I mistook you. Go on; I want nothing."

Leading my horse close to the door from which she had come, I knocked.
Another pale, blue girl appeared, shivering in the doorway as, to
prevent the blast, she jealously held the door ajar.

"Nay, I mistake again. In God's name shut the door. But hold, is there
no man about?"

That moment a dark-complexioned well-wrapped personage passed, making
for the factory door, and spying him coming, the girl rapidly closed
the other one.

"Is there no horse-shed here, Sir?"

"Yonder, the wood-shed," he replied, and disappeared inside the factory.

With much ado I managed to wedge in horse and pung between scattered
piles of wood all sawn and split. Then, blanketing my horse, and piling
my buffalo on the blanket's top, and tucking in its edges well around
the breastband and breeching, so that the wind might not strip him
bare, I tied him fast, and ran lamely for the factory door, still with
frost, and cumbered with my driver's dread-naught.

Immediately I found myself standing in a spacious place, intolerably
lighted by long rows of windows, focusing inward the snowy scene
without.

At rows of blank-looking counters sat rows of blank-looking girls,
white folders in their blank hands, all blankly folding blank paper.

In one corner stood some huge frame of ponderous iron, with a vertical
thing like a piston periodically rising and falling upon a heavy wooden
block. Before it--its tame minister--stood a tall girl, feeding the
iron animal with half-quires of rose-hued note paper, which, at every
downward dab of the piston-like machine, received in the corner the
impress of a wreath of roses. I looked from the rosy paper to the
pallid cheek, but said nothing.

Seated before a long apparatus, strung with long, slender strings like
any harp, another girl was feeding it with foolscap sheets, which, so
soon as they curiously traveled from her on the cords, were withdrawn
at the opposite end of the machine by a second girl. They came to the
first girl blank; they went to the second girl ruled.

I looked upon the first girl's brow, and saw it was young and fair;
I looked upon the the second girl's brow, and saw it was ruled and
wrinkled. Then, as I still looked, the two--for some small variety to
the monotony--changed places; and where had stood the young, fair brow,
now stood the ruled and wrinkled one.

Perched high upon a narrow platform, and still higher upon a high stool
crowning it, sat another figure serving some other iron animal; while
below the platform sat her mate in some sort of reciprocal attendance.

Not a syllable was breathed. Nothing was heard but the low, steady
overruling hum of the iron animals. The human voice was banished
from the spot. Machinery--that vaunted slave of humanity--here stood
menially served by human beings, who served mutely and cringingly as
the slave serves the Sultan. The girls did not so much seem accessory
wheels to the general machinery as mere cogs to the wheels.

All this scene around me was instantaneously taken in at one sweeping
glance--even before I had proceeded to unwind the heavy fur tippet from
around my neck. But as soon as this fell from me the dark-complexioned
man, standing close by, raised a sudden cry, and seizing my arm,
dragged me out into the open air, and without pausing for a word
instantly caught up some congealed snow and began rubbing both my
cheeks.

"Two white spots like the whites of your eyes," he said; "man, your
cheeks are frozen."

"That may well be," muttered I; "'tis some wonder the frost of the
Devil's Dungeon strikes in no deeper. Rub away."

Soon a horrible, tearing pain caught at my reviving cheeks. Two gaunt
blood-hounds, one on either side, seemed mumbling them. I seemed
Actaeon.

Presently, when all was over, I re-entered the factory, made known my
business, concluded it satisfactorily, and then begged to be conducted
throughout the place to view it.

"Cupid is the boy for that," said the dark-complexioned man.
"Cupid!" and by this odd fancy-name calling a dimpled, red-cheeked,
spirited-looking, forward little fellow, who was rather impudently, I
thought, gliding about among the passive-looking girls--like a gold
fish through hueless waves--yet doing nothing in particular that I
could see, the man bade him lead the stranger through the edifice.

"Come first and see the water-wheel," said this lively lad, with the
air of boyishly-brisk importance.

Quitting the folding-room, we crossed some damp, cold boards, and
stood beneath a great wet shed, incessantly showered with foam,
like the green barnacled bow of some East Indiaman in a gale. Round
and round here went the enormous revolutions of the dark colossal
water-wheel, grim with its one immutable purpose.

"This sets our whole machinery a-going, Sir; in every part of all these
buildings; where the girls work and all."

I looked, and saw that the turbid waters of Blood River had not changed
their hue by coming under the use of man.

"You make only blank paper; no printing of any sort, I suppose? All
blank paper, don't you?"

"Certainly; what else should a paper-factory make?"

The lad here looked at me as if suspicious of my common-sense.

"Oh, to be sure!" said I, confused and stammering; "it only struck me
as so strange that red waters should turn out pale chee--paper, I mean."

He took me up a wet and rickety stair to a great light room, furnished
with no visible thing but rude, manger-like receptacles running
all round its sides; and up to these mangers, like so many mares
haltered to the rack stood rows of girls. Before each was vertically
thrust up a long, glittering scythe, immovably fixed at bottom to
the manger-edge. The curve of the scythe, and its having no snath to
it, made it look exactly like a sword. To and fro, across the sharp
edge, the girls forever dragged long strips of rags, washed white,
picked from baskets at one side; thus ripping asunder every seam, and
converting the tatters almost into lint. The air swam with the fine,
poisonous particles, which from all sides darted, subtilely, as motes
in sunbeams, into the lungs.

"This is the rag-room," coughed the boy.

"You find it rather stifling here," coughed I, in answer; "but the
girls don't cough."

"Oh, they are used to it."

"Where do you get such hosts of rags?" picking up a handful from a
basket.

"Some from the country round about; some from far over sea--Leghorn and
London."

"'Tis not unlikely, then," murmured I, "that among these heaps of rags
there may be some old shirts, gathered from the dormitories of the
Paradise of Bachelors. But the buttons are all dropped off. Pray, my
lad, do you ever find any bachelor's buttons hereabouts?"

"None grow in this part of the country. The Devil's Dungeon is no place
for flowers."

"Oh! you mean the _flowers_ so called--the Bachelor's Buttons?"

"And was not that what you asked about? Or did you mean the gold
bosom-buttons of our boss, Old Bach, as our whispering girls all call
him?"

"The man, then, I saw below is a bachelor, is he?"

"Oh, yes, he's a Bach."

"The edges of those swords, they are turned outward from the girls, if
I see right; but their rags and fingers fly so, I can not distinctly
see."

"Turned outward."

Yes, murmured I to myself; I see it now; turned outward; and each
erected sword is so borne, edge-outward, before each girl. If my
reading fails me not, just so, of old, condemned state-prisoners went
from the hall of judgment to their doom; an officer before, bearing
a sword, its edge turned outward, in significance of their fatal
sentence. So, through consumptive pallors of this blank, raggy life, go
these white girls to death.

"Those scythes look very sharp," again turning toward the boy.

"Yes; they have to keep them so. Look!"

That moment two of the girls, dropping their rags, plied each a
whetstone up and down the sword-blade. My unaccustomed blood curdled at
the sharp shriek of the tormented steel.

Their own executioners; themselves whetting the very swords that slay
them; meditated I.

"What makes those girls so sheet-white, my lad?"

"Why"--with a roguish twinkle, pure ignorant drollery, not knowing
heartlessness--"I suppose the handling of such white bits of sheets all
the time makes them so sheety."

"Let us leave the rag-room now, my lad."

More tragical and more inscrutably mysterious than any mystic sight,
human or machine, throughout the factory, was the strange innocence of
cruel-heartedness in this usage-hardened boy.

"And now," said he, cheerily, "I suppose you want to see our great
machine, which cost us twelve thousand dollars only last autumn. That's
the machine that makes the paper, too. This way, Sir."

Following him I crossed a large, bespattered place, with two great
round vats in it, full of a white, wet, woolly-looking stuff, not
unlike the albuminous part of an egg, soft-boiled.

"There," said Cupid, tapping the vats carelessly, "these are the first
beginning of the paper; this white pulp you see. Look how it swims
bubbling round and round, moved by the paddle here. From hence it pours
from both vats into the one common channel yonder; and so goes, mixed
up and leisurely, to the great machine. And now for that."

He led me into a room, stifling with a strange, blood-like, abdominal
heat, as if here, true enough, were being finally developed the
germinous particles lately seen.

Before me, rolled out like some long Eastern manuscript, lay stretched
one continuous length of iron framework--multitudinous and mystical,
with all sorts of rollers, wheels, and cylinders, in slowly-measured
and unceasing motion.

"Here first comes the pulp now," said Cupid, pointing to the nighest
end of the machine.

"See; first it pours out and spreads itself upon this wide, sloping
board; and then--look--slides, thin and quivering, beneath the first
roller there. Follow on now, and see it as it slides from under that
to the next cylinder. There; see how it has become just a very little
less pulpy now. One step more, and it grows still more to some slight
consistence. Still another cylinder, and it is so knitted--though as
yet mere dragon-fly wing--that it forms an air-bridge here, like a
suspended cobweb, between two more separated rollers; and flowing over
the last one, and under again, and doubling about there out of sight
for a minute among all those mixed cylinders you indistinctly see, it
reappears here, looking now at last a little less like pulp and more
like paper, but still quite delicate and defective yet awhile. But--a
little further onward, Sir, if you please--here now, at this further
point, it puts on something of a real look, as if it might turn out to
be something you might possibly handle in the end. But it's not yet
done, Sir. Good way to travel yet, and plenty more of cylinders must
roll it."

"Bless my soul!" said I, amazed at the elongation, interminable
convolutions, and deliberate slowness of the machine. "It must take a
long time for the pulp to pass from end to end, and come out paper."

"Oh, not so long," smiled the precocious lad, with a superior and
patronizing air; "only nine minutes. But look; you may try it for
yourself. Have you a bit of paper? Ah! here's a bit on the floor. Now
mark that with any word you please, and let me dab it on here, and
we'll see how long before it comes out at the other end."

"Well, let me see," said I, taking out my pencil. "Come, I'll mark it
with your name."

Bidding me take out my watch, Cupid adroitly dropped the inscribed slip
on an exposed part of the incipient mass.

Instantly my eye marked the second-hand on my dial-plate.

Slowly I followed the slip, inch by inch: sometimes pausing for full
half a minute as it disappeared beneath inscrutable groups of the lower
cylinders, but only gradually to emerge again; and so, on, and on, and
on--inch by inch; now in open sight, sliding along like a freckle on
the quivering sheet; and then again wholly vanished; and so, on, and
on, and on--inch by inch; all the time the main sheet growing more and
more to final firmness--when, suddenly, I saw a sort of paper-fall,
not wholly unlike a water-fall; a scissory sound smote my ear, as of
some cord being snapped; and down dropped an unfolded sheet of perfect
foolscap, with my "Cupid" half faded out of it, and still moist and
warm.

My travels were at an end, for here was the end of the machine.

"Well, how long was it?" said Cupid.

"Nine minutes to a second," replied I, watch in hand.

"I told you so."

For a moment a curious emotion filled me, not wholly unlike that which
one might experience at the fulfillment of some mysterious prophecy.
But how absurd, thought I again; the thing is a mere machine, the
essence of which is unvarying punctuality and precision.

Previously absorbed by the wheels and cylinders, my attention was now
directed to a sad-looking woman standing by.

"That is rather an elderly person so silently tending the machine-end
here. She would not seem wholly used to it either."

"Oh," knowingly whispered Cupid, through the din, "she only came last
week. She was a nurse formerly. But the business is poor in these
parts, and she's left it. But look at the paper she is piling there."

"Ay, foolscap," handling the piles of moist, warm sheets, which
continually were being delivered into the woman's waiting hands. "Don't
you turn out anything but foolscap at this machine?"

"Oh, sometimes, but not often, we turn out finer work--cream-laid and
royal sheets, we call them. But foolscap being in chief demand we turn
out foolscap most."

It was very curious. Looking at that blank paper continually dropping,
dropping, dropping, my mind ran on in wonderings of those strange uses
to which those thousand sheets eventually would be put. All sorts of
writings would be writ on those now vacant things--sermons, lawyers'
briefs, physicians' prescriptions, love-letters, marriage certificates,
bills of divorce, registers of births, death-warrants, and so on,
without end. Then, recurring back to them as they here lay all blank,
I could not but bethink me of that celebrated comparison of John Locke,
who, in demonstration of his theory that man had no innate ideas,
compared the human mind at birth to a sheet of blank paper, something
destined to be scribbled on, but what sort of characters no soul might
tell.

Pacing slowly to and fro along the involved machine, still humming
with its play, I was struck as well by the inevitability as the
evolvement-power in all its motions.

"Does that thin cobweb there," said I, pointing to the sheet in its
more imperfect stage, "does that never tear or break? It is marvelous
fragile, and yet this machine it passes through is so mighty."

"It never is known to tear a hair's point."

"Does it never stop--get clogged?"

"No. It _must_ go. The machinery makes it go just _so_; just that very
way, and at that very pace you there plainly _see_ it go. The pulp
can't help going."

Something of awe now stole over me, as I gazed upon this inflexible
iron animal. Always, more or less, machinery of this ponderous
elaborate sort strikes, in some moods, strange dread into the human
heart, as some living, panting Behemoth might. But what made the thing
I saw so specially terrible to me was the metallic necessity, the
unbudging fatality which governed it. Though, here and there, I could
not follow the thin, gauzy vail of pulp in the course of its more
mysterious or entirely invisible advance, yet it was indubitable that,
at those points where it eluded me, it still marched on in unvarying
docility to the autocratic cunning of the machine. A fascination
fastened on me. I stood spellbound and wandering in my soul. Before my
eyes--there, passing in slow procession along the wheeling cylinders, I
seemed to see, glued to the pallid incipience of the pulp, the yet more
pallid faces of all the pallid girls I had eyed that heavy day. Slowly,
mournfully, beseechingly, yet unresistingly, they gleamed along, their
agony dimly outlined on the imperfect paper, like the print of the
tormented face on the handkerchief of Saint Veronica.

"Halloa! the heat of this room is too much for you," cried Cupid,
staring at me.

"No--I am rather chill, if anything."

"Come out, Sir--out--out," and, with the protecting air of a careful
father, the precocious lad hurried me outside.

In a few minutes, feeling revived a little, I went into the
folding-room--the first room I had entered, and where the desk for
transacting business stood, surrounded by the blank counters and blank
girls engaged at them.

"Cupid here has led me a strange tour," said I to the dark-complexioned
man before mentioned, whom I had ere this discovered not only to be
an old bachelor, but also the principal proprietor. "Yours is a most
wonderful factory. Your great machine is a miracle of inscrutable
intricacy."

"Yes, all our visitors think it so. But we don't have many. We are in
a very out-of-the-way corner here. Few inhabitants, too. Most of our
girls come from far-off villages."

"The girls," echoed I, glancing round at their silent forms. "Why is
it, Sir, that in most factories, female operatives, of whatever age,
are indiscriminately called girls, never women?"

"Oh! as to that--why, I suppose, the fact of their being generally
unmarried--that's the reason, I should think. But it never struck me
before. For our factory here, we will not have married women; they
are apt to be off-and-on too much. We want none but steady workers;
twelve hours to the day, day after day, through the three hundred and
sixty-five days, excepting Sundays, Thanksgiving, and Fast-days. That's
our rule. And so, having no married women, what females we have are
rightly enough called girls."

"Then these are all maids," said I, while some pained homage to their
pale virginity made me involuntarily bow.

"All maids."

Again the strange emotion filled me.

"Your cheeks look whitish yet, Sir," said the man, gazing at me
narrowly. "You must be careful going home. Do they pain you at all now?
It's a bad sign, if they do."

"No doubt, Sir," answered I, "when once I have got out of the Devil's
Dungeon I shall feel them mending."

"Ah, yes; the winter air in valleys, or gorges, or any sunken place, is
far colder and more bitter than elsewhere. You would hardly believe it
now, but it is colder here than at the top of Woedolor Mountain."

"I dare say it is, Sir. But time presses me; I must depart."

With that, remuffling myself in dread-naught and tippet, thrusting my
hands into my huge sealskin mittens, I sallied out into the nipping
air, and found poor Black, my horse, all cringing and doubled up with
the cold.

Soon, wrapped in furs and meditations, I ascended from the Devil's
Dungeon.

At the Black Notch I paused, and once more bethought me of Temple-Bar,
Then, shooting through the pass, all alone with inscrutable nature, I
exclaimed--Oh! Paradise of Bachelors! and oh! Tartarus of Maids!



COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!

_OR THE CROWING OF THE NOBLE COCK BENEVENTANO_


In all parts of the world many high-spirited revolts from rascally
despotisms had of late been knocked on the head; many dreadful
casualties, by locomotive and steamer, had likewise knocked hundreds
of high-spirited travelers on the head (I lost a dear friend in one of
them); my own private affairs were also full of despotisms, casualties,
and knockings on the head, when early one morning in spring, being too
full of hypoes to sleep, I sallied out to walk on my hillside pasture.

It was a cool and misty, damp, disagreeable air. The country looked
underdone, its raw juices squirting out all round. I buttoned out
this squitchy air as well as I could with my lean, double-breasted
dress-coat--my overcoat being so long-skirted I only used it in my
wagon--and spitefully thrusting my crab-stick into the oozy sod, bent
my blue form to the steep ascent of the hill. This toiling posture
brought my head pretty well earthward, as if I were in the act of
butting it against the world. I marked the fact, but only grinned at it
with a ghastly grin.

All round me were tokens of a divided empire. The old grass and the
new grass were striving together. In the low wet swales the verdure
peeped out in vivid green; beyond, on the mountains, lay light patches
of snow, strangely relieved against their russet sides; all the humped
hills looked like brindled kine in the shivers. The woods were strewn
with dry dead boughs, snapped off by the riotous winds of March, while
the young trees skirting the woods were just beginning to show the
first yellowish tinge of the nascent spray.

I sat down for a moment on a great rotting log nigh the top of the
hill, my back to a heavy grove, my face presented toward a wide
sweeping circuit of mountains enclosing a rolling, diversified
country. Along the base of one long range of heights ran a lagging,
fever-and-agueish river, over which was a duplicate stream of dripping
mist, exactly corresponding in every meander with its parent water
below. Low down, here and there, shreds of vapor listlessly wandered
in the air, like abandoned or helmless nations or ships--or very soaky
towels hung on criss-cross clothes-lines to dry. Afar, over a distant
village lying in a bay of the plain formed by the mountains, there
rested a great flat canopy of haze, like a pall. It was the condensed
smoke of the chimneys, with the condensed, exhaled breath of the
villagers, prevented from dispersion by the imprisoning hills. It was
too heavy and lifeless to mount of itself; so there it lay, between the
village and the sky, doubtless hiding many a man with the mumps, and
many a queasy child.

My eye ranged over the capacious rolling country, and over the
mountains, and over the village, and over a farmhouse here and there,
and over woods, groves, streams, rocks, fells--and I thought to myself,
what a slight mark, after all, does man make on this huge great earth.
Yet the earth makes a mark on him. What a horrid accident was that
on the Ohio, where my good friend and thirty other good fellows were
sloped into eternity at the bidding of a thick-headed engineer, who
knew not a valve from a flue. And that crash on the railroad just
over yon mountains there, where two infatuate trains ran pell-mell
into each other, and climbed and clawed each other's backs; and one
locomotive was found fairly shelled like a chick, inside of a passenger
car in the antagonist train; and near a score of noble hearts, a bride
and her groom, and an innocent little infant, were all disembarked
into the grim hulk of Charon, who ferried them over, all baggageless,
to some clinkered iron-foundry country or other. Yet what's the use
of complaining? What justice of the peace will right this matter?
Yea, what's the use of bothering the very heavens about it? Don't the
heavens themselves ordain these things--else they could not happen?

A miserable world! Who would take the trouble to make a fortune in it,
when he knows not how long he can keep it, for the thousand villains
and asses who have the management of railroads and steamboats, and
innumerable other vital things in the world. If they would make me
Dictator in North America awhile I'd string them up! and hang, draw,
and quarter; fry, roast and boil; stew, grill, and devil them like so
many turkey-legs--the rascally numskulls of stokers; I'd set them to
stokering in Tartarus--I would!

Great improvements of the age! What! to call the facilitation of death
and murder an improvement! Who wants to travel so fast? My grandfather
did not, and he was no fool. Hark! here comes that old dragon
again--that gigantic gadfly of a Moloch--snort! puff! scream!--here
he comes straight-bent through these vernal woods, like the Asiatic
cholera cantering on a camel. Stand aside! Here he comes, the chartered
murderer! the death monopolizer! judge, jury, and hangman all together,
whose victims die always without benefit of clergy. For two hundred
and fifty miles that iron fiend goes yelling through the land, crying
"More! more! more!" Would fifty conspiring mountains fall atop of him!
and, while they were about it, would they would also fall atop of that
smaller dunning fiend, my creditor, who frightens the life out of me
more than any locomotive--a lantern-jawed rascal, who seems to run on a
railroad track too, and duns me even on Sunday, all the way to church
and back, and comes and sits in the same pew with me, and pretending to
be polite and hand me the prayer-book opened at the proper place, pokes
his pesky bill under my nose in the very midst of my devotions, and
so shoves himself between me and salvation; for how can one keep his
temper on such occasions?

I can't pay this horrid man; and yet they say money was never so
plentiful--a drug on the market; but blame me if I can get any of the
drug, though there never was a sick man more in need of that particular
sort of medicine. It's a lie; money ain't plenty--feel of my pocket.
Ha! here's a powder I was going to send to the sick baby in yonder
hovel, where the Irish ditcher lives. That baby has the scarlet fever.
They say the measles are rife in the country too, and the varioloid,
and the chicken-pox, and it's bad for teething children. And after all,
I suppose many of the poor little ones, after going through all this
trouble snap off short; and so they had the measles, mumps, croup,
scarlet-fever, chicken-pox, cholera-morbus, summer-complaint, and all
else, in vain! Ah! there's that twinge of the rheumatics in my right
shoulder. I got it one night on the North River, when, in a crowded
boat, I gave up my berth to a sick lady, and staid on deck till morning
in drizzling weather. There's the thanks one gets for charity! Twinge!
Shoot away, ye rheumatics! Ye couldn't lay on worse if I were some
villain who had murdered the lady instead of befriending her. Dyspepsia
too--I am troubled with that.

Hallo! here come the calves, the two-year-olds, just turned out of
the barn into the pasture, after six months of cold victuals. What a
miserable-looking set, to be sure! A breaking up of a hard winter,
that's certain; sharp bones sticking out like elbows; all quilted
with a strange stuff dried on their flanks like layers of pancakes.
Hair worn quite off too, here and there; and where it ain't pancaked,
or worn off, looks like the rubbed sides of mangy old hair-trunks.
In fact, they are not six two-year-olds, but six abominable old
hair-trunks wandering about here in this pasture.

Hark! By Jove, what's that? See! the very hair-trunks prick their ears
at it, and stand and gaze away down into the rolling country yonder.
Hark again! How clear! how musical! how prolonged! What a triumphant
thanksgiving of a cock-crow! "_Glory be to God in the highest!_" It
says those very words as plain as ever cock did in this world. Why,
why, I began to feel a little in sorts again. It ain't so very misty,
after all. The sun yonder is beginning to show himself; I feel warmer.

Hark! There again! Did ever such a blessed cock-crow so ring out over
the earth before! Clear, shrill, full of pluck, full of fire, full of
fun, full of glee. It plainly says--"_Never say die!_" My friends, it
is extraordinary, is it not?

Unwittingly, I found that I had been addressing the two-year-olds--the
calves--in my enthusiasm; which shows how one's true nature will
betray itself at times in the most unconscious way. For what a very
two-year-old, and calf, I had been to fall into the sulks, on a hilltop
too, when a cock down in the lowlands there, without discourse of
reason, and quite penniless in the world, and with death hanging over
him at any moment from his hungry master, sends up a cry like a very
laureate celebrating the glorious victory of New Orleans.

Hark! there it goes again! My friends, that must be a Shanghai; no
domestic-born cock could crow in such prodigious exulting strains.
Plainly, my friends, a Shanghai of the Emperor of China's breed.

But my friends the hair-trunks, fairly alarmed at last by such
clamorously-victorious tones, were now scampering off, with their
tails flirting in the air, and capering with their legs in clumsy
enough sort of style, sufficiently evincing that they had not freely
flourished them for the six months last past.

Hark! there again! Whose cock is that? Who in this region can afford
to buy such an extraordinary Shanghai? Bless me--it makes my blood
bound--I feel wild. What? jumping on this rotten old log here, to flap
my elbows and crow too? And just now in the doleful dumps. And all this
from the simple crow of a cock. Marvelous cock! But soft--this fellow
now crows most lustily; but it's only morning; let's see how he'll crow
about noon, and towards nightfall. Come to think of it, cocks crow most
lustily in the beginning of the day. Their pluck ain't lasting, after
all. Yes, yes; even cocks have to succumb to the universal spell of
tribulation: jubilant in the beginning, but down in the mouth at the
end.

    ... "_Of fine mornings,
    We fine lusty cocks begin our crows in gladness;
    But when the eve does come we don't crow quite so much,
    For then cometh despondency and madness._"

The poet had this very Shanghai in mind when he wrote that. But stop.
There he rings out again, ten times richer, fuller, longer, more
obstreperously exulting than before! In fact, that bell ought to be
taken down, and this Shanghai put in its place. Such a crow would
jollify all London, from Mile-End (which is no end) to Primrose Hill
(where there ain't any primroses), and scatter the fog.

Well, I have an appetite for my breakfast this morning, if I have not
had it for a week before. I meant to have only tea and toast; but I'll
have coffee and eggs--no, brown stout and a beefsteak. I want something
hearty. Ah, here comes the down-train: white cars, flashing through
the trees like a vein of silver. How cheerfully the steam-pipe chirps!
Gay are the passengers. There waves a handkerchief--going down to the
city to eat oysters, and see their friends, and drop in at the circus.
Look at the mist yonder; what soft curls and undulations round the
hills, and the sun weaving his rays among them. See the azure smoke of
the village, like the azure tester over a bridal-bed. How bright the
country looks there where the river overflowed the meadows. The old
grass has to knock under to the new. Well, I feel the better for this
walk. Home now, and walk into that steak and crack that bottle of brown
stout; and by the time that's drank--a quart of stout--by that time, I
shall feel about as stout as Samson. Come to think of it, that dun may
call, though. I'll just visit the woods and cut a club. I'll club him,
by Jove, if he duns me this day.

Hark! there goes Shanghai again. Shanghai says, "Bravo!" Shanghai says,
"Club him!"

Oh, brave cock!

I felt in rare spirits the whole morning. The dun called about eleven.
I had the boy Jake send the dun up. I was reading _Tristram Shandy_,
and could not go down under the circumstances. The lean rascal (a
lean farmer, too--think of that!) entered, and found me seated in an
armchair, with my feet on the table, and the second bottle of brown
stout handy, and the book under eye.

"Sit down," said I, "I'll finish this chapter, and then attend to you.
Fine morning. Ha! ha!--this is a fine joke about my Uncle Toby and the
Widow Wadman! Ha! ha! ha! let me read this to you."

"I have no time; I've got my noon _chores_ to do."

"To the deuce with your _chores_!" said I. "Don't drop your old tobacco
about here, or I'll turn you out."

"Sir!"

"Let me read you this about the Widow Wadman. Said the Widow Wadman--"

"There's my bill, sir."

"Very good. Just twist it up, will you--it's about my smoking-time; and
hand a coal, will you, from the hearth yonder!"

"My bill, sir!" said the rascal, turning pale with rage and amazement
at my unwonted air (formerly I had always dodged him with a pale face),
but too prudent as yet to betray the extremity of his astonishment. "My
bill, sir"--and he stiffly poked it at me.

"My friend," said I, "what a charming morning! How sweet the country
looks! Pray, did you hear that extraordinary cock-crow this morning?
Take a glass of my stout!"

"_Yours?_ First pay your debts before you offer folks _your_ stout!"

"You think, then, that, properly speaking, I have no _stout_," said I,
deliberately rising. "I'll undeceive you. I'll show you stout of a
superior brand to Barclay and Perkins."

Without more ado, I seized that insolent dun by the slack of his
coat--(and, being a lean, shad-bellied wretch, there was plenty of
slack to it)--I seized him that way, tied him with a sailor-knot,
and, thrusting his bill between his teeth, introduced him to the open
country lying round about my place of abode.

"Jake," said I, "you'll find a sack of bluenosed potatoes lying under
the shed. Drag it here, and pelt this pauper away; he's been begging
pence of me, and I know he can work, but he's lazy. Pelt him away,
Jake!"

Bless my stars, what a crow! Shanghai sent up such a perfect pæan
and _laudamus_--such a trumpet blast of triumph, that my soul fairly
snorted in me. Duns!--I could have fought an army of them! Plainly,
Shanghai was of the opinion that duns only came into the world to be
kicked, hanged, bruised, battered, choked, walloped, hammered, drowned,
clubbed!

Returning indoors, when the exultation of my victory over the dun had a
little subsided, I fell to musing over the mysterious Shanghai. I had
no idea I would hear him so nigh my house. I wondered from what rich
gentleman's yard he crowed. Nor had he cut short his crows so easily as
I had supposed he would. This Shanghai crowed till midday, at least.
Would he keep a-crowing all day? I resolved to learn. Again I ascended
the hill. The whole country was now bathed in a rejoicing sunlight.
The warm verdure was bursting all round me. Teams were a-field. Birds,
newly arrived from the South, were blithely singing in the air. Even
the crows cawed with a certain unction, and seemed a shade or two less
black than usual.

Hark! there goes the cock! How shall I describe the crow of the
Shanghai at noontide! His sunrise crow was a whisper to it. It was
the loudest, longest and most strangely musical crow that ever amazed
mortal man. I had heard plenty of cock-crows before, and many fine
ones;--but this one! so smooth, and flutelike in its very clamor--so
self-possessed in its very rapture of exultation--so vast, mounting,
swelling, soaring, as if spurted out from a golden throat, thrown far
back. Nor did it sound like the foolish, vain-glorious crow of some
young sophomorean cock, who knew not the world, and was beginning life
in audacious gay spirits, because in wretched ignorance of what might
be to come. It was the crow of a cock who crowed not without advice;
the crow of a cock who knew a thing or two; the crow of a cock who had
fought the world and got the better of it and was resolved to crow,
though the earth should heave and the heavens should fall. It was a
wise crow; an invincible crow; a philosophic crow; a crow of all crows.

I returned home once more full of reinvigorated spirits, with a
dauntless sort of feeling. I thought over my debts and other troubles,
and over the unlucky risings of the poor oppressed peoples abroad, and
over the railroad and steamboat accidents, and over even the loss of
my dear friend, with a calm, good-natured rapture of defiance, which
astounded myself. I felt as though I could meet Death, and invite
him to dinner, and toast the Catacombs with him, in pure overflow of
self-reliance and a sense of universal security.

Toward evening I went up to the hill once more to find whether, indeed,
the glorious cock would prove game even from the rising of the sun
unto the going down thereof. Talk of Vespers or Curfew!--the evening
crow of the cock went out of his mighty throat all over the land and
inhabited it, like Xerxes from the East with his double-winged host. It
was miraculous. Bless me, what a crow! The cock went game to roost that
night, depend upon it, victorious over the entire day, and bequeathing
the echoes of his thousand crows to night.

After an unwontedly sound, refreshing sleep I rose early, feeling
like a carriage-spring--light--elliptical--airy--buoyant as
sturgeon-nose--and, like a foot-ball, bounded up the hill. Hark!
Shanghai was up before me. The early bird that caught the worm--crowing
like a bugle worked by an engine--lusty, loud, all jubilation. From
the scattered farmhouses a multitude of other cocks were crowing,
and replying to each other's crows. But they were as flageolets to a
trombone. Shanghai would suddenly break in, and overwhelm all their
crows with his one domineering blast. He seemed to have nothing to do
with any other concern. He replied to no other crow, but crowed solely
by himself, on his own account, in solitary scorn and independence.

Oh, brave cock!--oh, noble Shanghai!--oh, bird rightly offered up by
the invincible Socrates, in testimony of his final victory over life.

As I live, thought I, this blessed day, will I go and seek out the
Shanghai, and buy him, if I have to clap another mortgage on my land.

I listened attentively now, striving to mark from what direction the
crow came. But it so charged and replenished, and made bountiful and
overflowing all the air, that it was impossible to say from what
precise point the exultation came. All that I could decide upon was
this: the crow came from out of the east, and not from out of the west.
I then considered with myself how far a cock-crow might be heard. In
this still country, shut in, too, by mountains, sounds were audible at
great distances. Besides, the undulations of the land, the abuttings of
the mountains into the rolling hill and valley below, produced strange
echoes, and reverberations, and multiplications, and accumulations of
resonance, very remarkable to hear, and very puzzling to think of.
Where lurked this valiant Shanghai--this bird of cheerful Socrates--the
game-fowl Greek who died unappalled? Where lurked he? Oh, noble cock,
where are you? Crow once more, my Bantam! my princely, my imperial
Shanghai! my bird of the Emperor of China! Brother of the sun! Cousin
of great Jove! where are you?--one crow more, and tell me your number!

Hark! like a full orchestra of the cocks of all nations, forth burst
the crow. But where from? There it is; but where? There was no telling,
further than it came from out of the east.

After breakfast I took my stick and sallied down the road. There were
many gentlemen's seats dotting the neighboring country, and I made
no doubt that some of these opulent gentlemen had invested a hundred
dollar bill in some royal Shanghai recently imported in the ship Trade
Wind, or the ship White Squall, or the ship Sovereign of the Seas; for
it must needs have been a brave ship with a brave name which bore the
fortunes of so brave a cock. I resolved to walk the entire country, and
find this noble foreigner out; but thought it would not be amiss to
inquire on the way at the humblest homesteads, whether, peradventure,
they had heard of a lately-imported Shanghai belonging to any gentlemen
settlers from the city; for it was plain that no poor farmer, no poor
man of any sort, could own such an Oriental trophy--such a Great Bell
of St. Paul's swung in a cock's throat.

I met an old man, plowing, in a field nigh the road-side fence.

"My friend, have you heard an extraordinary cock-crow of late?"

"Well, well," he drawled, "I don't know--the Widow Crowfoot has a
cock--and Squire Squaretoes has a cock--and I have a cock, and they all
crow. But I don't know of any on 'em with 'straordinary crows."

"Good-morning to you," said I, shortly; "it's plain that you have not
heard the crow of the Emperor of China's chanticleer."

Presently I met another old man mending a tumble-down old rail-fence.
The rails were rotten, and at every move of the old man's hand they
crumbled into yellow ochre. He had much better let the fence alone, or
else get him new rails. And here I must say, that one cause of the sad
fact why idiocy more prevails among farmers than any other class of
people, is owing to their undertaking the mending of rotten rail-fences
in warm, relaxing spring weather. The enterprise is a hopeless one. It
is a laborious one; it is a bootless one. It is an enterprise to make
the heart break. Vast pains squandered upon a vanity. For how can one
make rotten rail-fences stand up on their rotten pins? By what magic
put pitch into sticks which have lain freezing and baking through sixty
consecutive winters and summers? This it is, this wretched endeavor to
mend rotten rail-fences with their own rotten rails, which drives many
farmers into the asylum.

On the face of the old man in question incipient idiocy was plainly
marked. For, about sixty rods before him extended one of the most
unhappy and desponding broken-hearted Virginia rail-fences I ever
saw in my life. While in a field behind, were a set of young steers,
possessed as by devils, continually butting at this forlorn old fence,
and breaking through it here and there, causing the old man to drop
his work and chase them back within bounds. He would chase them with
a piece of rail huge as Goliath's beam, but as light as cork. At the
first flourish, it crumbled into powder.

"My friend," said I, addressing this woeful mortal, "have you heard an
extraordinary cock-crow of late?"

I might as well as have asked him if he had heard the death-tick. He
stared at me with a long, bewildered, doleful, and unutterable stare,
and without reply resumed his unhappy labors.

What a fool, thought I, to have asked such an uncheerful and
uncheerable creature about a cheerful cock!

I walked on. I had now descended the high land where my house stood,
and being in a low tract could not hear the crow of the Shanghai, which
doubtless overshot me there. Besides, the Shanghai might be at lunch of
corn and oats, or taking a nap, and so interrupted his jubilations for
a while.

At length, I encountered riding along the road, a portly
gentleman--nay, a _pursy_ one--of great wealth, who had recently
purchased him some noble acres, and built him a noble mansion, with a
goodly fowl-house attached, the fame whereof spread through all the
country. Thought I, Here now is the owner of the Shanghai.

"Sir," said I, "excuse me, but I am a countryman of yours, and would
ask, if so be you own any Shanghais?"

"Oh, yes; I have ten Shanghais."

"Ten!" exclaimed I, in wonder; "and do they all crow?"

"Most lustily; every soul of them; I wouldn't own a cock that wouldn't
crow."

"Will you turn back, and show me those Shanghais?"

"With pleasure: I am proud of them. They cost me, in the lump, six
hundred dollars."

As I walked by the side of his horse, I was thinking to myself whether
possibly I had not mistaken the harmoniously combined crowings of ten
Shanghais in a squad, for the supernatural crow of a single Shanghai by
himself.

"Sir," said I, "is there one of your Shanghais which far exceeds all
the others in the lustiness, musicalness, and inspiring effects of his
crow?"

"They crow pretty much alike, I believe," he courteously replied. "I
really don't know that I could tell their crow apart."

I began to think that after all my noble chanticleer might not be in
the possession of this wealthy gentleman. However, we went into his
fowl-yard, and saw his Shanghais. Let me say that hitherto I had never
clapped eye on this species of imported fowl. I had heard what enormous
prices were paid for them, and also that they were of an enormous
size, and had somehow fancied they must be of a beauty and brilliancy
proportioned both to size and price. What was my surprise, then, to
see ten carrot-colored monsters, without the smallest pretension to
effulgence of plumage. Immediately, I determined that my royal cock was
neither among these, nor could possibly be a Shanghai at all; if these
gigantic gallows-bird fowl were fair specimens of the true Shanghai.

I walked all day, dining and resting at a farmhouse, inspecting various
fowl-yards, interrogating various owners of fowls, hearkening to
various crows, but discovered not the mysterious chanticleer. Indeed,
I had wandered so far and deviously, that I could not hear his crow. I
began to suspect that this cock was a mere visitor in the country, who
had taken his departure by the eleven o'clock train for the South, and
was now crowing and jubilating somewhere on the verdant banks of Long
Island Sound.

But next morning, again I heard the inspiring blast, again felt
my blood bound in me, again felt superior to all the ills of life,
again felt like turning my dun out of doors. But displeased with the
reception given him at his last visit, the dun stayed away, doubtless
being in a huff. Silly fellow that he was to take a harmless joke in
earnest.

Several days passed, during which I made sundry excursions in the
regions roundabout, but in vain sought the cock. Still, I heard him
from the hill, and sometimes from the house, and sometimes in the
stillness of the night. If at times I would relapse into my doleful
dumps straightway at the sound of the exultant and defiant crow, my
soul, too, would turn chanticleer, and clap her wings, and throw back
her throat, and breathe forth a cheerful challenge to all the world of
woes.

At last, after some weeks I was necessitated to clap another mortgage
on my estate, in order to pay certain debts, and among others the one
I owed the dun, who of late had commenced a civil-process against me.
The way the process was served was a most insulting one. In a private
room I had been enjoying myself in the village tavern over a bottle of
Philadelphia porter, and some Herkimer cheese, and a roll, and having
apprised the landlord, who was a friend of mine, that I would settle
with him when I received my next remittances, stepped to the peg where
I had hung my hat in the bar-room, to get a choice cigar I had left in
the hall, when lo! I found the civil-process enveloping the cigar. When
I unrolled the cigar, I unrolled the civil-process, and the constable
standing by rolled out, with a thick tongue, "Take notice!" and added,
in a whisper, "Put that in your pipe and smoke it!"

I turned short round upon the gentlemen then and there present in that
bar-room. Said I, "Gentlemen, is this an honorable--nay, is this a
lawful way of serving a civil-process? Behold!"

One and all they were of opinion, that it was a highly inelegant act
in the constable to take advantage of a gentleman's lunching on cheese
and porter, to be so uncivil as to slip a civil-process into his hat.
It was ungenerous; it was cruel; for the sudden shock of the thing
coming instanter upon the lunch, would impair the proper digestion
of the cheese, which is proverbially not so easy of digestion as
_blanc-mange_.

Arrived at home I read the process, and felt a twinge of melancholy.
Hard world! hard world! Here I am, as good a fellow as ever
lived--hospitable--open-hearted--generous to a fault; and the Fates
forbid that I should possess the fortune to bless the country with
my bounteousness. Nay, while many a stingy curmudgeon rolls in
idle gold, I, heart of nobleness as I am, I have civil-processes
served on me! I bowed my head, and felt forlorn--unjustly
used--abused--unappreciated--in short, miserable.

Hark! like a clarion! yea, like a bolt of thunder with bells to
it--came the all-glorious and defiant crow! Ye gods, how it set me up
again! Right on my pins! Yes, verily on stilts!

Oh, noble cock!

Plain as cock could speak, it said, "Let the world and all aboard of
it go to pot. Do you be jolly, and never say die! What's the world
compared to you? What is it, anyhow, but a lump of loam? Do you be
jolly!"

Oh, noble cock!

"But my dear and glorious cock," mused I, upon second thought, "one
can't so easily send this world to pot; one can't so easily be jolly
with civil-processes in his hat or hand."

Hark! the crow again. Plain as cock could speak, it said: "Hang the
process, and hang the fellow that sent it! If you have not land or
cash, go and thrash the fellow, and tell him you never mean to pay him.
Be jolly!"

Now this was the way--through the imperative intimations of the
cock--that I came to clap the added mortgage on my estate; paid all my
debts by fusing them into this one added bond and mortgage. Thus made
at ease again, I renewed my search for the noble cock. But in vain,
though I heard him every day. I began to think there was some sort
of deception in this mysterious thing: some wonderful ventriloquist
prowled around my barns, or in my cellar, or on my roof, and was minded
to be gayly mischievous. But no--what ventriloquist could so crow with
such an heroic and celestial crow?

At last, one morning there came to me a certain singular man, who had
sawed and split my wood in March--some five-and-thirty cords of it--and
now he came for his pay. He was a singular man, I say. He was tall
and spare, with a long saddish face, yet somehow a latently joyous
eye, which offered the strangest contrast. His air seemed staid, but
undepressed. He wore a long, gray, shabby coat, and a big battered hat.
This man had sawed my wood at so much a cord. He would stand and saw
all day in a driving snow-storm, and never wink at it. He never spoke
unless spoken to. He only sawed. Saw, saw, saw--snow, snow, snow. The
saw and the snow went together like two natural things. The first day
this man came, he brought his dinner with him, and volunteered to eat
it sitting on his buck in the snow-storm. From my window, where I was
reading Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_, I saw him in the act. I burst
out of doors bareheaded. "Good heavens!" cried I; "what are you doing?
Come in. _This_ your dinner!"

He had a hunk of stale bread and another hunk of salt beef, wrapped in
a wet newspaper, and washed his morsels down by melting a handful of
fresh snow in his mouth. I took this rash man indoors, planted him by
the fire, gave him a dish of hot pork and beans, and a mug of cider.

"Now," said I, "don't you bring any of your damp dinners here. You work
by the job, to be sure; but I'll dine you for all that."

He expressed his acknowledgments in a calm, proud, but not ungrateful
way, and dispatched his meal with satisfaction to himself, and me
also. It afforded me pleasure to perceive that he quaffed down his
mug of cider like a man. I honored him. When I addressed him in the
way of business at his buck, I did so in a guardedly respectful and
deferential manner. Interested in his singular aspect, struck by his
wondrous intensity of application at his saw--a most wearisome and
disgustful occupation to most people--I often sought to gather from
him who he was, what sort of a life he led, where he was born, and so
on. But he was mum. He came to saw my wood, and eat my dinners--if I
chose to offer them--but not to gabble. At first, I somewhat resented
his sullen silence under the circumstances. But better considering
it, I honored him the more. I increased the respectfulness and
deferentialness of my address toward him. I concluded within myself
that this man had experienced hard times; that he had had many sore
rubs in the world; that he was of a solemn disposition; that he was
of the mind of Solomon; that he lived calmly, decorously, temperately;
and though a very poor man, was, nevertheless, a highly respectable
one. At times I imagined that he might even be an elder or deacon of
some small country church. I thought it would not be a bad plan to run
this excellent man for President of the United States. He would prove a
great reformer of abuses.

His name was Merrymusk. I had often thought how jolly a name for so
unjolly a wight. I inquired of people whether they knew Merrymusk.
But it was some time before I learned much about him. He was by birth
a Marylander, it appeared, who had long lived in the country round
about; a wandering man; until within some ten years ago, a thriftless
man, though perfectly innocent of crime; a man who would work hard a
month with surprising soberness, and then spend all his wages in one
riotous night. In youth he had been a sailor, and run away from his
ship at Batavia, where he caught the fever, and came nigh dying. But he
rallied, reshipped, landed home, found all his friends dead, and struck
for the Northern interior, where he had since tarried. Nine years back
he had married a wife, and now had four children. His wife was become
a perfect invalid; one child had the white-swelling and the rest were
rickety. He and his family lived in a shanty on a lonely barren patch
nigh the railroad track, where it passed close to the base of the
mountain. He had bought a fine cow to have plenty of wholesome milk for
his children; but the cow died during an accouchement, and he could not
afford to buy another. Still, his family never suffered for lack of
food. He worked hard and brought it to them.

Now, as I said before, having long previously sawed my wood, this
Merrymusk came for his pay.

"My friend," said I, "do you know of any gentleman hereabouts who owns
an extraordinary cock?"

The twinkle glittered quite plain in the wood-sawyer's eye.

"I know of no _gentleman_," he replied, "who has what might well be
called an extraordinary cock."

Oh, thought I, this Merrymusk is not the man to enlighten me. I am
afraid I shall never discover this extraordinary cock.

Not having the full change to pay Merrymusk, I gave him his due, as
nigh as I could make it, and told him that in a day or two I would take
a walk and visit his place, and hand to him the remainder. Accordingly
one fine morning I sallied forth upon the errand. I had much ado
finding the best road to the shanty. No one seemed to know where it was
exactly. It lay in a very lonely part of the country, a densely-wooded
mountain on one side (which I call October Mountain, on account of its
bannered aspect in that month), and a thicketed swamp on the other, the
railroad cutting the swamp. Straight as a die the railroad cut it; many
times a day tantalizing the wretched shanty with the sight of all the
beauty, rank, fashion, health, trunks, silver and gold, dry-goods and
groceries, brides and grooms, happy wives and husbands, flying by the
lonely door--no time to stop--flash! here they are--and there they go!
out of sight at both ends--as if that part of the world were only made
to fly over, and not to settle upon. And this was about all the shanty
saw of what people call life.

Though puzzled somewhat, yet I knew the general direction where the
shanty lay, and on I trudged. As I advanced, I was surprised to hear
the mysterious cock crow with more and more distinctness. Is it
possible, thought I, that any gentleman owning a Shanghai can dwell in
such a lonesome, dreary region? Louder and louder, nigher and nigher,
sounded the glorious and defiant clarion. Though somehow I may be out
of the track to my wood-sawyer's, I said to myself, yet, thank heaven,
I seem to be on the way toward that extraordinary cock. I was delighted
with this auspicious accident. On I journeyed; while at intervals the
crow sounded most invitingly, and jocundly, and superbly; and the
last crow was ever nigher than the former one. At last, emerging from
a thicket of elders, straight before me I saw the most resplendent
creature that ever blessed the sight of man.

A cock, more like a golden eagle than a cock. A cock, more like a
field marshal than a cock. A cock, more like Lord Nelson with all his
glittering arms on, standing on the Vanguard's quarter-deck going into
battle, than a cock. A cock, more like the Emperor Charlemagne in his
robes at Aix la Chapelle, than a cock.

Such a cock!

He was of a haughty size, stood haughtily on his haughty legs. His
colors were red, gold, and white. The red was on his crest along,
which was a mighty and symmetric crest, like unto Hector's helmet, as
delineated on antique shields. His plumage was snowy, traced with gold.
He walked in front of the shanty, like a peer of the realm; his crest
lifted, his chest heaved out, his embroidered trappings flashing in the
light. His pace was wonderful. He looked like some Oriental king in
some magnificent Italian opera.

Merrymusk advanced from the door.

"Pray is not that the Signor Beneventano?"

"Sir!"

"That's the cock," said I, a little embarrassed. The truth was, my
enthusiasm had betrayed me into a rather silly inadvertence. I had made
a somewhat learned sort of allusion in the presence of an unlearned
man. Consequently, upon discovering it by his honest stare, I felt
foolish; but carried it off by declaring that _this was the cock_.

Now, during the preceding autumn I had been to the city, and had
chanced to be present at a performance of the Italian Opera. In that
opera figured in some royal character a certain Signor Beneventano--a
man of a tall, imposing person, clad in rich raiment, like to plumage,
and with a most remarkable, majestic, scornful stride. The Signor
Beneventano seemed on the point of tumbling over backward with
exceeding haughtiness. And, for all the world, the proud pace of the
cock seemed the very stage-pace of the Signor Beneventano.

Hark! suddenly the cock paused, lifted his head still higher, ruffled
his plumes, seemed inspired, and sent forth a lusty crow. October
Mountain echoed it; other mountains sent it back; still others
rebounded it; it overran the country round. Now I plainly perceived how
it was I had chanced to hear the gladdening sound on my distant hill.

"Good heavens! do you own the cock? Is that cock yours?"

"Is it my cock!" said Merrymusk, looking slyly gleeful out of the
corner of his long, solemn face.

"Where did you get it?"

"It chipped the shell here. I raised it."

"You?"

Hark? Another crow. It might have raised the ghosts of all the pines
and hemlocks ever cut down in that country. Marvelous cock! Having
crowed, he strode on again, surrounded by a bevy of admiring hens.

"What will you take for Signor Beneventano?"

"Sir?"

"That magic cock--what will you take for him?"

"I won't sell him."

"I will give you fifty dollars."

"Pooh!"

"One hundred!"

"Pish!"

"Five hundred!"

"Bah!"

"And you a poor man."

"No; don't I own that cock, and haven't I refused five hundred dollars
for him?"

"True," said I, in profound thought; "that's a fact. You won't sell
him, then?"

"No."

"Will you give him?"

"No."

"Will you _keep_ him, then!" I shouted, in a rage.

"Yes."

I stood awhile admiring the cock, and wondering at the man. At last I
felt a redoubled admiration of the one, and a redoubled deference for
the other.

"Won't you step in?" said Merrymusk.

"But won't the cock be prevailed upon to join us?" said I.

"Yes. Trumpet! hither, boy! hither!"

The cock turned round, and strode up to Merrymusk.

"Come!"

The cock followed us into the shanty.

"Crow!"

The roof jarred.

Oh, noble cock!

I turned in silence upon my entertainer. There he sat on an old
battered chest, in his old battered gray coat, with patches at his
knees and elbows, and a deplorably bunged hat. I glanced round the
room. Bare rafters overhead, but solid junks of jerked beef hanging
from them. Earth floor, but a heap of potatoes in one corner, and
a sack of Indian meal in another. A blanket was strung across the
apartment at the further end, from which came a woman's ailing voice
and the voices of ailing children. But somehow in the ailing of these
voices there seemed no complaint.

"Mrs. Merrymusk and children?"

"Yes."

I looked at the cock. There he stood majestically in the middle of
the room. He looked like a Spanish grandee caught in a shower, and
standing under some peasant's shed. There was a strange supernatural
look of contrast about him. He irradiated the shanty; he glorified its
meanness. He glorified the battered chest, and tattered gray coat, and
the bunged hat. He glorified the very voices which came in ailing tones
from behind the screen.

"Oh, father," cried a little sickly voice, "let Trumpet sound again."

"Crow," cried Merrymusk.

The cock threw himself into a posture. The roof jarred.

"Does not this disturb Mrs. Merrymusk and the sick children?"

"Crow again, Trumpet."

The roof jarred.

"It does not disturb them, then?"

"Didn't you hear 'em _ask_ for it?"

"How is it, that your sick family like this crowing?" said I. "The cock
is a glorious cock, with a glorious voice, but not exactly the sort of
thing for a sick chamber, one would suppose. Do they really like it?"

"Don't _you_ like it? Don't it do _you_ good? Ain't it inspiring? Don't
it impart pluck? give stuff against despair?"

"All true," said I, removing my hat with profound humility before the
brave spirit disguised in the base coat.

"But then," said I, still with some misgivings, "so loud, so
wonderfully clamorous a crow, methinks might be amiss to invalids, and
retard their convalescence."

"Crow your best now, Trumpet!"

I leaped from my chair. The cock frightened me, like some overpowering
angel in the Apocalypse. He seemed crowing over the fall of wicked
Babylon, or crowing over the triumph of righteous Joshua in the vale of
Askelon. When I regained my composure somewhat, an inquisitive thought
occurred to me. I resolved to gratify it.

"Merrymusk, will you present me to your wife and children?"

"Yes. Wife, the gentleman wants to step in."

"He is very welcome," replied a weak voice.

Going behind the curtain, there lay a wasted, but strangely cheerful
human face; and that was pretty much all; the body, hid by the
counterpane and an old coat, seemed too shrunken to reveal itself
through such impediments. At the bedside sat a pale girl, ministering.
In another bed lay three children, side by side; three more pale faces.

"Oh, father, we don't mislike the gentleman, but let us see Trumpet
too."

At a word, the cock strode behind the screen, and perched himself on
the children's bed. All their wasted eyes gazed at him with a wild and
spiritual delight. They seemed to sun themselves in the radiant plumage
of the cock.

"Better than a 'pothecary, eh," said Merrymusk. "This is Dr. Cock
himself."

We retired from the sick ones, and I reseated myself again, lost in
thought, over this strange household.

"You seem a glorious independent fellow," said I.

"And I don't think you a fool, and never did. Sir, you are a trump."

"Is there any hope of your wife's recovery?" said I, modestly seeking
to turn the conversation.

"Not the least."

"The children?"

"Very little."

"It must be a doleful life, then, for all concerned. This lonely
solitude--this shanty--hard work--hard times."

"Haven't I Trumpet? He's the cheerer. He crows through all; crows at
the darkest: Glory to God in the highest! Continually he crows it."

"Just the import I first ascribed to his crow, Merrymusk, when first
I heard it from my hill. I thought some rich nabob owned some costly
Shanghai; little weening any such poor man as you owned this lusty cock
of a domestic breed."

"_Poor_ man like _me_? Why call _me_ poor? Don't the cock _I_ own
glorify this otherwise inglorious, lean, lantern-jawed land? Didn't
_my_ cock encourage _you_? And _I_ give you all this glorification away
gratis. I am a great philanthropist. I am a rich man--a very rich man,
and a very happy one. Crow, Trumpet."

The roof jarred.

I returned home in a deep mood. I was not wholly at rest concerning the
soundness of Merrymusk's views of things, though full of admiration for
him. I was thinking on the matter before my door, when I heard the cock
crow again. Enough. Merrymusk is right.

Oh, noble cock! oh, noble man!

I did not see Merrymusk for some weeks after this; but hearing the
glorious and rejoicing crow, I supposed that all went as usual with
him. My own frame of mind remained a rejoicing one. The cock still
inspired me. I saw another mortgage piled on my plantation; but only
bought another dozen of stout, and a dozen-dozen of Philadelphia
porter. Some of my relatives died; I wore no mourning, but for three
days drank stout in preference to porter, stout being of the darker
color. I heard the cock crow the instant I received the unwelcome
tidings.

"Your health in this stout, oh, noble cock!"

I thought I would call on Merrymusk again, not having seen or heard of
him for some time now. Approaching the place, there were no signs of
motion about the shanty. I felt a strange misgiving. But the cock crew
from within doors, and the boding vanished. I knocked at the door. A
feeble voice bade me enter. The curtain was no longer drawn; the whole
house was a hospital now. Merrymusk lay on a heap of old clothes; wife
and children were all in their beds. The cock was perched on an old
hogshead hoop, swung from the ridge-pole in the middle of the shanty.

"You are sick, Merrymusk," said I mournfully.

"No, I am well," he feebly answered.--

"Crow, Trumpet."

I shrunk. The strong soul in the feeble body appalled me.

But the cock crew.

The roof jarred.

"How is Mrs. Merrymusk?"

"Well."

"And the children?"

"Well. All well."

The last two words he shouted forth in a kind of wild ecstasy of
triumph over ill. It was too much. His head fell back. A white napkin
seemed dropped upon his face. Merrymusk was dead.

An awful fear seized me.

But the cock crew.

The cock shook his plumage as if each feather were a banner. The cock
hung from the shanty roof as erewhile the trophied flags from the dome
of St. Paul's. The cock terrified me with exceeding wonder.

I drew nigh the bedsides of the woman and children. They marked my look
of strange affright; they knew what had happened.

"My good man is just dead," breathed the woman lowly. "Tell me true?"

"Dead," said I.

The cock crew.

She fell back, without a sigh, and through long-loving sympathy was
dead.

The cock crew.

The cock shook sparkles from his golden plumage. The cock seemed in
a rapture of benevolent delight. Leaping from the hoop, he strode
up majestically to the pile of old clothes, where the wood-sawyer
lay, and planted himself, like an armorial supporter, at his side.
Then raised one long, musical, triumphant, and final sort of a crow,
with throat heaved far back, as if he meant the blast to waft the
wood-sawyer's soul sheer up to the seventh heavens. Then he strode,
king-like, to the woman's bed. Another upturned and exultant crow,
mated to the former.

The pallor of the children was changed to radiance. Their faces shone
celestially through grime and dirt. They seemed children of emperors
and kings, disguised. The cock sprang upon their bed, shook himself,
and crowed, and crowed again, and still and still again. He seemed bent
upon crowing the souls of the children out of their wasted bodies. He
seemed bent upon rejoining instanter this whole family in the upper
air. The children seemed to second his endeavors. Far, deep, intense
longings for release transfigured them into spirits before my eyes. I
saw angels where they lay.

They were dead.

The cock shook his plumage over them. The cock crew. It was now like a
Bravo! like a Hurrah! like a Three-times-three! hip! hip! He strode
out of the shanty. I followed. He flew upon the apex of the dwelling,
spread wide his wings, sounded one supernatural note, and dropped at my
feet.

The cock was dead.

If now you visit that hilly region, you will see, nigh the railroad
track, just beneath October Mountain, on the other side of the
swamp--there you will see a gravestone, not with skull and cross-bones,
but with a lusty cock in act of crowing, chiseled on it, with the words
beneath:

    "_O death, where is thy sting?
     O grave, where is thy victory?_"

The wood-sawyer and his family, with the Signor Beneventano, lie in
that spot; and I buried them, and planted the stone, which was a stone
made to order; and never since then have I felt the doleful dumps, but
under all circumstances crow late and early with a continual crow.

Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!--oo!--oo!--oo!--oo!



THE FIDDLER


So my poem is damned, and immortal fame is not for me! I am nobody
forever and ever. Intolerable fate!

Snatching my hat, I dashed down the criticism and rushed out into
Broadway, where enthusiastic throngs were crowding to a circus in a
side-street near by, very recently started, and famous for a capital
clown.

Presently my old friend Standard rather boisterously accosted me.

"Well met, Helmstone, my boy! Ah! what's the matter? Haven't been
committing murder? Ain't flying justice? You look wild!"

"You have seen it, then!" said I, of course referring to the criticism.

"Oh, yes; I was there at the morning performance. Great clown, I assure
you. But here comes Hautboy. Hautboy--Helmstone."

Without having time or inclination to resent so mortifying a mistake, I
was instantly soothed as I gazed on the face of the new acquaintance
so unceremoniously introduced. His person was short and full, with a
juvenile, animated cast to it. His complexion rurally ruddy; his eye
sincere, cheery, and gray. His hair alone betrayed that he was not an
overgrown boy. From his hair I set him down as forty or more.

"Come, Standard," he gleefully cried to my friend, "are you not going
to the circus? The clown is inimitable, they say. Come, Mr. Helmstone,
too--come both; and circus over, we'll take a nice stew and punch at
Taylor's."

The sterling content, good-humor, and extraordinary ruddy, sincere
expression of this most singular new acquaintance acted upon me like
magic. It seemed mere loyalty to human nature to accept an invitation
from so unmistakably kind and honest a heart.

During the circus performance I kept my eye more on Hautboy than on the
celebrated clown. Hautboy was the sight for me. Such genuine enjoyment
as his struck me to the soul with a sense of the reality of the thing
called happiness. The jokes of the clown he seemed to roll under his
tongue as ripe magnumbonums. Now the foot, now the hand, was employed
to attest his grateful applause. At any hit more than ordinary, he
turned upon Standard and me to see if his rare pleasure was shared.
In a man of forty I saw a boy of twelve; and this too without the
slightest abatement of my respect. Because all was so honest and
natural, every expression and attitude so graceful with genuine
good-nature, that the marvelous juvenility of Hautboy assumed a sort
of divine and immortal air, like that of some forever youthful god of
Greece.

But much as I gazed upon Hautboy, and much as I admired his air, yet
that desperate mood in which I had first rushed from the house had not
so entirely departed as not to molest me with momentary returns. But
from these relapses I would rouse myself, and swiftly glance round
the broad amphitheatre of eagerly interested and all-applauding human
faces. Hark! claps, thumps, deafening huzzas; the vast assembly seemed
frantic with acclamation; and what, mused I, has caused all this? Why,
the clown only comically grinned with one of his extra grins.

Then I repeated in my mind that sublime passage in my poem, in which
Cleothemes the Argive vindicates the justice of the war. Ay, ay,
thought I to myself, did I now leap into the ring there, and repeat
that identical passage, nay, enact the whole tragic poem before them,
would they applaud the poet as they applaud the clown? No! They would
hoot me, and call me doting or mad. Then what does this prove? Your
infatuation or their insensibility? Perhaps both; but indubitably the
first. But why wail? Do you seek admiration from the admirers of a
buffoon? Call to mind the saying of the Athenian, who, when the people
vociferously applauded in the forum, asked his friend in a whisper,
what foolish thing had he said?

Again my eye swept the circus, and fell on the ruddy radiance of the
countenance of Hautboy. But its clear honest cheeriness disdained my
disdain. My intolerant pride was rebuked. And yet Hautboy dreamed not
what magic reproof to a soul like mine sat on his laughing brow. At the
very instant I felt the dart of the censure, his eye twinkled, his hand
waved, his voice was lifted in jubilant delight at another joke of the
inexhaustible clown.

Circus over, we went to Taylor's. Among crowds of others, we sat down
to our stews and punches at one of the small marble tables. Hautboy
sat opposite to me. Though greatly subdued from its former hilarity,
his face still shone with gladness. But added to this was a quality
not so prominent before; a certain serene expression of leisurely,
deep good sense. Good sense and good humor in him joined hands. As
the conversation proceeded between the brisk Standard and him--for I
said little or nothing--I was more and more struck with the excellent
judgment he evinced. In most of his remarks upon a variety of topics
Hautboy seemed intuitively to hit the exact line between enthusiasm and
apathy. It was plain that while Hautboy saw the world pretty much as it
was, yet he did not theoretically espouse its bright side nor its dark
side. Rejecting all solutions, he but acknowledged facts. What was sad
in the world he did not superficially gainsay; what was glad in it he
did not cynically slur; and all which was to him personally enjoyable,
he gratefully took to his heart. It was plain, then--so it seemed at
that moment, at least--that his extraordinary cheerfulness did not
arise either from deficiency of feeling or thought.

Suddenly remembering an engagement, he took up his hat, bowed
pleasantly, and left us.

"Well, Helmstone," said Standard, inaudibly drumming on the slab, "what
do you think of your new acquaintance?"

The last two words tingled with a peculiar and novel significance.

"New acquaintance indeed," echoed I. "Standard, I owe you a thousand
thanks for introducing me to one of the most singular men I have ever
seen. It needed the optical sight of such a man to believe in the
possibility of his existence."

"You rather like him, then," said Standard, with ironical dryness.

"I hugely love and admire him, Standard. I wish I were Hautboy."

"Ah? That's a pity now. There's only one Hautboy in the world."

This last remark set me to pondering again, and somehow it revived my
dark mood.

"His wonderful cheerfulness, I suppose," said I, sneering with spleen,
"originates not less in a felicitous fortune than in a felicitous
temper. His great good sense is apparent; but great good sense may
exist without sublime endowments. Nay, I take it, in certain cases,
that good sense is simply owing to the absence of those. Much more,
cheerfulness. Unpossessed of genius, Hautboy is eternally blessed."

"Ah? You would not think him an extraordinary genius then?"

"Genius? What! Such a short, fat fellow a genius! Genius, like Cassius,
is lank."

"Ah? But could you not fancy that Hautboy might formerly have had
genius, but luckily getting rid of it, at last fatted up?"

"For a genius to get rid of his genius is as impossible as for a man in
the galloping consumption to get rid of that."

"Ah? You speak very decidedly."

"Yes, Standard," cried I, increasing in spleen, "your cheery Hautboy,
after all, is no pattern, no lesson for you and me. With average
abilities; opinions clear, because circumscribed; passions docile,
because they are feeble; a temper hilarious, because he was born to
it--how can your Hautboy be made a reasonable example to a heady fellow
like you, or an ambitious dreamer like me? Nothing tempts him beyond
common limit; in himself he has nothing to restrain. By constitution
he is exempted from all moral harm. Could ambition but prick him; had
he but once heard applause, or endured contempt, a very different man
would your Hautboy be. Acquiescent and calm from the cradle to the
grave, he obviously slides through the crowd."

"Ah?"

"Why do you say _ah_ to me so strangely whenever I speak?"

"Did you ever hear of Master Betty?"

"The great English prodigy, who long ago ousted the Siddons and
the Kembles from Drury Lane, and made the whole town run mad with
acclamation?"

"The same," said Standard, once more inaudibly drumming on the slab.

I looked at him perplexed. He seemed to be holding the master-key of
our theme in mysterious reserve; seemed to be throwing out his Master
Betty too, to puzzle me only the more.

"What under heaven can Master Betty, the great genius and prodigy, an
English boy twelve years old, have to do with the poor commonplace
plodder Hautboy, an American of forty?"

"Oh, nothing in the least. I don't imagine that they ever saw each
other. Besides, Master Betty must be dead and buried long ere this."

"Then why cross the ocean, and rifle the grave to drag his remains into
this living discussion?"

"Absent-mindedness, I suppose. I humbly beg pardon. Proceed with your
observations on Hautboy. You think he never had genius, quite too
contented and happy, and fat for that--ah? You think him no pattern for
men in general? affording no lesson of value to neglected merit, genius
ignored, or impotent presumption rebuked?--all of which three amount to
much the same thing. You admire his cheerfulness, while scorning his
commonplace soul. Poor Hautboy, how sad that your very cheerfulness
should, by a by-blow, bring you despite!"

"I don't say I scorn him; you are unjust. I simply declare that he is
no pattern for me."

A sudden noise at my side attracted my ear. Turning, I saw Hautboy
again, who very blithely reseated himself on the chair he had left.

"I was behind time with my engagement," said Hautboy, "so thought I
would run back and rejoin you. But come, you have sat long enough here.
Let us go to my rooms. It is only five minutes' walk."

"If you will promise to fiddle for us, we will," said Standard.

Fiddle! thought I--he's a jigembob _fiddler_ then? No wonder genius
declines to measure its pace to a fiddler's bow. My spleen was very
strong on me now.

"I will gladly fiddle you your fill," replied Hautboy to Standard.
"Come on."

In a few minutes we found ourselves in the fifth story of a sort of
storehouse, in a lateral street to Broadway. It was curiously furnished
with all sorts of odd furniture which seemed to have been obtained,
piece by piece, at auctions of old-fashioned household stuff. But all
was charmingly clean and cosy.

Pressed by Standard, Hautboy forthwith got out his dented old fiddle,
and sitting down on a tall rickety stool, played away right merrily
at Yankee Doodle and other off-handed, dashing, and disdainfully
care-free airs. But common as were the tunes, I was transfixed by
something miraculously superior in the style. Sitting there on the old
stool, his rusty hat sideways cocked on his head, one foot dangling
adrift, he plied the bow of an enchanter. All my moody discontent,
every vestige of peevishness fled. My whole splenetic soul capitulated
to the magical fiddle.

"Something of an Orpheus, ah?" said Standard, archly nudging me beneath
the left rib.

"And I, the charmed Bruin," murmured I.

The fiddle ceased. Once more, with redoubled curiosity, I gazed upon
the easy, indifferent Hautboy. But he entirely baffled inquisition.

When, leaving him, Standard and I were in the street once more, I
earnestly conjured him to tell me who, in sober truth, this marvelous
Hautboy was.

"Why, haven't you seen him? And didn't you yourself lay his whole
anatomy open on the marble slab at Taylor's? What more can you possibly
learn? Doubtless your own masterly insight has already put you in
possession of all."

"You mock me, Standard. There is some mystery here. Tell me, I entreat
you, who is Hautboy?"

"An extraordinary genius, Helmstone," said Standard, with sudden ardor,
"who in boyhood drained the whole flagon of glory; whose going from
city to city was a going from triumph to triumph. One who has been
an object of wonder to the wisest, been caressed by the loveliest,
received the open homage of thousands on thousands of the rabble. But
to-day he walks Broadway and no man knows him. With you and me, the
elbow of the hurrying clerk, and the pole of the remorseless omnibus,
shove him. He who has a hundred times been crowned with laurels, now
wears, as you see, a bunged beaver. Once fortune poured showers of gold
into his lap, as showers of laurel leaves upon his brow. To-day, from
house to house he hies, teaching fiddling for a living. Crammed once
with fame, he is now hilarious without it. _With_ genius and _without_
fame, he is happier than a king. More a prodigy now than ever."

"His true name?"

"Let me whisper it in your ear."

"What! Oh, Standard, myself, as a child, have shouted myself hoarse
applauding that very name in the theatre."

"I have heard your poem was not very handsomely received," said
Standard, now suddenly shifting the subject.

"Not a word of that, for heaven's sake!" cried I. "If Cicero, traveling
in the East, found sympathetic solace for his grief in beholding the
arid overthrow of a once gorgeous city, shall not my petty affair be as
nothing, when I behold in Hautboy the vine and the rose climbing the
shattered shafts of his tumbled temple of Fame?"

Next day I tore all my manuscripts, bought me a fiddle, and went to
take regular lessons of Hautboy.



POOR MAN'S PUDDING AND RICH MAN'S CRUMBS


PICTURE FIRST

POOR MAN'S PUDDING

"You see," said poet Blandmour, enthusiastically--as some forty years
ago we walked along the road in a soft, moist snowfall, toward the
end of March--"you see, my friend, that the blessed almoner, Nature,
is in all things beneficent; and not only so, but considerate in
her charities, as any discreet human philanthropist might be. This
snow, now, which seems so unseasonable, is in fact just what a poor
husbandman needs. Rightly is this soft March snow, falling just before
seed-time, rightly it is called 'Poor Man's Manure.' Distilling from
kind heaven upon the soil, by a gentle penetration it nourishes every
clod, ridge, and furrow. To the poor farmer it is as good as the rich
farmer's farmyard enrichments. And the poor man has no trouble to
spread it, while the rich man has to spread his."

"Perhaps so," said I, without equal enthusiasm, brushing some of the
damp flakes from my chest. "It may be as you say, dear Blandmour. But
tell me, how is it that the wind drives yonder drifts of 'Poor Man's
Manure' off poor Coulter's two-acre patch here, and piles it up yonder
on rich Squire Teamster's twenty-acre field?"

"Ah! to be sure--yes--well; Coulter's field, I suppose is sufficiently
moist without further moistenings. Enough is as good as a feast, you
know."

"Yes," replied I, "of this sort of damp fare," shaking another shower
of the damp flakes from my person. "But tell me, this warm spring snow
may answer very well, as you say; but how is it with the cold snows of
the long, long winters here?"

"Why, do you not remember the words of the Psalmist?--'The Lord giveth
snow like wool'; meaning not only that snow is white as wool, but
warm, too, as wool. For the only reason, as I take it, that wool is
comfortable, is because air is entangled, and therefore warmed among
its fibres. Just so, then, take the temperature of a December field
when covered with this snow-fleece, and you will no doubt find it
several degrees above that of the air. So, you see, the winter's snow
_itself_ is beneficent; under the pretense of frost--a sort of gruff
philanthropist--actually warming the earth, which afterward is to be
fertilizingly moistened by these gentle flakes of March."

"I like to hear you talk, dear Blandmour; and, guided by your
benevolent heart, can only wish to poor Coulter plenty of this 'Poor
Man's Manure.'"

"But that is not all," said Blandmour, eagerly. "Did you never hear of
the 'Poor Man's Eye-water'?"

"Never."

"Take this soft March snow, melt it, and bottle it. It keeps pure as
alcohol. The very best thing in the world for weak eyes. I have a whole
demijohn of it myself. But the poorest man, afflicted in his eyes, can
freely help himself to this same all-bountiful remedy. Now, what a kind
provision is that!"

"Then 'Poor Man's Manure' is 'Poor Man's Eye-water' too?"

"Exactly. And what could be more economically contrived? One thing
answering two ends--ends so very distinct."

"Very distinct, indeed."

"Ah! that is your way. Making sport of earnest. But never mind. We have
been talking of snow; but common rain-water--such as falls all the year
round--is still more kindly. Not to speak of its known fertilizing
quality as to fields, consider it in one of its minor lights. Pray, did
you ever hear of a 'Poor Man's Egg'?"

"Never. What is that, now?"

"Why, in making some culinary preparations of meal and flour, where
eggs are recommended in the receipt-book, a substitute for the eggs
may be had in a cup of cold rain-water, which acts as leaven. And so a
cup of cold rain-water thus used is called by housewives a 'Poor Man's
Egg.' And many rich men's housekeepers sometimes use it."

"But only when they are out of hen's eggs, I presume, dear Blandmour.
But your talk is--I sincerely say it--most agreeable to me. Talk on."

"Then there's 'Poor Man's Plaster' for wounds and other bodily harms;
an alleviative and curative, compounded of simple, natural things; and
so, being very cheap, is accessible to the poorest sufferers. Rich men
often use 'Poor Man's Plaster'."

"But not without the judicious advice of a fee'd physician, dear
Blandmour."

"Doubtless, they first consult the physician; but that may be an
unnecessary precaution."

"Perhaps so. I do not gainsay it. Go on."

"Well, then, did you ever eat of a 'Poor Man's Pudding'?"

"I never so much as heard of it before."

"Indeed! Well, now you shall eat of one; and you shall eat it, too, as
made, unprompted, by a poor man's wife, and you shall eat it at a poor
man's table, and in a poor man's house. Come now, and if after this
eating, you do not say that a 'Poor Man's Pudding' is as relishable as
a rich man's, I will give up the point altogether; which briefly is:
that, through kind Nature, the poor, out of their very poverty, extract
comfort."

Not to narrate any more of our conversations upon this subject (for
we had several--I being at that time the guest of Blandmour in the
country, for the benefit of my health), suffice it that acting upon
Blandmour's hint, I introduced myself into Coulter's house on a wet
Monday noon (for the snow had thawed), under the innocent pretense of
craving a pedestrian's rest and refreshment for an hour or two.

I was greeted, not without much embarrassment--owing, I suppose to my
dress--but still with unaffected and honest kindness. Dame Coulter was
just leaving the wash-tub to get ready her one o'clock meal against
her good man's return from a deep wood about a mile distant among the
hills, where he was chopping by day's work--seventy-five cents per day
and found himself. The washing being done outside the main building,
under an infirm-looking old shed, the dame stood upon a half-rotten
soaked board to protect her feet, as well as might be, from the
penetrating damp of the bare ground; hence she looked pale and chill.
But her paleness had still another and more secret cause--the paleness
of a mother to be. A quiet, fathomless heart-trouble, too, couched
beneath the mild, resigned blue of her soft and wife-like eye. But
she smiled upon me, as apologizing for the unavoidable disorder of a
Monday and a washing-day, and, conducting me into the kitchen, set me
down in the best seat it had--an old-fashioned chair of an enfeebled
constitution.

I thanked her; and sat rubbing my hands before the ineffectual low
fire, and--unobservantly as I could--glancing now and then about the
room, while the good woman, throwing on more sticks said she was sorry
the room was no warmer. Something more she said, too--not repiningly,
however--of the fuel, as old and damp; picked-up sticks in Squire
Teamster's forest, where her husband was chopping the sappy logs of the
living tree for the Squire's fires. It needed not her remark, whatever
it was, to convince me of the inferior quality of the sticks; some
being quite mossy and toadstooled with long lying bedded among the
accumulated dead leaves of many autumns. They made a sad hissing, and
vain spluttering enough.

"You must rest yourself here till dinner-time, at least," said the
dame; "what I have you are heartily welcome to."

I thanked her again, and begged her not to heed my presence in the
least, but go on with her usual affairs.

I was struck by the aspect of the room. The house was old, and
constitutionally damp. The window-sills had beads of exuded dampness
upon them. The shriveled sashes shook in their frames, and the green
panes of glass were clouded with the long thaw. On some little errand
the dame passed into an adjoining chamber, leaving the door partly
open. The floor of that room was carpetless, as the kitchen's was.
Nothing but bare necessaries were about me; and those not of the best
sort. Not a print on the wall but an old volume of Doddridge lay on the
smoked chimney-shelf.

"You must have walked a long way, sir; you sigh so with weariness."

"No, I am not nigh so weary as yourself, I dare say."

"Oh, but I am accustomed to that; _you_ are not, I should think," and
her soft, sad blue eye ran over my dress. "But I must sweep these
shavings away; husband made him a new ax-helve this morning before
sunrise, and I have been so busy washing, that I have had no time to
clear up. But now they are just the thing I want for the fire. They'd
be much better though, were they not so green."

Now if Blandmour were here, thought I to myself, he would call those
green shavings "Poor Man's Matches," or "Poor Man's Tinder," or some
pleasant name of that sort.

"I do not know," said the good woman, turning round to me again--as she
stirred among her pots on the smoky fire--"I do not know how you will
like our pudding. It is only rice, milk, and salt boiled together."

"Ah, what they call 'Poor Man's Pudding,' I suppose you mean?"

A quick flush, half resentful, passed over her face.

"We do not call it so, sir," she said, and was silent.

Upbraiding myself for my inadvertence, I could not but again think to
myself what Blandmour would have said, had he heard those words and
seen that flush.

At last a slow, heavy footfall was heard; then a scraping at the door,
and another voice said, "Come, wife; come, come--I must be back again
in a jif--if you say I _must_ take all my meals at home, you must be
speedy; because the Squire--Good-day, sir," he exclaimed, now first
catching sight of me as he entered the room. He turned toward his
wife, inquiringly, and stood stock-still, while the moisture oozed from
his patched boots to the floor.

"This gentleman stops here awhile to rest and refresh: he will take
dinner with us, too. All will be ready now in a trice: so sit down
on the bench, husband, and be patient, I pray. You see, sir," she
continued, turning to me, "William there wants, of mornings, to carry
a cold meal into the woods with him, to save the long one-o'clock walk
across the fields to and fro. But I won't let him. A warm dinner is
more than pay for the long walk."

"I don't know about that," said William, shaking his head. "I have
often debated in my mind whether it really paid. There's not much odds,
either way, between a wet walk after hard work, and a wet dinner before
it. But I like to oblige a good wife like Martha. And you know, sir,
that women will have their whimseys."

"I wish they all had as kind whimseys as your wife has," said I.

"Well, I've heard that some women ain't all maple-sugar; but, content
with dear Martha, I don't know much about others."

"You find rare wisdom in the woods," mused I.

"Now, husband, if you ain't too tired, just lend a hand to draw the
table out."

"Nay," said I; "let him rest, and let me help."

"No," said William, rising.

"Sit still," said his wife to me.

The table set, in due time we all found ourselves with plates before us.

"You see what we have," said Coulter--"salt pork, rye-bread, and
pudding. Let me help you. I got this pork of the Squire; some of his
last year's pork, which he let me have on account. It isn't quite as
sweet as this year's would be; but I find it hearty enough to work on,
and that's all I eat for. Only let the rheumatiz and other sicknesses
keep clear of me, and I ask no flavors or favors from any. But you
don't eat of the pork!"

"I see," said the wife, gently and gravely, "that the gentleman knows
the difference between this year's and last year's pork. But perhaps he
will like the pudding."

I summoned up all my self-control, and smilingly assented to the
proposition of the pudding, without by my looks casting any reflections
upon the pork. But, to tell the truth, it was quite impossible for me
(not being ravenous, but only a little hungry at that time) to eat
of the latter. It had a yellowish crust all round it, and was rather
rankish, I thought, to the taste. I observed, too, that the dame did
not eat of it, though she suffered some to be put on her plate, and
pretended to be busy with it when Coulter looked that way. But she ate
of the rye-bread, and so did I.

"Now, then, for the pudding," said Coulter. "Quick, wife; the Squire
sits in his sitting-room window, looking far out across the fields. His
time-piece is true."

"He don't play the spy on you, does he?" said I.

"Oh, no!--I don't say that. He's a good enough man. He gives me work.
But he's particular. Wife, help the gentleman. You see, sir, if I lose
the Squire's work, what will become of--" and, with a look for which I
honored humanity, with sly significance, he glanced toward his wife;
then, a little changing his voice, instantly continued--"that fine
horse I am going to buy?"

"I guess," said the dame, with a strange, subdued sort of inefficient
pleasantry--"I guess that fine horse you sometimes so merrily dream of
will long stay in the Squire's stall. But sometimes his man gives me a
Sunday ride."

"A Sunday ride!" said I.

"You see," resumed Coulter, "wife loves to go to church; but the
nighest is four miles off, over yon snowy hills. So she can't walk it;
and I can't carry her in my arms, though I have carried her up-stairs
before now. But, as she says, the Squire's man sometimes gives her a
lift on the road; and for this cause it is that I speak of a horse I
am going to have one of these fine sunny days. And already, before
having it, I have christened it 'Martha.' But what am I about? Come,
come, wife! The pudding! Help the gentleman, do! The Squire! the
Squire!--think of the Squire! and help round the pudding. There,
one--two--three mouthfuls must do me. Good-by, wife. Good-by, sir, I'm
off."

And, snatching his soaked hat, the noble Poor Man hurriedly went out
into the soak and the mire.

I suppose now, thinks I to myself, that Blandmour would poetically say,
He goes to take a Poor Man's saunter.

"You have a fine husband," said I to the woman, as we were now left
together.

"William loves me this day as on the wedding-day, sir. Some hasty
words, but never a harsh one. I wish I were better and stronger for
his sake. And, oh! sir, both for his sake and mine" (and the soft,
blue, beautiful eyes turned into two well-springs), "how I wish little
William and Martha lived--it is so lonely-like now. William named after
him, and Martha for me."

When a companion's heart of itself overflows, the best one can do is to
do nothing. I sat looking down on my as yet untasted pudding.

"You should have seen little William, sir. Such a bright, manly boy,
only six years old--cold, cold now!"

Plunging my spoon into the pudding, I forced some into my mouth to stop
it.

"And little Martha--Oh! sir, she was the beauty! Bitter, bitter! but
needs must be borne!"

The mouthful of pudding now touched my palate, and touched it with a
mouldy, briny taste. The rice, I knew, was of that damaged sort sold
cheap; and the salt from the last year's pork barrel.

"Ah, sir, if those little ones yet to enter the world were the same
little ones which so sadly have left it; returning friends, not
strangers, strangers, always strangers! Yet does a mother soon learn
to love them; for certain, sir, they come from where the others have
gone. Don't you believe that, sir? Yes, I know all good people must.
But, still, still--and I fear it is wicked, and very black-hearted,
too--still, strive how I may to cheer me with thinking of little
William and Martha in heaven, and with reading Dr. Doddridge
there--still, still does dark grief leak in, just like the rain through
our roof. I am left so lonesome now; day after day, all the day long,
dear William is gone; and all the damp day long grief drizzles and
drizzles down on my soul. But I pray to God to forgive me for this; and
for the rest, manage it as well as I may."

Bitter and mouldy is the "Poor Man's Pudding," groaned I to myself,
half choked with but one little mouthful of it, which would hardly go
down.

I could stay no longer to hear of sorrows for which the sincerest
sympathies could give no adequate relief; of a fond persuasion, to
which there could be furnished no further proof than already was had--a
persuasion, too, of that sort which much speaking is sure more or less
to mar; of causeless self-upbraidings, which no expostulations could
have dispelled, I offered no pay for hospitalities gratuitous and
honorable as those of a prince. I knew that such offerings would have
been more than declined; charity resented.

The native American poor never lose their delicacy or pride; hence,
though unreduced to the physical degradation of the European pauper,
they yet suffer more in mind than the poor of any other people in the
world. Those peculiar social sensibilities nourished by our peculiar
political principles, while they enhance the true dignity of a
prosperous American, do but minister to the added wretchedness of the
unfortunate; first, by prohibiting their acceptance of what little
random relief charity may offer; and, second, by furnishing them with
the keenest appreciation of the smarting distinction between their
ideal of universal equality and their grindstone experience of the
practical misery and infamy of poverty--a misery and infamy which is,
ever has been, and ever will be, precisely the same in India, England,
and America.

Under pretense that my journey called me forthwith, I bade the
dame good-by; shook her cold hand; looked my last into her blue,
resigned eye, and went out into the wet. But cheerless as it was,
and damp, damp, damp--the heavy atmosphere charged with all sorts
of incipiencies--I yet became conscious by the suddenness of the
contrast, that the house air I had quitted was laden down with that
peculiar deleterious quality, the height of which--insufferable to some
visitants--will be found in a poorhouse ward.

This ill-ventilation in winter of the rooms of the poor--a thing,
too, so stubbornly persisted in--is usually charged upon them as
their disgraceful neglect of the most simple means to health. But the
instinct of the poor is wiser than we think. The air which ventilates,
likewise _cools_. And to any shiverer, ill-ventilated warmth is better
than well-ventilated cold. Of all the preposterous assumptions of
humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on
the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Blandmour," said I that evening, as after tea I sat on his comfortable
sofa, before a blazing fire, with one of his two ruddy little children
on my knee, "you are not what may rightly be called a rich man; you
have a fair competence; no more. Is it not so? Well then, I do not
include _you_, when I say, that if ever a rich man speaks prosperously
to me of a Poor Man, I shall set it down as--I won't mention the word."


PICTURE SECOND

RICH MAN'S CRUMBS

In the year 1814, during the summer following my first taste of
the "Poor Man's Pudding," a sea-voyage was recommended to me by my
physician. The Battle of Waterloo having closed the long drama of
Napoleon's wars, many strangers were visiting Europe. I arrived
in London at the time the victorious princes were there assembled
enjoying the Arabian Nights' hospitalities of a grateful and gorgeous
aristocracy, and the courtliest of gentlemen and kings--George the
Prince Regent.

I had declined all letters but one to my banker. I wandered about for
the best reception an adventurous traveler can have--the reception I
mean, which unsolicited chance and accident throw in his venturous way.

But I omit all else to recount one hour's hap under the lead of a
very friendly man, whose acquaintance I made in the open street of
Cheapside. He wore a uniform, and was some sort of a civic subordinate;
I forget exactly what. He was off duty that day. His discourse was
chiefly of the noble charities of London. He took me to two or three,
and made admiring mention of many more.

"But," said he, as we turned into Cheapside again, "if you are at all
curious about such things, let me take you--if it be not too late--to
one of the most interesting of all--our Lord Mayor's Charities, sir;
nay, the charities not only of a Lord Mayor, but, I may truly say, in
this one instance, of emperors, regents, and kings. You remember the
event of yesterday?"

"That sad fire on the river-side, you mean, unhousing so many of the
poor?"

"No. The grand Guildhall Banquet to the princes. Who can forget it?
Sir, the dinner was served on nothing but solid silver and gold plate,
worth at the least £200,000--that is, 1,000,000 of your dollars; while
the mere expenditure of meats, wines, attendance and upholstery, etc.,
can not be footed under £25,000--120,000 dollars of your hard cash."

"But, surely, my friend, you do not call that charity--feeding kings at
that rate?"

"No. The feast came first--yesterday; and the charity after--to-day.
How else would you have it, where princes are concerned? But I think
we shall be quite in time--come; here we are at King Street, and down
there is Guildhall. Will you go?"

"Gladly, my good friend. Take me where you will. I come but to roam and
see."

Avoiding the main entrance of the hall, which was barred, he took me
through some private way, and we found ourselves in a rear blind-walled
place in the open air. I looked round amazed. The spot was grimy as
a backyard in the Five Points. It was packed with a mass of lean,
famished, ferocious creatures, struggling and fighting for some
mysterious precedency, and all holding soiled blue tickets in their
hands.

"There is no other way," said my guide; "we can only get in with the
crowd. Will you try it? I hope you have not on your drawing-room
suit? What do you say? It will be well worth your sight. So noble a
charity does not often offer. The one following the annual banquet of
Lord Mayor's day--fine a charity as that certainly is--is not to be
mentioned with what will be seen to-day. Is it, ay?"

As he spoke, a basement door in the distance was thrown open, and the
squalid mass made a rush for the dark vault beyond.

I nodded to my guide, and sideways we joined in with the rest. Ere long
we found our retreat cut off by the yelping crowd behind, and I could
not but congratulate myself on having a civic, as well as civil guide;
one, too, whose uniform made evident his authority.

It was just the same as if I were pressed by a mob of cannibals on some
pagan beach. The beings round me roared with famine. For in this mighty
London misery but maddens. In the country it softens. As I gazed on the
meagre, murderous pack, I thought of the blue eye of the gentle wife of
poor Coulter. Some sort of curved, glittering steel thing (not a sword;
I know not what it was), before worn in his belt, was now flourished
overhead by my guide, menacing the creatures to forbear offering the
stranger violence.

As we drove, slow and wedge-like, into the gloomy vault, the howls of
the mass reverberated. I seemed seething in the Pit with the Lost. On
and on, through the dark and damp, and then up a stone stairway to a
wide portal; when, diffusing, the pestiferous mob poured in bright
day between painted walls and beneath a painted dome. I thought of the
anarchic sack of Versailles.

A few moments more and I stood bewildered among the beggars in the
famous Guildhall.

Where I stood--where the thronged rabble stood, less than twelve
hours before sat His Imperial Majesty, Alexander of Russia; His Royal
Majesty, Frederick William, King of Prussia; His Royal Highness,
George, Prince Regent of England; His world-renowned Grace, the Duke
of Wellington; with a mob of magnificoes, made up of conquering field
marshals, earls, counts, and innumerable other nobles of mark.

The walls swept to and fro, like the foliage of a forest with
blazonings of conquerors' flags. Naught outside the hall was visible.
No windows were within four-and-twenty feet of the floor. Cut off from
all other sights, I was hemmed in by one splendid spectacle--splendid,
I mean, everywhere, but as the eye fell toward the floor. _That_ was
foul as a hovel's--as a kennel's; the naked boards being strewed with
the smaller and more wasteful fragments of the feast, while the two
long parallel lines, up and down the hall, of now unrobed, shabby,
dirty pine-tables were piled with less trampled wrecks. The dyed
banners were in keeping with the last night's kings: the floor suited
the beggars of to-day. The banners looked upon the floor as from his
balcony Dives upon Lazarus. A line of liveried men kept back with
their staves the impatient jam of the mob, who, otherwise, might have
instantaneously converted the Charity into a Pillage. Another body of
gowned and gilded officials distributed the broken meats--the cold
victuals and crumbs of kings. One after another the beggars held up
their dirty blue tickets, and were served with the plundered wreck of
a pheasant, or the rim of a pasty--like the detached crown of an old
hat--the solids and meats stolen out.

"What a noble charity," whispered my guide. "See that pasty now,
snatched by that pale girl; I dare say the Emperor of Russia ate of
that last night."

"Very probably," murmured I; "it looks as though some omnivorous
emperor or other had had a finger in that pie."

"And see yon pheasant too--there--that one--the boy in the torn shirt
has it now--look! The Prince Regent might have dined off that."

The two breasts were gouged ruthlessly out, exposing the bare bones,
embellished with the untouched pinions and legs.

"Yes, who knows!" said my guide, "his Royal Highness the Prince Regent
might have eaten of that identical pheasant."

"I don't doubt it," murmured I, "he is said to be uncommonly fond of
the breast. But where is Napoleon's head in a charger? I should fancy
that ought to have been the principal dish."

"You are merry. Sir, even Cossacks are charitable here in Guildhall.
Look! the famous Platoff, the Hetman himself--(he was here last night
with the rest)--no doubt he thrust a lance into yon pork-pie there.
Look! the old shirtless man has it now. How he licks his chops over it,
little thinking of or thanking the good, kind Cossack that left it him!
Ah! another--a stouter has grabbed it. It falls; bless my soul!--the
dish is quite empty--only a bit of the hacked crust."

"The Cossacks, my friend, are said to be immoderately fond of fat,"
observed I. "The Hetman was hardly so charitable as you thought."

"A noble charity, upon the whole, for all that. See, even Gog and Magog
yonder, at the other end of the hall fairly laugh out their delight at
the scene."

"But don't you think, though," hinted I, "that the sculptor, whoever he
was, carved the laugh too much into a grin--a sort of sardonical grin?"

"Well, that's as you take it, sir. But see--now I'd wager a guinea
the Lord Mayor's lady dipped her golden spoon into yonder golden-hued
jelly. See, the jelly-eyed old body has slipped it, in one broad gulp,
down his throat."

"Peace to that jelly!" breathed I.

"What a generous, noble, magnanimous charity this is! unheard of in
any country but England, which feeds her very beggars with golden-hued
jellies."

"But not three times every day, my friend. And do you really think that
jellies are the best sort of relief you can furnish to beggars? Would
not plain beef and bread, with something to do, and be paid for, be
better?"

"But plain beef and bread were not eaten here. Emperors, and
prince-regents, and kings, and field marshals don't often dine on plain
beef and bread. So the leavings are according. Tell me, can you expect
that the crumbs of kings can be like the crumbs of squirrels?"

"_You!_ I mean _you_! stand aside, or else be served and away! Here,
take this pasty, and be thankful that you taste of the same dish with
her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire. Graceless ragamuffin, do you hear?"

These words were bellowed at me through the din by a red-gowned
official nigh the board.

"Surely he does not mean _me_," said I to my guide; "he has not
confounded _me_ with the rest."

"One is known by the company he keeps," smiled my guide. "See! not only
stands your hat awry and bunged on your head, but your coat is fouled
and torn. Nay," he cried to the red-gown, "this is an unfortunate
friend: a simple spectator, I assure you."

"Ah! is that you, old lad?" responded the red-gown, in familiar
recognition of my guide--a personal friend as it seemed; "well, convey
your friend out forthwith. Mind the grand crash; it will soon be
coming; hark! now! away with him!"

Too late. The last dish had been seized. The yet unglutted mob raised
a fierce yell, which wafted the banners like a strong gust, and filled
the air with a reek as from sewers. They surged against the tables,
broke through all barriers, and billowed over the hall--their bare
tossed arms like the dashed ribs of a wreck. It seemed to me as if a
sudden impotent fury of fell envy possessed them. That one half-hour's
peep at the mere remnants of the glories of the Banquets of Kings; the
unsatisfying mouthfuls of disemboweled pasties, plundered pheasants,
and half-sucked jellies, served to remind them of the intrinsic
contempt of the alms. In this sudden mood, or whatever mysterious thing
it was that now seized them, these Lazaruses seemed ready to spew up in
repentant scorn the contumelious crumbs of Dives.

"This way, this way! stick like a bee to my back," intensely whispered
my guide. "My friend there has answered my beck, and thrown open yon
private door for us two. Wedge--wedge in--quick, there goes your
bunged hat--never stop for your coat-tail--hit that man--strike him
down! hold! jam! now! wrench along for your life! ha! here we breathe
freely; thank God! You faint. Ho!"

"Never mind. This fresh air revives me."

I inhaled a few more breaths of it, and felt ready to proceed.

"And now conduct me, my good friend, by some front passage into
Cheapside, forthwith. I must home."

"Not by the sidewalk though. Look at your dress. I must get a hack for
you."

"Yes, I suppose so," said I, ruefully eyeing my tatters, and then
glancing in envy at the close-buttoned coat and flat cap of my guide,
which defied all tumblings and tearings.

"There, now, sir," said the honest fellow, as he put me into the hack,
and tucked in me and my rags, "when you get back to your own country,
you can say you have witnessed the greatest of all England's noble
charities. Of course, you will make reasonable allowances for the
unavoidable jam. Good-by. Mind, Jehu"--addressing the driver on the
box--"this is a _gentleman_ you carry. He is just from the Guildhall
Charity, which accounts for his appearance. Go on now. London Tavern,
Fleet Street, remember, is the place."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Now, Heaven in its kind mercy save me from the noble charities of
London," sighed I, as that night I lay bruised and battered on my bed;
"and Heaven save me equally from the 'Poor Man's Pudding' and the 'Rich
Man's Crumbs.'"



THE HAPPY FAILURE

_A STORY OF THE RIVER HUDSON_


The appointment was that I should meet my elderly uncle at the
riverside, precisely at nine in the morning. The skiff was to be ready,
and the apparatus to be brought down by his grizzled old black man. As
yet, the nature of the wonderful experiment remained a mystery to all
but the projector.

I was first on the spot. The village was high up the river, and the
inland summer sun was already oppressively warm. Presently I saw my
uncle advancing beneath the trees, hat off, and wiping his brow; while
far behind struggled poor old Yorpy, with what seemed one of the gates
of Gaza on his back.

"Come, hurrah, stump along, Yorpy!" cried my uncle, impatiently turning
round every now and then.

Upon the black's staggering up to the skiff, I perceived that the
great gate of Gaza was transformed into a huge, shabby, oblong box,
hermetically sealed. The sphinx-like blankness of the box quadrupled
the mystery in my mind.

"Is _this_ the wonderful apparatus," said I in amazement. "Why, it's
nothing but a battered old dry-goods box, nailed up. And is _this_ the
thing, uncle, that is to make you a million of dollars ere the year be
out? What a forlorn-looking, lack-lustre, old ash-box it is."

"Put it into the skiff!" roared my uncle to Yorpy, without heeding
my boyish disdain. "Put it in, you grizzled-headed cherub--put it
in carefully, carefully! If that box bursts, my everlasting fortune
collapses."

"Bursts?--collapses?" cried I, in alarm. "It ain't full of
combustibles? Quick, let me go to the further end of the boat!"

"Sit still, you simpleton!" cried my uncle again. "Jump in, Yorpy,
and hold on to the box like grim death while I shove off. Carefully!
carefully! you dunderheaded black! Mind t'other side of the box, I say!
Do you mean to destroy the box?"

"Duyvel take te pox!" muttered old Yorpy, who was a sort of Dutch
African. "De pox has been my cuss for de ten long 'ear."

"Now, then, we're off--take an oar, youngster; you, Yorpy, clinch
the box fast. Here we go now. Carefully! carefully! You, Yorpy, stop
shaking the box! Easy! there's a big snag. Pull now. Hurrah! deep water
at last! Now give way, youngster, and away to the island."

"The island!" said I. "There's no island hereabouts."

"There is ten miles above the bridge, though," said my uncle,
determinately.

"Ten miles off! Pull that old dry-goods box ten miles up the river in
this blazing sun?"

"All that I have to say," said my uncle, firmly, "is that we are bound
to Quash Island."

"Mercy, uncle! if I had known of this great long pull of ten mortal
miles in this fiery sun, you wouldn't have juggled _me_ into the skiff
so easy. What's _in_ that box?--paving-stones? See how the skiff
settles down under it. I won't help pull a box of paving-stones ten
miles. What's the use of pulling 'em?"

"Look you, simpleton," quoth my uncle, pausing upon his suspended oar.
"Stop rowing, will ye! Now then, if you don't want to share in the
glory of my experiment; if you are wholly indifferent to halving its
immortal renown; I say, sir, if you care not to be present at the
first trial of my Great Hydraulic-Hydrostatic Apparatus for draining
swamps and marshes, and converting them, at the rate of one acre the
hour, into fields more fertile than those of the Genesee; if you care
not, I repeat, to have this proud thing to tell--in far future days,
when poor old I shall have been long dead and gone, boy--to your
children and your children's children; in that case, sir, you are free
to land forthwith."

"Oh, uncle! I did not mean--"

"No words, sir! Yorpy, take his oar, and help pull him ashore."

"But, my dear uncle; I declare to you that--"

"Not a syllable, sir; you have cast open scorn upon the Great
Hydraulic-Hydrostatic Apparatus. Yorpy, put him ashore, Yorpy. It's
shallow here again. Jump out, Yorpy, and wade with him ashore."

"Now, my dear, good, kind uncle, do but pardon me this one time, and I
will say nothing about the apparatus."

"Say nothing about it! when it is my express end and aim it shall be
famous! Put him ashore, Yorpy."

"Nay, uncle, I _will_ not give up my oar. I have an oar in this matter,
and I mean to keep it. You shall not cheat me out my share of your
glory."

"Ah, now there--that's sensible. You may stay, youngster. Pull again
now."

We were all silent for a time, steadily plying our way. At last I
ventured to break water once more.

"I am glad, dear uncle, you have revealed to me at last the nature and
end of your great experiment. It is the effectual draining of swamps;
an attempt, dear uncle, in which, if you do but succeed (as I know you
will), you will earn the glory denied to a Roman emperor. He tried to
drain the Pontine marsh, but failed."

"The world has shot ahead the length of its own diameter since then,"
quoth my uncle, proudly. "If that Roman emperor were here, I'd show him
what can be done in the present enlightened age."

Seeing my good uncle so far mollified now as to be quite
self-complacent, I ventured another remark.

"This is a rather severe, hot pull, dear uncle."

"Glory is not to be gained, youngster, without pulling hard for
it--against the stream, too, as we do now. The natural tendency of man,
in the mass, is to go down with the universal current into oblivion."

"But why pull so far, dear uncle, upon the present occasion? Why pull
ten miles for it? You do but propose, as I understand it, to put to
the actual test this admirable invention of yours. And could it not be
tested almost anywhere?"

"Simple boy," quoth my uncle, "would you have some malignant spy steal
from me the fruits of ten long years of high-hearted, persevering
endeavor? Solitary in my scheme, I go to a solitary place to test it.
If I fail--for all things are possible--no one out of the family will
know it. If I succeed, secure in the secrecy of my invention, I can
boldly demand any price for its publication."

"Pardon me, dear uncle; you are wiser than I."

"One would think years and gray hairs should bring wisdom, boy."

"Yorpy there, dear uncle; think you his grizzled locks thatch a brain
improved by long life?"

"Am I Yorpy, boy? Keep to your oar!"

Thus padlocked again, I said no further word till the skiff grounded on
the shallows, some twenty yards from the deep-wooded isle.

"Hush!" whispered my uncle, intensely; "not a word now!" and he sat
perfectly still, slowly sweeping with his glance the whole country
around, even to both banks of the here wide-expanded stream.

"Wait till that horseman, yonder, passes!" he whispered again, pointing
to a speck moving along a lofty, riverside road, which perilously wound
on midway up a long line of broken bluffs and cliffs. "There--he's out
of sight now, behind the copse. Quick! Yorpy! Carefully, though! Jump
overboard, and shoulder the box, and--Hold!"

We were all mute and motionless again.

"Ain't that a boy, sitting like Zaccheus in yonder tree of the orchard
on the other bank? Look, youngster--young eyes are better than
old--don't you see him?"

"Dear uncle, I see the orchard, but I can't see any boy."

"He's a spy--I know he is," suddenly said my uncle, disregardful of my
answer, and intently gazing, shading his eyes with his flattened hand.
"Don't touch the box, Yorpy. Crouch! crouch down, all of ye!"

"Why, uncle--there--see--the boy is only a withered white bough. I see
it very plainly now."

"You don't see the tree I mean," quoth my uncle, with a decided air of
relief, "but never mind; I defy the boy. Yorpy, jump out, and shoulder
the box. And now then, youngster, off with your shoes and stockings,
roll up your trousers legs, and follow me. Carefully, Yorpy, carefully.
That's more precious than a box of gold, mind."

"Heavy as de gelt anyhow," growled Yorpy, staggering and splashing in
the shallows beneath it.

"There, stop under the bushes there--in among the flags--so--gently,
gently--there, put it down just there. Now youngster, are you ready?
Follow--tiptoes, tiptoes!"

"I can't wade in this mud and water on my tiptoes, uncle; and I don't
see the need of it either."

"Go ashore, sir--instantly!"

"Why, uncle, I _am_ ashore."

"Peace! follow me, and no more."

Crouching in the water in complete secrecy, beneath the bushes and
among the tall flags, my uncle now stealthily produced a hammer and
wrench from one of his enormous pockets, and presently tapped the box.
But the sound alarmed him.

"Yorpy," he whispered, "go you off to the right, behind the bushes, and
keep watch. If you see any one coming, whistle softly. Youngster, you
do the same to the left."

We obeyed; and presently, after considerable hammering and supplemental
tinkering, my uncle's voice was heard in the utter solitude, loudly
commanding our return.

Again we obeyed, and now found the cover of the box removed. All
eagerness, I peeped in, and saw a surprising multiplicity of convoluted
metal pipes and syringes of all sorts and varieties, all sizes and
calibres, inextricably interwreathed together in one gigantic coil. It
looked like a huge nest of anacondas and adders.

"Now then, Yorpy," said my uncle, all animation, and flushed with the
foretaste of glory, "do you stand this side, and be ready to tip when I
give the word. And do you, youngster, stand ready to do as much for the
other side. Mind, don't budge it the fraction of a barley-corn till I
say the word. All depends on a proper adjustment."

"No fear, uncle. I will be careful as a lady's tweezers."

"I s'ant life de heavy pox," growled old Yorpy, "till de wort pe given;
no fear o' dat."

"Oh, boy," said my uncle now, upturning his face devotionally, while
a really noble gleam irradiated his gray eyes, locks, and wrinkles;
"Oh, boy! this, _this_ is the hour which for ten long years has, in
the prospect, sustained me through all my painstaking obscurity. Fame
will be the sweeter because it comes at the last; the truer, because
it comes to an old man like me, not to a boy like you. Sustainer! I
glorify Thee."

He bowed over his venerable head, and--as I live--something like a
shower-drop somehow fell from my face into the shallows.

"Tip!"

We tipped.

"A _leetle_ more!"

We tipped a little more.

"A _leetle_ more!"

We tipped a _leetle_ more.

"Just a _leetle_, very _leetle_ bit more."

With great difficulty we tipped just a _leetle_, very _leetle_ more.

All this time my uncle was diligently stooping over, and striving to
peep in, up, and under the box where the coiled anacondas and adders
lay; but the machine being now fairly immersed, the attempt was wholly
vain.

He rose erect, and waded slowly all round the box; his countenance firm
and reliant, but not a little troubled and vexed.

It was plain something or other was going wrong. But as I was left in
utter ignorance as to the mystery of the contrivance, I could not tell
where the difficulty lay, or what was the proper remedy.

Once more, still more slowly, still more vexedly, my uncle waded
round the box, the dissatisfaction gradually deepening, but still
controlled, and still with hope at the bottom of it.

Nothing could be more sure than that some anticipated effect had, as
yet, failed to develop itself. Certain I was, too, that the water-line
did not lower about my legs.

"Tip it a _leetle_ bit--very _leetle_ now."

"Dear uncle, it is tipped already as far as it can be. Don't you see it
rests now square on its bottom?"

"You, Yorpy, take your black hoof from under the box!"

This gust of passion on the part of my uncle made the matter seem still
more dubious and dark. It was a bad symptom, I thought.

"Surely you _can_ tip it just a _leetle_ more!"

"Not a hair, uncle."

"Blast and blister the cursed box then!" roared my uncle, in a terrific
voice, sudden as a squall. Running at the box, he dashed his bare foot
into it, and with astonishing power all but crushed in the side. Then
seizing the whole box, he disemboweled it of all its anacondas and
adders, and, tearing and wrenching them, flung them right and left over
the water.

"Hold, hold, my dear, dear uncle!--do for heaven's sake desist. Don't
destroy so, in one frantic moment, all your long calm years of devotion
to one darling scheme. Hold, I conjure!"

Moved by my vehement voice and uncontrollable tears, he paused in his
work of destruction, and stood steadfastly eyeing me, or rather blankly
staring at me, like one demented.

"It is not yet wholly ruined, dear uncle; come put it together now. You
have hammer and wrench; put it together again, and try it once more.
While there is life there is hope."

"While there is life hereafter there is _despair_," he howled.

"Do, do now, dear uncle--here, here, put those pieces together; or, if
that can't be done without more tools, try a _section_ of it--that will
do just as well. Try it once; try, uncle."

My persistent persuasiveness told upon him. The stubborn stump of hope,
plowed at and uprooted in vain, put forth one last miraculous green
sprout.

Steadily and carefully pulling out of the wreck some of the more
curious-looking fragments, he mysteriously involved them together, and
then, clearing out the box, slowly inserted them there, and ranging
Yorpy and me as before, bade us tip the box once again.

We did so; and as no perceptible effect yet followed, I was each moment
looking for the previous command to tip the box over yet more, when,
glancing into my uncle's face, I started aghast. It seemed pinched,
shriveled into mouldy whiteness, like a mildewed grape. I dropped the
box, and sprang toward him just in time to prevent his fall.

Leaving the woeful box where we had dropped it, Yorpy and I helped the
old man into the skiff and silently pulled from Quash Isle.

How swiftly the current now swept us down! How hardly before had we
striven to stem it! I thought of my poor uncle's saying, not an hour
gone by, about the universal drift of the mass of humanity toward utter
oblivion.

"Boy!" said my uncle at last, lifting his head. I looked at him
earnestly, and was gladdened to see that the terrible blight of his
face had almost departed.

"Boy, there's not much left in an old world for an old man to invent."

I said nothing.

"Boy, take my advice, and never try to invent anything but--happiness."

I said nothing.

"Boy, about ship, and pull back for the box."

"Dear uncle!"

"It will make a good wood-box, boy. And faithful old Yorpy can sell the
old iron for tobacco-money."

"Dear massa! dear old massa! dat be very fust time in de ten long 'ear
yoo hab mention kindly old Yorpy. I tank yoo, dear old massa; I tank
yoo so kindly. Yoo is yourself agin in de ten long 'ear."

"Ay, long ears enough," sighed my uncle; "Esopian ears. But it's all
over now. Boy, I'm glad I've failed. I say, boy, failure has made a
good old man of me. It was horrible at first, but I'm glad I've failed.
Praise be to God for the failure!"

His face kindled with a strange, rapt earnestness. I have never
forgotten that look. If the event made my uncle a good old man as he
called it, it made me a wise young one. Example did for me the work of
experience.

When some years had gone by, and my dear old uncle began to fail, and,
after peaceful days of autumnal content, was gathered gently to his
fathers--faithful old Yorpy closing his eyes--as I took my last look at
his venerable face, the pale resigned lips seemed to move. I seemed to
hear again his deep, fervent cry--"Praise be to God for the failure!"



THE 'GEES


In relating to my friends various passages of my sea-goings I have
at times had occasion to allude to that singular people the 'Gees,
sometimes as casual acquaintances, sometimes as shipmates. Such
allusions have been quite natural and easy. For instance, I have said
_The two 'Gees_, just as another would say _The two Dutchmen_, or _The
two Indians_. In fact, being myself so familiar with 'Gees, it seemed
as if all the rest of the world must be. But not so. My auditors have
opened their eyes as much as to say, "What under the sun is a 'Gee?"
To enlighten them I have repeatedly had to interrupt myself and not
without detriment to my stories. To remedy which inconvenience, a
friend hinted the advisability of writing out some account of the
'Gees, and having it published. Such as they are, the following
memoranda spring from that happy suggestion:

The word _'Gee_ (_g_ hard) is an abbreviation, by seamen, of
_Portugee_, the corrupt form of _Portuguese_. As the name is a
curtailment, so the race is a residuum. Some three centuries ago
certain Portuguese convicts were sent as a colony to Fogo, one of the
Cape de Verdes, off the northwest coast of Africa, an island previously
stocked with an aboriginal race of negroes, ranking pretty high in
civility, but rather low in stature and morals. In course of time, from
the amalgamated generation all the likelier sort were drafted off as
food for powder, and the ancestors of the since-called 'Gees were left
as the _caput mortum_, or melancholy remainder.

Of all men seamen have strong prejudices, particularly in the matter of
race. They are bigots here. But when a creature of inferior race lives
among them, an inferior tar, there seems no bound to their disdain.
Now, as ere long will be hinted, the 'Gee, though of an aquatic
nature, does not, as regards higher qualifications, make the best of
sailors. In short, by seamen the abbreviation 'Gee was hit upon in pure
contumely; the degree of which may be partially inferred from this,
that with them the primitive word Portugee itself is a reproach; so
that 'Gee, being a subtle distillation from that word, stands, in point
of relative intensity to it, as attar of roses does to rose-water. At
times, when some crusty old sea-dog has his spleen more than unusually
excited against some luckless blunderer of Fogo his shipmate, it is
marvelous the prolongation of taunt into which he will spin out the one
little exclamatory monosyllable Ge-e-e-e-e!

The Isle of Fogo, that is, "Fire Isle," was so called from its volcano,
which, after throwing up an infinite deal of stones and ashes, finally
threw up business altogether, from its broadcast bounteousness having
become bankrupt. But thanks to the volcano's prodigality in its time,
the soil of Fogo is such as may be found on a dusty day on a road newly
macadamized. Cut off from farms and gardens, the staple food of the
inhabitants is fish, at catching which they are expert. But none the
less do they relish ship-biscuit, which, indeed, by most islanders,
barbarous or semi-barbarous, is held a sort of lozenge.

In his best estate the 'Gee is rather small (he admits it) but, with
some exceptions, hardy; capable of enduring extreme hard work, hard
fare, or hard usage, as the case may be. In fact, upon a scientific
view, there would seem a natural adaptability in the 'Gee to hard
times generally. A theory not uncorroborated by his experiences; and
furthermore, that kindly care of Nature in fitting him for them,
something as for his hard rubs with a hardened world Fox the Quaker
fitted himself, namely, in a tough leather suit from top to toe. In
other words, the 'Gee is by no means of that exquisitely delicate
sensibility expressed by the figurative adjective thin-skinned. His
physicals and spirituals are in singular contrast. The 'Gee has a great
appetite, but little imagination; a large eyeball, but small insight.
Biscuit he crunches, but sentiment he eschews.

His complexion is hybrid; his hair ditto; his mouth disproportionally
large, as compared with his stomach; his neck short; but his head
round, compact, and betokening a solid understanding.

Like the negro, the 'Gee has a peculiar savor, but a different one--a
sort of wild, marine, gamey savor, as in the sea-bird called haglet.
Like venison, his flesh is firm but lean.

His teeth are what are called butter-teeth, strong, durable, square,
and yellow. Among captains at a loss for better discourse during dull,
rainy weather in the horse-latitudes, much debate has been had whether
his teeth are intended for carnivorous or herbivorous purposes, or both
conjoined. But as on his isle the 'Gee eats neither flesh nor grass,
this inquiry would seem superfluous.

The native dress of the 'Gee is, like his name, compendious. His head
being by nature well thatched, he wears no hat. Wont to wade much in
the surf, he wears no shoes. He has a serviceably hard heel, a kick
from which is by the judicious held almost as dangerous as one from a
wild zebra.

Though for a long time back no stranger to the seafaring people of
Portugal, the 'Gee, until a comparatively recent period, remained
almost undreamed of by seafaring Americans. It is now some forty years
since he first became known to certain masters of our Nantucket ships,
who commenced the practice of touching at Fogo, on the outward passage,
there to fill up vacancies among their crews arising from the short
supply of men at home. By degrees the custom became pretty general,
till now the 'Gee is found aboard of almost one whaler out of three.
One reason why they are in request is this: An unsophisticated 'Gee
coming on board a foreign ship never asks for wages. He comes for
biscuit. He does not know what wages mean, unless cuffs and buffets be
wages, of which sort he receives a liberal allowance, paid with great
punctuality, besides perquisites of punches thrown in now and then.
But for all this, some persons there are, and not unduly biassed by
partiality to him either, who still insist that the 'Gee never gets his
due.

His docile services being thus cheaply to be had, some captains
will go the length of maintaining that 'Gee sailors are preferable,
indeed every way, physically and intellectually, superior to American
sailors--such captains complaining, and justly, that American sailors,
if not decently treated, are apt to give serious trouble.

But even by their most ardent admirers it is not deemed prudent to sail
a ship with none but 'Gees, at least if they chance to be all green
hands, a green 'Gee being of all green things the greenest. Besides,
owing to the clumsiness of their feet ere improved by practice in
the rigging, green 'Gees are wont, in no inconsiderable numbers, to
fall overboard the first dark, squally night; insomuch that when
unreasonable owners insist with a captain against his will upon a green
'Gee crew fore and aft, he will ship twice as many 'Gees as he would
have shipped of Americans, so as to provide for all contingencies.

The 'Gees are always ready to be shipped. Any day one may go to their
isle, and on the showing of a coin of biscuit over the rail, may load
down to the water's edge with them.

But though any number of 'Gees are ever ready to be shipped, still it
is by no means well to take them as they come. There is a choice even
in 'Gees.

Of course the 'Gee has his private nature as well as his public coat.
To know 'Gees--to be a sound judge of 'Gees--one must study them,
just as to know and be a judge of horses one must study horses.
Simple as for the most part are both horse and 'Gee, in neither case
can knowledge of the creature come by intuition. How unwise, then,
in those ignorant young captains who, on their first voyage, will go
and ship their 'Gees at Fogo without any preparatory information,
or even so much as taking convenient advice from a 'Gee jockey. By a
'Gee jockey is meant a man well versed in 'Gees. Many a young captain
has been thrown and badly hurt by a 'Gee of his own choosing. For
notwithstanding the general docility of the 'Gee when green, it may be
otherwise with him when ripe. Discreet captains won't have such a 'Gee.
"Away with that ripe 'Gee!" they cry; "that smart 'Gee; that knowing
'Gee! Green 'Gees for me!"

For the benefit of inexperienced captains about to visit Fogo, the
following may be given as the best way to test a 'Gee: Get square
before him, at, say three paces, so that the eye, like a shot, may
rake the 'Gee fore and aft, at one glance taking in his whole make and
build--how he looks about the head, whether he carry it well; his ears,
are they over-lengthy? How fares it in the withers? His legs, does the
'Gee stand strongly on them? His knees, any Belshazzar symptoms there?
How stands it in the regions of the brisket, etc., etc.

Thus far bone and bottom. For the rest, draw close to, and put the
centre of the pupil of your eye--put it, as it were, right into the
'Gee's eye--even as an eye-stone, gently, but firmly slip it in there,
and then note what speck or beam of viciousness, if any, will be
floated out.

All this and more must be done; and yet after all, the best judge may
be deceived. But on no account should the shipper negotiate for his
'Gee with any middle-man, himself a 'Gee. Because such an one must be
a knowing 'Gee, who will be sure to advise the green 'Gee what things
to hide and what to display, to hit the skipper's fancy; which, of
course, the knowing 'Gee supposes to lean toward as much physical
and moral excellence as possible. The rashness of trusting to one of
these middle-men was forcibly shown in the case of the 'Gee who by his
countrymen was recommended to a New Bedford captain as one of the most
agile 'Gees in Fogo. There he stood straight and stout, in a flowing
pair of man-of-war's-man trousers, uncommonly well fitted out. True, he
did not step around much at the time. But that was diffidence. Good.
They shipped him. But at the first taking in of sail the 'Gee hung
fire. Come to look, both trousers-legs were full of elephantiasis. It
was a long sperm-whaling voyage. Useless as so much lumber, at every
port prohibited from being dumped ashore, that elephantine 'Gee, ever
crunching biscuit, for three weary years was trundled round the globe.

Grown wise by several similar experiences, old Captain Hosea Kean, of
Nantucket, in shipping a 'Gee, at present manages matters thus: He
lands at Fogo in the night; by secret means gains information where the
likeliest 'Gee wanting to ship lodges; whereupon with a strong party he
surprises all the friends and acquaintances of that 'Gee; putting them
under guard with pistols at their heads; then creeps cautiously toward
the 'Gee, now lying wholly unawares in his hut, quite relaxed from
all possibility of displaying aught deceptive in his appearance. Thus
silently, thus suddenly, thus unannounced, Captain Kean bursts upon his
'Gee, so to speak, in the very bosom of his family. By this means, more
than once, unexpected revelations have been made. A 'Gee, noised abroad
for a Hercules in strength and an Apollo Belvidere for beauty, of a
sudden is discovered all in a wretched heap; forlornly adroop as upon
crutches, his legs looking as if broken at the cart-wheel. Solitude is
the house of candor, according to Captain Kean. In the stall, not the
street, he says, resides the real nag.

The innate disdain of regularly bred seamen toward 'Gees receives an
added edge from this. The 'Gees undersell them working for biscuit
where the sailors demand dollars. Hence anything said by sailors to the
prejudice of 'Gees should be received with caution. Especially that
jeer of theirs, that monkey-jacket was originally so called from the
circumstance that that rude sort of shaggy garment was first known in
Fogo. They often call a monkey-jacket a 'Gee-jacket. However this may
be, there is no call to which the 'Gee will with more alacrity respond
than the word "Man!"

Is there any hard work to be done, and the 'Gees stand round in sulks?
"Here, my men!" cries the mate. How they jump. But ten to one when the
work is done, it is plain 'Gee again. "Here, 'Gee you 'Ge-e-e-e!" In
fact, it is not unsurmised, that only when extraordinary stimulus is
needed, only when an extra strain is to be got out of them, are these
hapless 'Gees ennobled with the human name.

As yet, the intellect of the 'Gee has been little cultivated. No
well-attested educational experiment has been tried upon him. It is
said, however, that in the last century a young 'Gee was by a visionary
Portuguese naval officer sent to Salamanca University. Also, among the
Quakers of Nantucket, there has been talk of sending five comely 'Gees,
aged sixteen, to Dartmouth College; that venerable institution, as is
well known, having been originally founded partly with the object of
finishing off wild Indians in the classics and higher mathematics. Two
qualities of the 'Gee which, with his docility, may be justly regarded
as furnishing a hopeful basis for his intellectual training, is his
excellent memory, and still more excellent credulity.

The above account may, perhaps, among the ethnologists, raise some
curiosity to see a 'Gee. But to see a 'Gee there is no need to go all
the way to Fogo, no more than to see a Chinaman to go all the way to
China. 'Gees are occasionally to be encountered in our seaports, but
more particularly in Nantucket and New Bedford. But these 'Gees are
not the 'Gees of Fogo. That is, they are no longer green 'Gees. They
are sophisticated 'Gees, and hence liable to be taken for naturalized
citizens badly sunburnt. Many a Chinaman, in a new coat and pantaloons,
his long queue coiled out of sight in one of Genin's hats, has
promenaded Broadway, and been taken merely for an eccentric Georgia
planter. The same with 'Gees; a stranger need have a sharp eye to know
a 'Gee, even if he see him.

Thus much for a general sketchy view of the 'Gee. For further and
fuller information apply to any sharp-witted American whaling captain
but more especially to the before-mentioned old Captain Hosea Kean, of
Nantucket, whose address at present is "Pacific Ocean."



  OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS BOOK
  SIXTEEN HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE COPIES HAVE BEEN
  PRINTED AND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE COPIES
  ARE ON FRENCH HAND-MADE PAPER AND NUMBERED
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TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Obvious printer errors have been corrected. Otherwise, the author's
original spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been left intact.





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