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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 63, No. 388, February 1848
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 63, No. 388, February 1848" ***

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         No. CCCLXXXVIII.      FEBRUARY, 1848.      VOL. LXIII.

                    AND 37, PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.



     The Russian Empire                                        129
     Autobiography of a German Headsman                        148
     Edinburgh after Flodden                                   165
     Subjects for Pictures                                     176
     Jerusalem                                                 192
     My English Acquaintance                                   194
     Our West Indian Colonies                                  219
     Now and Then                                              239

                          THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE.

(_Secret History of the Court and Government of Russia, under the
Emperors Alexander and Nicholas._ By H. SCHNITZLER. Two vols. Bentley:

Russia is the most extraordinary country on the globe, in the four most
important particulars of empire,—its history, its extent, its
population, and its power.

It has for Europe another interest,—the interest of alarm, the evidence
of an ambition which has existed for a hundred and fifty years, and has
never paused; an increase of territory which has never suffered the
slightest casualty of fortune; the most complete security against the
retaliation of European war; and a government at once despotic and
popular; exhibiting the most boundless authority in the sovereign, and
the most boundless submission in the people; a mixture of habitual
obedience, and divine homage: the reverence to a monarch, with almost
the prostration to a divinity.

Its history has another superb anomaly: Russia gives the most memorable
instance in human annals, of the powers which lie within the mind of
individual man. Peter the Great was not the restorer, or the reformer of
Russia; he was its moral _creator_. He found it, not as Augustus found
Rome, according to the famous adage, “brick, and left it marble:” he
found it a living swamp, and left it covered with the fertility of laws,
energy, and knowledge: he found it Asiatic, and left it European: he
removed it as far from Scythia, as if he had placed the diameter of the
globe between: he found it not brick, but mire, and he transformed a
region of huts into the magnificence of empire.

Russia first appears in European history in the middle of the ninth
century. Its climate and its soil had till then retained it in primitive
barbarism. The sullenness of its winter had prevented invasion by
civilised nations, and the nature of its soil, one immense plain, had
given full scope to the roving habits of its half famished tribes. The
great invasions which broke down the Roman empire, had drained away the
population from the north, and left nothing but remnants of clans
behind. Russia had no Sea, by which she might send her bold savages to
plunder or to trade with Southern and Western Europe. And, while the man
of Scandinavia was subduing kingdoms, or carrying back spoil to his
northern crags and lakes, the Russian remained, like the bears of his
forest, in his cavern during the long winter of his country; and even
when the summer came, was still but a melancholy savage, living like the
bear upon the roots and fruits of his ungenial soil.

It was to one of those Normans, who, instead of steering his bark
towards the opulence of the south, turned his dreary adventure to the
north, that Russia owed her first connexion with intelligent mankind.
The people of Novgorod, a people of traders, finding themselves
overpowered by their barbarian neighbours, solicited the aid of Ruric, a
Baltic chieftain, and, of course, a pirate and a robber. The name of the
Norman had earned old renown in the north. Ruric came, rescued the city,
but paid himself by the seizure of the surrounding territory, and
founded a kingdom, which he transmitted to his descendants, and which
lasted until the middle of the sixteenth century.

In the subsequent reign we see the effect of the northern pupillage; and
an expedition, in the style of the Baltic exploits, was sent to plunder
Constantinople. This expedition consisted of two thousand canoes, with
eighty thousand men on board. The expedition was defeated, for the
Greeks had not yet sunk into the degeneracy of later times. They fought
stoutly for their capital, and roasted the pirates in their own canoes,
by showers of the famous “Greek fire.”

Those invasions, however, were tempting to the idleness and poverty, or
to the avarice and ambition of the Russians; and Constantinople
continued to be the great object of cupidity and assault, for three
hundred years. But the city of Constantine was destined to fall to a
mightier conqueror.

Still, the northern barbarian had now learned the road to Greece, and
the intercourse was mutually beneficial. Greece found daring allies in
her old plunderers, and in the eleventh century she gave the Grand-duke
Vladimir a wife, in the person of Anna, sister of the emperor Basil II;
a gift made more important by its being accompanied by his conversion to

A settled succession is the great secret of royal peace: but among those
bold riders of the desert, nothing was ever settled, save by the sword;
and the first act of all the sons, on the decease of their father, was,
to slaughter each other; until the contest was settled in their graves,
and the last survivor quietly ascended the throne.

But war, on a mightier scale than the Russian Steppes had ever
witnessed, was now rolling over Central Asia. The cavalry of Genghiz
Khan, which came, not in squadrons, but in nations, and charged, not
like troops, but like thunderclouds, began to pour down upon the valley
of the Wolga. Yet the conquest of Russia was not to be added to the
triumphs of the great Tartar chieftain; a mightier conqueror stopped him
on his way, and the Tartar died.

His son Toushi, lit the beginning of the thirteenth century, burst over
the frontier at the head of half a million of horsemen. The Russian
princes, hastily making up their quarrels, advanced to meet the invader;
but their army was instantly trampled down, and, before the middle of
the century, all the provinces, and all the cities of Russia, were the
prey of the men of the wilderness. Novgorod alone escaped.

The history of this great city would be highly interesting, if it were
possible now to recover its details. It was the chief depot of the
northern Asiatic commerce with Europe; it had a government, laws, and
privileges of its own, with which it suffered not even the Khan or the
Tartars to interfere. Its population amounted to four hundred
thousand—then nearly equal to the population of a kingdom. In the
thirteenth century it connected itself still more effectively with
European commerce, by becoming a member of the Hanseatic League; and the
wonder and pride of the Russians were expressed in the well-known
half-profane proverb, “Who can resist GOD, and the great Novgorod?”

There is always something almost approaching to picturesque grandeur in
the triumphs of barbarism. The Turk, until he was fool enough to throw
away the turban, was the most showy personage in the world. The Arabs,
under Mahomet, were the most stately of warriors, and the Spanish Moors
threw all the pomp, and even all the romance, of Europe into the shade.
Even the chiefs of the “Golden Horde” seemed to have had as picturesque
a conception of supremacy as the Saracen. Their only city was a vast
camp, in the plains between the Caspian and the Wolga; and while they
left the provinces in the hands of the native princes, and enjoyed
themselves in the manlier sports of hunting through the plains and
mountains, they commanded that every vassal prince should attend at the
imperial tent to receive permission to reign, or perhaps to live; and
that, even when they sent their Tartar collectors to receive the
tribute, the Russian princes should lead the Tartar’s horse by the
bridle, and give him a feed of oats out of their _cap of state_!

But another of those sweeping devastators, one of those gigantic
executioners, who seem to have been sent from time to time to punish the
horrible profligacies of Asia, now rose upon the north. Timour Khan, the
Tamerlane of European story, the Invincible, the Lord of the Tartar
World, rushed with his countless troops upon the sovereignties of
Western Asia. This universal conqueror crushed the Tartar dynasty of
Russia, and then burst away, like an inundation, to overwhelm other
lands. But the native Russians again made head against their Tartar
masters, and a century and a half of sanguinary warfare followed, with
various fortunes, and without any other result than blood.

Without touching on topics exclusively religious, it becomes a matter of
high interest to mark the vengeances, furies, and massacres, of
heathenism, in every age of the world. Yet while we believe, and have
such resistless reason to believe, in the Providential government, what
grounds can be discovered for this sufferance of perpetual horrors? For
this we have one solution, and but one: stern as the inflictions are,
may they not be in mercy? may not the struggles of barbarian life be
permitted, simply to retard the headlong course of barbarian corruption?
may there not be excesses of wickedness, extremes of national vice, an
accumulation of offences against the laws of moral nature, (which are
the original laws of Heaven,) actually incompatible with the Divine
mercy? Nothing can be clearer to the understanding, than that there are
limits which the Divine Being has prescribed to his endurance of the
guilt of man, and prescribed doubtless for the highest objects of
general mercy; as there are offences which, by human laws, are
incompatible with the existence of society.

The crimes of the world before the flood were evidently of an intense
iniquity, which precluded the possibility of purification; and thus it
became necessary to extinguish a race, whose continued existence could
only have corrupted every future generation of mankind.

War, savage feuds, famines, and pestilences, may have been only Divine
expedients to save the world from another accumulation of intolerable
iniquity, by depriving nations of the power of utter self-destruction,
by thinning their numbers, by compelling them to feel the miseries of
mutual aggression, and even by reducing them to that degree of poverty
which supplied the most effective antidote to their total corruption.

Still, those sufferings were punishments, but punishments fully earned
by their fierce passions, savage propensities, remorseless cruelties,
and general disobedience of that natural law of virtue, which, earlier
even than Judaism or Christianity, the Eternal had implanted in the
heart of his creatures.

In the fifteenth century Russia began to assume a form. Ivan III. broke
off the vassalage of Russia to the “Golden Horde.” He had married
Sophia, the niece of the Greek emperor, to which we may attribute his
civilisation; and he received the embassies of Germany, Venice, and
Rome, at Moscow. His son, Ivan IV., took Novgorod, which he ruined, and
continued to fight the Poles and Tartars until he died. His son Ivan, in
the middle of the sixteenth century, was crowned by the title of Czar,
formed the first standing army of Russia, named the Strelitzes, and
established a code of laws. In 1598, by the death of the Czar Feodor
without children, the male line of Ruric, which had held the throne for
seven hundred and thirty-six years, and under fifty-six sovereigns,
became extinct.

Another dynasty of remarkable distinction ascended the throne, in the
beginning of the seventeenth century. Michael Romanoff, descended from
the line of Ruric by the female side, was declared Czar. His son Alexis
was the father of Peter the Great, who, with his brother Ivan, was
placed on the throne at the decease of their father, but both under the
guardianship of the Princess Sophia. But the Princess, who was the
daughter of Alexis, exhibiting an intention to seize the crown for
herself, a revolution took place in 1689, in which the Princess was sent
to a convent. Ivan, who was imbecile in mind and body, surrendered the
throne, and Peter became sole sovereign of Russia.

The accession of Peter began the last and greatest period of Russian
history. Though a man of fierce passions and barbarian habits, he had
formed a high conception of the value of European arts, chiefly through
an intelligent Genevese, Lefort, who had been his tutor.

The first object of the young emperor was to form an army; his next was
to construct a fleet. But both operations were too slow for his rapidity
of conception; and, in 1697, he travelled to Holland and England for the
purpose of learning the art of ship-building. He was forced to return to
Russia after an absence of two years, by the revolt of the Strelitzes in
favour of the Princess Sophia. The Strelitzes wore disbanded and
slaughtered, and Peter felt himself a monarch for the first time.

The cession of Azof by the Turks, at the peace of Carlowitz in 1699,
gave him a port on the Black Sea. But the Baltic acted on him like a
spell; and, to obtain an influence on its shores, he hazarded the ruin
of his throne.

Sweden, governed by Charles XII., was then the first military power of
the north. The fame of Gustavus Adolphus in the German wars, had given
the Swedes the example and the renown of their great king; and Charles,
bold, reckless, and half lunatic, despising the feebleness of Russia,
had turned his arms against Denmark and Poland. But the junction of
Russia with the “Northern League” only gave him a new triumph. He fell
upon the Russian army, and broke it up on the memorable field of Narva,
in 1700.

Peter still proceeded with his original vigour. St Petersburg was
founded in 1703. The war was prosecuted for six years, until the Russian
troops obtained a degree of discipline which enabled them to meet the
Swedes on equal terms. In 1708, Charles was defeated in the memorable
battle of Pultowa. His army was utterly ruined, and himself forced to
take refuge in Turkey. Peter was now at the head of northern power.
Frederic Augustus was placed on the throne of Poland by the arms of
Russia, and from this period Poland was under Russian influence.

Peter now took the title of “Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias.”
In 1716 he again travelled in Europe. In 1723 he obtained the provinces
on the Caspian, by an attack on Persia. But his vigorous, ambitious, and
singularly successful career was now come to a close. The death of a
Russian prince is seldom attributed to the course of nature; and Peter
died at the age of fifty-two, a time when the bodily powers are still
undecayed, and the mental are in the highest degree of activity. The
day, still recorded by the Russians with the interest due to his
extraordinary career, was the 28th of January 1725. In thirty-six years
he had raised Russia from obscurity to a rank with the oldest powers of

We hasten to the close of this sketch, and pass by the complicated
successions from the death of Peter to the reign of the Empress

The Russian army had made their first appearance in Germany, in
consequence of a treaty with Maria Theresa; and their bravery in the
“Seven Years’ War,” in the middle of the last century, established their
distinction for soldiership.

Peter III. withdrew from the Austrian alliance, and concluded peace with
Prussia. But his reign was not destined to be long. At once weak in
intellect, and profligate in habits, he offended and alarmed his
empress, by personal neglect, and by threats of sending her to a
convent. Catherine, a German, and not accustomed to the submissiveness
of Russian wives, formed a party against him. The people were on her
side; and, what was of more importance, the Guards declared for her. An
insurrection took place; the foolish Czar, after a six months’ reign,
was dethroned July 1762, was sent to a prison, and within a week was no
more. The Russians assigned his death to poison, to strangulation, or to
some other species of atrocity. Europe talked for a while of the
“Russian Tragedy!” but the emperor left no regrets behind him; and
“Catherina, Princess of Anhalt Zerbst,” handsome, young, accomplished,
and splendid, ascended a throne of which her subjects were proud; which
collected round it the elite of Germany, its philosophers and soldiers;
which the empress connected with the _beaux esprits_ of France, and the
orators and statesmen of England; and which, during her long,
prosperous, and ambitious reign, united the pomp of Asia with the
brilliancy and power of Europe. The shroud of the Czar was speedily
forgotten, in the embroidered robe which Catherine threw over the

But the greatest crime of European annals was committed in this bold and
triumphant reign. Russia, Prussia, and Austria, tempted by the
helplessness of Poland, formed a league to seize upon portions of its
territory; and the partition of 1772 took place, to the utter
astonishment of Europe, but with scarcely a remonstrance from its
leading powers.

Poland had so long been contented to receive its sovereign from Russia,
its religions disputes had so utterly weakened the people, its nobility
were so profligate, and its peasantry were so poor, that it had lost all
the sinews of national defence. It therefore fell an easy prey; and only
waited, like a slave in the market, till the bargain for its sale was

In 1793, a second partition was effected. In the next year, the Polish
troops took up arms under the celebrated Kosciusko; but the Russians
advanced on Warsaw with a force which defied all resistance. Warsaw was
stormed, twenty thousand gallant men were slain in its defence,
Suwarroff was master of the unfortunate capital; and, in 1795, the third
and last partition extinguished the kingdom.

Having performed this terrible exploit, which was to be as terribly
avenged, the career of Catherine was closed. She died suddenly in 1796.

Paul, her son, ascended the throne, which he held for five years; a
mixture of the imbecility of his father, and the daring spirit of his
mother. Zealous for the honour of Russia, yet capricious as the winds,
he first made war upon the French Republic, and then formed a naval
league to destroy the maritime supremacy of England. This measure was
his ruin; England was the old ally of Russia,—France was the new enemy.
The nation hated the arrogance and the atheism of France, and resolved
on the overthrow of the Czar. In Russia the monarch is so far removed
from his people, that he has no refuge among them in case of disaster.
Paul was believed to be mad, and madness, on a despotic throne, justly
startles a nation. A band of conspirators broke into his palace at
midnight, strangled the master of fifty millions of men, and the nation,
at morning, was in a tumult of joy.

His son, Alexander, ascended the throne amid universal acclamation. His
first act was peace with England. In 1805, his troops joined the
Austrian army, and bore their share in the sufferings of the campaign of
Austerlitz. The French invasion of Poland, in two years after, the
desperate drawn battle of Eylau, and the disaster of Friedland, led to
the peace of Tilsit. Alexander then joined the Continental system of
Napoleon; but this system was soon found to be so ruinous to Russian
commerce, as to be intolerable. Napoleon, already marked for downfall,
was rejoiced to take advantage of the Russian reluctance, and instantly
marched across the Polish frontier, at the head of a French and allied
army amounting to the astonishing number of five hundred thousand men.

Infatuation was now visible in every step of his career. Instead of
organising Poland into a kingdom, which would have been a place of
retreat in case of disaster; and, whether in disaster or victory, would
have been a vast national fortification against the advance of Russia,
he left it behind him; and, instead of waiting for the return of spring,
commenced his campaign on the verge of winter, in the land of winter
itself, and madly ran all the hazards of invading a boundless empire of
which he knew nothing, of which the people were brave, united, and
attached to their sovereign; and of which, if the armies had fled like
deer, the elements would have fought the battle.

Napoleon was now _infatuated_ in all things, infatuated in his diplomacy
at Moscow, and infatuated in the rashness, the hurry, and the confusion
of his retreat. His army perished by brigades and divisions. On the
returning spring, three hundred thousand men were found buried in the
snow; all his spoil was lost, his veteran troops were utterly destroyed,
his fame was tarnished, and his throne was shaken.

He was followed into France by the troops of Russia and Germany. In
1814, the British army under Wellington crossed the Pyrenees, and
liberated the southern provinces of France. In the same year, the
Austrian, Prussian, and Russian armies marched to Paris, captured the
capital, and expelled Napoleon. The battle of Waterloo, in the year
after, destroyed the remnant of his legions in the field, threw him into
the hands of the British government, and exiled him to St Helena, where
he remained a British prisoner until he died.

Alexander died in 1825, at the age of forty-eight, and, leaving no sons,
was succeeded by his brother Nicholas, the third son of Paul—Constantine
having resigned his claims to the throne. We pass over, for the moment,
the various events of the present imperial reign. Its policy has been
constantly turned to the acquisition of territory; and that policy has
been always successful. The two great objects of all Russian cabinets,
since the days of Constantine, have been the possession of Turkey and
the command of the Mediterranean. Either would inevitably produce a
universal war; and while we deprecate so tremendous a calamity to the
world, and rely on the rational and honourable qualities of the Emperor,
to rescue both Russia and Europe from so desperate a struggle, we feel
that it is only wise to be prepared for all the contingencies that may
result from the greatest mass of power that the world has ever seen,
moved by a despotic will, and that will itself subject to the common
caprices of the mind of man.

The volumes to which we shall now occasionally refer, are written by an
intelligent observer, who began his study of Russia by an office under
her government, and who has, since that period, been occupied in
acquiring additional knowledge of her habits, finances, population, and
general system of administration. A Frenchman by birth, but a German by
descent, he in a very considerable degree unites the descriptive
dexterity of the one with the grave exactness of the other. His subject
is of the first importance to European politicians, and he seems capable
of giving them the material of sound conclusions.

The author commences with the reign of Alexander, and gives a just
panegyric to the kindliness of his disposition, the moderation of his
temper, and his sincere desire to promote the happiness of his people.
Nothing but this disposition could have saved him from all the vices of
ambition, profligacy, and irreligion; for his tutor was La Harpe, one of
the savans of the Swiss school, a man of accomplishment and talent, but
a scoffer. But the English reader should be reminded, that when men of
this rank of ability are pronounced hostile to religion, their hostility
was not to the principles of Christianity, but to the religion of
France; to the performances of the national worship, to the burlesque
miracles wrought at the tomb of the Abbé Paris, and to that whole system
of human inventions and monkish follies, which was as much disbelieved
in France as it was disdained in England.

In fact, the religion of the gospel had never come into their thoughts;
and when they talked of revelation, they thought only of the breviary.
The Empress Catherine, finding no literature in Russia, afraid, or
ashamed of being known as a German, and extravagantly fond of fame,
attached herself to the showy pamphleteers of France, and courted every
gale of French adulation in return. She even corresponded personally
with some of the French _litterateurs_, and was French in every thing
except living in St Petersburg, and wearing the Russian diadem. She was
even so much the slave of fashion as to adopt, or pretend to adopt, the
fantasies in government which the French were now beginning to mingle
with their fantasies in religious.

She wrote thus to Zimmerman, the author of the dreamy and dreary work on
“Solitude,” “I have been attached to philosophy, because my soul has
always been singularly _republican_. I confess that this tendency stands
in strange contrast with the unlimited power of my _place_.”

If the quiet times of Europe had continued, and France had exhibited the
undisturbed pomps of her ancient court, Alexander would probably have
been a Frenchman and _philosophe_ on the banks of the Neva; but stirring
times were to give him more rational ideas, and the necessities of
Russia reclaimed him from the absurdities of his education.

La Harpe himself was a man of some distinction—a Swiss, though
thoroughly French and revolutionary. After leaving Russia, he became
prominent, even in France, as an abettor of republican principles, and
was one of the members of the Swiss Directory. La Harpe survived the
Revolution, the Empire, and the Bourbons, and died in 1838.

The commencement of Alexander’s reign was singularly popular, for it
began with treaties on every side. Paul, who had sent a challenge to all
the sovereigns of Europe to fight him in person, had alarmed his people
with the prospect of a universal war. Alexander was the universal
pacificator; he made peace with England, peace with France, and a
commercial treaty with Sweden. He now seemed resolved to avoid all
foreign wars, to keep clear of European politics, and to devote all his
thoughts to the improvement of his empire. Commencing this rational and
meritorious task with zeal, he narrowed the censorship of the press, and
enlarged the importation of foreign works. He broke up the system of
espionage—formed a Council of State—reduced the taxes—abolished the
punishment by torture—refused to make grants of peasants—constituted the
Senate into a high court of justice divided into departments, in order
to remedy the slowness of law proceedings—established universities and
schools—allowed every subject to choose his own profession; and, as the
most important and characteristic of all his reforms, allowed his
nobility to sell portions of land to their serfs, with the right of
personal freedom: by this last act laying the foundation of a new and
free race of proprietors in Russia.

The abolition of serfdom was a great experiment, whose merits the serfs
themselves scarcely appreciated, but which is absolutely necessary to
any elevation of the national character. It has been always opposed by
the nobles, who regard it as the actual plunder of their inheritance;
but Alexander honourably exhibited his more humane and rational views on
the subject, whenever the question came within his decision.

A nobleman of the highest rank had requested an estate “with its serfs,”
as an imperial mark of favour. Alexander wrote to him in this style:
“The peasants of Russia are for the most part _slaves_. I need not
expatiate on the degradation, or on the misfortune of such a condition.
Accordingly, I have made a vow not to increase the number; and to this
end I have laid down the principle _not_ to give away peasants as

The Emperor sometimes did striking things in his private capacity. A
princess of the first rank applied to him to protect her husband from
his creditors, intimating that “the emperor was above the law.”

Alexander answered, “I do not wish, madam, to put myself above the law,
even if I could, for in all the world I do not recognise any authority
but that which comes from the law. On the contrary, I feel more than any
one else the obligation of watching over its observance, and even in
cases where others may be indulgent, _I_ can only be just.”

The French war checked all those projects of improvement; and the march
of his troops to the aid of Austria in 1805, commenced a series of
hostilities, which, for seven years, occupied the resources of the
empire, and had nearly subverted his throne. But he behaved bravely
throughout the contest. When Austria was beaten and signed a treaty,
Alexander refused to join in the negotiation. When Prussia, under the
influence of counsels at once rash and negligent—too slow to aid
Austria, and too feeble to encounter France—was preparing to resist
Napoleon in 1805, Alexander, Frederic William, and his queen Louisa,
made a visit by torch-light to the tomb of Frederic the Great in
Potsdam; and there, on their knees, the two monarchs joined their hands
over the tomb, and pledged themselves to stand by each other to the

When Prussia was defeated, Alexander still fought two desperate battles;
and it was not until the advance of the French made him dread the rising
of Poland in his rear, that he made peace in 1802.

At this peace, he was charged with bartering his principles for the
extension of his dominions by the seizure of Turkey, and even of the
extravagance of dividing the world with Napoleon. But these charges were
never proved.

We, too, have our theory, and it is, that the fear of seeing Poland in
insurrection alone compelled Alexander to submit to the treaty of
Tilsit; but that he felt all the insolence of the French Emperor, in
demanding the closing of the Russian ports against England; and felt the
treaty as a chain, which he was determined to break on the first
provocation. We think it probable that the knowledge of the “secret
articles” of that treaty was conveyed from the Russian Court to England;
and, without pretending to know from what direct hand it came, we
believe that the seizure of the Danish fleet, which was the immediate
result of that knowledge, was as gratifying to Alexander as it was to
the English cabinet, notwithstanding the diplomatic wrath which it
pleased him to affect on that memorable occasion.

But other times were ripening. It has been justly observed, that the
Spanish war was the true origin of Napoleon’s ruin. He perished by his
own perfidy. The resistance of Spain awoke the resistance of Europe. All
Germany, impoverished by French plunder, and indignant at French
insults, longed to rise in arms. The Russians then boldly demanded the
emancipation of their commerce, and issued a relaxed tariff in 1811.
British vessels then began to crowd the Russian ports. Napoleon was
indignant and threatened. Alexander was offended, and remonstrated. The
French Emperor instantly launched one of his fiery proclamations;
declared that the House of Romanoff was undone; and, on the 24th of June
1812, threw his mighty army across the Niemen.

We pass over the events of that memorable war as universally known; but
justice is not done to the Russian emperor, unless we recollect how
large a portion of the liberation of Europe was due to his magnanimity.
To refuse obedience to the commercial tyranny of Napoleon, where it
menaced the ruin of his people, was an act of personal magnanimity, for
it inevitably exposed his throne and life to the hazards of war with a
universal conqueror. On the declaration of war, he determined to join
his armies in the field, another act of magnanimity, which was prevented
only by the remonstrance of his generals, who represented to him the
obstacles which must be produced by the presence of the emperor. But,
when the invasion of France was resolved on, and negotiations might
require his presence, he was instantly in the camp, and was of the
highest importance to the final success of the campaign. He threw vigour
into the councils of the Austrian generalissimo, and, with the aid of
the British ambassador, actually urged and effected the “March to

In Paris, however, his magnanimity was unfortunate, his generosity was
misplaced, his chivalric feelings had to deal with craft, and his
reliance on the pledges of Napoleon ultimately cost Europe one of the
bloodiest of its campaigns. A wiser policy would have given Napoleon
over to the dungeon, or sent him before a military tribunal, as he had
sent the unfortunate Duc d’Enghien, with not the thousandth part of the
reason or the necessity, and the peace of the Continent would thus have
been secured at once. But a more theatric policy prevailed. The promises
of a man who had never kept a promise were taken; the stimulant of an
imperial title was kept up, when he ought to have been stripped of all
honours; an independent revenue was issued to him, which was sure to be
expended in bribing the officials and soldiery of France; and, by the
last folly of a series of generous absurdities, Napoleon was placed in
the very spot which he himself would have chosen, and probably _did_
choose, for the centre of a correspondence, between the corruption of
Italy and the corruption of France.

The result was predicted by every politician of Europe, except the
politicians of the Tuileries. France was speedily prepared for revolt;
the army had their tricoloured cockades in their knapsacks. The
Bourbons, who thought that the world was to be governed by going to
mass, were forced to flee at midnight. Napoleon drove into the capital,
with all the traitors of the army and the councils clinging to his
wheels, cost France another “March to Paris,” the loss of another
veteran army, and himself another exile, where he was sent to linger out
his few wretched and humiliated years in the African Ocean.

The Holy Alliance was the first conception of Alexander on the return of
peace. It died too suddenly to exhibit either its good or its evil. It
has been calumniated, because it has been misunderstood. But it seems to
have been a noble conception. France which laughs at every thing,
laughed at the idea of ruling Europe on principles of honour. Germany,
which is always wrapped in a republican doze, reprobated a project which
seemed to secure the safety of thrones by establishing honour as a
principle. And England, then governed by a cabinet doubtful of public
feeling, and not less doubtful of foreign integrity, shrank from all
junction with projects which she could not control, and with governments
in which she would not confide. Thus the Holy Alliance perished. Still,
the conception was noble. Its only fault was, that it was applied to men
before men had become angels.

The author of the volumes now before us is evidently a republican one—of
the “Movement”—one of that class who would first stimulate mankind into
restlessness, and then pronounce the restlessness to be a law of nature.
Metternich is of course his bugbear, and the policy of Austria is to him
the policy of the “kingdom of darkness.” But, if there is no wiser maxim
than “to judge of the tree by its fruits,” how much wiser has that great
statesman been than all the bustling innovators of his day, and how much
more substantial is that policy by which he has kept the Austrian empire
in happy and grateful tranquillity, while the Continent has been
convulsed around him!

No man knows better than Prince Metternich, the shallowness, and even
the shabbiness, of the partisans of overthrow, their utter incapacity
for rational freedom, the utter perfidy of their intentions, and the
selfish villany of their objects. He knows, as every man of sense knows,
that those Solons and Catos of revolution are composed of lawyers
without practice, traders without business, ruined gamblers, and the
whole swarm of characterless and contemptible idlers, who infest all the
cities of Europe. He knows from full experience that the object of such
men is, not to procure rights for the people, but to compel governments
to buy their silence; that their only idea of liberty, is liberty of
pillage; and that, with them, revolution is only an expedient for rapine
and a license for revenge. Therefore he puts them down; he stifles their
declamation by the scourge, he curbs their theories by the dungeon, he
cools their political fever by banishing them from the land; and thus
governing Austria for nearly the last forty years, he has kept it free
from popular violence, from republican ferocity, from revolutionary
bloodshed, and from the infinite wretchedness, poverty, and shame, which
smites a people exposed to the swindling of political impostors.

Thus, Austria is peaceful and powerful, while Spain is shattered by
conspiracy; while Portugal lives, protected from herself only under the
guns of the British fleet; while Italy is committing its feeble
mischiefs, and frightening its opera-hunting potentates out of their
senses; while every petty province of Germany has its beer-drinking
conspirators; and while the French king guards himself by bastions and
batteries, and cannot take an evening’s drive without fear of the
blunderbuss, or lay his head on his pillow without the chance of being
wakened by the roar of insurrection. These are the “fruits of the tree;”
but it is only to be lamented that the same sagacity and vigour, the
same determination of character, and the same perseverance in principle,
are not to be found in every cabinet of Europe. We should then hear no
more of revolutions.

The life of the Russian emperor was a cloudy one. The external splendour
of royalty naturally captivates the eye, but the realities of the diadem
are often melancholy. It would be scarcely possible to conceive a
loftier preparative for human happiness than that which surrounds the
throne of the Russias. Alexander married early. A princess of Baden was
chosen for him, by the irresistible will of Catherine, at a period when
he himself was incapable of forming any choice. He was married at
sixteen, his wife being one year younger. He never had a son, but he had
two daughters, who died. And the distractions of the campaign of Moscow,
which must have been a source of anxiety to any man in Russia, were
naturally felt by the emperor in proportion to the immense stake which
he had in the safety of the country.

For some years after the fall of Napoleon, Alexander was deeply engaged
in a variety of anxious negotiations in Germany, and subsequently, he
was still more deeply agitated by the failing constitution of the
empress. The physicians had declared that her case was hopeless if she
remained in Russia, and advised her return to her native air. But she,
in the spirit of romance, replied, that the wife of the Emperor of
Russia must not die but within his dominions. The Crimea was then
proposed, as the most genial climate. But the emperor decided on
Taganrog, a small town on the sea of Azof, but at the tremendous
distance of nearly fifteen hundred miles from St Petersburg.

The present empress has been wiser, for, abandoning the romance, she
spent her winter in Naples, where she seems to have recovered her
health. The climate of Taganrog, though so far to the south, is
unfavorable, and in winter it is exposed to the terrible winds which
sweep across the desert, unobstructed from the pole. But Alexander
determined to attend to her health there himself, and preceded her by
some days to make preparations. A strange and singularly depressing
ceremony preceded his departure. For some years he had been liable to
melancholy impressions on the subject of religion. The Greek church,
which differs little from the Romish, except in refusing allegiance to
the bishop of Rome, abounds in formalities, some stately, and some
severe. Alexander, educated under the Swiss, who could not have taught
him more of Christianity than was known by a French _philosophe_, and
having only the dangerous morals of the Russian court for his practical
guide, suffered himself, when in Paris, to listen to the mystical
absurdities of the well-known Madame de Krudener, and from that time
became a mystic. He had the distorted dreams and the heavy reveries, and
talked the unintelligible theories which the Germans talk by the fumes
of their meerschaums, and propagate by the vapours of their swamps. He
lost his activity of mind; and if he had lived a few years longer, he
would probably have finished his career in a cell, and died, like
Charles V., an idiot, in the “odour of sanctity.”

The preparation for his journey had the colouring of that superstition
which already began to cloud his mind.

It was his custom, in his journeys from St Petersburg, to start from the
cathedral of “Our Lady of Kasan.” But on this occasion, he gave notice
to the Greek bishop, that he should require him to chant a service at
four o’clock in the morning, at the monastery of St Alexander Newski, in
the full assembly of ecclesiastics, at which he would be present.

On this occasion every thing took an ominous shape, in the opinion of
the people. They said that the service chanted was the service for the
dead, though the official report stated that it was the _Te Deum_. The
monastery of St Alexander Newski is surrounded by the chief cemetery of
St Petersburg, where various members of the reigning family, who had not
worn the crown, were interred, and among them the two infant daughters
of the emperor. The popular report was, that the ecclesiastics wore
mourning robes; but this is contradicted, whether truly or not, by the
official report, which states that they wore vestures of crimson worked
with gold.

Just at dawn the emperor came alone in his calèche, not even attended by
a servant. The outer gates were then carefully reclosed, the mass was
said, the old prelate gave him a crucifix to accompany him on his
journey, the priests once more chanted their anthem, they then conducted
him to the gate, and the ceremonial closed.

But the more curious feature of the scene was to follow.

Seraphim, the old prelate, invited the emperor to his cell, where, when
they were alone, he said, “I know your Majesty feels a particular
interest in the _Schimnik_.” (These are monks who live in the interior
of the convents in the deepest solitude, following strictly all the
austerities prescribed to their order, and are venerated as saints.) “We
for some time have had a Schimnik within the walls of the Holy Lavra.
Would it be the pleasure of your majesty that he should be
summoned?”—“Be it so,” was the reply, and a venerable man, with an
emaciated face and figure, entered. Alexander received his blessing, and
the monk asked him to visit his cell. Black cloth covered the floor, the
walls were painted black, a colossal crucifix occupied a considerable
portion of the cell. Benches painted black were ranged around, and the
only light was given by the glimmer of a lamp, which burned night and
day before the pictures of saints! When the emperor entered, the monk
prostrated himself before the crucifix, and said, “Let us pray.” The
three then knelt and engaged in silent prayer. The emperor whispered to
the bishop, “Is this his only cell? where is his bed?” The answer was,
“He sleeps upon this floor, stretched before the crucifix.”—“No, sire,”
said the monk, “I have the same bed with every other man; approach, and
you shall see.” He then led the emperor into a small recess, screened
off from the cell, where, placed upon a table, was a black coffin, half
open, containing a shroud, and surrounded by tapers. “Here is _my_ bed,”
said the monk, “a bed common to man; there, sire, we shall all rest in
our last long sleep.”

The emperor gazed upon the coffin, and the monk gave him an exhortation
on the crimes of the people, which, he said, had been restrained by the
pestilence, and the war of 1812, but when those two plagues had passed
by, had grown worse than ever.

But we must abridge this pious pantomime, which seems evidently to have
been _got up_ for the occasion, and which would have been enough to
dispirit any one who had left his bed at four in the morning in the
chill of a Russian September.

The emperor at length left the convent, evidently dejected and depressed
by this sort of theatrical anticipation of death and burial, and drove
off with his eyes filled with tears.

On his journey he was unattended. He took with him but two
aides-de-camp, and his physician, Sir James Wylie, a clever Scotsman,
who had been thirty years in the imperial service. The journey was
rapid, and without accident, but his mind was still full of omens. A
comet had appeared. “It presages misfortune,” said the emperor; “but the
will of Heaven be done.”

The change of air was beneficial to the empress, who reached Taganrog
after a journey of three weeks; and the emperor remained with her,
paying her great attention, and constantly accompanying her in her rides
and drives. The season happened to be mild, and Alexander proposed to
visit the Crimea, at the suggestion of Count Woronzoff, governor of the
province. This excursion, with all its agreeabilities, was evidently a
trying one to a frame already shaken, and a mind harassed by its own
feelings. He rode a considerable part of the journey, visited
Sebastopol, inspected fortifications in all quarters, received officers,
dined with governors, visited places where endemics made their haunt;
ate the delicious, but dangerous fruits of the country, received Muftis
and Tartar princes; in short did every thing that he ought not to have
done, and finally found himself ill.

He remarked to Sir James Wylie, that his stomach was disordered, and
that he had had but little sleep for several nights. The physician
recommended immediate medicine, but Alexander was obstinate. “I have no
confidence,” said he, “in potions; my life is in the hands of Heaven;
nothing can stand against its will.” But the illness continued, and the
emperor began to grow lethargic, and slept much in his carriage. With a
rashness which seems to be the prevalent misfortune of sovereigns, he
still persisted in defying disease, and suffered himself to be driven
every where, visiting all the remarkable points of the Crimea, yet
growing day by day more incapable of feeling an interest in any thing.
He was at length shivering under intermittent fever, and he hurried back
to the empress. On being asked by Prince Volkonski, whom he had left as
the manager of his household, what was the state of his health,—“Well
enough,” was the answer, “except that I have got a touch of the fever of
the Crimea.” The prince entreated him to take care of his health, and
not to treat it as he “would have done when he was twenty years old.” On
the next day his illness had assumed a determined character, and was
declared to be dangerous, and a typhus.

Unfortunately, at this period, an officer of rank arrived with details
of one of those conspiracies which had been notoriously on foot for some
time. His tidings ought to have been concealed: but sovereigns must hear
every thing, and the tidings were communicated to the emperor. He was
indignant and agitated. The empress exhibited the most unwearied
kindness; but all efforts were now hopeless. On the 1st of December he
sank and died.

The blow was felt by the whole empire; during the long journey of four
months, from Taganrog to St Petersburg, where the body was interred in
the church of St Peter and St Paul, the people crowded from every part
of the adjoining country to follow the funeral; and troops, chiefs,
nobles, and the multitude, gave this melancholy ceremonial all the usual
pomp of imperial funeral rites, and more than the usual sincerity of
national sorrow.

Europe had been so often startled by the assassination of Russian
sovereigns, that the death of Alexander was attributed to conspiracy.
Ivan, Peter III., and Paul I., had notoriously died by violence. It is
perfectly true, that the life of Alexander was threatened, and that his
death by the typhus alone saved him from at least attempted
assassination. It was subsequently ascertained that his murder had been
resolved on; and one of the conspirators, a furious and savage man,
rushed into their meeting, exclaiming at the delay which had suffered
Alexander to die a natural death, and thus deprived him of the
_enjoyment_ of shedding the imperial blood.

The origin of those conspiracies is still among the problems of history.
Nothing could be less obnoxious than the personal conduct and character
of Alexander. His reign exhibited none of the banishments or the
bloodshed of former reigns. He was of a gentle disposition; his habits
were manly; and he had shared the glory of the Russian victories. The
assassinations of the former sovereigns had assignable motives, though
the act must be always incapable of justification. They had perished by
intrigues of the palace; but the death of Alexander was the object of a
crowd of conspirators widely scattered, scarcely communicating with each
other, and united only by the frenzy of revolution.

In the imperfection of the documents hitherto published, we should be
strongly inclined to refer the principle of this revolutionary movement
to Poland. That unhappy country had been the national sin of Russia; and
though Moscow had already paid a severe price for its atonement, from
Poland came that restless revenge, which seemed resolved, if it could
not shake Russia, at least to imbitter the Russian supremacy.

The death of Alexander had disappointed the chief conspirators. But the
conspiracy continued, and the choice of his successor revived all its

The house of Romanoff had received the diadem by a species of election.
Michael Romanoff, a descendant of the house of Ruric only by the female
line, had been chosen by all the heads of the nation. The law of
primogeniture was declared. But Peter the Great, disgusted by the vices
or the imbecility of his son Alexis, had changed the law of succession,
and enacted, that the sovereign should have the choice of his successor,
not even limiting that choice to the royal line. Nothing is so fatal to
the peace of a country as an unsettled succession; and this rash and
prejudiced change produced all the confusions of Russian history from
1722 to 1797, when the Emperor Paul restored the right of primogeniture
in the male line, in failure of which alone was the crown to devolve on
the female line. In which case, the throne was to devolve on the
princess next in relation to the deceased emperor; and, in case of her
dying childless, the other princesses were to follow in the order of
relationship. Alexander, in 1807, confirmed the act of Paul, and
strengthened it by an additional act in 1820; stating, that the issue of
marriages, authorised by the reigning emperor, and those who should
themselves contract marriages, authorised by the reigning emperor,
should alone possess the right of succession.

Alexander had left three brothers—the Grand-duke Constantine, born in
1779; the Grand-duke Nicholas, born in 1796; and the Grand-duke Michael,
born in 1798: two of his surviving sisters had been married, one to the
Grand-duke of Saxe Weimar, and the other to the King of Holland. Thus,
according to the law of Russia, Constantine was the next heir to the

The singular commotion which gave so melancholy a prestige of the reign
of Nicholas, receives a very full explanation from this author. The
Grand-duke Constantine had the countenance of a Calmuck and the manners
of a Calmuck. But those were the countenance and manners of his father
Paul. The other sons resembled their mother, the Princess of Wirtemberg,
a woman of striking appearance and of commanding mind. Constantine was
violent, passionate, and insulting; and in his viceroyalty of Poland
rendered himself unpopular in the extreme. The result was, that
Alexander dreaded to leave him as successor to the throne. Constantine,
when scarcely beyond boyhood, had been married to one of the princesses
of Saxe Cobourg, not yet fifteen. They soon quarrelled, and at the end
of four years finally separated. In two years after, proposals were made
to her to return. But she recollected too deeply the vexations of the
past, and refused to leave Germany. Constantine now became enamoured of
the daughter of a Polish count, and proposed to marry her. The Greek
Church is stern on the subject of divorce, but its sternness can give
way on due occasion. The consent of the emperor extinguished all its
scruples, and Constantine divorced his princess, and married the Polish
girl; yet, by that left-handed marriage, which precludes her from
inheriting titles or estates. But the emperor shortly after conferred on
her the title of Princess of Lowictz, from an estate which he gave her,
and both which were capable of descending to her family.

It was subsequently ascertained that, at this period, Alexander had
proposed to Constantine the resignation of his right to the throne;
either as the price of his consent to the divorce, or from the common
conviction of both, that the succession would only bring evil on
Constantine and the empire. That Alexander was perfectly disinterested,
is only consonant to his manly nature, and that Constantine had come to
a wise decision, is equally probable. He knew his own failings, the
haste of his temper, his unpopularity, and the offence which he was in
the habit of giving to all classes. He probably, also, had a sufficient
dread of the fate of his father, whom, as he resembled in every thing
else, he might also resemble in his death. His present position
fulfilled all the wishes of a man who loved power without
responsibility, and enjoyed occupation without relinquishing his ease.
The transaction was complete, and Alexander was tranquillised for the
fate of Russia.

When the intelligence of the emperor’s death reached St Petersburg,
Nicholas attended the meeting of the Senate, to take the oath of
allegiance to Constantine. But they determined that their first act
should be the reading of a packet, which had been placed in their hands
by Alexander, with orders to be opened immediately on his decease. The
president broke the seal, and found documents dated in 1822 and 1823,
from Constantine, resigning the right of succession, and from Alexander
accepting the resignation. Constantine’s letter stated thus: “Conscious
that I do not possess the genius, the talents, or the strength,
necessary to fit me for the dignity of sovereign, to which my birth
would give me a right, I entreat your imperial majesty to transfer that
right to him to whom it belongs, after me; and thus assure for ever the
stability of the empire.

“As to myself, I shall add, by this renunciation, a new guarantee and a
new force to the engagement which I spontaneously and solemnly
contracted on the occasion of my divorce from my first wife. All the
circumstances in which I find myself strengthen my determination to
adhere to this resolution, which will prove to the empire and to the
whole world the sincerity of my sentiments.”

Another of those documents appointed Nicholas as the heir to the throne.
The Senate now declared that Nicholas was emperor. But he refused the
title, until he had the acknowledgment from Constantine himself, that he
had resigned. The suspense continued three weeks. At length the formal
renunciation of Constantine was received, Nicholas was emperor, and the
day was appointed to receive the oath of allegiance of the great
functionaries of the army and of the people. The emperor dated his
accession from the day of the death of Alexander, December the 1st,

The interregnum was honourable to both the brothers; but it had nearly
proved fatal to Russia: it unsettled the national feelings, it perplexed
the army, and it gave sudden hopes to the conspirators against the

The heads of the conspiracy in St Petersburg were, Sergius, Prince
Troubetskoi; Eugene, Prince Obalenskoi, and Conrad Ryleieff. The first
was highly connected and highly employed, colonel of the Etat Major, and
military governor of Kief. The second was a lieutenant in the imperial
guard, poor, but a man of talent and ambition. In Russia all the sons of
a prince are princes, which often leaves their rental bare. The third
was simply a noble, educated in the corps of cadets, but who had left
the army, and had taken the secretaryship of the American company. He
was a man of letters, had written some popular poems, and was an
enthusiastic republican. Connected with those were some general officers
and colonels, whose revolutionary spirit might chiefly be traced to
their expulsion from employment, military disgrace, or disappointed
ambition. The Russian campaigns in France, and the residence of the army
of occupation, under the command of the great English general, had
naturally given the Russian troops an insight into principles of
national government, which they could not have acquired within the
Russian frontier. The pretext of the conspirators was a constitutional
government, which the talkers of St Petersburg seemed to regard as the
inevitable pouring of sudden prosperity of all kinds into the empire.
The old illusion of all the advocates of change is, that every thing
depends on government, and that government can do every thing. There
cannot be a greater folly, or a more glaring fiction. Government can do
nothing more than prevent the existence of obstacles to public wealth.
It cannot give wealth, it cannot create commerce, it cannot fertilise
the soil, it cannot put in action any of those great instruments by
which a nation rises superior to its contemporaries. Those means must be
in the people themselves, they cannot be the work of cabinets;
governments can do no more than give them their free course, protect
them from false legislation, and leave the rest to Providence.

The Russian conspirators called themselves patriots, and professed to
desire a bloodless revolution. But to overthrow a government at the head
of five hundred thousand men, must be a sanguinary effort; and there
could be no doubt that the establishment of a revolutionary government
in Russia would have been the signal for a universal war.

On the 24th and 25th of December, the conspirators met in St Petersburg,
and as Nicholas was to be proclaimed on the next day, they determined to
lead the battalions to which they respectively belonged, into the great
square, seize on the emperor, and establish a provisional government.
They were then to raise a national guard, establish two legislative
chambers, and proclaim liberty to Russia. The question next arose, what
was to be done with the members of the imperial family after victory. It
was answered significantly, that “circumstances must decide.” At this
anxious moment one of the members told them that information had been
given to the emperor. “Comrades,” said he, “you will find that we are
betrayed, the court are in possession of much information; but they do
not know our entire plans, and our strength is quite sufficient.” A
voice exclaimed, “the scabbards are broken, we can no longer hide our

Reports of various kinds now came crowding on them. An officer arrived
to say that, in one of the armies, one hundred thousand men were ready
to join them. A member of the Senate came to tell them that the council
of the empire was to meet at seven o’clock the next morning, to take the
oath to the emperor. The time for action was now fixed. The officers of
the guard were directed to join their regiments, and persuade them to
refuse the oath. Then all kinds of desperate measures were proposed. It
was suggested that they should force open the spirit shops and taverns,
in order to make the soldiery and populace drunk, then begin a general
pillage, carry off banners from the churches, and rush upon the winter
palace. This, the most mischievous of all the measures, was also the
most feasible, for the number of unemployed peasants and idlers of all
kinds was computed at seventy thousand and upwards, and from their
poverty and profligacy together, there could be little doubt that,
between drunkenness and the prospect of pillage, they would be ready for
any atrocity. “When the Russians break their chains,” says Schiller, “it
will not be before the freeman, but before the slave, that the community
must tremble.”

It must be acknowledged that some were not equally ferocious. But when a
military revolt has once begun, who shall limit it to works of wisdom,
moderation, or security? If the revolt had succeeded, St Petersburg must
have been a scene of massacre.

We shrink from all details on this painful subject. The conspirators
remained in deliberation all night. As the morning dawned, they went to
the barracks of their regiments, and told the soldiers that Constantine
was really their emperor, that he was marching to the capital at the
head of the army from Poland, and that to take the oath to Nicholas
would consequently be treason. In several instances they succeeded, and
collected a considerable body of troops in the Great Izaak Square. But
there they seem to have lost their senses. An insurrection which stands
still, is an insurrection ruined. They were rapidly surrounded by the
garrison. Terms were offered, which they neither accepted nor refused.
The gallant Milarodowitch, the hero of the Russian pursuit of the
French, advancing to parley with them, was brutally shot. When all hope
of submission was at an end, when the day was declining, and alarm was
excited for the condition of the capital during the night, artillery was
brought to bear upon them; and, after some firing on both sides, the
mutineers dispersed. The police were then let loose, and numerous
arrests were made.

In five months after, a high court was constituted for the trial of the
leaders. A hundred and twenty-one were named in the act of accusation,
many of them belonging to the first families, and in the highest ranks
of civil and military employment. But the sentence was the reverse of
sanguinary. Only five were put to death in St Petersburg, the remainder
were chiefly sent to Siberia. But Siberia is now by no means the place
of horrors which it once was. It is now tolerably peopled, it has been
partially civilised; the soil is fertile; towns have sprung up; and,
though the winter is severe, the climate is healthy. Many of the
families of the exiles were suffered to accompany them; and probably, on
the whole, the exchange was not a calamitous one, from the anxieties of
Russian life, the pressure of narrow circumstances in Europe, and the
common disappointments to which all competitors for distinction, or even
for a livelihood, are exposed in the crowded and struggling population
of the west, to the undisturbed existence and sufficient provision,
which were to be found in the east of this almost boundless empire.

Among the anecdotical parts of these volumes, is a slight account of the
appearance of the Duke of Wellington as ambassador to Russia, in the
beginning of the new reign. Count Nesselrode, on the accession of the
Czar, had sent a circular to the European courts, stating his wishes for
amicable relations with them all. But England dreaded to see a collision
with Turkey, and Canning selected the Duke as the most important
authority on the part of England. The Duke took with him Lord Fitzroy
Somerset as his secretary. On his arrival at Berlin, he was treated with
great distinction by Frederic William. Gneisenau, at the head of the
Prussian general officers, paid him a visit in his hotel; and he was
fêted in all directions. General officers were sent from St Petersburg
to meet him on the Russian frontier. The emperor appointed a mansion for
him, beside the palace of the Hermitage, paid him all the honours of a
Russian field-marshal, (he was then the _only_ one in the service,)
placed him on a footing with the princes of the imperial family, and was
frequently in his society. The people were boundless in their marks of

But the Duke is evidently not a favourite with the Frenchman—and we do
not much wonder at this feeling in a Frenchman, poor as it is. Without
giving any opinion of his own, he inserts a little sneer from the work
of Lacretelle on the “Consulate and the Empire.” On this authority,
Wellington is “a general of excellent understanding, _phlegmatic_ and
_tenacious_, proceeding not by _enthusiasm_, but by _order_,
_discipline_, and _slow_ combinations, trusting but little _to chance_,
and employing about him all the popular and vindictive passions, from
which he himself is _exempt_.” By all which, M. Lacretelle means, that
the Duke is a dull dog, without a particle of genius; simply a plodding,
positive man, who, by mere toil and time, gained his objects, which any
Dutchman could have gained as well, and which any Frenchman would have
scorned to gain. With this French folly we have not sufficient time, nor
have we sufficient respect for the national _failing_, to argue.

But the true view of Wellington’s character as a soldier would be,
_brilliancy_ of conception. What more brilliant conception than his
first great battle, Assaye, which finished the Indian war? What more
brilliant conception than his capture of Badajoz and Ciudad in the face
of the two armies of Masséna and Soult advancing on him from the south
and north, and each equal to his own force; while he thus snatched away
the prize in the actual presence of each, and left the two French
generals the mortification of having marched three hundred miles
a-piece, only to be lookers-on? What more brilliant conception than his
march of four hundred miles, without a stop, from Portugal to Vittoria;
where he crushed the French army, captured one hundred and fifty pieces
of cannon, and sent the French king and all his courtiers flying over
the Pyrenees? What, again, more brilliant conception, than his storming
the Pyrenees, and being the first of the European generals to enter
France? and, finally, his massacre of the French army, with Soult, Ney,
and Napoleon at their head, on the crowning day of Waterloo?

But all this was mere “pugnacity and _tenacity_,” and sulkiness and
stupidity, because it was not done with a theatrical programme, and with
the air of an opera-dancer. Yet M. Lacretelle’s sketch, invidious as he
intends it to be, gives, involuntarily, the very highest rank of
generalship to its object. For, what higher qualities can a general
have, than trusting nothing to chance, being superior to
enthusiasm—which, in the French vocabulary, means extravagance and
giddiness—and acting by deep and effective combinations, which, as every
man knows, are the most profound problems and the most brilliant
triumphs of military genius? Let it be remembered, too, that in the
seven years’ war of the Peninsula, Wellington never had twenty-five
thousand English bayonets in the field; that the Spanish armies were
almost wholly disorganised, and that the Portuguese were raw troops;
while the French had nearly two hundred thousand men constantly
recruited and supplied from France:—Yet, that Wellington never was
beaten, that he met either six or seven of the French field-marshals and
beat them all; and that at Waterloo, with a motley army of recruits, of
whom but thirty thousand were English—and those new troops—and ten
thousand German, he beat Napoleon at the head of seventy-two thousand
Frenchmen, all veterans; trampled his army in the field, hunted him to
Paris, took every fortress on the road, captured Paris, destroyed his
dynasty, dissolved the remnants of the French army on the Loire; and
sent Napoleon himself to expiate his guilt and finish his career, under
an English guard, in St Helena.

We need not envy the Frenchman his taste for “enthusiasm,” his scorn of
“science,” his disdain of “profound combinations,” and his passion for
winning battles by the magic of a village conjuror.

M. Schnitzler disapproves even of the physiognomy of the Duke. “His nose
was too aquiline, and stood out too prominently on his sunburnt
countenance, and his features, all strongly marked, were not devoid of
an air of pretension.” He objects to his appearing “without a splendid
military costume, to _improve his appearance_!” And yet, all this
foolery is the wisdom of foreigners. No man, however renowned, must
forget “the _imposing_.” Hannibal, or Alexander the Great, would have
been nothing in their eyes, except in the uniform of the “Legion of
Honour.” His walking, and walking without attendants, through the
streets, was a horror, rendered worse and worse by his “wearing a black
frock-coat and round hat.” Even when he appeared in uniform on state
occasions, “he was equally luckless;” for the _costume_ of a Russian
field-marshal, which had been given to him by Alexander, did not fit
him, and was too large for his thinness. On the whole, the Duke
_failed_, as we are told, to “gain any remarkable success in the Russian
salons.” The countesses could make nothing of him; the princesses smiled
on without his returning the smile; the courtiers told him _bons mots_
without much effect; and the politicians were of opinion that a Duke so
taciturn had no tongue.

Still the emperor’s attentions to him continued; and, on the day of
distributing medals to the army, he gave Wellington the regiment of
Smolensk, formed by Peter the Great, and of high reputation in the

But he succeeded in his chief object, which referred to Greece; and
which ultimately, in giving independence to a nation, the classic
honours of whose forefathers covered the shame of their descendants,—and
by a succession of diplomatic blunders, has turned a Turkish province
into a European pensioner, enfeebling Turkey without benefiting Europe,
and merely making a new source of contention between France, Russia, and

The career of Nicholas has been peaceable; and the empire has been
undisturbed but by the guilty Circassian war, which yet seems to be
carried on rather as a field of exercise for the Russian armies, than
for purposes of conquest.

But all nations now require something to occupy the public mind; and an
impression appears to be rising in Russia, that the residence of the
sovereign should be transferred to Moscow. Nothing could be more likely
to produce a national convulsion, and operate a total change on the
European policy of Russia, and the relations of the northern courts. Yet
it is by no means improbable, that the singular avidity of the Russian
court to make Poland not merely a dependency, but an integral part of
the empire, by the suppression of its very name, the change of its
language, and the transfer of large portions of its people to other
lands, may have for its especial purpose the greater security of Russia
on the West, while she fixes her whole interest on a vigorous progress
in the South.

There are some problems which still perplex historians, and will
probably perplex them for many an age; and among those are, the good or
evil predominant in the Crusades, the use of a Pope in Italy, (where he
obviously offers, and must _always_ offer, the strongest obstacle to the
_union_ of the Italian States into a national government,) the true
character of Peter the Great, and the true policy of placing the capital
of Russia in the northern extremity of the empire.

It appears to be now at least approaching to a public question,—Whether
Peter showed more of good sense, or of savage determination, in building
a magnificent city in a swamp, where man had never before built any
thing but a fisherman’s hut; and in condemning his posterity for ever to
live in the most repulsive climate of Europe? Some pages in these
volumes are given to the inquiry into the wisdom of deserting an
ancient, natural, and superb seat of empire in the South, for a new,
unnatural, and decaying seat of sovereignty in the vicinage of the
Arctic circle; of retarding the progress of civilisation by the
insuperable difficulties of a climate, where the sea is frozen up for
six months in the year, and the rivers and land are frozen up for nine!
The question now is, Whether Peter had not equally frozen up the Russian
energies, impeded the natural prosperity of the empire, and flung the
people back into the age of Ivan I.?

Of course, no one doubts that the Russian empire is of vast extent and
substantial power; but its chief power is in its central provinces, and
in its faculty of expansion into the south. Its northern provinces defy
improvement, and can be sustained only by the toil of government.

The probable view of the case is, that Peter was deluded by his passion
for naval supremacy. He had seen the fleets of Western Europe trained in
their boisterous but ever-open seas; and he determined to have a fleet
in a sea which, throughout the winter, is a sheet of ice, and where the
ships are imbedded as if they were on dry ground. He had then no Black
Sea for his field of exercise, and no Sebastopol for his dockyard. He
touched upon no sea but the Baltic; and, under the infatuation of being
a naval power, he threw the Russian government as far as he could
towards the North Pole.

Moscow should have remained the Russian capital. With an admirable
climate, at once keen enough to keep the human frame in its vigour, and
with the warm summer of the south, to supply all the vegetable products
of Europe; its position commanding the finest provinces of Western Asia,
Russia would have been mistress of the Black Sea a century earlier, had
probably been in possession of Asia Minor, and have fixed a Viceroy in
the city of the Sultans.

The policy of Catherine II., evidently took this direction; she made no
_northern_ conquests; she withdrew her armies on the first opportunity
from the Prussian war, in which Russia had been involved by the blunders
of her foolish husband; and though she engaged in that desperate act by
which Poland was partitioned—an act which, though perfidious, was
originally pacific—the whole force of her empire was thrown into
southern war.

This policy is still partially maintained. The war of the Caucasus, an
unfortunate and unjustifiable war, now exhibits the only hostilities on
which Russia expends any portion of her power. The success of that war
would evidently put the eastern, as well as the northern shore of the
Black Sea, in her possession. The southern shore could then make no
resistance, if it were the will of Russia to cast an eye of ambition on
the land of the Turk. We by no means infer that such _is_ her will; we
hope that higher motives, and a sense of national justice, will rescue
her reputation from an act of such atrocity. But Asia Minor, on the
first crash of war, would be open to the squadrons of the Scythian. This
policy was interrupted in the reign of Alexander only by the French war.
When the providential time was come for the destruction of Napoleon, his
rage of conquest acted the part for him which the false prophets were
accustomed to act for the kings of Judah and Israel. It urged him
headlong to his ruin, and all his distinguishing qualities were turned
to his overthrow. His ardour in the field became precipitancy; his
sagacity became a fierce self-dependence; the old tactic which had led
him to strike the first blow at the capitals of Europe, urged him into
the heart of the wilderness; his diplomatic confidence there exposed him
to be baffled by the plain sense of Russia, and his daring reliance on
his fortune stripped him of an army and a throne.

But, when Russia had recovered from this invasion, her first efforts
were pointed in the old direction. She recommenced the Turkish war,
seized Moldavia and Wallachia, crossed the Balkan, threatened
Constantinople, and, with the city of Constantine in her grasp, retired
only on the remonstrances of the European powers.

M. Schnitzler imagines that the direction of Russian conquest will be
towards Germany, and contemplates the all-swallowing gluttony which is
to absorb all the states from the Vistula to the Rhine. We wholly differ
from those views. The condition of Europe must be totally changed before
the policy of Russia will attempt to make vassals of these iron tribes.
It would have too many battles to fight, and too little to gain by them.
To attempt the absorption of any one leading German power would produce
a universal war. Poland is still a thorn in its side; and it would take
a century to convert its intense hostility into cordial obedience.
Prussia and Austria are the political “Pillars of Hercules” which no
invader _can_ pass; and if Germany can but secure herself from the
restless and insatiable ambition of France, she need never shrink from
the terrors of a Tartar war.

If war should inflame the Continent again, the Russian trumpets will be
heard, _not_ on the Elbe, but on the shores of the Propontis. Asia Minor
and Syria will be a lovelier and a more lucrative prey; while probably
Egypt will be the prize which will draw to the waters of the
Mediterranean, the maritime force of the world.

On the whole, the volumes of this Franco-German are intelligent, and may
be studied with advantage by all who desire to comprehend the actual
condition of an empire, which extends from the Baltic to the Sea of
Kamtschatka, which contains seven millions of square miles, nearly sixty
millions of souls, is capable of containing ten times the number, and
which is evidently intended to exercise a most important influence on
the globe.


(_Das Grosse Malefizbuch._ HERAUSGEGEBEN VON WILHELM V. CHEZY. Landshut:

The peculiar and powerful interest attaching to narratives of remarkable
crimes, and of their judicial investigation, is abundantly evidenced by
the avidity with which that class of literature is invariably pounced
upon by the public. Independently of the romance incidental to the
subject, of the doubts and intricacies and conflicting circumstances of
extraordinary criminal trials, well calculated to captivate the
imagination of the vulgar, and rivet attention on their recital,—such
cases possess a psychological interest, making itself felt by the least
intelligent of readers, appealing with almost equal force to the
scantily educated and to the scholar, to inexperienced youth and
thoughtful age. By the former, it is true, the exact process by which
such narratives lay hold upon the feelings and imagination, may not be
easily detected, but the charm, if unseen, is not the less potent. The
great success and enduring reputation of books of this kind, are the
best proof of their strong and universal fascination. Whilst the legal
works of GAYOT DE PITAVAL are long since shelved and forgotten, the
title of his _Causes Célébres_[1] continues as familiar to our ear as
those of the most notable literary productions of our own century; the
book itself—of frequent reference, and found in every library of
importance—has obtained the honours of repeated translation, and of
reproduction in numerous forms. Those twenty volumes, it might be
thought, were an ample supply of this species of reading, sufficient to
stock the world and blunt the public appetite for such records. But the
varieties of the subject are inexhaustible, as much so as the infinite
shades and capricious directions of human passions, the unceasing
diversity and perverse ingenuity of human crime. And Richer’s
continuation of what Pitaval began, found as eager readers as its
compiler could reasonably desire. In later times, two Germans, Messrs
Hitzig and Häring, have edited with considerable success a work of a
similar nature.[2] Others doubtless will appear. There can be no lack of
materials. Each successive half-century yields matter for a new and
lengthy series. Meanwhile, and although civilisation, impotent wholly to
check crime, is also unable to strip its annals of novelty and pungency,
the remarkable criminal records of ruder ages are frequently recurred to
and reproduced, as wilder and more romantic in their nature than those
of a recent day. Alexander Dumas has collected from various quarters a
voluminous work of this nature; and, although its greater portion was
already a thrice-told tale, the book is one of the most popular of his
multifarious productions. Feuerbach the celebrated jurist, the impartial
narrator and critic of the extraordinary history of Caspar Hauser, the
indefatigable labourer in the arid vineyard of the law, whose lightest
literary pastime would to most men have been toil,[3] deemed it not
unworthy his learned pen to collate and comment two volumes of
trials,[4]—volumes familiarised to the English reader by a recent
translation. His well-stored mind and skilful handling imparted new
depth and value to the subject, and doubtless the book would not so long
have awaited a transfer into our language, but for the warlike
circumstances and interrupted Continental communication of the period at
which its first edition appeared. The interest of such narratives is no
way diminished from their scene being in a foreign land; indeed, it is
most engrossing when exotic, since the illustrations of the peculiar
laws and characteristics of other nations is then superadded to that of
the eccentricities of crime. And, perhaps, the most fertile field at the
disposal of the curious in such matters, is afforded by that wide
country, claiming to include in its bond of brotherhood every land
wherein the German tongue resounds. The variety of the laws by which the
kingdoms and provinces of Germany have at different times been governed,
tends greatly to diversify its criminal calendar. And, doubtless, in
many old libraries, private and public, in the dusty and rarely-opened
book-cases of provincial barons and _Freiherrn_, on the shelves of
museums, and in municipal collections (scarce less neglected and unread)
of ancient books and manuscripts, much curious reading of this
description, well worthy of publicity, lies buried and forgotten.

Footnote 1:

  _Causes Célébres et Intéressantes_, by FRANÇOIS GAYOT DE PITAVAL.
  Paris: 1734.

Footnote 2:

  _Neuer Pitaval._ Leipzig: 1842-6.

Footnote 3:

  He beguiled his leisure by a metrical translation of, and commentary
  on, the Indian poem, _Gita Gowinda_.

Footnote 4:

  _Merkwürdige Criminalrechtsfälle._ ERFURT, 1808-11. A third edition
  appeared in 1839, under the title of _Merkwürdige Verbrechen_.

It is from a literary lumber-room of this kind, we suspect, that Mr
Chézy has extracted the contents of the three curious volumes now before
us, containing, as their old French name implies, details of crimes and
malefactors. “What we,” he tells us in his preface, “are wont to call
criminal archives, were in many places styled by our forefathers
‘Malefice-books,’ records kept partly by the public executioner, who, in
his capacity of torturer, had frequent occasion to share in criminal
investigations.” From this passage, and from the expression
_herausgegeben_ (edited) in the title-page, we understand that the
“_Grosse Malefizbuch_” is not to be viewed as an original composition,
which the word _verfasser_, (author) employed in the preface, might have
led us to believe. This makes a certain difference in the critical view
to be taken of the book. Were it a mere fiction, intended as an
imitation of the probable style of the headsman, inditing, chiefly as
matter of duty, but yet not without a certain rude feeling and interest
in the task, the crimes and circumstances his sanguinary profession
brought under his notice, we should admit some skill in the tone
adopted. But, as an editor, Mr Chézy has performed his part in a lazy
and slovenly fashion. He appears to have contented himself with merely
modernising the orthography, and (slightly) the language. With excellent
stuff to work upon, he had it in his power to make a very complete and
remarkable book: he has been contented to put forward a meagre and
deficient one. We would not have had him greatly alter the text. Here
and there a little curtailment might have been advantageously practised,
or a paragraph judiciously interpolated. But the volumes should have
been richly garnished with notes and commentaries, instead of being
wholly without them. From the first page to the last not a line
appears—at the end of each volume we vainly seek an appendix—explanatory
of the singular usages so frequently referred to; referred to usually in
as cursory and off-hand a way as if they were matters of present custom,
to which all men were still habituated, and concerning which none needed
enlightenment. Mr Chézy seems conscious of his fault, for he tells us,
in a half apologetic tone, to bear in mind that he is a poet, and not a
scholar. No great depth of scholarship was essential for what we would
have had him do. A very moderate amount of study and patience would have
put him in possession of the necessary information. Its want is wofully
felt as we wander through his bald pages, at whose foot not the smallest
fragment of a note attracts the reader’s eye, and removes the tantalised
feeling with which he encounters distant and unexplained allusions, and
is compelled to guess their purport. “This work,” says Mr Chézy,
“intended to represent men and circumstances as they once may have been,
is not confined within the limits of the documental authority. The
Malefizbuch may be styled a poetical Pitaval.” In view of this professed
design of poetising his materials, and of conveying, through a romantic
medium, information concerning old times and obsolete customs, we can
but repeat that the author’s performance has fallen short of his
project. But the subject was too good to be wholly spoiled, even by the
clumsiest treatment, with which, however, it would hardly be fair to
charge Mr Chézy, whose faults are rather of omission than commission.
And the anathemas we are tempted, in our progress through his pages, to
invoke upon his head, are frequently checked by the occurrence of
interesting passages and striking incidents.

The three volumes of the Malefizbuch are various in the form and nature
of their contents, although all bear reference to the same subject, and
illustrate, in different points of view, the criminal laws and customs
of a rude, cruel, and superstitious period. Besides the absence of
notes, the author is guilty of the common German carelessness about
dates and places, and is often very vague in his indication of both.
This is especially the case with his first volume, which many readers
will consider the best, by reason of a certain melancholy interest
running through it. We are appealed to for our sympathy with the
misfortunes of an executioner’s son, who, after absenting himself from
his country, and obtaining an education superior to his station, is
compelled to accept the loathsome inheritance of his father, and wield
axe and work rack in obedience to the law’s stern dictates. This volume
(each volume has a special title, independently of the general one) is
called “Ten Narratives from Master Hammerling’s Life and Memoirs.” They
are chapters rather than detached narratives, for a connecting thread
runs through them, and they in fact form a complete history of the
childhood and youth of _Meister Hämmerling_, the German Jack Ketch. The
name of the latter personage upon an English title-page, would be
suggestive of little beyond the drop at Newgate, and penny tracts sold
at street corners. But none who have any acquaintance with the German
headsman of the middle ages, will be so unjust as to class him with the
vulgar and prosaic official who executes in England the last sentence of
the law. Formerly, by the laws of the empire, the SCHARFRICHTER was held
_ehrbar_ or of honourable repute. The broad bright sword was the only
instrument of death he condescended to touch, and consequently his
dealings were with men of gentle blood, for whom decapitation was
especially reserved. Infamous chastisements were inflicted by the
dishonouring hands of the _Henker_ or common hangman, who was considered
_anrüchig_ or infamous. Gradually, the two offices were blended in one,
the headsman’s privileges were abridged or became totally obsolete; and
the grim romance attaching to the stern saturnine man who, on days of
notable executions, appeared on the scaffold in bright scarlet mantle,
and peaked hat with sable feather, and with one flashing sweep of his
terrible blade severed heads from shoulders of well-born criminals, was
dissipated and forgotten. Still, on the crowded and diversified canvass
of the middle ages, the strange figure stands prominently forth,
recalling, by its associations, many a dark deed and wild legend. But
the change is great since then. “The executioner now-a-days,” says Mr
Chézy, “is a citizen like any body else, an elector and eligible; if he
possess enough property, he may be sent as deputy to the second Chamber,
and perhaps give his vote against capital punishment. The headsman of
former centuries has faded into a tradition; and a poet may therefore be
allowed to sketch his portrait once more, perhaps for the last time, in
all its different aspects and mysterious horrors.” And without further
prelude, we are introduced to the last minister of the law, a meek and
melancholy man, who remembers, one still Sabbath morning, that it is his
bounden duty to keep up the record in the Malefizbuch, begun by his
great-grandfather, the first of his race who could write. Whilst
pondering over this necessity, he incidentally recapitulates some of his
privileges and advantages; how he is of as good descent after his kind
as the best nobleman in the holy Roman empire, tracing back his
genealogy to the days of Henry the First of Germany, surnamed the
Fowler, who nominated his ancestor to the office of executioner, since
when the family has held house and ground, goods and profits, in fief of
the crown. And how he is no way subject to the authorities of the land,
further than that he is bound to serve them with sword, axe, wheel and
cord, with ladder, screws and tongs, pitch, sulphur and rods, either in
his own person or by his assistants, as his letter of privileges
dictates. Neither is he infamous, like those of his men who remove dead
beasts and do such like unclean work; and, whoever addresses him with
contemptuous speech, shall be fined according to law of the empire, as
if he had insulted a lord of the council. Finally, when the number of
unfortunates slain by his hand shall exceed five hundred, the headsman
has a right, if it so please him, to abandon his charge, and mix once
more upon equal terms with his fellow-citizens. After this
recapitulation, Master Hammerling takes up his own history from the day
of his birth, when he was laid in his father’s arms as he returned from
burning an old witch upon the market-place. This he finds set down in
his father’s hand-writing, and also how he was christened by the name of
Berthold, on the very day on which Black Hannah, the child-murderess,
was executed; whilst her accomplice, long Heinz, was compelled to look
on at the execution, and was then flogged out of the town and district.
The latter would have been hung, had not the executioner saved him, in
virtue of an old privilege, which he exercised less out of love for
Heinz than for fear of its becoming annulled by disuse. Had a daughter
instead of a son been born to him, he had a right to save the poor girl
who had fallen victim to a base seducer. So was it set forth in the
headsman’s charter.

Berthold Benz traces back his recollections to a very early period of
his childhood, and in his manner of narrating them there is a quaint sad
simplicity, by no means unattractive. “My mother, God help her!” he
says, “right well do I remember her; and though I should live a hundred
and many hundred years, I still shall ever have her before me, with her
kindly blue eyes and her ringlets of the same colour as the flax which
she drew from the distaff with her slender white fingers, and sent
whirling round the spindle. We were always alone; my father went about
his affairs, and of the servants none came near us in our apartment, or
in our little flower-garden—parted by hedge and fence from the rest of
the court—save and except fat Grethel, a sturdy broad-footed Swabian
girl, my mother’s cousin, and taken in by her for the love of God.” And
Berthold was happy at his mother’s knee, and in his childish fancy
deemed the headsman’s hereditary dwelling, with its high surrounding
wall, to be little short of a fortress, and held the vaulted
sitting-room, with its three narrow windows, at least equal to any hall
in the proud castle that towered upon the cliff beyond the stream. But
his tranquil happiness lasted not long; the troubles of the doomster’s
son had an early beginning. “On a sudden, my dearest mother wept more
than she smiled, grew pale and yet paler, weak and still more weak,
until at last she was unable to lead me out into the garden. At the same
time I ceased to see my father. Neither at meals, nor as formerly, in
the chamber, of a morning, was he visible, and however early I got up,
the answer to my questions always was that he had already gone out. And
one day, Heaven only knows how it happened, dear mother was gone, and
when I screamed and wept for her, Swabian Grethel beat me, and said that
‘_she_ was my mother now.’” From this day, Berthold’s sufferings began.
Hated by his stepmother, neglected by his father, who was infatuated
with his young wife,—he was left to run wild with the executioner’s
assistants. After a while, a brother was born, and then his lot became
still harder. He was sent to sleep amongst the hay in the loft; and the
sole notice he obtained from his father was when the latter instructed
him in the duties of his office. But old Benz was a harsh teacher, and
the child preferred to receive his lessons from Arnulph, the chief
assistant, who took him with him to the town and on rambles in the
forest; taught him to sever cabbage-heads at a single stroke, and told
him, as they sat together upon the top of the lonely gallows-tree,
wonderful tales and strange anecdotes of their craft and its professors.
These Berthold drank in with greedy ear; and, although terrified at
first by the sight of the grim black gallows, of the mouldering
skeletons depending from it, and the ill-omened birds that croaked and
hovered around its summit, he soon got used to his ”father’s workshop,“
gladly climbed the ladder to his lofty perch, and enjoyed the terror of
the passing horseman whom an unexpected greeting in Arnulph’s harsh
voice caused to spur his steed in terror, and hasten on his road. “The
Thief’s Thumb,” one of the narratives of this practical joker and
hangman, is not without its wild interest, but we cannot dwell upon
episodes; our object being rather to exhibit the headsman’s social
position and peculiar privileges. One of the latter—and not the least
curious—is shown in the chapter headed “Vom Rosenthal,”—from the Valley
of Roses—in which Berthold’s adventures may properly be said to begin.

“Regularly each Saturday evening after vespers, my father (now in
heaven) went into the town, turned from the market-place into the alley
known as the Rosenthal, which winds, narrow and dark, in the direction
of the prison and behind St Kummerniss, and struck, at regular
intervals, three heavy blows upon the door of a great dark house,
bearing the sign of the Elephant. Thereupon, an old woman gave him
entrance, ushered him into a spacious arched hall, and placed a wooden
stoup of wine and a loaf of bread upon the table. Whilst he ate and
drank, a number of young women entered the room, every one of whom
handed him a silver coin, sometimes exchanged a word with him, and then
walked away in silence. Almost all these women had a strange look, the
lustre of their staring eyes was quenched, their features were drawn,
their cheeks pale, and their clothes hung loosely upon them; they looked
shyly at my father, but kindly at me, as though they would gladly have
kissed and caressed me. This, however, as I afterwards found, was
strictly forbidden them; and once, when a young girl extended her hand
to pat my cheek, my father exclaimed, ‘Away with you, hussy!’ and struck
her upon the face. Whereupon the poor girl slunk from the room, bleeding
at mouth and nose, and pursued by the laughter of her companions.”

At times, Benz would leave his son in the lower room, whilst he searched
the house to see that no strangers were there at that forbidden hour.
Then Berthold often heard screams and sounds of quarrel; and one evening
that the uproar was greater than usual, he crept in alarm from the
apartment, and found his way through the back door into a court, where a
few trees grew, and at whose further end was a grass-plot, on which
linen lay bleaching. “On the grass, near the fountain, sat a pretty
child, keeping the geese and fowls and grunting swine from the
bleaching-place, with a long stick, and when she saw me, she smiled
kindly at me. I went up to her, took the little maid’s hand, and asked
her name.

“‘I am called Elizabeth. And you?’

“‘They call me Benz,’ I replied, and, although Arnulph had constantly
warned me never to say who I was, unless asked, I thoughtlessly added:
‘and I am the headsman’s boy.’

“I shuddered at the words as I spoke them, and expected Elizabeth to
shrink from me with disgust. Instead of that she said, quite friendly,

“‘Sit down by me, Benz, and help me to watch the linen.’

“I thought myself in heaven; since dear mother had left me, I had never
known the joy of a smile from a sweet face. In a moment we two children
were the best of friends, sat hand in hand beside each other, laughed
and chattered unceasingly, and forgot the whole world besides. I asked
little Elizabeth who were her parents. She looked at me in amazement
with her great black eyes, knew not what I meant, and was only the more
bewildered by my attempted explanation. At last I heard my father’s
whistle; kissed my new friend, and ran into the house. On my way home, I
told my father what had happened, and he said the little maid was an
orphan, whose mother had died in the house, and whom old Sarah had taken
charge of. A father, however, she had never had, at least to his
knowledge. Thenceforward, I went nowhere so willingly as to the town. I
no longer cared that the passengers avoided us, and that boys pursued us
with scoff and insult. I knew that a kind greeting and a loving kiss
awaited me, and little Elizabeth was soon as dear to me as my blessed
mother; so that, in my dreams, their two figures blended into one. It
was very different afterwards, when the heavenly purity, in whose full
glory my mother had departed, had left Elizabeth for ever.

“Thus, I came to the age of twelve, and grew a tall strong lad, skilful
and active; already I was so expert with the sword that with a
horizontal cut I sent the blade between blocks piled on each other, and
without in the least injuring them. I also tied a noose with a dexterity
that filled Arnulph with proud joy, and he declared me fully qualified
to officiate upon the scaffold. It happened one day that my father,
plagued with the gout, ordered me to go alone to the town, and to fetch
the tribute from the well-known house of the Elephant. He made me
promise not to let the women caress me, and to lose none of the bright
pfennings they had to give me. I obeyed his orders, and brought him home
the full amount. But I did not tell him what had happened to me by the
way. When the boys, who usually ran after us, saw that I was alone, they
ventured much nearer than formerly; and amongst them I particularly
remarked a fair-haired lad, who had always been the most spiteful and
violent of them all, and whom his companions sometimes called Engolf,
sometimes by the nickname of Bully-bird. He was the son of a patrician,
of the noble Herr Hahn of Baumgarten, and was somewhat older than
myself. This time he followed me to the very threshold of the house, and
just as the door was opened he struck at me. I warded his blow, and
returned it with one upon the nose, which knocked him down, and gave me
time to enter the house.”

Berthold’s persecutors awaited his exit to take their revenge, but he
provided himself with a stick for defence, and, moreover, Elizabeth
showed him an opening in the garden wall, choked with bushes and
rubbish, and leading into a timber-yard, through which he passed unseen,
and of which he thenceforward availed himself on his frequent visits to
his playfellow. Engolf, however, watched him, and at last, on a certain
afternoon, as he turned into the timber-yard, he heard a shout of
“Huzza! the hangman’s boy!” and was set upon by a number of lads, from
whom he escaped with difficulty, and severely beaten, by the help of
Elizabeth, who dragged him into the garden as he fell senseless from a
blow on the head. In the house of the Elephant he lay for some time, too
ill for removal, carefully tended by his child-mistress, and by the
wretched but kind-hearted women. About that period, however, the
“Lutheran heresy” had begun to take root in the town, and a certain Dr
Neander preached furiously against gambling and drunkenness, and against
such establishments as that in which Berthold was confined by his
wounds; “against all those things, in short, which, according to old
usage and to the emperor’s statutes, paid tribute to the headsman. This
pleased the women beyond measure; with yellow envy they had long seen
their husbands, lovers, and sons, wager away their fair white _groschen_
at skittles and dice and cards; the headsman‘s daughters in the
Rosenthal were a yet sharper thorn in their eyes; and now, supported by
the preacher‘s frantic harangues, they raised such an infernal outcry
that a noble councillor trod our rights under foot for the sake of
peace, forbade all games of chance, and sent his officers to seize the
loose women at the Elephant, and put them across the frontier. This
occurred just at the time I lay ill in the Rosenthal.” Berthold was
carried home to his stepmother, who would not receive him, and Arnulph
made him a bed in the hounds’ kennel, for which piece of humanity his
violent mistress beat him, and procured his dismissal. And throughout
the book we hear no more of the rough but well-meaning journeyman
hangman. Berthold’s father came to visit his son and dress his wounds,
but the henpecked headsman dared not take him into his house. The poor
boy lay suffering and hungry, tormenting himself on account of
Elizabeth, whom the authorities had removed from the Rosenthal, and
given in charge to people of better repute than those who had had care
of her infancy; but who those people were, and where he should seek his
little friend, Berthold knew not. And when he recovered, his stepmother
and her son ill-treated him, and drove him from their presence; and,
Arnulph having left, he had no friend or companion but the shaggy hounds
with which he slept.

At this point of his youthful tribulations, Master Hammerling ceases to
discourse of himself, and abruptly transports us to the sign of the
Thistle, an isolated public house, consisting partly of the ruins of an
old watch-tower, and much frequented by students, who on bright summer
evenings loved to sit under the trees and lie upon the grass before its
door, until the tolling bell warned them to return to the town before
gates and bridges were closed for the night. This inn was kept by a
strange old couple, childless, avaricious, and, as it was reported,
passing rich, who went by the names of Father Finch and Mother Blutrude.
They professed great poverty, and were furious if any doubted it, which
few cared to do, since a certain rash scoffer had suddenly fallen sick,
and gradually withered away and expired, in consequence, it was
supposed, of certain unholy incantations of Mother Blutrude. The fear of
her incantations, however, did not deter a reckless and debauched
student from laying a plan for appropriating her concealed treasures. He
found means to ingratiate himself with the old people, and to conceal
himself in a nook at the top of the old tower, whence he saw them in the
dead of night counting a large sum in silver coin. He only waited their
departure to possess himself of the store, when he heard them talk of
removing to the same place a large amount of Hungarian ducats they had
bestowed elsewhere, and he resolved to wait where he was for this richer
booty. He waited so long, that hunger, thirst, want of sleep and greed
of gold bewildered his weak brain, and drove him mad. With delirious
eagerness he filled his cap and pockets with the silver, rushed down the
high steep staircase, forced the door with his foot, and bursting into
the public room, seized Father Finch by the throat, and demanded his
gold. The guests came to the rescue, dollars and crowns were scattered
on the floor, and at last the madman was dragged away to prison, whilst
old Finch drove every one from his house, barred the door, and set to
work with his wife to collect the treasure. Benz and his son were in the
town when the lunatic student was carried by, and soon afterwards a boy
came running in with news that Father Finch had committed suicide from
anxiety and despair. Straightway the headsman ordered one of his men to
fetch his great sword and get ready his cart, and then he took the road
to the Thistle, followed by an inquisitive mob, pressing as close to his
heels as their aversion to his calling would allow. He went to exercise
one of the most remarkable privileges of his office. What this was may
best be told in the words of Mr Chézy’s hangman.

“We found the old house surrounded by gaping idlers, whom nothing short
of my father’s presence could have induced to open a path. They gave way
before his threatening gesture and raised voice, and we reached a loft
where the gray-headed sinner hung from a strong staple, his stiffened
feet almost touching an iron chest, from which Blutrude, who, cowered in
a corner, never diverted her gaze. Soon after us came councillors,
writers, and bailiffs, then a man bearing the sword, which the headsman
took, and after cutting down the dead, he drew a circle round the corpse
as far as his weapon’s point could reach. Then he raised his voice and

“‘I stand as headsman on my property and heritage, or do any here say

“Then one of the council replied: ‘None say nay. You are headsman within
the precincts of the city and in the Count’s domain, Master Benz; act
then according to your sealed rights and privileges, and with God’s
help, as we are ready to give you ours.’

“My father continued: ‘Thus runs the emperor’s decree: Wheresoever any
one, with sinful hand, shall take his own life, there is every thing, in
hall or chamber, cellar, barn, or stable, the headsman’s property, so
far as he, standing beside the corpse, can reach with his sword above
his head, below his feet, and on all sides. Have I spoken well?’

“‘On my soul and conscience,’ replied the councillor, ‘you have spoken
well. And so take hence what to thee pertaineth.’”

And, in spite of old Blutrude’s screams and protestations, the
treasure-chest was conveyed away in the headsman’s cart. Whilst this
went on, Berthold, in rambling over the house, found Elizabeth, who had
been given into the untender care of the hostess of the Thistle. The
little hand-maid was delighted to meet her old friend, and they were
engaged in affectionate colloquy when Blutrude, furious at the loss of
her pelf, fell upon them with blows and abuse. Berthold cared little for
her violence to himself, but when she attacked Elizabeth his forbearance
deserted him, and, apostrophising her as a witch, he expressed a
passionate hope that the day would come when he should set fire to her
death-faggots. The effect of this wish is described in a singular
passage:—“She shrank from me and was silent. Whether it was that my
words sounded prophetically to her evil conscience, or that my boyish
glance already possessed that peculiar power which has since often made
strong men quake, and given noble horses the mad staggers, Blutrude
reeled aside like a drunken person, allowed me to take leave of
Elizabeth undisturbed, and for some time afterwards did not regain her
usual vigour and malice.” This strange power, attributed to himself by
the headsman, is referred to further on in the volume, when a horse
shies and is seized with staggers at the mere glance of Berthold’s eye.
That the gaze of the public executioner might have a strong effect upon
men, in an age when he was regarded with a feeling of superstitious
horror, would have nothing to surprise; nor is it astonishing that an
old woman, already suspected of witchcraft, should be terrified and
tongue-tied by a hint of tar-barrels from the mouth of the hangman’s
son. The power of his evil eye upon horses is more difficult to explain
and credit. But admitting the substance and incidents of the book before
us to be extracted from _bona fide_ chronicles, and there is not wanting
a certain amount of internal evidence corroborative of the editor’s
assertion to that effect, such passages as this are highly curious
illustrations of the superstitions of that day. In most parts of the
world the evil eye has been a favourite belief. The French have their
Mauvais-œil, the Germans their Schelauge, the Italians the Malocchio;
and if in any of those countries mesmerism had been invented and
practised two or three hundred years ago, its disciples would, in all
probability, have been held endowed with the power attributed to himself
by Berthold Benz.

The dismissal of Arnulph, his chief aide-de-camp, had left the headsman
short-handed, and in vain he sought some one to supply his place; so
that after having, for very many years, put his hand to no instrument of
punishment save the broad short sword, the chief emblem of his office,
he suddenly found himself compelled to descend to lower functions, and
to break a murderer on the wheel. At this execution a rare incident
occurred, showing another of the _Scharfrichter’s_ privileges. The
culprit was bound upon the grating, and Benz dealt him the first blow,
upon the shin. The bone snapped, and the unhappy victim, a man of
gigantic frame and strength, maddened by extremity of agony, wrenched
out the cramp-iron to which his right wrist was bound, and extended his
arm to ward off the coming blow. Thereupon a forward young man stepped
thoughtlessly out of the crowd, seized the criminal’s arm and drew it
back, whilst one of the executioner’s assistants again drove in the
iron. Then the headsman laid down his wheel, stepped up to the imprudent
youth, clapped his hand upon his shoulder and said, “Now art thou mine
till thy day of death.” Voluntary aid given to the executioner entailed
perpetual servitude, inevitable and infamous. In this instance, the
volunteer, by trade a turner from Nuremberg, and who was also a
professional pugilist, was compelled, in spite of prayers and
repugnance, to, strip his jerkin and assist in the horrible execution
then going forward, after which he mournfully accompanied his new mates
to the executioner’s dwelling. House and home, his honest name, and a
loving and expectant bride, were all for ever lost to him by this one
rash act. And the only hope he dared indulge was, that his family and
friends might never learn his fate, but deem him dead in distant parts.
The cruel severity with which Master Benz enforced his privilege was
requited to him by his pressed recruit, who found undue favour in the
eyes of Grethel. The Nuremberger, however, absorbed in grief, took
little heed of the lady’s amorous advances; and she, incensed by his
indifference, applied to old Blutrude for a love-philter. All this forms
a part of the romantic plot which is made the vehicle for exhibiting the
public and private existence of the headsman of the middle ages, and we
need but briefly touch upon it. The Nuremberg Joseph drank the potion,
which reminded him, by its exhilarating effects, of “the foaming,
reaming drink he had once tasted at his master’s wedding at Namur, in
Brabant, and which the Walloons fetch from the county of Champagne, in
France, to thin their blood, clogged by thick barley beer.” Soon,
however, the young man repented of deceiving Benz, who was kind to him
after his rough fashion; and one morning that the headsman called him to
his room, to eat a savoury pottage his wife had prepared, but for which
he himself felt little appetite, Veit (the Nuremberger) thought the
moment opportune to make a clean breast, and, whilst eating, began his
confession. Meanwhile Grethel, superintending in the kitchen the
breakfast of her household, missed and asked for her favourite. “He is
in the master’s room,” was the reply, “eating the pottage.” The
headsman’s wife grew pale as death, for the pottage was poisoned. She
hurried into the room just as Veit, after completing his confession,
fell in convulsions upon the floor; and her husband, indignant at her
infidelity, stripped his leathern girdle and furiously beat her, loading
her with opprobrious epithets. She escaped from his hands, and ran into
the town, exhibited the cuts upon her face and arms to the authorities,
accused her husband of this ill-treatment, and of having poisoned his
assistant in a moment of groundless jealousy. Benz was forthwith
arrested. Appearances were strong against him. He had gone out of his
way to invite his servant to eat the mess intended for himself. And when
the effects of the poison manifested themselves, he had beaten his wife
instead of rendering assistance to the sufferer, who had died soon
afterwards. His protestations of innocence were discredited; and as he
persisted in not confessing a crime he had not committed, he was
conducted to that torture-chamber whose horrors he had so often
superintended. He shrunk not at sight of the rack, but stood upon his
rights and privileges; repudiated the jurisdiction of the city council,
and appealed to a higher tribunal. “My lords would not listen to this,
and appealed, in their turn, to the special privileges of the town; but
the strange headsman, whom they had summoned to their assistance, pulled
down to the wrist the shirt sleeves he had rolled up, put on his
doublet, and declared, with steadfast voice, that he must certainly, in
execution of a legal judgment, torture his own son, if required, but
that he would not act against the Emperor’s ordinances, or lay hand upon
a brother-craftsman in obedience to an arbitrary command.” So the
counsellors, finding the executive fail them, and being also, as it
would appear, legally in the wrong, were compelled to concede Master
Benz’s claim to be arraigned before another court of judicature. The
delay was the headsman’s salvation. Count Ruprecht, a sort of lord of
the manor, and nobleman of great weight in the district, obtained
admission to his dungeon, under pretence of consulting him about a
disease, which “leech and surgeon, wise-women and farriers, had been
unable to cure.” From this it would appear that in those days the
executioner either dabbled in the medical art, or was supposed to
possess prescriptions (perhaps charms) of efficacy in certain cases. We
have been unable to trace any particulars connected with this belief;
and Mr Chézy, although he must have access in Germany to many more
sources of such information than are open to us, leaves his readers, as
usual, wholly in the dark.

The brief dialogue in the dungeon is curious and characteristic. The
Count, straitened in his finances, covets the iron chest with a golden
lining, taken by Benz from beneath the feet of Father Finch the suicide.
In consideration of its receipt, he engages to rescue the executioner
from his unpleasant position. The latter, although innocent, is by no
means confident of acquittal, and accepts the terms. Then says the Count
to the headsman, with touching confidence, “You have been known to me
for many years as an honourable man, I require no other guarantee than
your word. And I pledge my honour as a nobleman to rescue you, either by
craft or by the strong hand.” Recourse to violence was unnecessary. The
Count revived an old tribunal, long in disuse, which sat under an aged
oak by the river’s brink, and consisted of himself alone. The council
had little fancy for giving up their prisoner, but yielded to menaces in
the emperor’s name, and Benz was brought before this primitive court.
The burgomaster supported the accusation, but, on the other hand, seven
nobly-born persons deposed on oath to the prisoner’s innocence, and
Etzel the cup-bearer, a stalwart retainer of the Count’s, renowned in
all the country-side for his reckless courage and powerful arm, threw
his glove into the ring, and challenged to mortal combat any who should
question it. Thrice the herald proclaimed the defiance, but none took it
up; the sun went down, and the Count declared the charge unfounded and
the prisoner free. This was the first and last time Count Ruprecht
asserted his right to hold this penal tribunal. And subsequently an
imperial decree declared the judgment null and the Count’s privilege
obsolete. But before that came to pass, the headsman’s innocence was
established, and the true culprit discovered.

During his captivity, Benz had reflected on his unkindness to his
first-born, and resolved to repair past injustice by better treatment.
On returning home, his first inquiry was for Berthold. The answer was,
that the boy had run away. The truth was, that his stepmother had had
him conveyed to a long distance from his father’s house, and by
frightful menaces deterred him from returning. And now she wheedled her
husband out of a pardon, and things resumed their old course in the
headsman’s house. We pass over a good deal of episodical matter, having
little to do with the main subject of the book; amongst other things, a
long account of a son of Count Ruprecht, who was sent on his travels in
charge of a learned preceptor and bad horseman, one Dr Wohlgemuth, on
whom the scamp of a pupil played an infinity of mischievous tricks,
proving that travelling tutors three hundred years ago had by no means a
sinecure. After an absence of some duration, Berthold returns home in
the suite of this young Count Ulrich, finds Elizabeth still at the sign
of the Thistle, and his old enemy Engolf and other dissolute companions
persecuting her with their insolent addresses, to which she turns a deaf
ear. She has not forgotten Berthold; their childish affection has grown
into love, and they mutually plight their troth. Soon afterwards,
Berthold sets out on a three years’ pilgrimage, during which to learn
surgery and farriery, and Count Ruprecht promises that, on his return,
none but he shall shoe his horses and cure his servants. But the
headsman’s son has higher aspirations, and resolves to become a
physician. At Heidelberg and Paris the three years pass quickly by in
diligent study, and at the end of that time he has conquered the
doctor’s gown, and returns to his native place as Dominus Bertholdus. As
he draws near to the town, he prays in heart for a good omen to welcome
his return; but none is vouchsafed him, and in its stead he meets Engolf
and has an angry colloquy. At the little inn he sees Elizabeth, who
betrays great agitation on beholding him, for a report had been set
about of his death. At a ball to which he accompanies her, held at the
old house of the Elephant, now converted into a respectable inn, he
meets Engolf, who coarsely taunts him with taking up with his cast-off
mistress. Elizabeth cannot repel the imputation, Berthold spurns her
from him, and strikes Engolf; a fight ensues, blood is shed, and the
headsman’s son is obliged to conceal himself for a while. Then comes
some more extraneous matter, until we find Berthold established as
assistant in the house of Master Baldwin the physician, who one day
sends him to attend the infliction of torture on an old woman accused of
witchcraft. In the wrinkled wretch bound upon the rack, he recognises
old Blutrude, and here, after seven years’ separation, he meets his

“The headsman had grown old in those seven years: his silver hair hung
scantily over his temples; his high bald brow was crossed with furrows;
his long beard resembled thick snow-flakes; but still he was strong and
vigorous. From his short and muscular neck his broad shoulders spread in
powerful development; his long arms were nervous, his fists of iron; his
eyes glittered as in the days of his prime; and the dusky red of his
countenance bore witness that the old man had not yet abandoned the
pleasures of the bottle, in spite of the gout, whose presence was
indicated by his wide shapeless boots of soft buckskin. On beholding
him, a cold shudder came over me; and yet it needed an effort not to
fall into his arms and greet him with the name of father, and offer my
aid in his horrible office. Behind him stood his assistant, a stout
young fellow, in whose features and reddish hair I recognised Grethel’s
son.” Here a touch of witchcraft comes in; Blutrude, after terrible
tortures, confessing her dealings with the demon, and implicating
Grethel and her son, the former of whom had long been in the habit of
accompanying her once in the year to a witches’ sabbath upon the
Blocksberg, whilst an evil spirit assumed her form in her husband’s
couch. Upon receiving this startling information, old Benz falls down,
struck with apoplexy, and presently expires, in spite of the remedies
applied by Berthold, who in his emotion betrays himself as the
headsman’s son. He is immediately seized, and put in irons. His life is
in danger, for he has incurred the penalty of the gallows by daring to
mix with his fellow-men, and to forget the stigma and isolation
prescribed by his birth. But the executioner being dead, his youngest
son accused of witchcraft, and the prison full of criminals, several of
whom are soon to be put to the torture, the authorities let Berthold, go
free, on condition of his assuming his father’s office. To this he
consents, as the only means of escaping the halter, and at once takes
possession of the house whose threshold he had expected never again to

The closing chapter of the volume, entitled “The Headsman’s Wedding,” is
perhaps the most striking and original of the whole book. Berthold’s
installation in his father’s house and office had not long occurred,
when he was called upon to exercise the latter, and to put to the rack
his old and bitter foe Engolf of Baumgarten, accused of conspiracy
against the state. Even under the torture, the profligate found sneers
and sharp words to address to his executioner, and boasted of his base
triumph over the unhappy Elizabeth, then in prison on the charge of
murdering her infant. Whilst in a state of frenzy, she had thrown it
into the water. Maddened by his enemy’s taunts, the headsman exercised
to the very utmost the tortures at his command, and tugged and strained
till every joint of the unhappy wretch was dislocated, and the foam
stood upon his lips. At last Engolf confessed his crime and was released
from the hands of him who had crushed his body, and whose heart he had
broken. Then Berthold received orders to hold himself ready, in three
days from that time, to execute Elizabeth, condemned to die by the

“It was a hard trial for me, when, upon the eve of this execution, I had
to betake myself to her prison, to share, according to old custom, the
culprit’s last meal. The priest had just left her when I entered the
narrow cell, and she sat buried in thought, her head sunk upon her
breast, her long black hair falling like a veil over her face, her hands
folded in her lap.” The poor girl could not make up her mind to die, and
wildly implored her former lover to save her, ignorant that she was to
perish by his hand. But his feelings towards her had undergone a total
change; indignation and contempt had replaced affection; and he beheld
her despair and heard her entreaties without a spark of compunction.
“You must die, Elizabeth,” he said, “and truly by no other hand than

“She gazed at me with expanded eyeballs, her features, distorted by
despair, gradually assumed a milder expression, a scarcely perceptible
smile crossed her pale lips. ‘Death from your hand is sweet,’ she at
last said. ‘Here is my heart, strike! why delay? I am ready.’ These
gentle words broke down my anger; I had to lean against a pillar in
order not to sink to the ground, and had hardly strength to reply. ‘Will
you not understand me, Elizabeth? Have you forgotten whose son I am?’”
Then she told him how a traveller had come to the inn, and had said
(probably at Engolf’s instigation) that Berthold was dead. And how,
after that, the seducer had perseveringly environed her with his wiles,
and at last, by aid of a potion old Blutrude supplied, had effected her
ruin. And as the headsman heard her sad tale, his anger was converted
into pity. He partook her last repast, and at parting they pressed each
other’s hands in friendship. But the love Berthold once had cherished
for the orphan playmate of his boyish days had fled for ever.

That same night the tribunal condemned Engolf to the gallows. All the
grace his anguished parent could obtain for him was that he should die
by the hands of the headsman himself, not of an inferior executioner—and
in his own clothes, booted and spurred. This favour cost fifty marks of
gold, and a bequest to the hospital of all the property his father could
will away.

With the dawn, Berthold repaired to the city, where the sentence was
read in the public market-place, and “a white wand was broken and thrown
in fragments at the feet of the child-murderess.” Then Elizabeth was
delivered over to the executioner, who lifted her into the cart, where a
Capuchin monk took his place beside her, and the melancholy procession
to the scaffold began. On the way, Berthold’s men encouraged him,
exhorting him to strike the blow on Elizabeth’s slender neck with the
same firmness and precision with which, just before he left the house,
he had severed that of an old wether. They considered him fortunate,
that his first essay with the sword should be made on a meek and
unresisting girl, and not on some tough old culprit, who would
spitefully shrug his shoulders, so as to disappoint the aim and bring
shame upon the headsman. “At last we stood, Elizabeth and I, face to
face between the three pillars, gazed at each other, and shook hands for
the last time. Then I bound her eyes, bid her kneel down, and whilst an
assistant, standing on one side, with body bent forward, and
outstretched arm, held up her head by the long hair, I threw off cloak
and doublet, grasped the sword with both hands, and, settling myself
firmly on my feet, prepared to give the cut that should deprive her of
life. Mute and breathless with expectation, the mob looked up at the
scaffold; the monk ceased to mutter his prayers aloud, but moved his
lips in silence; the stillness of death reigned around. I felt a
dizziness in my brain; instead of one head I saw three, and I turned
about, and asked in a loud voice, which of them the law commanded me to
strike off. The populace began to murmur, my assistants exchanged
meaning smiles and scornful glances, the magistrate impatiently called
to me to make an end; Elizabeth stirred not and made no sign. Then I had
pity on the youth and beauty of the murderess; I felt I should never be
able to strike her death-blow, and a sudden resolution took possession
of my soul, the resolution to save her. I sank the sword’s point, leant
upon its hilt, and, claiming my privilege, demanded Elizabeth for my
wife. Thereupon the murmurs of the crowd were converted into loud
rejoicings, and whilst I supported the fainting girl in my arms, the
people insisted I should at once conduct her to the altar. My Lords of
the Council knew well that I was in my right, and none ventured to
hinder or object. Followed by the noisy mob, we returned to the city,
and within the hour the priest of St Kummerniss united me to Elizabeth.
Then she once more ascended the cart, which drove away with her, this
time at a brisk trot instead of a funeral pace, whilst I went to the
council-house to hang Engolf.... The body remained hanging till sunset,
then I took it down, laid it in the coffin, and went my way home.”

“There was revel and jubilee in the house. With song and dance, and
play, and flowing jugs, the servants celebrated the headsman’s wedding
day. And when the hour came, I led Elizabeth to her chamber, drew my
father’s sword from its scabbard, and placed it in the bridal bed
between her and myself. There it has ever since remained.”

With this singular and thoroughly German incident, the headsman’s
memoirs, as conveyed in autobiographical form, conclude, although we may
presume the greater portion of the other volumes to be derived from
similar records, moulded into a different shape by Mr Chézy. The second
volume consists of one long narrative, entitled “Hildebrand Pfeiffer,” a
story of the seventeenth century. An executioner plays an important part
in it, but is not the hero of the tale, as in Benz’s narrative.
Hildebrand Pfeiffer is a man of five-and-thirty, of handsome face and
person, who has studied long and successfully at Heidelberg, Prague, and
Paris, and has learnt surgery at Cologne, where we now find him.
Possessed by the demon of pride and ambition, he sees no better way of
attaining the brilliant position he covets, than through the medium of
the philosopher’s stone, at whose discovery he ardently labours under
the guidance of Doctor David da Silva, or Master Wood, as the vulgar
translated his Portuguese name—a learned physician and ex-teacher at the
high school, to whom Hildebrand serves as assistant and amanuensis.
Besides dabbling in white magic, the old Jew-leech is shrewdly suspected
of dealing in the blacker sort, but this does not prevent scholars
flocking to gather wisdom from his lips, and sick persons sending for
him so often as their fears of death prevail with their avarice to pay
his heavy fee. And he has long been left unmolested to his mysterious
pursuits, when, in an evil hour, he sends his old servant, in company
with a young maiden, to gather mandragora at the gallows’ foot. The
plant is to be employed in some alchemical conjuration, and is valuable
only if gathered at the witching hour by a perfect virgin. The one
selected is Adelgunde, a beautiful girl, who loves Hildebrand, and is
beloved by him. Unfortunately, upon the night selected for plucking the
mystical mandrake, the headsman and his assistants repair to the place
of execution to inter the corpse of a suicide, and there detect and
seize the two women, the elder of whom throws the blame of her unholy
proceedings upon Da Silva and Hildebrand. There is, perhaps, rather too
much of witchcraft in the volume, but some of the incidents are very
wild and original. With more skill and care, and power of description,
Mr Chézy might have constructed a three volume romance of a striking
kind out of the materials he has loosely and hastily crammed into a
third of the space. There is a certain Count Philippus, or Philipps, of
whom much was to be made, but he is neglected, and roughly sketched. He
comes to Cologne to raise troops for the emperor, and is very successful
in his recruiting, having mustered a strong body of idle artisans,
debauched students, and desperadoes of all kinds. In the joy of his
heart he drinks himself ill; Hildebrand attends him, and wins his heart
by tolerating the flagon, when the soldier had expected to be put on a
diet of drugs and spring water. The Count’s levies are drawn up, and
about to march away, when the police make their appearance at Dr Da
Silva’s door, to arrest him and his assistant on a charge of witchcraft.
Warned in time, Hildebrand conceals himself amongst the men at arms, and
follows Philipps to the field as body-surgeon. It is the period of the
thirty years’ war, and the ambitious mediciner, interrupted in his
pursuit of the grand secret of gold-making, conceives the more feasible
project of rising to eminence and wealth by deeds of arms. He is
confirmed in his new aspirations by the gift of a sword, manufactured by
the headsman, and supposed to confer invincibility on him who wields it.
There is a remarkable chapter, from which we gather the details of this
superstition. Hannadam, the executioner, has his fortified dwelling in
the suburbs of Cologne, and one evening a Lutheran officer rides up from
the adjacent Swedish camp, and endeavours to induce him, by the bribe of
a well-filled purse, to make him a charmed sword. From the battlements
of his little fortress, Hannadam holds converse with the Swede, who
complains that he has had his foot in the stirrup for twenty years, and
is still a cornet, whilst his comrades of equal standing have risen to
high rank. He holds it high time to look after his promotion.

“‘Undoubtedly it is,’ said the headsman jeeringly. ‘A forty-year-old
cornet cuts a poor figure. I will promote you to a majority.’

“‘So you shall,’ replied the horseman, ‘and I will tell you how. But
first answer a question,—you are a popish idolator?’

“‘Infernal heretic!’ shouted the executioner. ‘Would you have me set my
dogs at you?’

“The Swede was astounded by this burst of anger. He had intended no
harm, but in the simplicity of his heart had designated the Roman
Catholics by the epithet that from childhood upwards he had heard and

“‘If you are no idolator,’ he replied very quietly, ‘give me back my

“The headsman laughed.

“‘I am papist enough,’ he said, ‘to take example by my priests, and
restore no offering.’

“‘Indeed,’ said the cornet. ‘But I begin to see what offended you. Never
fear, you shall not hear the word again.’

“‘You will do wisely not to repeat it. And now say what you would for
your money.’

“‘Did I not tell you I cannot get promotion?’


“‘Well? In the name of all the idols, I would have a charmed sword, such
as only a headsman and a Romanist can make.’

“The purse fell jingling at the Swede’s feet.

“‘Begone!’ cried the headsman. ‘I am no sorcerer.’

“‘The charmed sword is a matter of white magic, seeing it is made under
invocation of the holy Trinity and of the blessed cavalier, St Martin,
without aid of the powers of darkness. To-night is favourable to its
forging—such a night will not for a long time recur—for me, perhaps,
never—with the like concurrence of fortunate circumstances. Do my
bidding, and take the rich reward. After midnight, red Mars is in the
ascendant, and in the direct aspect of Venus. That is the lucky hour to
put the weapon together. The blade must be a sword that has served upon
the scaffold, and severed a criminal’s head from his body; the wood of
the hilt must be part of the wheel upon which some poor sinner has been
broken; the guard must be of the metal of chains in which a murderer has
been hung. You need put it but loosely together; the armourer shall
complete the work. The blade is the most important; let it be long and
slender, not above two fingers broad, and with a single edge. The
Tubal’s-fire you of course have: our executioners, also, keep that. Will
you prepare the sword, master?’

“‘I would do so,’ replied the headsman, ‘and have all things
needful;—but the fire is wanting.’

“‘Impossible!’ exclaimed the cavalier.

“‘But nevertheless true,’ replied Hannadam. ‘I have only lately
inherited my charge; I found the lamp in the forge extinguished, and
since then no oak has been struck by lightning.’

“The Swede cursed and swore like a blind heathen, rode disconsolately
away, and forgot, in his disappointment, to reclaim the purse he had
again thrown up to the headsman. The latter whistled a peasant’s dance
between his teeth, and gave orders to raise the drawbridge.

“‘You told the man an untruth,’ said his wife gently; ‘the lamp now
burning in the smithy received its light from a blasted oak.’

“The headsman laughed. ‘I know it right well, darling,’ he replied; ‘but
it will be long before I give such a sword to an unbelieving heretic,
for him to use against those he styles idolators. I will at once to
work, and prepare the weapon. In our days a blade is not to be despised,
from whose mere glitter the foe will fly by dozens.’”

At midnight the sparks flew fast in the headsman’s smithy, and the
wondrous weapon was prepared. The Swede might well have found it useful
in the severe action between his countrymen and the Imperialists, which
took place the following day within sound and sight of the city. The
battle over, Count Philipps and Hildebrand rode up to Hannadam’s
dwelling; and the Count, whose vassal the headsman was, demanded
admittance and lodging. Hildebrand showed some repugnance to enter the
house of the executioner. “No need to fear,” said the Count. “According
to imperial charter, the headsman’s office is honourable; and, moreover,
he and his household will have sufficient sense not to touch us. His
bread, his wine, his meat do not defile those partaking them, neither
does his roof dishonour those it covers. But you must have the goodness
to see to our horses yourself. At the worst, my nobility is good enough
to shield us from stain even in the knacker’s dwelling.”[5] So the count
and the leech take up their quarters in the house of Hannadam, whose
wife is no other than that beautiful Adelgunde, with whom Hildebrand had
been deeply in love, and whom he had now long mourned as dead. She had
been tried at Cologne on a charge of witchcraft, having been detected
gathering mandragora at midnight beneath the gallows, and had been put
to the torture; but Hannadam, to whose lot it fell to inflict it, was
touched by her beauty, and handled her gently. In a conversation with
Count Philipps, he explains to him how it is in the executioner’s power
greatly to aggravate or lighten the agony he is ordered to inflict.
Finally, Hannadam marries her, in virtue of the privilege already
exemplified in the story of Berthold Benz. She is a somnambulist, and
having seen her former lover enter the house, (although her husband does
all in his power to keep her from sight of him, and even confines her in
her room,) she gets up in the night, and by a most perilous path across
the roof of the house, reaches Hildebrand’s chamber, bearing with her
the sword of her husband’s manufacture, which she gives to her lover,
bidding him use and conquer with it. Taking little heed of the supposed
power attributed to the weapon, Hildebrand nevertheless girds it on, and
the next day joins Colonel Madelon’s regiment of cuirassiers. Distracted
at finding Adelgunde the wife of another man, he covets death, and
resolves to seek it in action. The count unwillingly parts with him, on
condition of his returning that evening to his post. But evening comes,
the fight is over, the wounded count looks anxiously for his leech, and
Hildebrand appears not. The cuirassiers are far away, pursuing the
beaten foe.

Footnote 5:

  The office of knacker (_Schinder, Abdecker_), in recent times often
  united with that of public executioner, was formerly exercised by his
  knaves and subordinates, (German, _henkersknechte_; French, _Valets de
  Bourreau_) and was held especially infamous.

Time passes—the exact period is not defined—and we again meet the
warlike physician, who is brought before us in a very remarkable
chapter, detailing the punishment and degradation, at the headsman’s
hands, of an entire regiment that has disgraced itself in action. At
that period the affairs of the Imperialists were in any thing but a
flourishing state. At Leipsig—on the same ground where, eleven years
previously, Gustavus Adolphus had beaten Tilly—the Swedes, under the
gallant Torstenson, had gained a signal victory over the Archduke
Leopold-William; a victory shameful to the German name from the
cowardice and want of discipline of a portion of the troops engaged. The
remnant of the beaten army rallied near Prague, whose gates, some time
after the fight, a regiment of cavalry was seen to approach, its ranks
thinned less by hostile sword than by scandalous desertion. Deep shame
sat upon the bearded countenances of the horsemen, and their hearts were
oppressed by apprehension of punishment; for rumour said that the corps
was ordered to Prague to answer for its misconduct. The officers were
even more cast down than the men; they spoke in whispers, consulting
each other how they might best justify themselves, and proposing to
throw all the blame on their subordinates. On the other hand, the
private soldiers did not scruple to say above their breath, that “a
sensible housekeeper begins to sweep his stairs from the top.” The
regiment was close to the town, ordering its ranks previous to entrance,
when a young officer came up at full gallop, saluted the colonel
courteously but coldly, and said:

“I am the bearer of an unpleasant order.”

“Duty is duty, Sir,” replied the commanding officer; “be good enough to
deliver your message.”

This was to the effect that the men should dismount, lead their horses
into the town with lowered colours and without trumpet-sound, and then,
so soon as the beasts were put up, repair to the market-place with
swords at side, officers as well as men. This reception was ominous of
even worse things than had been anticipated; and many a soldier
regretted he had not followed an example abundantly supplied him, and
deserted immediately after the battle. In two hours time, however, the
regiment arrived with downcast eyes at the appointed place of muster.
They marched two and two, with long intervals between the files. At the
entrance of the narrow streets were pickets of dismounted dragoons, four
deep, their musketoons on their arms, their drawn swords hanging from
their wrists; the doors and windows of the houses were lined with
carabineers, their weapons at the recover. A major and a provost-marshal
were there on horseback, the latter attended by his men, who stood round
a couple of carts. As each rank of the cuirassiers reached the square,
the major commanded them to halt, and then gave the word “Draw swords!”
followed by “Ground arms!” Whereupon every man, without distinction, had
to lay his naked sword upon the ground, before he was allowed to move
forwards. The cornets did the same with their colours, and the provost’s
men took up swords and standards and put them in the carts. The disarmed
soldiers formed up as prisoners in the square, and their hearts misgave
them when they saw it arranged as for an approaching execution. True,
there was neither scaffold nor gallows, but in the centre stood the
gloomy man in the red cloak, his assistants behind him, between an iron
vice and a pile of brushwood. A hedge of halberds surrounded the whole
square. On one side a crowd of military officials of high rank sat upon
their horses, to try the offenders, if indeed trial could be said to
await men manifestly already condemned. Hard upon the circle of military
pressed the populace; windows, roofs, and balconies were thronged with
curious spectators; but it was as much as the nearest of them could do
to catch a few words of what passed, when the disarmed regiment appeared
before the court-martial.

The heads of accusation were tolerably well known, and resolved
themselves into the one undeniable fact that the regiment, at first
victorious, but afterwards repulsed, had fled in shameful haste and
confusion, communicating its panic to the rest of the cavalry, leaving
the infantry exposed, and causing the loss of the already half-won
fight. These circumstances were too notorious to need proof; and the
chief question was, whether the soldiers had fled in spite of every
exertion of their officers, or whether the latter had been, by their
pusillanimity, the chief causes of the disaster. This question it
probably was that was debated for nearly two hours, and produced such
violent dissensions amongst the prisoners, that the intervention of the
guard was required to keep them from coming to blows. The bystanders
could not distinguish words, but only a confused clamour of voices,
which suddenly ceased at the blast of a trumpet. The prisoners drew
back; the judges, consulted together for a moment; and then there was an
abrupt and uneasy movement, amongst, behind, and in front of them, the
motive of which immediately became apparent. The spectators knew not
whither first to turn their eyes. Here policemen bound the officers’
hands behind their backs; in another place the provost’s men separated
the soldiers by tens, something in the way in which a tithe-owner counts
the sheaves in a field. Drums were placed on end, with dice upon their
heads: yonder the brushwood blazed up in bright flames, which the
headsman’s helpers fed with the colours and decorations of the regiment,
whilst their master snapped sword-blade after sword-blade in his iron
vice. With mournful eyes the officers saw their flags consumed and their
weapons broken at the hangman’s hands. The most painful death would have
been sweet and welcome compared to this moral agony. Despondingly they
sank their heads, and those esteemed themselves fortunate whose hair was
long enough to hide their shame-stricken countenances.

Whilst the officers endured the curious or spiteful gaze of the throng,
the men threw dice for their lives upon the sheepskin tables. He of each
ten who threw the lowest, was immediately seized by the executioners,
who bound his hands and placed him with the group of officers. And the
closing act of this terrible ceremony was performed by the public crier,
who proclaimed the whole regiment, from the lieutenant-colonel down to
the last dragoon, as “_Schelme_” or infamous knaves. After which the mob
dispersed, streaming through lanes and alleys to the place where the
officers and tenth men were to be hanged. The remainder of the regiment
were conveyed to a place of security, till such time as they could be
sent to dig fortifications in Hungary, or to labour on the wharves of a

Hildebrand Pfeiffer is amongst those saved from death to undergo
slavery; but he contrives to escape his doom, and is next seen dwelling,
a pious ascetic and penitent, in a mountain hermitage, under the name of
Father Gregorius. Enthusiastic in whatever he does, he passes his time
prostrate before a crucifix, lacerating his shoulders with many stripes.
His despair arises partly from grief at the loss of Adelgunde, and
partly from shame at having been branded as a dastard with the rest of
Madelon’s cuirassiers. His old friend and patron, Count Philipps, finds
him out, reasons with and consoles him, and makes him his chaplain. But
after he has long been esteemed for his piety and eloquence, he offends
the Count by a diatribe against the prevalent belief in witchcraft,
whose absurdity his good sense and early education enable him to
recognise. There is an extraordinary scene at a convent, where
Adelgunde, who deserted her husband’s house on the night of her
interview with Hildebrand, has taken refuge. She falls into a manner of
ecstasy, repeats Solomon’s Song in Latin, and commits other
extravagancies, greatly to the scandal of the sisterhood, and of Father
Bonaventura, the convent chaplain. Finally, both Hildebrand and
Adelgunde are burnt for sorcery. There is a vein of interest in the tale
to the very end, although the book, in an artistical sense, is roughly
done. The style is crabbed, and the dialogue quaint, but often
effective. The final volume of the Malefizbuch, under the agreeable
title of “Galgenvögel,” (Gallowsbirds) contains four tales of very
middling merit, and is altogether the worst. It differs from the other
two as saying little concerning the headsman and his functions, further
than that he steps in at the close of each tale, to execute the sentence
of the law on the criminals whose offences and adventures it narrates.
M. Chézy announces his store of materials to be by no means expended,
and promises a further series should this one find favour. If it does
so, he must attribute the success to the interest inseparable from the
subject, not unlikely to attract readers in spite of the editor’s
negligence, and of the book’s manifold deficiencies.

                        EDINBURGH AFTER FLODDEN.

The great battle of Flodden was fought upon the 9th of September 1513.
The defeat of the Scottish army, which was mainly owing to the fantastic
ideas of chivalry entertained by James IV., and his refusal to avail
himself of the natural advantages of his position, was by far the most
disastrous of any recounted in the history of the northern wars. The
whole strength of the kingdom, both Lowland and Highland, was assembled,
and the contest was one of the sternest and most desperate upon record.

For several hours the victory seemed doubtful. On the left the Scots
obtained a decided advantage; on the right wing they were broken and
overthrown; and at last the whole weight of the battle was brought into
the centre, where King James and the Earl of Surrey commanded in person.
The determined valour of James, imprudent as it was, had the effect of
rousing to a pitch of desperation the courage of the meanest soldiers;
and the ground becoming soft and slippery from blood, they pulled off
their boots and shoes, and secured a firmer footing by fighting in their

“It is owned,” says Abercromby, “that both parties did wonders, but none
on either side performed more than the King himself. He was again told
that by coming to handy blows he could do no more than another man,
whereas, by keeping the post due to his station, he might be worth many
thousands. Yet he would not only fight in person, but also on foot; for
he no sooner saw that body of the English give way which was defeated by
the Earl of Huntley, but he alighted from his horse, and commanded his
guard of noblemen and gentlemen to do the like and follow him. He had at
first abundance of success, but at length the Lord Thomas Howard and Sir
Edward Stanley, who had defeated their opposites, coming in with the
Lord Dacre’s horse, and surrounding the King’s battalion on all sides,
the Scots were so distressed that, for their last defence, they cast
themselves into a ring; and being resolved to die nobly with their
sovereign, who scorned to ask quarter, were altogether cut off. So say
the English writers, and I am apt to believe that they are in the

The combat was maintained with desperate fury until nightfall. At the
close, according to Mr Tytler, “Surrey was uncertain of the result of
the battle: the remains of the enemy’s centre still held the field;
Home, with his Borderers, still hovered on the left; and the commander
wisely allowed neither pursuit nor plunder, but drew off his men and
kept a strict watch during the night. When the morning broke, the
Scottish artillery were seen standing deserted on the side of the hill;
their defenders had disappeared; and the Earl ordered thanks to be given
for a victory which was no longer doubtful. Yet, even after all this, a
body of the Scots appeared unbroken upon a hill, and were about to
charge the Lord-Admiral, when they were compelled to leave their
position by a discharge of the English ordnance.

“The loss of the Scots in this fatal battle amounted to about ten
thousand men. Of these, a great proportion were of high rank; the
remainder being composed of the gentry, the farmers, and landed
yeomanry, who disdained to fly when their sovereign and his nobles lay
stretched in heaps around them.” Besides King James, there fell at
Flodden the Archbishop of St Andrews, thirteen earls, two bishops, two
abbots, fifteen lords and chiefs of clans, and five peers’ eldest sons,
besides La Motte the French ambassador, and the secretary of the King.
The same historian adds—“The names of the gentry who fell are too
numerous for recapitulation, since there were few families of note in
Scotland which did not lose one relative or another, whilst some houses
had to weep the death of all. It is from this cause that the sensations
of sorrow and national lamentation occasioned by the defeat were
peculiarly poignant and lasting—so that to this day few Scotsmen can
hear the name of Flodden without a shudder of gloomy regret.”

The loss to Edinburgh on this occasion was peculiarly great. All the
magistrates and able-bodied citizens had followed their King to Flodden,
whence very few of them returned. The office of Provost or chief
magistrate of the capital was at that time an object of high ambition,
and was conferred only upon persons of high rank and station. There
seems to be some uncertainty whether the holder of this dignity at the
time of the battle of Flodden was Sir Alexander Lauder, ancestor of the
Fountainhall family, who was elected in 1511, or that great historical
personage, Archibald Earl of Angus, better known as Archibald
Bell-the-Cat, who was chosen in 1513, the year of the battle. Both of
them were at Flodden. The name of Sir Alexander Lauder appears upon the
list of the slain; Angus was one of the survivors, but his son, George,
Master of Angus, fell fighting gallantly by the side of King James. The
city records of Edinburgh, which commence about this period, are not
clear upon the point, and I am rather inclined to think that the Earl of
Angus was elected to supply the place of Lauder.[6] But although the
actual magistrates were absent, they had formally nominated deputies in
their stead. I find, on referring to the city records, that “George of
Tours” had been appointed to officiate in the absence of the Provost,
and that four other persons were selected to discharge the office of
bailies until the magistrates should return.

Footnote 6:

  The Earl of Angus was succeeded in the Provostship of Edinburgh by
  Alexander, Lord Home, Great Chamberlain of Scotland, in 1514.

It is impossible to describe the consternation which pervaded the whole
of Scotland when the intelligence of the defeat became known. In
Edinburgh it was excessive. Mr Arnot, in the history of that city,

“The news of their overthrow in the field of Flodden reached Edinburgh
on the day after the battle, and overwhelmed the inhabitants with grief
and confusion. The streets were crowded with women seeking intelligence
about their friends, clamouring and weeping. Those who officiated in
absence of the magistrates proved themselves worthy of the trust. They
issued a proclamation, ordering all the inhabitants to assemble in
military array for defence of the city, on the tolling of the bell; and
commanding, ‘that all women, and especially strangers, do repair to
their work, and not be seen upon the street _clamorand and cryand_; and
that women of the better sort do repair to the church and offer up
prayers, at the stated hours, for our Sovereign Lord and his army, and
the townsmen who are with the army.’”

Indeed the council records bear ample evidence of the emergency of that
occasion. Throughout the earlier pages, the word “Flowdoun” frequently
occurs on the margin, in reference to various hurried orders for arming
and defence; and there can be no doubt that, had the English forces
attempted to follow up their victory, and attack the Scottish capital,
the citizens would have resisted to the last. But it soon became
apparent that the loss sustained by the English was so severe, that
Surrey was in no condition to avail himself of the opportunity; and in
fact, shortly afterwards, he was compelled to disband his army.

The references to the city banner, contained in the following poem, may
require a word of explanation. It is a standard still held in great
honour and reverence by the burghers of Edinburgh, having been presented
to them by James the Third, in return for their loyal service in 1482.
This banner, along with that of the Earl Marischal, still conspicuous in
the Library of the Faculty of Advocates, was honourably brought back
from Flodden, and certainly never could have been displayed in a more
memorable field. Maitland says, with reference to this very interesting
relic of antiquity,—

“As a perpetual remembrance of the loyalty and bravery of the
Edinburghers on the aforesaid occasion, the King granted them a banner
or standard, with a power to display the same in defence of their king,
country, and their own rights. This flag is kept by the Convener of the
Trades; at whose appearance therewith, it is said that not only the
artificers of Edinburgh are obliged to repair to it, but all the
artisans or craftsmen within Scotland are bound to follow it, and fight
under the Convener of Edinburgh as aforesaid.”

                       _Edinburgh after Flodden_


                   News of battle!—news of battle!
                     Hark! ’tis ringing down the street:
                   And the archways and the pavement
                     Bear the clang of hurrying feet.
                   News of battle? Who hath brought it?
                     News of triumph? Who should bring
                   Tidings from our noble army,
                     Greetings from our gallant King?
                   All last night we watched the beacons
                     Blazing on the hills afar,
                   Each one bearing, as it kindled,
                     Message of the opened war.
                   All night long the northern streamers
                     Shot across the trembling sky:
                   Fearful lights, that never beckon
                     Save when kings or heroes die.


                    News of battle! Who hath brought it?
                      All are thronging to the gate;
                    “Warder—warder! open quickly!
                      Man—is this a time to wait?”
                    And the heavy gates are opened:
                      Then a murmur long and loud,
                    And a cry of fear and wonder
                      Bursts from out the bending crowd.
                    For they see in battered harness
                      Only one hard-stricken man,
                    And his weary steed is wounded
                      And his cheek is pale and wan.
                    Spearless hangs a bloody banner
                      In his weak and drooping hand—
                    God! can that be Randolph Murray,
                      Captain of the city band?


                   Round him crush the people, crying,
                     “Tell us all—O tell us true!
                   Where are they who went to battle,
                     Randolph Murray, sworn to you?
                   Where are they, our brothers—children?
                     Have they met the English foe?
                   Why art thou alone, unfollowed?
                     Is it weal, or is it woe?”
                   Like a corpse the grizzly warrior
                     Looks from out his helm of steel,
                   But no word he speaks in answer,
                     Only with his armed heel
                   Chides his weary steed, and onward
                     Up the city streets they ride;
                   Fathers, sisters, mothers, children,
                     Shrieking, praying by his side.
                   “By the God that made thee, Randolph!
                     Tell us what mischance hath come;”
                   Then he lifts his riven banner,
                     And the asker’s voice is dumb.


                  The elders of the city,
                    Have met within their hall:
                  The men whom good King James had charged
                    To watch the tower and wall.
                  “Your hands are weak with age,” he said,
                    “Your hearts are stout and true;
                  So bide ye in the Maiden Town,
                    While others fight for you.
                  My trumpet from the Border-side
                    Shall send a blast so clear,
                  That all who wait within the gate
                    That stirring sound may hear.
                  Or, if it be the will of heaven
                    That back I never come,
                  And if, instead of Scottish shouts,
                    Ye hear the English drum,—
                  Then let the warning bells ring out,
                    Then gird you to the fray,
                  Then man the walls like burghers stout,
                    And fight while fight you may.
                  ’Twere better that in fiery flame
                    The roofs should thunder down,
                  Than that the foot of foreign foe
                    Should trample in the town!”


                    Then in came Randolph Murray—
                      His step Was slow and weak,
                    And, as he doffed his broken helm,
                      The tears ran down his cheek:
                    They fell upon his corslet,
                      And on his mailed hand,
                    As he gazed around him wistfully,
                      Leaning sorely on his brand.
                    And none who then beheld him
                      But straight were smote with fear,
                    For a bolder and a sterner man
                      Had never couched a spear.
                    They knew so sad a messenger
                      Some ghastly news must bring:
                    And all of them were fathers,
                      And their sons were with the King.


                   And up then rose the Provost,
                     A brave old man was he,
                   Of ancient name, and knightly fame,
                     And chivalrous degree.
                   He ruled our city like a Lord
                     Who brooked no equal here,
                   And ever for the townsmen’s rights
                     Stood up ’gainst prince and peer.
                   And he had seen the Scottish host
                     March from the Borough-muir,
                   With music-storm and clamorous shout
                   And all the din that thunders out,
                     When youth’s of victory sure.
                   But yet a dearer thought had he,
                     For, with a father’s pride,
                   He saw his last remaining son
                     Go forth by Randolph’s side,
                   With casque on head and spur on heel,
                     All keen to do and dare;
                   And proudly did that gallant boy
                     Dunedin’s banner bear.
                   O woeful now was the old man’s look
                     And he spake right heavily—
                   “Now, Randolph, tell thy tidings,
                     However sharp they be!
                   Woe is written on thy visage,
                     Death is looking from thy face;
                   Speak, though it be of overthrow—
                     It cannot be disgrace!”


                    Right bitter was the agony
                      That wrung that soldier proud:
                    Thrice did he strive to answer,
                      And thrice he groaned aloud.
                    Then he gave the riven banner,
                      To the old man’s shaking hand,
                    Saying—“That is all I bring ye
                      From the bravest of the land!
                    Aye! ye may look upon it—
                      It was guarded well and long,
                    By your brothers and your children,
                      By the valiant and the strong.
                    One by one they fell around it,
                      As the archers laid them low,
                    Grimly dying, still unconquered,
                      With their faces to the foe.
                    Aye! ye well may look upon it—
                      There is more than honour there,
                    Else be sure I had not brought it
                      From the field of dark despair.
                    Never yet was royal banner
                      Steeped in such a costly dye;
                    It hath lain upon a bosom
                      Where no other shroud shall lie.
                    Sirs, I charge you, keep it holy,
                      Keep it as a sacred thing,
                    For the stain ye see upon it
                      Was the life-blood of your King!”


                 Woe, and woe, and lamentation!
                   What a piteous cry was there!
                 Widows, maidens, mothers, children,
                   Shrieking, sobbing in despair!
                 Through the streets the death-word rushes,
                   Spreading terror, sweeping on—
                 “Jesu Christ! our King has fallen—
                   O great God, King James is gone!
                 Holy Mother Mary, shield us,
                   Thou who erst didst lose thy Son!
                 O the blackest day for Scotland
                   That she ever knew before!
                 O our King—the good, the noble,
                   Shall we see him never more?
                 Woe to us, and woe to Scotland!
                   O our sons, our sons and men!
                 Surely some have ‘scaped the Southron,
                   Surely some will come again!”
                 Till the oak that fell last winter
                   Shall uprear its shattered stem—
                 Wives and mothers of Dunedin—
                   Ye may look in vain for them!


                  But within the Council Chamber
                    All was silent as the grave,
                  Whilst the tempest of their sorrow
                    Shook the bosoms of the brave.
                  Well indeed might they be shaken
                    With the weight of such a blow,
                  He was gone—their prince, their idol,
                    Whom they loved and worshipped so!
                  Like a knell of death and judgment
                    Rung from heaven by angel hand,
                  Fell the words of desolation
                    On the elders of the land.
                  Hoary heads were bowed and trembling,
                    Withered hands were clasped and wrung;
                  God had left the old and feeble,
                    He had ta’en away the young.


                   Then the Provost he uprose,
                     And his lip was ashen white,
                   But a flush was on his brow,
                     And his eye was full of light.
                   “Thou hast spoken, Randolph Murray,
                     Like a soldier stout and true;
                   Thou hast done a deed of daring
                     Had been perilled but by few.
                   For thou hast not shamed to face us,
                     Nor to speak thy ghastly tale,
                   Standing—thou, a knight and captain—
                     Here, alive within thy mail!
                   Now, as my God shall judge me,
                     I hold it braver done,
                   Than hadst thou tarried in thy place,
                     And died above my son!
                   Thou needst not tell it. He is dead.
                     God help us all this day!
                   But speak—how fought the citizens
                     Within the furious fray?
                   For, by the might of Mary,
                     ’Twere something still to tell
                   That no Scottish foot went backward
                     When the Royal Lion fell!”


                   “No one failed him! He is keeping
                     Royal state and semblance still;
                   Knight and noble lie around him,
                     Cold on Flodden’s fatal hill.
                   Of the brave and gallant-hearted,
                     Whom ye sent with prayers away,
                   Not a single man departed
                     From his monarch yesterday.
                   Had you seen them, O my masters!
                     When the night began to fall,
                   And the English spearmen gathered
                     Round a grim and ghastly wall!
                   As the wolves in winter circle
                     Round the leaguer on the heath,
                   So the greedy foe glared upward,
                     Panting still for blood and death.
                   But a rampart rose before them,
                     Which the boldest dared not scale;
                   Every stone a Scottish body,
                     Every step a corpse in mail!
                   And behind it lay our monarch
                     Clenching still his shivered sword:
                   By his side Montrose and Athole,
                     At his feet a southern lord.
                   All so thick they lay together,
                     When the stars lit up the sky,
                   That I knew not who were stricken,
                     Or who yet remained to die.
                   Few there were, when Surrey halted
                     And his wearied host withdrew;
                   None but dying men around me,
                     When the English trumpet blew.
                   Then I stooped, and took the banner,
                     As ye see it, from his breast,
                   And I closed our hero’s eyelids,
                     And I left him to his rest.
                   In the mountains growled the thunder,
                     As I leaped the woeful wall,
                   And the heavy clouds were settling
                     Over Flodden, like a pall.”


                  So he ended. And the others
                    Cared not any answer then;
                  Sitting silent, dumb with sorrow,
                    Sitting anguish-struck, like men
                  Who have seen the roaring torrent
                    Sweep their happy homes away,
                  And yet linger by the margin,
                    Staring idly on the spray.
                  But without the maddening tumult
                    Waxes ever more and more,
                  And the crowd of wailing women
                    Gather round the Council door.
                  Every dusky spire is ringing
                    With a dull and hollow knell,
                  And the Miserere’s singing
                    To the tolling of the bell.
                  Through the streets the burghers hurry,
                    Spreading terror as they go;
                  And the rampart’s thronged with watchers
                    For the coming of the foe.
                  From each mountain top a pillar
                    Streams into the torpid air,
                  Bearing token from the Border
                    That the English host is there.
                  All without is flight and terror,
                    All within is woe and fear—
                  God protect thee, Maiden City,
                    For thy latest hour is near!


                   No! not yet, thou high Dunedin,
                     Shalt thou totter to thy fall;
                   Though thy bravest and thy strongest
                     Are not there to man the wall.
                   No, not yet! the ancient spirit
                     Of our fathers hath not gone:
                   Take it to thee as a buckler
                     Better far than steel or stone.
                   O remember those who perished
                     For thy birth-right at the time,
                   When to be a Scot was treason,
                     And to side with Wallace, crime!
                   Have they not a voice among us,
                     Whilst their hallowed dust is here?
                   Hear ye not a summons sounding
                     From each buried warrior’s bier?
                   Up!—they say—and keep the freedom,
                     Which we won you long ago:
                   Up! and keep our graves unsullied,
                     From the insults of the foe!
                   Up! and if ye cannot save them,
                     Come to us in blood and fire:
                   Midst the crash of falling turrets,
                     Let the last of Scots expire!


                   Still the bells are tolling fiercely,
                     And the cry comes louder in:
                   Mothers wailing for their children,
                     Sisters for their slaughtered kin.
                   All is terror and disorder,
                     Till the Provost rises up,
                   Calm, as though he had not tasted
                     Of the fell and bitter cup.
                   All so stately from his sorrow,
                     Rose the old undaunted Chief,
                   That you had not deemed, to see him,
                     His was more than common grief.
                   “Rouse ye, Sirs!” he said, “we may not
                     Longer mourn for what is done:
                   If our King be taken from us,
                     We are left to guard his son.
                   We have sworn to keep the city
                     From the foe, whate’er they be,
                   And the oath that we have taken
                     Never shall be broke by me.
                   Death is nearer to us, brethren,
                     Than it seemed to those who died,
                   Fighting yesterday at Flodden
                     By their lord and master’s side.
                   Let us meet it then in patience,
                     Not in terror or in fear;
                   Though our hearts are bleeding yonder,
                     Let our souls be steadfast here.
                   Up, and rouse ye! Time is fleeting,
                     And we yet have much to do,
                   Up! and haste ye through the city,
                     Stir the burghers stout and true!
                   Gather all our scattered people,
                     Fling the banner out once more,—
                   Randolph Murray! do thou bear it,
                     As it erst was borne before:
                   Never Scottish heart will leave it,
                     When they see their monarch’s gore!


                   “Let them cease that dismal knelling!
                     It is time enough to ring,
                   When the fortress-strength of Scotland
                     Stoops to ruin like its King.
                   Let the bells be kept for warning,
                     Not for terror and alarm:
                   When they next are heard to thunder,
                     Let each man and stripling arm.
                   Bid the women leave their wailing,—
                     Do they think that woeful strain,
                   From the bloody heaps of Flodden
                     Can redeem their dearest slain?
                   Bid them cease, or rather hasten
                     To the churches, every one;
                   There to pray to Mary Mother,
                     And to her anointed Son,
                   That the thunderbolt above us
                     May not fall in ruin yet;
                   That in fire, and blood, and rapine,
                     Scotland’s glory may not set.
                   Let them pray,—for never women
                     Stood in need of such a prayer!
                   England’s yeomen shall not find them
                     Clinging to the altars there.
                   No! if we are doomed to perish,
                     Man and maiden, let us fall:
                   Let a common gulf of ruin
                     Open wide to whelm us all!
                   Never shall the ruthless spoiler
                     Lay his hot insulting hand
                   On the sisters of our heroes
                     While we bear a torch or brand!
                   Up, and rouse ye, then, my brothers,—
                     But when next ye hear the bell
                   Sounding forth the sullen summons
                     That may be our funeral knell,
                   Once more let us meet together,
                     Once more see each other’s face;
                   Then, like men that need not tremble,
                     Go to our appointed place.
                   God, our Father, will not fail us
                     In that last tremendous hour,—
                   If all other bulwarks crumble,
                     HE will be our strength and tower;
                   Though the ramparts rock beneath us,
                     And the walls go crashing down,
                   Though the roar of conflagration
                     Bellow o’er the sinking town;
                   There is yet one place of shelter,
                     Where the foeman cannot come,
                   Where the summons never sounded
                     Of the trumpet or the drum.
                   There again we’ll meet our children,
                     Who, on Flodden’s trampled sod,
                   For their King and for their country
                     Rendered up their souls to God.
                   There shall we have rest and refuge,
                     With our dear departed brave,
                   And the ashes of the city
                     Be our universal grave!”

W. E. A.

                         SUBJECTS FOR PICTURES.
                         A LETTER TO EUSEBIUS.

DEAR EUSEBIUS,—Your letter of inquiry reached me at Gratian’s, just at
the moment we were setting off to pay a visit of a few days to our
friend the Curate, who had ensconced himself in happiness and a curacy
about an easy day’s ride from his former abode. From that quarter I have
no news to tell you, but that the winning affability even of Gratian
cannot obtain a smile or look of acknowledgment from Lydia Prateapace.
She passes him in scorn. We found the Curate and his bride on his little
lawn, before the door of the prettiest of clerical residences. She was
reading to him, and that I know will please you; for I have often heard
you say that a woman’s reading inspires the best repose of thought, and
gives both sweetness and dignity to reflection; that then the true
listener is passive under the fascination and sense of all loveliness,
and his ideas rise the fairer, as the flowers grow the brighter that
bend to the music of the sweet-voiced brook. If every reviewer had such
a reader, criticism would fall merciful as the “gentle dew,”—ink would
lose its blackness. They rose to greet us with the best of welcomes; and
like less happy lovers,

    “That day they read no more.”

The house is simply, yet elegantly furnished. To the little library with
its well-filled shelves of classical and English literature, female
fingers had lent a grace—there were flowers, and the familiarity of
work, to humanise the severest author in this living depository of the
thoughts of all ages. The spirit of Plato might look through his
mesmerised binding and smile. The busts of ancient poets seemed to scent
the fragrance, and bow their heads thankful. I could not resist the
pleasure of patting our old acquaintance Catullus on the back, as I
passed, which Gratian saw, and said—“Ay, ay, that’s the rogue to whom I
sacrificed swine.” A few spaces unoccupied by books, were filled with
choice prints from pictures by Raffaele. The most appropriate was the
“School of Athens,” not the least pleasing that portrait of the “gentle
musician.” The Curate saw how much these prints attracted my notice, and
said that he would give me a treat on the morrow, as he expected a
package of prints all framed and glazed, which a wealthy relative, with
whom, however, he added, he was not very well acquainted, had sent
him—and he expected us to attend the unpacking. It is a present, he
said, to furnish my curacy, but I know nothing of the giver’s taste. I
wished at the time, that my friend Eusebius had been present at the
unpacking; for I did not augur much of the collection, and I thought the
grace of his, that is of your wit, Eusebius, might be wanted either in
admiration or apology. For if you happened not to like the picture,

    “I’ll warrant you’ll find an excuse for the glass.”

Shall I describe to you our doings and our sayings on this occasion?
imagine the case before—us and in the words of another old song,

                          “It is our opening day.”

Well—it is opened—now, Eusebius, I will not particularise the contents.
The giver, it is to be presumed, with the patriotic view of encouraging
native art, had confined his choice, and had made his selection,
entirely from the works of modern English painters and engravers. And do
not imagine that I am here about to indulge in any morose and severe
criticism, and say, all were bad. On the contrary, the works showed very
great artistic skill of both kinds; indeed, the work of the needle and
graver exhibited a miraculous power of translation. That the subjects
were such as generally give pleasure, cannot be denied; they are widely
purchased, go where you will, in every country town as in the
metropolis; the printsellers’ windows scarcely exhibit any other. These
prints were therefore according to the general taste,—and therefore the
Curate must be expected to be highly gratified with his present. Perhaps
he was—but he certainly looked puzzled; and the first thing he said was,
that he did not know what to do with them. “Are they not framed and
glazed?” said Gratian: “hang them up, by all means.” “Yes,” said the
bride, delightfully ready to assume the conjugal defence, “but where?
You would not have me put the horses and dogs in my boudoir; and the
other rooms of our nest have already pictures so out of character that
these would only be emblems of disagreement; and I am sure you would not
wish to see any thing of that nature here—yet.” But let me, Eusebius,
take the order of conversation.

GRATIAN.—There is a queen tamer of all animals, and though I would not
like to see the Curate’s wife among the monsters, I doubt not she could
always charm away any discordance these pictures might give. And look
now at the noble face of that honest and well-educated horse. He would
be a gentleman of rank among the houyhuhnms. I love his placid face. He
reminds me of my old pet bay Peter, and many a mile has he carried his
old master that was so fond of him. I have ridden him over gorse and
road many a long day. He lived to be upwards of thirty-three, and
enjoyed a good bite and annuity, in a fat paddock, the last seven or
eight years of his life.

AQUILIUS.—Gratian’s benevolence, you see, regulates his tastes: he loves
all creatures, but especially the dumb: he speaks to them, and makes
eloquent answers for them. You know he has a theory respecting their

CURATE.—And Gratian is happy therein: I wish I had more taste of this
kind, for these things are very beautiful in themselves; they are
honest-looking creatures. In that I have been like Berni:

                     “Piacevangli i cavalli
                     Assai, ma si passava del videre,
                     Che modo non avea da comparalli.”

LYDIA.—If they are honest, there are some sly ones too. What say you to
this law-suit of Landseer’s? I think I could make a pet of the judge.

AQUILIUS.—Great as Landseer is, I like this but little. The picture was
surprisingly painted, but when you have admired the handiwork, there is
an end. The satire is not good: something sketchy may have suited the
wit, but the labour bestowed makes it serious: we want the shortness of
fable to pass off the “_animali parlanti_.”

CURATE.—Gratian, who ought to order a composition picture of “The Happy
Family” all living in concord, knows all the race, in and out of kennel,
and should tell us if these dogs are not a little out of due proportion
one with the other.

GRATIAN.—I think they are; but do not imagine I could bear to look upon
the “Happy Family,” though the piece were painted by Landseer. I never
saw them in a cage but I longed to disenchant them of the terror of
their keeper. They all looked as if they could eat each other up if they
dared. No, no—no convent and nunnery of heterogeneous natures, that long
to quarrel, and would tear each other to pieces but for fear of their
superior. I love natural instincts, and am sure the “Happy family” must
have been sadly tortured to forget them.

CURATE.—I certainly admire these animal portraits, they seem to be very
like the creatures; but I really have no gallery-menagerie where I can
put them. They appear to me to have been painted to adorn the stable
residences of noblemen, gentlemen of the turf and kennel. You smile,
Aquilius, but I mean it not to their dispraise, for in such places they
might amuse in many an idle hour, and give new zest to the favourite

AQUILIUS.—I only smiled at the thought, that though many such noblemen
and gentlemen “go to the dogs,” they would not quite like to see them
among the “family portraits,” and was therefore pleased at your
appropriating these productions to the stable and the kennel. I am not
surprised that you do not know what to do with them. I believe Morland
was the first who introduced pigs into a drawing-room; for my own part,
I ever thought them better in a sty.

GRATIAN.—Hold there, I won’t allow any one to rub my pigs’ backs but
myself, and you know I have a brace of Morlands, pigs too, in my

LYDIA.—And if the pictures in any degree make you treat your animals
more kindly, Morland deserves praise; and, in that case, all such works
should be encouraged by the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

AQUILIUS.—If Gratian is kind of his own nature, his familiarity with all
creatures is of another kinship than such as art can bestow. He would
have given a litter of straw to Morland himself, had he met him in one
of his unfortunate predicaments, and thus have made him happy. But I
fear we are not quite safe in thus commending our choice artists, on the
score of the humanity they are likely to encourage.

CURATE.—Why not? Has not Landseer dedicated to “the Humane Society” the
portrait of the noble Retriever; and is that not his “chief mourner,”
promoting affection between man and beast?

GRATIAN.—“_O si sic omnia!_” I love all field sports, and river sports
too; but it is when horse, dog, and man all agree in the pleasure, and
the bit of cruelty—for such, I suppose, we must admit it to be—is kept
out of sight as much as possible, that we are willing to adopt the
Benthamite principle into the sporting code, “the greatest happiness to
the greatest number.” Yet I don’t like to refine away feeling in this
way, and say, many enjoy, and one poor creature is hunted. I rather put
it all upon nature. There is an instinct to hunt and be hunted, and
perhaps there is a reciprocal pleasure. I like our good old sporting
songs; they dwell upon the health and enjoyment of refreshing animation,
the sociality, the good humour (and sometimes with a nice touch of pity
too) of sport; they take no pleasure in dwelling upon the hard, the
cruel necessity.

AQUILIUS.—Then are our ballad-makers more tender-hearted than our

GRATIAN.—And there is need they should be; for some of our painters, and
not only ours, but of all countries, have, to my mind, too much indulged
in representations of cruelty. I have often wondered how many of the old
pictures, your martyrdoms of saints, came to be painted. Who could take
pleasure in looking at them?

CURATE.—The best were works of high genius, and were painted for
religious places; and though cruelty is necessary to the story of
martyrdom, it is seldom made the subject—it is the triumph, the angelic
choir, and the crown, and the sublime faith,—all combine to make the
sublime subject; the mere act then becomes but the accessory; and such
pictures, seen in their proper places—the chapels for which they were
painted, and with the mind under a religious impression—are of the
noblest interest, of most improving contemplation. I have heard such
pictures condemned, because they have been seen in uncongenial places,
and under antagonistic impressions. They are not for banquet-rooms, nor
ball-rooms; nor to be commingled with the low-life subjects of the Dutch
school, nor amidst the _omnium-gatherum_ of galleries. The art cannot
offer a higher pleasure than the contemplation of these sublime
productions of Italian genius, seen when and where they should be
exhibited, and alone. I have seen some that make their own sanctity,
which seems to spread from them in a divine light, and diffuse itself
into the outer obscure, in which all that is unfitting and minute is
buried; and the great work of mind has created its own architecture, and
filled it with the religious awe under which we gaze and wonder. And are
we not the better?

AQUILIUS.—I fear this age of domestic life is against the reproduction
of such works. All that can adorn the home, the house, and not the
temple, we make the object of emulous search. Even our churches, if they
would be allowed to receive such works, open as they are but an hour or
so in the week, could scarcely have influence, and make such creations
felt. In Italy, the passer-by has but to draw aside the curtain, and
enter, and receive the influence. In such places, the martyrdoms of
saints gave conviction of the holiness of faith, the beauty and power of

GRATIAN.—True; you will teach me the more to admire old Italian art. I
confess, the great power you describe has but seldom come home to my
feelings; perhaps they are naturally more congenial with home subjects;
and I have been too often disgusted with pictures of horrors. A friend
of mine I once found copying a picture of the flaying of a saint. There
was a man unconcernedly tearing away his skin; and the raw flesh was
portrayed, I dare say, to the life. He told me it was a fine picture. I
maintained that it was too natural. It was, in fact, a bad picture, for
the subject was cruelty; unconcealed, detestable cruelty, not made the
means of exhibiting holy fortitude. There was nothing in it to avert the
absolute disgust such a sight must raise. I would as soon live in the
shambles, or in a dissecting-room, as have such a picture before my eyes
continually. My friend thought only of the painting; the naturalness and
the skill that drew it and coloured it to the quick—not to the life. I
have seen so many of the Italian pictures of a gloomy cast, that, for my
part, I have rather enjoyed the cheerful domestic scenes of life and
landscape of the best Flemish masters, and English too.

CURATE.—Art has no power of injunction, or the hand of many an artist
would be stayed from perilling a profanation. Minds of all grades have
been employed in the profession. The Italians have not been exempted
from a corruption of taste and of power. Yet, without question, the
grandest and the most touching creations of art have been the work of
Italian hands, and the conceptions of Italian minds. I fear I am telling
but admitted truisms.

AQUILIUS.—I know not that. I doubt if the pre-eminence will be admitted
as established. What works do our collectors mostly purchase—your men of
taste, your caterers for our National Gallery, those to whose taste and
discernment not only our artists, but the public, are expected to bow?
We have heard a great deal of late of encouraging the fine arts. We have
had a premier supposed to be supreme in taste. Nay, as if he would
cultivate the nation’s taste, show the importance of art, encourage
collecting, and teach how to collect, has he not, of late, opened his
house almost to the public, and exhibited his collection; and what did
it show? doubtless, beautiful specimens of art, but specimens of the
great, the sublime, the pathetic? Alas, no! I did not see mention made
of a single Italian picture. Now, what would you think of the taste of a
man who should profess to collect a library of poets, and should omit
Homer, and Æschylus, and Dante, and point with pride to the neatly-bound
volumes of the minor poets, and show you nothing higher than the “Pastor
Fido,” or the “Gentle Shepherd?”

LYDIA.—Or in a musical library should discard Handel?

GRATIAN.—Well, that is strange, certainly; but if we are becoming more
home-comfort-seeking people, is it not right to encourage the production
of works for that _home market_? I cannot agree to put in the background
our more domestic artists—and at least they avoid the fault of choosing
disgusting subjects.

AQUILIUS.—Do they? I am not quite sure of that: we shall see. I suspect
they fail more in that respect than you will gladly admit.

GRATIAN.—Now, what fault can you find with my favourite Landseer? Do you
not like to see the faithful, poor dumb creatures ennobled by his
pencil, and made, as they ought to be in life, the humble companions of

CURATE.—If humble, not ennobled!

GRATIAN.—Master Curate, do you not read—“Before honour cometh humility?”

AQUILIUS.—I agree with you, Gratian. I quite love his pictures: they are
wonderfully executed, with surprising truth, and in general his
subjects, if not high, are pleasing. Yet I hardly know how to say, in
general: there are so many exceptions. I could wish he were a little
less cruel.

LYDIA.—Cruel! how can that be? his pet dogs, his generous dogs, and
horses, and that macaw, and the familiar monkey, and that dear begging
dog. The most gentle-minded lady I am acquainted with is working it in
tambour—and has been a twelve-month about it!

GRATIAN.—And has he not a high poetic feeling? Can you object to the
“Sanctuary,” and the “Combat,”—I believe that is the title of the
picture—where the stag is waiting for his rival?

AQUILIUS.—They are most beautiful, they are poetical; there is not an
inch of canvass in either that you could say should have a touch more or
less. The scenery sympathises with the creatures; it is their wild
domain, and they are left to their own instincts. There is no exhibition
of man’s craft there, let them enjoy their freedom. Even in the more
doubtful “Sanctuary,” we have the assurance that it _is_ a “Sanctuary;”
but I see, Gratian, that your memory is giving you a hint of some
exception. What think you of the fox—not hunted as you would have him
painted, wherein “the field” would be the sport—but just entering the
steel trap, where you see the dead rabbit, and think the fox will be
overmatched by man’s cruel cunning?

GRATIAN.—Why, I had rather hunt him in open field, and give him a chance
than trap him.

CURATE.—Even Reynard might say with Ajax, if man must be his enemy—

                         “Εν δε φαει και ολεσσον.”

GRATIAN.—I give up that picture; it is not a pleasing subject.

LYDIA.—I am sure you must like his “Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time.”

AQUILIUS.—What! with its wholesale slaughter of fish, flesh, and fowl,
to feed the gross feeders of the convent? I take no pleasure in it: I
could take part with the “melancholy Jacques,” and rate “the fat and
greasy” ones in good round terms. Who wishes a picture of a larder?

LYDIA.—Here is his “Hawking Party;” will not this please you? You at
least see the health and joy of the sporting: are not the hawkers

AQUILIUS.—So much the worse, for their part in the transaction is quite
subordinate—in the background. What is the prominent subject?—the bloody
murder of the poor heron. It should have been the accident; it is made
the cruel principal: without being squeamishly tender-hearted, I shall
never look upon that picture with pleasure. In how different a manner
did Wouverman paint his hawking parties! He represented them as scenes
in which ladies might participate—the domain, the mansion-gate, the
retinue, the grace, the beauty, the cheering exercise, the pleasure of
all, even the animals engaged: he does not make the bloody death the

GRATIAN.—I must confess Wouverman’s was the better choice. You seem
prepared with a collection of examples.

AQUILIUS.—In this I am only taking what is before me; but worse remains
for more severe remarks. You have, I see, the “Otter Hunt,”—is it
possible that picture can give you any pleasure? What is the sentiment
of it?—debasing cruelty. I say debasing, because it puts human nature in
the very worst position: the dogs are using their instinct, and are even
then defrauded of their game, which the huntsman holds up conspicuously
in the picture, (and which is in fact the subject), stuck through with
his spear, and writhing in agony. Surely this cannot be

                                   “The dainty dish
                         To set before the Queen.”

It is said to be in her Majesty’s possession. There is in Lucian a
description of a picture of a Centaur and his family, a magnificent
group: the father centaur is holding up a lion’s skin to the gaze of his
young progeny, to excite them to deeds of courage. If this poor agonised
death-writhing otter is to be perpetually before the eyes of our young
princes, they will not learn much good from the lesson. For my own part,
I look upon the picture with entire disgust, and would on no account
have it before my eyes. I know not in what mood I could be to endure it.

LYDIA.—I think we really may dispense with the hanging up this picture
anywhere. I cannot bear to look at it. It is a picture to teach cruelty.
As a test of its impropriety, imagine it placed as an ornament in our
Sunday school: we should have the children brought up savages.

CURATE.—Thanks, dearest Lydia. I well knew this picture would not be to
your taste; we will, at all events, set it aside. Happy are we, that our
women of England can be mothers of heroes, without being inured to the
cruelty of bull-fights. A Spanish lady, describing an exhibition of the
kind, remarked how glorious was the sight, for there were thirteen
horses and one man killed. I suspect Aquilius will not quite approve of
the “Deer-Stalking” lately exhibited at the Academy.

AQUILIUS.—Certainly not; and for the same reason. It puts man in a
degrading position; and our sympathy is for the poor creatures who fly
terrified, not seeing their skulking enemies; and one poor creature is
knocked over in his wild flight. It is admirably painted; the scene all
we could wish; but the story is bad—the moral bad. You look at the
picture without feeling a common desire with the hunters: you wish them
away. You have their object put before you basely: their attitudes are
mean. It is not a work, great as it is in art, that ought to give

GRATIAN.—And yet you are not displeased reading Mr Scrope’s
“Deer-Stalking?” It is only putting his words on canvass.

CURATE.—True; but are they faithfully put? and even so, words and paint
are not the same; their power is different. The description of language
passes on; you are not allowed to dwell too long on what, if seen
embodied, would but shock you, by its being arrested, and made
permanent. I remember the description. You at first scarcely know if
there is a deer or not; it is only the experienced eye can discover the
motion of the ear, or some speck of the creature, at a distance. You
enter into the breathless caution of the hunter—his steady and earnest
hope; but you see not, or only for a moment, the skulking attitude. The
poet—for the prose is poetry—touches with a light and delicate hand that
which the less discriminating painter grasps, holds firm, and fixes as
his subject.

AQUILIUS.—A just remark. The sentiment is thus made both cruel and mean.

GRATIAN.—Come, then, let us have something we can entirely praise, by
the hand of this prince of animal painters. You will at least admire his
“Peace” and “War,” those two most beautiful and poetical pictures.

AQUILIUS.—The “Peace”—yes. It is most happy; and perhaps the “War,” if
we take the moral rightly. It might be bought by the Peace Society.
Every one must acknowledge the great beauty and feeling of these
pictures. I confess, however, I seldom look upon battle-pieces with much
pleasure. The horrors of war are not for the drawing-room; and where
they are painted for public position, they are generally in very bad
taste. I do not mean here to allude to the companion to Mr Landseer’s

GRATIAN.—How seldom you see a battle-piece,—that is, a battle! You have
some one or more incidents of a battle; but, as a whole, it is not
represented. I have no idea of a battle, on which depends the fate of
empires, from the exhibition of a grenadier running his bayonet through
a prostrate foe, a few dead men, and a couple of horses, one rearing and
one dead. Such are the usual representations of battles.

AQUILIUS.—Yes—vulgar battles; vulgarising the most important events in
history: and yet I do not believe it to be impossible to represent a
battle poetically, and more truly, than by such incident as Gratian has
described, though the regimentals be most accurately painted—and the
gold lace has a great charm for the multitude. And perhaps it was in
deference to this common taste, that the chief prize was given to the
“Battle of Meeanee” in Westminster Hall.

LYDIA.—I rejoice to listen to the criticism. We will not have
battle-pieces in our boudoir; Curates and their wives are for peace. I
go with the poet—

                “Le lance rotte, gli scudi spezzati,
                L’insigne polverose, e le bandiere,
                I destrier morti, i corpi arrovesciati
                Fan spettacolo orribile a vedere!
                I combattenti insieme mescolati,
                Senza governo, o ordine di schiere,
                Veder sossopra andare, or questi, or quelle,
                A’riguardanti arricciar fa i capelli.”

CURATE.—I take my old part of translator, and thus render it, perhaps
Aquilius will think too freely, at least in the conclusion—

               Lances and shields of broken chivalry,
               Banners and ensigns trampled from their glory
               Down in the dust—Oh! woe too sad to see,
               Rider and horse fallen dead in heaps all gory;
               Leaderless squadrons, one tumultuous sea
               Of ruin! Death sole hero of the story.
               And such is war—oh sight the heart to rend,
               And make our rooted hair to stand on end!

AQUILIUS.—Your verse shall not disenchant me of my criticism upon this
bad habit of seeing his subject, into which so great a painter has
fallen. After what has been said, I shall not surprise you by objecting
to his “Van Amburgh and his Beasts,” painted for his Grace the Duke of
Wellington—the shrinking, retreating, cowed animals, whom one would wish
to see in their wilder or nobler natures. And certainly the painter has
made a very poor figure of the tamer: you are angry with the lions and
tigers for being afraid of him. He should have been less conspicuous.
Poor beasts! within bars, no escape from the hot iron! I had rather see
a representation of the tamer within the bars, and the beasts out,
longing to get at him. There is a very happy subject for a picture of
this kind in the hymn to Aphrodite—where the goddess descends on Ida,
and all the savage beasts come fawning about her, when, with a motion of
her hand, she dismisses them to pair in the forests. Such noble animals,
crouching in obeisance and willing servitude to a divinity, to beauty,
and to innocence, make a picture of a finer sentiment. This taming
reduces the dignity of the brute, without raising the man.

CURATE.—The tamed animals are not honoured in their portraiture; nor is
it much consolation that the great duke beholds their quailing. Statius
attempted a consoling compliment of this kind, upon the occasion of a
much admired beast, “Leo Mansuetus,” being killed by the blow of a
flying tigress, in the presence of the emperor. After describing the
scene, he adds—

             “Magna tamen subiti tecum solatia lethi
             Victe feres, quod te mœsti, Populusque Patresque,
             Ceu notus caderes tristi Gladiator arena,
             Ingemuere mori: magni quod Cæsaris ora
             Inter tot Scythias, Libyeasque, et littore Rheni,
             Et Pharia de gente feras, quas perdere vile est,
             Unius amissi tetigit jactura leonis.”

AQUILIUS.—We are rivals in rhyme, and you know I freely translate:
perhaps you will admit this as a version—

          Yet this your consolation, ye poor beasts,
          Whene’er the duke his guests illustrious feasts,
          Th’ illustrious guests, as an uncommon treat,
          Shall see the lions, while they talk and eat.
          Oft from their plates shall lift their half-filled jaws,
          To wonder at your whiskers, manes, and, claws,
          And only wish, the painter to rebuke,
          To see Van Amburgh killed before the duke.

GRATIAN.—I am umpire: that is not a version, but a perversion.

AQUILIUS.—Then it the better suits the picture. I must, however, admit
that, to criticise at all, there is need to be out of the fascination of
the work. It is quite marvellous in power. We are treating of subjects
for pictures, and consequently their sentiment—the why they should, or
should not please. It is to be regretted that so great an artist should,
not _always_ well conceive the poetry of sentiment.

CURATE.—We are, not yet really lovers of art, or we should not be so
confined in our taste. The excellence of this one painter excludes
others from their due praise, and patronage too. Go to our exhibitions,
you are surprised at the number of our artists: look at the
printsellers’ windows, and you would wonder at their fewness. I cannot
remember, at this moment, a print from a work of any modern British
painter, of moral importance and dignified sentiment.

LYDIA.—There is one of Mr Eastlake’s, his beautiful scriptural subject.

AQUILIUS.—True; but we have not yet emancipated the nation from their
puritan horror of sacred subjects—which are, after all, the greatest and
best. We import these from the Germans.

GRATIAN.—We have been a nation, of country gentlemen—fond of
field-sports: and this our national character has had much to do with
our taste in art. Hence nothing answers so well as horses and dogs.

CURATE.—Yet I am inclined to say “cave canem.” By the bye, why do the
old painters, Paul Veronese, for instance, in his celebrated large
picture of the marriage feast, introduce great dogs, where they
evidently should not be? I have met lately, somewhere, with the
supposition that the bones which the painters calcined to make dryers
were the bones thrown under the tables for the dogs, and that such was
the practice. But there is passage in “Laurentius Pignorius de servis,”
which seems altogether to contradict the notion, and indeed to reprove
painters who introduced these large dogs in their pictures; and
particularly, it should seem, one who represented Lazarus and the dogs
in the same room with Dives. His argument is curious—that the dogs which
were admitted upon these occasions were little pet animals, and that it
is so shown by the passage in chap. xv. verse 27, of St Matthew, where
they are said to pick up the _crumbs_, and that it is shown to have been
so by ancient sculpture. He says that this introduction is become such
an admitted taste, that whoever would be bold enough to set himself
against it would in vain endeavour to correct the bad taste of the
painter. It is a curious passage,—I have the book here, and will turn to
it: I read it only the other day. Here it is, and I more readily offer
it as it speaks sensibly of a disgusting subject, unfit for painting.

“Erant autem et qui pone januam canem pictum haberent, ut apud Petronium
Trimalcio. At quid ad hæc pictores nostri qui in triclinio divitis
Lazarum delineant? Potestne quidquam ineptius aut cogitari aut fingi?
scilicet janitores admisissent hominem scatentem ulceribus, dorso ipsi
luituri quidquid oculos nauseabundi domini offendisset. Canes vero
immanes illi Villatici et Venatici, num oblectabant cœnantem dominum?
Apage! Catelli quidem in delicus tricliniaribus habiti sunt, ut testatur
mulier Chananœa apud Mattheum, et indicant sculpturæ antiquorum
marmorum: Cæterum. Molossos, et ejus generis reliquos, nemo in
convictum, nisi amens aut rusticus recepisset. At quisquis pictorum
nostrorum pene omnium pravitatem corrigere voluerit, otium desperaverit
omnino: adeo ineruditi sunt, adeo cognitionem omnem antiquitatis
turpiter abjecerunt.”

GRATIAN.—I suppose the little pets admitted to the table were the small
Melitan dogs, such as Lucian speaks of in his “Private Tutor.” The Greek
philosopher and teacher was requested by the lady of the house in which
he was tutor to take charge of her dear little pet, which, being carried
in his arms as he was stuffed into the back carriage with the packages
and lady’s maids, disgraced the philosopher by watering his beard.

AQUILIUS.—A kind of King Charles’s breed. I remember a gentleman telling
me, many years ago, that he was dining in Rome with Cardinal York, and
one of these little creatures was handed round after dinner, upon which
occasion the cardinal said, “Take care of him, for he and I are the last
of the breed.”

LYDIA.—Poor creatures! that is a touching anecdote. It ought to be
written under Vandyke’s celebrated picture of the unfortunate Charles
and his family, in which the breed are so conspicuous. I think my sweet,
Pompey is one of them, notwithstanding the cardinal’s protest, and I
shall love the little pet the more for the royal familiarity of his
race. I must have his portrait.

CURATE.—Or his statue, that he may rival Pompey the Great. Why his
picture? has not Landseer painted him to the life in that fine picture
where he is all play, with the ribbon about him to show whose pet he is,
and the great mastiff lying so quiet, stretched out below him? It is,
his very portrait, and when he dies you should get the print, and I have
his epitaph for you to write under it.—

            In marble statue the Great Pompey lives,
            Life to the little Pompey Landseer gives.
            And little Pompey play’d the Roman’s part,
            And almost won a world—his Lydia’s heart:
            Then died, to prove that dogs shall have their day,
            And men no more, whatever parts they play.
            Great Cæsar at his feet in painted state—
            Shall little Pompey envy Pompey great.
            How true the pencil, and no truer pen,
            Alike the history paints of dogs and men.

AQUILIUS.—Do you mean to be the general epitaph-maker for your
church-yard? Take care you infringe not on the sexton’s privilege.

GRATIAN.—If we discuss this matter farther, we shall have Aquilius and
the Curate diverging into their poetics; so, my dear good lady, I must
look at your flower-garden: here now, an arm for an old man; and—have
you an orchard?—I can help you there a little. And a word in your
ear—depend upon it, wherever there is an orchard there should be a pig
or two in it. Come, I must look at your stock; we’ll talk about pictures
after tea. See, my friend Curate, I’m off with your wife; not quite so
active as a harlequin, but you and Aquilius may follow as pantaloon and
clown. So let us keep up the merry farce: no,—entertainment of life, and
I don’t care who best plays the fool.

Now, Eusebius, what shall I do? will you have an interlude? Your wit
will reply that you have had one already. Will you have music? Yes, I
think you said, but your’s is all on one string. Shall it be as a chorus
in a Greek play? Why do dogs howl at music? They have an intuitive
suspicion of what the strings are made, and think they might as well
begin by tolling the bell for themselves, or rehearse the howl! The
interlude is over—while we are asking about it, the bell rings, the
tea-things are removed—and the prints laid on chairs round the room. We
resume the discussion.

AQUILIUS.—I have been considering what are the most popular subjects as
we see them exhibited in the shop windows, and I find that even Landseer
has his rival in the popular approbation. Go where you will you see
specimens of the style—mawkish sentimentality, Goody Families,
Benevolent Visitors, Teaching Children. There is nothing more detestable
than these milk-and-water affectations of human kindnesses; all the
personages are fools, and as far as their little senses will let them,
hypocrites. Whence do these Puritan performances come?—the lamentable
thought is, where do they go?—a man cannot paint above himself. A soft
artist paints soft things.

LYDIA.—Don’t mention the things! I am sure they make hypocrites. I saw
one the other day in a cottage; it was of the “Benevolent Visitors”—I am
not sure of the title; if any good ladies gave it, it was a vile vanity;
if bought as a compliment, it was a worse corruption.

GRATIAN.—Do you know that we have historical painters for modern
saintology, and that a picture was actually painted of St Joanna
Southcote, for the chapel at Newington Butts, in a sky-blue dress,
leading the devil with a long chain, like a dancing bear, surrounded by
adoring angels? I met with the anecdote in a very amusing book of Mr
Duncan’s, the “Literary Conglomerate,” wherein he treats of the subjects
of pictures.

AQUILIUS.—I know it; I only quarrel with him for classing Hogarth with
the comic painters. To me, he is the most tragic of all modern, I would
almost say of all painters. The tragic power of two of the series of
“Marriage á la mode,” is not surpassed in art. The murdered husband, the
one: the other, the death of the adulteress. They are too tragic for any
position but a public gallery. He was the greatest of moral painters;
and the most serious, the gravest of satirists. He is so close to the
real tragedies of life, and his moral is so distinct, that he seems to
have aimed at teaching rather than pleasing. And perhaps, if the truth
were known, it might be that he has in no small degree improved the
world in its humanities. He has pictured vice odious in the eyes of the
pure, but not so as to quench their pity; and has made it so wonderfully
human, that we shudder as we acknowledge the liabilities of our nature.
He exhibited strongly that man is the instrument of his own punishment,
and that there was no need of painted monsters and demons to persecute
him. He showed the scorpion that stings himself to death. He brought the
thunder and lightning, the whirlwind, not from the clouds to expend
their power on the fair face of the earth, but out of the heart, to
drive and crush the criminals with their own tempestuous passions. And
is not this tragic power? Is such a man to be classed among the painters
of drolls? His pictures would convert into sermons, and would you call
the preacher of them a buffoon?

GRATIAN.—There is, indeed, little drollery in Hogarth: even his wit was
a sharp sword, so sharp that the spectator is wounded, and dangerously,
before he is aware of it.

CURATE.—I could not live comfortably in a room with his prints. I would
possess them in my library as I would Crabbe’s Tales, but would not have
them always before my eye. Nor would I, indeed, some of the finest works
of man’s genius—as Raffaele’s “Incendio.” I would have them to refer to,
but a home is, or ought to be, too gentle for such disturbance.

GRATIAN.—There is an anecdote told of Fuseli, that when on a visit to
some friend at Birmingham, a lady in a party said to him—“Oh, Mr
Fuseli, you should have been here last week, there was such a subject
for your pencil, a man was taken up for eating a live cat.”—“Madam,”
said the veritable Fuseli, “I paint terrors, not horrors.” For my own
part, life has so many terrors, and horrors too, that I should prefer
mitigating their effect, by having more constantly before me the
agreeabilities—pleasant domestic scenes, soft landscapes, or such gay
scenes and figures as my favourite Teniers occasionally painted, or
the sunny De Hooge; or why not bring forward some of our pleasant
home-scene English painters? Did you not see, and quite love, that
little delight of a picture, the hay-making scene in the Vicar of
Wakefield, by our own, and who will be the wide world’s own, Mulready?
Such scenes ravish me. Did you not long to walk quietly round and look
in the vicar’s face, as he and Mrs Primrose sat apart with their backs
to you? Mulready, you see, had the sense to leave something to the

AQUILIUS.—Yes, pictures of this kind have a very great charm: they are
for us in our domestic mood, and that is our general mood—they should
gently move our love and pity. But I cannot conceive a greater mistake
than to make “familiar life” as it is called, doleful, uncheerful
subjects, that are out of the rule of love and pity, very easily run
into the class of terror; there is scarcely a between, and if one—it is

GRATIAN.—Now, I shall probably commit an offence against general taste
if I confess that, in my eyes, Wilkie is very apt to paint insipid
subjects. He seems too often to have been led to a matter of fact,
because it had some accessories that would paint rather well, than
because the fact was worth telling, either for its moral or its
amusement. Some of his pieces, notwithstanding their excellent painting
and perfectly graphic power, rather displease me. I never could take any
interest in his celebrated “Blind Fiddler.” It may be nature, but there
is nothing to touch the feelings in it: had I been present, I should not
have given the man a sixpence. And as for the hideous grimace-making
boy, I could have laid the stick with pleasure on his back. I don’t
think I could ever have kissed the ugly child.

AQUILIUS.—Wilkie was a man of great observation, great good sense,
manifest proof of which his correspondence sets forth; but that
necessary virtue of a painter of familiar life, which he possessed in so
great a degree, observation, led him oftener to look for character than
beauty. Oddity would strike him before regularity. Nor was he a cheerful
painter. His “Blind Man’s Buff,” is contrived to be without hilarity,
and it is singularly unfortunate in the sharp angles of hips and elbows.
His best picture of this kind is certainly the “Chelsea Pensioners”—or
“Battle of Waterloo,” very finely painted; but there is an acting joy in
it,—it is joy staid in its motion, and bid sit for its portrait. So his
“Village Wake” in our national gallery, is not joyous as a whole; the
figures are spots, and the mass of the picture is dingy. Pictures, like
poems, should not only be fair but touching, “dulcia sunto,” and this is
more imperatively essential to domestic scenes. The story should always
be worth telling. Painters seem to have taken it into their heads that
any thing, which presents a good means for exhibiting light and shade
and colour, makes a picture. If an incident or a scene be not worth
_seeing_, it is not worth painting.

GRATIAN.—That is never more true than when they are figure pieces. Our
likings and our antipathies are stronger in all representations of the
ways and manners of men, than in all the varieties of other nature. We
can bear a low and mean landscape, but degraded humanity seldom is, and
never ought to be pleasing.

CURATE.—Aristotle determines that brutishness is worse than vice. Vice
is a part of our nature, but brutishness unhumanises the whole nature.
It is certainly astonishing that painters can take a delight, not having
a moral end in the performances, to select the low scenes—the utter
degradation of civilisation, and therefore worse than any savage
state—as subjects for pictures. How is it that in a drawing-room a
connoisseur will look with complacency—more than complacency—upon a
painted representation of beastly boors drinking, whose presence, and
the whole odour of which scene, in the reality, he would rush from with
entire disgust?

AQUILIUS.—Yet I must, in a great measure, acquit the Dutch and Flemish
school of such an accusation. The painters who worked these abominations
were really but few,—the majority aim to represent innocent
cheerfulness. How often is Teniers delightful in his clear refreshing
skies, cheerful as the music to which his happy party are dancing, in
the brightness of a day as vigorous as themselves. Cheerfulness,
rational repose, and sweetest home affections, often make the subjects
of their pictures; and these impart a like pleasantness, a like
sympathy, in the mind of the spectator. Having such a variety of these
pleasantries and sympathies to choose from, it is astonishing that any
artist should select for his canvass a subject unpleasing and even
disgusting. I remember, a great many years ago, a picture exhibited, I
think at the Academy, which at the time was thought a wonder, and, I
believe, sold for a great deal of money. It was “The Sore Leg,” by
Heaphy;—there was the drawing off of the plaster, and the horrors of the
disease painted to the life, and the pain. Is it possible that, for the
mere art of the doing, any human being, unless he were a surgeon, should
receive the slightest pleasure from such a picture? It is enough to
mention one of the kind; but there have been many.

LYDIA.—I dare say, then, you will, with me, disapprove of such a subject
as “The Cut Finger.” Surely it is very disagreeable.

GRATIAN.—Entirely so; but he painted a much worse thing than that. I do
not see why any country gentleman should take pleasure in seeing such a
“Rent Day,” as this celebrated artist has painted. There is a painful
embarrassment, uncomfortable miscalculation, reluctant payments, much
more dissatisfaction than joy. I really cannot quite forgive him for
making the principal figure hump-backed. This is not the characteristic
of toil, labour, and industry. Doubtless the figure is from nature; but
he never preferred beauty of form, when character stood by. But there is
one of his pictures I consider perfectly brutish—for it is a scene
arising out of that brutishness which is the necessary result of
artificial and civilised life; which, unless for a moral purpose, it is
best to keep out of sight,—at least in all that pertains to the ornament
of domestic life. I allude to his picture, “Distraining for Rent.” It is
a subject only fit for the contemplation of a bailiff, to keep his heart
in its proper case-hardened state, by familiarising him with the
miseries of his profession. I have been told that Wilkie did not approve
of this subject, but that it was given him as a commission, which he
could not well refuse.

AQUILIUS.—I would have all such subjects prohibited by Act of
Parliament. Have a committee of humanity, (we can do nothing now without
committees,) and fine the offending artists. Is the man of business, in
this weary turmoil of the daily world, to return to his house, after his
labour is over, and see upon his walls nothing but scenes of distress,
of poverty, of misery, of hard-heartedness—when he should indulge his
sight and his mind with every thing that would tend to refresh his worn
spirits, avert painful fears, either for himself or others, and should
tune himself, by visible objects of rational hilarity, into the full and
free harmonies of a vigorous courage, and health of social nature? His
eye should not rest upon the miseries of “Distraining for Rent,”
Heaphy’s “Sore Legs,” no, nor even “Cut Fingers.” In this wayfaring
world of many mishaps, however homely be the inns, let them be clean and
cheerful, that we may set out again in an uncertain sky, where we must
expect storms, with beautiful thoughts for our companions; that, by
encouragement of a confiding reception, become winged angels, with a
radiant plumage, brightening all before our path, and seen brightest and
most heavenly under a lowering cloud.

LYDIA.—Thanks, Aquilius, you are poetical, and therefore most true; so
low and mean thoughts—what! are they to accompany us, whether they show
themselves in words or in pictures? I fear me, they are bad angels, and
are doing their evil mission in our hearts, alas! and in our actions. It
has been said, as an encouragement to our charity, that “men have
received angels unawares.” It may be said, too, as a warning lest we
receive evil, that men may receive demons unawares. Beautiful Una—the
lion licked your feet because you were so pure, so good.

Shall I tell it to you, Eusebius? Yes, your eyes will glisten as they
read, for dearly do you love happiness. Here the Curate drew his bride,
his wife, closer to him, kissed her honest forehead, and rested his
cheek upon it for a little space, and with a low voice murmured,—“My
beautiful Una.” He then turned to us with a smile, and I think the
smallest indication of moisture in his eye, which might have been more
but that the bright angel of his thought had cleared it away, and
said,—Excuse me; yet, to be honest, excuse is not needed: my two dearest
of friends must and do rejoice in the loving truth of my happiness.

GRATIAN.—No, no, my good friend, don’t make excuse, it would be our
shame were it needed. You have given us one subject for a picture, whose
interest should set my brushes in motion were I twenty years younger,
and might hope to succeed. But this I will say, my memory has a picture
gallery of her own, and in it will this little piece have a good place.
Now, I like this conversation on art, because you know I have been all
my life a dauber of canvass—dauber! even Aquilius, who has so much
addicted himself to the art, has praised some of my performances. I have
painted many a sign for good-natured landlords, in odd places, where my
fishing excursions have led me; and old Hill, honest old Hill, the
fisher of Millslade, has a bit of canvass of mine, the remembrance of a
day, which I believe he will treasure a little for my sake, and more for
its truth, to his last day. I must show the Curate’s wife old Hill. I
hit him off well,—am proud of that portrait, and often look at my old
companion from my easy chair. I sometimes now dabble with my tube
colours, and make a dash at my remembrances of river scenes. Nature and
I have been familiar many a long year. I love the breezy hill, and the
free large moor, that takes up the winds and tosses them down the
grooved sides, to go off in their own communing with the waterfalls. I
love, too, the quiet brook, and rivers stealing their way by green
meadows, and the elms, that stand like outposts on the banks, keepers of
the river. Have we not, in our discussion, too much omitted to speak of
landscape,—even including the sea-shores? And in landscape we certainly
have painters that please. As a true fisherman and painter-naturalist I
could not resist, the other day, purchasing Lewis’s river scenes. How
happily—the more happily because his execution is so unstudied, so
accidental—does Lewis, with his etching and mezzotint effects, put you
into the very heart of river scenery; and then how truly do you trace it
upwards and downwards. We have some good landscape painters.

AQUILIUS.—We have; and of late years they have greatly improved in
subjects. They at least now look for what is beautiful. The old dead
stump, the dunghill, and horse and cart, the pig and the donkey, are no
longer considered to be the requisites for English landscape. One has
seen publications called English landscape, which must give foreigners a
very miserable idea of our country. Cottage scenery, too, has had its
day. The old well is dry—the girl married, it is to be hoped, and the
pitcher broken. The lane and gipsies, the cross sticks and the crock,
are not dissolving but dissolved views. In time, the turnpike road and
ruddled sheep going to the butcher will be thought but ill to represent
the pastoral. When the mutton has been eaten up—and I hope the artists
get their fair share—I wish they would be satisfied, and know when they
have had enough. The Act of Parliament we spoke of, should exclude
creatures with the ruddle on their backs, and butcher-boys, and men in
smock-frocks and low hats, and pitchforks. We have had enough of this
kind of pastoral; they are not the “gentle shepherds,” that should
people the Arcadia within England, or any other. I would have Rosalind
and her farm, without the clown. The French and Dresden china shepherds
and shepherdesses, as we see them prettily smiling, and garlanding their
pet lambs, as something extra parochial, and _sui generis_, show at
least this happiness, that they do not eat their bread by the sweat of
their brows. All landscape that reminds you of “the curse of the earth,
of the dire necessity of toil, of the beggarly destitution test,” of
dingy earths and dirty weather, are, you may be sure, far out of the
hearing of Pan’s pipe. He does not adjust his lips to music for the
overseer and exciseman, nor rate collectors. Nay, when Pan retires to
visit his estate in Arcadia, and Robin Hood reigns, he will have no such
ink-horn gentry partake of his venison. The freedom of nature loves not
the visible restrictions of law. I would be bold enough to lay it down
as a truth, that it is as possible to get poetry out of the earth, as
swedes and mangel-wurzel. Let landscape painters look to it, lest they
get into bad habits before the act is out, and, of a hard necessity,
incur the penalty.

GRATIAN.—Stay, stay,—where are you running to? Surely if a painter takes
a _bonâ fide_ view, you would not have him turn the milk-maid out of the
field, to bring in Diana and her train.

AQUILIUS.—Views! oh, I thought we were speaking of Pastoral. That is
quite another thing; I am somewhat of Fuseli’s opinion, who said,
speaking contemptuously, “I mean those things called Views.”

CURATE.—But you will admit, Aquilius, that we have real scenes that are
very beautiful, always pleasing to look at, and therefore fit to be
painted. Is there not our lake scenery?

AQUILIUS.—There is; and as our subject is art, I should say such scenery
is more valuable for what it suggests, than for what it actually
represents in the painter’s mirror. In fact, nature offers with both
hands: it requires a nice discretion to tell which hand holds the true
treasure. She may purposely show you the ornament to deceive.

               “So may the outward shows be least themselves,
               The world is still deceived with ornament.”

It was the leaden casket, in which was hidden the perfect beauty of
Portia; there was the choice, and made with a judgment that won the
prize, and took the inheritance of Belmont.

                    “You that choose not by the _view_,
                    Chance as fair, and choose as true.”

Would you take away from landscape painters the high privilege of
genius?—invention—which you allow to historical painters? You do this,
if you do not grant to the fullest extent the suggestive character of
nature. The musician takes music from the air, which is his raw
material; the conception, which works from mere sounds the perfect
mystery of power, to shake, to raise, and melt to pity and to love the
whole soul, belongs to the mind. And so, for the more perfect work of
landscape, the mind must add of its own immortal store, the keeper and
dispenser of which is genius.

CURATE.—You would raise landscape painting to the dignity of a creative,
from the lower grade of an imitative art.

AQUILIUS.—I would do more; I would make it creative, not only in things
like, but, to speak boldly at once, in things unlike itself; but,
nevertheless, perfectly congenial; and to be adopted as a recognised
mark of submission of all matter to mind, which alone is privileged to
diffuse itself over and into all nature, and to animate it with a
soul—life; and when that is superadded, and then only, is the sympathy
complete between external nature and ourselves. I care not for art that
is not creative, that does not construct poetry. From all that is most
soft and tender, to all that is most great and rugged, from the sweet to
the awful and sublime, there is in all art, whether it be of landscape
or historical, (which embraces the poetical), a dominion bounded only by
the limitations of the original power with which genius is gifted. Why
may there not be a Michael Angelo for trees, as for the human form? Nay,
I verily believe, that those landscapes would have the greatest
fascination, where there would be, in fact, the greatest unlikeness to
usually recognised nature, both in form and colour, provided one part
were in keeping with another, so as to bring the whole within the idea
of the natural; and where the conception is clearly expressed, and is
worthy the dignity of feeling. Hence, suggestive nature is the best
nature. We want not height and magnitude, vast distances: if we have the
science of form and colour, the materials need not be vast, let them
only be suggestive.

GRATIAN.—You laid down some such theory with regard to colour, as a
means of telling the story, in your late paper on Rubens. I could not
but agree with you there. I see now how you would extend the subject. We
certainly do talk too much about “_the_ truth of nature,” not
considering sufficiently how many truths there are.

CURATE.—And what a great truth there is that is of our own making,
greater than all the others; for, according to the showing of Aquilius,
it comes of a divine gift, of the creative faculty, under a higher
power; works the wonders in poetry, painting, music, and architecture,
fittest for our admiration and our improvement. It is surprising that
our landscape painters have not seen this walk within their reach;
nearly all confine themselves to the imitative.

GRATIAN.—But in that they have raised their pretensions. We had nothing
great or poetical in the least degree in landscape, before Wilson; nay,
to a late period, our landscape subjects were of the most limited range.
They do now go at least to beautiful nature, and while we have such
painters of landscape as Creswick and Stanfield, and Lee, and Danby,
(but there you will say is an advance into a higher walk,) for my own
part, I shall hesitate before I give my vote for your more perfect

AQUILIUS.—The works of the painters you mention are beautiful,
fascinatingly so, both from the character of their chosen scenery, and
their agreeable manner of representing it. And I rejoice to see, that
even these are advancing, are discarding something or other of the old
recipes every year. We have at last some better English scenery. We must
no longer refer to Gainsborough as _the_ painter of English landscape;
we find it not, that is, true English scenery, in his pictures, nor in
his “studies.”

GRATIAN.—And yet he painted nature, and came upon the world that began
to be sick of the attempts at your ideal compositions, the prince of
whom, and who won the prize over Wilson, was Smith of Chichester.

AQUILIUS.—Oh, do not dignify his presumptions with the name of ideal.

GRATIAN.—I can’t give up Gainsborough, his sweet cottage scenery, with
his groups of rustic figures.

AQUILIUS.—Was there nothing better within the realms of England than
beggary and poverty, rags and brambles,—her highest industry, the cart
and the plough,—her wealth in stock, the pig, poultry, and donkey?

GRATIAN.—But it was the taste of the day; even our aristocracy were
painted not as ideal, but as real shepherds and shepherdesses. A few
years ago, there was a picture fished out of some lumber room, where it
ought to have been buried till it had rotted, of George the Third’s
family group, as cottagers’ children, playing in the dirt before a mud
hovel. It was by Gainsborough, and I believe was held at a high price.

AQUILIUS.—This was a descent from the non-natural pastoral of the
by-gone age, to the low natural, from which art derived but little
benefit. Goldsmith very aptly and wittily satirised the transition state
in the Primrose family-group, in which each individual adopted a
singular independence. Venus, Cupids, an Amazon, and Alexander the
Great, with Dr Primrose, holding his books on the Whistonian

CURATE.—One would rather imagine that Goldsmith was severe upon the
practice of an earlier date. There are several pictures at Hampton
Court, and one large one, if I remember, on the stair-wall, in which the
statesmen of the day represent the deities of the heathen mythology.

LYDIA.—Yes, and I remember a very ridiculous smaller picture, a portrait
of Queen Elizabeth—but it affects the historical. The queen and her
train enter on one side of the piece, and on the other Juno, Venus, and
Minerva. The goddesses are in every respect outdone, and start with
astonishment,—Juno at the superior power, Minerva, the superior wisdom,
and Venus the superior beauty of the queen. There must be something very
curious in the nature of taste: seeing such pictures, one cannot but
reflect, that though they are now perfectly ridiculous, they could not
have been so when they were painted. They were men of understanding who
sat for their portraits in these whimsical characters; and the queen—it
is surprising!—there is surely something involved in it, that history
does not touch.

GRATIAN.—It is the more surprising, as Holbein had painted, and his
works were before their eyes.

AQUILIUS.—It would be not undeserving curiosity to sift the history of
allegory—what is the cause that it was then so generally accepted in
Europe; infected the poetry and painting of every civilised country. The
new aspect of religion had much to do with it: images, pictures,
particularly the earlier, representing the Deity, and the Virgin, had
become objects of hatred—of persecution. And thus the arts made their
escape into the regions of allegory.

CURATE.—Chilling regions, in which even genius with all his natural glow
was frost-bitten. An escape from what was believed to what could not be
believed. It was the cold fit of the ague of superstition.

GRATIAN.—The devotion of the early painters produced, what nothing but
devotion could produce; theirs was a true devotion, notwithstanding the
superstition contained in it. The iconoclast spirit has scarcely been
yet laid. As we rise from the prostrate position of our fears, the more
readily shall we acknowledge the spirituality of the early painters.
They are daily approximating a more just estimation. But we are
wandering; we were speaking of landscape: surely, it is difficult to
find a subject that shall be altogether unpleasing. I do not remember
ever to have seen an outdoor scene, unless it might have been in a town,
that did not please with some beauty or other.

AQUILIUS.—Indeed! then I think you must have been led away by some
associations, in which art had but little share. You have loved “A
southerly wind and a cloudy sky,” as the song says, for the sport
offered. Be not shocked, Gratian, at the confession, but the truth is,
that I see very many outward scenes, that not only give me no pleasure
but pain. Shall I confess a still more shocking heterodoxy; I have but
little love for the scenery of the country!—am very often displeased
with what offers itself, and becomes the common picture. Even in what is
denominated a beautiful country, I look more for its suggestive
materials in form and colour than for whole scenes. If pictures are to
be no more than what we see—even landscapes, the art is not creative;
and an imitative, uncreative art, leaves the best faculties of the mind
unemployed. What is art without enthusiasm?—and you may be sure that no
painter of views, and nothing more, was ever an enthusiast. It is the
part of enthusiasm not to copy, but to make. Is it more startling if I
assert, that the ideal is more true than the natural? Yet am I convinced
that it is so. The natural requires the comparison of the eye; the
ideal, as it is the work of the mind, will not be controlled by any
comparison, but such as mind can bring. It commands the organ of sight,
and teaches it. We all have more or less of this creative faculty; the
education of the world is against it, for it is a world of much
business, more of doing than of thinking, and more of thinking about
what is foreign to feeling, than what cherishes it till it embodies
itself in imagination. The rising faculty becomes suppressed. More or
less all are born poets—to make, to combine, to imagine, to create; but
very early does the time come with most of us, when we are commanded to
put away, as the world calls it, the “childish things.”

LYDIA.—Oh, I believe it—the infant’s dream is a creation, and perhaps as
beautiful as we know it must be pleasing, for there are no smiles like
infant smiles.

CURATE.—And past that age, when the external world has given its lessons
in pictures, which in practice and education we only imitate, do we not
find the impressions then made of a goodness, a beauty, not realised and
acknowledged in advanced life, as existing actually in the scenes

AQUILIUS.—At the earlier time, we take up little but what is consonant
to our affections; the minor detail is an after lesson: but, as to this
“natural” of landscapes, which seems to have so long held our artists
and amateurs under an infatuation—as they construe it—this mindless
thing,—after all what is its petty truth? Could the boy who hides
himself under a hedge to read his Robinson Crusoe, put on canvass the
pictures his imagination paints, do you think they would be exactly of
the skies and the fields every day before his eyes? A year or two older,
when he shall feel his spirit begin to glow with a sense of beauty, with
the incessant love and heroism of best manhood—see him under the shade
of some wide-spreading oak devouring the pages of befitting romance,
“The Seven Champions of Christendom,” the tale of castles, of
enchantments, of giants, and forlorn damsels to be rescued. Do you not
credit his mind’s painting for other scenes, in colour and design, than
any he ever saw? The fabulous is in him, and he must create, or look on
nothing. He will take no sheep for a dragon, nor farmer Plod-acre for an
enchanter, nor the village usher for an armed knight. The overseer will
not be his redresser of wrongs. There is vision in his day-dream, but it
is painting to the mind’s eye; and imagination must be the great
enchanter to conjure up a new country, raise rocks, and build him
castles; nay, in his action to run to the rescue, he has a speed beyond
his limbs’ power, an arm that has been charmed with new strength. Now is
he not quite out of the locality, the movement and power of any world he
ever saw, of any world to whose laws of motion and of willing he has
ever yet been subject? Take his pictures—look at them well; for I will
suppose them painted to your sight: nay, put yourself in his place and
paint them yourself—forgetting before you do so all you have ever heard
said about landscape painting. Have you them? then tell me, are they
untrue? No, no, you will admit they are beautiful truth. The lover
paints with all a poet’s accuracy, but not like Denner. Now, if this
mind-vision be not destroyed,—if the man remain the poet, he will not be
satisfied with the common transcript of what, as far as enjoyment goes,
he can more fully enjoy without art. He will have a craving for the
ideal painting, for more truths and perhaps higher truths than the
sketch-book can afford. And if he cultivate his taste, and practise the
art too, he will find in nature a thousand beauties before hidden, that
while he was the view-seeker, he saw not; he will be cognisant of the
suggestive elements, the grammar of his mind and of his art, by which he
will express thoughts and feelings, of a truth that is in him, and in
all, only to be embodied by a creation.

CURATE.—I fear the patrons of art are not on your side. Does not
encouragement go in a contrary direction?

GRATIAN.—Patrons of art are too often mere lovers of furniture,—have not
seriously considered art, nor cultivated taste. And if it be a fault, it
is not altogether their own; it is in character with genius to be in
advance, and to teach, and by its own works. It is that there is a want
of cultivation, of serious study, among artists themselves. If the
patron could dictate, he would himself be the maker, the poet, the
painter, the musician,—excellence of every kind precedes the taste to
appreciate it. It makes the taste as well as the work: my friend
Aquilius has made me a convert. I had not considered art, as it should
be viewed, as a means of, as one of the languages of poetry. In truth, I
have loved pictures more for their reminiscences than their independent
power; and have therefore chiefly fixed my attention on views—actual
scenery, with all its particulars.

AQUILIUS.—What is high, what is great enough wholly to possess the mind,
is not of particulars; like our religion, in this it is for all ages,
all countries, and must not by adopting the particular, the peculiar
one, diminish the catholicity of its empire. “The golden age” is,
wherever or however embodied, a creation; and as no present age ever
showed any thing like it, that is, visibly so,—what is seen must be
nothing more than the elements out of which it may be made.—The golden
age—where all is beauty, all is perfect! Purest should be the mind that
would desire to see it.

CURATE.—The golden age, if you mean by it the happy age, is but one
field for art; you seem for the moment to forget, that we are so
constituted as to feel a certain pleasure from terror, from fear—from
the deepest tragedy—from what moves us to shed tears of pity, as well as
what soothes to repose, or excites to gaiety.

AQUILIUS.—Not so—but as we commenced to discuss chiefly the agreeability
of subjects for pictures, let me be allowed to add, that I question if
what is disgusting should not be excluded from even the tragic, perhaps
chiefly from what is tragic. Cruelty even is not necessarily disgusting;
it becomes so when meanness is added to it, and there is not a certain
greatness in it. There might be a greatness even in deformity, and where
it is not gratuitously given, but for a purpose.

CURATE.—Yet, has not Raffaele been censured for the painfully distorted
features of the Possessed Boy in his “Transfiguration.”

AQUILIUS.—And it has with some show of truth (for who would like to
speak more positively against the judgment of Raffaele) been thought
that Domenichino, who borrowed this subject from him, has improved the
interest by rendering the face of the lunatic one of extreme beauty!

The Curate was here called away upon his parochial duties, and our
discussion for the present terminated. Will it amuse you, Eusebius? If
not, you have incurred the penalty of reading it, by not making one of
our party. Yours ever,


                          BY WILLIAM SINCLAIR.

               Thou City of the Lord! whose name
                 The angelic host in wonder tells;
               The halo of whose endless fame
                 All earthly splendour far excels—
               To thee, from Judah’s stable mean,
                 Arose the Prince from Jesse’s stem,
               And since hath deathless glory been
                                   With thee, Jerusalem!

               What though thy temples, domes, and towers,
                 That man in strength and weakness made,
               Are, with their priests and regal powers,
                 In lowly dust and ashes laid!
               The story of thine ancient time
                 Steals on us, as it stole on them,
               Thrice hallowed by the lyre sublime
                                   Of thee, Jerusalem!

               We see within thy porches, Paul
                 Uplift the arm, the voice command,
               Whose heaven-taught zeal, whose earnest call,
                 Could rouse or paralyse the land—
               Though gold and pomp were his, and more,
                 For God he spurned the glittering gem,
               And cast him prostrate all before
                                   Thy gates, Jerusalem!

               Even from the Mount of Olives now,
                 When morning lifts her shadowy veil,
               And smiles o’er Moab’s lofty brow,
                 And beauteous Jordan’s stream and vale,
               The ruins o’er the region spread,
                 May witness of thine ancient fame,
               The very grave-yards of thy dead—
                                   Of thee, Jerusalem!

               The temple in its gorgeous state
                 That in a dreadful ruin fell,
               The fortress and the golden gate
                 Alike the saddening story tell,
               How he by Hinnom’s vale was led
                 To Caiaphas, with mocking shame,
               That glad redemption might be shed
                                   O’er thee, Jerusalem!

               Fast by the Virgin’s tomb, and by
                 These spreading olives bend the knee,
               For here his pangs and suffering sigh
                 Thrilled through thy caves, Gethsemane;
               ’Twas here, beneath the olive shade,
                 The Man of many sorrows came,
               With tears, as never mortal shed,
                                   For thee, Jerusalem!

               Around Siloam’s ancient tombs
                 A solemn grandeur still must be;
               And oh, what mystic meaning looms
                 By thy dread summits, Calvary!
               The groaning earth, that felt the shock
                 Of mankind’s crowning sin and shame,
               Gave up the dead, laid bare the rock,
                                   For fallen Jerusalem!

               Kind woman’s heart forgets thee not,
                 For Mary’s image lights the scene:
               And, casting back the inquiring thought
                 To what thou art, what thou hast been,
               Ah! well may pilgrims heave the sigh,
                 When they remember all thy fame,
               And shed the tear regrettingly
                                   O’er thee, Jerusalem!

               For awful desolation lies,
                 In heavy shades, o’er thee and thine,
               As ’twere to frown of sacrifice,
                 And tell thy story, Palestine;
               But never was there darkness yet
                 Whereto His glory never came;
               And guardian angels watch and wait
                                   By thee, Jerusalem!

               The lustre of thine ancient fame
                 Shall yet in brighter beams arise,
               And heavenly measures to thy name
                 Rejoice the earth, make glad the skies;
               And, with thy gather’d thousands, then
                 Oh! Love and Peace shall dwell with them,
               And God’s own glory shine again
                                   O’er thee, Jerusalem!

                        MY ENGLISH ACQUAINTANCE.

The spring of the year 183- found me in Paris, whither I had gone,
immediately after Christmas, for a fortnight’s stay, and where I had
remained four months. The prolongation of my visit will not surprise
those who appreciate and enjoy the gay metropolis of France, in the most
agreeable season. The festivities of the new year, with its gratulations
and embraces, and tons of _bonbons_, of racy flavour and ingenious
device, were no sooner over, than we found ourselves in full carnival.
From the aristocratic regions of the noble Faubourg, where linger, in
fossil preservation, the last relics of the _ancien régime_, to the
plebeian district of the Marais; from the brilliant hotels of St Honoré
and the Chaussée, peopled by rose-water exquisites and full-maned
lionesses, to the remote and ignoble purlieus of Saints Dennis and
Anthony, where tailors and tinkers dwell and thrive and propagate their
kind, pleasure and enjoyment reigned. With the old year, the wet season
had concluded; a clear bright frost had ushered in the new. Paris got
rid of its mud and misery, and turned out in a new paletot and well
polished boots for a ramble on the Boulevards. This was for four or five
hours of the day; but night was the time to see the noisy dissolute old
city in its glory, prancing and capering as madly as if it had stumbled
upon the fountain of Jouvence, and had taken a pull at the regenerating
element that had restored it to its teens. Appalling was the amount of
eating, drinking, and merriment, occurring within its precincts;
succulent breakfasts in the forenoon, and fat dinners of many courses in
the evening, and riotous suppers at all hours of the night, liquidated
by Burgundy in big bumpers, and Champagne in pint tumblers, and stiff
punch, stinging hot and burning blue, in bright silver bowls. Then there
was dancing, and masquing, and flirting, till day-dawn—of pretty late
arrival at that season; sleep was at a discount, and desperate revellers
who never took a wink of it, that could possibly be discovered, rushed
from the ball-room to a cool breakfast on oysters and Sauterne, and rose
therefrom fresh as cowslips, ready to begin again. Paris was a vortex of
gaiety and dissipation, whence, once drawn in, it was scarcely possible
to extricate one’s-self. I did not make the attempt. I was too well
pleased with my snug sunny _entresol_ on the Italian boulevard, with my
dainty fare at the adjacent restaurant, with the twinkling feet of the
Taglioni, and the melodious quaverings of Rubini and Duprez, then in
full song; with my occasional visits to rout and masquerade, and more
frequent ones to the hospitable dining rooms and saloons of a few old
friends, both French and English. Then, for ride or walk, what better
than the Champs Elysées, crowded with ruddy pedestrians, arch grisettes
and lounging soldiers; traversed by sledges innumerable of every variety
of form—dragon, sphinx, and mermaid, dolphin, lion, swan, enough to
stock a mythological museum and a zoological garden—coursing up and down
the road, and in the crisp frosty alleys of the Bois de Boulogne, drawn
by smoking foam-speckled steeds, half hidden beneath ribbon panoply and
high _panache_, sending silver sounds of countless bells before them,
and delighting the eyes of all beholders by the sight of other _belles_,
whose clear-toned voices and lightsome laugh rang not less sweet and
silvery than the tinkle of their metal-tongued rivals, through the rare
and sun-lit ether, as they sat, sunk in furs and velvets, with bright
eyes and ruddy lips, and smooth firm cheeks just slightly mottled by the
cold, beside the enviable cavaliers to whose charioteership they
confided themselves. In short, the combination of Parisian attractions
forbade departure, and I dreamed not of it till February had flown. Then
I turned my eyes channelwards, and my thoughts to passports and
post-horses, when sudden rumours reached me of eastern gales and
virulent influenza raging on Britain’s shores; and of March dust,
proverbially precious, but practically odious, careering in dense and
blinding clouds through London’s tortured streets. This was ample excuse
to linger a few weeks longer in my agreeable quarters, until spring came
in earnest, and the sun was so warm, and the air so balmy, and the
chestnuts in the Tuileries’ gardens, just burst into foliage, presented
so glorious a mass of tender green, that, although often taking leave, I
still was loath to depart. And thus it came to pass that, on a bright
fresh April morning, I found myself seated in a Palais Royal
coffee-house, in tranquil enjoyment of creaming chocolate, a damp
newspaper, and the noiseless attendance of admirably drilled waiters.

I have always loved the Palais Royal, associated as it is with my
earliest and most pleasurable recollections of Paris; and with sincere
regret have I noted the rapid decline of what was once the heart and
focus of the French capital. At the time I now speak of, although its
best days were long past, it was still far removed from the deserted and
desolate state into which it has since sunk: it had not yet dwindled
into a dreary quadrangle of cheap tailors, pinchbeck jewellers, and
shops to let, traversed in haste by all who enter it, save by
newly-imported provincials, sauntering nurserymaids, and a few old
loungers, who, from long habit, haunt the fabric after the spirit has
fled. The melancholy truth is, that the march of morality ruined the
Palais Royal. So long as it was the headquarters of dissipation, it
throve and flourished exceedingly; it was merry and much frequented,
like the mansion of some rich and jovial profligate, whom all abuse, but
from whose well-spread table, few care to absent themselves. Then the
Palais Royal, to the stranger, almost comprehended Paris: all the
luxuries, necessaries, amusements, and pleasures of life, were found
within its walls: it was the bazaar, the tavern, the harem, and the
gaming-house of Europe. The reforms wrought in it since the peace by its
present royal owner, however advantageous to its good fame and
comeliness, have been grievously detrimental to its vivacity and pocket.
In 183-, the last of these changes, the finishing-stroke, as it may be
termed, the suppression of the gambling tables, although fully resolved
upon, had not yet taken place. The coffee-houses were still numerous and
crowded, the shops magnificent and prosperous; the garden and arcades,
now abandoned to mischievous boys, and to puling infants in nurses’
arms, were thronged from morn till midnight with visitors of all nations
and classes, lured thither by curiosity, or by the demon PLAY. There was
always abundant food for observation, if only in the noisy groups who
paced the avenues of trees, discussing the chances of the dice or the
events of the morning’s sitting, and in the flushed or haggard
countenances that each moment entered and issued from the doors of the
various hells. With a genial sky, a rush-bottomed chair, and the
occasional assistance of a sou’s worth of literature, obtained from the
old women who dwell in wooden boxes, and hire out newspapers, an entire
day might be passed there with amusement and profit. Occasional
incidents, sometimes dramatic enough, varied the monotony, never great.
The detection of a pickpocket, a loud-voiced quarrel, often resulting in
blows or a challenge, the expulsion from the _rouge-et-noir_ temple of
some unlucky wretch, whom ruin had rendered unruly, were incidents of
daily occurrence. For those whom the minor drama did not satisfy, there
was an occasional bit of high tragedy, in the shape of a suicide from
losses, or an arrest for fraud. Not long before the time I speak of, a
group of persons, standing in the garden, were startled by the fall of a
body at their feet. It was that of a gamester, who, after losing his
last franc, had thrown himself from the elevated window of the
pandemonium where his ruin had been consummated.

“I believe I have the pleasure of seeing Mr ——,” said a voice in
English, as I paused for a moment, my breakfast concluded, before the
door of the coffeehouse, planning the disposal of my day.

I looked at the person who thus addressed me; and, although I pique
myself on rarely forgetting the faces of those with whom I have once
been acquainted, I confess that in this instance my memory was
completely at fault. But for his knowledge of my name, I should have
concluded my interlocutor mistaken as to my identity. I was at least as
much surprised at the perfectly good English he spoke, as at having my
acquaintance claimed by a person of his profession and rank. He was a
young man of about five-and-twenty, attired in the handsome and
well-fitting undress of a sergeant of French light dragoons. His dark
brown hair curled short and crisp from under his smart green forage-cap,
cavalierly placed upon one side of his head; his clear blue eyes
contrasted with the tawny colour of his cheek, a tint for which it was
evidently indebted to sun and weather; his face was clean shaven, save
and except small well-trimmed mustachios and a chin-tuft. Altogether, he
was as pretty a model of a light cavalryman as I remember to have seen:
square in the shoulder, slender in the hip, well-limbed, lithe and
muscular. His carriage was soldierly, without the exaggerated stiffness
and swagger commonly found amongst noncommissioned officers of dragoons;
and altogether he had a gentlemanly air which, I doubt not, would have
made itself as visible under the coarse _basane_ and drugget of a
private soldier as beneath the garb of finer materials and more careful
cut, which, in his capacity of _maréchal de logis_, or sergeant, it was
permitted him to wear. But my admiration of this pretty model of a
man-at-arms did not assist me to recognise him, although, whilst gazing
at him, and especially when he slightly smiled at my visible
embarrassment, his features did not seem totally unfamiliar to me. I
looked, I have no doubt, considerably puzzled. The stranger came to my

“I see you do not remember me,” he said. “Not above four years since we
met, if so much; but four years, an African sun, and a French uniform,
have made a change. I met you in Warwickshire, at George Clinton’s. I
have seen you once or twice since; but I think the last time we spoke
was when cantering over Harleigh downs. My name is Frank Oakley.”

I immediately recollected my man. About four summers previously, whilst
on a flying visit at a country house, whither a friend had taken me, and
where I had been made heartily welcome by the hospitable owner, I had
formed a slight acquaintance with Mr Frank Oakley, who had then just
come of age, and into possession—by the death of his father, which had
occurred a twelvemonth previously—of a few thousand pounds. The interest
of this sum, which would have been an agreeable and sufficient addition
to a subaltern’s pay or curate’s stipend, or which would have enabled a
struggling barrister to bide his briefs, was altogether insufficient to
supply the wants and caprices of an idler, especially such an idler as
Oakley. Master Francis was what young gentlemen fresh from school or at
college, sucking ensigns, precocious templars, _et id genus omne_, are
accustomed to call a “fast” man; the said fastness not referring, as
Johnson’s dictionary teaches us it might do, to any particular strength
or firmness of character, but merely to the singular rapidity with which
such persons get through their money and into debt. At the time I speak
of, Oakley was going his fastest, that is to say, spending the utmost
amount of coin, for the least possible value; indeed he could hardly
have run madder riot with his moderate patrimony, had he cast his
sovereigns into bullets and made pipe-lights of his bank notes. But
verily, he had his reward in the open-mouthed admiration of three or
four younkers of his own standing, or a year or two less, then assembled
at Harleigh Hall, who looked up to him as something between a hero and
an oracle; and in the encouraging familiarity and approval of one or two
gentlemen of maturer age, who swore he was a fine fellow, and proved
they thought so by winning bets of him at billiards, and by selling him
horses that would have fetched “twice the money at Tattersall’s,” with
other bargains of an equally advantageous description. Although we were
four days in the same house, meeting each evening at dinner, and
occasionally riding and walking in the same group, our acquaintance
continued of the very slightest description, and I took my departure
without any thing approaching to intimacy having sprung up between us.
Amongst the large party of visitors at the Hall, were not wanting
persons of tastes more suited to my own, than those of Oakley and his
little knot of flatterers and admirers; and he, on his part, was far too
much taken up with his newly-inherited fortune—which he evidently
considered inexhaustible—with planning amusements, and inhaling
adulatory incense, to pay attention to a man whom, as full fifteen years
his senior, he doubtless set down as an old fellow, a “slow coach,” and
perhaps even as a member of that distinguished corporation known as the
“Fogie Club.” So that when we met in London, during the ensuing season,
occasionally in the street and once or twice in a ballroom, a slight bow
or word of recognition was all that passed between us. I could perceive,
however, that Oakley still kept up the rapid pace at which he had
started, and lived, with a few hundreds a year, as if he had possessed
as many thousands. The proximity of my quiet club to the fashionable and
expensive one into which he had obtained admission, gave me many
opportunities of observing his proceedings, and those opportunities, in
my capacity of a student of human nature, I was careful not to neglect.
I had marked his career and ultimate fate in my mind, and was curious to
see my predictions verified, although I sincerely wished they might not
be, for they were any thing but favourable to the welfare of Oakley,
who, in spite of his follies, had generous and manly qualities. His
prodigality was not of that purely egotistical description most commonly
found in spendthrifts of his class. He would give a lavish alms to a
whining beggar, as freely as he would throw away a handful of gold on
some folly of the moment or extravagant debauch; and I had heard an old
one-armed soldier, who sometimes held his horse at the club door, utter
blessings, when he had ridden out of hearing, on his kind heart and open
hand. These and similar little traits that came under my notice, made me
regret to see him going post-haste to perdition. That he was doing so, I
could not for one moment doubt. His extravagance knew no limit, and in
six months he must have got through as many years’ income. Wherever
pleasure was to be had, no matter at what price, Oakley was to be
seen.—Upon a revenue overrated at five hundred a-year, he kept half a
dozen horses, a cab, and a strange nondescript vehicle, made after an
eccentric design of his own, and which every body turned to look at, as
he drove down Piccadilly of an afternoon, on his way to the Park. He had
his stall at the opera, of course, and an elegant set of apartments in
the most expensive street in London, where he gave suppers and dinners
of extravagant delicacy to thirsty friends and greedy _danseuses_. The
former showed their gratitude for his good cheer by winning his money at
cards; the latter evinced their affection by carrying off the costly
nicknacks that strewed his rooms, and by taking his diamond shirt-pins
to fasten their shawls. In short, he regularly delivered himself over to
the harpies. In addition to these minor drafts upon his exchequer, came
others of a more serious nature. He played high, and never refused a
bet. Like many silly young men, (and some silly old ones,) he had a
blind veneration for rank, and held that a lord could do no wrong. Even
a baronetcy conferred a certain degree of infallibility in his eyes. No
amount of respectable affidavits would have convinced him that if Lord
Rufus Slam, who not unfrequently condescended to win a cool fifty of him
at écarté, did not turn the king each time he dealt, it was only because
he despised so hackneyed a swindle, and had other ways of securing the
game, equally nefarious but less palpable. Neither would it have been
possible to persuade him that Sir Tantivy Martingale, “that prime fellow
and thorough sportsman,” as Frank admiringly and confidingly styled him,
was capable of taking his bet upon a horse which he, the aforesaid Sir
Tantivy, had just made “safe to lose.” In short, poor Oakley, who,
during his father’s lifetime, had been little, if at all, in London,
thought himself excessively knowing and fully up to all the wiles and
snares of the metropolis. In reality he was exceedingly raw, was
victimised accordingly, and, at the end of a few months in town, found
himself minus a sum that brought reflection, I suspect, even to his
giddy head. I conjectured so, at least, when, at the end of the season,
I encountered him on a Boulogne steamer, looking fagged and out of
spirits. It was only a year since we had met at Harleigh Hall, but that
year had told upon him. Dissipation had driven the flush of health from
his cheek, and his youthful brow was already care-loaded. I spoke to
him, and made an attempt to converse; but he seemed sulky and unwilling;
and, on reaching Boulogne, I lost sight of him. After a short tour, I
went to winter at Paris, and there I frequently saw him. He had
forgotten, apparently, the annoyances that weighed on him when he left
London, and was again the gayest of the gay; living as if his purse were
bottomless, and his _Gibus_ hat the wishing cap of Fortunatus. Nothing
was too hot or too strong for him: rated a “fast man” in England, in
France he was held a _viveur enragé_. I did not much admire the society
he selected: I saw him alternately with the most _roué_ and dissolute
young Frenchmen of fashion, and with an English set which, if it
comprised men against whom nothing positively bad could be proved, also
included others whose reputation was more than doubtful. At first he was
chiefly with the French, whose language, from long residence in the
country when a boy, he spoke as one of themselves; then he seemed to
abandon them for the English clique, and then he suddenly disappeared. I
no longer saw him pacing the Boulevard or riding in the Bois, or issuing
at night from the Café Anglais, flushed with wine and bent upon riotous
debauch. All his former companions remained, pursuing their old
amusements, frequenting the same haunts; but he was never with them. I
could not understand his leaving Paris just as the best season
commenced, (it was in January that he disappeared,) and at first I
supposed him ill. But week after week slipped by, and no Oakley
appearing, I made up my mind he had departed, whither I knew not. I was
rather vexed at this, for I had made up my mind to watch him to the end
of his career. Moreover, although we never spoke, and had almost left
off bowing, my idle habit of observing his proceedings had given me a
sort of interest in him. Once only, after his eclipse, did I fancy I
caught a glimpse of him. I was fond of long rambles in the low and
remote quarters of Paris, through those labyrinths of narrow streets,
filthy courts, and rickety houses, where the character and peculiarities
of the humbler classes of Parisians are best to be studied. Returning,
after dark, from an expedition of this kind, I was surprised by a
violent shower in a shabby street of the Faubourg St Antoine, and took
refuge under a doorway. Immediately opposite to me was the wretched shop
of a _traiteur_, in whose dingy window a cloudy white bowl of mashed
spinach, a plate of bouilli, dry as a deal plank, and some triangular
fragments of pear, stewed with cochineal and exposed in a saucer, served
as indications of the luxurious fare to be obtained within. On one of
the grimy shutters, whose scanty coat of green paint the weather had
converted into a sickly blue, was the announcement, in yellow letters,
that “_Fricot, Traiteur, donne à Boire et à Manger_;” whilst upon the
other the hieroglyphical representation of a bottle and glass, flanked
by the words “_Bon Vin de Macon à 8 et à 10 S._” hinted intelligibly at
the well-provided state of Monsieur Fricot’s cellar. It was one of those
humble eating-houses, abounding in the French capital, where a very
hungry man may stave off starvation for about the price of a tooth-pick
at the _Café_ or the _Trois Frères_, and where an exceedingly thirsty
one may get comfortably intoxicated upon potato brandy and essence of
logwood, for a similar amount. It needs a three days’ fast or a
paviour’s appetite to induce entrance into such a place. I was gazing
with some curiosity at the windows of this poor tavern, through whose
starred and patched panes, crowded with bottles, and backed by a curtain
of dirty muslin, the waving of iron forks and spoons was dimly
discernible by the light of two flickering candles, when the door
suddenly opened, a man came out, heedless of the rain, which fell in
torrents, and walked rapidly away. It was but a second, and he was lost
in the darkness of the ill-lighted street, but in that second I thought
I distinguished the gait and features of Frank Oakley. But my view of
him was very indistinct, and I concluded myself misled by a resemblance.
Since that day nothing had occurred to remind me of him, and for a long
time I had entirely forgotten the good-hearted but reckless scamp, who
for a brief period had attracted my attention.

Frank Oakley, then, it was, who now stood before me under the arcades of
the Palais Royal. I held out my hand, with a word or two of apology for
my slowness in remembering him.

“No excuse, I beg,” was his reply. “Not one in twenty of my former
acquaintances recognises the spendthrift dandy in the humble sergeant of
dragoons, and in the few who do, I observe, upon my approach, a strong
partiality for the opposite side of the street. They give themselves
unnecessary trouble, for I have no wish to intrude upon them. I have
been four months in Paris, and have constantly met former intimates, but
have never spoken to one of them. And I cannot say what induced me to
address you, with whom my acquaintance is so slight, except that I
should be very glad to have a talk about dear old England, and if I am
not mistaken you are a likely man to grant it me.”

“With pleasure, Mr Oakley,” said I. “I am glad to see you, although I
confess myself surprised at your present profession. For an Englishman,
I should have thought our own service preferable to a foreign one; and
doubtless your friends would have got you a commission—that is—if—”

I hesitated, and paused, for I felt that I was upon delicate ground,
getting run away with by my own foregone conclusions, and likely,
unintentionally, to wound my interlocutor’s feelings. Oakley observed my
embarrassment, smiled, and completed my unfinished sentence.

“If I had not money left, after my extravagance, to buy one for myself.
Well, I had not; and moreover—but you shall hear all about it, if you
care to learn the adventures of a scapegrace, now, I hope, reformed.
And, in return, you shall tell me if London is still in the same place,
and as wicked and pleasant as ever; and how it fares with old George
Clinton, and all the jolly Warwickshire lads. Have you all hour to

“Half a dozen, if you like,” I replied warmly, for I was greatly taken
with the frank manly tone of the young man, whom I had last known as a
conceited, frivolous coxcomb. “Half a dozen. Shall we walk?”

“I will not tax your kindness so long,” replied Oakley; “and as for
walking,” he added, glancing from the silver stripe upon his sleeve,
indicative of his non-commissioned rank, to my suit of civilian
broadcloth, “although I am by no means ashamed of my position, that is
no reason for exposing you to the stare and wonder of your English
acquaintances, by parading in your company the public promenade. So, if
you have no objection, we will step up here. The place is respectable;
but unfrequented, I dare say, by any you know.”

And without giving me time to protest my utter indifference to the
supercilious criticism referred to, he turned into a doorway, upon a
pane of glass above which was painted a ship in full sail, with the
words “Café Estaminet Hollandais.” Ascending a flight or two of stairs,
we entered a suite of spacious apartments, furnished with several
billiard tables, with cue-racks, chairs, benches, and small tables for
the use of drinkers. Several of the windows, which looked out upon the
garden of the Palais Royal, were open, in the vain hope, perhaps, of
purifying the place from the inveterate odour of tobacco remaining there
from the previous night. Although it was not yet noon, the billiard
balls rattled vigorously upon more than one of the tables, and a few
early drinkers, chiefly foreigners, professional billiard players and
non-commissioned officers of the Paris garrison, sipped their Strasburg
beer or morning dram of brandy. The further end of the long gallery,
however, was unoccupied, and there Oakley drew a couple of chairs to a
window, called for refreshment as a pretext for our presence, and
seating himself opposite to me, assailed me with a volley of questions
concerning persons and things in England. To these I replied as
satisfactorily as I was able, and allowed the stream of interrogation to
run itself dry, before assuming, in my turn, the character of
questioner. At last, having in some degree appeased Oakley’s eager
desire for information about the country whence he had been so long
absent, I intimated a curiosity concerning his own adventures, and the
circumstances that had made a soldier of him. He at once took the hint,
and, perceiving that I listened with friendly attention and interest,
gave me a detailed narrative of his life since I had first made his
acquaintance. He told his story with a spirit and military conciseness
that riveted my attention as much as the real pungency of the incidents.
Its first portion, relating to his London career, informed me of little
beyond what I already knew, or, at least, had conjectured. It was the
every-day tale of a heedless, inexperienced youth, suddenly cast without
guide or Mentor upon the ocean of life, and striking in turn against all
the shoals that strew the perilous waters. He had been bubbled by
gentlemanly swindlers—none of your low, seedy rapscallions, but men of
style and fashion, even of family, but especially of _honour_, who would
have paraded and shot him, had he presumed to doubt their word, but made
no scruple of genteelly picking his pocket. He had been duped by
designing women, spunged upon by false friends, pillaged by unprincipled
tradesmen. He never thought of making a calculation—except on a
horse-race, and then he was generally wrong,—or of looking at an
account, or keeping one; but, when he wanted money, and his banker wrote
him word he had overdrawn, he just sent his autograph to his
stockbroker, prefixing the words, “Sell five hundred, or a thousand,” as
the case might be. For some time these laconic mandates were obeyed
without remark, but at last, towards the close of the London season, the
broker, the highly respectable Mr Cashup, of Change Alley, called upon
his young client, whose father he had known for many years, and ventured
a gentle remonstrance on such an alarming consumption of capital. Frank
affected to laugh at the old gentleman’s caution, and told an excellent
story that evening, after a roaring supper, about the square-toed cit,
the wise man of the East, who made a pilgrimage to St James’s, to preach
a sermon on frugality. Nevertheless, the prodigal was startled by the
statements of the man of business. He was unaware how deeply he had
dipped into his principal, and felt something like alarm upon
discovering that he had got through more than half his small fortune.
This, in little more than a year! For a moment he felt inclined to
reform, abandon dissipation, and apply to some profession. But the
impulse was only momentary. How could he, the gay Frank Oakley, the
flower of fashion, and admiration of the town, (so at least he thought
himself) bend his proud spirit to pore over parchments in a barrister’s
chambers, or to smoke British Havanas, and spit over the bridge of a
country town, as ensign in a marching regiment? Was he to read himself
blind at college, to find himself a curate at thirty, with a hundred
a-year and a breeding wife? Or was he to go to India, to get shot by
Sikhs, or carried off by a jungle fever? Forbid it, heaven! What would
Slam and Martingale, and Mademoiselle Entrechat, and all his fast and
fashionable acquaintances, male and female, say to such declension! The
thought was overwhelming, and thereupon Oakley resolved to give up all
idea of earning an honest living, to “drown care,” “damn the
consequences,” and act up to the maxim he had frequently professed, when
the champagne corks were flying at his expense for the benefit of a
circle of admiring friends, of “a short life and a merry one.” So he
stopped in London till the very close of the season, “keeping the game
alive,” as he expressed it, to the last, and then started for the
Continent. An attempt to recruit his finances at Baden-Baden terminated,
as might be expected, in their further reduction, and at last he found
his way to Paris. Unfortunately for him, his ruinous career in England
had been so short, and his self-conceit, and great opinion of his own
knowing, had made him so utterly reject the advice and experience of the
very few friends who cared a rush for his welfare, that he was still in
the state of a six-day-old puppy, and as unable to take care of himself.
More than half-ruined, he preserved his illusions; still believed in the
sincerity of fashionable acquaintances, in the fidelity of histrionic
mistresses, in the disinterestedness of mankind in general, or at least,
of that portion of it with which he habitually associated. The bird had
left half its feathers with the fowler, but was as willing as ever to
run again into the snare. And at Paris snares were plentiful,
well-baited and carefully covered up.

“I can scarcely define the society into which I got at Paris,” said
Oakley, when he came to this part of his history. “It was of a motley
sort, gathered from all quarters, and, upon the whole, rather pleasant
than respectable. It consisted partly of persons I had known in England,
either Englishmen or dashing young Frenchmen of fortune, whose
acquaintance I had made during their visits to London a few months
previously. I had also several letters of introduction, some of which
gave me entrance into the best Parisian circles, but these I generally
neglected, preferring the gay fellows for whom I bore commendatory
scrawls from my London associates. But probably my best recommendation
was my pocket, still tolerably garnished, and the recklessness with
which I scattered my cash. I felt myself on the high road to ruin, but
my down-hill course had given such impetus to my crazy vehicle, that I
despaired of checking it, and shut my eyes to the inevitable smash
awaiting me at the bottom.

“It was not long in coming. Although educated in France, and
consequently speaking the language as a native, I always took more
kindly to my own countrymen than to Frenchmen, and gradually I detached
myself unconsciously from those with whom I had spent much of my time
when first in Paris. I exchanged for the worse, in making my sole
companions of a set of English scamps, who asked no better than to
assist at the plucking of such a pigeon as myself. At first they treated
me with tenderness, fearing to spoil their game by a measure of
wholesale plunder. They made much of me, frequently favoured me with
their company at dinner, occasionally forgot their purses and borrowed
from mine, forgetting repayment, and got up card parties, at which,
however, I was sometimes allowed to come off a winner. But my gains were
units and my losses tens. An imprudent revelation accelerated the
catastrophe. My chosen intimate was one Harry Darvel, a tall pale man,
about five years older than myself, who would have been good-looking,
but for the unpleasant shifting expression of his gray eyes, and for a
certain cold rigidity of feature, frequently seen in persons of the
profession I afterwards found he exercised. I first made his
acquaintance at Baden, met him by appointment at Paris, and he soon
became, my chief associate. I knew little of him, except that he had a
large acquaintance, lived in good style, spent his money freely, and was
one of the most amusing companions I had ever had. By this time I began
to see through flattery, when it was not very adroitly administered, and
to suspect the real designs of some of the vultures that flocked about
me. Darvel never flattered me; his manner was blunt, almost to
roughness; he occasionally gave me advice, and affected sincere
friendship and anxiety for my welfare. ‘You are young in the world,’ he
would say to me, ‘you know a good deal for the time you have been in it,
but I am an old stager, and have been six seasons in Paris for your one.
I don’t want to dry-nurse you, nor are you the man to let me, but two
heads are better than one, and you may sometimes be glad of a hint. This
is a queer town, and there are an infernal lot of swindlers about.’ I
little dreamed that my kind adviser was one of the most expert of the
class he denounced, but reposed full trust in him, and, by attending to
his disinterested suggestions, gradually detached myself from my few
really respectable associates, and delivered myself entirely into his
hands, and those of his assistant Philistines. Upon an unlucky day, when
a letter of warning from my worthy old stockbroker had revived former
anxieties in my mind, I made Darvel my confidant, and asked counsel of
him to repair my broken fortunes. He heard me without betraying
surprise, said he would think the matter over, and that something would
assuredly turn up, talked vaguely of advantageous appointments which he
had interest in England to procure, assured me of his sympathy and
friendship, and bade me not despond, but keep my heart up, for that I
had plenty of time to turn in, and meanwhile I must limit my expenses,
and not be offended if he occasionally gave me a friendly check when he
saw me ‘outrunning the constable.’ His tone and promises cheered me, and
I again forgot my critical position. Little did I dream that my
misplaced confidence had sealed my doom. If I had hitherto been spared,
it was from no excess of mercy, but because my real circumstances were
unknown, my fortune overrated, and a fear entertained of prematurely
scaring the game by too rapid an attack. It was now ascertained that the
goose might be slaughtered, without any sacrifice of golden eggs. Darvel
now knew exactly what I was worth,—barely two thousand pounds. That
gone, I should be a beggar. For two days he never lost sight of me,
accompanied me every where and kept me in a whirl of dissipation,
exerted to the utmost his amusing powers, which were very considerable,
and did all he could to raise my spirits. The third morning he came to
breakfast with me.

“‘Dine at my rooms, to-day,’ said he, as he sat puffing a Turkish pipe,
after making me laugh to exhaustion at a ridiculous adventure that had
befallen him the night before. ‘Bachelor fare, you know—brace of fowls
and a gigot, a glass of that Chambertin you so highly approve, and a
little chicken hazard afterwards. Quite quiet—shan’t allow you to play
high. We’ll have a harmless, respectable evening. I will ask Lowther and
the Bully. Dine at seven, to bed at twelve.’

“I readily accepted, and we strolled out to invite the other guests. A
few minutes’ walk brought us to the domicile of Thomas Ringwood, Esq.,
known amongst his intimates as the Bully, a sobriquet he owed to his
gruff voice, blustering tone, and skill as a pugilist and cudgel-player.
He was member of a well-known and highly respectable English family, who
had done all in their power to keep him from disgracing their name by
his blackguard propensities. In dress and manner he affected the plain
bluff Englishman, wore a blue coat, beaver gloves, (or none at all,) and
a hat broad in the brim, spoke of all foreigners with supreme contempt,
and of himself as _honest_ Tom Ringwood. This lip honesty and assumed
bluntness were a standing joke with those who knew his real character,
but passed muster as perfectly genuine with ingenuous and newly imported
youngsters like myself, who took him for a wealthy and respectable
English gentleman, the champion of fair play, just as at a race, or
fair, boobies take for a bona-fide farmer the portly individual in brown
tops, who so loudly expresses his confidence in the chances of the
thimble rig, and in the probity of the talented individual who manœuvres
the ‘little pea.’

“Ringwood was at his rooms, having ‘half a round’ with the Oxford
Chicken, a promising young bruiser who, having recently killed his man
in a prize-fight, had come over to Paris for change of air. There was
bottled English porter on the table, sand upon the floor to prevent
slipping, and the walls were profusely adorned with portraits of
well-known pugilists, sketches of steeple-chases, boxing-gloves, masks,
and single-sticks. In the comfortable embraces of an arm-chair sat
Archibald Lowther, Honest Tom’s particular ally, who, in every respect,
was the very opposite of his Achates. Lowther affected the foreigner and
dandy as much as Ringwood assumed the bluff and rustic Briton; wore
beard and mustaches, and brilliant waistcoats, owned shirt-studs by the
score and rings by the gross, lisped out his words with the aid of a
silver toothpick, and was never seen without a smile of supreme
amiability upon his dark, handsome countenance. Fortunately, both these
gentlemen were disengaged for the evening. The day passed in lounging
and billiard playing, varied by luncheon and a fair allowance of
liquids, and at half past seven we sat down to dinner. It did not occur
to me at the time that, although Darvel’s invitation had the appearance
of an impromptu, he did not warn his servant of expected guests, or
return home till within an hour of dinnertime. Nevertheless, all was in
readiness; not the promised fowl and leg of mutton, but an exquisite
repast, redolent of spices and truffles, with wines of every
description. I was in high spirits, and drank freely, mixing my liquor
without scruple, and towards ten o’clock I was much exhilarated,
although not yet drunk, and still tolerably cognisant of my actions.
Then came coffee and liqueurs, and whilst Darvel searched in an
adjoining room for some particularly fine cigars for my special smoking,
Lowther cleared a table, and rummaged in the drawers for cards and dice,
whilst Ringwood called for lemons and sugar, and compounded a fiery bowl
of _Kirschwasser_ punch. It was quite clear we were to have a night of
it. Darvel’s declaration that he would have no high play in his rooms,
and would turn every one out at midnight, was replied to by me with a
boisterous shout of laughter, in which I was vociferously joined by
Lowther, who, to all appearance, was more than half tipsy. We sat down
to play for moderate stakes; fortune favoured me at the expense of
Ringwood and Lowther. The former looked sulky, the latter became
peevishly noisy and excited, cursed his luck, and insisted on increasing
the stakes. Darvel strongly objected; as winner, I held myself bound to
oppose him, and the majority carried the day. The stakes were doubled,
quadrupled, and at last became extravagantly high. Presently in came a
couple more ‘friends,’ in full evening costume, white-waistcoated and
gold-buttoned, patent leather, starch and buckram from heel to eyebrow.
They were on their way to a rout at the Marchioness of Montepulciano’s,
but, seeing light through Darvel’s windows, came up ‘just to see what
was going on.’ With great difficulty they were prevailed upon to take a
cigar and a hand at cards, and to disappoint the Marchioness. It was I
who, inspired by deep potations and unbounded good fellowship, urged and
insisted upon their stopping. My three friends did not seem nearly so
cordial in their solicitations, and subsequently, when I came to think
over the night’s proceedings, I remembered a look of vexation exchanged
between them, upon the entrance of the uninvited vultures who thus
intruded for their share of the spoil. Doubtless, the worthy trio would
rather have kept me to themselves. They suppressed their discontent,
however; externally all was honeyed cordiality and good feeling; the
Bully made perpetual bowls of punch, and I quaffed the blazing alcohol
till I could scarcely distinguish the pips on the cards. But scenes like
these have been too often described for their details to have much
interest. Enough, that at six o’clock the following morning I threw
myself upon my bed, fevered, frantic, and a beggar. I had given orders
upon my London agent for the very last farthing I possessed.

“Lowther, to all appearance the least sober and worst player of the
party, had been chief winner. Ringwood had won a little; Madam
Montepulciano’s friends did not make a bad night’s work of it, although
they declared their gains trifling, but as there had been a good deal of
gold and some bank-notes upon the table, it was difficult to say exactly
how the thing had gone. Darvel, who had frequently made attempts to stop
the play—attempts frustrated by Lowther’s drunken violence, Ringwood’s
dogged sullenness, and my own mad eagerness,—was visibly a loser; but
what mattered that, when his confederates won? There is honour amongst
thieves, and no doubt next day witnessed an equitable division of the

“It was the second day after the debauch before I again saw any of my
kind friends. I spent the greater part of the intervening one in bed,
exhausted and utterly desponding, revolving in my mind my desperate
position. I had no heart to go out or see any body. At last Darvel
called upon me, affected great sorrow for my losses, deplored my
obstinacy in playing high against his advice, and inveighed against
Lowther for his drunken persistence. Anxiety and previous excess had
rendered me really unwell; Darvel insisted on sending me his physician,
and left me with many expressions of kindness, and a promise to call
next day. All this feigned sympathy was not lavished without an object;
the gang had discovered I might still be of use to them. In what way, I
did not long remain ignorant. During a week or more that I remained in
the house, suffering from a sort of low fever, Darvel came daily to sit
with me, brought me newspapers, told me the gossip of the hour, and not
unfrequently threw out hints of better times near at hand, when the
blind goddess should again smile upon me. At last I learned in what way
her smiles were to be purchased. I was convalescent; my doctor had paid
his farewell visit, and pocketed my last napoleon, when Darvel entered
my room. After the usual commonplace inquiries, he sat down by the fire,
silent, and with a gloomy countenance. I could not help noticing this,
for I was accustomed to see him cheerful and talkative upon his visits
to me; and I presently inquired if any thing had gone wrong.

“‘Yes—no—nothing with me exactly, but for you. I am disappointed on your

“‘On my account?’

“‘Yes. I wrote to England some days ago, urging friends of mine in high
places to get you a snug berth, and to-day I have received answers.’


“‘No, ill—cold comfort enough. Lots of promises, but with an
unmistakable hint that many are to be served before me, and that we must
wait several months,—which with those people means several years,—before
there will be a chance of a good wind blowing your way. I am infernally
sorry for it.’

“‘And I also,’ I replied, mournfully. There was a short pause.

“‘How are you off for the sinews of war?’ said Darvel.

“‘You may find some small change on the chimney-piece—my last money.’

“‘The devil! This won’t do. We must fill your exchequer somehow. You
must be taken care of, my boy.’

“‘Easy to say,’ I answered, ‘but how? Unless you win me a lottery prize,
or show me a hidden treasure, my cash-box is likely to continue empty.’

“‘Pshaw! hidden treasure indeed! There are always treasures to be found
by clever seekers. Nothing without trouble.’

“‘I should not grudge that.’

“‘Perhaps not; but you young gentlemen are apt to be squeamish.
Nasty-particular, as I may say.’

“‘Pshaw!’ said I in my turn, ‘you know I can’t afford to be that. Money
I must have, no matter how.’

“I spoke thoughtlessly, and without weighing my words, but also without
evil meaning. I merely meant to express my willingness to work for my
living, in ways whose adoption I should have scoffed at a fortnight
previously. Darvel doubtless understood me differently—thought
dissipation and reckless extravagance had blunted my sense of honour and
honesty, and that I was ripe for his purpose. After a minute or two’s

“‘By the bye,’ he said, ‘are not you intimate with the young D——s, sons
of that rich old baronet Sir Marmaduke D——?’

“‘Barely acquainted,’ I replied, ‘I have seen them once or twice, but it
is a long time back, and we should hardly speak if we met. They are poor
silly fellows, brought up by a fool of a mother, and by a puritanical
private tutor.’

“‘They have broken loose from the apron string then, for they arrived
here yesterday on their way to Italy, Greece, and the Lord knows where.
Why don’t you call upon them? They are good to know. They have swinging
letters of credit on Paris and half the towns in Europe.’

“‘I see no use in calling on them, nor any that their letters of credit
can be to me.’

“‘Pshaw! who knows? They are to be a month here. It might lead to

“‘To what?’ I inquired indifferently. A gesture of impatience escaped

“‘You certainly are dull to-day—slow of comprehension, as I may say.
Recollect what some play-writing man has said about the world being an
oyster for clever fellows to open. Now these D——s are just the sort of
natives it is pleasant to pick at, because their shells are lined with
pearls. Well, since you won’t take a hint, I must speak plainly. Dine
to-day at the table-d’hôte of the _Hôtel W_——. The D——s are staying
there, and you are safe to fall in with them. Renew your acquaintance,
or strike up a fresh one, whichever you please. You are a fellow of good
address, and will have no difficulty in making friends with two such
Johnny Newcomes. Ply them with Burgundy, bring them here or to my rooms,
we will get Lowther and Ringwood, and it shall be a hundred pounds in
your pocket.’

“I must have been a fool indeed, had I doubted for another instant the
meaning and intentions of my respectable ally. As by touch of
enchanter’s wand, the scales fell from my eyes; illusions vanished, and
I saw myself and my associates in the right colours, myself as a
miserable dupe, them as vile sharpers. So confounded was I by the
suddenness of the illumination, that for a moment I stood speechless and
motionless, gazing vacantly into the tempter’s face. He took my silence
for acquiescence, and opened his lips to continue his base hints and
instructions. Roused into vehement action by the sound of his odious
voice, I grasped his collar with my left hand, and seizing a horsewhip
that lay opportunely near, I lashed the miscreant round the room till my
arm could strike no longer, and till the inmates of the house, alarmed
by his outcries, assembled at the door of my apartment. Too infuriated
to notice them, I kicked the scoundrel out and remained alone, to
meditate at leisure upon my past folly and present embarrassments. The
former was irreparable, the latter were speedily augmented. I know not
what Darvel told the master of the house, (I subsequently found he had
had an interview with him after his ejection from my room,) but two days
later, the month being at an end, I received a heavy bill, with an
intimation that my apartments were let to another tenant, and a request
for my speedy departure. I was too proud to take notice of this
insolence, and too poor, under any circumstances, to continue in so
costly a lodging. Money I had none, and it took the sacrifice of my
personal effects, including even much of my wardrobe, to satisfy my
landlord’s demand. I settled it, however, and removed, with a heavy
heart, a light portmanteau, and a hundred francs in my pocket, to a
wretched garret in a cheap faubourg.

“You will think, perhaps, that I acted rashly, and should have sought
temporary assistance from friends before proceeding to such extremities.
But the very few persons who might have been disposed to help me, I had
long since neglected for the society of the well-dressed thieves by whom
I had been so pitilessly fleeced. And had it been otherwise, I knew not
how to beg or borrow. My practice had been in giving and lending. The
first thing I did, when installed in my _sixième_ at twenty francs
a-month, was to write to my uncle in England, informing him, without
entering into details, of the knavery of which I had been victim,
expressing my penitence for past follies, and my desire to atone them by
a life of industry. I craved his advice as to the course I should adopt,
declared a preference for the military profession, and entreated, as the
greatest of favours, and the only one I should ever ask of him, that he
would procure me a commission, either in the British service or Indian
army. I got an answer by return of post, and, before opening it, augured
well from such promptitude. Its contents bitterly disappointed me. My
uncle’s agent informed me, by his employer’s command, that Mr Oakley, of
Oakley Manor, was not disposed to take any notice of a nephew who had
disgraced him by extravagance and evil courses, and that any future
letters from me would be totally disregarded. I felt that I deserved
this; but yet I had hoped kinder words from my dead father’s elder
brother. The trifling assistance I asked would hardly have been missed
out of his unencumbered income of ten thousand a-year. This was my first
advertisement of the wide difference between relatives and friends.
Gradually I gathered experience, paid for, in advance, at a heavy rate.

“Of course, I did not dream of renewing an application thus cruelly
repulsed, but resolved to rely on myself alone, and to find some
occupation, however humble, sufficient for my subsistence. I had no
idea, until I tried, of the immense difficulty of procuring such
occupation. Master of no trade or handicraft, I knew not which way to
turn, or what species of employment to seek. I was a good swordsman, and
once I had a vague notion of teaching fencing; but even had I had the
means to establish myself, the profession was already over-stocked; and
not a regiment of the Paris garrison but could turn out a score of
_prévôts_ to button me six times for my once. I could ride, which
qualified me for a postilion, and had sufficient knowledge of billiards
to aspire to the honourable post of a marker; but even to such
offices—could I have stooped to compete for them—I should have been held
ineligible without certificates of character. And to whom was I to apply
for these? To my gay acquaintances of the Café de Paris? To the
obsequious banker to whom I had come handsomely accredited, and who had
given me a sumptuous dinner in his hotel of the Rue Bergère? To the
noble and fashionable families to whom I had brought letters of
recommendation, and whom I had neglected after a single visit? To which
of these should I apply for a character as groom? And how was I to exist
without condescending to some such menial office? To aught better,
gentleman though I was, I had no qualifications entitling me to aspire.
It was a sharp, but wholesome, lesson to my vanity and pride, to find
myself, so soon as deprived of my factitious advantage of inherited
wealth, less able to provide for my commonest wants than the
fustian-coated mechanic and hob-nailed labourer, whom I had been wont to
splash with my carriage-wheel and despise as an inferior race of beings.
Bitter were my reflections, great was my perplexity, during the month
succeeding my sudden change of fortune. I passed whole days lying upon
the bed in my melancholy lodging, or leaning out of the window, which
looked over a dreary range of roofs, ruminating my forlorn position, and
endeavouring, but in vain, to find a remedy. This was urgent; but no
cudgelling of my brain suggested one, and at last I saw myself on the
brink of destitution. A score of five-franc pieces had constituted my
whole fortune after satisfying my former extortionate landlord. These
were nearly gone, and I knew not how to obtain another shilling; for my
kit was reduced to linen and the most indispensable necessaries. I now
learned upon how little a man may live, and even thrive and be healthy.
During that month, I contrived to keep my expenses of food and lodging
within two francs a-day, making the whole month’s expenditure
considerably less than I had commonly thrown away on an epicurean
breakfast or dinner. And I was all the better for the coarse regimen to
which I thus suddenly found myself reduced. Harassed in mind though I
was, my body felt the benefit of unusual abstinence from deep potations,
late hours, and sustained dissipation. The large amount of foot-exercise
I took during these few weeks, doubtless contributed also to restore
tone and vigour to a constitution which my dissolute career, however mad
and reckless, had not been long enough seriously to impair. When weary
of my lonesome attic, I would start through the nearest barrier,
avoiding the streets and districts where I might encounter former
acquaintances, and take long walks in the environs of Paris, returning
with an appetite that gave a relish even to the tough and unsavoury
viands of a cheap _traiteur_.

“It chanced, upon a certain day, when striding along the road to
Orleans, that I met a regiment of hussars changing their quarters from
that town to Paris. The morning sun shone brightly on their
accoutrements; the hoofs of their well-groomed horses rang upon the
frosty road; the men, closely wrapped in their warm pelisses, looked
cheerful, in good case, and in high spirits at the prospect of a sojourn
in the capital. I seated myself upon a gate to see them pass, and could
not avoid making a comparison between my position and that of a private
dragoon, which resulted considerably to my disadvantage. I was not then
so well aware as I have since become, of all the hardships and
disagreeables of a soldier’s life; and it appeared to me that these
fellows, well clothed, well mounted, and with their daily wants provided
for, were perfect kings compared to a useless, homeless, destitute being
like myself. Their profession was an honourable one; their regiment was
their home; they had comrades and friends; and their duty as soldiers
properly done, none could reproach or oppress them. The column marched
by, and was succeeded by the rearguard, half-a-dozen smart, sunburned
hussars, with carbine on thigh; one of whom sang, in a mellow tenor
voice, and with considerable taste, the well-known soldier’s song out of
_La Dame Blanche_. In their turn, they disappeared behind a bend of the
road; but the spirited burthen of the ditty still reached my ears after
they were lost to my view—

                    ‘Ah, quel plaisir! ah, quel plaisir!
                    Ah, quel plaisir d’être soldat!’

“I repeated to myself, as the last notes died in the distance, and
jumping off the gate, I turned my steps towards Paris, my mind strongly
inclining to the sabre and worsted lace.

“My half-formed resolution gathered strength from reflection, and on
reaching Paris, I proceeded straight to the Champ de Mars. The spectacle
that there met my eyes was of a nature to encourage my inclination to
embrace a military career, even in the humble capacity of a private
trooper. It was a cavalry field-day, and a number of squadrons manœuvred
in presence of several general officers and of a brilliant staff, whilst
soldiers of various corps,—dragoons, lancers, cuirassiers and hussars,
stood in groups watching the evolutions of their comrades. Veterans from
the neighbouring Hôtel des Invalides—scarred and mutilated old warriors,
who had shared the triumphs and reverses of the gallant French armies
from Valmy[7] to Waterloo—talked of their past campaigns and criticised
the movements of their successors in the ranks. Several of these parties
I approached within earshot, and overheard, with strong interest, many a
stirring reminiscence of those warlike days when the Corsican firebrand
set Europe in a flame, and spread his conquering legions from Moscow to
Andalusia. At last I came to a group of younger soldiers, who discussed
more recent if less glorious deeds of arms. The words _Bédouins_,
_razzia_, _Algérie_, recurred frequently in their discourse. I started
at the sounds. They reminded me of what I had previously forgotten, that
there was still a battle-field in the world where danger might be
encountered and distinction won. True, I might have wished a better
cause than that of encroachment and usurpation; more civilised foes than
the tawny denizens of the desert; a more humane system of warfare than
that pursued by the French in Africa. But my circumstances forbade
over-nicety, and that day I enlisted as volunteer in the light cavalry,
merely stipulating that I should be placed in a corps then serving in

Footnote 7:

  “From the cannonade at Valmy may be dated the commencement of the
  career of victory which carried their armies to Vienna and the
  Kremlin.”—Alison’s _History of Europe_, vol. iii. p. 210.

“Should you care to hear, I will give you at a future time some details
of my military novitiate and African adventures. The former was by no
means easy, the latter had little to distinguish them from those of
thousands of my comrades. A foreign service is rarely an agreeable
refuge, and that of France is undoubtedly the very worst an Englishman
can enter. The old antipathy to England, weakened in the breasts of
French civilians, still exists to a great extent amongst the military
classes of the population. A traditionary feeling of hatred and
humiliation has been handed down from the days of our Peninsular
victories, and especially from that of the crowning triumph at
Waterloo,—the battle won by treachery, as many Frenchmen affirm, and
some positively believe. A French barrack-room, I can assure you, is any
thing but a bed of roses to a British volunteer. I was better off,
however, than most of my countrymen would have been under similar
circumstances. Speaking the language like a native—better, indeed, than
the majority of those with whom I now found myself associated—I escaped
the mockery and annoyances which an English accent would inevitably have
perpetuated. My country was known, however; it was moreover discovered
that in birth and education I was superior to those about me, and these
circumstances were sufficient to draw upon me envy and insult. Of the
former I took no heed, the latter I promptly and fiercely resented,
feeling that to do so was the only means of avoiding a long course of
molestation. Two or three duels, whence my skill with the foils brought
me out unscathed and with credit, made me respected in my regiment, and
whilst thus establishing my reputation for courage, I did my best to
conciliate the good-will of those amongst whom I was henceforward to
live. To a great extent I was successful. My quality of an Englishman
gradually ceased to give umbrage or invite aggression, and, if not
forgotten, was rarely referred to.

“I was found an apt recruit, and after far less than the usual amount of
drill I was dismissed to my duty in the ranks of my present regiment,
with which I returned from Africa at the beginning of this winter, and
am now in garrison at Paris. My steady attention to my duties, knowledge
of writing and accounts, and conduct in one or two sharply-contested
actions, obtained me promotion to the grades of corporal and _fourrier_.
For my last advancement, to the highest non-commissioned rank, I am
indebted to an affair that occurred a few weeks before we left Africa. A
small division, consisting of three battalions and as many squadrons,
including mine, moved from Oran and its neighbourhood, for the purpose
of a reconnaissance. After marching for a whole day, we halted for the
night near a lonely cistern of water. The only living creature we saw
was a wretched little Arab boy, taking care of three lean oxen, who told
us that, with the exception of his parents, the whole tribe inhabiting
that district had fled on news of our approach, and were now far away.
This sounded rather suspicious, and all precautions were taken to guard
against surprise. Picquets and out-posts were established, the bivouac
fires blazed cheerily up, rations were cooked and eaten, and, wrapped in
our cloaks, we sought repose after the day’s fatigue. Tired though we
were, sleep was hard to obtain, especially for us cavalry men, by reason
of the uneasiness of our horses, which scarcely ceased for a moment to
neigh and kick and fight with each other. Troopers always look upon this
as a bad omen, and more than one old soldier, whilst caressing and
calming his restless charger, muttered a prediction of danger at hand.
For once, these military prophets were not mistaken. About two hours
after midnight, the bivouac was sunk in slumber, the horses had become
quieter, and the silence was rarely broken, save by the warning cry of
‘_Sentinelle, garde à vous!_’ when suddenly a few dropping shots were
heard, the drum of a picquet rattled a loud alarm, and a shout arose of
‘_Les Arabes!_’ In an instant, the encampment, so still before, swarmed
like a hive of bees. Luckily we had all laid down fully accoutred, with
our weapons beside us, so that, as we sprang to our feet, we found
ourselves ready for action. The general, who alone had a small tent,
rushed half-dressed from under his canvass. Our veteran colonel was on
foot with the first, cool as on parade, and breathing defiance.
‘_Chasseurs_, to your horses!’ shouted he in stentorian tones, hoarse
from the smoke of many battles. At the word we were in the saddle. On
every side we heard wild and savage shouts, and volleys of small arms,
and the picquets, overpowered by numbers, came scampering in, with heavy
loss and in much confusion. There was no moon, but by the starlight we
saw large bodies of white shadowy figures sweeping around and towards
our encampment. Our infantry had lain down in order, by companies and
battalions, according to a plan of defence previously formed, and now
they stood in three compact squares, representing the three points of a
triangle; whilst in the intervals the squadrons manœuvred, and the
artillery-men watched opportunities to send the contents of their light
mountain-howitzers amongst the hostile masses. With whoop and wild
hurrah, and loud invocations of Allah and the Prophet, the Bedouin
hordes charged to the bayonet’s point, but recoiled again before
well-directed volleys, leaving the ground in front of the squares
strewed with men and horses, dead and dying. Then the artillery gave
them a round, and we cavalry dashed after them, pursuing and sabring
till compelled to retire before fresh and overwhelming masses. This was
repeated several times. There were many thousand Arabs collected around
us, chiefly horsemen; and had their discipline equalled their daring,
our position would have been perilous indeed. Undismayed by their heavy
loss, they returned again and again to the attack. At last the general,
impatient of the protracted combat, wheeled up the wings of the squares,
reserved the fire till the last moment, and received the assailants with
so stunning a discharge that they fled to return no more. The cavalry of
course followed them up, and our colonel, Monsieur de Bellechasse, an
old soldier of Napoleon’s, ever foremost where cut and thrust are
passing, headed the squadron to which I belong. Carried away by his
impetuosity, and charging home the flying Bedouins, he lost sight of
prudence, and we soon found ourselves surrounded by a raging host, who,
perceiving how few we were, stood at bay, and in their turn assumed the
offensive. Seen in the dim starlight, with their tawny faces, gleaming
eyes, white burnous, and furious gesticulations, the Arabs seemed a
legion of devils let loose for our destruction. Our ranks were
disordered by the pursuit, and we thus lost one of our chief advantages;
for the Bedouins, unable to resist the charge in line of disciplined
cavalry, are no despicable opponents in a hand to hand mêlée. And this
the combat soon became. Greatly out-numbered, we fought for our lives,
and of course fought our best. I found myself near the colonel, who was
assailed by two Arabs at one time. He defended himself like a lion, but
his opponents were strong and skilful, and years have impaired the
activity and vigour which procured him, a quarter of a century ago, the
reputation of one of the most efficient light dragoons in Buonaparte’s
armies. There were none to aid him, for all had their hands full and I
myself was sharpset with a brawny Bedouin, who made excellent use of his
scimitar. At last I disabled him by a severe cut on the sword arm; he
gnashed his teeth with rage, turned his beautiful horse with lightning
swiftness, and fled from the fight before I had time to complete my
work. I was glad to be quit of him at any price, as I was now able to
strike in by the colonel’s side. The old warrior was hard put to; a
sabre cut had knocked off his shako, and inflicted a wound on his high,
bald forehead, slight indeed, but the blood from which, trickling into
his eyes, nearly blinded him, and he was fain to leave go his reins to
dash it away with his hand. The Arabs perceived their advantage, and
pressed him hard, when I charged one of them in the flank, bringing the
breast of my horse against the shoulder of his, and cutting at the same
time at his head. Man and beast rolled upon the ground. M. de
Bellechasse had scarcely time to observe, from whom the timely succour
came, when I dashed in before him, and drew upon myself the fury of his
remaining foe. Just then, to my infinite relief, I heard at a short
distance a steady regular fire of musketry. It was the infantry,
advancing to our support. The Arabs heard it also, and having had, for
one day, a sufficient taste of French lead, beat a precipitate retreat,
scouring away like phantoms, and disappearing in the gloom of the
desert. I was triply recompensed for my share in this action, by
honourable mention in general orders, by promotion to the rank of
_maréchal de logis_—equivalent to troop sergeant-major in the English
service—and by the personal thanks of my excellent old colonel, who
shook me heartily by the hand, and swore ‘_Mille millions de sabres!_’
that after successfully guarding his head against Russian, Prussian, and
Austrian, Englishman and Spaniard, he would have been ignominiously cut
to pieces by a brace of black-faced heathens, but for my timely
interposition. Since then, he has shown me unvarying kindness, for which
I am indebted chiefly to my preservation of his life, but partly also to
his high approval of the summary manner in which I upset, by a blow of
my sabre and bound of my horse, one of his swarthy antagonists,
reminding him, as he always mentions when telling the story, of a
similar feat of his own when attacked on the Russian retreat by three
gigantic Tartars from the Ukraine. Since we have been in garrison here,
he has frequently had me at his house, nominally to assist in the
arrangement of regimental accounts and orders, but in reality to take
opportunities of rendering me small kindnesses; and latterly, I am
inclined to think, a little, for the pleasure of talking to me of his
old campaigns. He soon discovered, what he previously had some inkling
of, that my original position in the world was superior to my present
one; and I am not without hopes, from hints he has let fall, that he
will, at no very distant day, procure my promotion to a cornetcy. These
hopes and alleviations enable me to support, with tolerable patience and
cheerfulness, the dull ordeal of a garrison life, seldom so pleasantly
varied as by my meeting with you. And now, that I have inflicted my
whole history upon you,” added Oakley, with a smile, “I must bid you
good bye, for duty calls,—no longer, it is true, to action in the field,
but to the monotonous routine of barrack ordinances.”

Thanking Oakley for his interesting narrative, I gave him my address,
and begged him to visit me. This he promised to do, and we parted. Three
days later he called upon me; I kept him to dine with me at my lodgings,
and had reason, during an evening of most agreeable conversation, to be
more than ever pleased with the tone of his mind and tenor of his
discourse. The unthinking rake of former days, must have learned and
reflected much during his period of adversity and soldiering, to convert
himself into the intelligent, well-informed, and unaffected man he had
now become. One thing that struck me in him, however, was an occasional
absence of mind and proneness to reverie. If there was a short pause in
the conversation, his thoughts seemed to wander far away; and at times
an expression of perplexed uneasiness, if not of care, came over his
countenance. I had only to address him, however, to dissipate these
clouds, whencesoever they came, and to recall his usual animated
readiness of manner.

A fortnight now elapsed without my again seeing him. I was to return to
England in a couple of days, and was busy one evening writing letters
and making preparations for departure, when the bell at the door of my
apartment was hastily rung. I opened, and Oakley entered. At first I
hardly, recognised him, for he was in plain clothes, which had the
effect of converting the smart sergeant into an exceedingly handsome and
gentlemanlike civilian. It struck me he looked paler than usual, and
grave, almost anxious. His first words were an apology for his intrusion
at so late an hour, which I cut short by an assurance of my gladness to
see him, and an inquiry if I could do any thing for him in England.

“When do you go?” said he.

“The day after to-morrow.”

“I want nothing there,” was his reply; “but before you go you can render
me a great service, if you will.”

“If I can, be sure that I will.”

“You may perhaps hesitate, when you hear what it is. I want you to be my
second in a duel.”

“In a duel!” I repeated, greatly astonished, and not over-pleased at the
idea of being mixed up in some barrack-room quarrel. “In a duel! and
with whom?”

“With an officer of my regiment.”

“Of your own rank, I presume?” said I, a little surprised at the sort of
assumption by which he called a sergeant an officer, without the usual
prefix of “non-commissioned.”

“In that case I need not have troubled you,” he replied; “I could have
found a dozen seconds. But my antagonist is a commissioned officer, a
lieutenant of the same regiment with myself, although in a different

“The devil he is!” I exclaimed. “That becomes cause for court-martial.”

“Undoubtedly,” replied Oakley, “for me, but no harm can accrue to you. I
am your countryman; I come to you in plain clothes and ask you to be my
second in a duel. You consent; we go on the ground and meet another man,
apparently a civilian, of whose military quality or grade you, are in no
way supposed cognisant. Duels occur daily in France, as you know, and no
notice is taken of them, even when fatal. I assure you there is no
danger for you.”

“I was not thinking of myself. But if you escape unhurt from the
encounter, you will be shot for attempting the life of your superior.”

Oakley shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, “I know that, but must take
my chance;” but made no other reply to my remark.

“I will tell you the circumstances,” he said, “and you shall judge for
yourself if I can avoid the duel. When talking to you of my kind old
colonel, I did not tell you of his only daughter, Bertha de Bellechasse,
the most beautiful and fascinating of her sex. On our return from
Africa, the colonel, in his gratitude for the man who had saved his
life, presented me to his wife and child, pronouncing at the same time
an exaggerated encomium on my conduct. The ladies gave me their hands to
kiss, and had I shed half my blood in saying that of the colonel, I
should have been more than repaid by Bertha’s gracious smile, and warm
expression of thanks to her father’s preserver. Madame de Bellechasse, I
suspect, was about to give me her purse, but was checked by a sign from
her husband, who doubtless told them, after my departure, as much as he
knew of my history,—that I was a foreigner and a gentleman, whom
circumstances had driven to don the coarse vest of the private dragoon.
He may perhaps have added some of the romantic stories current in the
regiment when I first joined. I had never been communicative, concerning
my past life, which I felt was nothing to boast of; and regimental
gossips had drawn upon their invention for various strange tales about
the Milord Anglais. When I became domesticated in the corps, and my
country was almost forgotten, these fictitious histories ceased to be
repeated and fell into oblivion; but some of them were revived for the
benefit of the colonel, when, after the action near Oran, he instituted
inquiries concerning me amongst his officers. It was not till some weeks
later, that he asked and received from me a plain, unvarnished account
of my very common-place career. It is possible that the sort of mystery
previously attaching to me, combined with her father’s glowing eulogiums
and her own gratitude for his preservation, worked upon Bertha’s ardent
and susceptible imagination, prepossessing her in my favour. For my
part, I had been struck to the heart by the very first glance from the
dark eyes that sparkled like diamonds beneath their lashes of sable
silk; I had been captivated and fettered on the instant, by the smile of
enchanting sweetness that played round her graceful lips. For a while I
struggled steadfastly against the impulse to adore her; its indulgence I
felt would be madness, and could result but in misery. What folly for
the penniless soldier, even though time and her father’s protection
should convert him into an equally penniless officer, to raise his eyes
to the rich, the beautiful, the brilliant daughter of the Count de
Bellechasse! Rejection, ridicule, contempt could be the sole recompense
of such presumption. M. de Bellechasse, although an officer of
Napoleon’s, is of old French nobility; his wealth is very great; and if
he still continues to serve, it is solely from enthusiastic love of his
profession. His daughter is a match for the first in the land. All these
and many more such arguments did I again and again repeat to myself; but
when had reason a chance against love? Repeatedly did I vow to forget
the fair vision that had crossed, my path and troubled my repose, or to
think of her only as the phantom of a dream, unsubstantial and
unattainable. But the resolution was scarcely formed, when I found
myself dwelling in rapture on her perfections, recapitulating the few
gentle words she had addressed to me, recalling her voice, her look, her
gesture—everything about her, even to the most minute details. One
moment, in view of the precipice on whose brink I stood, I swore to shun
her perilous presence, and to avert my eyes should I again find myself
in it: not an hour afterwards I eagerly seized a pretext that led me to
her father’s house, and afforded me the possibility of another glimpse
of my idol. Such glimpses were not difficult to obtain. The colonel’s
partiality to me daily increased, and when I went to him on regimental
matters, and he was alone with his wife and daughter, he would receive
me in the drawing room in their presence, and waiving, for the time, the
difference of grade, would converse with me as affably as with an equal,
and make me repeat, for the amusement of the ladies, some of our African
skirmishes and adventures. Doubtless I should have avoided these
dangerous interviews, but how was it to be done without an appearance of
ingratitude and discourtesy? Truth to tell, I taxed my invention but
little for means of escaping them. I continued to see Bertha, and at
each interview my passion gathered strength. She listened with marked
attention to my anecdotes of our campaigns. These I always addressed to
her father or mother; but without looking at her, I could feel her eyes
fixed upon me with an expression of interest, and, I at last ventured to
think, of a more tender feeling. About this time the colonel frequently
kept me for hours together at his house, arranging regimental papers and
accounts, in a room upon the ground floor, set apart for the purpose.
Within this room is another, used as a library, and thus it happened
that one day, when immersed in states and muster rolls, I beheld the
door open, and the fairy form of Bertha upon the threshold. She appeared
confused at seeing me; I rose and bowed in silence as she passed through
the apartment, but I was taken too much by surprise to have full command
over myself, and doubtless my eyes said something of what my lips would
gladly have spoken, for before Bertha reached the outer door, her cheeks
were suffused with blushes. Again and again these meetings, sweet as
transient, occurred. But I will not lose time or weary you by dwelling
upon such passages. Neither could I well explain, did I attempt it, how
it was that I one day found myself kneeling at Bertha’s feet, pouring
forth my soul in words of passionate love, and reading with ecstasy upon
her sweet countenance a blushing avowal of its return.

“The die thus cast, we abandoned ourselves to the charm of our
attachment, sadly embittered by its hopelessness. Since then, I have had
almost daily occupation at the colonel’s house, and Bertha has found
means to afford me brief but frequent interviews. At these we discussed,
but ever in vain, the possibility of breaking our secret to M. de
Bellechasse. Frank and affable though he is, the colonel’s pride of
birth is great, and we were well assured that the disclosure of our
correspondence would produce a terrific explosion of fury, consign
Bertha to the seclusion of a convent, and draw upon me his hatred and
revenge. This morning Bertha came into the room, upon the usual pretext
of seeking a book from the library, and the painful and perplexing topic
that has long and unceasingly occupied our thoughts, was again resumed.
For the first time, she had heard her father state his intention of
recommending me in the strongest terms for a commission. This let in a
ray of hope upon our despondency; and we resolved that, so soon as the
epaulet was on my shoulder, I should hazard a confession to the colonel.
The prospect of a termination to our cruel state of suspense, and the
possibility, faint though it indeed was, of a result favourable to our
wishes, brought a joyful gleam over Bertha’s lovely features, which have
lately grown pale with anxiety. On my part, I did my utmost to inspire
her with hopes I myself scarce dared to entertain, when, as she stood
beside me, her hand clasped in mine, a smile of affection upon her
countenance, the door suddenly opened, and, before we had time to
separate, Victor de Berg, a lieutenant in my regiment, and a suitor of
Bertha’s, made a step into the room. For an instant he stood like one
thunderstruck, and then, without uttering a word, abruptly turned upon
his heel and went out. The next minute the sound of his step in the
court warned us that he had left the house.

“Overwhelmed with terror and confusion to an extent that precluded
reflection, Bertha fled to her apartment, leaving me to deliberate on
the best course to adopt. My mind was presently made up. The only plan
was to seek Monsieur de Berg, inform him of our mutual attachment, and
appeal to his honour and generosity to preserve inviolate the secret he
had surprised. I hurried to his quarters, which were at no great
distance. He had already arrived there, and was pacing his apartment in
manifest agitation. Since our return from Africa, he had been a declared
admirer of Bertha’s; by family and fortune he was an eligible suitor,
and her father favoured his pretensions, contingent, however, upon his
daughter’s consent. Dismissing the servant who ushered me in, he
addressed me before I had time to enter upon the object of my visit.

“‘It is unnecessary,’ he said, in a voice choked with passionate
emotion, as I was about to speak. ‘I can guess all you would say. A
single instant informed me of the state of affairs; the half hour that
has elapsed since then, has sufficed to mark out my line of conduct. Mr
Oakley, I know that by birth and breeding you are above your station.
You have forgotten your present position; I will follow your example so
far as to waive our difference of military rank. As the friend of
Colonel de Bellechasse, I ought, perhaps, instantly to tell him what I
have this day learned; as his daughter’s suitor, and the son-in-law of
his choice, I select another course. Your secret is safe with me.
To-night you shall receive a leave of absence, entitling you to quit
your uniform; and to-morrow we will meet in the wood of Vincennes, not
as officer and sergeant, but as private gentlemen, with arms in our
hands. The man whom Bertha de Bellechasse distinguishes by her
preference, cannot be unworthy the proposal I now make to you. Do you
accept it?’

“I was astounded by the words. Accustomed to the iron rigidity of
military discipline, and to the broad gulf placed between officer and
soldier by the king’s commission, the possibility of a duel between M.
de Berg and myself, although it would have been no unnatural occurrence
between rivals of equal rank, had never occurred to me. For a moment I
could not comprehend the singular and unheard-of proposal; but a glance
at my challenger’s countenance, on which the passions agitating him were
plainly legible, solved the mystery of his motives. He was a prey to
jealous fury; and, moreover, the chivalrous generosity of his character,
combined, perhaps, with the fear of irretrievably offending Bertha,
prevented his pursuing the course most persons, in his place, would have
adopted, and revealing to Colonel de Bellechasse his daughter’s
predilection for an inferior. By a duel he hoped to rid himself of a
favoured rival, whom he might replace in Bertha’s heart. It was not
necessary she should know by whose hand I had fallen. Such were the
reasons that flashed across me, explaining his strange offer of a
personal encounter. Doubtless, I defined them more clearly than he
himself did. I believe he spoke and acted upon the first vague impulse
of a passionate nature, racked by jealousy, and thirsting for revenge
upon its cause. I saw at once, however, that by accepting the duel I
virtually secured his silence; and overjoyed to preserve my secret, and
shield Bertha from her father’s wrath at so cheap a price as the
exposure of my life, I eagerly accepted M. de Berg’s proposal, thanking
him warmly for his generosity in thus repudiating the stern prejudices
of military rank.

“After fixing hour and weapons, I left him, and then only did the
difficulty of finding a second occur to me. For obvious reasons, I could
not ask the assistance of a comrade; and out of my regiment I had not a
single friend in Paris. In my difficulty I thought of you. Our brief
acquaintance scarcely warrants my request; but the kindness you have
already shown me encourages the hope that you will not refuse me this
service. M. de Berg is a man of strict honour, and you may depend on
your name and share in the affair remaining undivulged. Even were they
known, you, as a foreigner and civilian, would in no way be compromised
by the relative position of my opponent and myself, which renders me
liable, should the affair get wind, to a court-martial and severe

Although opposed to duelling, except under circumstances of
extraordinary aggravation, I had been more than once unavoidably mixed
up in affairs of the kind; and the apprehension of unpleasant results
from accession to Oakley’s request, did not for an instant weigh with
me. I was greatly struck by the romantic and chivalrous conduct of M. de
Berg, and felt strong sympathy with Oakley, in the painful and most
peculiar position into which his early follies and unfortunate
attachment had brought him. Very brief deliberation was necessary to
decide me to act as his second. There was no time to lose, and I begged
him to put me at once in possession of the details of the affair, and to
tell me where I could find De Berg’s second. I was not sorry to learn
that it was unnecessary for me to see him, and that all preliminaries
were in fact arranged. The duel not being one of those that the
intervention of friends may prevent, and Oakley having already fixed
time and place with his antagonist, my functions became limited to
attending him on the ground. It grew late, and Oakley left me for the
night. In order to preserve my incognito in the business, for I had no
desire to figure in newspaper paragraphs, or to be arraigned before a
criminal tribunal, even with certainty of acquittal, we agreed to meet
at eight o’clock the next morning, at a certain coffee-house, a
considerable distance from my lodgings, whence a cabriolet would convey
us to the place of rendezvous.

It was a fresh and beautiful spring morning, when Oakley and myself
descended from our hack vehicle, near the little village of St Mandé,
and struck into the Bois de Vincennes. There had been rain during the
night, and the leaves and grass were heavy with water drops. The sky was
bright blue, and the sun shone brilliantly; but over the ground and
between the tree trunks floated a light mist, like the smoke of a
skirmish, growing thinner as it ascended, and dissipated before it
reached the topmost branches. At some distance within the wood, we
turned into a secluded glade, seated ourselves upon a fallen tree, and
waited. We had come faster than we expected, and were fully a quarter of
an hour before our time; but in less than five minutes we heard the
sound of steps and voices, soon succeeded by the appearance of three
gentlemen, one of whom, by his military gait and aspect, more than by
the moustaches so commonly worn in France, I conjectured to be the
officer of Chasseurs. In one of his companions I recognised, after a
brief puzzle of memory, a well-known and popular _littérateur_;
doubtless M. de Berg, from motives of delicacy, had not chosen to ask
the aid of a brother officer in his duel with a military inferior. The
black coat and grave aspect of the third stranger sufficiently indicated
the doctor, who, on reaching the ground separated himself from his
companions and retired a little to one side. The others bowed to Oakley
and myself. M. de Berg’s second stepped forward, and I advanced to meet
him. I was particularly pleased with the appearance of Oakley’s
antagonist. He was a young man of six or seven and twenty, of very dark
complexion, flashing black eyes, and a countenance expressive of daring
resolution and a fiery temperament. I should have taken him for an
Italian, and I afterwards learned that he was a native of Provence, born
within a stone’s-throw of Italy. I never saw an ardent and enthusiastic
character more strongly indicated by physiognomy, than in the case of
this young officer; and I began to understand and explain to myself the
feelings that had impelled him to challenge the man preferred by the
mistress of his choice, even although that man’s position was such as,
in the eyes of society, forbade the encounter.

More as a matter of duty than with expectation of success, I asked De
Berg’s second if there were no chance of this meeting terminating
peaceably. He shook his head with a decided gesture.

“Impossible,” he said. “I am ignorant of the cause of quarrel: I know
not even your principal’s name. My friend, who may possibly be equally
unknown to you, has asked my assistance, pledging himself that the duel
is a just and honourable one, which cannot be avoided, but whose motive
he has reasons to conceal even from me. Satisfied with this assurance,
reposing implicit confidence in his word, I inquire no further.
Moreover, once upon the ground, it is difficult creditably to arrange an
affair of this kind.”

I bowed without replying. The ground was measured, the pistols loaded,
the men placed. The toss-up of a five-franc piece gave the first-fire to
M. de Berg. His bullet grazed Oakley’s cheek, but so slightly as
scarcely to draw blood. Oakley fired in return. The officer staggered,
turned half round, and fell to the ground, the bone of his right leg
broken below the knee. His second, the doctor, and I, ran forward to his
assistance. As we did so, three soldiers, who it afterwards appeared had
witnessed, from their concealment amongst the trees, the whole of the
proceedings, emerged from the shelter of the foliage, and walked across
one end of the open space where the duel had taken place, casting
curious and astonished glances in our direction. They had not yet
disappeared, when De Berg, whom we had raised into a sitting posture,
caught sight of them. He started, and uttered an exclamation of
vexation, then looked at Oakley, who had left his ground and stood near
to the wounded man.

“Do you see that?” said De Berg, hurriedly, wincing as he spoke, under
the hands of the surgeon, who by this time had cut off his boot and
trousers, and was manipulating the damaged limb.

The soldiers were now again lost to view in the thick wood. It occurred
to me that two of them wore dragoon uniforms.

Oakley bowed his head assentingly.

“You had better be off, and instantly,” said the lieutenant. “Go to
England or Germany. You have leave for a week. I will procure you a
prolongation; but be off at once, and get away from Paris. Those fellows
have recognised us, and will not be prevented talking.”

He spoke in broken sentences, and with visible effort, for the surgeon
was all the while poking and probing at the leg in a most uncomfortable
manner, and De Berg was pale from pain and loss of blood. Oakley looked
on with an expression of regret, and showed no disposition to the hasty
flight recommended him.

“Well, doctor,” said the officer, with a painful smile, “my dancing is
spoilt, eh?”

“_Bagatelle!_” replied the man of lancets. “Clean fracture, neat wound,
well as ever in a month. Your blood’s too hot, _mon lieutenant_, you’ll
be all the better for losing a little of it.”

“There, there,” said De Berg kindly to Oakley, “no harm done, you see—to
me at least. I should be sorry that any ensued to you. Away with you at
once. Take him away, sir,” he added to me, “he risks his life by this

I took Oakley’s arm, and led him unresistingly away. He was deep in
thought, and scarcely replied to one or two observations I addressed to
him whilst walking out of the wood. Our cabriolet was waiting; we got
in, and took the road to Paris. “I hope you intend following M. de
Berg’s advice,” said I, “and leaving the country for a while, until you
are certain this affair does not become known. He evidently fears its
getting wind through those soldiers.”

“And he is right,” said Oakley. “Two of them are of my squadron, and of
those two, one is a bad character whom I have frequently had to punish.
He will assuredly not lose this opportunity of revenge.”

“Then you must be off at once to England. My passport is already
countersigned, and you can have it. There is not much similarity in our
age and appearance, but that will never be noticed.”

“A thousand thanks. But I think I shall remain in Paris.”

“And be brought to a court-martial? To what punishment are you liable?”

“Death, according to the letter of the law. The French articles of war
are none of the mildest. But, under the circumstances, I daresay I
should get off with a few years’ imprisonment, followed, perhaps, by
serving in a condemned regiment.”

“A pleasant alternative, indeed,” said I.

“I am no way anxious to incur it,” replied Oakley; “but, in fact I am as
safe in Paris as any where, at least for a day or two; and possibly M.
de Berg may find means of securing the silence of the witnesses. At any
rate, it will be time enough to-morrow or the next day to make a run of
it. I cannot go upon the instant. There is one person I must see or
communicate with before I leave.”

I guessed whom he meant, and saw, from his manner, he was resolved to
remain, so used no farther arguments to dissuade him. Before entering
Paris, we dismissed our vehicle and separated; he betook himself to a
small retired lodging, where he had taken up his quarters since the
previous evening, and I went home to resume my preparations for
departure. I remained in-doors till after dinner, and then repaired to a
well-known coffee-house, frequented chiefly by military men. As I had
feared, the strange duel between Victor de Berg and a sergeant of his
regiment was already the talk of the town. It had been immediately
reported by the soldiers who had seen it; M. de Berg was under close
arrest, and the police were diligently seeking his antagonist. I left
the café, jumped into a cabriolet, and made all speed to Oakley’s
lodging. He was out. I went again, as late as eleven o’clock, but still
he was absent; and I was obliged to content myself with leaving a note,
containing a word of caution and advice, which I prudently abstained
from signing. I then went home and to bed, not a little uneasy about
him. The next morning I breakfasted at the coffee-house, in order to get
the news; and the first thing I heard was intelligence of Oakley’s
capture. He had been taken the previous evening, in the neighbourhood of
the colonel’s house, around which he doubtless hovered in hopes to
obtain sight or speech of Bertha.

Few courts-martial ever excited a stronger interest in the French
military world than those held upon Lieutenant Victor de Berg and the
_maréchal de logis_ Francis Oakley. The case was one almost unparalleled
in the annals of military offences. A duel between an officer and a
sergeant was a thing previously unheard-of; and the mystery in which its
causes were enveloped, aggravated the universal curiosity and
excitement. The offenders resolutely refused to throw light upon the
subject; it had been vainly endeavoured to ascertain their seconds; the
surgeon who attended on the ground had been sought for equally in vain;
after placing the first dressings he had disappeared, and another had
been summoned to the sufferer’s bedside. The wound proved of little
importance, and, with the assistance of crutches, De Berg was soon able
to get out. Upon their trials, he and Oakley persisted in the same
system of defence. When off duty, they said, they had met, in society,
and had had a dispute on a subject unconnected with the service; the
result had been an agreement to settle their difference with pistols.
Oakley refused to state from whom the challenge proceeded; but
Lieutenant de Berg proclaimed himself the aggressor, and, aware that the
sentence would weigh far more heavily on Oakley than on himself,
generously assumed a large share of blame. As to the cause of quarrel,
names of the seconds, and all other particulars, both culprits
maintained a determined silence, which no endeavours of friends or
judges could induce them to break. Colonel de Bellechasse and various
other officers visited Oakley in his prison, and did their utmost to
penetrate the mystery. Their high opinion both of him and De Berg,
convinced them there was something very extraordinary and unusual at the
bottom of the business, and that its disclosure would tell favourably
for the prisoners. But nothing could be got out of the obstinate
duellists, who called no witnesses, except to character. Of these, a
host attended, for both Oakley and De Berg; and nothing could be
stronger than the laudatory testimonials given them by their superiors
and comrades. These, doubtless, had weighed with the court, for its
sentence was considered very lenient. Oakley was condemned to five
years’ imprisonment, for attempting the life of his officer; De Berg was
reprimanded for his forgetfulness of discipline, in provoking or
consenting to a personal encounter with a subordinate, was removed from
his regiment, and placed in non-activity, which, under the
circumstances, was equivalent to dismissal from the service, less the

I remained in Paris till the sentence of the court was known. Although
by no means desirous to be brought forward in the business, I was
willing to waive my repugnance if, by so doing I could benefit Oakley.
With some difficulty I obtained access to him, begged him to prescribe a
course for my adoption, and frankly to tell me if my evidence could be
of service. He assured me it could not; there, was no question of the
fairness of the duel, and the sole crime was in the breach of military
discipline. This crime, my testimony could in no way palliate. He
requested me to see M. de Berg, and to tell him that, to avoid the
possibility of the cause of the duel becoming known, he should refuse to
answer questions, plead guilty to the charge, and state, as sole
extenuation, that the quarrel occurred off duty, and had no connexion
with military matters. This commission I duly executed. Another which he
intrusted to me I found greater difficulty in performing. It was to
procure information concerning Bertha de Bellechasse. After some
unsuccessful attempts, I at last ascertained that she had been for some
days confined to her bed by indisposition. This was sad news for Oakley,
and I was loath to convey them to him, but I had promised him the exact
truth. Fortunately I was able, to tell him at the same time that the
young lady’s illness was not of a dangerous character, although the
species of nervous languor which had suddenly and unaccountably seized
her, caused great alarm to her parents, and especially to the colonel,
who idolised his only child. Oakley was sadly depressed on learning the
effect upon Bertha of his imprisonment and dangerous position, and made
me promise to keep him informed of the variations in her state of
health. This I did; but the bulletins were not of a very satisfactory
nature, and in Oakley’s pale and haggard countenance upon the day of
trial, attributed by the spectators to uneasiness about his own fate, I
read the painful and wearing anxiety the illness of his mistress
occasioned him.

The sentence was no sooner published, than every effort was made to
procure Oakley’s pardon, or, failing that, a commutation of his
punishment. Colonel de Bellechasse used all the interest he could
command; Monsieur de Berg set his friends to work; and I, on my part,
did every thing in my power to obtain mercy for the unfortunate young
man. All our endeavours were fruitless. The minister of war refused to
listen to the applications by which he was besieged. In a military view,
the crime was flagrant, subversive of discipline, and especially
dangerous as a precedent in an army where promotion from the ranks
continually placed between men, originally from the same class of
society and long comrades and equals, the purely conventional barrier of
the epaulet. The court-martial, taking into consideration the peculiar
character of the offence, had avoided the infliction of an ignominious
punishment. Oakley was not sentenced to the _boulet_, or to be herded
with common malefactors; his doom was to simple imprisonment. And that
doom the authorities refused to mitigate.

Some days had elapsed since Oakley’s condemnation. Returning weary and
dispirited from a final attempt to interest an influential personage in
his behalf, I was startled by a smart tap upon the shoulder, and looking
round, beheld the shrewd, good-humoured countenance of Mr Anthony
Scrivington, a worthy man and excellent lawyer, who had long had entire
charge of my temporal affairs. Upon this occasion, however, I felt small
gratification at sight of him, for I had a lawsuit pending, on account
of which I well knew I ought to have been in England a month previously,
and should have been, but for this affair of Oakley’s, which had
interested and occupied me to the exclusion of my personal concerns. My
solicitor’s unexpected appearance made me apprehend serious detriment
from my neglect. He read my alarm upon my countenance.

“Ah!” said he, “conscience pricks you, I see. You know I have been
expecting you these six weeks. No harm done, however; we shall win the
day, not a doubt of it.”

“Then you are not come about my business?”

“Not the least, although I shall take you back with me, now I have found
you. A very different affair brings me over. By the bye, you may perhaps
help me. You know all Paris. I am come to look for an Englishman.”

“You need not look long,” said I, glancing at a party of unmistakeable
Britons, who stood talking broad Cockney on the Boulevard.

“Aye, but not _any_ Englishman. I want one in particular, the heir to a
pretty estate of eight or ten thousand a-year. He was last heard of in
Paris, three years ago, and since then all trace of him is lost. ’Tis an
odd affair enough. No one could have expected his coming to the estate.
A couple of years since, there were two young healthy men in his way.
Both have died off,—and he is the owner of Oakley Manor.”

“Of what?” I exclaimed, in a tone of voice that made Scrivington stagger
back, and for a moment drew the eyes of the whole street upon us. “What
did you say?”

“Oakley Manor,” stammered the alarmed attorney, settling his
well-brushed hat, which had almost fallen from his head with the start
he had given. “Old Valentine Oakley died the other day, and his nephew
Francis comes into the estate. But what on earth is the matter with

For sole reply I grasped his arm, and dragged him into my house, close
to which we had arrived. There, five minutes cleared up every thing, and
convinced Scrivington and myself that the man he sought now languished,
a condemned criminal, in a French military prison.

It is unnecessary to dwell upon what all will conjecture; superfluous to
detail the active steps that were at once taken in Oakley’s behalf, with
very different success, now that the unknown sergeant had suddenly
assumed the character of an English gentleman of honourable name and
ample fortune. Persons of great influence and diplomatic weight, who
before had refused to espouse the cause of an obscure adventurer in a
foreign service, suffered themselves to be prevailed upon, and
interceded efficaciously for the master of Oakley Manor. It was even
said that a letter was written on the subject by an English general of
high distinction to an old opponent in arms. Be that as it may, all
difficulties were at length overcome, and Oakley received his free
pardon and discharge from the French service. And that equal measure of
clemency might be shown, De Berg, upon the same day, was allowed to
resume his place in his regiment.

I would tell how the news of her lover’s pardon proved more potent than
all the efforts of the faculty to bring back joy to Bertha’s heart and
the roses to her check; how Colonel Count de Bellechasse, on being
informed of the attachment between his daughter and Oakley, and of the
real cause of the duel, at first stormed and was furious, but gradually
allowed himself to be mollified, and finally gave his consent to their
union; how De Berg exchanged into a regiment serving in Africa, and has
since gained laurels and high rank in the pursuit of the intangible
Abd-el-Kader. But I have no time to expatiate upon any of these
interesting matters, for I leave town to-morrow morning for Oakley
Manor, to pay my annual visit to MY ENGLISH ACQUAINTANCE.

                       OUR WEST INDIAN COLONIES.

It is full time that the nation should be roused to an acute sense of
the perilous position in which it has been placed, by a hitherto
unparalleled union of quackery, conceit, and imbecility. The system of
legislation which we have been pursuing for many years, under the
guidance of rival statesmen, each attempting to outdo the other in
subserviency to popular prejudice, is a manifest and admitted departure,
on almost every point, from the principles of that older system through
which we attained the culminating point of our greatness. We do not
complain of such changes as are inevitable from altered circumstances,
and in some degree from the altered spirit of the times—but we protest
against social changes, forced on, as if in mere wantonness, against
warning and against experience, either for the sake of exhibiting the
dexterity of the operator, or for the poorer and meaner object of
attaining the temporary possession of power. We look in vain, both in
the past and present Cabinet, for that firm purpose, prescience, and
honesty which were considered, in old times, the leading characteristics
of the British statesman. We can see, in the drama of late events,
nothing but the miserable spectacle of party degenerating into coterie,
and coterie prostituting itself to agitation and corrupt influence, for
the sake of the retention of office. It may be that such is the
inevitable result of the triumph of the so-called liberal principles;
and, indeed, the example of America would go far to prove that such
principles cannot coexist along with a high state of political morality
and honour; but that, at all events, is no excuse for the conduct of the
men who, reared under better training, have led us insensibly to the
path down which we are now proceeding with such recklessness and with
such precipitation.

The commercial crisis of the last year may well furnish the electors of
these kingdoms with some topics for their anxious and solemn
consideration. That momentous and uncalled-for change in the currency,
effected by the Acts of 1844, is already brought under the active notice
of the legislature; and though the process may be tedious—for the whole
subject-matter, it seems, is to pass through the weary alembic of a
committee—we are not without hopes that the common sense of the nation
will be vindicated in this important particular. Recent events, too,
have somewhat shaken the faith of many in the efficacy of that
celebrated panacea called Free-trade, without the promise of a foreign
reciprocity. A few more quarterly accounts, with their inevitable
deficits, and an augmentation of the income-tax, will serve still
further to demonstrate the true nature of the blessings which we are
destined to enjoy under the system hatched by Cobden, and adopted by
Russell and by Peel. Even now the credit of the great free-trade
apostle, formerly so extensive, is somewhat impaired by the novel views
he has promulgated for contracting the expenditure of the State. The
true means, as we are now told, for insuring the success of the
experiment of Free-trade, are the disbandment of our standing army, and
the abolition of our war navy; and pitiful stuff to this effect has
actually been enunciated by the man to whom Sir Robert Peel avowed
himself indebted for the most important lesson in political economy
which he had learned throughout the course of a long—would we could add
a consistent—career of statesmanship! Well, indeed, might some or the
old friends and supporters of Mr Cobden recoil in astonishment from this
display of weak and miserable fatuity! Well might they stand aghast, and
even doubt the evidence of their senses, at hearing such doleful folly
from the lips of their quondam oracle! If this is all the wisdom which
the Manchester manufacturer has gathered in the course of his recent
travels—if these are the deductions he has made, the fruits he has
collected from Barcelona banquets and Leghorn demonstrations, we give
him joy of his augmented knowledge of the world, his increased political
sagacity, and his extended experience of the motives and actions of

Mr Cobden, we shrewdly suspect, has served his turn, and must now submit
quietly and gradually to lapse into the obscurity out of which he was
borne by the force of circumstances. He can afford to do it; and the
nation, we believe, will not think the less of him for retiring under
the cover of his former victory. On his part the contest was
strenuously, and we believe honestly, conducted. The principles he
advocated became triumphant, not through the will of the nation, or the
conviction of the majority of its representatives, but through a
singular combination of craft, weakness, and ambition. How those
principles, when reduced to practice, and in full operation, may work,
is the problem which all of us are trying in our different spheres to
solve. Hitherto the results of the experiment have been a palpable
national loss, with extensive individual suffering, and a diminution of
employment to the labouring classes; and though other causes may for the
present be adduced as tending to these calamitous circumstances, time,
the great expositor of human affairs, must soon decide in favour of the
one party or of the other.

We have thought it our duty of late to speak out so strongly and so
fully on the subject of the internal commercial state of Great Britain,
that we need not, on the present occasion, resume the argument, although
that is far from exhausted. Indeed, our intention in the present article
is to entreat the attention of the people of this country, and of
Parliament, to a case which will brook no delay,—which is of imminent
and paramount interest to us all; and which, if not now considered as
justice and humanity demand,—if not speedily adjusted, without the
interposition of those formalities and delays which are the last refuge
of a tottering ministry,—must not only entail the ruin of our oldest,
our fairest, and our most productive colonies, but sacrifice British
capital already invested, on the faith of public honesty, to an enormous
extent, and finally leave a blot upon our national honour. It is after
the most careful review of the whole circumstances and evidences of the
case,—after the perusal of almost every document of authority which
could throw light upon the subject,—after personal communication with
parties whose means of knowledge are unequalled, and whose high
character places them beyond the suspicion of any thing like
self-interest or dissimulation,—that we deliberately state our opinion,
_that not only are our West Indian and sugar growing American colonies
at this moment in imminent danger of being abandoned; but, through the
course of reckless legislation pursued by her Majesty’s present
Ministers_, THE SLAVE TRADE, _in all its horrors, has received direct
and prodigious encouragement_.

We do hope and trust, that, notwithstanding all the political slang and
misrepresentation with which, of late years, hired and uneducated
adventurers have inundated the country, it is not necessary to point out
to the thoughtful and well-disposed portion of our countrymen the
extreme importance of maintaining the relations which have hitherto
subsisted between Great Britain and her colonies. These relations have
been notoriously the envy of every maritime state of Europe; they have
proved invaluable to us in times of difficulty and danger; and in peace
they have contributed greatly to our wealth, our commerce, and our
aggrandisement. In the words of a colonial writer, whose pamphlet is now
lying before us,—

    “Great Britain had for ages acted on the grand principle of creating
    a world for herself out of the countries of each hemisphere, to
    which her ships might carry the treasures of her factories and
    mines, and from which, in return, they might bring the products of
    each clime, not as from a foreign state, but an integral part of the
    empire. Her colonies fostered her marine establishment, which again
    united the most distant of her territories with the parent country
    in one mighty whole; (free trade substitutes foreign nations for
    colonies, with what result the world will see;) affording all the
    advantages which could be derived from trading with other nations in
    different parts of the world, without any of the draw-backs
    necessarily attending commercial intercourse, liable to interruption
    from war, or the capricious policy of people having different
    manners and customs from our own. She regulated this trade as she
    thought proper, her colonies going hand-in-hand with her, and,
    excepting in one unhappy instance, that of the Americans, where she
    unjustly attempted to take their money to pay her expenses, concord
    and prosperity marked the career of the nation and its dependencies.
    In an evil hour her manufacturers, elated with their good fortune,
    began to dream of making cloth for the whole globe. Political
    economists, instigated by them, advanced the specious and deceitful
    doctrines of free trade. The very phrase has a catching sound to men
    who are not disposed to study the interests of one country as
    opposed to those of another, and the belief in the infallibility of
    tenets so strenuously recommended gaining ground, until it became
    too strong for the government of the country, the humiliating
    spectacle was presented to the nation of a minister, who during a
    long public career, had been the most zealous opponent of the new
    doctrines, proposing to carry them into effect.”[8]

Footnote 8:

  _Thoughts on British Guiana._ By a Planter. 2d Edition. Demerara,

We now arrived at the point,—or rather we had reached it in 1846,—when
free trade interests, and those of colonial establishments, came into
direct and unquestionable collision. The Whig party, taking their stand
upon the maxim of “buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest
market,” thought fit to extend to the article of sugar the same immunity
which Sir Robert Peel had previously bestowed upon corn. The Sugar Act,
which received the royal assent upon the 18th August 1846, was, at all
events, a bold and a decided measure. It utterly repudiated the
principle laid down in former Sugar Acts, the last of which, contained
in the Statute Book, (24th April 1845,) broadly recognised the
distinction between sugars which were the produce of free and of slave
labour. This distinction is now utterly and entirely done away with.
There is, indeed, attached to the act, a schedule which, until the year
1851, provides for a reduced sliding scale of differential duties in
favour of the British colonist. Thus, in the article of sugar, muscovado
or clayed, there is a difference of duty, for the present year, in
favour of the colonies, of six shillings per cwt., which is to decrease
at the rate of one shilling and sixpence per annum, until the
equalisation is effected. This difference, however, is, as we shall
undertake to show, at the present moment merely nominal; and, even were
it otherwise, utterly insufficient and unjust. But, at present, let us
attend to the principle of the later act, which, as we apprehend,
embodies two positions.

1st, That the sugar-growing colonies of Great Britain stand in need of
no protection whatever; and, 2dly, That it is wrong to put any
prohibitory duty in the way of the free use and consumption of
slave-grown sugar in this country.

The first position is, of course, a matter of statistics, which we shall
argue exclusively upon that ground. There are, indeed, certain topics
connected with it, bearing less or more upon questions of public faith
and general expediency, which we cannot entirely throw aside; but we
shall attempt, if possible, to avoid all declamation, and to give a
plain and distinct statement of the facts, as they have reached us
through various channels. The second position involves questions of a
more serious nature. We have, hitherto, believed that if any Briton were
deliberately asked the question, what principle or what act of universal
philanthropy and benevolence he was most proud of as displaying the
Christian character of his country, he would, without hesitation, refer
to the struggles and sacrifices which have been made for the abolition
of slavery throughout the world, and more especially to the stringent
and costly measures adopted by Great Britain for putting down the
infamous and most inhuman traffic in human flesh and blood. We say that,
hitherto, such has been our belief, and most devoutly do we wish that we
had no cause whatever to alter it. But we cannot look at the complexion
of the late measures, and at their notorious results, without being
convinced that the race for power, and the thirst after mammon, which
are daily becoming more and more undisguised in the political movements
and revolutionary legislation of this country, are weaning us from our
finer and our humaner instincts, destroying our once generous
sympathies, and rendering us wilfully blind to our duties to God and
man, whenever a temporary interest appears thrown into the opposite
scale. Of these two positions let us now address ourselves to the first,
not because it is in any degree the more important, but because, very
unfairly, it has been made the excuse and the palliation for the other.
The two positions, indeed, are so interwoven, as to be in some respects
entirely inseparable.

It is hardly necessary here to do more than remind our readers of the
great and generous effort made by this country for the abolition of
slavery in our colonies. For that purpose the nation agreed, without a
murmur, to pay the large sum of twenty millions sterling—a sacrifice to
principle and philanthropy which every one must allow to be unparalleled
in the annals of the world. At the same time we must not allow our
praise or admiration of this act to hurry us into extravagance or
exaggeration. The sum of twenty millions so granted was not a boon, but
merely compensation to a class of British subjects for the compulsory
surrender of a property which the law entitled them to hold. The
institution of slavery in the colonies, be it specially remembered, was
not the work of the planters, but of the British nation and crown. The
lands of Jamaica and other West Indian colonies were originally patented
on the special condition that they should be cultivated by slaves, for
the promotion of the national wealth; and the policy so originated was
continued under the sanction of laws equally sacred with those which
relate to any other species of property whatever. Nay, more, it was from
Jamaica, and not from the mother country, that the first proposals for a
partial suppression or cessation of the slave-trade proceeded. The
importations from Africa had become so great, that the people of that
colony requested that for some time the trade might be stopped; and
their petitions were rejected, on the ground that any such measure would
be injurious to the mercantile interests of England. But at last, to use
the words of the writer whom we have already quoted—

    “The country became aware of the cruelty and injustice of that
    infamous traffic, and abolished it. Years afterwards, she awoke as
    from a dream, and began to abuse the planters for possessing slaves;
    declared they had no right to hold them in bondage (although she
    sold those slaves to them;) had them valued by commissioners whom
    she appointed; paid eight shillings in the pound of this valuation,
    and set them free, without any consideration whatever for the landed
    property, buildings, and machinery, amounting to much more than the
    aggregate price of the slaves, which were to be rendered useless and
    valueless from want of labourers. The appraisement by those
    commissioners, as directed by the Act, was based on the average
    sales in each colony for eight years preceding the passing of the
    bill, which was in 1833. The value of the slave property was thus
    distinctly ascertained. The land, buildings, and machinery were not
    taken into consideration, because neither the Parliament nor the
    people admitted that they were to be placed in jeopardy by the
    emancipation of the slaves. On the contrary, an opinion prevailed
    that, with a free population, the planters would be more prosperous
    than they had ever been.”

Of the inadequacy of this compensation, however large it may appear upon
paper, there cannot be a doubt. Enormous sums had been expended in the
cultivation of the estates, in the building of works, and the
transportation of machinery, all of which were jeopardied, and, as the
sequel has proved, most frightfully deteriorated in consequence of the
measure. But the public demand that slavery should cease for ever
throughout the British dominions was peremptory; and, in pursuance of
this laudable desire, the government of the day did not hesitate to
adopt a course which will ever be a dangerous precedent; to

                 “Wrest once the law to their authority:
                 And for a great right do a little wrong.”

“This frightful experiment,” as it was termed by Lord Stanley, then
colonial secretary, was therefore decidedly of the nature of a
compulsory bargain, forced by the people of Great Britain, no doubt from
most praiseworthy motives, upon the holders of lands and slaves in the
colonies. The terms of that bargain ought to have been adhered to by
Parliament with the strictest good faith and scrupulosity. They had, on
the part of the nation, expended a sum of twenty millions upon an
experiment, the success or failure of which involved an amount of
property which it would be very difficult to estimate, but certainly not
short of two hundred millions sterling. The greater portion of this, be
it remarked, was British capital, expended under the sanction and with
the full consent of the British Government; and no one can doubt the
fact that so large an interest as that was never before put in peril for
the sake of any experiment whatever. Still it was made; and we maintain
that the voluntary payment of the twenty millions gave the Government or
people of this country no shadow of a right to depart from one iota of
the bargain which they had forced the colonists to accept. The Act of
1833, which emancipated the slaves, also provided that, for six years
more, they should remain in a state of apprenticeship, obviously for the
purpose of preventing any violent outbreak, or an entire cessation of
that labour which hitherto had been compulsory. The intermediate period,
considering the risk which was incurred, was by no means a long one. It
was not a boon to the planters, but a distinct condition, from which no
consideration whatever should have induced the Government to swerve.

We need not detain our readers with any account of the manner in which
emancipation was carried out. It was submitted to by the colonists, not
without apprehension, but in the best possible spirit. Every thing was
done to facilitate the plans of Government; and on the 1st of August
1834, there was no longer a slave throughout the whole of the British
dominions. In closing that eventful session of the Jamaica House of
Assembly, the Governor, Lord Mulgrave, used the following terms:—“In
conclusion, I must express my firm belief that, in your future
difficulties, your ready recognition of the natural rights of your
fellow men will meet its best reward in the revived diffusion of
national sympathy, and the cheerfully continued extension of British
protection.” These are honeyed words—let us now see how the promise has
been kept.

Immediately after the Emancipation Act was passed, the produce of the
West Indian estates began rapidly to decline, and their value to be
correspondingly depreciated. This was the inevitable consequence of the
abridgment of the working hours, and of the withdrawal of a great number
of labourers altogether from plantation employment. In fact, the want of
adequate labour began to be felt most painfully throughout the colonies.
Notwithstanding this the planters went on, making every exertion they
could, under peculiarly difficult circumstances.

The increased expense, occasioned by the altered circumstances of the
colonies, soon absorbed more than the compensation-money which they had
received, and in addition, they were urged by Government to provide
“more fully for the administration of justice, for the consolidation of
the criminal law, for establishing circuit courts, amending the
workhouse laws, improving the state of gaols for better prison
discipline, establishing weekly courts of petit sessions, providing
places of confinement for prisoners, raising an efficient police, &c.;”
things, no doubt, very desirable in themselves, but not to be
accomplished save at a grievous cost, which, of course, was thrown
entirely upon the shoulders of the planters. The following extract from
the answer of the Jamaica Assembly, in reply to the Governor’s address
at the opening of that chamber on 4th August 1835, will show the state
of the colonies at the close of the year immediately subsequent to
emancipation: “Seeing large portions of our neglected cane-fields
becoming overrun with weeds, and a still larger portion of our pasture
lands returning to a state of nature; seeing, in fact, desolation
already overspreading the face of the land, it is impossible for us,
without abandoning the evidence of our own senses, to entertain
favourable anticipations, or to divest ourselves of the painful
conviction, that progressive and rapid deterioration of property will
continue to keep pace with the apprenticeship, and that its termination
must (unless strong preventive measures be applied) complete the ruin of
the colony.”

We now come to a matter extremely painful in itself, inasmuch as it
involves a gross, flagrant, and dishonourable breach of our plighted
faith. The colonies which had already suffered so much, even under the
apprentice system, again became the object of fierce attack by the
Liberal party in England. Every one knows how easy it is to get up a
shout upon any vague pretext of humanity, and how frequently the
credulity of the people of England has been imposed on by specious and
designing hypocrites. With this set of men, Africa, has been for many
years a pet subject of complaint. They have made the wrongs of the negro
a short and profitable cut to fame and fortune, and their spurious
philanthropy has never failed to engage the support of a large number of
weak but well-meaning individuals, who are totally ignorant of the real
objects which lie at the bottom of the agitation. Utterly regardless of
the nature of the bargain so recently and solemnly made, throwing aside
and trampling upon national honour with unparalleled effrontery, these
men began to denounce apprenticeship in the colonies as something worse
than slavery, and to demand its instant abolition. The subject of
declamation was a popular one, and unfortunately it gathered strength.
No one thought of the condition of the colonists, who had been already
subjected to so much hardship, and to whom the continuance of
apprenticeship for a certain period had been solemnly and advisedly
guaranteed. The spirit of our constitution does not recognise the
presence of any representation of the colonies within the walls of the
Imperial Parliament: and although it is popularly, or rather
ludicrously, said that Jamaica is as much a portion of the British
dominions as Yorkshire, we have no hesitation in meting out to the one a
measure of injustice which no Parliament and no Minister would dare to
venture in the case of the other. To our shame therefore be it said,
that the agitation, so subversive of good faith and of public morals,
was crowned with success. Two years of the apprentice period were
curtailed. A robbery to that extent—for it was nothing else—was
perpetrated upon the unfortunate colonists, and on the 1st of August
1838, unqualified freedom was granted to the negro population.

The following were the immediate and extremely natural
consequences:—“There was no violence; the mass of the labouring
population being left in quiet possession of the houses and grounds on
the estates of their masters. For successive weeks universal idleness
reigned over the whole island. The plantation cattle, deserted by their
keepers, ranged at large through the growing crops, and fields of cane,
cultivated at great cost, rotted upon the ground for want of hands to
cut them. Among the humbler classes of society, respectable families,
whose sole dependence had been a few slaves, had to perform for
themselves the most menial offices. Still the same baneful influence
continued to rule the Government. In all cases of difference, the
stipendiary magistrates supported the emancipated mass against the
helpless proprietor, and even took an active part in supporting the
demands of the people for an extravagant rate of wages, alike injurious
to both classes.”

So much for the “sympathy” which was extended to the colonists for their
ready acquiescence in the Act of Emancipation! Like most Whig promises,
it had served its purpose, and was thereafter cast aside and forgotten.
It might naturally be supposed that this violent curtailment of the
period of apprenticeship, would, out of mere shame, have impressed
ministers with the propriety of doing something for the relief of the
colonies—not by way of actual pecuniary assistance, which was never
asked—but by giving every facility in their power to the introduction of
free labour from every quarter whence it could be hired or obtained.
However, a course diametrically opposite was immediately pursued; and,
up to the present time, no facilities whatever for procuring labour have
been given to the colonists, and every obstacle has been thrown in the
way of the importation of free labourers from the coast of Africa.

Under such a system the decline of the colonies was, as a matter of
course, inevitable. The following is the Jamaica statement of the
relative amount and value of the exports of that island at various

    “The destructive result to property, by the changes thus
    precipitately forced on the colony, will be best manifested by a
    reference to the exports of our three great staples—sugar, rum, and

                                    Hhds.  Punch.       lbs.    Annual
                                   Sugar, Rum. at Coffee, at  Value. £
                                  at £20.    £10.   60s. per
                                                    100 lbs.

  Average of the five years       131,962  50,462 23,625,377 3,852,621
  ending 1807, last of the
  African trade

  Average of the five years       118,490  48,726 24,394,790 3,588,903
  ending 1815, date of Registry

  Average of the five years       110,924  41,046 18,792,909 3,192,637
  ending 1823, date of Canning’s

  Average of the five years        95,353  35,505 17,645,602 2,791,478
  ending 1833, first five of

  Average of the five years        42,453  14,185  7,412,498 1,213,284
  ending 1843, first five of

    “Up to 1807, the exports of Jamaica, progressively rose as
    cultivation was extended. From that date they have been gradually
    sinking; but we more especially entreat attention to the evidence
    here adduced of the effect of emancipation, which, in ten years,
    reduced the annual value of the three principal staples from
    £2,791,478, to £1,213,284, being in the proportion of seven to
    sixteen, or equal, at five per cent., to an investment of about
    thirty-two millions of property annihilated. We believe the history
    of the world would be in vain searched for any parallel case of
    oppression, perpetrated by a civilised government upon any section
    of its own subjects.”

In other places the alteration and decline has been even more startling.
The following table exhibits the state of exports from British Guiana,
at intervals of three years, beginning with 1827, and ending as above
with 1843:—

         Year.   Sugar.       Rum. Molasses. Cotton.   Coffee.
                  Hhds. Puncheons.    Casks.  Bales.      lbs.

         1827    71,168     22,362    28,226  15,904 8,063,752

         1830    69,717     32,939    21,189   5,423 9,502,756

         1833    63,415     17,824    44,508   3,699 5,704,482

         1836    57,142     24,202    37,088   3,196 4,801,352

         1839    38,491     16,070    12,134   1,364 1,583,250

         1843    35,738      8,296    24,937      24 1,428,100

And during the whole period of those changes, there was a constantly
augmenting consumption in the mother country of all the articles of
colonial produce!

The causes of this extraordinary decline of production are abundantly
clear, and the facts now adduced ought to cover with confusion those
ignorant and pragmatical personages who averred that, under a system of
free trade, no loss whatever would be sustained by the planters. No
doubt, had free labour been ready and attainable, the loss would have
been much diminished; but the misfortune was, that free labour could not
be found within the colonies to any thing like the required extent; and
neither time nor opportunity were afforded to the planters to obtain it
elsewhere. The friends of the African have either persuaded themselves,
or endeavoured to cheat the public into the belief, that the negro has
attained a point of civilisation and docility from which a large
proportion of the inhabitants of the British islands are at this moment
very widely removed. They promised, on his behalf, that when
emancipated, he would set down seriously to work, and, with a heart full
of gratitude, proceed to earn his wages by toiling in the service of his
employer. It is well for those gentlemen that they did not offer any
tangible forfeit in the event of the failure of their protégé. The negro
is perhaps more fully alive than any other class of mankind to the
luxury of undisturbed idleness. He has few wants, and those few are
easily supplied in such a splendid island as Jamaica, where his
provision ground, with the smallest possible amount of cultivation, will
afford him every necessary, and some of the luxuries of life. What he
cannot raise for himself must, of course, be obtained by labour; but a
very slight portion indeed of the primal curse now lights upon the
emancipated negro, who has no ambition, and consequently no motive to
persevere. Nor, indeed, can we wonder at this, if we only reflect
seriously on the scenes which are visible at home. Do we not all know
how difficult it is to rouse the western Highlander to any thing like
active exertion? How many thousands of the Irish are there at this
moment who will not work, preferring to depend for life itself upon the
precarious existence of a miserable root, which, of all articles of
human food, requires the smallest degree of culture? And can we, while
such things happen among Christians, in a land where the severity of the
climate ought to be of itself a sufficient inducement to exertion,
wonder that the negroes, who have neither the same advantages, nor the
same cogent motives for labour, should abandon themselves to a life of
lazy sensuality, and look upon the neglected cane-fields and choked
coffee-plantations with an eye of utter indifference?

The great object of the planters, therefore—for the existence of the
colonies seemed to depend upon the success of their endeavours,—was to
obtain labour at any cost, from any quarter whatever. It has been
perfectly well ascertained that the constitution of Europeans will not
admit of their pursuing out-door labour in a tropical climate, and
therefore white labour is out of the question. The natives of Madeira,
indeed, have been tried, but they are unfit for the work, and even were
it otherwise, the supply from that quarter is limited. Coolies were
brought out from the East Indies at an enormous expense, equal to
two-fifths of their wages for a period of five years, and after all, it
was found that two Coolies could hardly perform the task which one
African can accomplish with ease. Instead of assisting these efforts
towards emigration, government, as if actuated by the most rancorous
hatred to the colonies, threw a formidable obstacle in their way. We
borrow the following passage from the pamphlet of the Guiana Planter.

    “This very large importation of people was effected at the expense
    of the planters exclusively, who lavished their means freely on what
    they fondly believed to be the only chance that remained.
    Government, goaded by the _vis a terqo_, threw an impediment in the
    way, which was the abolition of all contracts formed out of the
    colony to which the immigrant was destined. This, like a two-edged
    sword, operated both ways; it prevented people from going to a
    distant country where they had to _search_ for work; they felt that
    without an assurance of employment for a limited period, they would
    be embarking on a very precarious undertaking; and the planter could
    not derive the desired benefit from the labour of immigrants unless
    they were bound to remain with him for a certain space of time.
    Nevertheless, so fully aware were the latter of the necessity for
    additional hands, that they continued to import them, trusting to
    their remaining where they were located, notwithstanding the
    cancelling of their agreements; and the intending immigrants, who
    were chiefly Madeira people, after a time, learned from their
    friends, already settled in the colony, that there would be no lack
    of work for them.

    “Want of contracts operates injuriously in another way still,
    besides those we have mentioned; it is found that immigrants for the
    first six months require much care and attention, and also
    considerable outlay, because they then undergo a seasoning to the
    climate. Now, planters are not inclined to take a man from the ship
    under the prospect of paying more for medical attendance, wine, and
    nourishment, than his labour is worth, provided he is at liberty to
    depart as soon as he finds himself strong enough. The impolicy of
    refusing to us the privilege of entering into agreements for at
    least twelve months, out of the colony, is herein exemplified, and
    there is considerable reason to fear that there will be great
    backwardness in applying for the next batches of Coolies on this
    account, as they will not enter into contracts here. Every man says,
    ‘I am not in a hurry, I shall wait until I can get seasoned people.’
    It is well known that of the last lots of Portuguese and Coolies;
    (those of 1845-6,) nearly one-half have been since that period on
    the sick list, most of them not seriously ill, but in that feeble
    and inert state which change of climate is apt to produce.”

From all this, and from the experience of centuries, it is evident that
the African alone is physically suited to undergo with case and without
danger the fatigue of field labour in the climates which are suited for
sugar cultivation. We shall presently allude to the obstacles which have
been thrown in the way of obtaining a supply of free labour from that
quarter; and we think we shall be able to convince the most scrupulous
reader, that the line of conduct adopted by the pseudo friends of the
African, is one most admirably calculated to foster the state of
barbarism, cruelty, ignorance, oppression, and crime, which is the
melancholy characteristic of the inhabitants of that unhappy country. In
the meantime, let us go back to the history of our colonies, whose
singular case of unmerited persecution is by no means yet brought to a

In 1842, a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire
into the state of the West India colonies, and from their report, which
is now before us, we make the following extracts. Resolved,—

    That, unhappily, there has occurred, simultaneously with the
    amendment in the condition of the negroes, a very great diminution
    in the staple productions of the West Indies, to such an extent as
    to have caused serious, and, in some cases, ruinous injury to the
    proprietors of estates in those colonies.

    “That while this distress has been felt to a much less extent in
    some of the smaller and more populous islands, it has been so great
    in the larger colonies of Jamaica, British Guiana, and Trinidad, as
    to have caused many estates, hitherto prosperous and productive, to
    be cultivated for the last two or three years at considerable loss,
    and others to be abandoned.

    “That the principal causes of this diminished production, and
    consequent distress, are, the great difficulty which has been
    experienced by the planters in obtaining steady and continuous
    labour, and the high rate of remuneration which they give for the
    broken and indifferent work which they are able to procure.

    “That the diminished supply of labour is caused partly by the fact
    that some of the former slaves have betaken themselves to other
    occupations more profitable than field labour; but the more general
    cause is, that the labourers are enabled to live in comfort, and to
    acquire wealth, without, for the most part, labouring on the estates
    of the planters for more than three or four days in a week, and from
    five to seven hours in a day; so that they have no sufficient
    stimulus to perform an adequate amount of work.

    “That this state of things arises partly from the high wages which
    the insufficiency of the supply of labour, and their competition
    with each other, naturally compel the planters to pay; but is
    principally to be attributed to the easy terms upon which the use of
    land has been obtainable by negroes.

    “That many of the former slaves have been enabled to purchase land,
    and the labourers generally are allowed to occupy provision grounds
    subject to no rent, or to a very low one: and in these fertile
    countries, the land they thus hold, as owners or occupiers, not only
    yields them an ample supply of food, but in many cases a
    considerable overplus in money, altogether independent of, and in
    addition to, the high money wages which they receive.

    “That one obvious and most desirable mode of endeavouring to
    compensate for this diminished supply of labour, is to promote the
    immigration of a fresh labouring population, to such an extent as to
    create competition for employment.

    “That for the better attainment of that object, as well as to secure
    the full rights and comforts of the immigrants as freemen, it is
    desirable that such immigration should be conducted under the
    authority, inspection, and control of responsible public officers.

    “That it is also a serious question, whether it is not required _by
    a due regard for the just rights_ and interests of the West Indian
    proprietors, and the ultimate welfare of the negroes themselves,
    more especially in consideration of the large addition to the
    labouring population which it is hoped may soon be effected by
    immigration, that the laws which regulate the relations between
    employers and labourers in the different colonies, should undergo
    early and careful revision by their respective legislatures.”

This document is a very important and valuable one, more especially when
considered in connexion with the subsequent measures of the government.
It bears out unequivocally all the statements which we have already made
regarding the decay of the colonies, the cessation of the emancipated
negroes from work, and the necessity of some large and comprehensive
scheme for promoting immigration. It does even more; for the tenor of
the last paragraph clearly shows that, upon a calm and dispassionate
review of the case, an impression had forced itself upon the minds of
the committee, that the work of emancipation had been carried out too
precipitately, or that some effectual means for regulating and
sustaining labour should have been taken by the legislature, at the
period when they violently curtailed the stipulated term of
apprenticeship. Indeed, subsequent experience has shown, that some such
measure ought to have been enacted, if only for the sake of raising the
condition of the negro in the social scale.

As after events have shown, the report of this committee, though fair
and impartial in its views of the case, was calculated grievously to
mislead the planters as to the course which the Parliament of Great
Britain was likely to pursue, in dealing with them and with their
interests. They saw an admission recorded of the hardship of their case,
coupled with a recognition of their right to some effectual remedy; and
the natural consequence was, that they again took courage, and did every
thing in their power to redeem past losses by renewed exertion and
expenditure. It did seem that at last some portion of that sympathy,
which had been so early promised, but so woefully neglected, was likely
to be accorded to them by the mother country; and in that delusive
belief they determined to struggle on. Had they at that time obtained
the slightest inkling of what was to follow, their course would have
been widely different. Whatever might have become of the estates, an
enormous amount of new capital, embarked on the faith that Government
would at least deal with them in a just and open manner, would have been
saved, and the ruin which is now impending over many families, not only
in the colonies but here, would have been averted. But with Parliament
urging and stimulating them to fresh exertion, how was it possible to
refuse? What possible grounds had they then for suspecting that the
protection which had been accorded to them in the most solemn manner,
and for which they were bound to give an equivalent, would be withdrawn;
that Britain, who had forced the Emancipation Act upon her own colonies,
and who had announced, in a voice of thunder, her future determined
opposition to the existence of the traffic in slaves, would at once
descend from that position and become the customer of less scrupulous
countries, the largest encourager of that odious traffic in the world,
and that to the detriment and ruin of her oldest and most valuable
colonies, which she had forcibly deprived of their labour?

The reciprocal relations which existed between the mother country and
the West Indian colonies were these. Up to the year 1844, the rate of
duty levied upon colonial sugar was £1, 4s., while that imposed upon
sugar grown in foreign countries, was £3, 3s. Thus a protective balance
of thirty-nine shillings per cwt. was left in favour of the colonies. In
return,—and we adopt this statement from _The Economist_, a journal
bitterly opposed to the West Indian claims,—“1st, They were confined to
the British markets for their supplies of lumber, food, and clothing;
2dly, They were prevented importing fresh labour, under what we always
deemed an unworthy suspicion—that immigration would degenerate into a
slave trade, and immigrant labour into slavery; 3dly, They were
precluded the privilege of sending their produce to Europe in any but
British ships, which not unfrequently entailed an extra cost of two to
three pounds a ton upon their sugar; 4thly, And at home, out of regard
to the landed interest, their rum was subjected to a high discriminating
duty in favour of British-made spirits, and their sugar and molasses
were entirely excluded from our breweries and distilleries.” These
sentiments are coloured by the peculiar views of the talented journal
from which they are drawn, but in the main they are true; and the writer
ought to have added, that the West Indian planters were also subjected
to high protective duties in favour of the home refiner.

Such was the system of reciprocity established between the mother
country and these colonies, until the spirit of innovation, which so
peculiarly marks the present age, and which, if persevered in, must
sever the last remaining ties which have hitherto kept the integral
parts of the British empire united throughout the world, was brought to
bear upon these devoted countries.

The first innovation was made in 1844, when free labour sugar only was
admitted upon more favourable terms than before. To that measure,
coupled as it was with a distinct assurance that the Government would
continue steadily to oppose the introduction of slave-grown sugar into
this country at competing prices, no opposition was offered. Another
slight alteration of the duties took place in 1845; but it was not until
the succeeding year, 1846, that the Whigs, in their zeal for free trade,
and with the view of gaining, at any cost, a little temporary popularity
at the outset of their accession to office, determined, without warning
and against remonstrance, to give the _coup-de-grace_ to the colonies,
and to throw the markets of Britain entirely open to the kidnapper and
the oppressor of the slave!

The act of 1846, as we have already said, provides a differential scale
of duties on the imports of sugar, by which, for the present year, the
colonist has to compete with the slave-master at a nominal advantage
only of six shillings, and at the expiry of four years the duties will
be entirely equalised. Here, then, are the final results of that
_sympathy and protection_, which were promised by an official of Lord
Melbourne’s Government to the deluded West Indians in 1834! Here are the
fruits of that agitation, and toil, and sacrifice, which Britain
cheerfully undertook, in the cause of Christianity and truth, and, to
the honour of our race, for the emancipation of the negro, and the utter
suppression of the odious traffic in human flesh and blood! Here is the
denouement of that series of international treaties by which Britain
proclaimed herself the champion paramount of freedom, and the vindicator
of the African liberties! Was there ever, we ask, upon record, a similar
instance of defalcation of principle and of perfidy? Of violated
principle, because, disguise it as they may, the results of the late
measure must tend, and have already tended, to an enormous increase in
the exportation of slaves from Africa; and Britain, so long as this law
remains on her statute-book, dare not again claim credit on the score of
her vaunted humanity. Of perfidy, because, in carrying out emancipation
in her own colonies, then utterly free from the imputation of
participating in that unholy trade, a distinct pledge was given on the
part of Britain, that, whatever might be the result, free labour should
not be subjected to undue competition with the compulsory efforts of the
slave! View the case in any light you will, and the inconsistency and
treachery of the authors of the measure become more odious and apparent.

In order that we may understand the true position of the colonies, and
the situation in which they have been placed, confessedly by no fault of
their own, it will be necessary to ascertain what is the present cost of
production of sugar there, under the curtailed and crippled system of
free-labour, as compared with that of the slave-growing colonies. We
apprehend that it will not be denied by any, that the soil, climate, and
natural position of Jamaica and of British Guiana are in no way inferior
to any in the known world for the growth and cultivation of the
sugar-cane. No statement to the contrary has ever yet been hazarded; and
so far as the application of capital can go in rendering production
cheap, the British colonies have unquestionably the advantage of the
others. Let us look then to the matter of cost.

According to one authority, the Planter of British Guiana, it would be
as follows,—

                Cost of production in slave     £13 0 0
                countries per ton,

                Cost of production in British    25 0 0

                Difference per ton in favour    £12 0 0
                of the slave market,

In other words, slave-grown sugar can be produced at _twelve shillings
per cwt._ less than in free colonies, besides the additional advantage
of uncontrolled and unlicensed transport.

The above probably may be taken as the extreme case, because the cost of
production has always been great in Demerara, owing to the smallness of
the population; but the general hardship will be sufficiently shown and
understood, by the following extract from the resolutions of a meeting
of St David’s parish in Jamaica, on 2d October last.

“The great influx of slave-grown produce into the home markets has, in
the short space of six months, reduced the value of sugar from £26 to
£14 per ton; while, under ordinary circumstances of soil and season, the
cost to us of placing it in the market is not less than £20 per ton.”

“From many calculations,” writes a highly intelligent and experienced
correspondent, “the lowest rate at which sugar _can_ be produced, is
about twenty shillings per cwt. on the average, or twenty pounds per
ton. No doubt some estates may, and do, grow it cheaper than others.
They may have advantages of situation both in regard to weather and
command of labour, but one thing I am certain of, that no number of
estates taken collectively, can grow it much under twenty shillings.”

With regard to the additional argument against the navigation laws,
which certain free-trade journals have adroitly contrived to extract
from the statement of the planters’ grievances, our correspondent
writes,—“A long article has been written to show that we have got all
that was demanded some years ago, with the exception of the abolition of
the navigation laws. This I hold to be a very minor consideration, as,
even were these abolished to-morrow, a saving of one shilling per cwt.
freight would be the very outside. No doubt a letter appeared in the
_Times_, stating that last year’s freights were six shillings per cwt.
from Demerara, which was quite true,—but what are they now? The great
rise was caused by every bottom being employed to import grain, which
raised freights in America to nine shillings per barrel for flour, which
are now one and sixpence,—so that shipping of every denomination was
dear. These men forget, or will not remember, that we asked for measures
which we hoped might benefit us, at a time when we could reasonably
calculate upon this country keeping faith with us. But had we _then_
been told that in 1846 slave sugar would be introduced at a _nominal_
differential duty of seven shillings per cwt., to decrease annually till
all sugars were admitted at the same rate, our demands would have been
very different. Indeed I have no doubt that many would at once have
abandoned their estates; and, though a desperate course, it would yet
have been the wisest, and those who might have pursued it would have
saved a further loss.

“I mentioned a _nominal_ differential duty. What I mean by that is, that
the slave sugars are all so much better manufactured, which the great
command of labour enables them to do, that, to the refiner, they are
intrinsically worth more than ours. In short, they prepare their sugars,
whereas we cannot do so, and we pay duty at the same rate on an article
which contains a quantity of molasses. _So that, if the duties were
equalised, there would virtually be a bonus on the importation of
foreign sugar._ I have a letter before me in which is written,—‘Whilst
at Jamaica, offers came from the Havannah to supply sugar all the year
round at 12s. per cwt.,’ as I said before, in no Jamaica estate can it
be grown much under 20s., and assuredly by none at 12s. The refiners
estimate the value of Havannah, in comparison with West India free
sugar, as from three to five shillings per cwt. better in point of
colour and strength. The reason is, that these sugars are partially
refined or _clayed_.”

If these are correct data, and we do not anticipate that they will be
impugned, the result will be this;—

                Cost of production in slave     £12 0 0
                countries per ton,

                Add duty £1 per cwt.             20 0 0

                Cost, irrespective of freight,  £32 0 0

                Cost of production in free      £20 0 0
                labour colonies,

                Add duty 14s. per cwt.,          14 0 0

                Difference of value between       3 0 0
                slave and free sugar, at the
                lowest estimate, or 3s. per

                Cost, irrespective of freight,  £37 0 0

Such is the amount of _protection_ at present enjoyed by our colonists—a
protection which, be it remarked, is every year to decrease! In the
present, or second year after the passing of Lord John Russell’s bill,
we find that slave-grown sugar can be brought into the market at a cost
of production less at least by _five pounds per ton_ than that of our
own colonies! We can now easily understand how it is that, within a very
short period, Cuba has increased her exports of sugar from 50,000 to
more than 200,000 tons; and we can readily believe that, with such a
stimulus as has been given, she may, in as short a period, succeed in
doubling the latter quantity. No doubt, in order to effect this, the
importation of slaves from Africa must go on with corresponding
celerity; but that is a matter which we need not regard, as our present
rulers are actually giving an enormous impulse to the trade.

In a matter of this sort, in which the element of British honour is
largely implicated, it in reality matters not who the parties are, whom,
by an unjust and inconsistent course of legislation, we are thus
oppressing and defrauding. But if self-interest is at all to be taken
into view, it may be as well that we should know, that at least
three-fourths of the capital now jeopardized in our West Indian
colonies, is the property of fellow-citizens in this country. The
disastrous effects of the Mauritius failures, primarily caused and
frightfully accelerated by the abolition of the old, and the operation
of the new system in that island, were immediately felt by the
commercial circles here, and tended greatly to increase that depression
which has been experienced in every branch of our trade. If, as is now
seriously meditated, and as must be the case should the Whig Cabinet
prove equally obstinate as rash, our West Indian plantations should be
abandoned, and the capital already expended as completely sunk as though
it had been dropped into the depths of the ocean, we may look for
another crisis at home, which will assuredly appal the boldest. Let our
financial authorities tell us whether we can, under present
circumstances, afford to part with an invested capital of two hundred
millions, or to throw back into a state of nature and pauperism,
colonies which, a very few years ago, consumed annually no less an
amount than three millions and a half value of our manufactures? And yet
to such results, unless some strong remedial measure be immediately
applied, we are most decidedly tending. The depreciation of the value of
property in the colonies has been going on for years at a most alarming
rate, and we shall now state a few facts upon that point, which we think
will convince the most sceptical. We shall begin with Demerara.

In 1838, the value of the estates, owing to the want of labour, had
fallen from one-third to a half. The following is the account of some of
the estates:—

                                        Price in Former
                                           1838. Price.

          Anna Catherina Estate,         £30,000 £50,000

          Providence,                     38,000 80,000

          Thomas,                         20,000 40,000

In 1840, the depreciation became greater. Here are a few examples:—

          Rome and Houston Estate,       £40,000 £100,000
          Success,                        30,000 55,000
          Kitty,                          26,000 60,000
          William,                        18,000 40,000

In 1844, the Groenveldt estate, formerly valued at £35,000, was sold for
£10,000. In 1845, the Baillie’s Hope estate, formerly valued at £50,000,
was disposed of for £7,000. And in 1846, the Haarlem estate went for
£3,500, whereas its previous value was not less than £50,000!

We have been accustomed of late to fluctuations of property, but it
would be difficult to find in any other list of prices such instances of
ruinous declension. The above were cases of private sale; let us now
look to the estates which were sold by execution in the country, and we
shall find a still greater decadence. In the following list, which is
that of 1846, the Kitty estate, disposed of in 1840, appears again.

                Kitty Estate,          £3,000   £60,000
                Nismes,                 5,000    55,000
                Vryheid’s Lust,         6,000    55,000

Let those persons who think that the planters were amply compensated by
the sum of £20,000,000 at the time of emancipation, consider the above
figures carefully: and they may arrive at a different conclusion. Let us
adopt the argument of the Planter, and take the case of the Kitty
estate, of the original value of £60,000. Suppose that upon this estate
there had been £18,000 of debt, and a clear vested remanent interest to
the proprietor of £42,000. Let us further suppose that the property had
not changed hands until 1846, when it was brought to sale, and the
result will be, that the compensation money, estimated at £15,000, and
the price which the estate fetched in the public market, would barely
have sufficed to buy off the mortgage, and the proprietor’s £42,000
would have utterly disappeared!

We are enabled from a private source to carry out the history of one of
these Demarara estates. “We bought it,” says our correspondent, “or
rather we took it over as a bad debt for our mortgage (upwards of
£12,000) for £5,000. Of course no person would have had any thing to do
with it but under the circumstances stated. And to show you that
property is now of no value, we may mention that we took an estate over,
valued in the year 1825 at £60,000, as a bad debt; and though the estate
has been advertised for sale or lease, we cannot get an offer of any
kind, and have accordingly determined and sent out orders to abandon it.
The works are in first-rate order, and every thing complete; therefore
you may judge of the sacrifice; which, however, is only imaginary, as
the cultivation of this estate, since 1842, has cost us £13,000 more
than the produce has yielded. This does not include interest, but the
actual wages and expenditure to make crops which have sold for £13,000
less than they cost us to produce. I could enumerate many others, but
one is as good as a thousand. The situation of some of the estates is
much in their favour, and this was another reason that induced us to
take the one alluded to on any terms.

“The West Indians have been often taunted with not adopting the
improvements which are introduced in the slave colonies. At the cost of
about £2,000 we sent out last August machinery for that estate, and
since then have written out not to unpack it, and, in the serious
contemplation of abandoning the estate, have asked the makers of that
machinery to take it off our hands, as they have a good many orders for
foreign slave-growing countries. I believe, if we determine to sacrifice
it, that they will send it to Porto Rico or Havannah.”

The following letter, written by a highly respectable gentleman in this
country, who is also a Jamaica proprietor, and referring to the present
depreciation of property in that island, has been placed in our hands.
The reader must judge for himself as to the hardship of the case which
it portrays.

“Any information that I can give in reference to the present alarming
and distressed situation of Jamaica, is, I believe, nothing more than
what might be afforded by every one connected with that once
flourishing, but now all but ruined island.

“I consider my case a hard one, and thousands are in a similar
situation. I shall merely state a few simple facts as regards myself.
About four years ago, upon the understanding and belief that the
question, as to a fair protection in favour of our colonial sugar over
foreign, or more especially slave labour sugar, was for ever set at
rest, I became the purchaser of a fine estate in the island of Jamaica,
for the sum of ten thousand five hundred pounds. In order to give every
justice to the property, I sent out a fine new steam engine, and various
other kinds of machinery and agricultural implements—in short, have
expended upwards of seven thousand pounds, over and above the proceeds
of all the produce made upon the estate during the course of the last
four years (so that it now costs me about eighteen thousand pounds) in
the hopes of eventually reaping a fair return. And this would have been
the case for crop 1847, had not the unexpected and cruel measure of
admitting slave-labour sugar at a low duty been introduced and carried
by Lord John Russell last year. My attorney in Jamaica, before he was
aware of such a rash and heartless step being taken, made out a
statement of the expected crop and expenditure on the estate for the
said year 1847, taking sugar at a moderate price, by which he showed a
good surplus of one thousand pounds; but, alas! ere the produce came to
market, prices fell so low, that in place of making any profit (though
the estate made a good crop) I shall lose from one thousand to twelve
hundred pounds, besides the interest on the eighteen thousand pounds of
capital. This, you are aware, is perfectly ruinous, and I have been
obliged to write out to my attorney, in order to save my property at
home, to stop planting any more canes in the meantime; and, unless
government immediately retrace their steps, to abandon the estate
altogether. I am sorry to say, that this has been the hard fate with
many a proprietor already, and must, ere long, overwhelm the whole
colony. My property was considered one of the finest in the island, and
if it perish none can stand. I might give particulars of many cases of
extreme hardship, but it is needless to multiply these, as you must have
many similar facts from other sources.”

The following letter is taken from a late number of a Jamaica newspaper,
and we recommend it seriously to the attention of our readers:

    “_To the Editor of the Jamaica Despatch, Chronicle, and Gazette._

    “‘Coming events cast their shadows before.’

    “SIR,—I have just returned from Lucea, where I have witnessed a
    sight any thing but gratifying to my feelings.

    “A vessel has arrived from ‘Trinidad de Cuba,’ to load with the mill
    and machinery, coppers, and other apparatus, from Williamsfield
    Estate in this parish, late the property of Mr Alexander Grant. The
    estate has, since Mr Grant’s death, been, from the difficulty of the
    times, abandoned; and Mr D’Castro, the owner of the vessel now at
    Lucea, has purchased the fixtures for an estate settling in Cuba.

    “Is not the fate of Jamaica estates foreshadowed in this
    circumstance? Is it not a melancholy reflection that we are being
    wantonly sacrificed by our fellow countrymen, solely for the
    aggrandisement of foreigners?

    “It does not require, Mr Editor, a prophet to foretell the fate of
    Jamaica sugar properties, and that for every man’s property
    destroyed here half a dozen will flourish in Cuba. A new branch of
    trade is opened to us, and for a few months, no doubt, it will be a
    brisk one. I would strongly recommend gentlemen who are advertising
    properties for sale to send the advertisement to Cuba; an estate now
    is not worth more than the cattle and machinery on it, and our
    neighbours in Cuba, might obtain all the machinery necessary for the
    settlement of their sugar plantations on very easy terms; and it
    will be, no doubt, exceedingly agreeable at some future time, when
    necessity compels us to quit our own country, to seek a living in
    Cuba, to see our late still, steam-engine, or coppers, and if we,
    are particularly fortunate, obtain the superintendence of any one of
    them. I am, Mr Editor, your obedient servant,


    “Hanover, Oct. 23, 1847.”

With such facts and testimony before him, what man in the possession of
his reasonable senses can doubt that our West Indian colonies are, at
this moment upon the verge of ruin? We use the word in the most literal
sense, and we are not very sure that we are justified in retaining the
qualification, for ruin, in its worst shape, has already fallen upon
many. Lord John Russell is said to be a bold and intrepid man, but there
is a weight of responsibility here enough to appal the boldest man that
ever held the office of prime minister of Britain. The question is not
now one of depression of trade. The rashness of former cabinets in
dealing with the property of the colonists, and their unaccountable
hesitation and delay in granting any remedial measures, or an increased
supply of labour, have accomplished _that_ already. The question now is,
SHALL THESE COLONIES BE AT ONCE ABANDONED? We look for an answer, not to
the colonists, but to Lord John Russell himself. He is the party who has
directly consummated their ruin, and from him the country at large are
entitled to demand a full explanation of his policy. Is it his purpose
that these colonies, once styled the brightest jewels of the British
crown, shall be thrown waste and abandoned? If it is, let him say so
boldly. The country will then be enabled to record their opinion of his
judgment, and, notwithstanding all that has taken place of late years,
we will not do the honest-hearted people of Great Britain the injustice,
for one moment, to doubt of the strength and tenor of that opinion. If,
as we hope and trust, he never contemplated these results, when in a
rash moment, and perhaps with no unnatural eye to a little temporary
popularity, he forced on the measure of 1846, let him say so—let him
make the only reparation in his power for former errors; and although
much mischief has already been done, the colonies may yet be saved, and
a sacrifice so terrible averted.

While such is the situation of our own colonies, upon whom we forced
emancipation, let us see what is doing in the slave countries, to whom
we are handing over our custom. The increase in the sugar produce of
Cuba, as we have already seen, is from 50,000 to 200,000 tons, and is
still rapidly increasing. The slave-trade is going on at a multiplied
ratio, and perhaps the friends of the African will be glad to learn a
fact, for the correctness of which we can vouch. Not three weeks ago, a
large mercantile house in Glasgow received orders to send out a supply
of blankets to Cuba, because, as the writer said, the slaves have become
so much more valuable, owing to the enhanced price of their produce, and
the new sugar market now opened, that the owners must take more care of
them. Humanity, it would seem, begins to develop itself when it goes
hand in hand with profit.

And yet, perhaps, we have used the word “humanity” a little too rashly.
Let us hear the testimony of Jacob Omnium, which we extract from his
late able letter to Lord John Russell, as to the manner in which our
cheap sugar is at present manufactured in Cuba:—

    “I spent,” says that intelligent witness, “the beginning of this
    year in Cuba, with a view of ascertaining the preparations which
    were being made in that island to meet the opening of our markets.
    To an Englishman coming up from Grenada and Jamaica, the contrast
    between the paralysed and decayed aspect of the trade of those
    colonies, and the spirit and activity which your measures had
    infused into that of the Havannah, was most disheartening.

    “The town was illuminated when I landed, in consequence of the news
    of high prices from England. Three splendid trains of De Rosne’s
    machinery, costing 40,000 dollars each, had just arrived from
    France, and were in process of erection; steam-engines and engineers
    were coming over daily from America; new estates were forming;
    coffee plantations were being broken up; and their feeble gangs of
    old people and children, who had hitherto been selected for that
    light work, were formed into task-gangs, and hired out by the month
    to the new _ingenios_, then in full drive.

    “It was crop time: the mills went round night and day. On every
    estate (I scarcely hope to be believed when I state the fact) _every
    slave was worked under the whip eighteen hours out of the
    twenty-four_, and, in the boiling houses, from five to six p.m., and
    from eleven o’clock to midnight, when half the people were
    concluding their eighteen hours work, the sound of the hellish lash
    was incessant; indeed, it was necessary to keep the overtasked
    wretches awake.

    “The six hours during which they rested they spent locked in a
    barracoon,—a strong, foul, close sty, where they wallowed without
    distinction of age or sex.

    “There was no marrying amongst the slaves on the plantations;
    breeding was discouraged; _it was cheaper and less troublesome to
    buy than to breed_. On many estates females were entirely excluded;
    but an intelligent American planter told me he disapproved of that
    system; that the men drooped under it; and that he had found the
    most beneficial effects from the judicious admixture of a proportion
    of one ‘lively wench’ to five males in a gang of which he had had
    charge. Religious instruction and medical aid were not carried out
    generally beyond baptism and vaccination.

    “Whilst at work the slaves were stimulated by drivers, armed with
    swords and whips, and protected by magnificent bloodhounds.”

Gentlemen who clamoured for emancipation, in this way is the sugar which
you are daily consuming made! You would not have it when produced by
slaves in your own colonies, and under the humane protection of your own
overruling laws; you are content to take it now—at the instigation of Mr
Cobden and his confederates, without the slightest scruple or remorse
for having ruined thousands of your countrymen—because you can have it
cheaper through the sweat and the life-blood of the slave! Is this
morality? Is it justice? Is it even—to descend to lower motives—wisdom?
Can you not see before you the time when, after the West Indian colonies
are abandoned, a gigantic monopoly will accrue to the slave-growing
states, and the sugar, for the paltry saving on which article all has
been sacrificed, again become as dear, possibly much dearer than before?
Recollect it is not an article like wheat, or any common species of
food, which can be reared upon every soil. There is but one region of
the earth in which it can be grown, and even there it cannot be grown
profitably, except through a large expenditure of capital, and by means
of an almost limitless command of labour. Cuba and Brazil _have_ both.
Our colonies _had_ both in sufficiency, until, by cutting off the one,
you almost annihilated the other. Go one step further, or rather
continue in the course you have begun a very little longer, and the
capital of the West Indian colonies will be wholly and irretrievably
dissipated. Irretrievably—for, after what has passed, it is in vain to
think that any British subject will again embark his capital in such a
trade, with no better security than that of our fiscal laws, fluctuating
every year under the influence of short-sighted agitation, and regulated
by men whose sole intelligible principle is the continued possession of
power. Once let our colonies be annihilated—their capital of nearly two
hundred millions be swallowed up, principal and interest—their market,
which took from us annually three millions and a half of British
manufactures, closed—and the inevitable result will be a monopoly of
sugar to the slave-growing states, high prices, and in all probability,
which the bullionists ought to consider, a perpetual drain of gold.

We have quoted only a fraction of the evidence of Jacob Omnium with
regard to the present aspect of affairs in Cuba. Much there is of
painful and even sickening detail as to the treatment of the slaves, in
order that an augmented supply may be thrown in upon our now
unscrupulous market, for which we must refer our readers, if they wish
to peruse it, to the pamphlet itself. But lest it should be thought that
such testimony merely applies to the condition of the unhappy slaves at
present in Cuba, we shall go further, and show that the late measure of
the Whig Government has given a tenfold additional impetus to the slave
trade; and that all our efforts to restrain it—efforts which, at the
smallest calculation, cost this country annually a sum of half a
million—are, as they must be under such circumstances, wholly futile and

    “In February last,” says the author of the above letter, “the market
    value of field negroes had risen from 300 to 500 dollars—a price
    which would speedily bring a supply from the coast. The accounts
    thence of the number of vessels captured, and of the still greater
    number seen and heard of, but not captured by our cruisers, bear
    ready witness to the stimulus which you have afforded to that
    accursed trade. It is only during the last year that we hear of
    _steam-slavers_, carrying nine hundred and fifty slaves, dipping
    their flag in derision to our men of war.”

The list of the slave captures between October 1846 and April 1847
amounts to no less than twenty-four vessels, from which between two and
three thousand slaves were taken. This hideous amount of living cargo
was crowded into five vessels, the other nineteen having been captured
empty. This, however, is understood to be a mere fraction of the whole
amount, and that the recent seizures have been much more numerous. One
of our ships, the Ferret, is said to have taken no less than six slave
vessels since she has been upon the coast.

The impulse which the government measure of 1846 has given to the slave
trade in every part of the world is something perfectly enormous; but
its mischievous and inhuman effects will best be understood by a
reference to ascertained facts. Prior to 1846, the traffic in slaves
between the African coast and the Spanish colonies had been gradually
declining, and had in fact almost disappeared. The exclusion of
slave-grown sugars from our home market had nearly forced the Cuban
proprietors into a different system, and arrangements were pending in
that colony for the emancipation of the slaves, just at the time when
Lord John Russell came forward in favour of the chain and the lash. The
consequence was, that in the first instance the Cubans withdrew their
slaves from the coffee cultivation, which was the least profitable, and
set them to work at the sugar-canes. The price of the negro consequently
rose, and the trade is prospering abundantly.

So much for Cuba. Let us now see what is doing in Brazil. The following
article is extracted from the _Jamaica Times_, of 8th. October last.

    “Though it may be an act of supererogation to accumulate arguments
    in support of the proposition that an equalisation of the sugar
    duties must necessarily give an impetus to the slave-trade, it may
    not be amiss to point out such instances which may come before us of
    an illustrative tendency. In a communication recently addressed by
    Dr Lang to the British public, it is stated as an unquestionable
    fact, that a great stimulus to the cultivation of sugar in Brazil
    had been afforded by the late change in the duties; and consequently
    that the slave trade, which had been rapidly declining for some time
    past, had revived as briskly as ever, especially at Pernambuco,
    which is by far the most conveniently situated port in the empire
    for this traffic—being so far to the northward and eastward, and
    consequently so favourably situated for taking advantage of the
    south-east trade wind, that a vessel from that port may often run
    across to the coast, as it is called, that is to Africa, in half the
    time she would take either from Bahia or Rio Janeiro. A schooner of
    one hundred and twenty tons, the _Gallant Mary of Baltimore_, he
    added, had arrived at Pernambuco a day or two before his arrival,
    and was then lying in the harbour for sale; and during the short
    period of his stay she was purchased for seven hundred and fifty
    pounds by a slave merchant in the place, and was to be despatched to
    the coast a day or two after he sailed for England.

    “This is one instance of the manner in which the increased
    consumption of slave-grown sugar is acting as a premium to the slave
    trader. We offer a second in the fact recently communicated from
    Africa itself, that the slave-trade on the west coast was never more
    brisk than it is at present; that thirteen hundred and fifteen
    slaves had been landed from slave vessels at Sierra Leone from May
    4th to June 28th of this year; that the last slaver taken was a
    Brazilian brig, although for deception called the Beulah of
    Portland, U.S.—she was sent in by the Waterwitch: this vessel had
    five hundred and ten slaves on board.

    “Nor is this all; for we have just learned from an authentic source,
    that Crab Island (a small tributary island lying to the eastward of
    Porto Rico) is now in course of being settled for the first time,
    for the cultivation of sugar; and that very recently one of the
    proprietors—not content, it would appear, with the customary mode of
    obtaining slaves—had succeeded in removing a number from one of the
    French islands adjacent,—a proceeding which, as might reasonably be
    expected, has caused the question to be raised among the _amis des
    noires_, whether it is legal to deport slaves from any French
    colony. Putting this point of the case, however, out of view, we
    have unquestionable evidence of the increasing importance of slave
    cultivation, at the very moment when the free labour colonies are
    struggling to maintain their very existence. We only beseech
    ministers to look upon these two pictures—on the one hand slavery
    triumphant; on the other, freedom struggling in the dust—and then
    persist, if they can, in the line of policy which has produced such

But it is needless to multiply examples. The encouragement has been
given; the increased importation of slaves to the foreign colonies has
taken place; and the planters of Cuba and Brazil are already preparing
for their monopoly. The following figures, set forth in a late official
return, speak volumes:—

                                                   1845.      1847.
     Machinery exported from England to Cuba,      £4807    £17,644
     Ditto from do. to Brazil,                    17,130     35,123

                                                 £21,937    £52,767

And this independently of such machinery as has been bought up and
transported from our colonies!

Such have been the effects of the recent Whig measure; and it is for
Parliament to decide whether we shall incur the national reproach of
continuing any longer in a course so heartless, so unwise, and so
inhuman. An attempt may be made, as in the case of the currency laws, to
shelve the consideration of the sugar duties, through the convenient
medium of a committee. If so, the fate of our colonies may be considered
as finally sealed. This is not a case that admits of delay, nor are
parties actually at issue upon disputed matters of fact. The whole
question resolves itself into this—is free trade to be allowed to run
riot, and are our oldest colonies to be given up to it immediately as a
sacrifice? A very intelligent correspondent writes, with reference to
protective measures:—

“It may be the interest of the ministry to allow this appointment of a
committee, as for months they will shelve the question. These months to
us are of the utmost value, as during the crop, which commences in
January and ends in June in the West Indian colonies, we must decide
whether we are to make any preparations for the future. If no
concessions are to be made, ABANDONMENT _is the only course to save
further loss_. I believe the West Indians want no committee on their
case. The hardships must be admitted. What we require is a fair, but not
a prohibitory duty; such a one only as will put us on a footing to
compete with those parties who enjoy what we are denied—_an abundance of
cheap and regular labour_. This protection must be granted until we have
the labour, and also some means of commanding its regularity.”

In conclusion, we would ask the free-traders themselves, whether the
course which has been pursued towards these colonies is equitable or
defensible, even on their own acknowledged principles? How far do they
intend or propose that these principles should be carried? Is all
traffic, even that in human flesh and blood, to be free? If so, let us
come to a distinct understanding on the point. If the code of morals
maintained by Mr Cobden is of so truly philanthropic and catholic a
nature—if “buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market” is
to be adopted throughout the world as a universal and unexceptionable
rule—then, in the name of common sense, let the free-traders be
consistent to their creed, let emancipation become a dead letter, and
let the slave markets of Africa be thrown open to every customer! Do
these gentlemen intend to maintain that there is any thing of free trade
in the system, which ties our own colonists hand and foot, prevents them
from making use of the capabilities of their soil, dissipates their
capital, and then quietly abolishes all distinctive duty between their
produce and that of countries which have not chosen to adopt the same
system? Is the fleet upon the coast of Africa a symbol of free-trade
principles, or the opposite? Why, what a laughing-stock must that be in
the eyes of the Spaniards! what an egregious proof of the most silly
inconsistency that ever yet was perpetrated by a nation! We will not,
forsooth, permit foreign nations to traffic in slaves, and yet we give
them the monopoly of our market, knowing all the while that upon that
importation alone we are dependent for a cheap supply! We ruin our
colonies, transfer our custom to the foreign slave-driver, and with him,
as has well been said, _cheap sugar means cheap slaves_!

We are glad to see that _The Times_, though differing with us in many
economical points, has lately taken up this view, and spoken out with
its customary ability. We extract from the number published on 17th

    “Is sugar a commodity which we are simply desirous of getting cheap,
    without any regard to the country or methods of its production? If
    it be not, then is it clear as argument can make it that such
    commodity must be altogether removed from the operations of free
    trade? If it be, then by what monstrous perversion of equity do we
    control the methods of production adopted by our own producers? Why
    did we destroy that market in Jamaica which we now seize so eagerly
    in Brazil? The abstract principles of free trade are as manifestly
    violated by interference with production as by interference with
    exportation. If the doctrines of free trade are to find no exception
    in any suggestions of humanity or reason, then our Anti-slavery Act,
    and our Emancipation Act, and our vote for the African squadron, are
    all so many gross contradictions of a principle which we have
    formally sanctioned. Let those who think so speak out boldly. They
    have undoubtedly a clear case, if they dared but state it. Let
    slavery be considered as a practice which humanity condemns, and
    which civilisation must eventually abolish, but which cannot be
    permitted to enter into the calculations of a great commercial
    people. Let the coast squadron be immediately recalled, and the
    Bights thrown open to the sugar-growers of all nations to procure
    their labourers on the easiest terms. Let them make as much sugar as
    they can each for itself, and let the agency by which this article
    is produced be as much a matter of indifference as in the case of
    any other article, and _then_ may sugar fairly be subjected to the
    operations of free trade. If the West Indians then applied for
    protection, we might well repulse a petition for so obsolete a
    measure; but to take refuge in such abstract theories now is to blow
    hot and cold with the same breath—to preach up humanity from one
    side of the pulpit and economy from the other, taking care the while
    to appropriate to our own pockets the advantages of the latter
    doctrine, and to saddle our colonists with the expenses of the

And what is it that our colonists ask? What is the extravagant proposal
which we are prepared to reject at the cost of the loss of our most
fertile possessions, and of nearly two hundred millions of British
capital? Simply this, that in the meantime such a distinctive duty
should be enforced as will allow them to compete on terms of equality
with the slave-growing states. Let this alone be granted, and they have
no wish to interfere with any other fiscal regulation. And what would be
the amount of differential duty required? Not more, as we apprehend,
than ten shillings the hundred-weight. It has been carefully calculated
that the British planter cannot raise and send his sugar to the home
market at a lower cost than forty shillings. In consequence of Lord John
Russell’s measure, the average price last year has been thirty-eight
shillings, and consequently the planter has been manufacturing, not only
without profit, but at an actual loss. Next year, or rather after next
July, the operation of the reductive scale will increase his loss,
supposing him still to cultivate, from two shillings to three and
sixpence per hundred-weight and so on until 1851, when he will have to
pay _six pounds per ton_ for the privilege of growing sugar, without a
single farthing of return!

Is then the request of these men, who are our own fellow-subjects, and
citizens, in any way unjust or unreasonable? We have chosen to deprive
them of labour, promising them all the while sympathy and protection,
and are we not bound in some measure to redeem the pledge? They require
a differential duty only until such time as they can command a supply of
free and plentiful labour. To this object the attention of government,
and of the true philanthropists of the country, ought to be directed.
There is a noble field laid open for their exertions. The best means of
suppressing altogether the slave-trade, is by promoting, to the
uttermost of our power, a free immigration from Africa to our colonies,
a measure which we are certain would very soon supersede the necessity
of a blockading squadron. For how can we ever expect that such an
armament will prove effectual in checking that wicked traffic, whilst,
at the same time, we are directly encouraging it, by augmenting the
consumpt of its produce in free and scrupulous Britain? Shame, on such
contemptible and deceptive policy! Shame on the men who, with liberalism
on their lips, are all the while engaged in riveting the fetters of the
bondsman! And shame to all of us, if we permit our oldest and most
attached colonies to lapse into decay, and thousands of our
fellow-subjects to be consigned to ruin! for the sake of a theory which,
in this matter at least, has not even the merit of being based upon
consistent or intelligible principle!

                             NOW AND THEN.

(_Now and Then._ By SAMUEL WARREN, F.R.S. Author of “Ten Thousand
a-Year,” and the “Diary of a Late Physician.” William Blackwood and
Sons, Edinburgh and London. 1848.)

It would be an unpardonable affectation of modesty indeed, if Maga
suffered any considerations whatever to interfere between herself and
the cordial recognition of a success achieved by a favourite child, and
acknowledged by all the world. Is the parent alone to hold her peace,
when crowds are flinging up their caps rejoicing at the triumph of the
son? Is nature to resign her dearest prerogative, in order to comply
with the unnatural requirements of a dastard hypocrisy? Must we still
hear on all sides the honest congratulations of strangers, and are we
not to do homage to the grateful spirit within us, by shaking our own
flesh and blood by the hand? Flesh and blood revolt from the
insinuation! We know, as well as the dullest, that it is a delicate
matter for Maga to speak to mankind, as truth and her heart dictate,
with respect to some of her progeny. But what has delicacy to do with
justice? Was Brutus delicate when he judged his own son, and hung him up
for the public good? Maga suffers the world to judge of her offspring,
and contents herself with a simple announcement of the happy verdict. It
is her duty, as well as her delight, to chronicle the sentence. If she
did less, she would do wrong to her own: she might do more, and still be
just to her mighty and confiding public.

The author of the volume whose title heads this article, first appeared
before the public as a writer in this Magazine in the month of August
1830. He was then but two-and-twenty years of age; yet, in his “Diary of
a Late Physician,” he at once took his place in the front ranks of
literature, and seized upon the admiration and respect of his
contemporaries. The work is too well known to need minute description
here. The variety of incident and character, the extraordinary fidelity
of delineation, the vigorous style, the touching pathos, the commanding
knowledge of men and human passions which it exhibits, are as familiar
to our readers as they were surprising in a youth scarcely out of his
teens,—a mere tyro in literature,—and, as he himself informs us, a
rejected aspirant, in many quarters,[9] for those lofty honours which he
has since so bravely and so honourably won. “The Diary of a
Physician”—carried on at intervals from the year 1830 to the year
1837—maintained its ground from first to last. Since the last chapter
appeared in these pages, the series has been printed and published,
reprinted and republished, stereotyped for England, pirated for America,
and translated for the Continent. The interest which the powerful tales
first excited, is unabated to this hour. The regular and steady demand
maintained for the volumes indicates their intrinsic value, and
declares, in language as emphatic as any that can appeal to either
publishers or authors, the enduring character with which they are

Footnote 9:

  “The first chapter of this ‘Diary’—The Early Struggles—was offered by
  me successively to the conductors of three leading Magazines in
  London, and rejected as ‘unsuitable for their pages’ and ‘not likely
  to interest the public.’ In despair, I bethought myself of the great
  Northern Magazine. I remember taking my packet to Mr Cadell’s, in the
  Strand, with a sad suspicion that I should never see or hear any thing
  more of it; but at the close of the month I received a letter from Mr
  Blackwood, informing me that he had inserted the chapter, and begging
  me to make arrangements for immediately proceeding regularly with the
  series. It expressed his cordial approval of the first chapter, and
  predicted that I was likely to produce a series of papers well suited
  for his Magazine, and calculated to interest the public.”—Extract from
  Preface to the Fifth Edition of the _Diary of a Late Physician_.

In the year 1839, just nine years after the publication of the first
number of the “Diary,” appeared also in these pages the first part of Mr
Warren’s tale of “Ten Thousand a-Year.” The second production derived no
false lustre from the confirmed success of its predecessor. The new tale
presented itself in the columns of the Magazine, as the rule
is—anonymously. Mr Warren obtained no advantage whatever from his
previously well-earned and conscientiously sustained reputation. His
second venture had nothing to rely upon but itself; yet, before six
months had elapsed, “Ten Thousand a-Year,” by the mere force of its own
unquestioned merit, succeeded in arresting public attention to an extent
seldom equalled, and never surpassed by publications of a serial nature.
For two years that attention never flagged; the public can attest to
this remarkable fact: we are ourselves conscious of the avidity with
which number after number of this Magazine was sought, whilst one
chapter of the History of Tittlebat Titmouse still remained to be told.
“Ten Thousand a-Year” was a wholly different performance from the “Diary
of a Late Physician.” The latter contained the fruitful germs of at
least a dozen novels. Its short histories, designed to convey a solemn
and abiding moral, performed their office with the least possible
elaboration. Intricacy and subtlety of plot were not considered, in a
scheme in which mankind was to be moved and taught by the influence of
example. The faults, the weaknesses, the vices of humanity, were
displayed in their simplest forms, and no pains were taken to involve
them in the entanglements of an artfully contrived narration. Not so,
altogether, in the case of “Ten Thousand a-Year.” Here plot became not a
subordinate ingredient in the composition; here the salient and
strongly-marked features of individual character were not alone
considered. It cannot be denied that the second creation of Mr Warren’s
genius indicated at once increased strength of mind, experience more
extended, knowledge more ripened. The faculties of the man were allied
to the energy and passion of the youth, and the former ruled the latter
with a severe and salutary grasp. The secret motives of man had been
learnt in the interim; human springs of action had been detected in
their distant hiding places; the inner soul of the world had been more
deeply penetrated, and more closely scanned by the writer’s
understanding. The pictures were no longer sketches—the masterstrokes
were something more than indications. The vulgarity of Titmouse was
shown with the self-denying patience and enlightened industry of a
surgeon laying bare the loathsomeness of a repelling sore. What
inclination would have shut away for ever, conscientious duty required
to be exposed. Vulgarity is exposed in the history of Tittlebat
Titmouse, and is utterly crushed. In nothing, however, is the contrast
between Mr Warren in 1830, and the same gentleman in 1839, so remarkable
as in the conception of Mr Gammon. The character is a perfect emanation
of instructed genius; the admixture of good and evil—good in evil, and
evil in good—could have been portrayed only by one knowing thoroughly
“all qualities with a learned spirit of human dealings.” None but a
creator, conscious of his strength, and fortified by the convictions
which knowledge and experience give, would have conceived—or if
conceived, dared—to exhibit the incomparable portraiture of which we
speak. He, Gammon, stands immortalised in Mr Warren’s pages, neither a
monster of good nor a monster of evil, but partaking of both qualities;
largely of one, and in a smaller degree of the other, as is nature’s
wont. Noble amongst the very base, and base amongst the very noble, he
is an object of sorrow more than of execration,—of sympathy, not of
hate, in his evil associations; of deep pity, not of vengeance, when he
mixes for a season with the pure. Wanting religion and the practice of
piety, which alone yields the highest moral rectitude, Gammon fails to
earn approval even when he most deserves it, and in his brightest
moments leaves no better impression on the mind than that of a wretched
bundle of foul weeds, steeped for the time in heroism. The seeming
incongruities of the character testify at once to its fidelity: the
reality of the picture is heightened by the colours which the master,
with infinite skill, has selected from his palette.

The incognito of Mr Warren was preserved till towards the close of the
work; and upon its completion, being published in a separate form, it
shared the well-deserved success of the “Diary of a Physician,” and
travelled with it, either in, its original garb or as a translated book,
into every quarter of the globe. Be it remembered that, during the whole
long period of which we speak, Mr Warren was passing his days in any
thing but the luxurious case of an unoccupied gentleman, or of one
engaged only in the prosecution of intellectual pleasures. His entrance
into life as a public writer was concurrent with his adoption of the
most arduous and difficult of all professions. Literature was less his
business than his recreation; his chosen evening pastime after the
noonday’s enervating heat; his dignified solace, not his painful
necessity. In plain words, whilst he used his pen for the amusement and
instruction of his fellows, Mr Warren was a laborious legal plodder on
his own account in the Temple; first as a special pleader, and
afterwards as a counsel; in which last capacity he produced, as a
tribute to law as well as to literature, an important standard law-book,
held at this moment in high repute.

Now, if what we have said be true,—and if it be not, we shall be glad to
be informed of our error—we hold it to be an utter impossibility for
Maga either to look coldly upon Mr Warren’s literary career, or to stand
mutely by with her hands behind her, when all honest people are
vociferously applauding that gentleman upon his first appearance in an
entirely new character. If we don’t clap our hands, who shall applaud?
Nobody will respect the mother who thinks her child less worthy than the
world esteems him. If we should hold our peace, Maga would be
despised—not by the world—that would not affect her much, but by her own
honest soul, and her eternal sense of right, which would destroy her. We
have held our peace long enough. Impatient as we were to be the first to
hail our own, to introduce him to his readers in the columns in which
first he introduced himself, we have committed violence to our
affection, and bided our good time. Maga watched with natural fond
anxiety the proceedings of her son. She called to mind their long
connexion, and had maternal apprehensions—the best of mothers have
them—lest the third appearance of her offspring on the literary stage of
life might dim the lustre of his former efforts in the same arena.
Moreover, people of a certain age have whims and fancies. Maga, young,
buxom, sportive, and healthy as she looks, has reached a matron’s years.
Her contemporaries, judging from her feats, and vexed in heart, will not
believe it. We cannot wonder at their scepticism; they look old in their
infancy. Maga has the playfulness and elasticity of youth in her prime.
If she is so sprightly with a load of years upon her, she may live for
ever. Honest contemporaries are right; she may—she WILL! But, as we
said, folks of a certain age have whims. Men who have prospered under
one system are not eager to adopt and try another. The guardianship of
Maga, in Maga’s eyes, casts a halo around the doings of her children. Mr
Warren had achieved noble triumphs, walking hand-in-hand with her month
after month and year after year. If he should deny himself the aid and
run alone, might he not fall? We feared he might, till we had read his
book, and then our fear was gone. But though fear departed,
modesty—Maga’s ancient fault—remained. The proprieties of the case bade
her be silent till the world had spoken. Though she was not bound to
withhold her smile and warm approval in her royal privacy, sweet decorum
forbade a syllable of public praise until her panegyric might no longer
sway the universe. The hour for breaking silence has arrived: Maga
seizes it proudly and unreservedly, as her custom is: who shall blame

Mr Warren has, indeed, achieved a signal and complete success. The
opinion which we formed of his new labour, ere it went to press, is
confirmed and echoed by the enthusiastic unanimity of the public; by
those who read, and by those useful organs which undertake to guide the
reader’s taste and judgment. The first few pages of the volume dispel at
once all fears as to backsliding or downsinking on the part of the
author. Fresh, vigorous, racy, and pure—such are the well-known
characteristics of Mr Warren’s style: they are here as they were present
in his earliest productions almost twenty years ago. From the first page
to the last, there is not the slightest evidence of exhaustion from
over-cropping or superfetation. All is new, healthy, wholesome, and
genuine: bright as the purest water, clear as the summer’s sky, and as
full of holy promise.

We think we discern a sneer upon the bilious and discontented cheeks of
a certain class of writers as they read the last two words. We know the
gentlemen well. They have been scribbling for the last few years with a
“oneness of purpose,” as creditable to their understandings as it is
significant of their ulterior designs. “Now and Then” is by no means
written for their especial delectation, although, if properly and humbly
read by the “earnest” worthies, it would go far to secure their moral
improvement. The volume neither laughs at ecclesiastical institutions,
nor ridicules the professors of religion. It does not make fun of every
thing serious, until the unsophisticated reader is reduced to wondering
whether he is not in duty bound to smile when and wherever his previous
education had instructed him to weep: it does not consider that a man
born on a dunghill has all the virtues of Adam before he transgressed,
and that another, brought into life on a bed of down in Grosvenor
Square, has, poor devil, in virtue of his good luck, inherited the vices
of Satan and of the whole company of fallen divinities. There are a heap
of Cockneys now gaining their miserable bread by the promulgation of
such doctrines, who will look down with supreme contempt and biting
sarcasm upon the book of which we treat; not, mark you, the _believers_
of such doctrines, but simply the mischievous and impious promulgators.
Trust them, they prefer the company of the wealthy and the well-to-do,
as they love cheese and beer more profoundly than all the moral beauty
that the earth contains. Catch them giving sixpence to a beggar on a
snowy day, or uttering a syllable of human kindness, which costs them
nothing, to a houseless wanderer, no one being by. We hold it to be a
great jewel in the coronet of Mr Warren, that he sets his face manfully,
in the present instance, against the fashion which all honest men and
true must deprecate. The freedom from the prevailing cant which his book
exhibits, is most refreshing; the certain upturning of misshapen noses
which its very tendency must effect, the greatest compliment yet paid to
his honest exertions in the cause of morality, and of the holy faith
which he professes.

“Now and Then” is a Christmas book for a Christian people. It is a tale
of fiction, which the most devout may read with no fear of insult, and
without risk of being obliged to suspend their orthodoxy for the sake of
an hour’s pleasant reading. The book invests Christmas with its
legitimate Christian associations. It cannot be denied that the tendency
of this species of literature, for the last few years, has been to
denude the sacred season of all these associations, and to surround it
with others which are at once trifling, irreligious, and heathenish. We
dwell upon this fact, because there needs some courage boldly to speak
God’s truth in an age rapidly verging towards practical infidelity. In
Parliament, the once great leader of a greater Christian party publicly
denies the necessity of a declaration of Christian faith as the test of
a legislator. In our light literature, we find references enough to the
goodness of Providence, but a studious avoidance of the name and
properties by which that Providence is recognised when we come to our
knees by the bed-side or in the sanctuary. There is, we grant, not so
much a denial of the essential doctrines of Christianity every where
about us save in the church, as a studious and utter disregard of them;
but there is imminent peril in this very disregard. Neglect precedes
desertion. Let us be duly grateful, we say, to one who, in the modest
pages of a simple tale, recalls us to our obligations, and reminds us
that the chief of duties here is to cling firmly to the faith by which
the world is saved, and to proclaim _first principles_ when that world
is basely shrinking from their free and open recognition.

Let us, however, not be misunderstood. “Now and Then” is not a religious
novel—popularly so called. Mr Warren is not on the present occasion a
“religious novelist,” as controversial divines, usurping the functions
of the tale writer are, for want of a better term, absurdly styled. The
Christianity which pervades this book is pure and catholic, and has
nothing to do with the quarrels of sects and classes: it is applicable
to universal humanity. There is no vulgar presumptuous dabbling with
controverted points of Scripture, which, appearing in works of fiction,
is utterly abominable and ludicrous, even in its futility: but the
author, starting with a high and admirable purpose, and keeping that
purpose in view to the very last, confines himself strictly and solely
to what we all regard as Christianity’s irrevocable and fundamental
principles;—great saying truths which none can blink with safety, and
which he brings forward with an evident profound sincerity and
reverence, impossible to mistake and difficult to slight.

The story, potently simple in itself, opens with marvellous simplicity.
We quote from the beginning:—

    “Somewhere about a hundred years ago (but in which of our good
    kings’ reigns, or in which of our sea-coast counties, is needless to
    be known) there stood, quite by itself, in a parish called
    Milverstoke, a cottage of the better sort, which no one could have
    seen, some few years before that in which it is presented to our
    notice, without its suggesting to him that he was looking at a
    cottage quite of the old English kind. It was most snug in winter,
    and in summer very beautiful; glistening, as then it did, in all its
    fragrant loveliness of jessamine, honeysuckle, and sweet-brier.
    There, also, stood a bee-hive, in the centre of the garden, which,
    stretching down to the road-side, was so filled with flowers,
    especially roses, that nothing whatever could be seen of the ground
    in which they grew; wherefore it might well be that the busy little
    personages who occupied the tiny mansion so situated, conceived that
    the lines had fallen to them in very pleasant places indeed. The
    cottage was built very substantially, though originally somewhat
    rudely, and principally of sea-shore stones. It had a thick thatched
    roof, and the walls were low. In front there were only two windows,
    with diamond-shaped panes, one above another, the former much larger
    than the latter, the one belonging to _the_ room of the building,
    the other to what might be called the chief bed-room; for there were
    three little dormitories—two being small, and at the back of the
    cottage. Close behind, and somewhat to the left, stood an elm-tree,
    its trunk completely covered with ivy; and so effectually sheltering
    the cottage, and otherwise so materially contributing to its snug,
    picturesque appearance, that there could be little doubt of the
    tree’s having reached its maturity before there was any such
    structure for it to grace and protect. Beside this tree was a
    wicket, by which was entered a little slip of ground, half garden
    and half orchard. All the foregoing formed the remnant of a little
    freehold property, which had belonged to its present owner and to
    his family before him, for several generations. The initial letter
    (A) of their name, Ayliffe, was rudely cut in old English character
    in a piece of stone forming a sort of centre facing over the
    doorway; and no one then living there knew when that letter had been

Such is the scene, and such the small house, in and from which the
events evolve, that form the solemn and instructive narrative. The owner
of the cot, the foremost though the humblest personage in the drama, was
once a substantial, but is now a reduced yeoman, well stricken in years,
being, at the opening of the story, close upon his sixty-eighth year.

    “The crown of his head was bald, and very finely formed; and the
    little hair that he had left was of a silvery colour, verging on
    white. His countenance and figure were very striking to an observant
    beholder, who would have said at once, ‘That man is of a firm and
    upright character, and has seen trouble,’—all which was indeed
    distinctly written in his open Saxon features. His eye was of a
    clear blue, and steadfast in its gaze; and when he spoke, it was
    with a certain quaintness, which seemed in keeping with his simple
    and stern character. All who had ever known Ayliffe entertained for
    him a deep respect. He was of a very independent spirit, somewhat
    taciturn, and of a retiring, contemplative humour. His life was
    utterly blameless, regulated throughout by the purifying and
    elevating influence of Christianity. The excellent vicar of the
    parish in which he lived reverenced him, holding him up as a
    pattern, and pointing him out as one of whom it might be humbly
    said, _Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile_. Yet the
    last few years of his life had been passed in great trouble. Ten
    years before had occurred, in the loss of his wife, who had been
    every way worthy of him, the first great sorrow of his life. After
    twenty years spent together in happiness greater than tongue could
    tell, it had pleased God, who had given her to him, to take her
    away—suddenly, indeed, but very gently. He woke one morning, when
    she woke not, but lay sweetly sleeping the sleep of death. His
    _Sarah_ was gone, and thenceforth his great hope was to follow her,
    and be with her again. His spirit was stunned for a while, but
    murmured not; saying, with resignation, ‘The Lord hath given, and
    the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.’ A year
    or two afterwards occurred to him a second trouble, great, but of a
    different kind. He was suddenly reduced almost to beggary. To enable
    the son of an old deceased friend to become a collector of public
    rates in an adjoining county, Ayliffe had unsuspiciously become his
    surety. The man, however, for whom he had done this service, fell
    soon afterwards into intemperate and dissolute habits; dishonesty,
    as usual, soon followed; and poor Ayliffe was horrified one evening
    by being called upon, his principal having absconded, a great
    defaulter, to contribute to repair the deficiency, to the full
    extent of his bond.”

Ayliffe’s property was sacrificed at a blow. At the time of entering
into his engagement, he was the freehold owner of some forty or fifty
acres of ground, and the master of some sums of money advanced upon
mortgage to a neighbour. Much of this went immediately. Nor was this
calamity his only one. He had a son, another Adam Ayliffe. Ayliffe the
younger was betrothed, at this period of accumulated misfortune, to a
young girl, who jilted him in the time of the family poverty. The blow
fell upon the young and proud-hearted yeoman, as such blows will fall
upon those in whose retired course a first affection comes as an abiding
blessing, or an utter curse. A visible change took place both in his
character and demeanour after the disappointment. First love in the
younger Ayliffe’s case was the curse and not the blessing. All went
wrong with the family from this hour. Adam finally married, it is true,
a maiden residing with Mr Hylton, the vicar of Milverstoke, but the
union, though one of unquestionable affection, yielded no earthly
happiness. After the loss of worldly goods, Adam, and his son betook
themselves to labour for their subsistence. The father became a
hireling, much to the affliction of his son, but not to his own sorrow,
for he “heartily thanked God for the strength that still remained to
him, and for the opportunity of profitably exerting that strength.”
Father, son, and daughter, still resided in the cottage, being its sole
occupants. A year and a half of severe and constant exertion in the
ordinary out-of-door operations of farming, and old Adam gave way. The
spirit was more willing than the flesh. The younger Ayliffe laboured
then for the livelihood of all, and another was added to the group, in
the shape of an infant son, born about a year after the marriage of his
parents, at the peril of its mother’s life.

At this stage of the history, the remnant of old Ayliffe’s land is
demanded in the way of purchase by the agent of the Earl of Milverstoke,
(whose principal country residence is within a short distance of the
cottage,) and steadily refused by the owners. The old man assured Mr
Oxley that it would break his heart to be separated for ever from the
property of his fathers, to see their residence pulled down, and all
trace of it destroyed; but Mr Oxley’s appetite for the property was only
whetted by the reluctance of its insignificant proprietor.

    “‘Be not a fool, Adam Ayliffe,’ [said Mr Oxley, during one of his
    frequent visits to the cottage on the subject of this purchase;]
    ‘know your interest and duty better. Depend upon it, I will not
    throw all this my trouble away, nor shall my Lord be disappointed.
    Listen, therefore, once for all, to reason, and take what is
    offered, which is princely, and be thankful!’

    “‘Well, well,’ said Ayliffe, ‘it seems that I cannot say that which
    will suit you, Mr Oxley. Yet once more will I try, and with words
    that perhaps may reach the ear that mine cannot. Will you hear me?’

    “‘Ay, I will hear, sure enough, friend Adam,’ said Mr Oxley,
    curiously; on which Ayliffe took down a large old brass-bound book,
    and, opening it on his lap, read with deliberate emphasis as

    “‘Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard
    by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

    “‘And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I
    may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house:
    and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it
    seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.

    “‘And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give
    the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.’

    “When he had read these last words Ayliffe closed the Bible, and
    gazed at Mr Oxley in silence. For a moment the latter seemed
    somewhat staggered by what he saw and what he had heard; but at
    length—‘Oh, ho, Adam! do you make your Bible speak for you in
    business?’ said he, in a tone of rude jocularity. ‘Well, I shall
    wish you good day for some little while, it may be, and good luck to
    you here. It is somewhat of a bit of a place,’ he continued as he
    drew on his gloves, glancing, at the same time, contemptuously round
    the little room, ‘to set such store by; but be patient—be patient,
    Adam; there is one somewhat larger that will be ready for you

    “This insulting allusion to the workhouse or the county jail old
    Ayliffe received in dignified silence. Not so his son, who, rising
    with ominous calmness from the chair on which he had for some time
    been sitting, as it were, on thorns, and silent only out of habitual
    deference to his father, approached Mr Oxley in two strides, seized
    him by the collar with the hand of a giant, and, before his
    astonished father could interpose, had dragged Mr Oxley to the
    doorway, near which he had been standing, and with a single jerk
    flung him out into the open air with a violence which sent him
    staggering several yards, till he fell down at full length on the

    “‘Adam, Adam! what have you done!’ commenced his father, approaching
    his son with an astounded air.

    “‘Nay, never mind _me_, father,’ muttered his son vehemently,
    standing with arms akimbo, and watching Mr Oxley with eyes flashing
    fury. ‘There, Master Oxley; show never here again that wizened face
    of yours, or worse may happen. Away! Back to the Castle, and tell
    him that sent you here what you have received! Off! out into the
    road,’ he added, raising his voice, and moving furiously towards Mr
    Oxley, who precipitately quitted the garden, ‘or I’ll teach you to
    speak of the workhouse again! See that _the dogs lick not_——’

    “‘Adam! I charge you hold your peace!’ said the old man, loudly and
    authoritatively, and advancing towards Mr Oxley, who, however,
    having, after muttering a few words to himself, and glancing
    furiously at young Ayliffe, hastily mounted his horse, which had
    been standing fastened at the gate, had already galloped out of
    hearing; and about that time in the ensuing day had contrived,
    during an interview on business with the Earl, to intimate, as if
    casually only, that the Ayliffes, who owned the roadside cottage,
    had received the liberal overtures made by Mr Oxley on his
    lordship’s behalf, with expressions of coarse disrespect, and even
    malignant hostility. Not a syllable breathed Mr Oxley of the
    treatment which he had received at the hands of young Ayliffe; nor
    did he deem it expedient, for reasons of his own, to summon his
    assailant to answer before the magistrates for what he had done.”

Ayliffe heard no more of Mr Oxley, but his trials sadly increased from
the hour of that gentleman’s violent departure from his humble roof. The
poor remnant of his patrimonial estate had dwindled down to the cottage
and the slip of ground attached to it. Young Ayliffe continued to work
from morning till night like any slave in the plantations; but his
industry yielded small result. In addition to the other misfortunes, the
infant member of this luckless household, feeble from its birth, and
likely to be reared with difficulty, became, by an accident, maimed for
life. The black cloud had fairly settled over the habitation.

Sarah, the wife, was about to give birth to another child, when misery
appeared to have reached its climax. The once comely furniture had been
disposed of by degrees to purchase necessary food; and nothing but
horror stared the unfortunates in the face, when an accident took place
which gave the final touch to a dismal history that appeared already

    “Young Ayliffe, with heavy thoughts in his mind, burthening and
    depressing it, went one day to his work at a farmer’s at some
    distance from Milverstoke, having only one companion the whole day
    long: but that companion appearing good-natured and communicative,
    the frank young Ayliffe could not refrain from talking about that
    which was uppermost in his thoughts—the feeble condition of his
    wife, and her doctor’s constant recommendation of nourishing food.
    ‘And why don’t you get it, if you care for her?’ inquired his
    companion with a surprised air, resting for a moment from his work.

    “‘Surely,’ quoth poor Ayliffe, ‘you should ask me why I do not get
    one of the stars out of the sky. Is meat to be picked up in the high

    “‘No; not in the high road,’ said the other, drily, ‘but there’s
    dainty eating for the sick and the gentle to be had—elsewhere.’

    “In plain English, Ayliffe’s new friend pointed at game; speaking
    most temptingly of hare, above all other sorts of game, as a dainty
    dish, whether roast or stewed, for those that were sick and
    delicate; and assured Ayliffe that his (the speaker’s) wife had
    lived secretly on hare all through _her_ time of trouble, and had
    never in her life thriven so well; for naught was so nourishing as
    hare’s flesh. Poor Ayliffe listened to this with but too willing an
    ear, though it went clean contrary to all his own notions, and those
    which he knew to be entertained by his father. He resisted but very
    faintly the arguments of his new friend; who indeed fairly staggered
    Ayliffe, by asking him whether he thought that he did wrong if he
    caught a hedgehog, a weasel, or a snake, in the field or hedge of
    another; and if not, why was it different with a hare? Much
    conversation had they of this sort, in the course of which poor
    Ayliffe, in the frank simplicity of his nature, gave such a moving
    picture of his wife’s necessities, as greatly interested his
    companion; who said that he happened to have by him a very fine hare
    that had been given him by a neighbouring squire, and which was
    greatly at Ayliffe’s service. After much hesitation he, with many
    thanks, accepted the gift; and, accompanying his new friend to his
    cottage, received into his possession the promised hare, (a finer
    one certainly was hardly to be seen,) and made his way home with his
    perilous present, under cover of the thickening shades of night.
    What horrid misgivings he had, as he went along! How often he
    resolved either to return the hare to the giver, or fling it over
    the hedge, as he passed! For he was aware of his danger: there being
    no part of England where game was more strictly preserved, more
    closely looked after, or poachers more severely punished, than at
    Milverstoke. But he thought of his wife—of the relish with which she
    must partake of this hare; and by the inspiriting aid of thoughts
    such as these, he nerved himself to encounter her suspicions, and
    his father’s rebuke and reproaches.”

That rebuke and those reproaches he encountered. Happy had he been had
he encountered nothing worse! The hare was rejected by the upright
father, but the rejection did not save the son. He had been entrapped
into accepting the gift by one who had sent a companion to watch him
home, and who, in order to obtain half the penalty, forthwith informed
against the unfortunate receiver. The receiver was fined, but Mr Hylton,
the vicar, paid the sum required, and released him from his trouble.

Whilst matters are looking so black at the cottage, there is joyousness
enough at the neighbouring castle. The season is Christmas, and Viscount
Alkmond, the only son and heir of the Earl of Milverstoke, has arrived
at the castle to pass the Christmas holidays. Here is the castle and its

    “Milverstoke Castle, to which its next lordly possessor was then on
    his way, was a truly magnificent structure, worthy of its superb
    situation, which was on the slope of a great forest, stretching down
    to the sea-shore. Seen from the sea, especially by moonlight, it had
    a most imposing and picturesque appearance; but from no part of the
    surrounding land was it visible at all, owing to the great extent of
    woodland in which it was embosomed. The Earl of Milverstoke, then
    lord of that stately residence, had a personal appearance and
    bearing which might be imagined somewhat in unison with its leading
    characteristics. He was tall, thin, and erect; his manner was
    composed, his countenance refined and intellectual, and his features
    comely; his hair had been for some years changed from jet-black into
    iron-gray. His bearing was lofty, sometimes even to repulsiveness;
    his temper and spirit haughty and self-reliant. Opposition to his
    will, equally in great or small things, rendered that arbitrary will
    inflexible, whatever might be the consequence or sacrifice; for he
    gave himself credit for never acting from impulse, but always from
    superior discretion and deliberation. He was a man of powerful
    intellect, extensive knowledge, and admirably fitted for public
    affairs,—in which, indeed, he had borne a conspicuous part, till his
    imperious and exacting temper had rendered him intolerable to his
    colleagues, and objectionable even to his sovereign, from whose
    service he had _retired_, to use a courteous word, in disdainful
    disgust, some five years before being presented to the reader. He
    possessed a vast fortune, and two or three princely residences in
    various parts of the kingdom. Of these Milverstoke was the
    principal; and its stern solitude suiting his gloomy humour, he had
    betaken himself to it on quitting public life. He had been a widower
    for many years, and, since becoming such, had become alienated from
    the distinguished family of his late countess; whose ardent and
    sensitive disposition they believed to have been utterly crushed by
    the iron despotism of an unfeeling and domineering husband. Whatever
    foundation there might have been for this supposition, it
    contributed to imbitter the feelings of the Earl, and strengthen a
    tendency to misanthropy. Still his character had fine features. He
    was most munificent; the very soul of honour; a perfect gentleman;
    and of irreproachable morals. He professed a firm belief in
    Christianity, and was exemplary in the discharge of what he
    considered to be the duties which it imposed upon him. He would
    listen to the inculcation of the Christian virtues of humility,
    gentleness, and forgiveness of injury, with a kind of stern
    complacency; unaware, all the while, that they no more existed
    within himself, than fire could be elicited from the sculptured
    marble. Most of his day-time he spent in his library, or in solitary
    drives, or walks along the sea-shore or in the country.
    Unfortunately, he took no personal part, nor felt any personal
    interest in the management of his vast revenues and extensive
    private affairs; intrusting them, as has been already intimated,
    implicitly to others. When he rode through the village, which lay
    sheltered near the confines of the woodland in which his castle was
    situated, he appeared to have no interest in it or its inhabitants,
    though nearly all of them were his own tenantry. His agent, Mr
    Oxley, was their real master.

    “Mr Hylton was one of his lordship’s occasional chaplains, but by no
    means on intimate terms with him; for that the vicar’s firm
    independent character unfitting him. While he acknowledged the
    commanding talents of the Earl, his lordship was, on his part, fully
    aware of Mr Hylton’s strong intellect, superior scholarship, and the
    pure and lofty spirit in which he devoted himself to his spiritual
    duties. The good vicar of Milverstoke knew not what was meant by the
    fear of man—and that his stately parishioner had had many
    opportunities of observing; and, in short, Mr Hylton was a much less
    frequent visitor at the Castle than might might have been supposed,
    and was at least warranted, by his position and proximity.

    “Possibly some of the Earl’s frigid reserve towards him was
    occasioned by the cordial terms of intimacy which had existed
    between him and the late Countess—an excellent personage, who,
    living in comparative retirement at Milverstoke, while her lord was
    immersed in political life, had consulted Mr Hylton constantly on
    the early education of her two children. The Earl had married late
    in life, being nearly twenty years older than his Countess, who had
    brought him one son and one daughter. The former partook largely of
    his father’s character, but in a somewhat mitigated form; he was
    quicker in taking offence than his father, but had not his
    implacability. If he should succeed to that father’s titles and
    estates, he would be the first instance of such direct succession
    for nine generations, the Earl himself having been the third son of
    a second son. The family was of high antiquity, and its noble blood
    had several times intermingled with that of royalty.”

On one of the more advanced days of the Christmas week, we are told
there took place a kind of military banquet at the Castle, in compliment
to the officers of a dragoon regiment, one of whose out-quarters was at
the barracks at some two miles distance. Lord Alkmond was present at
this banquet. During its progress his lordship quitted the company to
stroll in the woods—wherefore none knew; but during his evening walk he
was barbarously murdered. Young Ayliffe, under fearfully suspicious
circumstances, is arrested for the crime. He had been discovered near
the body—his sleeves were covered with blood—he had been hunted and
tracked to his home. The cup of misery was full.

A coroner’s inquest is held—a verdict of wilful murder returned against
Adam Ayliffe, who is formally committed by the magistrate. He is held in
custody, and must await his trial. He is _not_ guilty. The reader feels
it in spite of the damning evidence that will be brought against the
accused on the day of his solemn trial: the father is aware of it, and
sustains his manly soul with the consciousness, dreadful as may be the
unjust and as yet unspoken sentence. Old Adam has gone to his child in
prison. Behold the miserable pair! Listen to the pathetic appeal.

    “They were allowed to be alone for a short time, the doctor and
    nurse of the prison being within call, if need might be. The
    prisoner gently raised his father’s cold hand to his lips and kissed
    it, and neither spoke for a few minutes; at length——

    “‘Adam! Adam!’ said the old man in a low tremulous whisper, ‘art
    thou innocent or guilty?’ and his anguished eyes seemed staring into
    the very soul of his son, who calmly replied,—

    “‘Father, before God Almighty, I be as innocent as thou art, nor
    know I who did this terrible deed.’

    “‘Dost thou say it? Dost thou say it? I never knew thee to lie to
    me, Adam!’ said his father eagerly, half rising, from the stool on
    which he sate. ‘Dost thou say this before God, whom thou art only
    too likely,’ he shuddered, ‘to see, after next Assizes, face to

    “‘Ay, I do, father,’ replied his son, fixing his eyes solemnly and
    steadily on those of his father, who slowly rose and placed his
    trembling arms around his son, and embraced him in silence: ‘How is
    Sarah?’ faltered the prisoner, faintly.

    “‘Ask me not, Adam,’ said the old man; who quickly added, perceiving
    the sudden agitation of his son, ‘but she is not dead; she hath been
    kindly cared for.’

    “‘And the lad?’ said the prisoner, still more faintly.

    “‘He is well,’ said the old man; and the prisoner shook his head in
    silence, the tears running down his cheeks through closed eyelids.”

There is another too, who, in spite of the circumstances which carry
conviction to the minds of others, is morally certain of the innocence
of Adam Ayliffe. At the beginning of the narrative we are informed that,
“as father and son would stand suddenly uncovered, while the reverend
vicar passed or met them on his way into the church, his heart yearned
towards them both: he thoroughly loved and respected them, and was in a
certain way proud of two such specimens of the English yeoman; and,
above all, charmed with the good example which they set to all his other
parishioners. Now the vicar had from Adam’s boyhood entertained a liking
for him, and had personally bestowed no inconsiderable pains upon his
education, which though plain, as suited his position, was yet sound and
substantial.” This vicar trusted the manhood of the blood-guiltless Adam
as he had affectionately attached himself to his youth. To suppose him
guilty of the crime was to have implicit faith in circumstantial
evidence, treacherous and deceitful at the best, and to spurn the actual
knowledge gained from the decided tenor of a life which could NOT speak
false. Adam Ayliffe could not become a murderer and still be Adam
Ayliffe. He was himself, rational and sane; he was therefore guiltless.
So argued the minister of God: so must the good and pious always argue,
similarly placed. A world in arms against the miserable prisoner would
not have moved the vicar from his strong conviction, or frightened him
from the prisoner’s side. Providence, the just, so willed it!

The trial came. The fiend of circumstance for the hour triumphed over
the as yet invisible spirit of truth. Mortal men could do no other than
they did. Seeing through a glass darkly, they pronounced judgment, with
the veil still undrawn. Adam Ayliffe, the innocent, the well-meaning,
the sorely-tried, but the still upright, was condemned to die the death
of a malefactor, for the shedding of blood which he had never spilt. The
wretched convict is removed at once from the bar of the Court to the
condemned cell. He is scarcely there before Mr Hylton, the incredulous
clergyman, is at his side. The interview is long, and deeply
interesting. The frantic despair of the hapless prisoner is gradually
softened, and his mind turned to God by the pious counsels and arguments
of his indefatigable pastor. Mr Hylton leaves the cell more than ever
satisfied of the innocence of poor Adam Ayliffe.

He is sentenced, not yet hanged. The word has gone forth but the decree
is not yet executed. God is just, but as merciful as just, and may
interpose and save the long-suffering for His glory and their happiness.
Mr Hylton, leaving the prison, is summoned to the neighbouring barracks.
Arriving there, he is ushered into a private room, and introduced to one
Captain Lutteridge. What has the captain to say to the minister? What
does he know of the murder? You shall hear. During the trial, the judge
remarked that it was very strange that Lord Alkmond should go out into
the woods on the fatal night, and wondered that no one knew the reason.
Now Captain Lutteridge did not know the reason, but he had possibly,
only possibly, a clue to it. A subject had been mentioned during the
dinner on the memorable night, which had evidently distressed his
lordship, and, it may be, called him forth. What that subject was, he,
the captain, knew, but, without permission from the Earl of Milverstoke,
would not state,—he being a soldier, a man of honour, and incapable of
betraying confidential intercourse, as it were, spoken at the table of
his noble host. It was a case of life and death. Adam Ayliffe had an
advocate with the captain more anxious and impressive than the paid
counsel who had served him on his trial, and Mr Hylton did his duty
faithfully. Before he quitted Captain Lutteridge, that officer had
undertaken to wait upon the Earl of Milverstoke, and to obtain, if it
might be, his permission to communicate the secret. The captain kept his
word, but to little purpose. The Earl forbade all mention of the
melancholy scene, and gave his visitor no encouragement. But Mr Hylton
waited not for encouragement or aid. Before Captain Lutteridge returned
from Milverstoke Castle, the indefatigable minister was already on his
road to London, to obtain an interview with the Secretary of State, to
inform that functionary that there was a secret, and to entreat a
respite upon that ground; but not upon that ground alone. Another gleam
of sunshine, thin as hair, stole through the stormy sky. A letter had
been received by Mrs Hylton, that hinted at guilt elsewhere, removing it
from Ayliffe’s stainless cottage. Fragile as the document was, the
ambassador of the condemned relied upon it as though it had been a rock.
And not in vain! From the Home Secretary, he was referred to the judge
who tried the cause: the judge listened long and patiently to all that
Mr Hylton had to urge upon the miserable man’s behalf, and finally
ordered a fortnight’s respite, with the view of giving time for
confirmation of the important letter’s intimations.

The unconquerable Mr Hylton returned to Milverstoke. He sees the Earl,
who spurns him from his door as a reward for his unjustifiable
interference between justice and the murderer of his son: he sees the
Earl’s daughter, and pleads with her on behalf of the doomed: he sees
Captain Lutteridge,—he leaves no stone unturned, to secure, if not the
pardon of his client, at least the remission of the punishment to which,
in his inmost heart, he believed him most unjustly sentenced. His
success is far from equal to his zeal. The proud Earl’s heart is
obdurate. Who can wonder at it? The gentle daughter would do much, but
has the power to do little; and Captain Lutteridge, a gentleman and a
soldier, is disinclined to save a murderer from the gallows, even if he
had the ability, which he has not.

The fortnight is coming quickly to an end, and there is no arrival of
favourable news. Shortly before its close, Mr Hylton receives a brief
message from the unhappy occupant of the condemned cell, which he dares
not disregard. It is this—“_I go back into darkness while you are
away._” Mr Hylton mounts his horse and sets off. It is a melancholy
errand, but we will take courage and accompany him. The scene is grand
as it is awful:—

    “As he rode along, his mind lost sight almost entirely of the
    temporal in the spiritual, the present in the future, interests of
    the condemned; and by the time that he had reached the gaol, his
    mind was in an elevated frame, befitting the solemn and sublime
    considerations with which it had been engaged.

    “A turnkey, with loaded blunderbuss on his arm, leaned against the
    cell door, which he opened for Mr Hylton in silence, as he
    approached; disclosing poor Ayliffe sitting on his bench,
    double-ironed, his head buried in his hands, his elbows supported by
    his knees. He did not move on the entrance of Mr Hylton, as his name
    had not been mentioned by the turnkey.

    “‘Adam! Adam!—the Lord be with you! Amen!’ solemnly exclaimed Mr
    Hylton, gently taking in his hand one of the prisoner’s.

    “Ayliffe suddenly started up, a gaunt figure, rattling in his irons,
    and grasping in both his hands that of Mr Hylton, carried it to his
    heart, to which he pressed it for some moments in silence, and then,
    bursting into tears, sunk again on his bench.

    “‘God bless you, Adam! and _lift up the light of His countenance
    upon you_! Put your trust in him: but remember that he is the
    all-seeing, the omniscient, omnipotent God, _who is of purer eyes
    than to behold iniquity_!’

    “Ayliffe wept in silence, and with reverent affection of manner
    pressed to his lips the still-retained hand of Mr Hylton.

    “‘Come, Adam! speak! Speak to your pastor—your friend—your

    “‘You seem an angel, sir!’ said Ayliffe, looking at him with a dull,
    oppressed eye, that was heart-breaking.

    “‘Why an angel, Adam? I bring you,’ said Mr Hylton, shaking his
    head, and sighing, ‘no earthly good news whatever; nothing but my
    unworthy offices to prepare you for hereafter! Prepare! prepare to
    meet thy God, for he draweth near! And who may abide the day of his

    “‘I was readier for my change when last I saw you, sir, than now,’
    said Ayliffe, with a suppressed groan, covering his face with his
    manacled hands.

    “‘How is that, poor Adam?’

    “‘Ah!—I was, so it seemed, half over Jordan, and have been dragged
    back. I see not now that other bright shore which made me forget
    earth! All now is dark!’

    “His words smote Mr Hylton to the heart. ‘Why is this? why should it
    be? Adam!’ said he, very earnestly, ‘have you ever been, can you
    possibly ever be, out of God’s hands? What happens but from God? And
    if He hath prolonged this your bitter, bitter trial, what should
    you, what can you do, but submit to His infinite power and goodness?
    _He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, to
    crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth! He will not
    cast off for ever; but though he cause grief, yet will he have
    compassion according to the multitude of his mercies!_’

    “‘Oh, sir! oft do I think his mercy is clean gone for ever! Why—why
    am I here?’ he continued, with sudden vehemence. ‘He knoweth my
    innocence—yet will make me die the death of the guilty! That cannot,
    _cannot_ be just!’

    “‘Adam! Adam! Satan is indeed besieging you! Even if, in the awful,
    inscrutable decrees of Providence, you be ordained to die for what
    you did not, have you forgotten that sublime and awful truth and
    fact on which hang all your hopes—the death of Him who died, _the
    just for the unjust_?’

    “Ayliffe’s head sunk down on his knees.

    “‘Ah, sir!’ said he, tremulously, after a while, during which Mr
    Hylton interfered not with his meditations, ‘these words do drive me
    into the dust, and then raise me again higher than I was before!’

    “‘And so they ought, Adam. Is there a God? Has he really revealed
    himself? Are the Scriptures true? Am I the true servant of a true
    master? If to all this you say _yea_—speak not again distrustfully.
    If you do—if you so think—then are you too like to be beyond the
    pale of mercy. I am free, Adam,—you are bound,—yet are both our
    lives every instant at the command and absolute disposal of Him who
    gave them, that we might be on trial here for a little while. For
    aught I know, I may even yet die before you, and with greater pain
    and grief; but both of us must die, and much of my life is gone for
    ever. As your frail fellow-mortal, then, I beseech you to listen to
    me! Our mode of leaving life is ordered by God, even as our mode of
    living in it. To some he hath ordained riches, others poverty; some
    pleasure, others misery, in this life; but all for reasons, and with
    objects best known, nay, known only to himself! Adam, you have now
    been four days here beyond that which had been appointed you—now
    that we are alone, have you aught to confide to me, as the minister
    for whom you have sent? What saith my Master? If you confess your
    sins, he is faithful and just to forgive you; but if you say that
    you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you.
    And if that last be so, Adam, what shall be said of you, what can be
    hoped for you?’

    “‘If you be thinking of that deed for which I am condemned,’ said
    Ayliffe, with a sudden radiant countenance, ‘then am I easy and
    happy. God, my maker, and who will be my judge, knoweth whether I
    speak the truth. Ay! ay! innocent am I of this deed as you!’

    “‘It is right, Adam, that I should tell you that all mankind who
    know of your case, from the highest down to the lowest, do believe
    you guilty.’

    “‘Ah, sir, is not that hard to bear?’ said Ayliffe, with a grievous
    sigh, and a countenance that looked unutterable things.

    “‘It is, Adam—it is hard; yet, were it harder, it must be borne.
    Here is Lord Milverstoke, who hath lost his son—his only son—the
    heir to his title and his vast possessions—lost him in this
    mysterious and horrid way: is not _that_ hard to be borne? Have you,
    Adam,—I ask you by your precious hopes of hereafter,—animosity
    towards him who believes you to be his son’s murderer?’

    “There was an awful silence for nearly a minute, at the close of
    which Ayliffe, with an anguished face, said—

    “‘Oh, sir! give me time to answer you! Pray for me! I know whose
    example I ought to imitate; but’—he suddenly seemed to have sunk
    into a reverie, which lasted for some time, at the end of
    which,—‘Sir—Mr Hylton,’ said he desperately, ‘_am_ I truly to die on
    Monday week? Oh, tell me! tell me, sir! Life is sweet, I own!’

    “He sprung towards Mr Hylton, and convulsively grasped his hands,
    looking into his face with frenzied earnestness.

    “‘I cannot—I will not deceive you, Adam,’ replied Mr Hylton, looking
    aside and with a profound sigh. ‘My solemn duty is to prepare you
    for death! But—‘

    “‘Ah!’ said he, with a desperate air, ‘to be hanged like a vile
    dog!—and every one cursing me, who am all the while innocent! and no
    burial service to be said over my poor body!—never—_never_ to be
    buried!’ With a dismal groan he sunk back, and would have fallen
    from the bench, but for Mr. Hylton’s stepping forward. ‘Sir—sir,’
    said Ayliffe presently, glaring with sudden wildness at Mr Hylton,
    ‘did you see the man at the door with the blunderbuss? There he
    stands! all day! all night! but never comes in!—never speaks!—Would
    that he would put it to my head, and finish me in a moment!’

    “‘Adam! Adam! what awful language is this that I hear?’ said Mr
    Hylton, sternly. ‘Is this the way that you have spoken to your pious
    and venerable father?’

    “‘No! no! no! sir!‘—he pressed his hand to his forehead—‘but my poor
    head wanders! I—I am better now! I seem just to have come out of a
    dream. But never should I dream thus, if you would ever stay with
    me—till—all is over!’

    “Feeling it quite impossible to ask the miserable convict such
    questions as Mr Hylton had wished, he resolved not to make the
    attempt, but to do it as prudently and as early as might be, through
    old Ayliffe, or the chaplain or governor of the gaol. He was just
    about to leave, and was considering in what terms he could the most
    effectually address himself to Ayliffe, when, without any summons
    having issued from within, the door was unlocked, and the turnkey,
    thrusting in his head, said,—

    “‘I say, my man, here’s the woman come with thy child, that thou’st
    been asking for. They’ll come in when the gentleman goes.’

    “Ayliffe started up from his seat with an eager motion towards the
    door, but was suddenly jerked down again, having forgotten in his
    momentary ecstasy that his irons were attached to a staple in the

    “‘Come, come, my man,’ said the turnkey, sternly, ‘thou must be a
    bit quieter, I can tell thee, if this child is to come to thee.’

    “‘Give me the lad! give me the lad! give me the lad!’ said Ayliffe,
    in a hoarse whisper, his eyes straining towards the approaching
    figure of the good woman, who, with a very sorrowful and
    apprehensive look, now came in sight of the condemned man.

    “‘Lord bless thee, Adam Ayliffe!’ she began, bursting into tears,
    ‘Lord love thee and protect thee, Adam!’

    “‘Give me the lad!—show me the lad!’ he continued, gazing intently
    at her, while she tremblingly pushed aside her cloak; and behold
    there lay, simply and decently clad, his little boy, awake, and
    gazing, apparently apprehensively, at the strange wild figure whose
    arms were extended to receive it!

    “‘Adam, father of this thy dear child,’ said Mr Hylton, interposing
    for a moment between Ayliffe and the child, not without some alarm,
    ‘wilt thou handle it tenderly, remembering how feeble and small it

    “On this, poor Ayliffe gazed at Mr Hylton with a face of unspeakable
    agony, weeping lamentably; and still extending his arms, the passive
    child, gazing at him in timid silence, was placed within them. He
    sat down gently, gazing at his child for some moments with a face
    never to be forgotten by those who saw it. Then he brought it near
    to his face, and kissed incessantly, but with unspeakable
    tenderness, its tiny features, which were quickly bedewed with his

    “‘His mother!—his mother!—his mother!’ he exclaimed, in
    heart-rending tones, still gazing intently at its face, which was
    directed towards his own with evident apprehension. Its little hand
    for a moment clasped one of the irons that bound his father, but
    removed it immediately, probably from the coldness of the metal. The
    father saw this, and seemed dreadfully agitated for some moments;
    and Mr Hylton, who also had observed the little circumstance, was
    greatly affected, and turned aside his head. After a while,—

    “‘How easily, my little lad, could I dash out thy little brains
    against these irons,’ said Ayliffe, in a low desperate tone of
    voice, staring into the child’s face, ‘and save thee from ever
    coming to this unjust fate that thy father hath!’

    “Mr Hylton was excessively alarmed, but concealed his feelings,
    preparing, however, for some perilous and insane action, endangering
    the safety of the child. The gathering cloud, however, passed away,
    and the manacled father kissed his unconscious child with all his
    former tenderness.

    “‘They’ll tell thee, poor lad, that I was a murderer! though it be
    false as hell! They’ll shout after thee, There goes the murderer’s
    son!’ He paused, and then with a sudden start said—‘There will be no
    grave for thee or thy mother to come and cry over!’

    “‘Adam,’ said Mr Hylton, very anxiously, ‘weary not yourself
    thus—alarm not this poor child, by thus yielding to fear and
    despair; but rather, if it can hereafter remember what passeth here
    this day, may its thoughts be of thy love and of thy gentleness! If
    it be the will of God that thou must die, and that unjustly, as far
    as men are concerned, He will watch over and provide for this little
    soul, whom He, foreseeing its fate, sent into the world.’

    “Ayliffe lifted the child with trembling arms, and pressed its
    cheeks to his lips. The little creature did not cry, nor appear
    likely to do so, but seemed the image of mute apprehension. The
    whole scene was so painful, that Mr Hylton was not sorry when the
    Governor of the gaol approached, to intimate that the interview must
    cease. The prisoner, exhausted with violent excitement, quietly
    surrendered his child to his attendant, and then silently grasped
    the hand of Mr Hylton, who thereupon quitted the cell; the door of
    which was immediately locked upon its miserable occupant: who was
    once again _alone_!”

From the prison let us to the great Earl’s house. His lordship has
become morose and almost vindictive against the supposed murderer of his
son, from the very efforts that have been made to save him from the
gallows. Had Adam Ayliffe been suffered to die the unpitied death of any
other heinous criminal, no one, perhaps, would have more pitied the
wretched malefactor than the Earl of Milverstoke himself. The interest
taken in the convict, not only by the minister, but by his own daughter,
and, as he suspected, by the very widow of the murdered lord, his
daughter-in-law, seemed cruel forgetfulness of the dead, and wanton
injury to the living. He upbraided the minister who preached the virtues
of mercy and forgiveness; he looked with anger and violent impatience
when others dared to take up the thread of the clergyman’s unauthorised
discourse. During an interview with Lady Alkmond, the Earl had heard the
syllables _forgive!_ dropping from the widow’s mouth; he made no answer,
but repaired to his library, in which he walked to and fro for some
time, meditating with sternness and displacency upon the word. Let us
open the door gently and carefully, and, using our lawful privilege,
look in.

    “On taking his seat at length, his lordship opened with some
    surprise a Testament which lay before him, and guided by the
    reference written by the trembling fingers of his daughter, he read
    as follows:—‘So likewise shall my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye
    from your hearts for give not every one his brother their
    trespasses.’ This verse the Earl read hastily, then laid down the
    book, folded his arms, and leaned back in his seat, not with subdued
    feelings, but very highly indignant. He now saw clearly what had
    been intended by the faint but solemn whisper of Lady Alkmond, even
    could he have before entertained a doubt upon the subject. Oh, why
    did not thoughts of the heavenly temper of these two loving and
    trembling spirits melt his stern heart? ’Twas not so, however: and
    even _anger_ swelled within that FATHER’S breast of untamed
    fierceness—anger almost struggling and shaping itself into the
    utterance of ‘Interference! intrusion! presumption!’ After a long
    interval, in which his thoughts were thus angrily occupied, he
    reopened the Testament, and again read the sublime and awful
    declaration of the Redeemer of mankind; yet smote it not his heart.
    And after a while, removing the paper, he calmly replaced the sacred
    volume on the spot from which it had been taken by Lady Emily. Not
    long after he had done so, he heard a very faint tapping at the
    distant door, but without taking any notice of it; although he had a
    somewhat disturbing suspicion as to the cause of that same meek
    application, and the person by whom it was made. The sound was
    presently repeated, somewhat louder; on which, ‘Who’s there?—enter!’
    called out the Earl, loudly, and in his usual stern tone, looking
    apprehensively towards the door—which was opened, as he had thought,
    and perhaps feared it might be, by Lady Emily.

    “‘It is I, dear papa,’ said she, closing the door after her, and
    advancing rather rapidly towards him, who moved not from his seat;
    though the appearance of—NOW—his only child, and that a daughter,
    most beautiful in budding womanhood, and approaching a FATHER with
    timid, downcast looks, might well have elicited some word or gesture
    of welcoming affection and tenderness.

    “‘What brings you hither, Emily?’ he inquired coldly, as his
    daughter, in her loveliness and terror, stood within a few feet of
    him, her fine features wearing an expression of blended modesty and

    “‘Do you not know, my dearest papa?’ said she, gently; ‘do you not
    suspect. Do not be angry!—do not, dear papa, look so sternly at me!
    I come to speak with you, who are my father, in all love and duty.’

    “‘I am not stern—I am not angry, Emily. Have I not ever been kind to
    you? Why, then, this unusual mode of approaching and addressing me?
    Were I a mere tyrant, you could not show better than your present
    manner does, that I am such.’

    “His words were kind, but his eye and his manner were blighting. His
    daughter’s knees trembled under her. She glanced hastily at the
    table in quest of the little book which her hands had that morning
    placed there; and not seeing it, her heart sunk.

    “‘Be seated, Emily,’ said her father, moving towards her a chair,
    and gently placing her in it immediately opposite to him, at only a
    very little distance. She thought that she had never till that
    moment seen her father’s face, or at least had never before noticed
    its true character. How cold and severe was the look of the
    penetrating eyes now fixed on her—how rigid were the features—how
    commanding the expression which they wore—how visibly clouded with
    sorrow, and marked with the traces of suffering!

    “‘And what, Emily, would you say?’ he inquired, calmly.

    “‘Dearest papa, I would say, if I dared, what my sister said to you
    so short a time ago—_Forgive!_’

    “‘Whom?’ inquired the Earl, striving to repress all appearance of

    “‘Him who is to die on Monday next—Adam Ayliffe. Oh, my dearest
    papa, do not—oh, do not look so fearfully at me!’

    “‘You mean, Emily, _the murderer of your brother_!’ He paused for a
    moment. ‘Am I right? Do I understand you?’ inquired her father,

    “‘But I think that he is not—I do believe that he is not.’

    “‘But how can it concern _you_, Emily, to think or believe on the
    subject? Good child, meddle not with what you understand not. Who
    has put you upon this, Emily?’

    “‘My own heart, papa.’

    “‘Bah, girl!’ cried the Earl, unable to restrain his angry impulse,
    ‘do not patter nonsense with your father on a subject like this. You
    have been trained and tutored to torment me on this matter!’

    “‘Papa!—my papa!—I trained! I tutored! By whom? Am I of your blood?’
    said Lady Emily, proudly and indignantly.

    “‘You had better return, my child, to your occupations’——

    “‘My occupation, dearest papa, is here, and, so long as you may
    suffer me to be with you, to say few, but few words to you. It is
    hard if I cannot, I who never knowingly grieved you in my life.
    Remember that I am now your only child. Yet I fear you love me not
    as you ought to love an only child, or you could not speak to me as
    you have just spoken.’ She paused for moment, and added, as if with
    a sudden desperate impulse—‘My poor sister and I do implore you to
    give this wretch a chance of life, for we both believe that he is

    “For a second or two the Earl seemed really astounded; and well he
    might, for his youthful daughter had suddenly spoken to him with a
    precision and distinctness of language, an energy of manner, and an
    expression of eye, such as the Earl had not dreamed of her being
    able to exhibit, and told of the strength of purpose with which she
    had come to him.

    “‘And you both believe that he is innocent!’ said he, echoing her
    words, too much amazed to utter another word.

    “‘Yes, we do! we do! in our hearts. My sister and I have prayed to
    God many times for His mercy; and she desires me to tell you that
    she has forgiven this man Ayliffe, even though he did this dreadful
    deed, and so have I; wife and sister of the dear one dead, we both
    forgive, even though the poor wretch be guilty; but we believe him
    innocent, and if he be, oh, Heaven forbid that on Monday he should

    “‘Emily,’ said the Earl, who had waited with forced composure till
    his daughter had ceased, ‘do you not think that your proper place is
    in your own apartment, or with your suffering sister-in-law?’

    “‘Why should you thus treat me as a child, papa?’ inquired Lady
    Emily, scarcely able to restrain her tears.

    “‘Why should I not?’ asked her father calmly.

    “Lady Emily looked to the ground for some moments in silence.

    “‘Does it not occur to you as possible that you are meddling?
    meddling with matters beyond your province? Is it fitting, _girl_,’
    he continued, unable to resist an instantaneous but most bitter
    emphasis on the word, ‘that you should be HERE, talking to me at
    all, for one moment even, on a matter which I have never thought of
    naming to you—a child?’

    “‘I am a child, papa but I am _your_ child, and your only one and
    love you more than all the whole world.’

    “‘Obey me, then, as a proof of that love: retire to your chamber,
    and there wonder at what you have ventured—presumed this morning to

    “Lady Emily felt the glance of his eye upon her, as though it had
    lightened; but she quailed not.

    “‘My dear, my only parent, I implore you send me not away; let me—’

    “‘Emily, I cannot be disobeyed; I am not in the habit of being
    disobeyed by any one; it is very sad that I should see the attempt
    first made by a child.’

    “‘Oh papa! forgive me! forgive me!’ She arose, and, approaching him
    hastily, as she observed him about to advance, sunk on one knee
    before him, clasping her hands together. ‘Oh, hear me for but a
    moment. Never knelt I before but to God, yet kneel I now to my
    father. Oh, have mercy! nay, be JUST!’

    “‘Why, Emily, verily I fear that long confinement, and want of
    exercise, and change, and air, are preying upon your mind; you are
    not speaking rationally. Rise, child, and do not pursue this
    folly—or I may think you mad!’ He disengaged her hands gently from
    his knee, which they had the moment before clasped, and raised her
    from her kneeling posture, she weeping bitterly.

    “I am not mad, papa, nor is my sister; but we fear lest God’s anger
    should fall upon you, nay, upon us all, if you will not listen to
    the voice of compassion.’

    “‘Be seated, Emily,’ said the Earl. ‘Excited as you are at present,’
    he continued, with rapidly increasing sternness of manner, ‘no words
    of mine will be able to satisfy you of the grievous impropriety, nay
    the cruel absurdity of all this proceeding. You talk to me like a
    parrot about mercy, and compassion, and God’s anger, and so forth,
    as though you understood what you were saying, and I understood not
    what I am doing, what I ought to do, and what I have done. Child,
    you forget yourself, me, and your duty to me. How dared you to
    profane yonder Testament, and insult your father by placing it
    before him as you did this morning? Did you do so?’

    “‘I did,’ she answered, weeping.

    “‘You presumptuous girl! forgetful of the fifth commandment!’

    “‘Oh, say not so! say not so! I love, reverence you—and I FEAR you,
    now!’ said Lady Emily, gazing at him with tears running down her
    cheeks, her dark hair partially deranged, her hands clasped in a
    supplicatory manner. ‘I prayed to God, first, that I might not be
    doing wrong; that you might not be angry with me, that if angry, you
    might forgive me!’

    “‘Angry with you? Have I not cause? Never dared daughter do such
    thing to father before! You presume to rebuke and threaten
    me—_me_—with the vengeance of Heaven, if I yield not to your sickly
    dreaming, drivelling sentimentality. Silence!’ he exclaimed,
    perceiving her about to speak very earnestly. ‘I have not had my
    eyes closed, I tell you now, for days past—I have observed your
    changed manner: you have been deliberating long beforehand how to
    perpetrate this undutifulness! As though my heart had not been
    already struck as with a thunderbolt from Heaven—you, forsooth, you
    idle, unthinking child! must strive to stab it—to wound me! to
    insult me! This is not your own doing: you dared not have thought of
    it! You are the silly tool of others. Silence! hear me, undutiful

    “‘Papa, I cannot hear you say all this, in which you are so wrong.
    No tool am I of any body! Twice have you said this thing!’ Her
    figure the Earl perceived involuntarily becoming erect as she spoke,
    and her eye fixed with steadfast brightness upon his. Had he been
    sufficiently calm and observant, he might have seen in his daughter
    at that moment a faint reflection of his own lofty spirit—intolerant
    of injustice. ‘And even you, papa, have no right whatever thus to
    talk to me. If I have done wrong, chide me becomingly; but all that
    you have said to me only hurts me, and stings me, and I cannot
    submit to it—’

    “‘Lady Emily, to your chamber!’ said the Earl, with a stately air,
    rising; so did his daughter.

    “‘My Lord!’ she exclaimed magnificently, her tall figure drawn up to
    its full height, and her lustrous eyes fixed unwavering upon his
    own. Neither spoke for a moment; and the Earl began, he knew not
    why, to feel great inward agitation, as he gazed at the erect figure
    of his silent and indignant daughter.

    “‘My child!’ said he, at length, faintly, with a quivering lip; and
    extending his arms, he moved a step towards her; on which she sprang
    forward into his arms, throwing her own about his neck, and kissing
    his cheek passionately. His strong will for once had failed him; his
    full eyes overflowed, and a tear fell on his daughter’s forehead.
    She wept bitterly; for a while he spoke not, but gently led her to a
    couch, and sat down beside her.

    “‘Oh, papa, papa!’ she murmured, ‘how I love you!’

    “For a moment he answered not, struggling, and with partial success,
    to overcome the violence of his emotions. Then he spoke in a low
    deep tone—

    “‘The voices of the dead are sounding in my ears, Emily! the
    tranquil dead! ’Tis said, my Emily,’ he paused for some moments, and
    his agitation was prodigious,—‘that stern was I to your sweet

    “‘Oh, dear, dearest, best beloved by daughter, never!’ she cried
    vehemently, struggling to escape from his grasp, for beheld her
    rigidly while gazing at her with agonised eyes.

    “‘And I now fearfully feel—I fear—that stern I was, as stern I have
    this day been to you. Forgive me, ye meek and blessed dead!‘—his
    quivering lips were, closed for a moment, as were his eyes. ‘Oh,
    Emily! she is looking at me through your eyes. Oh, how like!’ he
    remarked, as if speaking to himself. Lady Emily covered her eyes,
    and buried her head in his bosom. ‘Do you, my Emily, forgive me?’

    “‘Oh, papa! no, no; what have I to forgive? Every thing have I to
    love! my own, sweet papa! Much I fear that I may have done what a
    daughter ought not to have done! I have grieved and wounded a father
    that tenderly loved me—’

    “‘Ay, my child, I do,’ he whispered tremulously, gently drawing her
    slender form nearer to his heart. ‘Emily,’ said he, after a while,
    ‘go, get me that Testament which you placed before me; oh, go, dear
    child!’ She still hung her head, and made no motion of going. ‘Go,
    get it me; bring it to me!’

    “She rose without a word, and brought it to him; and while he
    silently read the verse to which she had directed his attention, she
    sat beside him, her hands clasped together, and her eyes timidly
    fixed on the ground.

    “‘It was in love, and not presumption, my Emily, that you laid these
    awful words before me!’

    “‘Indeed, my papa, it was,’ said she, bursting into tears.

    “He appeared about to speak to her, when words evidently failed him
    suddenly. At length—‘And when that sweet soul’—he paused, ‘this
    morning whispered in my ear, did she know of this that you had
    done?’ Lady Emily could not speak. She bowed her head in
    acquiescence, and sobbed convulsively. Her father was fearfully
    agitated. ‘Wretch that I am!—I am not worthy of either of you!’ Lady
    Emily flung her arms round him fondly, and kissed him. ‘I am
    yielding to great weakness, my love,’ said he, after a while, with
    somewhat more of composure. ‘Yet, never shall I—never can I—forget
    this morning! I have long felt, and feared, that I was not made to
    be loved: I have seen it written in people’s faces. Yet can I love!’

    “‘I know you can! I know you do, my own dear papa! Do you not
    believe that I love you? that Agnes loves you?’

    “‘I do, my Emily—I do! Yet till this moment have I felt alone in
    life. In this vast pile, to me how gloomy and desolate! with these
    woods, so horrible, around me, I have been alone—utterly alone! And
    yet were you with me—you, my only daughter—who, I suppose, dared not
    tell me how much you loved me!’

    “‘Oh, do not say so, papa! I knew your grief and suffering. They
    were too sacred to be touched—I wept for you, but in my own

    “‘You stand beside me as an angel, Emily!’ said the Earl fondly, ‘as
    you have ever been: yet I now feel as though my eyes had not really
    seen and known you!’”

The gentle Lady Emily quits her father’s room with leave to speak again
of Christian mercy, but with no further gain. Still there is time to
save the unoffending, and it is not lost. When every hope seemed gone,
impelled by an irresistible impulse, and fortified by an unwavering
conviction of the prisoner’s innocence, Mr Hylton, on the Friday evening
preceding the Monday fixed for Ayliffe’s execution, as a last resource,
had, relying on the king’s well-known sternly independent character,
written a letter to his Majesty, under cover to a nobleman then in
London attending Parliament, and with whom Mr Hylton had been acquainted
at college. Mr Hylton’s letter to the King was expressed in terms of
grave eloquence. It set out with calling his Majesty’s attention to the
execution, six months before, of a man for a crime of which three days
afterwards he was demonstrated to have been innocent. Then the letter
gave a moving picture of the exemplary life and character of the
prisoner, and of his father; pointed to testimonials given in his favour
at the trial; and added the writer’s own, together with the most solemn
and strong conviction which could be expressed in language, that whoever
might have been the perpetrator of this most atrocious murder, it was
not the prisoner doomed to die on Monday. It then conjured his Majesty,
by every consideration which could properly have weight with a sovereign
intrusted with authority by Almighty God, to govern according to justice
and mercy, to give his personal attention to the case then laid before
him, and act thereon according to his Majesty’s own royal and element
judgment. The letter suggested by heaven, written by heaven’s minister,
and read by heaven’s intrusted servant, achieved its mission. The King
read, and commuted the sentence of death to that of transportation. Upon
the morning fixed for the execution a reprieve arrived, almost as the
doomed man was walking from his cell to the gallows.

The convict departs; his wife follows him; his child and father remain
behind. The former is cared for by the daughter of the Earl of
Milverstoke, the latter has still the abiding friendship and regard of
Mr Hylton. Twenty years elapse. Perpetual banishment was Adam Ayliffe’s
sentence, and he is still abroad. His misshapen child has given evidence
of commanding abilities, and under another name has been sent, at Mr
Hylton’s instigation, to the university of Cambridge, where he is
maintained still at the charges of the sweet-hearted Lady Emily. We
arrive at the season when the annual contest takes place in the
university for its most honourable prizes. The dignity of Senior
Wrangler is contested by a young nobleman and a humpbacked youth, of
whom little or nothing is known. The rivals, representing as it were the
aristocracy and the democracy of the ancient seat of learning, have no
unworthy envyings, one against the other; they are friends and friendly
co-labourers. The battle comes, the representative of the people is
victorious: Viscount Alkmond—for it is he—the son of the murdered man,
is beaten by Adam Ayliffe, the offspring of the supposed murderer. The
Earl of Milverstoke lives to hear the news!

He lives to hear more! A man in a distant part of the country is
executed for a robbery. Before he dies he makes a confession. His name
is Jonas Handle. He tells the world, for the relief of his own soul,
that he, and none but he, twenty years before, did kill and murder my
Lord Milverstoke’s son, for which one Ayliffe was taken and condemned to
die, but afterwards was transported, and is since possibly dead. He
explains minutely how he proceeded to his work; who was his accomplice.
He had determined to kill one Godbolt, the head keeper, and, mistaking
the young lord for his intended victim, he struck him dead with the
coulter of a plough, which coulter he thrust into the hole of a hollow
tree hard by. The confession reaches Mr Hylton; the coulter of the
plough is sought and found: the exiled innocent is recalled—returns:
this also the Earl of Milverstoke lives to hear!

He lives to hear more! Mr Hylton has not suffered twenty years to elapse
without appealing to the proud and uncrucified heart of the great Earl,
who seemed to have forgotten, in the midst of his transitory splendour,
that the great God of heaven himself became a humble man, the eternal
pattern of humility _to_ man on earth. The faithful minister knocked at
the soul of the arrogant and overbearing lord, until he shook its
hardness, and made it meet for heaven and its blessings. When he brought
tidings of the murderer’s confession, he came to one who had heard from
the same lips often before happier tidings, and promises bright with
celestial splendour. In former days Mr Hylton had approached the Lord of
Milverstoke as a meek martyr would have dared the violence of a savage
beast; now he comes with his intelligence to one rendered, at the close
of his long life, docile as a lamb. He speaks, and the Earl asks
tremulously, and with many sighs, whether his reverend monitor tells him
of the murderer’s death in judgment or in mercy.

    “‘In mercy, dear my Lord! in mercy!’ answered Mr Hylton, with a
    brightening countenance and a cheerful voice: ‘in you, spared to
    advanced age, I see before me only a monument of mercy and goodness!
    Had you continued till now, deaf to the teaching of His Holy
    Spirit—dead to His gracious influences—hateful, relentless, and
    vindictive—this which has now occurred would, to my poor thinking,
    have appeared to speak only in judgment, uttering condemnation in
    your ears, and sealing your eyes in judicial blindness! But you have
    been enabled to hear a still small voice, whose melting accents have
    pierced through your deaf ear, and broken a heart once obdurate in
    pride and hopelessly unforgiving. Plainly I speak, dear my Lord, for
    my mission I feel to be now no longer one of terror, but of
    consolation! It is awful, but awful in mercy only, and

The Earl is old; but there lives another still older, who must be
visited without delay. The Saxon patriarch, who, when we first saw him,
a man “of simple and stern character” clung to his Bible as to the rock
upon which the poor of this world, the sorely beset and the heavily
tried, can alone repose in peace, and who referred simply, believingly,
and lovingly to that sacred volume, as the cup of sorrow grew fuller and
fuller, until at length it overflowed and could hold no more,—this aged
man, Ayliffe the grandfather, still lives and owns the cottage which he
never would give up. What is the Earl of Milverstoke to do, but to ask
pardon from the gray hairs of the man whom the law so much offended, and
he still more, by the cruel harshness of his once impenitent spirit? See
how he totters to the unpolluted gate!

    “Mr Hylton was moved almost to tears at the spectacle which was
    before his mind’s eye, of these two old men meeting for the first,
    and it might be for the only, time upon earth; and his offer to
    accompany his Lordship at once to the cottage, the Earl eagerly
    accepted, and they both took their departure. As the carriage
    approached, the Earl showed no little agitation at the prospect of
    the coming interview.

    “‘Yonder,’ said Mr Hylton exultingly, ‘yonder is the humble place
    where dwells still, and but a little longer, one whom angels there
    have ministered to; with whom God hath there ever communion; and it
    is a hallowed spot!’

    “The Earl spoke not; and in a few minutes’ time he was to be seen,
    supported by Mr Hylton and a servant, closely approaching the
    cottage door, another preceding him to announce his arrival, and
    standing uncovered outside the door as the Earl entered it; his
    lordly master himself uncovering, and bowing low as he stepped
    within, accompanied by Mr Hylton, who led him up to old Ayliffe,
    saying, ‘Adam, here comes one to speak with you—my Lord
    Milverstoke—who saith that he hath long, in heart, done to you and
    yours injustice; and hath come hither to tell you so.’ The Earl
    trembled on Mr Hylton’s arm while he said this, and stood uncovered,
    gazing with an air of reverence at the old man, who, when they
    entered, was sitting beside the fire, leaning on his staff beside a
    table, on which stood his old Bible, open, with his spectacles lying
    upon it, as though he had just laid them there. He rose slowly as Mr
    Hylton finished speaking.

    “‘My Lord,’ said he solemnly, and standing more erectly than he had
    stood for years, ‘we be now both very old men, and God hath not
    spared us thus long for nothing.’

    “‘Ay, Adam Ayliffe, indeed it is so! Will you forgive me and take my
    hand?’ said the Earl faintly, advancing his right hand.

    “‘Ay, my Lord—ay, in the name of God! feeling that I have had
    somewhat to forgive! For a father am I, and a father _wast_ thou, my
    Lord! Here, since it hath been asked for, is my hand, that never was
    withheld from man that kindly asked for it; and my heart goes out to
    thee with it! God bless thee, my Lord, in these thine old and feeble
    days—old and feeble are we both, _and the grasshopper is a burthen
    to us_.’

    “‘Let me sit down, my friend,’ said the Earl gently. ‘I am feebler
    than thou; and be thou seated also!’ They both sat down opposite to
    each other, Mr Hylton looking on in silence. ‘God may forgive me
    (and _may_ He, of His infinite mercy!)—thou, my fellow-creature,
    may’st forgive me; but I cannot forgive myself, when I am here
    looking at thee. Good Adam! what hast thou not gone through these
    twenty years!’ faltered the Earl.

    “‘Ay, twenty years it is!’ echoed Ayliffe solemnly, sighing deeply,
    and looking with sorrowful dignity at the Earl. ‘Life hath, during
    these twenty years, been a long journey, through a country dark and
    lonesome; but yet, here is the lamp that hath shone ever blessedly
    beside me, or I must have stumbled, and missed my way for ever, and
    perished in the valley of the shadow of death!’ As he spoke, his
    eyes were fixed steadfastly on the Earl, and he placed his hand
    reverently upon the sacred volume beside him.

    “‘Adam, God hath greatly humbled me, and mightily afflicted me!’
    said the Earl; ‘I am not what I was!’

    “‘The scourge thou doubtless didst need, my Lord, and it hath been
    heavily laid upon thee; yet it is in mercy to thee that thou art
    here, my good Lord!’ said Ayliffe, with an eye and in a tone of
    voice belonging only to one who spoke with authority. ‘It is in
    mercy, too,’ he continued, ‘to me, that I am here to receive and
    listen to thee! I, too, have been perverse and rebellious, yet have
    I been spared!—And art thou then, my Lord, in thy heart satisfied
    that my poor son hath indeed suffered wrongfully?’

    “‘Good Adam,’ said the Earl sorrowfully, and yet with dignity, ‘I
    believe _now_ that thy son is innocent, and ought not to have
    suffered; yet God hath chosen that we should not see all things as
    He seeth them, Adam. The law, with which I had nought to do, went
    right as the law of men goeth; but, alas! as for me, what a spirit
    hath been shown by me towards thee and thine! Forgive me, Adam!
    There is one here that knoweth more against me’—the Earl turned
    towards Mr Hylton with a look of gloomy significance—‘than I dare
    tell thee, of mine own awful guiltiness before God.’

    “‘He is merciful! he is merciful!’ said Ayliffe.

    “‘Wilt thou give me a token of thy forgiveness of a spirit most
    bitter and inhuman?’ said the Earl presently. ‘If thy poor son Adam
    cometh home while I live, wilt thou speak with him that he forgive
    me my cruel heart towards him?—that he accept amends at my hands?’

    “‘For amends, my Lord,’ said Ayliffe, ‘doubtless he will have none
    but those which God may provide for him; and my son hath no claim
    upon thee for human amends. His forgiveness I know that thou wilt
    have, for aught in which, my Lord, thou may’st have wronged him by
    uncharitableness; or he is not son of mine, and God hath afflicted
    him in vain.’

    “Here Mr Hylton interposed, observing the Earl grow very faint, and
    rose to assist him to the door.

    “‘Good day, friend Adam, good day,’ said Lord Milverstoke feebly,
    but cordially grasping the hand which Ayliffe tendered to him. ‘I
    will come hither again to see thee; but if I may not, wilt thou come
    yonder to me? Say yes, good Adam! for my days are fewer, I feel,
    than thine!’

    “‘When thou canst not come to me, my good Lord, I will come to
    thee!’ said Ayliffe, sadly, following the Earl to the door, and
    gazing after him till he had driven away.”

That time came soon. The Earl grows ill; his end approaches. Exquisitely
beautiful is the description of that end. Remembering the old man’s
plighted word, the sick nobleman sends his servant to the cottage, and
demands fulfilment of the promise given. The old man hears and trembles;
but with a solemn countenance he gets his hat and stick, puts his Bible
under his aged arm, and answers, “Ay, I will go with thee to my Lord.”

    “When the Earl saw him it was about evening, and the sun was
    setting, and its declining rays shone softly into the room.

    “‘Adam, see—it is going down!’ said Lord Milverstoke in a low tone,
    looking sadly at Adam, and pointing to the sun.

    “‘How is thy soul with God?’ said the old man, with great solemnity.

    “The Earl placed his hands together, and remained silent for some
    moments. Then he said, ‘I would it were, good Adam, as I believe
    thine is!’

    “‘Nay, my good Lord, think only of thine own, not mine; I am sinful,
    and often of weak faith. But hast thou faith and hope?’

    “‘I thank God, Adam, that I have some little! Before I was
    afflicted, I went astray! But I have sinned deeper than even thou
    thinkest, good soul!’

    “‘But His mercy, to whom thou art going, is deeper than thy sins!’

    “‘Oh, Adam! I have this day often thought that I could die more
    peacefully in thy little cottage than in this place!’

    “‘So thy heart and soul be right, what signifies where thou diest?’

    “‘Adam,’ said the Earl, gently, ‘thou speakest somewhat sternly to
    one with a broken spirit—but God bless thee! thy voice searcheth me!
    Wilt thou make me a promise, Adam?’ said the Earl, softly placing
    his hand in that of Ayliffe.

    “‘Ay, my Lord, if I can perform it.’

    “‘Wilt thou follow me to the grave? I would have followed thee,
    hadst thou gone first?‘

    “‘I will!’ replied Adam, looking solemnly at the Earl.

    “‘And now give me thy prayers, dear Adam! Pray for him that—is to
    come after me—for I go—and in peace—in peace—’

    “Lady Alkmond, who was on the other side of the bed, observed a
    great change come suddenly over the Earl’s face, while Adam was
    opening the Bible and adjusting his glasses to read a Psalm. She
    hastened round, she leaned down and kissed the Earl’s forehead and
    cheek, grasped his thin fingers, and burst into weeping. But the
    Earl saw her not, nor heard her: he was no longer among the living!”

It need not be said that the Earl of Milverstoke does what justice he
may to the falsely banished man and his family, by making such provision
for them in his will, as his circumstances allow and his dignity
requires. It need scarcely be mentioned that the close of the career of
the Ayliffe family is as serene and happy, as it was stormy and
disastrous in its beginning. They are not _compensated_ for
long-suffering by the money of his lordship; but they are made to _see_
that the ways of God are unsearchable and past finding out, and that
now, indeed, men see through a glass darkly, though hereafter they shall
see face to face, and know even as they are known. Knowledge and
consolation rightly understood, is cheaply purchased, though even with a
life of trouble, such as Adam Ayliffe saw.

There remains but a word or two more to say concerning this history, and
the tale is told. It has been hinted that Lord Alkmond quitted the
banqueting room on the night of his murder on account of the discussion
of a subject which seemed greatly to annoy him. That subject, as appears
in the course of the story, was DUELLING. Let the author explain the
mystery. It might have had much to do with the tragical catastrophe.
Explained, it has nothing to do with it whatever.

    “Among several letters which come to the Castle shortly after the
    Earl’s sudden illness, was one marked ‘Immediate’ and ‘Private and
    Confidential,’ and bore outside the name of the Secretary of State.
    From this letter poor Lady Emily learnt the lamentable intelligence
    that her brother, the late Lord Alkmond had, when on the Continent,
    and shortly before his marriage, slain in a duel a Hungarian
    officer, whom, having challenged for some affront which had passed
    at dinner, he had run through the heart, and killed on the spot: the
    unfortunate officer leaving behind him, alas! a widow and several
    orphans, all of them reduced to beggary. The dispute which had led
    to these disastrous results, had been one of really a trivial
    nature, but magnified into importance by the young Lord’s quick and
    imperious temper, which had led him to dictate terms of apology so
    humiliating and offensive, that no one could submit to them.
    Wherefore the two met; and presently the Hungarian fell dead, his
    adversary’s rapier having passed clean through the heart. It was,
    however, an affair that had been managed with perfect propriety;
    with an exact observance of the rules of duelling! All had been done
    legitimately! Yet was it MURDER; an honourable, a right honourable,
    murder: murder as clear and glaring, before the Judge of all the
    earth, as that by which Lord Alkmond had himself fallen. When thus
    fearfully summoned away to his account, the young noble’s own hand
    was crimsoned with the blood which he had shed: and so went he into
    the awful presence of the Most High, whose voice had ever upon earth
    been sounding tremendous in his ears,—_Where is thy brother? What
    hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from
    the ground._ Unhappy man! well might his heart have been heavy, when
    men expected it to be lightest! Well might his countenance darken,
    and his soul shudder within him, under the mortal throes of a guilty
    conscience! From his father’s splendid banqueting table he had been
    driven by remorse and horror; for his companions, unconscious that
    they were stabbing to the heart one who was present, WOULD TALK of
    duelling, and of one sanguinary duel in particular, that bore a
    ghastly resemblance to his own. Such poor amends as might be in his
    power to make, he had striven to offer to the miserable family whom
    he had bereaved, beggared, and desolated, to vindicate an honour
    which had never been for one instant really questioned, or
    compromised; and if it _had_ been tarnished, could BLOOD cleanse and
    brighten it? All the money that he could ordinarily obtain from the
    Earl, had from time to time been furnished by Lord Alkmond to the
    family of his victim. For them it was that he had importuned his
    father for a sum of money sufficient to make for them an ample and
    permanent provision. Only the day before that on which he had
    quitted London, to partake of the Christmas festivities, had he
    written an earnest letter to the person abroad with whom he had long
    communicated on the subject, assuring him that within a few weeks an
    ample and satisfactory final arrangement should be made. And he had
    resolved to make a last strenuous effort with the Earl; but whom,
    nevertheless, he dared not, except as a matter of dire necessity,
    tell the nature of his exigency. And why dared not the son tell his
    father? And why had that father shrunk, blighted, from the mention,
    by Captain Lutteridge and Mr Hylton, of the conversation which had
    driven his son out into the solitude where he was slain? Alas! it
    opened to Lord Milverstoke himself a very frightful retrospect;
    through the vista of years his anguished, terror-stricken eye
    settled upon a crimsoned gloom—

    “Oh, Lord Milverstoke!—and then would echo in thy ears, also, those
    appalling sounds,—_what hast_ THOU _done_?

    “For THY—Honour! also, had been dyed in blood!”

We have told as well as we may, but very imperfectly as we feel, the
story of “Now and Then.” It is not for us to advise the reader to get
the volume and to read it for himself. For this he will, as he should,
use his own discretion; but we will, as a faithful Mentor, and a
long-tried friend, entreat him, grave, intelligent, and responsible
Christian man as he is, should he peruse the volume, to consider well at
its close the actual frame of mind in which the book has left him. We
hold this to be the true test of all literary metal, whosoever be the
coiner, wheresoever be the mint. If the solemn elements brought into the
light and pleasant texture of this simple narrative, do not elevate the
spirit and brace the heart of all but the thorough sceptic—whom nothing
will elevate but liquor, and nothing brace but a good three-inch oak
stick—we are content to be set down as the mere slavish flatterer of Mr
Warren, and not as his calm and uninfluenced, though warm and devoted
counsellor. The organs of public opinion in London have dwelt upon the
contrast which “Now and Then” affords to the current literature of the
day. We are not surprised at the impression these critics have received.
Whether we regard the tendency and object of the story, its conception
and execution, the style of the language, or the construction of the
plot, we are bound to confess, that between this production and the heap
of Christmas and other tales that drop uselessly, and worse than
uselessly, into the world, there is all the difference of the bright,
fresh, vigorous mountain air, and the thick fusty atmosphere of the

The current of piety that flows so equably on through the whole of the
work, is lucid as a stream, polluted by no admixture of rank weeds or
earthly dirt. It has been justly remarked, by the leading journal of the
world, that “Now and Then” “is a vindication in beautiful prose of the
ways of God to man.” Every actor in the history vindicates these ways:
every fact as it arises does the same. The old Saxon Ayliffe, who, from
his entrance till his exit, maintains the justice of God’s doings, and
walks peacefully and unruffled over burning plough-shares, because he
sublimely feels the practical influence of his faith, is one champion.
Hylton, the indefatigable clergyman, doing good for his Master’s sake,
reproving the high-born, sympathising with the lowly, preaching and
acting reconciliation everywhere, is another champion. The Earl of
Milverstoke is a champion too. If he be not, our soul has been moved in
vain by the childlike piety and humble self-denial of his broken-hearted
latter days.

There is one thing more to note, and then we have done. We have said, at
the commencement of this article, that there are certain folks in London
and the provinces, who, thinking themselves remarkably fine fellows, and
quite above the cant of religion and all that sort of thing, will pooh,
pooh the noble tendency of “Now and Then,” and talk about “stupid old
times,” “superstition,” “humbug,” and the necessity of going a-head in
these enlightened days, whereby they mean going to the devil headlong,
though they know it not. These worthies, however, will do something more
than pooh, pooh. They will retire to their tap-rooms, and fill their
little souls with gin in sheer envy and disgust. Mr Warren, in the
delineation of the Ayliffe family, has beaten the bilious discontented
democrats on their own ground. He has taken for his hero a man of the
people, but he has sustained the heroism with ample justice to all the
world besides. Although the author of “Nature’s Aristocracy,” and “The
Godlike Bricklayer,” may be a paragon of benevolence, yet he has not all
the benevolence which this huge world of benevolence contains. We will
not venture to hint that there lives a human being better than himself,
but perhaps there live a few nearly, if not quite as good.

Mr Warren does justice to the masses: but he is much too honest and too
upright—being himself one of the masses—to uphold their privileges at
the sacrifice of other men’s lawful and just rights. He does not do it;
and the English people, who love fair play, will honour him for his

We honour him too, and cordially shake him by the hand! He has not done
worse than Maga expected from his industry and genius. Had he done
worse, by our immortality! much as we love him, much as he has done for
us, and we for him, much as we have done together, he should have felt
the force of her frown, and been tapped—gently, perhaps, for the first
offence—with the crutch that, ere now, with a blow has dealt death to
the charlatan and impostor.

_Printed by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh._

Transcriber’s Notes:

Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.

Typographical errors were silently corrected.

Spelling and hyphenation were made consistent when a predominant form
was found in this book; otherwise it was not changed.

Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

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