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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume LXII., No. 381, July, 1847
Author: Various
Language: English
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  BLACKWOOD’S

  Edinburgh

  MAGAZINE.

  VOL. LXII.

  JULY-DECEMBER, 1847.

  [Illustration]

  WILLIAM BLACKWOOD & SONS, EDINBURGH;
  AND
  37, PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.

  1847.



  BLACKWOOD’S
  EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

  NO. CCCLXXXI.    JULY, 1847.      VOL. LXII.



CONTENTS.


  PRESCOTT’S PERU,                                                     1

  CROSSING THE DESERT,                                                21

  LIFE OF JEAN PAUL RICHTER,                                          33

  A TALE OF THE MASORCHA CLUB--AT BUENOS AYRES,                       47

  LETTER FROM A RAILWAY WITNESS IN LONDON,                            68

  SIR H. NICOLAS’S HISTORY OF THE NAVY,                               82

  EVENINGS AT SEA,                                                    96

  THE DOG OF ALCIBIADES,                                             102

  SIR ROBERT PEEL AND THE CURRENCY,                                  113

       *       *       *       *       *

  EDINBURGH:
  WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, 45, GEORGE STREET;
  AND 37, PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.

  _To whom all Communications (post paid) must be addressed._

  SOLD BY ALL THE BOOKSELLERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.

         *       *       *       *       *

  PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH.



BLACKWOOD’S

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

  NO. CCCLXXXI.      JULY, 1847.      VOL. LXII.



PRESCOTT’S PERU.[1]


The world’s history contains no chapter more striking and attractive
than that comprising the narrative of Spanish conquest in the Americas.
Teeming with interest to the historian and philosopher, to the lover of
daring enterprise and marvellous adventure it is full of fascination. On
the vast importance of the discovery of a western hemisphere, vying in
size, as it one day, perhaps, may compete in civilisation and power,
with its eastern rival, it were idle to expatiate. But the manner of its
conquest commands unceasing admiration. It needs the concurring
testimony of a host of chroniclers and eye-witnesses to convince
succeeding generations that the hardships endured, the perils
surmounted, the victories obtained, by the old Conquistadores of Mexico
and Peru, were as real as their record is astounding. The subjugation of
vast and populous empires by petty detachments of adventurers, often
scantily provided and ignorantly led--the extraordinary daring with
which they risked themselves, a few score strong, into the heart of
unknown countries, and in the midst of hostile millions, require strong
confirmation to obtain credence. Exploits so romantic go near to realise
the feats of those fabulous paladins who, cased in impervious steel and
wielding enchanted lance, overthrew armies as easily as a Quixote
scattered merinos. Hardly, when the tale is put before us in the quaint
and garrulous chronicle of an Oviedo or a Zarate, can we bring ourselves
to accept it as history, not as the wild invention of imaginative monks,
beguiling conventual leisure by the composition of fantastical romance.
And the man who undertakes, at the present day, to narrate in all their
details the exploits and triumphs of a Cortés or a Pizarro, allots
himself no slight task. A clear head and a sound judgment, great
industry and a skilful pen, are needed to do justice to the subject; to
extract and combine the scraps of truth buried under mountains of
fiction and misrepresentation, to sift facts from the partial accounts
of Spanish jurists and officials, and to correct the boastful
misrepresentations of insolent conquerors. The necessary qualities have
been found united in the person of an accomplished American author.
Already favourably known by his histories of the eventful and chivalrous
reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, and of the exploits of the Great
Marquis and his iron followers, Mr Prescott has added to his
well-merited reputation by his narrative of the Conquest of Peru. In its
compilation he has spared no pains. Private collections and public
libraries, the archives of Madrid and the manuscripts of the Escurial,
he has ransacked and collated. And he has been so scrupulously
conscientious as to send to Lima for a copy of the portrait whose
engraving faces his title-page. But although his materials had to be
procured from many and distant countries, their collection appears to
have occasioned him less trouble than their abundance. The comrades and
contemporaries of Pizarro were afflicted with a scribbling mania. They
have left masses of correspondence, of memoranda and personal diaries,
contradictory of each other, often absurd in their exaggerations and
childish in their triviality. From this farrago has Mr Prescott had to
cull,--a labour of no trifling magnitude, whose result is most
creditable to him. And to our admiration of his talents are added
feelings of strong sympathy, when we read his manly and affecting
account of the painful circumstances under which the work was done.
Deprived by an accident of the sight of one eye, the other has for years
been so weak as at times to be useless to him for all purposes of
reading and writing. At intervals he was able to read print several
hours a-day, but manuscript was far more trying to his impaired vision,
and writing was only possible through those aids by which even the
stone-blind may accomplish it. But when he could read, although only by
daylight, he felt, he says, satisfied with being raised so nearly to a
level with the rest of his species. Unfortunately the evil increases.
“The sight of my eye has become gradually dimmed, whilst the sensibility
of the nerve has been so far increased, that for several weeks of the
last year I have not opened a volume, and through the whole time I have
not had the use of it, on an average, for more than an hour a-day.”
Sustained by love of letters, and assisted by readers and amanuenses,
the student and scholar has triumphed over these cruel disadvantages,
surmounted all obstacles, and produced three long and important
historical works, conspicuous by their impartiality, research, and
elegance; entitling him to an exceedingly honourable position amongst
writers in the English tongue, and to one of the very loftiest places in
the as yet scantily filled gallery of American men of letters. The last
of these works, of which Pizarro is the hero and Peru the scene, yields
nothing in merit or interest to its predecessors.

The discovery of America infected Europe with a fever of exploration.
Scarce a country was there, possessing a sea-frontier, whence
expeditions did not proceed with a view to appropriate a share of the
spoils and territory of the new-found _El-Dorado_. In these ventures
Spain, fresh from her long and bloody struggle with the Moor, and
abounding in fierce unsettled spirits, eager for action and adventure,
took a prominent part. The conquests of Cortes followed hard upon the
discoveries of Columbus: Dutch, English, and Portuguese pushed their
investigations in all directions; and, in less than thirty years from
its first discovery, the whole eastern coast of both Americas was
explored from north to south. The vast empire of Mexico was added to the
Spanish crown, and the mother country was glutted and intoxicated by the
Pactolus that flowed from this new possession. But enterprise was not
yet exhausted, or thirst of gold satiated, and Balboa’s discovery of the
Pacific gave fresh stimulus to both. Rumour had long spoken of lands, as
yet untrodden by European foot, where the precious metals were abundant
and worthless as the sand upon the sea-beach. Years elapsed before any
well-directed attempt was made to reach these golden shores. With a view
to discovery and traffic in the Pacific, a settlement was made on the
southern side of the Isthmus of Darien, and the town of Panama was
built. But the armaments that were fitted out took a westerly direction,
in hopes to realise a fixed idea of the Spanish government relative to
an imaginary strait intersecting the Isthmus. At last an expedition
sailed southwards, but soon returned, owing to the bad health of its
commander. This was in 1522. The moment and the man had not yet arrived.
They came, two years later; Pizarro appeared, and Peru was discovered.

But the discovery was comparatively a trifling matter. There lay the
long line of coast, stretching south-eastwards from Panama; the
navigator disposed to explore it, had but to spread his sails, keep the
land in sight, and take the risk of the hidden shoals and reefs that
might lie in his course. The seas to be crossed were often tempestuous;
the country intervening between St Michael’s Gulf and the southern
empire, whose rumoured wealth and civilisation wrought so potently upon
Spanish imagination, was peopled by fierce and warlike tribes.
Shipwreck was to be dreaded, and a landing might for weeks or months be
unsafe, if not impracticable. But what were such secondary dangers
contrasted with the perils, doubly terrible from their unknown and
mysterious nature, incurred by the sanguine Genoese and his bold
companions, when they turned their brigantine’s prow westward from
Europe, and sailed--they knew not whither? Here the path was
comparatively plain, and the goal ascertained; and although risks must
be dared, reward was tolerably certain: for further tidings of the
Peruvian empire had reached the ears of the Spaniards, less shadowy and
incomplete than the vague hints received by Balboa from an Indian chief.
Andagoya, the officer whom illness had compelled to abandon an
expedition when it was scarcely commenced, had brought back intelligence
far more explicit, obtained from Indian traders who had penetrated by
land into the empire of the Incas, as far (so he says in his own
manuscript, comprised in Navarrete’s collection) as its capital city of
Cuzco. They spoke of a pagan but civilised land, opulent and
flourishing; they described the divisions of its provinces, the wealth
of its cities, the manners and usages of its inhabitants. But had their
description been far more minute and glowing, the imagination of those
who received the accounts would still have outstripped reality and
possibility. Those were the days of golden visions and chimerical
day-dreams. In the fancy of the greedy and credulous Spaniards, each
corner of the New World contained treasures, compared to which the
golden trees and jewelled fruits of Aladdin’s garden were paste and
tinsel. The exaggerated reports of those adventurers who returned
wealth-laden to Spain, were swoln by repetition to dimensions which
enchantment only could have realised. No marvels were too monstrous and
unwieldy for the craving gullet of popular credulity. “They listened
with attentive ears to tales of Amazons, which seemed to revive the
classic legends of antiquity, to stories of Patagonian giants, to
flaming pictures of an _El-Dorado_, where the sands sparkled with gems,
and golden pebbles as large as birds’ eggs were dragged in nets out of
the rivers.” And expeditions were actually undertaken in search of a
magical Fountain of Health, of golden sepulchres and temples. The
Amazons and the water of life are still to be discovered; but as to
golden temples and jewelled sands, their equivalents, at least, were
forthcoming,--not for the many, but for a chosen and lucky few. Of the
fortunes of these the record is preserved; of the misfortunes of those
comparatively little is told us. We hear of the thousands of golden
_castellanos_ that fell to the lot of men, who a moment previously, were
without a maravedi in their tattered pouches; we find no catalogue of
the fever-stricken victims who left their bones in the noxious districts
of Panama and Castillo de Oro. And those who achieved riches, earned
them hardly by peril and privation, although, in the magnificence of the
plunder, past sufferings were quickly forgotten. Thrice did Pizarro and
his daring companions sail southward; countless were their hardships,
bitter their disappointments, before the sunshine of success rewarded
their toils, revealing to them treasures that must in some degree have
appeased even _their_ appetite for lucre. They came suddenly upon a town
whose inhabitants, taken by surprise, fled in consternation, abandoning
their property to the invaders. It was the emerald region, and great
store of the gems fell into the hands of the Spaniards. Pizarro had one
as large as a pigeon’s egg. A quantity of crowns and other ornaments,
clumsily fashioned, but of pure gold and silver, were more to the taste
of the ignorant conquerors, who were sceptical as to the value of the
jewels. “Many of them,” says Pedro Pizarro, whose rough, straightforward
account of the discovery and conquest of Peru is frequently quoted by Mr
Prescott, “had emeralds of great value; some tried them upon anvils,
striking them with hammers, saying that if they were genuine, they would
not break; others despised them, and affirmed that they were glass.” A
cunning monk, one of the missionaries whom Pizarro had been ordered by
the Spanish government to take out in his ships, encouraged this
opinion, in order to buy up the emeralds as their market value declined.
The specie, however, was of immense amount, if the authority just quoted
may be depended upon. He talks of two hundred thousand _castellanos_,
the commercial value of which was equivalent to more than half a million
sterling. This from one village, of no great size or importance. It was
a handsome earnest of future spoils, and of the mountain of gold which,
as an Inca’s ransom, awaited the Spaniards at Cuzco.

In these days, when the rumoured existence of a land previously unknown
provokes expeditions authorised and fitted out by half the maritime
powers of Europe, and when great nations risk the peace of the world for
the possession of a paltry Pacific islet, the small degree of vigour
shown by the Spanish crown in pushing its American discoveries fills us
with surprise. Take Peru as an instance. The isthmus of Darien was
colonised by Spaniards; Mexico was theirs, and the armaments sent by
Pedrarias from Panama to explore in a north-westerly direction, had met
at Honduras the conquerors of the Aztecs, the brave and fortunate
companions of Hernan Cortés. One empire had received the Spanish yoke;
at Panama the foot of the European was on the threshold of another; but
there it paused, desirous, yet fearing, to proceed. No aid or
encouragement to enterprise was afforded from Spain; it was left to
private capital and individual daring further to extend colonies already
so vast. A priest found the money; two veteran soldiers, of low
extraction, desperate fortunes, and brave spirit, undertook the risk.
The most remarkable of the three men who thus formed a partnership for
the conquest of kingdoms, could neither read nor write, was
illegitimate, and a foundling. “He was born in Truxillo,” says Gomara,
in his _Historia de las Indias_; “was left at the door of a church, and
for a certain number of days he sucked a sow, none being willing to give
him milk.” Young Pizarro subsequently requited this porcine nourishment
by taking care of his foster-mother’s relatives. The chief occupation of
his youth was that of a swineherd. Gomara’s account of his birth,
however, is only one of many, various and contradictory in their
details. The fact is that very little is known of the early years of
Francisco Pizarro. His valour and soldierly qualities he doubtless
inherited from his father, a Spanish colonel of infantry, who served
with distinction in Italy and Navarre. Neither from him nor from his
mother, a person of low condition, did he receive much parental
attention. Even the date of his birth is a matter of doubt, and has been
differently stated by different chroniclers. He cannot, however, have
been far from fifty when he started on his Peruvian expedition. During
the fourteen previous years he had followed the fortunes of Ojeda,
Balboa, and other Spanish-American adventurers, until at last the
opportunity offered for himself to assume a command to which he proved
in every way competent. His rank was that of captain, and the number of
men under his orders made but a slender company, when, in the month of
November 1524, he left the port of Panama, on board a small vessel,
indifferently provided, and of no great seaworthiness. About a hundred
adventurers, (some accounts say eighty, others a hundred and twenty,)
stalwart, stout-hearted fellows, for the most part of no very reputable
description, composed the powerful army destined to invade a populous
empire. They started under many disadvantages. Almagro, Pizarro’s
partner in the undertaking, who was to follow in another ship, as soon
as it could be got ready, had had the victualling of that on which his
colleague embarked, and he had performed the duty in a slovenly manner,
reckoning that, upon a coasting voyage, supplies might be obtained from
shore. Landing for this purpose, a few leagues south of the river Biru,
Pizarro could procure nothing besides wood and water. A tremendous storm
came on; for ten days the ship was in imminent danger, tossed by the
furious waves; rations ran short, and two ears of Indian corn were each
man’s daily allowance. Thus poorly nourished, and in a crazy ship, they
struggled with desperate energy against the fury of the tropical
tempest. Only a miracle, as it seemed, could save them, and yet they
escaped. The vessel bore Pizarro and his fortunes.

This first expedition, however, resulted in nothing, except much
suffering and discontent. On landing, after the storm, the voyagers
found themselves in a desolate and unproductive country, covered with
tangled forests, untenanted even by beasts or birds. No living creatures
were visible, except noxious insects--no food was obtainable, save herbs
and berries, unpalatable, and often poisonous. The men desponded, and
would fain have returned to Panama; but Pizarro, with much difficulty,
appeased their murmurs, and sending back the ship to the Isle of Pearls
for provisions, attempted to explore the country. On all sides stretched
a gloomy forest, matted with creepers, and penetrable only with axe in
hand; habitations there were none; the bitter buds of the palm, and an
occasional stranded shell-fish, were the best entertainment offered by
that inhospitable region to the weary and disheartened wanderers, some
of whom actually perished by famine. At last, after many weeks’ misery,
an Indian village was discovered. The Spaniards rushed upon it like
starving wolves upon a sheep-fold, and got a small supply of food,
chiefly maize and cocoa-nuts. Here, also, they received further tidings
of the golden southern realm that had lured them on this luckless
voyage. “Ten days’ journey across the mountains,” the Indians told
Pizarro, “there dwelt a mighty monarch, whose dominions had been invaded
by one still more powerful--the Child of the Sun.” They referred to the
kingdom of Quito, which the warlike Inca, Huayna Capac, had added, some
thirty years previously, to the empire of Peru.

Six long weeks of hunger and misery had elapsed, when the ship returned
with good store of provisions. Revived by the seasonable supply, the
adventurers were now as eager to prosecute their voyage as they shortly
before had been to abandon it; and leaving Famine Port, the name given
by Pizarro to the scene of their sufferings, they again sailed
southwards. When next they landed, it was to plunder an Indian village
of its provisions and gold. Here they found traces of cannibalism. “In
the pots for the dinner, which stood upon the fire,” says Herrera, in
his _Historia General de las Indias_, “amongst the flesh which they took
out, were feet and hands of men, whence they knew that those Indians
were Caribs,”--the Caribs being the only cannibals as yet known in that
part of the New World. This discovery drove the horrified Spaniards to
their ships, from which they again landed at Punto Quemado, the limit of
this first expedition. The sturdy resistance they there met from some
warlike savages, in a skirmish with whom they had two men killed and
many wounded, (Pizarro himself receiving seven wounds,) made them
reflect on the temerity of proceeding further with such a scanty force.
Their ship, too, was in a crippled state, and in a council of war it was
decided to return to Panama, and seek the countenance and assistance of
the governor for the further prosecution of the enterprise.

Without attempting to follow Mr Prescott through his detailed and
interesting account of Pizarro’s difficulties, struggles, and
adventures, during the six years that intervened between his first
departure from Panama, and his commencement of the conquest of Peru, we
will glance at the character and deeds of a few of his comrades. The
principal of these was Diego de Almagro, a brave and honourable soldier,
who placed a confidence in his leader which the sequel shows was
scarcely merited. A foundling like Pizarro, like him he was uneducated,
and unable to sign his name to the singular covenant by which the two,
in concert with Father Luque, (the Spanish ecclesiastic, who found the
funds for the expedition,) agreed, upon oath, and in the name of God and
the Holy Evangelists, to divide amongst them in equal shares, all the
lands, treasures, gold, silver, precious stones, and other property,
that might accrue as the result of their enterprise. For in such terms
“three obscure individuals coolly carved out, and partitioned amongst
themselves, an empire of whose extent, power, and resources, of whose
situation, of whose existence even, they had no sure and precise
knowledge.” Contented at first with the post of second in command, it
does not appear whether it was on his own solicitation that Almagro was
named by the governor of Panama Pizarro’s equal in the second
expedition. This domination greatly mortified Pizarro, who suspected
Almagro of having sought it, and did not neglect, when the opportunity
offered, on his visit to the court of Charles the Fifth, to repay him in
kind. As far as can be gathered from the mass of conflicting evidence,
Almagro was frank in disposition and straightforward in his dealings,
but hasty in temper, and of ungovernable passions. When he had
despatched Pizarro on the first voyage, he lost the least possible time
in following him, tracing his progress by the concerted signal of
notches on the trees. In this manner he descended the coast to Punto
Quemado, and in his turn had a fight with the natives, whose village he
burned, and drove them into the woods. In this affair he lost an eye by
a javelin wound. Passing Pizarro’s vessel without observing it, he
pushed on to the mouth of the river San Juan, whence he returned to
Panama, having gone farther, suffered less, and collected more gold than
his friend. At this time, however, great amity and mutual reliance
existed between them; although not long afterwards we find them
quarrelling fiercely, and only prevented by the interposition of their
subordinates from settling their differences sabre in hand.

Bartholomew Ruiz, an Andalusian pilot, a native of that village of
Moguer which supplied Columbus with many seamen for his first voyages,
also played an important part in the earlier researches of the
discoverers of Peru. Upon the second voyage, when the two ships had
reached the river of San Juan, he was detached in one of them to explore
the coast, and soon made the little island of Gallo, in two degrees of
north latitude. The hostile demonstrations of the natives prevented his
landing, and he continued his course southwards, along a coast crowded
with spectators. “They stood gazing on the vessel of the white man, as
it glided smoothly into the crystal waters of the bay, fancying it, says
an old writer, some mysterious being descended from the skies.” The
account of Ruiz’s voyage, although it occupied but a few weeks, and was
comparatively devoid of adventure, has a romantic and peculiar charm.
The first European who, sailing in that direction on the Pacific,
crossed the equinoctial line, he was also the first who obtained ocular
proof of Peruvian civilisation. He fell in with a _balsa_ or native
raft, consisting of beams lashed together, floored with reeds, guided by
a rude rudder and rigged with a cotton square-sail. On board this
primitive craft--still in use on the rivers and coasts of South
America--were several Indians, whose dresses and ornaments, showing
great ingenuity and progress in manufacturing art, excited his surprise
and admiration. “Mirrors mounted in silver,” says a Spanish narrator of
Ruiz’s cruise, “and cups, and other drinking vessels, blankets of cotton
and wool, and shirts, and vests, and many other garments, embroidered
for the most part with very rich embroideries of scarlet, and crimson,
and blue, and yellow, and all other colours, in various designs and
figures of birds and animals, and fishes and trees; and they had small
scales, in the fashion of a steelyard, for weighing gold; and many other
things.” Right musical to the ears of the Spaniards were the tales these
Indians told of the abundance of the precious metals in the palaces of
their king. Wood, according to their report, was scarcely more plentiful
than silver and gold. And they enlarged upon the subject, until their
auditors hardly dared credit the flattering accounts which, as they were
soon to find, little exceeded the truth. Detaining a few of the Indians,
that they might repeat their tale to Pizarro and serve as interpreters
after they should have acquired the Spanish tongue, Ruiz prosecuted his
voyage to about half a degree south of the line, and then returned to
the place where his commander and comrades anxiously awaited him.

As pilot and navigator, old Ruiz rendered eminent services, and his
courage and fidelity were equal to his nautical skill. In the former
qualities another of Pizarro’s little band, Pedro de Candia, a Greek
cavalier, was no way his inferior, although his talents were rather of
a military than a maritime cast. Soon after the return of Ruiz to the
river San Juan, Almagro, who had been to Panama for a reinforcement,
made his appearance with recruits and stores. The pilot’s report
inspired all with enthusiasm, and “Southward, ho!” was again the cry.
They reached the shores of Quito, and anchored off the port of Tacamez.
Before them lay a large and rich town, whose population glittered with
gold and jewels. Instead of the dark swamps and impervious forests where
they had left the bones of so many of their companions, the adventurers
beheld groves of sandal and ebony extending to the very margin of the
ocean; maize and potato fields, and cocoa plantations, gave promise of
plenty; the streams washed down gold-dust, and on the banks of one were
quarries of emeralds. This charming scene brought water into the mouths
of the Spaniards; but their wishes were not yet to be fulfilled; with
the cup at their lips, they were forbidden to taste. A numerous array of
armed and resolute natives set them at defiance. And that they did so,
speaks highly for their courage, when we consider the notion they
entertained of the party of horsemen who, with Pizarro at their head,
effected a landing. Like the Mexicans and other races to whom the horse
was unknown until introduced from Europe, they imagined man and beast to
form one strange and unaccountable monster, and had, therefore, the same
excuse for a panic that a European army would have if suddenly assailed
by a regiment of flying dragons. Nevertheless they boldly charged the
intruders. These, feeling their own inability to cope with the army of
warriors that lined the shore, and which numbered, according to some
accounts, fully ten thousand men, had landed with the sole purpose of
seeking an amicable conference. Instead of a peaceful parley, they found
themselves forced into a very unequal fight. “It might have gone hard
with the Spaniards, hotly pressed by their resolute enemy, but for a
ludicrous incident reported by the historians as happening to one of the
cavaliers. This was a fall from his horse, which so astonished the
barbarians, who were not prepared for the division of what seemed one
and the same being into two, that, filled with consternation, they fell
back, and left a way open for the Christians to regain their vessels.”

Doubting not that the account they could now give of the riches of Peru,
would bring crowds of volunteers to their standard, Almagro and some of
his companions again sailed for Panama, to seek the succours so greatly
needed; Pizarro consenting, after some angry discussion, to await their
return upon the island of Gallo. The men who were to remain with him
were highly discontented at their commander’s decision, and one of them
secreted a letter in a ball of cotton, sent, as a sample of Peruvian
produce, to the wife of the governor of Panama. In this letter were
complaints of privations and misery, and bitter attacks upon Pizarro and
Almagro, whom the disaffected soldiers represented as sacrificing their
comrades’ lives to their own ambition. The paper reached its
destination; the governor was indignant and sent ships to fetch away the
whole party. But Pizarro, encouraged by letters from his two partners,
who promised him the means of continuing his voyage, steadily refused to
budge. With his sword he drew a line upon the sand from east to west,
exposed, with a soldier’s frugality of words, the glory and prosperity
that awaited them in Peru, and the disgrace of abandoning the
enterprise, and then, stepping across the line, bade brave men stay by
him and recreants retreat. Thirteen were stanch to their courageous
leader. The first to range himself by his side was the pilot Ruiz; the
second was Pedro de Candia. The names of the eleven others have also
been preserved by the chroniclers.

“A handful of men, without food, without clothing, almost without arms,
without knowledge of the land to which they were bound, without vessels
to transport them, were here left upon a lonely rock in the ocean, with
the avowed purpose of carrying on a crusade against a powerful empire,
staking their lives on its success. What is there in the legends of
chivalry that surpasses it? This was the crisis of Pizarro’s fate....
Had Pizarro faltered from his strong purpose, and yielded to the
occasion now so temptingly presented for extricating himself and his
broken band from their desperate position, his name would have been
buried with his fortunes, and the conquest of Peru would have been left
for other and more successful adventurers.”

Courage and constancy had their reward. True to their word, Luque and
Almagro sent a small vessel to take off Pizarro and his little band.
They embarked, set sail, and after twenty days were in the gulf of
Guayaquil, abreast of Chimborazo, and in full view of the fertile vale
of Tumbez. There an Inca noble came on board, and was received by
Pizarro with all honour and distinction. In reply to his inquiries
concerning the whence and wherefore of the white men’s coming, the
Spanish leader replied, “that he was the vassal of a great prince, the
greatest and most powerful in the world, and that he had come to this
country to assert his master’s _lawful supremacy over it_.” He further
announced his intention of rescuing them from the darkness of unbelief,
and converting them to Christianity. In reply to these communications
the Inca chief said nothing--all, perhaps, that he understood. He was
much more favourably impressed by a good dinner, Spanish wine, and the
present of an iron hatchet. The next day one of Pizarro’s followers,
Alonzo de Molina by name, was sent on shore with a propitiatory offering
of pigs and poultry for the _curaca_ or governor of the district. He
brought back such marvellous accounts that he was set down as a liar;
and Pedro de Candia was selected to bring a true report of things on
shore, whither he was sent, “dressed in complete mail as became a good
knight, with his sword by his side, and his arquebuse on his shoulder.”
His brilliant equipment greatly dazzled the Indians, and at the report
of his arquebuse they fell to the ground in dismay. A wondrous story is
gravely told by several chroniclers, how the Indians, taking him for a
supernatural being, and desirous to ascertain the fact beyond a doubt,
let loose a tiger upon him. Candia took a cross from his neck and laid
it upon the back of the animal, which instantly fawned upon and
gambolled round him. On returning to his ship the report of the Greek
cavalier confirmed that of Molina. Both, as it subsequently appeared,
were guilty of some exaggeration. But their flaming accounts of temples
tapestried with plates of gold, and of convent gardens where fruits and
vegetables were all in pure gold and silver, gave heart to the
adventurers, and sent them on their way rejoicing. To the port of Santa,
nine degrees farther south than any previous expedition had reached,
they continued their voyage; and then, having fully convinced themselves
of the richness of the country, and the importance of their discoveries,
but, being too few and feeble to profit by them, they retraced their
course to, Panama, and arrived there, after an, absence of eighteen
months, early in the year 1528.

It was now that Pizarro, finding the governor of Panama unwilling to
assist him either with men or money, set out for Europe, to lay the
report of his discoveries before the Emperor, and implore his support
and patronage. He had little taste for the mission. The unlettered
soldier, the war-worn and weather-beaten adventurer, was at home on the
deck of a tempest-tost caravel, or, in the depths of a howling
wilderness, where courage, coolness, and fortitude were the qualities
needed; and there he would rather risk himself than in the perfumed
atmosphere of a court. His associates, however, urged him to depart.
Father Luque’s clerical duties prevented him from undertaking the
journey; neither by manners nor appearance was Almagro eligible as an
envoy; Pizarro, although wholly uneducated, was of commanding presence,
and ready, even eloquent, in speech. With honourable frankness and
confidence in his friend’s integrity, Almagro urged him to set out. It
was agreed that Pizarro should solicit for himself the offices of
governor and captain-general of the newly discovered country, for
Almagro that of _adelantado_; that the pilot Ruiz, should be Alguaçil
Mayor, and Father Luque Bishop of Tumbez. Promising to act in conformity
with this agreement, and in all respects to consult his friends’
interests equally with his own, Pizarro, accompanied by Pedro de Candia,
and taking with him some Peruvians and llamas, specimens of cloth and
ornaments of gold and silver, traversed the Isthmus, and embarked for
Spain.

The discoverer and future conqueror of Peru had scarcely set foot upon
his native soil, when he was thrown into prison for a debt of twenty
years’ standing, incurred by him as one of the early colonists of
Darien. Released from durance, so soon as intelligence of his detention
reached the court, he hurried to Toledo, where Charles the Fifth then
was. The records of courts afford no scene more pregnant with interest
than the arrival of Pizarro in the presence of his sovereign. It is the
very romance of history,--a noble subject for either poet or painter.
The great monarch was then in the zenith of his glory and full flush of
his fame. Pavia had been won; the chivalrous king of France made
prisoner. Charles, the hero of his day, was about to enter Italy and
receive an imperial crown from a pontiff’s hand. Engrossed by his own
triumphs and by the spread of his European power and dominions, the
fortunate monarch had scarcely given a thought to the rich conquests
made in his name by obscure adventurers in the golden regions of the
West. The arrival of Hernan Cortés, come to lay an empire at his feet,
had scarcely roused him from his indifference, when, in that brilliant
and martial court, crowded with nobles and grandees, there appeared an
unknown soldier, penniless, almost friendless, the child of shame, but
whose daring deeds and great achievements were soon to give his name a
lustre far above any that gentle birth and lengthy pedigree can bestow.
Wholly unknown, however, Pizarro was not. The tale of researches,
prosecuted, during a period of four years and in the teeth of
innumerable difficulties and dangers, with a perseverance which rumour
said had been rewarded by great discoveries, had reached the ears of
Charles. Pizarro met a gracious reception and patient hearing. Unabashed
before royalty, he spoke with the gravity of a Castilian, and the
dignity of a man conscious of his own worth. And he spoke well--“so
well,” says Montesinos in his annals, “that he secured attention and
applause at Toledo, where the Emperor was, who gave him audience with
much pleasure, treated him lovingly, and heard him tenderly, especially
when he related his constancy and that of his thirteen companions upon
the island, in the midst of so many troubles and hardships.” It is said
that Charles shed tears at the recital of such great sufferings so nobly
supported. Compelled to leave Spain, he recommended Pizarro to the
Council of the Indies; and after some delay, the famous _Capitulacion_
or agreement was drawn up and signed by the queen. By this document
Pizarro received right of conquest and discovery in Peru as far as two
hundred leagues south of Santiago, was made governor, captain-general,
Adelantado and Alguaçil Mayor for life, with a salary of seven hundred
and twenty-five thousand maravedis, and various immunities and
privileges. Almagro was appointed commander of the fortress of Tumbez;
Father Luque got his bishopric; Ruiz was named grand pilot of the
Southern Ocean; Candia received command of the artillery; and on the
eleven others who had remained on the island with Pizarro, the rank of
hidalgo was bestowed, besides the promise of municipal dignities in
Peru, when it should be under the Spanish rule. From this statement, it
is apparent that Pizarro either did not attempt, or failed in his
endeavours, to procure for Almagro and Ruiz the offices he had promised
to solicit for them, and which, on the contrary, were all heaped upon
himself. This treachery, or want of success, was the cause of bad blood
between him and Almagro. Pizarro’s conduct in the affair has been
variously represented by different writers. His kinsman, Pedro Pizarro,
vindicates him from the charge of unfair dealing. “And Don Francisco
Pizarro petitioned in accordance with what had been agreed with his
companions; and in the council he was answered that the government could
not possibly be divided between two persons, for that had been done in
Santa Marta, and one of the two had killed the other.” And Pedro, who
is a bit of partisan, and has a natural leaning to his cousin and
commander, further states, that Pizarro, in honourable fulfilment of his
promise, pleaded urgently for Almagro, till he received a rebuff, and
was told, that if he did not ask the _adelantamiento_ for himself, it
should be given to a stranger. Whereupon he applied for it, and it was
granted him in addition to his other dignities. He was also made a
knight of St Jago; and in the armorial bearings which he inherited by
the father’s side, were introduced the black eagle and the two pillars
emblazoned on the royal arms. A ship, a llama, and an Indian city were
further added; “while the legend announced that under the auspices of
Charles, and by the industry, the genius, and the resources of Pizarro,
Peru had been discovered and reduced to tranquillity.” A premature
announcement, which many subsequent scenes of bloodshed and violence
sadly belied. As regards the good faith kept by Pizarro with Almagro and
his other companions, and the degree of sincerity and perseverance with
which he pressed their claims at the court of Spain, Mr Prescott is
justly sceptical; and much of the conqueror’s after-conduct compels us
to believe that in such solicitations it was one word for his friend and
two for himself. It is less interesting, however, to trace his
dissimulation and double-dealing, and the dissensions resulting from
them, than to accompany him upon his final expedition to the empire of
the Incas.

Although, by the articles of the _capitulacion_, Pizarro was bound to
raise, within six months of its date, a well-equipped force of two
hundred and fifty men, it was with less than three-fourths of that
number that he sailed from Panama in January 1531. Careful to secure an
ample share of the profits of the enterprise, the Spanish government did
nothing to assist it, beyond providing some artillery and a few military
stores. Pizarro must find the funds and the men, and this was no easy
matter. To obtain the latter, he repaired to his native town of Truxillo
in Estremadura, where he recruited a few followers. Amongst them were
four of his brothers--three illegitimate like himself, and one
legitimate, Hernando Pizarro, a man of talent and energy, but of
turbulent and overbearing disposition, who cut an important figure in
the Peruvian campaigns. “They were all poor, and proud as they were
poor,” says Oviedo, who had seen them, “and their eagerness for gain was
in proportion to their poverty.” Consequently the New World was the very
place for them. Many, however, who listened eagerly to Pizarro’s account
of the wealth to be obtained there, hesitated to seek it through the
avenue of perils by which it was to be reached. As to money, those who
had it were loath to invest on such frail security as Peruvian mines;
thus proving themselves wiser in their generation than many in more
recent times. Cortés, it is said, assisted Pizarro to the necessary
funds, which he would hardly have raised without the aid of the Mexican
conqueror; and the stipulated six months having expired, the newly-made
governor of Peru cut his cables, and in all haste left the shores of
Spain, fearing that if the incompleteness of his preparations got wind,
the Spanish crown might recede from its share of the contract. At
Panama, recruits were as reluctant and scarce as in Spain; and at last,
impatient of delay, he started on his expedition with only one hundred
and eighty men and twenty-seven horses. Their equipment, however, was
good; they were well supplied with arms and ammunition, and, above all,
sanguine of success. Before their departure, their banners and the royal
standard were blessed by a Dominican monk, and the soldiers took the
sacrament.

Anchoring after thirteen days’ sail in the Bay of St Matthew, Pizarro
landed his men and marched along the coast. He at first intended not to
disembark till he reached Tumbez, of whose riches and fertility he
entertained a pleasant recollection; but, baffled by winds, he altered
his determination. He had, perhaps, better have adhered to it. True,
that the emeralds and gold found at Coaque encouraged his followers, and
enabled the politic adventurer to make a large remittance to Panama, to
dazzle the colonists and induce volunteers. But the sufferings of the
Spaniards on their march through those sultry and unhealthy regions,
were very great. Encumbered with heavy armour and thick cotton doublets,
they toiled wearily along beneath a burning sun and over sands scarce
less scorching. Fortunately, they were unmolested by the natives, who
fled on their approach. They had enough to do to combat disease and the
climate. “A strange epidemic broke out in the little army; it took the
form of ulcers, or rather of hideous warts of great size, which covered
the body, and when lanced, as was the case with some, discharged such a
quantity of blood as proved fatal to the sufferer.” Mr Prescott
recognises in this horrible malady--which he says made its appearance
during the invasion, and did not long survive it--“one of those plagues
from the vial of wrath, which the destroying angel who follows in the
path of the conqueror pours out on the devoted nations.” Conquerors and
conquered, however, suffered from it alike; and as to its having
speedily become extinct, we suspect that it is still well known in Peru.
The _verrugas_, described by Dr Tschudi in his valuable and delightful
narrative of Peruvian travel, and which the natives attribute to the
noxious qualities of certain streams, is coincident in its symptoms with
the disease that afflicted Pizarro’s followers, diminishing their
numbers and impeding their progress. The arrival of one or two small
reinforcements filled up the vacancies thus made in their ranks, and the
march was continued until the adventurers found themselves opposite the
island of Puná, upon which Pizarro resolved to pitch his camp, and there
plan his attack upon the neighbouring city of Tumbez. Between the
Tumbese and the men of Puná there was a long-standing feud, and the
former lost no opportunity of exciting Pizarro’s suspicions of the
islanders. Having been informed that ten or twelve chiefs were plotting
against him, he seized and delivered them to their rivals, who forthwith
cut off their heads. A battle was the immediate consequence; and the
handful of Spaniards defeated several thousand Puná warriors, mowing
them down with musketry and sabre. As was by no means unusual in those
days, the Christians received encouragement from heaven. “In the
battle,” says Montesinos with laudable gravity, “many, both of our
people and of the Indians, saw that in the air there were two other
camps--one led on by the archangel St Michael with sword and buckler,
the other by Lucifer and his myrmidons; but no sooner did the Castilians
cry victory, than the demons fled, and from out of a mighty whirlwind
terrible voices were heard to exclaim--‘Thou hast conquered! Michael,
thou hast conquered!’ Hence Don Francisco Pizarro was inspired with so
great a devotion to the holy archangel that he vowed to call by his name
the first city he should found, fulfilling the same, as we shall
presently see.” These angelic interventions were common enough both in
the Moorish and American wars of Spain, and have been commemorated by
many artists, whose paintings, for the most part more curious in design
than skilful in execution, are still to be occasionally met with in the
Peninsula. Pizarro was twice favoured with such celestial succours; the
second time at the fight, or rather massacre, of Caxamalca, when
certainly he required little aid against the panic-stricken hordes, who
fell, like grass before the mower’s scythe, under the fierce sabre-cuts
of the martial Spaniards. Nevertheless, “a terrible apparition appeared
in the air during the onslaught. It consisted of a woman and a child,
and at their side a horseman, all clothed in white, on a milk-white
charger,--doubtless the valiant St James,--who, with his sword glancing
lightning, smote down the infidel host, and rendered them incapable of
resistance.” Thus gravely and reverently deposeth the worthy Fray
Naharro, who had his information from three monks of his order present
in the fight.

The arrival of Pizarro and his band upon the coast of Peru, occurred at
a moment most favourable to their projects of appropriation. The country
had just emerged from a sanguinary civil war, in which many of its best
warriors had perished; the throne of the Incas was occupied by a
usurper, who, to cement his power, had shed the blood of hundreds of
the royal family, his own brethren and relatives. These events had been
thus brought about:--The warlike Inca and conqueror of Quito, Huayna
Capac, forgot, on his death-bed, the sagacity that had marked his reign;
and, in direct contravention of the fundamental laws of the empire,
divided his dominions between Huascar, his legitimate heir, and
Atahuallpa, a pet son whom he had had by one of his numerous concubines.
The old Inca died, and, for five years, his two successors reigned,
without quarrel, over their respective territories. Then dissensions
arose between them; war broke out; and in two great fights, one at the
foot of Chimborazo, the other on the plains of Cuzco, Atahuallpa’s
troops, veterans grown gray under his father’s banner, were completely
victorious. Huascar was taken prisoner and shut up in the fortress of
Xauxa; his rival assumed the _borla_ or scarlet diadem of the Incas,
and, using his victory with little moderation, if Garcilasso de la Vega
and subsequent Spanish writers are to be believed, butchered, with
circumstances of great cruelty, all of the Inca blood upon whom he could
lay hands. Mr Prescott, however, doubts the veracity of Garcilasso, the
son of a niece of Huayna Capac and of a Spanish cavalier, who arrived in
Peru, soon after its conquest, in the suite of Pedro de Alvarado. His
origin, and familiarity with the Peruvian tongue, should ensure the
correctness of his statements; whilst his relationship, by the father’s
side, with a family illustrious in letters as in arms, seems to
guarantee his literary capacity. But Garcilasso was sadly given to
romancing; and his pages exhibit, amidst much that is really valuable,
great exaggeration and credulity. If we could implicitly credit his
statements of Atahuallpa’s atrocities, our sympathy with the Inca,
betrayed, dethroned, and finally murdered, by the Spaniards, would be
materially lessened. The triumph of the usurper occurred only a few
months previous to the invasion of Peru by Pizarro, in the spring of
1532.

After the battle of Puná the Spaniards were greatly annoyed by the
enemy, who kept up a desultory and harassing warfare, and they welcomed
with joy the arrival of a strong reinforcement under Hernando de Soto,
the future discoverer of the Mississippi. With a hundred fresh men and a
supply of horses for the cavalry, Pizarro did not hesitate to cross to
the mainland. The inhabitants, although previously on the most friendly
terms with the Spaniards, opposed their landing, but with no great
energy; and a charge of horse drove them to the woods. At Tumbez,
however, a grievous disappointment awaited the invaders. With the
exception of half-a-dozen of the principal buildings, the city was razed
to the ground; and of the rich spoils the Spaniards had reckoned upon,
not a trace was left. The adventurers were greatly discouraged by this
discovery. “The gold of Peru seemed only like a deceitful phantom,
which, after beckoning them on through toil and danger, vanished the
moment they attempted to grasp it.” They lost heart in this search after
an intangible treasure; and Pizarro, fearing disaffection as a
consequence of inaction, hurried them into the interior of the country.
At thirty leagues from Tumbez, he founded, in conformity with his vow,
the city of San Miguel; and, after waiting several weeks for further
reinforcements and receiving none, he left fifty men for the protection
of the new settlement, and marched with the remainder in search of the
Inca, proclaiming every where, as he proceeded, the religion of Christ,
the supremacy of the Pope, and the sovereignty of Charles the Fifth.

And here, as much, perhaps, as at any period of his career, we are
struck by the genius and activity of Pizarro, and by his wonderful
ascendency over a band of restless desperadoes. Within five months after
landing at Tumbez, he had made an extensive tour of observation,
established a friendly understanding with the Indians, parcelled out
lands, cut timber, and quarried stone; founded a city, and organised a
municipal government. A church and a fortress--always the two first
edifices in a Spanish-American town,--a storehouse and a court of
justice, strongly, if not elegantly built, had already arisen. Strict
discipline was maintained amongst the Spaniards, who were forbidden,
under heavy penalties, to molest or ill-treat the natives; and, most
astonishing of all, Pizarro succeeded in persuading his rapacious
followers to relinquish their shares in the gold and silver already
collected, which was sent, after a fifth had been deducted for the
crown, to pay off the ship-owners and those who had supplied stores for
the expedition. After the settlement of these preliminaries, he struck
boldly into the heart of the land. His army (the name is a mockery,
applied to such a force) consisted of sixty-seven cavalry and one
hundred and ten infantry, amongst whom were only three arquebusiers and
twenty crossbowmen. With this paltry troop he dared to advance against
the powerful army which he had ascertained was encamped under command of
Atahuallpa, within twelve days’ journey of San Miguel. We read of
subsequent events and scarcely wonder at a mob of timid Peruvians being
dispersed by a handful of resolute men, mail-clad, well disciplined, and
inured to war, but in numbers as one to a hundred of those opposed to
them. Pizarro, however, had no assurance of the slight resistance he
should meet; he could know but imperfectly the resources of the Inca; he
was wholly ignorant of the natural obstacles the country might oppose to
his progress, and of the ambuscades that might beset his path. His
dauntless spirit paused not for such considerations. And, scanty as his
numbers were, he did not fear to risk their diminution, by a proposal
resembling that of Harry the Fifth to his troops. Those who had no heart
for the expedition, he announced to his little band, on the fifth day
after their departure from San Miguel, were at full liberty to return to
the city. The garrison was weak, he would gladly see it reinforced, and
any who chose to rejoin it should have allotted to them the same share
of land and number of Indian vassals as those Spaniards who had remained
in the settlement.

    --“He which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart: his passport shall be made,
    And crowns, for convoy, put into his purse.”

Precisely similar to the proclamation of the hero of Agincourt was that
of the conqueror of Peru. He preferred weakening his force, already far
too feeble, to retaining the discontented and pusillanimous. The
contagion of bad example had more terrors for him than the hosts of
Atahuallpa. And he “would not die in that man’s company who _feared_ his
fellowship to die with _him_.” Only nine of his one hundred and
seventy-seven followers availed themselves of the permission, thus
boldly accorded them, to retrace their steps. With the residue Pizarro
resumed his march.

As the Spaniards advanced, their difficulties and uncertainties
increased. Rivers impeded their progress, and they had to construct
bridges and rafts. They passed through well-built towns, where they saw
large magazines of military stores and rations, and along handsome paved
roads, shaded by avenues of trees, and watered by artificial streamlets.
The farther they penetrated into the country, the more convinced they
were of its resources and civilisation, far beyond any thing they had
anticipated, and the more sensible they became of the great temerity of
their enterprise. When they strove to learn the Inca’s intentions and
whereabouts, the contradictory information they obtained added to their
perplexity. The Inca, it was said, was at the head of fifty thousand
men, tranquilly awaiting the appearance of the eight-score intruders who
thus madly ran into the lion’s jaws. This was discouraging enough. And
when the Spaniards reached the foot of the stupendous Andes, which
intervened between them and Caxamalca, and were to be crossed by means
of paths and passes of the most dangerous description, easily defensible
by tens against thousands, their hearts failed them, and many were of
opinion to abandon the original plan and take the road to Cuzco, which
wound along the foot of the mountains, broad, shady, and pleasant.
Pizarro was deaf to this proposal. His eloquence and firmness prevailed,
and the Andes were crossed, with much toil, but without molestation from
the Peruvians.

It is difficult to understand the Inca’s motives in thus neglecting the
many opportunities afforded him of annihilating the Spaniards. His
whole conduct at this time is mysterious and unaccountable, greatly at
variance with the energy and sagacity of which he had given proof in his
administration of the empire, and wars against Huascar. Nothing was
easier than to crush the encroaching foreigners in the defiles of the
Cordilleras, instead of allowing them to descend safely into the plain,
where their cavalry and discipline gave them great advantages. Perhaps
it never occurred to Atahuallpa that so trifling a force could contend
under any circumstances, with a chance of success, against his numerous
army. In their intestine wars, the Peruvians fought with much
resolution. In the battle of Quipayan, which placed the crown of Peru on
Atahuallpa’s head, the fight raged from dawn till sunset, and the
slaughter was prodigious, both parties exhibiting great courage and
obstinacy. And subsequently, in engagements with the Spaniards, proofs
of Peruvian valour were not wanting. After the death of Atahuallpa, on
the march to Cuzco, more than one fierce fight occurred between Spanish
cavalry and Peruvian warriors, in which the former had not always the
advantage. When Cuzco was burned, and siege laid to its fortresses, one
of these was valiantly defended by an Inca noble, whose single arm
struck the assailants from the ramparts as fast as they attained their
summit. And when, several ladders having been planted at once, the
Spaniards swarmed up on all points, and overpowered the last of his
followers, the heroic savage still would not yield. “Finding further
resistance ineffectual, he sprang to the edge of the battlements, and,
casting away his war-club, wrapped his mantle around him and threw
himself headlong from the summit.” Relying on the bravery of his troops,
and considering that the Spaniards, although compact in array, and
formidable by their horses and weapons, were in numbers most
insignificant, it is probable the Inca felt sure of catching and caging
them whenever he chose, and was therefore in no hurry to do it, but,
like a cat with a mouse, chose to play with before devouring them. This
agrees, too, with the account given in an imperfect manuscript, the work
of one of the old conquerors, quoted by Mr Prescott. “Holding us for
very little, and not reckoning that a hundred and ninety men could
offend him, he allowed us to pass through that defile, and through many
others equally bad, because really, as we afterwards knew and
ascertained, his intention was to see us, and question us as to whence
we came, and who had sent us, and what we wanted ... and afterwards to
take our horses and the things that most pleased him, and to sacrifice
the remainder.” These calculations were more than neutralised by the
decision and craft of the white man. Established in Caxamalca, whose ten
thousand inhabitants had deserted the town on his approach, Pizarro
beheld before him “a white cloud of pavilions, covering the ground as
thick as snow-flakes, for the space apparently of several miles.” In
front of the tents were fixed the warriors’ lances; and at night
innumerable watch-fires, making the mountain-slope resemble, says an
eyewitness, “a very starry heaven,” struck doubt and dismay into the
hearts of that little Christian band. “All,” says one of the
Conquistadores, “remaining with much fear, because we were so few, and
had entered so far into the land, where we could not receive succours.”
All, save one, the presiding genius of the venture, who showed himself
equal to the emergency, and nobly justified his followers’ confidence.
Pizarro saw that retreat was impossible, inaction ruinous, and he
resolved to set all upon a cast by executing a project of unparalleled
boldness. The Inca, who, very soon assumed a dictatorial tone, had
ordered the Spaniards to occupy the buildings on the chief square at
Caxamalca, and no others, and had also signified his intention of
visiting the strangers so soon as a fast he was keeping should be at an
end. The, square, or rather triangle, was of great extent, and consisted
of a stone fortress, and of large, low, wide-doored halls, that seemed
intended for barracks. Upon this square Pizarro prepared to receive his
royal visitor.

On the appointed day, Atahuallpa made his appearance, at the head of his
numerous army, variously estimated by Pizarro’s secretary and others
there present, at from thirty to fifty thousand men. These halted at a
short distance from the town; the Inca began to pitch his tents, and
sent word to Pizarro that he had postponed his visit to the following
morning. The Spanish leader deprecated this change of plan, and said
that he fully expected Atahuallpa to sup with him; whereupon the Inca,
either from good nature, or lured by the prospect of a feast, entered
the town with a comparatively small retinue. “He brought with him,” says
Hernando Pizarro, in a manuscript letter, “five or six thousand Indians,
unarmed, save with small clubs, and slings, and bags of stones.” In
fact, it appears from all accounts that very few of them had any arms at
all. Upon a throne of gold, borne on an open litter, by Peruvian nobles
in a rich azure livery, the Inca came, and paused in the square. Not a
Spaniard was to be seen, save Fray Vicente de Valverde, Pizarro’s
chaplain, who, by means of an interpreter, addressed the royal visitor
in a homily which, to judge from the multiplicity of subjects it
embraced, can have been of no trifling length. Beginning with the
creation of the world, he expounded the doctrines of Christianity,
talked of St Peter and the Pope, and finally, with singular coolness,
requested his astonished hearer to change his religion, and become a
tributary of the Emperor. Naturally offended at such presumptuous
propositions, Atahuallpa answered with some heat, and threw down a Bible
or breviary which he had taken from the friar’s hand. The friar hurried
to Pizarro. “Do you not see,” he said, “that whilst we waste our breath
talking to this dog, the fields are filling with Indians? Set on at
once! I absolve you.” Slay! Slay! mass or massacre. The old cry of the
Romish priest, covetous of converts. The sword in one hand, the crucifix
in the other; abjuration of heresy, or the blood of heretics. In
Smithfield and the Cevennes, on the dread eve of St Bartholomew, and
amidst the gentle sun-worshippers of Peru,--such has ever been the maxim
of the ministers of a religion of mercy. In this instance the appeal to
violence was not unheard. Pizarro waved a scarf, a signal gun was fired
from the fort, the barrack doors flew open, and, armed to the teeth, the
Spaniards sprang into the plaza, shouting the fierce slogan before
which, in Granada’s sunny _vega_, the Moslem had so often quailed.
“_Santiago y à ellos!_” St James and at them! was the cry, as the
steel-clad cavalry spurred into the crowd, carving, with trenchant
blade, paths through the confused and terrified Indians; whilst musketry
flashed, and two falconets, placed in the fort, vomited death upon the
mob. The exit from the plaza was soon choked with corpses, and the
living, debarred escape by the bodies of the dead, could but stand and
be slaughtered. The square was soon converted into a shambles.

    “Even as they fell, in files they lay,”

slain in cold blood, and innocent of offence. At last “such was the
agony of the survivors under the terrible pressure of their assailants,
that a large body of Indians, by their convulsive struggles, burst
through the wall of stone and dried clay which formed part of the
boundary of the plaza!” And the country was covered with fugitives,
flying before the terrible sweep of the Spanish sabre.

“The Marquis,” says Pedro Pizarro, “called out, saying, ‘Let none wound
the Inca, under pain of his life!’” Atahuallpa was to be made prisoner,
not killed. Around him a faithful few, his nobles and court, fought
desperately to protect their sovereign. Unarmed, they grappled with the
Spaniards, clung to their horses, and tried to drag them from their
saddles. The struggle was of some duration, and night approached when,
several of the palanquin-bearers having been slain, the litter was
overturned, and the Inca fell into the arms of Pizarro and his comrades.
He was carefully secured in an adjacent building, the news of his
capture quickly spread, and the whole Indian army disbanded and fled,
panic-struck at the loss of their sovereign. The number that fell that
day is very variously stated. “They killed them all,” says one
authority, a nephew of Atahuallpa, on whose testimony Mr Prescott
inclines to place reliance, “with horses, with swords, with arquebuses,
as though they were sheep. None made resistance, and out of ten
thousand not two hundred escaped.” This is probably an exaggeration.
Other accounts state the number of dead as far smaller, but there
appears ground to believe that four or five thousand fell. The example
was terrible, and well suited to strike the Peruvians with terror. But
the extermination of the whole Indian army would have been of less
importance than the single captive Pizarro had made, and whom, agreeably
to his promise, he had to sup with him when the fight was done. Deprived
of their sovereign, and viewing with a superstitious awe the audacious
stranger who had dared to lay hands upon his sacred person, the Indians
lost heart, and were no longer to be feared.

The capture of the Inca, although so important and beneficial in its
results, occasioned Pizarro some embarrassment. He was anxious to march
upon the capital, but feared to risk himself on the roads and mountains
with the Inca in his keeping; and as he could not spare a sufficient
guard to leave behind with him, he was compelled to wait patiently for
reinforcements. Atahuallpa, who did not want for penetration, but in the
words of an old manuscript, “was very wise and discreet, a friend of
knowledge, and subtle of understanding,” soon found out that the
Spaniards were at least as eager to accumulate gold as to disseminate
their religion. He offered to buy his liberty, and a room full of gold
was the prodigious ransom he proposed. The length of the apartment he
engaged to fill is variously stated. The most moderate account makes it
twenty-two feet. Hernando Pizarro says it was thirty-five. The width was
seventeen feet, and the gold was to be piled up as high as the Inca
could reach, which was about nine feet from the ground. A smaller room
was to be filled twice with silver. Pizarro having accepted, or allowed
his prisoner to infer that he accepted, this very handsome price for his
liberty, the captive sovereign took measures to collect the stipulated
treasure. Palaces and temples were stripped of their ornaments, and from
distant parts of Peru gold was sent to complete the Inca’s ransom. The
agreement was that it should not be melted, but piled up in the room in
whatever form it arrived, which gave Atahuallpa some advantage. Goblets,
salvers, vases, and curious imitations of plants and animals, were
amongst the heterogeneous contributions that soon began to rise high
upon the floor of the Inca’s prison. “Among the plants, the most
beautiful was the Indian corn, in which the golden ear was sheathed in
its broad leaves of silver, from which hung a rich tassel of threads of
the same precious metal. A fountain was also much admired, which sent up
a sparkling jet of gold, while birds and animals of the same metal
played in the waters at the base.” But the greedy conquerors grew
impatient, and thought the gold came too slowly, although on some days a
value of fifty or sixty thousand _castellanos_ was added to the store.
Rumours of a rising of the Peruvians were spread abroad, and Atahuallpa
was accused of conspiring against the Spaniards. These, and especially a
strong reinforcement that had arrived under Almagro’s orders, became
clamorous for the Inca’s death. They had already divided all that had
arrived of his ransom, equivalent to the enormous sum of three millions
and a half sterling, besides fifty thousand marks of silver. At last the
Inca was brought to trial on the most absurd charges, “having reference
to national usages, or to his personal relations, over which the Spanish
conquerors had no jurisdiction.” Thus, he was accused of idolatry and
adultery, and of _squandering the public revenues, since the conquest of
the country by the Spaniards_! His death, in short, was decreed, and his
butchers were not very nice about the pretext. It was found expedient to
get rid of him; and under such circumstances a reason to condemn is as
easily found as a rope to hang. Some few honest and humane men there
were in the court, who rejected the false evidence brought before them,
and denied the authority of the tribunal. But their objections were
overruled, and they had to content themselves with entering a protest
against proceedings which they justly held to be arbitrary and illegal.
Father Valverde was not one of those who leaned to mercy’s side. A copy
of the sentence, condemning Atahuallpa to be burned alive, was
submitted to him for his signature, which he gave with alacrity,
convinced, he said, that the Inca deserved death. Why, it is hard to
say, at least at the hands of the Spaniards. But the whole of the
circumstances connected with his mock trial and subsequent execution are
a disgrace to the conquerors of Peru, an eternal blot upon the memory of
Francisco Pizarro. To avoid the flames, Atahuallpa embraced
Christianity, and was executed by strangulation, after being duly
baptised and shriven by the clerical scoundrel Valverde. Previously he
had begged hard for his life, offering twice the ransom he had already
paid, and guarantees for the safety of the Spaniards. “What have I done,
or my children,” said the unfortunate monarch, “that I should meet such
a fate? And from your hands, too,” added he to Pizarro--“you, who have
met friendship and kindness from my people, with whom I have shared my
treasures, who have received nothing but benefits from my hands.” Adding
hypocrisy to cruelty, Pizarro affected emotion. In its sincerity we
cannot believe, or that he could not, had he chosen, have saved
Atahuallpa. “I myself,” says Pedro Pizarro, ever his cousin’s eulogist
and advocate, “saw the Marquis weep.” We believe Pedro lies, or was
mistaken, or that the tears were of the sort called crocodile’s. We have
no faith in the tenderness of the stern and iron-hearted conqueror of
Peru.

Although the Inca’s ransom had not been made up to the full amount
promised, Pizarro had acquitted his prisoner, some time previously to
his death, of any further obligation on that score. With respect to this
ransom, Dr Tschudi gives some interesting particulars, doubtless true in
the main, although exaggerated in the details. “The gold which the Inca
got together in Caxamarca and the neighbourhood, was hardly sufficient
to fill half the room. He therefore sent messengers to Cuzco, to
complete the amount out of the royal treasury; and it is said that
eleven thousand llamas, each bearing a hundredweight of gold, really
started thence for Caxamarca. But before they arrived, Atahuallpa was
hung. The terrible news ran like a lighted train through the whole
country, and reached the Indians who were driving the heavily laden
llamas over the uplands of Central Peru. Panic-stricken, they buried
their treasures upon the very spot where the mournful message was
delivered to them, and dispersed in all directions.” Eleven thousand
hundredweight of gold! If this were true, the cruelty of the Spaniards
to their prisoner brought its own punishment. The buried treasure,
whatever its amount, has never been recovered, although numerous
researches have been made. Either the secret has perished with its
possessors, or those Peruvians to whom it has been handed down, persist,
with the sullen and impenetrable reserve that forms a distinguishing
trait in their character, in preventing their white oppressors from
reaping the benefit of it.

With the death of Atahuallpa, the principal danger incurred by the
Spaniards in Peru--that, namely, of a combined and simultaneous uprising
of the nation--may be said to have terminated. Subsequently, it is true,
under the Inca Manco, a terrible insurrection occurred: an Indian army,
the boldest, best equipped, and in all respects the most formidable that
the Spaniards had seen, boldly assailed them, burned Cuzco, and
beleaguered them in the citadel. At one time Pizarro felt the greatest
uneasiness as to the possible result of this last effort for Peruvian
independence. Seven hundred Christians fell in the course of the
struggle. But there were still sufficient left to reduce the insurgents,
and inflict a terrible chastisement. Lima had been built, and fortified
posts established. And serious as this uprising was, there hardly seems
to have been a probability of the extermination of the Spaniards in
Peru, or of their expulsion from the country, at any period subsequent
to Atahuallpa’s execution. The throne vacant, the rights of succession
uncertain, the ancient institutions of the country fell to pieces, and
anarchy ensued. Peruvian generals gathered their armies around them,
seized upon provinces, declared themselves independent, and were beaten
in detail. Difficulties and hardships were still in store for the
conquerors; privations, and painful marches, and sharp encounters; but
they were strengthened by reinforcements, cheered by success, and urged
on by their thirst of gold, which was irritated rather than assuaged by
the rich booty they had made. After crowning with his own hands a
brother of Atahuallpa, selected in preference to Manco, the legitimate
heir to the throne, as more likely to be a docile instrument in his
hands, Pizarro marched upon Cuzco, the much-talked-of metropolis of
Peru, with a force that now amounted to nearly five hundred men,
one-third of them cavalry. After a sharp skirmish or two, in which the
Peruvians displayed much spirit and bravery, the conquerors entered the
capital. They were disappointed in the amount of booty found there.
Their expectations must have been outrageous, for the spoil was very
large. The great temple was studded with gold plates; its gardens
glittered with ornaments of the same precious metal. In a cavern near
the city they found a number of pure gold vases, and ten or twelve
statues of women, as large as life, some of gold, others of silver. The
stores of food, and of manufactures for clothing and ornament, were very
numerous and considerable. And there were women’s dresses composed
entirely of gold beads; and “in one place they met with ten planks or
bars of solid silver, each piece being twenty feet in length, one foot
in breadth, and two or three inches thick.” But the rapacious Europeans
were not content, and some of the inhabitants were barbarously tortured
to compel them to reveal their hidden stores of wealth. Gold lost its
value, and the commonest necessaries of life rose to exorbitant prices.
A quire of paper was worth ten golden dollars, a bottle of wine fetched
sixty. And the inherent Spanish vice of gambling was carried to a
prodigious extent. Many of the conquerors thus lost the whole of their
booty. One man had received in his share of spoil a golden image of the
sun. “This rich prize the spendthrift lost in a single night; whence it
came to be a proverb in Spain, _Juega el Sol antes que amanezca_, ‘Play
away the sun before sunrise.’”

With the capture of Cuzco, or very soon afterwards, the unity of Spanish
conquest in Peru may be said to have ceased. Previously to that event,
all were subordinate to Pizarro; none claimed independence of him; he
kept his men together, and with his whole force--excepting the small
garrison at St Miguel--pushed forward into the heart of the land. It was
by far the most romantic and adventurous period of Spanish operations in
the empire of the Incas. But now other cavaliers of fortune, good
soldiers, and men of experience in American warfare, turned their
attention to Peru, eager to share its treasures and territory. Amongst
these, the governor of Guatimala, Pedro de Alvarado, one of Cortés’
officers, was conspicuous. Early in 1534, he landed in the Bay of
Caraques, at the head of five hundred men, “the best equipped and most
formidable array that had yet appeared in the southern seas.” They
marched towards the rich province of Quito, which they believed to be
still unexplored; but suffered frightfully on the road; and on emerging,
with greatly diminished numbers, from the Puertos Nevados, a terrible
mountain passage where many of the troopers were frozen in their
saddles, they had the mortification to discover the hoof prints of
Spanish chargers, proving that they had been forestalled. Benalcazar,
governor of San Miguel, had entered the province with one hundred and
forty men and some native auxiliaries. He had been met by the Indian
general Ruminavi; but the son of the Moor was more than a match for the
Peruvian, and after some well-contested fights, the standard of Castile
waved over Quito’s capital. Almagro, who had heard of Alvarado’s
landing, soon joined Benalcazar, and together they marched to oppose
their intruding countrymen. At one time a battle seemed imminent, but
matters were finally compromised, Alvarado receiving one hundred
thousand _pesos de oro_, and re-embarking his men.

Amongst the conquerors themselves, dissensions soon broke out. Charles
the Fifth, to whom Hernando Pizarro had been sent to give an account of
events in Peru, and to submit specimens of its riches and manufactures,
had received the envoy most favourably. He confirmed his previous
grants of land to Francisco Pizarro, extending them seventy leagues
further south, and empowered Almagro to discover and occupy the country
for two hundred leagues south of that. Disputes about boundaries,
imbittered by the rankling recollection of former feuds, soon occurred
between Pizarro and Almagro; and though a temporary reconciliation was
effected, a civil war at last broke out, where both parties fought
nominally for the honour and profit of the Spanish king, and in reality
for their own peculiar behoof and ambition. “_El Rey y Almagro!_” “_El
Rey y Pizarro!_” were the battle-cries on the bloody field of Las
Salinas, in the neighbourhood of Cuzco, where, on the 26th April 1538,
Almagro fell into the hands of Hernando Pizarro, who, from their very
first meeting, had bitterly disliked him. “Before the battle of Salinas,
it had been told to Hernando Pizarro that Almagro was like to die.
‘Heaven forbid,’ he exclaimed, ‘that this should come to pass before he
falls into my hands!’” After such a speech, Almagro’s fate scarce
admitted of a doubt. He was brought to trial, on charges that covered
two thousand folio pages. Found guilty, he was condemned to death, and
perished by the _garrote_. He was to have been executed on the public
square of Cuzco; but public sympathy was so strongly enlisted on his
side, that it was thought more prudent to make an end of him in his
dungeon. The chief apparent movers of his death, Hernando and Gonzalo
Pizarro, were amongst the principal mourners at his funeral--thus aping
the hypocrisy of their brother Francisco, who had paid similar honours
to his victim Atahuallpa. The Marquis himself was on his way to Cuzco
during Almagro’s trial, of which he was cognizant. He lingered on the
road, and upon reaching the river Abancay he learned his rival’s death.
The old farce was played over again. He shed tears, for whose sincerity
none gave him credit. Speedily forgetting this mockery of wo, he entered
Cuzco in triumph, richly dressed, and with clang of martial music. There
can be little doubt of his having secretly instigated and entirely
approved the execution of Almagro. The testimony of all the impartial
historians of the time concurs in fixing its odium upon him.

But the crimes of this great conqueror and bad man were destined to meet
punishment. By the sword he had risen--by the sword he was to perish;
not on some well-fought battle field, with shouts of victory ringing in
his ear, but in his palace hall, by the assassin’s blade. In his own
fair capital of Lima, the City of the Kings, the gem of the Pacific,
which had sprung up under his auspices with incredible rapidity--for
Pizarro seemed to impart his vast energy to all about him--a score of
conspirators, assembled at the house of Almagro’s son, plotted his
death. It was on a Sunday in June 1541, at the hour of dinner, that they
burst into his apartments, with cries of “Death to the tyrant!” A number
of visitors were with him, but they were imperfectly armed, and deserted
him, escaping by the windows. His half-brother, Martinez de Alcantara,
two pages and as many cavaliers, were all who stood forward in defence
of their chief. They soon fell, overpowered by numbers, and covered with
wounds. But Pizarro was not the man meekly to meet his death. Alone,
without armour, his cloak around one arm, his good sword in his right
hand, the old hero kept his cowardly assailants at bay, with a vigour
and intrepidity surprising at his advanced age. “What ho!” he cried,
“traitors! have you come to kill me in my own house?” And as he spoke,
two of his enemies fell beneath his blows. “Rada, (the chief of the
conspirators) impatient of the delay, called out ‘Why are we so long
about it? Down with the tyrant!’ and taking one of his companions,
Narvaez, in his arms, he thrust him against the Marquis. Pizarro,
instantly grappling with his opponent, ran him through with his sword.
But at that moment he received a wound in the throat, and reeling, he
sank on the floor, while the swords of Rada and several of the
conspirators were plunged into his body. ‘Jesu!’ exclaimed the dying
man; and, tracing a cross with his finger on the bloody floor, he bent
down his head to kiss it, when a stroke, more friendly than the rest,
put an end to his existence.”

Great indeed have been the changes wrought by three centuries in the
world beyond the Atlantic. The difference in the manner of foundation of
the English and Spanish empires in America is not more striking than the
contrast offered by their progress and present condition. The English,
Dutch, and other northern nations, were content to obtain a footing in
the new-found lands, without attempting their conquest. Settled upon the
coast, defending themselves, often with extreme difficulty, against the
assaults of warlike and crafty tribes, they aimed not at the subjugation
of empires, or, if visions of future dominion occasionally crossed the
imagination of the more far-sighted, the means proposed were not those
of armed aggression and sanguinary spoliation, but the comparatively
slow and bloodless victories of civilisation. Far otherwise was it with
the warlike and ambitious Spaniard of the sixteenth century, when, with
a mixture of crusading zeal and freebooting greed, he shaped his
caravel’s course for distant _El-Dorado_. Not with a log-house, in the
wilderness was _he_ content; it suited not his lofty and chivalrous
notions to clear land and plough it, and water the stubborn furrow with
his forehead’s sweat. For him the bright cuirass, the charging steed,
the wild encounter with tawny hosts, reminding him of the day when,
after eight hundred years’ struggle, he chased the last Saracen from
Iberia’s shores. For him the glittering gold mine, the rich plantation,
the cringing throng of Indian serfs. One day a cavalier of fortune, with
horse and arms for sole possessions, the next he sat upon the throne
whence he had hurled some far-descended prince, some Inca demi-god, or
feather-crowned cacique. And at the period that a few scanty bands of
expatriated malefactors, and of refugees for opinion’s sake, flying from
persecution to the wilderness, toiled out a scanty and laborious
existence in the forests and prairies of North America, and alone
represented the Anglo-Saxon race in the New World, Spain was in secure
and undisturbed enjoyment of two vast and productive empires. To-day,
how great the contrast! The unwieldy Spanish colonies have crumbled and
fallen to pieces, the petty English settlements have grown into a
flourishing and powerful nation. And we behold the descendants of the
handful of exiles who first colonised “the wild New England shore,”
penetrating, almost unopposed, to the heart of the country that
Montezuma ruled, and Cortés was the first to conquer.



CROSSING THE DESERT.


Several years ago, just before the Palmerstonian policy had involved all
Asia, from Scinde to Syria, in war and anarchy, a young Englishman of
family and fortune, named Sidney, remained at Cairo in spring after all
his countrymen had departed for Alexandria in order to avoid the
Khamseen winds. The month of April was well advanced in all its heat;
and it disputes with May the opprobrium of being the most detestable
month of the year from Rosetta to Dongola. The society of Misr the
Kaherah (victorious) offered no resources beyond the shabby
coffee-houses and the apparitions of Indian travellers. But at that time
only a few Griffins and Nabobs were occasionally seen. There was nothing
to resemble the hordes which now pass through Cairo in their bi-monthly
emigrations, like flights of locusts devouring every thing that comes in
their way, from the bread on the _table-d’hôte_ at the _Hotel d’Orient_
to the oranges and melons piled up like ammunition at the sides of the
streets. Now, indeed, it may truly be said of these locusts, as it was
of the plague of old. “Very grievous are they. Before them there were no
such locusts as they; neither after them shall be such.”

Mr Sidney, in order to escape from the habitual desolation of the
Esbekieh, and avoid witnessing the fearful voracity of his countrymen,
passed a good deal of his time in a coffee-house in the Mouski. His
apology to himself for this idle and unprofitable life was his wish to
improve his knowledge of colloquial Arabic. His studies in Arabic
literature had been pursued with some industry and profit during the
winter, under the guidance of Sheikh Ismael el Feel or the Elephant, so
called from his rotundity of carcass and protuberance of proboscis. The
love of French brandy displayed by this learned Theban had induced the
European consuls to regard him as an oracle of Mohammedan law, and a
striking proof of the progress of civilisation in the East. The Elephant
repaid their esteem by unbounded affection for their purses and an
immeasurable contempt for their persons. Sidney, however, had lost the
friendship of the literary Elephant; for the learned Sheik, supposing
that he was about to quit Cairo with the rest of his countrymen, had
thought fit to absent himself, taking away as a keepsake a splendid new
oriental dress just sent home from the tailor.

One day as Sidney was musing on the feasibility of crossing the desert
at this unfavourable season, in order to spend his Easter at Jerusalem,
two strangers entered the coffee-house in which he was seated. As no
Indian mail was expected, he could not help examining them with some
attention. One was a little man, not of a very prepossessing appearance,
with a pale face and a squeaking voice; the other was a stout Scotsman,
at least six feet two inches in height of body, and who, before he had
swallowed a cup of coffee and smoked a single sheesheh, indicated that
he was of a corresponding height of mind, by reminding his companion
that he was a literary man. The strangers, after throwing a scrutinising
glance at the inmates of the room, continued their conversation in
English. The pale-faced man spoke as a foreigner, though almost as
correctly as a native, and with a fluency perfectly marvellous. The tall
Scotsman seemed not quite satisfied with the degree of familiarity he
assumed even in a Caireen coffee-house.

“Well, Mr Lascelles Hamilton, it is very true I am going to Jerusalem,
and so is Mr Ringlady; but I thought you said you intended to go to
Mecca, when you joined us at Alexandria in hiring a boat to Cairo.”

“My dear Campbell,” (here Mr Campbell gave a wince, which showed that he
was very ungrateful for the endearment,) “I can’t go to Mecca for three
months yet; my Arabic won’t have the pure accent of the Hedjas in a
shorter space of time. I mean, therefore, to go round by Jerusalem, join
the tribes beyond the Dead Sea, and work my way by land.”

This was enough for Sidney. He determined to join the party; and was
moving out of the coffee-house to take his measures for that purpose,
when Aali Bey--a young Osmanlee dandy, who had passed a few months at
Leghorn to study European diplomacy--made him a sign that he wished to
speak in private. Aali’s story had so long a preface, and was so crammed
with flattery and oriental compliments, that Sidney became soon
satisfied it would terminate in an attempt to borrow money, if not in
robbery and murder. He was nevertheless mistaken; for Aali, after many
vain endeavours to shorten his preface, at last stated his real
business. It proved deserving of a long-winded introduction, and
amounted to a proposition to Sidney to assist in affording Aali an
opportunity of carrying off his bride, the daughter of the celebrated
Sheikh Salem Abou Rasheed, from Cairo to Syria. Sheikh Salem was a man
of great influence at Nablous; and he had been detained by Mohammed Ali
as a kind of hostage with all his family, as he was returning from the
pilgrimage to Mecca by the easy route of Cosseir and the Nile.

The affair seemed too serious even for the thoughtless Sidney to engage
in without some consideration; and he attempted to persuade Aali that
his escape was impossible, and that he had better live contentedly with
his bride at Cairo, more particularly as it was a very bad season for a
lady to think of crossing the desert. Aali, however, informed him, that
he was not married, nor indeed likely to be, unless the marriage took
place at Gaza; for Sheikh Salem had offered him his daughter Fatmeh, on
the condition of escorting her and her mother to Gaza, where the
marriage would take place in presence of the Sheikh of Hebron, and other
relations of the family. Aali conjured Sidney by every saint, Mussulman
and Christian, to aid him in his enterprise, which would raise him to
the rank of a chief in Syria. As it appeared that Sheikh Salem had
really put some supply of cash at the disposal of the young spendthrift,
and Sidney knew well with what difficulty an Oriental parts with the
smallest conceivable fraction of coin even to men more prudent than
Aali, he now deemed it necessary to let the young Osmanlee know what he
had just heard concerning the movements of an English party. It was
arranged that Sidney should learn all he could about the new travellers,
and inform Aali in an evening walk in the Esbekieh.

Sidney, on finding the travellers resided at the _Hotel d’Orient_,
joined the _table-d’hôte_ that day. The party consisted of four persons:
Sidney; the pale-faced, squeaking-voiced Mr Lascelles Hamilton; the tall
Caledonian, Mr Campbell; and a gentleman with a mellifluous voice, and
an air which said, Look at me and listen. This gentleman was Mr
Ringlady--the celebrated Mr Ringlady, a middle-aged lawyer, innocent of
briefs, who had written some works on jurisprudence.

For a short time the Britons of the party looked at Sidney’s Egyptian
dress with the supercilious disdain which enables Americans to recognise
the inhabitants of the old country, while they are engaged in
advertising their own nationality in earnest endeavours to keep their
bodies in equilibrium on a single leg of their chairs. The voluble Mr
Lascelles Hamilton, however, soon placed every body on a familiar
footing. He lost no time in ascertaining Sidney’s name and country from
the waiter, and then launched forth.

“I hear, Mr Sidney, you have been five months at Cairo; I am sure you
have found it a delightful place. For my part, I have not been five
hours; but I could-stay five years, for I have seen five wonders.”

“As I have not been so fortunate in my five months’ residence,” said
Sidney, “you must tell me the wonders you have seen, before I give you
my opinion of its delights.”

“First, then, the donkey on which I made my entry into the city of
Saladin, ran away with me. No horse could ever do that, so think I
entered Cairo riding on Old Nick! Second, I did knock down two ladies,
each one as large as three donkeys and myself, and they did not scream.
Third, my donkey did pitch me into the middle of the street, and nobody
did laugh. Fourth, I did see Ibrahim Pasha pay his whole household in
loaves of sugar--a year’s wages, all in loaves of sugar. And fifth, I do
see four Englishmen sit down to a good dinner in Cairo in the month of
April, without one of them being on his way to India.”

Mr Ringlady, who had been watching impatiently during this long speech
for an opportunity of displaying the mellifluous voice of which he was
so proud, in contrast to the harsh squeak and discordant accent of Mr
Lascelles Hamilton, now gave a specimen of his professional turn of mind
by remarking in his silvery tone, that he believed the fifth wonder was
not quite a perfect miracle, for one of the party was a native of
Scotland; and then added, glancing his eye obliquely from Mr Lascelles
Hamilton to Sidney, “and perhaps all of us may not have been born in
Great Britain.”

The little man saw the innuendo was directed against him and his accent;
so, with the ease of a man of the world, he turned the tables on his
assailant by replying in a very innocent tone--

“Yes, indeed, I did suppose you were an American. But it is no matter:
we all count as Englishmen at Cairo. I was myself born in India, at
Lahore, where my father was a general of cavalry.”

The lawyer had also hurt the feelings of the literary Scotsman, who
fancied his accent was a pure stream of English undefiled. So that he
had a wish for revenge, which Mr Ringlady afforded him an opportunity of
gratifying by saying with great dignity,--

“My name is Ringlady; it is an old English name well known in our
country. Mr Campbell, who is so profoundly acquainted with the history
of Britain during the Norman period, must be well acquainted with it.”

To this appeal Campbell replied very drily: “I assure you I never heard
it before I had the honour of meeting you on board the Oriental.” Thus
dispersing the county reputation in Norman times and the fame of the
works on jurisprudence at one blow.

It was evident that it would be a rich treat to cross the desert with
this party; so Sidney led the conversation to that subject. In a short
time it was arranged that they should come to a final decision on their
plans next morning at breakfast.

Sidney communicated this resolution to Aali in their evening walk, and
ventured to predict that the decision would be for immediate departure.

At breakfast next morning, it was accordingly determined to quit Cairo
in three days. The literary man considered that it was his duty to
employ that time in writing a description of Cairo and the Pyramids on
the spot. The party, however, did not succeed in completing their
arrangements in less than a week. Mr Ringlady procured the most
celebrated Dragoman remaining at Cairo, by paying him enormous wages,
and giving him full power to lay in what provisions and take what
measures he considered necessary for crossing the desert with comfort.
The Dragoman hired was named Mohammed; and he commenced by purchasing
double the quantity of stores required and sending half to his own
house, as he said his new master looked like a man who would change his
mind, and it would be satisfactory, should he return suddenly to Cairo,
to find every thing ready for proceeding up the Nile. Mr Campbell and Mr
Lascelles Hamilton arranged to hire a servant together, as far as
Jerusalem. Sidney was attended by an Arab from Guzzerat, who had been
with him for some time, and who, from being a subject of the East India
Company, or an Englishman, was in less danger of suffering any
inconvenience than a native from the part he was going to take in Aali’s
enterprise. He was as black as a coal, but he spoke of Abyssinians,
Nubians, and others, a shade lighter than himself, as “them d--n black
fellows.”

It was necessary to make a written contract with the sheikh of the
camels for a journey from Cairo to Gaza, and this document required to
be prepared at the English consulate. The scene at signing the document
was a singular one. After much wrangling, during which the officials of
the consulate stoutly defended the cause of the camel-drivers, who
brought forward, one after another, nearly a dozen new pretensions, as
pretexts for additional extortion, though the terms had been already
arranged, the patience of Sidney and the exertions of Achmet el Khindee
brought the negotiation to an end, and the treaty was signed. Then the
chancellor of the English consulate stepped forward, and, rubbing his
hands with great glee, exclaimed, “Now, gentlemen, you have concluded
your bargain; let us hear what backshish you are going to give the
sheikh?” As this question appeared to imply too close a sympathy between
the feelings of the chancellory and the amount of the backshish, Mr
Sidney quietly observed, that as he supposed the amount did not require
to be registered in the archives of the British consulate, it could be
settled at Gaza. Scenes of this kind are constantly repeated at all the
trading consulates of the Levant; yet it is prudent for travellers not
to enter into the desert, nor even to ascend the Nile, without a written
contract at the consular office. Even should they pay something more
than they might otherwise do, the surplus serves as an insurance against
native fraud and open robbery, as the people recommended by the
consulate are at least well known and of Arab respectability.

At the latter end of April, long before daybreak, the party quitted the
_Hotel d’Orient_, mounted on donkeys, to join the camels at El Khanka.
At the hour of departure, Mr Lascelles Hamilton was no where to be
found; but a waiter, roused from sleep, at last informed the travellers
that he had left word that he would join them on the road. This event
rather discomposed Sidney, who feared that the son of the Indian general
of cavalry, in spite of his agreeable manners, universal knowledge, and
incessant volubility, might have opened communications with Mohammed Ali
to cut off the retreat of Aali. It was certain that all Mr Lascelles
Hamilton said could not be received according to the letter, or it would
be difficult to understand why he was not governor-general of India, or
at least ambassador at St Petersburg.

The camels were found at El Khanka, kneeling on the verge of the desert,
near the mosque, at the entrance of the place. The donkeys and the
donkey-boys were here dismissed, and the party soon moved onward with
the slow monotonous and silent motion of a fleet of desert ships. The
baggage, the dragomans, and the singular Mr Lascelles Hamilton, had
proceeded to Belbeis to prepare the tents and refreshments; but Aali was
found at Khanka, waiting to join Sidney, as the report had been left at
Cairo that he was going to Jerusalem as his travelling companion.

The difficulties and dangers of the flight of the fair Fatmeh were now
to commence, and Sidney felt that he might be embarked in a perilous
enterprise. The plan concerted with Aali was this. Sheikh Salem had sent
forward his wife and daughter in a takterwan, or camel-sedan, to
Belbeis. Fresh dromedaries were to be found there for the whole party,
with which it was proposed to reach Saba Biar in a single day, where
horses were to be in waiting. In the mean time it had been announced at
Cairo that the whole party was to take the route by Salahieh, and the
camels had been hired for that road.

The shades of evening were falling over the renowned city of Belbeis as
our travellers approached. High mounds, crowned by dusky walls, set in a
frame of waving palm-trees, gave the landscape a splendid colouring; but
even the obscurity could not veil the fact that the once renowned city
had shrunk into a collection of filthy huts, huddled together on
mountains of rubbish.

The tents were found pitched to the north-east of the city, and the camp
presented a most orderly appearance. The three tents of the travellers
were ranged in a line--the magnificent tent of Mr Ringlady in the
centre; behind, stood the cooking tents, and in a semicircle in the
rear, the kneeling camels were disposed in groups, side by side. The
whole arrangement testified the spirit of order Achmet had imbibed with
his Indian education at Bombay. At a short distance to the north, the
_takterwan_ of the ladies was seen with a large caravan of dromedaries.

“Weel, Mr Lascelles Hamilton,” exclaimed Campbell, on scrambling off the
back of his kneeling conveyance--the fatigue of a ten hours’ ride, in a
dreadfully hot sun, having brought all the beauties of his accent to the
tip of his tongue--“Weel, Mr Lascelles Hamilton, I say, ye have played
us a pretty trick, mon.”

“My dear friend, I forgot to tell you yesterday, that I was forced to
ride round by Tel el Yahoudi, the last great city of the Jews--a race I
honour for their obstinacy and their wealth. They are destined to return
to Palestine, when it shall be their lot to recover it, from this place.
I promised my friend Benjamin the Banker to bring him a relic from the
place, and report if it be a suitable purchase to prepare for the
conquest of Syria. I have bought him a bronze goose and a serpent of
clay, undoubted antiques; and I shall send him an original report.”

There was not much society among the travellers that evening. Mr
Ringlady had his dinner served in his magnificent tent in solitary
dignity. Lascelles Hamilton and Campbell were soon heard snoring from
fatigue. Sidney and Aali, however, were too anxious about the success of
their project to think of sleep until they had held a long consultation
with Sheikh Hassan, the Kehaya of Sheikh Salem Abou Rasheed, and the
guide of the takterwan and its escort. Poor Aali had absolutely so
little control over the movements of his bride that he hardly dared to
turn his eyes in the direction of the cumbrous sedan, which concealed
the sacred treasures of the harem.

Sidney, Aali, and Hassan walked to a solitary palm-tree of unusual bulk,
standing far from the grove which now marks the utmost limit of
cultivation: a proof, among many others around Belbeis, that in the days
of its renown, the waters of the Nile were conducted far into the
desert, and fertilised whole districts now baked into solid clay. When
they were seated under the tree, safe from intruders, who could not
approach unseen, Aali commenced the conversation.

“Hassan, we are now safe out of Misr, with one day’s start of any
pursuers, for your departure cannot be known. Are you sure all is right
at Saba Biar, and that we can reach it to-morrow? The takterwan is not
fatigued?” This seemed to be the nearest approach Aali could make,
according to Moslem etiquette, to an inquiry after his bride’s health;
so Sidney listened to the answer of Hassan with considerable curiosity.
But, alas! for romance even in the deserts of Arabia. Hassan replied in
the most matter-of-fact tone:--

“We have fresh dromedaries here, and they are excellent. We shall
proceed like Beddauwee to-morrow. But can the Ferenks keep up us?”

“Never mind the Ferenks,” said Sidney: “persuade the Tergiman Mohammed
to get the dromedaries along, and their masters must follow.”

“Is the Ferenk who came on before, thy friend?” said Hassan to Sidney.
“He is a wondrous man, and doubtless a learned.”

“He is a wise man,” quoth Sidney, “though he seemeth somewhat mad; but
he will not be the first to lag behind.”

“But,” interrupted Aali, “how have you arranged, Hassan, with the
camel-drivers to change their loads and let us proceed with the
dromedaries without exciting suspicion?”

“It was hard work,” said Hassan, “and it has occupied all day. I began
by increasing their loads with the assistance of the Tergiman Mohammed,
who stands our friend in this business. I had bundles of straw and sand
ready, which I pretend are smuggled goods.”

“Thou art very prudent, O Hassan!” exclaimed Aali.

“We had a long dispute,” continued Hassan, lighting a fresh pipe. “The
sheikh of my dromedaries made a private offer to take the baggage of the
Ferenks for half the price they pay to Abdallah, and to share in an
adventure of beans--and then the matter only required time.”

“Thou art very active,” again exclaimed Aali.

“I should have found that no prudence and no activity could have brought
matters to a conclusion this evening,” said the straightforward Hassan,
“had the Ferenk Sheitan, with a voice like a Kisslar Agassi, and a
tongue like a wind-mill, not helped me through. He quarrelled first with
one sheikh then with another; drew a pocket-pistol with seven barrels,
and killed seven crows, swore he would go back to Alexandria and bring
El Kebir[2] himself to hang the sheikhs and ride with him to El Arish;
and in short, frightened them into an agreement;--for Mohammed Tergiman
says he is a Ferenk Elchi in disguise, and as we all know that Ferenk
Elchees are always mad, I believe he is right.”

This last axiom of the prudent Hassan, concerning the unequivocal
symptoms of madness displayed by all Ministers Plenipotentiary and
Ambassadors Extraordinary, rather astonished Sidney, who was aware that
Hassan could not have read the printed certificates of the fact
presented to the Houses of Parliament from time to time in the form of
blue books. It was announced as a fact generally known in Africa and
Asia, from the sands of Sahara to the deserts of Kobi. As there was no
time for investigating the organs of public opinion by which European
statesmanship had been so unhappily condemned, Sidney deferred the
inquiry until he should reach Gaza, where he proposed, if not
forestalled by his literary companion, to extract from Hassan valuable
materials for a work on public opinion in the deserts of Arabia, with a
view of its influence on the ultimate settlement of the Eastern
question. He only asked Hassan, for the present, if the Ferenk Kisslar
Agassi, as he called him, spoke Arabic. Hassan replied without
hesitation--

“Better than I do; he speaks like a learned Moolah.”

This statement shook Sidney’s faith both in the judgment and the
veracity of Hassan. At the same time it decided him on keeping a closer
watch over the proceedings of Mr Lascelles Hamilton. He had seen enough
of diplomatic society to know that he might have been, or be, a minister
plenipotentiary; but still he could hardly give him credit for speaking
Arabic as well as Hassan, having heard him pronounce a few common words.
Whether he was the son of the general of cavalry of the king of Lahore,
as he himself asserted, or a German Jew, as Mr Campbell declared with
equal confidence, Sidney pretended not to decide.

The party at the palm-tree at length retired to rest. Sidney, wearing
the Egyptian dress, had adopted the native habits in travelling, and
attempted to sleep on a single carpet spread on the sand. The attempt
was vain. The excitement caused equally by fatigue of body and mind, and
the unusual restraint of his clothes, drove sleep from his eyelids;
while one train of thought followed another with all the vividness and
incoherence of a morning dream. He fancied he saw Mr Lascelles Hamilton
rush into the tent of Mr Ringlady and cut off his head, and then,
suddenly transformed into a minister of the Prince of Darkness, in full
uniform, with a proboscis like an elephant, and a green tail like a
boa-constrictor, deliver up the whole party, Fatmeh included, to
Mohammed Ali in person.

Jumping up in alarm at this strange vision, he saw to his amazement his
companion, Aali, sitting very composedly; while Achmet was engaged in
staining his face of a bronze colour, so dark as almost to emulate the
ebon hue of El Khindi’s own skin.

“What the d--l are you about, Achmet?” shouted Sidney in emphatic
phrase. “Why are you going to make Aali’s face as black as your own?”

Achmet grinned and replied,--“Very good against the sun, Mr Sidney; me
make Aali look a true Beddauwee,--neither white like a boiled golgas,
(he meant a yellow turnip) nor sooty like them d----n black fellow. You
like, me paint you too.” Sidney, who was quite content to look in the
desert like a boiled turnip, turned his back on the painter; and the
incident having dispersed his dreams, he fell into a profound sleep.

Long before daylight, the whole party was roused by the indefatigable
Hassan. After the usual squabbling, yelling, singing, and bellowing of
camels, the caravan was put in motion. They left Belbeïs without the
literary Mr Campbell putting his foot within the circuit of the renowned
city. Daylight found the party moving forward at what is a very rapid
rate of travelling in the desert, whenever half-a-dozen dromedaries are
together. They were actually proceeding at the rate of four miles an
hour; now the average log of a fleet of camels rarely exceeds two and a
half under the most favourable circumstances.

The ground over which they advanced was a flat surface of hard clay,
covered with round rough brown pebbles, apparently polished by torrents,
and flattened into the soil by some superhuman roller. Far to the right,
a range of mountains bounded the horizon; in front, the view was
terminated by a gradual elevation of the plain marked by drifts of sand;
while some miles to the left, the green valley of the Nile, far as the
eye could reach, was skirted by a forest of palm-trees, whose feathered
leaves were waving in the breeze. The scene offered no great variety,
but it was singularly impressive. Few persons find that the deserts,
even of Arabia Deserta, are precisely what they figure to be the
quintessence of desert scenery. Where there is sand, a few scraggy
shrubs are very often to be found; or else a constant succession of high
mounds or hills, disposed in various directions and forms, take away
from the monotony of the view. Where the plain is flat and extensive, it
is generally covered with strange and beautiful pebbles; and when it
rises into mountains, they are grand and rugged in form, and coloured
with tints which render the memory of Mount Albano, and of Hymettus,
like the timid painting of a northern artist, trembling at the critics,
who have rarely seen a sunbeam.

The caravan proceeded for a long time in silence. Now and then a
camel-driver essayed to commence one of the interminable Arab songs; but
after some flourishes of “Ya Beddouwee! Ya Beddouwee!” which seemed to
indicate the fear of some passing elfish spirit, they all abandoned the
vain attempt.

Mr Lascelles Hamilton at last took the field, shouting in a voice that
brought an expression of comic amaze into the features of the attending
camel-drivers.

“Campbell! what do you say? You saw old father Nile was a humbug as we
were coming up to Cairo. You must now acknowledge that the desert is a
humbug as we are going down to Syria. Multiply some acres of gravel walk
by two hundred yards of sea beach in Argyleshire, and you have one half
of Arabia Deserta; take a rabbit warren and you have the rest. And as to
the Nile, it is only the Thames lengthened and the ships extracted.”

Campbell was too much distressed by the motion of his dromedary, the
form of his saddle, and the difficulty of keeping his position, to feel
inclined to contest any opinion maintained by his voluble companion. So
he contented himself with growling to Sidney, who was nearest him--

“That fellow is only a speaking machine; he can’t think.”

Mr Ringlady, however, could not let such opinions pass without notice;
so he opened his reply--

“I am not prepared, Mr Lascelles Hamilton, to admit either of your
propositions without restrictions.”

“I knew you would be forced to admit them generally, you are so candid,”
was the rejoinder of the voluble gentleman; “you can make as many
restrictions as you like at leisure--it will be both amusing and
instructive.”

“But, sir,” interrupted the lawyer--for Mr Lascelles Hamilton having
commenced, might have spoken for half an hour without a pause--“you are
aware the Arabs call the Nile El Bahr, or the sea.”

“Perfectly aware of the fact--though they don’t pronounce the word
exactly as you do,” exclaimed the speaking machine, “and consider it
another proof what a humbug that said Nile is. Why, you may see him at
the Vatican with thirty children about him; while after all he has only
seven here in Egypt, where you can count their mouths as they kiss the
sea.”

“But, sir, you must take into consideration the fertilising effects of
the waters of the river, which made Homer say that they descended from
heaven.”

“Why, so they do: old Homer laid aside _his_ humbug for once; he knew
the effects of a monsoon, and meant to say heavy rain makes rivers
swell--so the Nile’s a river and nothing like the sea. Let me ask you
now, Mr Ringlady--can you tell me why the Arabs call the Nile the sea,
before we proceed?”

The learned Mr Ringlady was not quite prepared to answer this sudden
query; so he replied at random--

“The Arabs think it looks like the sea.”

“Not a bit of it. They call it the sea because it is not the least like
the sea. Just as you call Britain Great because it is not enormously
big, and France _la belle_, because it’s ugly _par excellence_.”

The travellers at last reached the valley called the Wadi Tomlat, which
is an oasis running into the desert to the eastward at right angles to
the course of the Nile. In ancient times, the waters of the river,
overflowing into this valley, and filtering through the sand into the
low lands which extend over a considerable part of the Isthmus of Suez,
formed the rich pastures called in Scripture the land of Goshen. In this
district, the Jewish people multiplied from a family to a nation. Our
travellers skirted this singular valley on its southern side, in order
to avoid passing through the town in its centre, called Tel el Wadi. And
after leaving behind them the utmost boundary of the cultivated fields,
they crossed a stream of fresh water even at that season of the year,
which, however, soon disappears in a small stagnant lake.

Here the travellers rested to breakfast. But after a short halt, they
pursued their way until they reached the ruins of an ancient city. The
spot was called Abou Kesheed: here the intolerable heat compelled them
again to stop for a couple of hours. Sidney and Campbell, sheltered from
the sun by an old carpet hung on three lances, reclined beside an
immense block of granite, which had been transported from its native
quarry at Syene, a distance of five hundred miles, to be sculptured into
three strange figures, and covered with signs and symbols of strange
import. Sidney, who had paid some attention to the researches of
Champollion and Sir Gardner Wilkinson, considered their authority
decisive that the figures were those of Rameses the Great, the Sesostris
of the Greeks, placed between the two deities Re and Atmoo. He pointed
out the hieroglyphic signet of the mighty monarch, and maintained that
the ruins around were the relics of one of the treasure cities, built by
Pharaoh to secure the tribute paid by the children of Israel when they
dwelt in the land of Goshen.

The banks of the great canal which once joined the Nile and the Red Sea,
were visible near the ruins in two long ranges of sandy mounds. This
mighty work was said by the Greeks to have been constructed by
Sesostris, or Rameses--the very monarch who now sat before them turned
into granite with his immortal name wrought into an enigma beside him.
Sidney argued that this spot was the Raamses of Exodus; and Campbell
declared that as it was only two days’ march from Suez, it was a
military point which he thought himself bound to occupy, in a
dissertation on the invasion of Egypt by an Indian army from the Red
Sea. Mr Lascelles Hamilton, who was very impatient during these
discussions, could not lay claim to the poetic lines that may now be
seen issuing from the mouth of a magnificent ram-headed god, in
Belzoni’s tomb at Thebes--for neither the lines, nor the guide-book
which suggested them, were then in existence--

    “I am, and always have been, Ammon,
     In spite of all Sir Gardner’s gammon;”

but the speaking machine expressed a similar sentiment a dozen times,
clothed in language partaking less of what he himself called humbug.

All these learned cogitations were interrupted by Aali, who came to
inform them that Hassan had found that the horses were waiting for them
at a neighbouring well. This well, though said to be in the
neighbourhood, it took them more than two long hours to reach. The party
grew excessively impatient. Mr Ringlady entered into a violent
altercation with his accomplished dragoman Mohammed, accusing him of
ignorance of the route, and of deception concerning the distance.
Campbell declared he could go no farther, saying, “that he did not see
why they should mak a tile o’ a pleesure.” His pronunciation certified
his fatigue; nature got the better of art at this crisis, as happened
with Dante’s cat, which, though taught to sit on the table with a candle
in its paw, dropped the light on Dante’s fingers when it saw a mouse.
The loquacious Mr Lascelles Hamilton was silent, and apparently asleep.
Sidney endeavoured to keep up the courage of Campbell, and keep down the
wrath of Ringlady, by complaining of his own sufferings.

The well of Saba Biar was not reached until it was dark. Indeed Sidney
had all along suspected that Hassan would not approach it by daylight,
in order to conceal their movements as much as possible. He had kept the
party for two long hours moving in the hollow of the ancient canal,
without a breath of air, and suffering the intolerable heat of a bright
sun reflected from two parallel lines of sand-hills.

At Saba Biar, it became necessary to hold a council of war; in order to
admit all the party into the secret of the flight of Aali and his bride,
and propose that they should join in taking horses, and flying all
together into Syria. It was therefore announced to Mr Ringlady, that his
advice was required concerning the movements of the caravan next day.
Pleased with the deference thus shown to his mellifluous voice and large
tent, he invited the whole party to discuss the matter over tchibooks
and Mocha. The party assembled. Ringlady, Campbell, and Lascelles
Hamilton seated on stools, Sidney, Aali, and Hassan squatting on the
ground, formed a circle.

Hassan began by a very long speech, which it was needless for Sidney to
translate, as it gave them no idea of what he intended to communicate.
Aali followed in one quite as long, in what appeared, from the words of
which it was composed, to be Italian; but the interminable length of the
sentences, and the flowery nature of the diction, rendered it as
unintelligible to every one present, as if it had really been in the
Farsee of the Ottoman chancery, of which it was a copy. Sidney then
stated shortly in English, that the consent of the travellers was wanted
to aid in the escape of Aali and his bride from the power of Mohammed
Ali, and that it was proposed that they should have horses ready waiting
for them and ride all together to Gaza. He treated it as the simplest
thing in the world, just as if their pursuit, capture, and murder, in
the midst of the desert, by some party of wild Bedoweens despatched from
Cairo was not an event to excite a moment’s hesitation.

Mr Ringlady began now to perceive that he was not on the route he had
bargained to take, and of which he had, with the assistance of his
faithful dragoman Mohammed, compiled a very minute itinerary and
description before leaving Cairo. Instead of being at El Gran, he was in
the centre of the Isthmus of Suez. He called the faithful Mohammed into
the tent, and inquired with desperate calmness the name of the place
where they were.

Mohammed replied with the same calm--“El Gran.”

“Is it El Gran?” repeated Mr Ringlady.

Aali, who thought the inquiry was dictated by the eagerness Mr Ringlady
usually displayed in the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties,
innocently said the place was called Saba Biar.

Ringlady sprang from his chair in a paroxysm of rage, and shouted to
Mohammed--“How dare you tell a lie, sir? How dare you tell a lie, sir?
to me who can dismiss you without a certificate. You have been in my
service, sir, and without my certificate no Englishman of rank or
fortune would ever employ you.” To all this, the faithful Mohammed
listened with perfect nonchalance: his expression seemed to say--My dear
sir, when a demand for certificates manifests itself, there are numerous
manufactories from which I can obtain an ample supply of the quality
required. Mr Ringlady’s rage was very much augmented by the seeming
indifference of his dragoman, who evidently considered a master only as
a convenience for filling the pockets of his servant.

Mr Campbell, however, gave the discussion another turn, by informing
them that he was too much fatigued to attempt mounting on horseback.
Besides, he had an invincible aversion to that mode of conveyance, not
being more expert at it than King Louis of Bavaria. The fact of
Campbell’s incapacity to keep his saddle having been established, and Mr
Ringlady’s rage having been mitigated, it was determined that Hassan,
Aali, Sidney, and Lascelles Hamilton, should ride forward and escort the
harem; while Ringlady and Campbell proceeded with the empty takterwan
and the baggage on dromedaries to Gaza, where Sidney and Lascelles
Hamilton were to wait for them.

Before daybreak the horsemen were in motion. As it grew light, three
figures in the group excited the attention of Sidney. Two of these
figures were composed, to all appearance, of huge bundles of clothing
without any definite form. One of the bundles was of prodigious breadth,
and was mounted on a beautiful and powerful bay horse. The third figure
was close to Sidney’s elbow, clad in a black bornoos, with a head
enveloped in an enormous yellow silk shawl. As the figure looked like
any thing rather than an Arab of the desert, Sidney recognised his
companion. It was evident that the other two bundles concealed the bride
of Aali and her mother; and Sidney fancied that Aali was conjecturing in
fear and trembling which was the bride and which the mother. If the
enormous breadth of cloth on the bay horse concealed the bride, there
could be no doubt she was a young lady of great and powerful charms.

Mr Lascelles Hamilton soon addressed Sidney. “You took me for an Arab, I
see; this is the way we move in Moultan.”

“I thought it was some Indian fashion--for it is neither the Arab of the
Desert, nor of Algiers, nor of Paris,” replied Sidney. “The turban came
from Khan Khaleel of Misr, but the bornoos is from the Boulevard des
Italiens. However, it may be a good enough disguise for some Europeans.”

For once the voluble Mr Lascelles Hamilton became dumb; and Sidney
wondered what charm there could have been in his criticism to arrest the
movements of a speaking machine.

The rate at which the travellers moved was rapid, generally consisting
of a quick amble. A short halt was called at the well of Aboulronkh; and
another at a second well, under a mountain of sand, at Haras. Here, as
the well had been freshly cleared out, the water, though brackish, was
potable. After a halt of a few hours, during the heat of the day, the
party again mounted, and some hours after dark reached the palm grove at
Ghatieh. The distance they had accomplished was not fifty miles.

Next day they proceeded at the same rate, leaving Bir el Abt and
Djanadoul to the left: they watered their horses at a miserable well,
and stopped for the night considerably to the south-east of El Massar.
Here it was necessary to refresh the horses in order to be prepared for
pursuit from El Arish, where Mohammed Ali had a body of Bedoween
cavalry.

The journey was resumed two hours after midnight, and El Arish was left
behind before the morning dawned. In the forenoon a Khamseen wind set in
with a degree of fury that rendered it impossible for the horses to
proceed. After repeated attempts to renew the march, both men and horses
at last gave it up in despair, and sought shelter from the clouds of
dust and parching heat under a low ridge of sand-hills. The hope of the
fugitives was, that no pursuers could brave the hurricane they were
unable to face. Still there was no saying what a Beddouwee, mounted on a
dromedary, could accomplish under the excitement of the promise of a
large bakshish from Mohammed Ali. Aali was evidently alarmed, Hassan
showed symptoms of anxiety, and even the two bundles appeared to be
restless. The larger one took great interest in the feelings of the
powerful bay horse, which remained close beside its mistress, and gave
the lady evident signs of recognition and of gratitude for her
attention. The mouths of the horses were washed with vinegar and water,
and they then champed a few shrubs growing in the sand, which, though in
appearance very like dry sticks, afforded a considerable supply of
moisture.

In this painful position the party remained all day; and it was not till
sunset that a lull in the storm enabled them to proceed to the well at
Sheikh Zuaideh to water their horses. Here they did not venture to
sleep, and at dawn next morning the Khamseen again blew with redoubled
violence. The horses staggered along; and the ladies diminished the mass
of the envelopes about their bodies to augment the volume about their
heads. It was fortunate the whole party was well mounted; for had any
one been compelled to lag behind he might have perished in the desert,
for it is impossible to see one hundred yards in advance: the sand
pervaded the air with the orange-coloured mist of a London fog in an
illumination.

With the greatest exertions they reached Hannunis; but before they could
seek shelter in the village, both Sidney and Aali fell from their horses
utterly exhausted. Next day, however, the violence of the Khamseen
rendering it utterly impossible to proceed, Sidney and Aali had time to
recruit their strength.

On the sixth day after quitting Saba Biar, not long after midnight, the
fugitives rode out of Hannunis towards Gaza. The air was still like a
furnace, but it was gradually cooling; and as the dawn approached it
became delightfully refreshing. A light breath of air from the
north-west brought with it the freshness of a sea-breeze. When the sun
arose, every one was in high spirits. Hassan displayed his activity by
getting constantly at some distance before the party as if in search of
the road. Aali, expecting soon to be welcomed by the relations of his
bride as a hero, began to exhibit his skill in horsemanship, in order to
attract the admiration of the bundles of cotton cloth. His horsemanship
was not of a quality to make the display a very choice exhibition in the
desert, and both he and his horse were hardly recovered from the
exhaustion of the Khamseen.

Either for the purpose of rebuking the vanity of Aali, or for that of
indulging his own, Sidney commenced a game of djereed with the Osmanlee
dandy. It was rather an awkward exhibition. While it was proceeding with
very little effect, the larger bundle of raiment, rendered nervous by
the djereeds flying about in its neighbourhood, had allowed the bay
horse to approach the tumult. Sidney and Aali had just launched their
weapons, and were turning their horses to escape the blows mutually
aimed, when the bay horse, making a sudden bound between the rival
cavaliers, the lady caught the two djereeds, one in each hand, and rode
quietly back to her female companion. Hassan and the attendants set up a
most unbecoming laugh, and the smaller bundle joined in a suppressed but
very unfeminine giggle. Lascelles Hamilton, to escape the powerful bay
horse, had ran up against Aali, and increased his misfortune by laming
his steed.

Poor Aali was utterly confounded; Sidney looked mortally foolish; and
Lascelles Hamilton muttered apologies for his awkwardness and random,
reflections on the lady’s movements, in a half audible tone. This
embarrassment of the party was suddenly relieved by the appearance of a
considerable body of Arabs of the desert at some distance to the right.
If they had any hostile intent, their position enabled them to bar the
road to Gaza. There seemed to be some prospect of a fight.

Hassan drew the party together, and recommended them to look to their
arms. Aali, forgetting his lame horse, whispered to Sidney that he would
let the harem see the difference between an old woman and an Osmanlee in
a real fight; for in this irreverent strain did he now begin to speak of
his future mamma.

After some cautious manœuvring on both sides, each party contrived to
occupy the crest of an eminence with a hollow before it; and from these
positions they sent forward single horsemen to reconnoitre the adverse
bands. After a considerable interval, a shout was heard from the
horsemen in advance, and immediately both parties rushed forward to meet
at full gallop. Aali, Sidney, Lascelles Hamilton, and Achmet were soon
left far behind, both by the suddenness of the start, and the
inferiority of their steeds. The two bundles of raiment were seen in
advance, followed pretty closely by Hassan, and at some distance by the
attendants.

Aali’s horse soon stumbled from lameness, and Achmet, who placed very
little trust in the Arabs of the desert, seeing they had given their
friends the worst horses, called out to Sidney and Lascelles Hamilton to
stay by Aali and keep their horses as fresh as possible. They pulled up
accordingly, at a spot from which they could see the meeting of their
companions with the Arabs. The larger bundle arrived first, and jumping
from the powerful bay horse with the greatest agility, commenced a
kissing scene with the principal figure of the new group: this operation
was repeated with every one present. The lesser bundle, on arriving,
went through the same formality. Sidney and Achmet turned their eyes on
Aali, who raised his up to heaven and exclaimed with great agitation,
“Mashallah! Mashallah!”

After Hassan had gone through the kissing operation, a short
confabulation was held by a few of the principal figures, who smoked a
pipe with the ladies, seated on the ground. The whole party then
mounted, and came forward to join Aali and his friends. As they
approached, it became evident that the two bundles had undergone a
marvellous transformation. They were now converted into two Syrian
Sheikhs. The larger made a gallant appearance on his bay horse, and the
smaller bundle was now a young man bearing still a certain degree of
resemblance to the other. A sigh proceeded from the bottom of Aali’s
heart, and his exclamation revealed the whole mystery. “Mashallah! it is
Sheikh Salem himself. By the head of the Prophet! and his son Sheikh
Abdallah.”

The affair was very simple. Coming events in the East were beginning to
cast their shadows before, and Sheikh Salem, anxious to escape into
Syria with his son, in order to be in the midst of his tribe at the
crisis, had thrown out the bait of the marriage to the vanity of Aali;
and thus, with his assistance, and that of his friend Hassan, had
contrived to deceive all the spies placed to watch his movements at
Cairo, and now found himself safe with his ally, the Sheikh of Hebron.
His harem he left under the protection of the old Pasha; for he knew
Mohammed Ali was a generous enemy.

The meeting of Salem and Aali was extremely amusing; but Aali was soon
consoled for the loss of his bride, by the thanks and promises of both
father and son, and the praises of the Sheikh of Hebron. Sidney was
pressed to accompany the party immediately to Hebron, for it was not
deemed prudent for Salem to trust himself in the power of the Osmanlee
governor of Gaza. This invitation he declined, as his own arrangements,
and his promise to meet Ringlady and Campbell, compelled him to remain
at Gaza. Besides, he could not help recollecting, that in spite of all
these warm professions of friendship now uttered by Salem, he had been
mounted at Saba Biar in a manner that proved the intention of the Arabs
to take care of themselves by abandoning their companions in case of
pursuit.

It was arranged, before separating, that the party should ride to a
grove of olive-trees, at no great distance from Gaza, where roast lambs
stuffed with rice, raisins, and pistachio nuts, large bowls of leban and
thin cakes of bread, were prepared for their refreshment. Salem and
Sidney had some interesting conversation concerning the state of Syria,
and the position of Mohammed Ali; and they parted with mutual
expressions of esteem--Salem warning Sidney rather mysteriously against
making any stay at Gaza. After Oriental greetings, and long salutations,
Salem, Aali, Abdallah, Hassan and the Sheikh of Hebron rode off with
their train of followers to the east; while Sidney, Lascelles Hamilton,
and Achmet slowly proceeded towards Gaza, to repose after their fatigues
in crossing the desert.



LIFE OF JEAN PAUL FREDERICK RICHTER.[3]


If there be a regular German of the Germans beyond the Rhine and
be-north the Alps, whom, notwithstanding (perhaps partly by reason of)
his faults and eccentricities, we love, and honour, and reverence, and
clasp to our true British breast with a genuine feeling of
brotherhood,--this man is Jean Paul Frederick Richter. True, his name to
the uninitiated is a sort of offence, and a stumbling-block, almost as
much as if you were to introduce the gray, leafless image of
transcendental logic in the shape of philosopher Hegel, or the
super-potentiated energy of transcendental volition in the shape of
philosopher Fichte;--but, my dear friends and readers, consider this
only,--what thing pre-eminently great and good is there in the world
that has not been in its day an offence and a stumbling-block to the
uninitiated? “Wo unto you, when all men speak well of you:” this is a
text no less applicable to literature than to religion; and howsoever a
certain school of critics--unfortunately not yet altogether extinct--may
turn up their snub noses, and apply with orthodox deliberation their
cool thermometer which never boils, there are occasions when this text
may be quoted most appropriately against them. Even Göethe, “many-sided”
Göethe, is not free from blame here--he never understood Richter; he
judged according to the appearance--not a righteous judgment; his
thermometer was too cold. But the great Olympian of Weimar, when with
his dark brows he nodded, and from his immortal head the ambrosian locks
rolled down in anger against the uprising muse of Frederick Richter,
failed of his Homeric parallel in one point--“μεγαν δ' ελελιξεν
Ολυμπον”--he did _not_ shake Olympus. He did not cause the eccentric
comet-genius of Richter to tame the brilliant lashings of its
world-wandering tail--he did not cause Germany, he cannot cause Europe
to cease admiring these brilliant coruscations, and that pure lambent
play of heaven-licking light. To institute a comparison between Richter
and Göethe were merely to repeat again for the millionth time that old
folly of critics, by which they will allow nothing to be understood
according to its own nature, but must always drag it into a forced and
unnatural contrast with things most unlike itself; were merely to
reverse the poles of injustice, and apply to Göethe as unequal a measure
as he and men of his compact and complete external neatness, apply to
Richter. We make no foolish and unprofitable comparisons; a wild wood is
a wild wood, and a flower-bed is a flower-bed; which of them is best we
know not, but we know that they are both good. We know that Göethe is
great, and that Richter is great; which of them is the greater some god,
as the Greeks said, may know; but for us mortals it is sufficient to
endeavour to sympathise perfectly with the peculiar greatness of each,
and appropriate what part of it we may.

We should wish to make this a very long article, and to run a little
wild, like Richter himself, if the inspiration would only sustain us;
but it may not be. Biographies, even the best, of literary men possess a
complete and satisfactory interest only to those who are acquainted in
some degree with the works of the author; and Madame de Stael has told
us with an authoritative voice that, however great the powers of Richter
were, “nothing that he has published can ever extend beyond the limits
of Germany.”[4] Now, though this has more the air of a narrow
last-century judgment than one of the present day, and is, perhaps, more
French than English; yet the fact is, that Richter has not hitherto
extended his literary influence, except in the case of a few stray
individuals, beyond his native country; and his biography can, of
course, not expect to meet with the same extensive welcome from a
British public that was given to that of Schiller, and Mrs Austin’s
Characteristics of Göethe. Nevertheless, the work from which we shall
presently make a few extracts is a most valuable addition to those links
that are daily uniting us with more endearing bonds to the Saxon
brotherhood beyond the Rhine; it is a step, and a bold one, in advance.
We have now almost to satiety made a survey of the neat classical
Weimar, and we are plunging at once, with bold fearless swoop, into the
very centre of the Fatherland, into the midst of the untrodden fir
forests of the _Fichtelgebirge_, where many great hearts billow out
sublime thoughts--hearts that never saw that which is most kindred to
them in nature--the sea. So it was with Richter literally. Born at the
little mountain town of Wunsiedel, between Bayreuth and Bohemia, and
shifting about with a migratory elasticity from Bayreuth to Berlin, from
Berlin to Coburg, from Coburg to Heidelberg, he died without having ever
feasted his eyes (what a feast to a man like him!) on the glowing blue
of the Mediterranean, or drunk in with his ears the “ανηριθμον γελασμα”
the multitudinous laughter of the Baltic wave. A genuine German!--in
this respect certainly, and in how many others! A German in
imagination--Oh, Heaven! he literally strikes you blind with skyrockets
and sunbeams (almost as madly at times as our own Shelley), and
circumnavigates your brain with a dance of nebulous Brocken phantoms,
till you seriously doubt whether you are not a phantom yourself: a
German for kindliness and simplicity and true-heartedness--a man having
his heart always in his hand, and his arms ready to be thrown round
every body’s neck; greeting every man with a blessing, and cursing only
the devil, and--like Robert Burns--scarcely him heartily: a German for
devoutness of heart, and purity of unadulterated evangelic feeling,
without the least notion, at the same time, of what in Scotland we call
orthodoxy, much less of what in England they call church; a rare
Christian; a man whom you cannot read and relish thoroughly unless you
are a Christian yourself, any more than you can the gospel of John. For
Richter also is a preacher in his own way--a smiling, sporting, nay a
jesting preacher at time, but with a deep background of earnestness: his
jests being the jests not of rude men, but of innocent children; his
earnestness the earnestness not of a sour Presbyterian theologian, but
of a strong-sighted seraph that looks the sun in the face, and becomes
intensely bright. A German further is Richter, and better than a German,
in the profoundness of his philosophy and the subtlety of his
speculation: a speculation profound, but not dark; a subtlety nice
without being finical, and delicate without being meagre. A German
further, and specially, is this man, in his vast and various erudition,
and in that quality without which learning was never achieved, hard
laboriousness and indefatigable perseverance. It is incredible what
books he read: not merely literary books, but also and principally
scientific books; natural history especially in all its branches from
the star to the star-fish; quarto upon quarto of piously gathered
extracts were the well-quarried materials, out of which his most light
and fantastic, as well as his most solid and architectural fabrics were
raised: a merit of the highest order in our estimation; an offence and a
scandal to many; for nothing offends conceited and shallow readers so
much as to find in an imaginative work allusions to grave scientific
facts, of which their butterfly-spirits are incapable. Then, over and
above all this, Richter possesses a virtue which only a few Germans
possess: he is a man of infinite humour: humour, too, of the best kind;
sportive, sunny, and genial, rather than cutting and sarcastic; broad
without being gross, refined without being affected. Then his faults,
also--and their name is legion--how German are they! His want of taste,
his mingled homeliness and sublimity, his unpruned luxuriance, his
sentimental wantonness! But let these pass; he who notices them
seriously is not fit to read Richter. It requires a certain delicate
tact of finger to pluck the rose on this rich bush without being pricked
by the thorn; John Bull especially, with his stone and lime church, his
statutable religion, and his direct railroad understanding, is very apt
to be exasperated by the capricious jerking electric points of such a
genuine German genius as Richter. On the pediment of this strange temple
we would place in large letters the cry of the Cumæan Sibyl in Virgil--

    “Procul, O procul este, profani!”

Let no mere mathematician, no mere Benthamite, no mere mechanist, no
mere “botanist,” no mere man of taste, and trim man of measured
syllables, enter here. _Procul, O procul este, profani!_ It is enchanted
ground. We have no quarrel with you; we quarrel with nobody: only keep
your own ground, in God’s name, and don’t quarrel with us and our German
friend Paul.

Richter was born, as we have mentioned, in the little county town of
Wunsiedel, in Franconia, and that in the year 1763--about the same time,
to use his own words, as the peace of Hubertsburg, which put an end to
the famous Seven Years’ War. He was thus four years the junior of
Schiller, (born 1759,) and fourteen of Göethe, (born 1749.) He was, like
many other famous literary characters, the son of a clergyman, and
blesses God frequently both for this, and that he was not born a
cockney, (in Berlin or Vienna,) or in a coach-box, like the children of
aristocratic parents, driven about over Europe in their early years, and
never knowing the pleasure of having a home. A country vicarage amid
mountains, forests, village schools and brawling brooks, gave to
Richter’s infancy, and through that to his genius, a calm and peaceful
background, over which a multiplicity of whimsical figures might,
without painful dissipation, be made to play. In early youth the future
prose-poet (for he never wrote a line of _metre_) displayed great
eagerness to learn, and great aptitude for speculation; he was
accordingly, by the fond ambition of a pious mother, dedicated, like so
many a bookish youth, to the church. But theology, with its prickly
fence of stiff dogmas, had no charms for a youth of his extreme
sensibility, mercurial versatility, and sparkling freakishness; besides,
speculation and questioning were already abroad in the German church,
and amid the loud voices of contending doctors, it was a difficult thing
for an active and honest thinker to cut the matter short by help of the
devil’s recipe in Faust;

         “If you will have a certain clue
          To thread the theologic maze,
    Hear only one, and swear to every word he says.”

Richter, therefore, finding himself without rudder or compass on the
wide sea of German theology, much to the grief of his honest mother, was
obliged to forswear theology and become author, his genius being
stimulated quite as much by poverty as by Apollo, like old Horace.

    “Philippi then dismiss’d me with my wings
    Sorrily clipt, without or house or home;
    And Need, that ventures all, forced me to try
    The pen, and become poet.”

The Philippi which dismissed Richter was the University of Leipsic. He
came back to Hof penniless, but not hopeless, to his good
mother,--striving with a mind in some respects as narrow as her fortune;
and here he studied, and brooded, and dreamed, and began to shoot
strange coruscations: let us see how:--

    “The darkest period of our hero’s life was when he fled from
    Leipsic and went down in disguise to Hof. The lawsuit had
    stripped his mother of the little property she inherited from
    the cloth-weaver, [her father,] and she had been obliged to part
    with the respectable homestead where the honest man had carried
    on his labours. She was now living with one or more of Paul’s
    brothers, in a small tenement, containing but one apartment,
    where cooking, washing, cleaning, spinning, and all the bee-hive
    labours of domestic life must go on together.

    “To this small and over-crowded apartment, which henceforth must
    be Paul’s only study, he brought his twelve volumes of extracts,
    a head that in itself contained a library, a tender and
    sympathising heart--a true, high-minded, self-sustaining spirit.
    His exact situation was this: The success of the first and
    second volumes of his ‘Greenland Lawsuits’ had encouraged him to
    write a third--a volume of satires, under the singular name of
    ‘Selections from the Papers of the Devil;’ but for this we have
    seen he had strained every nerve in vain to find a publisher.
    This manuscript, therefore, formed part of the little luggage
    which his friend Oerthel had smuggled out of Leipsic. It was
    winter, and from his window he looked out upon the cold, empty,
    frozen street of the little city of Hof, or he was obliged to
    be a prisoner, without, as he says, ‘the prisoner’s fare of
    bread and water, for he had only the latter; and if a gulden
    found its way into the house, the jubilee was such, that the
    windows were nearly broken with joy.’ At the same time he was
    under the ban of his costume martyrdom: this he could have
    laughed at and reformed; but hunger and thirst were actual
    evils, and when of prisoner’s food he had only the thinner part,
    he could well exclaim, as Carlyle has said--

    ‘Night it must be e’er Friedland’s star will beam’

    “Without was no help, no counsel, but there lay a giant force
    within; and so, from the depths of that sorrow and abasement,
    his better soul rose purified and invincible, like Hercules from
    his long labours.

    “‘What is poverty,’ he said, at this time, ‘that a man should
    whine under it? It is but like the pain of piercing the ears of
    a maiden, and you hang precious jewels in the wound.’”

The “costume martyrdom” here mentioned, is a most characteristic affair;
and as a great man’s character is often revealed most strikingly in
small matters, we shall give it at length.

Partly from fancy, partly from necessity, Paul had adopted a peculiar
style of dress, entirely at variance with the fashion of the day. He
writes to his mother:--

“As I can make my vests (from extreme poverty) last no longer, I have
determined to do without them; and if you send me some over-shirts, I
can dispense with these vests. They must be made with open collars _à la
Hamlet_; but this nobody will understand; in short, the breast must be
open, so that the bare throat may be seen. My hair, also, I have had
cut. [It was the day of queues and powder.] It is pronounced by my
friends more becoming, and it spares one the expense of the
hair-dresser. I have, still some locks a little curled.”

The young poet was right in suspecting, that “nobody would understand”
the right of private judgment in important matters of this kind; but he
did not at that time understand himself the extent of torture and
martyrdom to which this Hamlet garb was to expose him. Among the good
Burgers in Hof the scandal of an unpowdered pate and a bare throat was
intolerable; the young author’s firmest friends remonstrated with him,
most earnestly and seriously on the subject; but to no purpose: Paul was
determined to vindicate his poetical liberty in this matter; however
small in itself, there was a principle involved in it of the utmost
consequence in social life. See how philosophically the parties argue
the point. Pastor Vogel, the earliest prophet of Richter’s future fame,
wrote and reasoned as follows:--

    “‘You value only the inward, not the outward--the kernel, not
    the husk. But, with your permission, is not the _whole_ composed
    of the _form_ and the _matter_? Is one disfigured? so is the
    other. You condemn probably the philosophy of Diogenes, that
    separated its hero so much from other men, that it placed him in
    a tub. How can you justify yourself, if your philosophy serves
    you in the same way? No, my friend, you must open your eyes and
    see that you are not the only son of earth, but, like the ants
    in their ant-hills, you live in the tumult of life.

    “‘Would you not hold that painter unwise, who should offend in
    costume--paint his Romans in sleeves and curled hair; the person
    of a man with petticoat and open bosom? Oh! that is not to be
    endured! Yet, a couple of proverbs--‘Swim not against the tide.’
    ‘Among wolves, learn to howl.’ ‘Vulgar proverbs!’ you will say.
    Yes, but elevated wisdom. The true philosophy is, not for others
    to adapt themselves to us, but for us to adapt ourselves to
    others. Whoever forgets this great axiom, advances few steps
    without stumbling. But what do you seek? In the midst of Germany
    to become a Briton? Do you not in this way say, ‘Put on your
    spectacles, ye little people, and behold! see that you cannot be
    what I am.’ Ah, to speak thus, your _modesty_ forbids! Avoid
    every thing that in the smallest degree lessens your value among
    your contemporaries.’

    “To this gentle remonstrance, Paul replied:--‘I answer your
    letter willingly, for the sake of its argument, which your good
    heart rather than your good head has dictated. Your proverbs are
    not reasons, or if they are, they prove too much: for if I would
    swim with the stream, this stream would often make shipwreck of
    my virtue--the kingdom of vice is as great and extensive as the
    kingdom of fashion; and if I must howl with the wolves, why
    should I not rob with them? If the shell is injured the kernel
    suffers also,’ you say. But wherefore? Let us decide what does
    injure the shell. You consider that an evil to Diogenes which
    others hold an advantage. Did the so-called injury rob this
    great man of his philosophy, his good heart, his wit, his
    virtue? It robbed him not--but it gave him peace, independence
    of outward judgments, freedom from tormenting wants, and the
    incapacity of being wounded; and with this consciousness he
    could venture upon the punishment of every vice. Great man!
    Thank God that thou wert born in a country where they wondered
    at thy wisdom, instead of, as at present, punishing it. Fools
    would commit the only wise man to a madhouse; but, like
    Socrates, he would ennoble his prison.

    “‘The painter would be ridiculous in offending against costume.’
    This is true, but more witty than applicable to me. I need only
    say, that the painter of costume is not the greatest in his art;
    he is great whose pencil creates, not after the tailor, but
    after God; paints bodies, not dresses. The painter’s creations
    can only please through form, which is the shell; and am I
    designed for that? Is it my destination, with my organised
    ugliness, to please? Scarcely--if I would.

    “‘But enough. I hold the constant regard that we pay in all our
    actions to the judgments of others as the poison of our peace,
    our reason, and our virtue. Upon this slave’s chain have I long
    filed, but I scarcely hope ever to break it.’

    “This humorous controversy was kept up for some months on paper,
    as games of chess are played in Holland, without either party
    saying check to the king. At last Paul consented, as he called
    it, to _inhull_ his person, and put an end to this tragicomical
    affair, by the following circular addressed to his friends:--


    ‘ADVERTISEMENT.

    “‘The undersigned begs to give notice, that whereas cropped hair
    has as many enemies as red hair, and said enemies of the hair
    are likewise enemies of the person it grows upon; whereas,
    further, such a fashion is in no respect Christian, since,
    otherwise, Christian persons would adopt it; and whereas
    especially, the undersigned has suffered no less from his hair
    than Absalom did from his, though on contrary grounds; and
    whereas it has been notified to him, that the public proposed to
    send him into his grave, since the hair grows there without
    scissors: he hereby gives notice, that he will not willingly
    consent to such extremities. He would, therefore, inform the
    noble, learned, and discerning public in general, that the
    undersigned proposes on Sunday next to appear in the various
    important streets of Hof, with a false, short queue; and with
    this queue, as with a magnet, and cord of love, and magic rod,
    to possess himself forcibly of the affection of all and sundry,
    be they who they may.

    “J. P. F. R.’”

Points of this kind have been often argued seriously enough between
loving aunts solicitous of propriety, and brisk nephews solicitous of
independence, perhaps also affecting singularity; but let it stand here
discussed more profoundly and systematically by a sensible German pastor
and a profound German poet-philosopher, _in perpetuam rei memoriam_.
Right or wrong, nothing could mark the man more decidedly; always
independent and original in his principles of action, and ever willing
to yield to innocent prejudice when he had once openly vindicated his
principle.

To pass from trifles to the serious business of authorship, the
following extract is most instructive and full of character:--

    “As these years, spent with his mother in Hof, were the most
    uninterruptedly studious of Richter’s life, it seems the place
    to give some account of the manner in which he pursued his
    studies. That plan must be a good one, and of use to others, of
    which he could say, ‘Of one thing I am certain; I have made as
    much out of myself, as could be made of the _stuff_, and no man
    should require more.’

    “First in importance, he aimed, in the rules he formed for
    himself, at a just division of time and power, and he never
    permitted himself, from the first, to spend his strength upon
    any thing useless. He so managed his capital, that the future
    should pay him all ever-increasing interest on the present. The
    nourishment of his mind was drawn from three great
    sources--living Nature, in connexion with human life; the world
    of books, and the inner world of thought; these he considered
    the raw material given him to work up.

    “We have already mentioned his manuscript library. In his
    fifteenth year, before he entered the Hof gymnasium, he had made
    many quarto volumes, containing hundreds of pages of
    closely-written extracts from all the celebrated works he could
    borrow, and from the periodicals of the day. In this way he had
    formed a repertory of all the sciences. For if, in the
    beginning, when he thought himself destined to the study of
    theology, his extracts were from philosophical theology, the
    second volume contained natural history, poetry, and, in
    succession, medicine, jurisprudence, and universal science. He
    had also anticipated one of the results of modern book-making.
    He wrote a collection of what are now called _hand-books_, of
    geography, natural history, follies, good and bad names,
    interesting facts, comical occurrences, touching incidents, &c.

    “He observed Nature as a great book, from which he was to make
    extracts, and carefully collected all the facts that bore the
    stamp of a contriving mind, whose adaptation he could see, or
    only anticipate, and formed a book which bore the simple title
    ‘_Nature_.’

    “When he meditated a new work, the first thing was to stitch
    together a blank book, in which he sketched the outlines of his
    characters, the principal scenes, thoughts to be worked in, &c.,
    and called it ‘_Quarry for Hesperus_,’ ‘_Quarry for Titan_,’ &c.
    One of his biographers has given us such a book, containing his
    studies for Titan, which occupies seventy closely-printed
    duodecimo pages.

    “Richter began also in his earliest youth to form a dictionary,
    and continued it through the whole of his literary life. In this
    he wrote down synonymes, and all the shades of meaning of which
    a word was susceptible. For one word he had found more than two
    hundred. Add to this mass of writing, that he copied all his
    letters, and it is surprising how any time remained. He made it
    a rule to give but one half of the day to writing, the other
    remained for the invention of his various works, which he
    accomplished while walking in the open air.

    “These long walks, through valley and over mountain, steeled his
    body to bear all vicissitudes of weather, and added to his
    science in atmospheric changes, so that he was called by his
    townsmen the _weather prophet_. He is described by one who met
    him on the hills, with open breast and flying hair, singing as
    he went, while he held a book in his hand. Richter at this time
    was slender, with a thin pale face, a high nobly-formed brow,
    around which curled fine blonde hair. His eyes were a clear soft
    blue, but capable of an intense fire, like sudden lightning. He
    had a well-formed nose, and, as his biographer expresses it, ‘a
    lovely lip-kissing mouth.’ He wore a loose green coat and straw
    hat, and was always accompanied by his dog.

    “As Richter from every walk returned to the little household
    apartment where his mother carried on her never-ceasing female
    labours, where half of every day he sat at his desk, he became
    acquainted with all the thoughts, all the conversation, the
    whole circle of the relations of the humble society in Hof. He
    saw the value and significance of the smallest things. The joys,
    the sorrows, the loves and aversions, the whole of life, in this
    Teniers’ picture passed before him. He himself was a principal
    figure in this limited circle. He sat with Plato in his hand,
    while his mother scattered fresh sand on the floor for Sunday,
    or added some small luxury to the table on days of festival. His
    hardly-earned groschen went to purchase the goose for Martinmas,
    while he dreamed of his future glory among distinguished men.
    Long years he was one of this humble society. He did not
    approach it as other poets have done, from time to time, to
    study for purposes of art the humbler classes; he felt himself
    one of them, and in this school he learned that sympathy with
    humanity which has made him emphatically in Germany the ‘poet of
    the poor.’”

One of the most instructive traits of Richter’s character is, his great
attention to personal purity of heart and self-control. It was a main
point with him, as with Quintilian, the sound old rhetorician, that to
write or speak well, one must first of all be a good man. In imitation
of many excellent and pious persons, Paul kept a diary of the sins that
most easily beset him, and a register of moral victories by God’s grace
to be won. From this “_Andachts buchlein_,” or “little book of
devotion,” the following admirable extracts are given:--


“OF PAIN.

    “Every evil is an occasion and a teacher of resolution. Every
    disagreeable emotion is a proof that I have been faithless to my
    resolutions.

    “An evil vanishes, if I do not ask after it. Think of a worse
    situation than that in which thou art.

    “Not to the evil, but to myself, do I owe my pain. Epictetus was
    not unhappy!

    “Vanity, insensibility, and custom, make one steadfast.
    Wherefore not virtue still more?

    “Never say, if you had not _these_ sorrows, that you would bear
    others better.

    “What is sixty years’ pain to eternity?

    “Necessity, if it cannot be altered, becomes resignation.


“OF GLORY.

    “Most men judge so miserably; why would you be praised by a
    child?

    “No one would praise you in a beggar’s frock; be not proud of
    the esteem that is given to your coat.

    “Do not expect more esteem from others because you deserve more,
    but reflect that they will expect still more merit in yourself.

    “Do not seek to justify all thy actions. Value nothing merely
    because it is thy own, and look not always upon thyself.

    “Do not wait for extraordinary opportunities for good actions,
    but make use of common situations. A long continued walk is
    better than a short flight.

    “Never act in the heat of emotion: let reason answer first.

    “Look upon every day as the whole of life, not merely as a
    section; and enjoy the present without wishing to spring on to
    another section that lies before thee.

    “Seek to acquire that virtue in a month, to which thou feelest
    the least inclined.

    “It betrays a greater soul to answer a satire with patience,
    than with wit.

    “If thou wouldst be free, joyful, and calm, take the only means
    that cannot be affected by accident--virtue.”

A man who could act on these principles was morally a great man, and
worthy of admiration even without genius. To know and feel habitually,
as Richter seems to have done, that “EVIL is like the nightmare; the
instant you bestir yourself it has already ended,” is to be a moral
hero, and a triumphant Christian. See how every thing turns into gold at
the touch of such a man!--the way of pædagogy (for he practised the
“dominie” too for four years to eke out his scanty earnings,) to him is
spread not with thorns, but with violets and primroses. The following
account of his pædagogic practice cannot fail to interest many:--

    “The deep and marked peculiarities of a poetic nature were never
    brought into fuller exercise than by Richter, in the formation
    and government of his little school. That which is usually to
    men of rich endowments a vexing and wearisome employment, the
    daily routine of instruction for little children in the elements
    of knowledge, became to him a source of elevated and ennobling
    thought. His _mode_ of instruction was the opposite of that from
    which he thought he had himself suffered. In this little school
    there was no learning by heart, no committing to memory the
    thoughts of others, but every child was expected to use its own
    powers. His exertions seemed mainly directed to awaken in the
    children a reproducing and self-creating power; all knowledge
    was therefore the material, out of which they were to form new
    combinations. In a word, the whole of his instruction was
    directed to create a desire for self-study, and thus lead his
    pupils to _self-knowledge_. He aimed to bring out, as much as
    possible, the talents that God had given his pupils; and, after
    exciting a love of knowledge, he left them to a free choice as
    to what they would study; but their zeal and emulation were kept
    alive by a (so-called) ‘_red book_,’ in which an exact account
    of the work of each individual was recorded; this was shown to
    parents and friends at the end of the quarter, and so great was
    their zeal, that they needed a rein rather than a spur. While he
    accustomed the children to the spontaneous activity of all their
    faculties, he gave them five hours a-day of direct instruction,
    in which he led them through the various departments of human
    knowledge, and taught them to connect ideas and facts by
    comparison and association. From the kingdom of plants and
    animals he ascended to the starred firmament, made them
    acquainted with the course of the planets, and led their
    imaginations to these worlds and their inhabitants. Then he
    conducted them through the picture-gallery of the past history
    of nations, and placed the heroes, and saints, and martyrs of
    antiquity before them, or he turned their attention to the
    mystery of their own souls and the destiny of man. Above all,
    and with all, he directed their tender, childish hearts, _to a
    Father in heaven_. He said, ‘There can be no such companion to
    the heart of children, for the whole life, as the ever-present
    thought of God and immortality.’”

But these humble avocations were soon to cease. Richter was destined to
emerge from the obscurity of a village schoolmaster, and appear on the
public stage of Germany as the compeer of Herder and Schiller, of
Wieland and Göethe--second to none of these now European names in
originality, brilliancy, and vigour of literary talent; superior to all
of them in the purity and intensity with which there glowed in him many
of those highest moral qualities which distinguish the man and the
Christian. The following extract, relating to the publication of his
first very successful work, and the commencement of his German
celebrity, in the year 1790, is steeped in the purest essence of poetry,
and most characteristic of that flow of pure, cheerful, and exalted
emotion which freshens one’s moral nature like milk and honey, in all
the mature writings of this extraordinary man.

    “The weeks that followed the successful reception of the
    _Invisible Lodge_ were the ‘Sabbath weeks’ of Paul’s life. He
    had had the courage to speak out in the fulness of his nature,
    and had found a response in many hearts. In the paradise that
    opened before him, he determined to give full course to the
    flood of his genius; but he well knew, that the richest fulness
    of poetic thought could only exist in connexion with peace of
    soul, cheerfulness of disposition, and firmness of purpose, and
    that the truth of his representations must arise from
    corresponding inward truth and integrity; in short, if he would
    be a poet in his works, he must be a poet in his life.

    “He carefully continued his book of devotion, his rules and
    purposes of life. He never awoke without reviewing the past day;
    and where he had been assaulted by the force of any passion,
    _there_ he placed a double bulwark, and with quiet satisfaction
    celebrated the victory gained. His quick and warm fancy led him
    often to outbreaking anger, and his ready wit to satire that was
    sometimes wounding, especially when his good-nature was misused;
    but the gentlest call led him back to tenderness--the accidental
    sight of a boy’s face with tears in his eyes was sufficient to
    disarm him; he thought of his future life, of the sorrows that
    would draw from him still bitterer tears, and he said, ‘_I_ will
    not pour into the cup of humanity a single drop of gall;’ and he
    kept his word. Where he was obliged to assert his rights, he did
    it so calmly and gently, that the holy treasures of his
    life--love and truth--remained for ever undisturbed.

    “Every thing living touched his heart--from the humblest flower
    that opened its leaves in the grass, up to the shining worlds on
    high; children and old men, the beggar and the rich, he would
    have embraced them all in the sacred glow of his emotions, or
    given all he possessed to make them happy. No one went from him
    unconsoled; and when he could give nothing but good counsel, he
    gave that. Were it only a poor mountaineer or a travelling
    apprentice to whom he could impart the smallest present, he
    would dwell the whole day with delight on the circumstance.
    Often he would say to himself, ‘Now he will draw the dollar from
    his pocket, and reckon which of his long-cherished wishes he can
    first satisfy. How often will he think of this day, and of the
    unexpected gift, and perhaps _once_ more than usual upon the
    Giver of _all_ good.’ Love was the ever-living principle of his
    character and of his writings, and before the thought of the
    Infinite, all differences in rank vanished away; all were
    equally great, or equally little.

    “He gained nourishment for this principle from every
    circumstance in life. Where others would have been untouched and
    cold, there he heard whispered to his spirit the voice of
    humanity. Let him speak for himself. He says in his journal:-

    “‘I picked up in the choir a faded rose-leaf, that lay under the
    feet of the boys. Great God! what had I in my hand but a small
    leaf, with a little dust upon it; and upon this small fugitive
    thing my fancy built a whole paradise of joy--a whole summer
    dwelt upon this leaf. I thought of the beautiful day when the
    boy held this flower in his hand, and when through the church
    window he saw the blue heaven and the clouds wandering over it;
    when every place in the cool vault was full of sunlight, and
    reminded him of the shadows on the grass from the over-flying
    clouds. Good God! thou scatterest satisfaction every where, and
    givest to every one joys to impart again. Not merely dost thou
    invite us to great and exciting pleasures, but thou givest to
    the smallest a lingering perfume.’

    “Above all things, his eye hung upon Nature. He lived and wrote
    whole days in the open air, on the mountain, or in the woods;
    and in the midst of winter he sought from the window the evening
    rose-colour, his beloved stars, and that magic enchanter, the
    moon. Every walk in the open air was to him the entrance into a
    church. He said in his journal--‘Dost thou enter pure into this
    vast, guiltless temple? Dost thou bring no poisonous passion
    into this place, where flowers bloom and birds sing? Dost thou
    bear no hatred where Nature loves! Art thou calm as the stream
    where Nature reflects herself as in a mirror? Ah, would that my
    heart were as true and as unruffled as Nature when she came from
    the hands of her great Creator!’ Every new excursion in this
    great temple gave him new strength, and he returned laden with
    spiritual treasures. He loved to make short journeys on foot;
    where the motion of the body kept the mind in a state of
    activity, and the insignificant gained value by its
    unexpectedness. A sunny day made him happy, and the perfumes of
    a spring morning, or dewy evening, seemed almost to intoxicate
    him with their incense; but the hours of night were those of
    his highest elevation, when he would lie long hours on the dewy
    grass, looking into the opening clouds. He says in his
    journal--‘I take my ink-flask in the morning, and write as I
    walk in the fragrant air. Then comes my joy, that I have
    conquered two of my faults--my disposition to be angry in
    conversation, and to lose my cheerfulness through a long day of
    dust and musquitoes. Nothing makes one so indifferent to the pin
    and musquito thrusts of life, as the consciousness of growing
    better.’”

Richter belonged now to Germany, and should have been transferred
immediately, you will think, like Göethe, Schiller, Wieland, Herder, and
the other _Dii majorum gentium_, to WEIMAR, the one literary capital of
Deutschland; for _political_ capital it neither had then nor has now,
nor in the common course of things, notwithstanding the songs of 1813
and the _Zoll-Verein_, is ever like to have. And in Weimar, no doubt,
there were some men who looked upon the apparition of the Richter comet
with a more favourable eye than senatorian Göethe. Old Father Wieland,
in particular, “who had read Tristram Shandy eighty times over,” called
him “our Yorick, our Rabelais, the purest spirit!”--and the earnest
Herder, with his capacious sympathy, was able to appreciate the
religious and Christian element in Paul’s character, which naturally was
a mystery to the author of Agathon. Taken as a whole, however, Weimar,
with Göethe as its real king and god, was by no means the proper element
for Richter. There was too much mere literature in it for one with whom
goodness was the one thing needful, and greatness only an accident,
agreeable or disagreeable, as the case might be. There was too much head
in Weimar, and too little heart. Freedom, indeed, there was, in grand
style, from all those civic formalities, and minute observation of small
points, which had vexed him so much in Hof. But what one might complain
of there, to use his own words, was “PAINTED EGOTISM AND UNPAINTED
SCEPTICISM;”--the French Voltaire in a German Avatar! For the true Teut,
Richter, that would never do. We are not, therefore, to be surprised if
the visit which Paul made to Weimar in 1796, though full of joy and
exhilaration, was not followed up by any permanent change in his quiet
and retired mode of life. His native secluded region of the
Fichtelgebirge was still to be his home. Hof and Bayreuth, in the centre
of central Germany, and therefore out of every body’s way, were to boast
the possession of this the most German of great German men. How little
attraction there was between the calm, cold, artistical
contemplativeness of Göethe, and the bickering sportiveness of sunny joy
in the essentially moral nature of Richter, the following extract will
declare:--

    “‘On the second day I threw away my foolish prejudices in favour
    of great authors. They are like other people. Here, every one
    knows that they are like the earth, that looks from a distance,
    from heaven, like a shining moon, but when the foot is upon it,
    it is found to be made of _boue de Paris_ (Paris mud.) An
    opinion concerning Herder, Wieland, or Göethe, is as much
    contested as any other. Who would believe that the three
    watch-towers of our literature avoid and dislike each other! I
    will never again bend myself anxiously before any _great_ man,
    only before the _virtuous_. Under this impression, I went
    timidly to meet Göethe. Every one had described him as cold to
    every thing upon the earth. Madam von Kalb said, he no longer
    admires any thing, not even himself. Every word is ice!
    Curiosities, merely, warm the fibres of his heart. Therefore I
    asked Knebel to petrify or incrust me by some mineral spring,
    that I might present myself to him like a statue or a fossil.
    Madam von Kalb advised me, above all things, to be cold and
    self-possessed, and I went without warmth, merely from
    curiosity. His house, palace rather, pleased me; it is the only
    one in Weimar in the Italian style--with such steps! A Pantheon
    full of pictures and statues. Fresh anxiety oppressed my breast!
    At last the god entered, cold, one-syllabled, without accent.
    ‘The French are drawing towards Paris,’ said Knebel. ‘Hm!’ said
    the god. His face is massive and animated, his eye a ball of
    light. But at last, the conversation led from the campaign to
    art, publications, &c., and Göethe was himself. His conversation
    is not so rich and flowing as Herder’s, but sharp-toned,
    penetrating, and calm. At last, he read, that is, he played for
    us, an unpublished poem, in which his heart impelled the flame
    through the outer crust of ice, so that he pressed the hand of
    the enthusiastic Jean Paul. (It was my face, not my voice, for I
    said not a word.) He did it again when we took leave, and
    pressed me to call again. By Heaven! we will love each other! He
    considers his poetic course as closed. His reading is like
    deep-toned thunder, blended with soft whispering rain-drops.
    There is nothing like it.’”

To which add the following passage, where we are sorry to find rather an
unfavourable mention of our great favourite Schiller. Authors, however,
especially poets, are a strange race: he who expects to find them always
like their books, knows little. How unlike is Vesuvius, being calm and
mantled with green grass, to the same Vesuvius when it spouts molten
rock and spits lightning!

    “‘I went yesterday to see the stony Schiller, from whom, as from
    a precipice, all strangers spring back. His form is worn,
    severely powerful, but angular. He is full of sharp-cutting
    power, but without love. His conversation is nearly as excellent
    as his writings. As I brought a letter from Göethe, he was
    unusually pleasant; he would make me a fellow-contributor to the
    _Horen_ (a periodical,) and would give me a naturalization act
    in Jena.’

    “Notwithstanding this courtesy, Richter did not repeat his visit
    to Schiller, and his intimate union with Herder excluded all
    hope of his being drawn to the party of Göethe. The latter wrote
    to Schiller, ‘I am glad you have seen Richter. His love of truth
    and his wish for self-improvement have prepossessed me in his
    favour; but the social man is a sort of theoretical man, and I
    doubt if Richter will ever approach us in a practical way,
    although in theory he seems to have some pretensions to belong
    to us.’ They were never friends. Richter could not conceal his
    disappointment at the character of Göethe’s latter poetical
    works; and soon after his return to Hof he wrote to Knebel in
    relation to one of them, ‘that in such stormy times we needed a
    Tyrtæus rather than a Propertius.’ The remark reached Göethe’s
    ears; and Göethe, usually so indifferent to censure or
    criticism, showed himself deeply susceptible and offended at
    this so-called ‘manifestation of arrogance in Herr Richter.’”

But if the “many-sided Göethe”--wanting, as he certainly did, one
important side of humanity, namely, the moral side--could not appreciate
the genius of Richter fully, there was one who did--that, as we have
already intimated, was Herder. This great man, as his intelligent wife
has left on record, “valued Richter’s genius--his rich, overflowing,
poetic Spirit--far above the soulless productions of the times, that
contended for the poetic form only. He named them brooks without water;
and often said that Richter stood, as opposed to them, on a high
elevation; and that he would exchange all artistical forms for his
living virtue, his feeling heart, his perennial creative genius. He
brings new fresh life, truth, virtue, reality, into the declining and
misunderstood vocation of the poet.” Such was Herder’s estimate of Paul;
and herein precisely lies his true grandeur. A perfect Titan as an
author, in the common relations of social and domestic life he is a god.
Aiming at the highest things, he lives happy among the smallest. Soaring
habitually among the loftiest ideas, he is “sympathising and attentive
to the smallest little things, and to all the _actual_ of life.” This is
the testimony of his wife--not every wife of a literary man, great or
small, in these times, can give such a testimony. It has been a fashion
with men of a certain fashion of genius to fall in love furiously, and
to be ecstatically moved in the licentious roving of the eyes; but to
shrink from the joining of hands, to hate marriage, and to damn the
fireside. But Richter was of a different--of a more healthy, and a more
happy humour. Did St Paul ever bear a nobler testimony to the
“honourable” condition of marriage than the following?--

    “That the brightest and purest fountain of love to mankind takes
    nothing from love to the individual, I learn from my Caroline.
    Every day it becomes more expansive. Rare as beautiful is her
    adoration of the spiritual of poetry and nature; wonderful her
    disinterestedness and complete abnegation of self. There is
    nothing that she would not do for me, or others. World-long
    cares are to her nothing, as her industry and love of duty are
    infinite. As she loves me, she loves all my clothes, and would
    make them all herself.

    “As yet we have had nothing, or only very little, to irritate. I
    cannot say that I am satisfied, but I am certainly _blest_. Ah,
    see her! What are words! Marriage has made me love her more
    romantically, deeper, _infinitely more_ than before!”

Richter, therefore, was a domestic man in the highest sense of the word.
Would you know what domestic happiness means? Take the following--’tis
from a daughter:--

    “I love to represent the dear friendly man, with brown
    study-coat and socks hanging down, as he entered our mother’s
    chamber the first thing in the morning to greet her. The hound
    springs on before him, and the children hang about him, and
    seek, when he leaves the room, to thrust their little feet into
    the slippers behind, when he raises his feet a little, so as to
    hang on him more securely. One springs before, (at that time my
    blessed brother lived,) the other two hang on his coat-skirts
    until he reaches his own chamber-door; where all leave him, for
    only the dog must enter there.

    “When we were very small, we lived in a two-story house; my
    father worked above, in the attic. We crept on our hands and
    feet over the stairs, and hammered on the door till the father
    himself arose and opened it, and after our noisy ingress, closed
    it again--then he took from an old chest a trumpet and a fife,
    with which we made noisy music while he continued writing. We
    ventured in again many times in the day to play with a squirrel
    that he had at that time, and that in the evening he took out
    with him in his pocket, and always made one of the family
    circle.

    “He had, usually, animals that he tamed, about him. Sometimes a
    mouse; then a great, white, cross spider, that he kept in a
    paper box, with a glass top. There was a little door beneath, by
    which he could feed his prisoner with dead flies. In the autumn
    he collected the winter food for his little tree frog and his
    tame spider.

    “The father was good to every thing: he could not bear to
    witness the least pain, not even in the lowest animals. Thus, he
    never went out without opening the cage of his canary birds, to
    indemnify the poor animals, who would be melancholy in his
    absence. He took at one time the most sedulous care of a dog,
    who came in one evening after the loss of the poor dead _Alert_,
    as he knew in the morning he should exchange him for another,
    and he would have no opportunity to feed him again. You will
    smile at the connexion, but he did the same for a departing
    servant maid: providing every thing for her convenience the day
    before, and delighting the poor girl in the most unusual degree.

    “The children were permitted all sorts of practical jokes
    towards him. ‘Father, dance once;’ then he would make some
    leaps; or he must speak French, in which he placed wonderful
    value on the nasal sound, which no one made as well as he. It
    sounded, indeed, curiously and made my mother laugh.

    “In the twilight he told us stories; or spake of God and other
    worlds; or he would tell us of our grandfather, and other
    splendid things. We ran to gain the wager, which of us should
    get nearest to him on the sofa. The old money-box, hooped with
    iron, with a hole in the cover, that two mice might conveniently
    pass through, was the stepping-stone by which we jumped over the
    back of the sofa, for in front it was difficult to press between
    the table and the repertory for papers. We all three crowded
    between the back of the sofa and the father’s out-stretched
    legs; above, at his head, lay the sleeping dog. At last, when we
    had pressed our limbs into the most inconvenient postures, the
    story began.

    “The father knew how to create for himself many little
    pleasures. Thus, he made all the boxes for his tame animals,
    after his half-hour’s nap in the afternoon. It was a special
    satisfaction to him to prepare ink, which he did much oftener
    than was necessary, for Otto wrote long years after with the
    rejected part. He could never wait to perfect it, but tried it
    an hour after it was made. If it was already black, he would
    come joyfully to us, and say,--‘Now, if it be black already,
    what will it be to-morrow, or after fourteen days?’

    “The mere thought of destruction was painful to him, especially
    the loss of the work of man’s mind. He never burned a letter;
    yes, he treasured even the most insignificant. ‘All loss of
    life,’ he said, ‘may be restored again, but the creations of
    these heads, these hearts, never! The name should be erased, but
    the soul that speaks its most intimate sentiments in letters,
    should live.’ He had also thick books written full of the
    remarks and the habits and peculiarities of his children.

    “At meals he was very cheerful, and listened to every thing we
    told him with the greatest sympathy, and always made something
    out of the smallest relation; so that the narrator was always
    wiser for what he had said.

    “In eating and drinking he was extremely moderate. He never gave
    us direct instruction, and yet he taught us always. Our evening
    table he called a French _table-d’hote_, that he furnished with
    twelve dishes taken from the arts and sciences. We tasted of all
    without being satiated with any, and we all ventured to utter
    any joke to the father about himself or his entertainment.

    “His punishments for us girls were rather passive than active;
    they consisted in refusing some request, or in a severe word;
    but my brother sometimes received corporal punishment. My father
    would say--‘Max, this afternoon, at three o’clock, come to me to
    receive your whipping.’ He went punctually, and suffered it
    without a sound.”

But we become diffuse. There are many scenes in the quiet life of
Richter, that, like the above, are perfect domestic idyls--but we must
hasten to the last; ’tis like those which preceded it, surpassing
lovely. Never have we encountered, in the wide world of biographic
books, a death-bed scene, so full of love, and joy, and peace, as the
death-bed of Jean Paul Frederick Richter. Nothing more, however, than
one might have expected; for men generally--so experienced clergymen
observe--die as they live. One thing only we must remark, before giving
our last extracts; towards the close of his career, the bright,
sun-gazing genius of Richter was struck, like Milton’s, not with
celestial, but with terrestrial blindness. For some space before he
died, his favourite world of flowers and green fields was already a
blank to him. In the month of October 1823, his nephew, Otto Spazier, to
whom we are indebted for the principal part of these biographical
details, shortly before his death, being called to visit the blind old
poet, writes as follows:--

    “‘Such a call from the immortal old man, as it entered my
    solitary apartment,’ says his nephew, ‘filled me with delight.
    The reverend image of his beautiful old age, a just reward for a
    holy life, rose before me, and with joyful haste I travelled
    through the wet days of October, and entered his study on the
    evening of the twenty-fourth of that month. The same joyful
    tremor affected me as formerly, when, at the twilight hour, I
    had listened here with his family to the voice of wisdom. The
    windows of his room looked towards the rising sun, and far over
    the garden and over scattered trees and houses, towards the
    Flichtelgebirge, that bounded the horizon. A mingled perfume of
    flowers and grapes led the fancy to southern climes, to
    beautiful blue June days, or to the vintage on the Rhine. His
    sofa, where he usually read in a reclining posture, was opposite
    this window, and before it his writing table, upon which
    appeared a regular confusion of pens, paper of all colours,
    glasses, flowers, books, among which last were the small English
    editions of Swift and Sterne. At the other window stood a small
    piano, and near this a smaller table. Depending from the cage of
    his birds was a little ladder, that led to his own work-table,
    where the birds were permitted to roam among the confusion,
    sprinkling with water from the flower glass the sheet upon which
    the poet was writing. Often was Paul seen to stop in his most
    excited passages, to let his little canary, with her young,
    travel, undisturbed, over the page, where the water she
    scattered from her feathers mingled with the ink from his pen.
    In the corner of the room was a door by which, unobserved,
    Richter could descend the steps into the garden, and on a
    cushion near it rested his white, silky-haired poodle. A hunting
    pocket and rosewood staff hung near. All three had often been
    the companions of his wandering, when, on beautiful days, he
    went through the chestnut avenue to the little Rolwenzell
    cottage.

    “‘All in the room retained its usual position, but the ruling
    hand appeared to have been absent. The light was shaded, and the
    windows hung with green curtains; the robust form that in former
    years, even before the snowdrop had loosened the icy crust of
    winter, had worked long hours with uncovered breast in the open
    air, lay supported with cushions, and shrouded in furs upon the
    sofa; his body drawn together, and eyes for ever closed.
    ‘Heaven,’ said he, ‘chastens me with a double rod, and one is a
    heavy cudgel! (meaning his blindness); but I shall be well again
    now. Ah! we have so much to say and to do. But we shall have a
    thousand hours--at least, minutes.’ His voice was weaker, his
    words slower, and it cut me to the heart to hear him speak of
    himself. It was late--and soon his wife, ever watchful, called
    me away, to return to him again in the morning.’

    “Early next morning he began a complete revision of his works.
    The nephew read aloud, and Paul inserted his alterations. When
    Spazier thought one necessary, he indicated it by pausing, to
    draw his attention. With great mildness and patience Paul
    listened to every objection; and himself related, explained,
    praised, and blamed. He reconsidered and over-lived thus his
    whole spiritual life in his works. In the comparisons scattered
    through his sixty-four volumes, of which indeed every page is
    filled, he found only two or three were repeated.”

On the 14th November of the same year the curtain was drawn. How
calmly--how beautifully!--Read:--

    “Noon had by this time arrived. Richter, thinking it was night,
    said--‘It was time _to go to rest_!’ and wished to retire. He
    was wheeled into his sleeping apartment, and all was arranged as
    if for repose; a small table near his bed, with glass of water,
    and his two watches; common one and a repeater. His wife now
    brought him a wreath of flowers that a lady had sent him, for
    every one wished to add some charm to his last days. As he
    touched them carefully, for he could neither see nor smell them,
    he seemed to rejoice in the images of the flowers in his mind,
    for he said repeatedly to Caroline--‘My beautiful flowers, my
    lovely flowers!’

    “Although his friends sat around the bed, as he imagined it was
    night, they conversed no longer; he arranged his arms as if
    preparing for repose, which was to be to him the repose of
    death, and soon sank into a tranquil sleep.

    “Deep silence pervaded the apartment. Caroline sat at the head
    of the bed, with her eyes immovably fixed on the face of her
    beloved husband. Otto had retired, and the nephew sat with
    Plato’s _Phaedon_ in his hand, open at the death of Socrates. At
    that moment a tall and beautiful form entered the chamber; and,
    at the foot of the bed, with his hands raised to heaven, and
    deeply moved, he repeated aloud the prayer of his Mosaic faith.
    It was Emanuel, and next to Otto, the most beloved of Richter’s
    friends.

    “About six o’clock the physician entered. Richter yet appeared
    to sleep; his features became every moment holier, his brow more
    heavenly, but it was cold as marble to the touch; and as the
    tears of his wife fell upon it, he remained immovable. At length
    his respiration became less regular, but his features always
    calmer, more heavenly. A slight convulsion passed over the face;
    the physician cried out--‘That is death!’ and all was quiet. The
    spirit had departed!

    “All sank, praying, upon their knees. This moment, that raised
    them above the earth with the departing spirit, admitted of no
    tears!

    “‘Thus Richter went from earth, great and holy as a poet,
    greater and holier as a man!’

    “Involuntarily we recall the deathbed of another great poet, on
    that delicious summer’s day when the windows were all open, and
    the only sound the ripple of the Tweed upon its stony bed.
    _Here_, in the midst of winter, a deeper repose must have
    consecrated the deathbed of Richter, as if Nature herself stood
    reverently still, when her worshipper and interpreter laid down
    the garment in which he had ministered in her temple.

    “Richter was buried by torch light: the unfinished manuscript of
    _Selina_[5] borne upon his coffin, and the noble ode of
    Klopstock--

    ‘Thou shalt arise, my soul!’

    was sung by the students of the Gymnasium at the burial vault.”

Thus have we, by favour of your attention, kind reader, endeavoured to
open up to the British eye, a few sunny glimpses of one of the choicest
spirits whom “the Fatherland” delighteth to honour. JEAN PAUL, _der
einzige_--the _unique_, is the received designation of Richter in
Germany; a title in his case as deservedly earned by literary labour, as
military and political services have earned it likewise, in his proper
sphere, for the great Frederick. Pity only that it is by no means such
an easy matter to render the works of the author’s genius as appreciable
to general admiration, as the actions of the soldier and the policy of
the king. Guns and trumpets make a noise over the wide world, from the
Arctic circle to the Antarctic, pretty much the same; and, provided the
stages of their explosion be large and open enough, the actors will not
fail to be noted of all men, and admired. But the voices of wise and
good men in books, are of a more curious and delicate melody; and
sometimes even the rarest of them cannot be made to vibrate in their
full harmonious chords, otherwise than to the nicely-fitted structure of
the national ear. This is the case with the French Beranger, and in an
eminent degree with our own Burns. The translators, we know, have tried
their hands with these men--as what will they not try?--but let them
carve and polish as they will, the Frenchman will still limp awkwardly
in his Wellington boots, and the Scotsman, though he may retain his
warmth, will lose the finest tints of his colour in Deutschland. So even
more strikingly is the stamp of indelible nationality imprinted on all
the writings of Jean Paul; and it will require peculiarly skilful
handling indeed, to take away the point from the French lady’s
criticism above quoted, and make all or any one of Richter’s works, like
Schiller’s “Wallenstein,” or Göethe’s “Faust,” a familiar occupant of a
cultivated Englishman’s shelves. These works consist almost exclusively
of novels or fictitious tales, and these of two kinds: the philosophical
or ideal novel--for which, even in its most perfect character, John Bull
has no peculiar faculty; and the novel of common life, in which
department the same most unphilosophical Bull has attained such an
admirable mastership, that to his practical eye the most manful feats of
a purely German genius like Richter, are apt to appear puerile and even
apish. Nevertheless, we do by no means despair of a selection being made
from this great man’s works, such as will not, indeed, popularise him on
British ground--for popular in the widest sense he is not even in
Germany--but such as may command the ear of all educated men for whom
the higher departments of imaginative literature have a charm. Such a
collection to our knowledge has not yet been made in this country. When
it shall be made, _every thing depends on the workman_. Richter cannot
be translated at random: nor can he be simply transposed, as many a
decent sentence-monger may, line after line, and paragraph after
paragraph; he is freakish, and will confound a methodical wit
lamentably. One decided advantage, however, by way of an introduction to
the English Richter, has been gained by the appearance of the present
biography. We have learnt to know the man; and the man in this case is
as good, perhaps better, than his works. No well-conditioned person, we
are convinced, will lay down the biography of Richter without an earnest
desire to know something more of such a man. He will be convinced also
that the novels of such a writer will not be made up of mere playful
arabesques to amuse, of mere pepper and spices to stimulate; he will
have felt the breath of a moral regeneration in these pages, and that a
novel of Jean Paul is in fact a sermon; an evangelic address, where the
gospel is preached, as wit is vented in the old drama, oftentimes by a
clown. Next to a mind of extensive culture, and a heart of wide
sympathies, a moral preparation of this kind is the grand key to the
writings of FREDERICK RICHTER.



A TALE OF THE MASORCHA CLUB.

AT BUENOS AYRES.


CHAPTER I.

Tom Thorne was a bachelor, who lived in one of the best houses, had the
best horses, and gave the best dinners and suppers, of any merchant in
Buenos Ayres. The head of the “_house_,” or firm, he was his own master;
and this privilege he used to the utmost. Wherever a ball was to be held
in that dancing city, there be sure you find Tom; and few dinner
parties, pic-nics, or country excursions, were complete without him.
Little mattered it to him, whether he were invited or not--he knew every
body, and everybody knew him; and his jovial good humour, his hearty
laugh and frank address, won him the good graces of any party upon which
the whim of the moment induced him to intrude. Tom was a restless,
rattling blade, and delighted in excitement of every kind. He could no
more have sat still on a chair for half an hour than he could have
passed over an entire day without drinking champagne, where it was to be
had, or brandy and water where it was not.

Courteous and gallant to the ladies, he was noisy and jovial with the
men; and although he was well known to boast of his liberty as a
bachelor, yet this probably only made him more of a favourite with the
fair. There could be no harm in flirting and coquetting with one who
openly defied their attractions. The shy and timid could be pert and
playful with Tom Thorne the bachelor, without any feelings of
indelicacy; while those who were less reserved, considered it fair play
to entangle him in the nets of their raillery--probably not without a
distant hope that the gay flutterer might yet singe his wings in making
his circuit round the flame of their attractions.

It will be thought surprising how our hero, with such roving and
unsteady habits, could transact business as the head of a mercantile
house. But in South America, business is not conducted in the same
systematic way that it is in London or Liverpool; and probably more
hides or bullocks, gin or ginghams, are bought and sold at the dinner or
billiard table than at the desk or exchange.

For such irregular kind of trade, Tom was peculiarly adapted. His was
not the character to plod at a desk over intricate speculations, nor was
it necessary in a trade confined within narrow compass and certain
seasons. Trade would sometimes be brisk, vessels would require to be
loaded and discharged; then Tom would write night and day, with
desperate energy, and then, as if he had earned a holiday, he would idle
away for weeks. What was the use of clerks if not to write? or,
according to an old proverb, what is the use of keeping a dog, and
barking yourself?

Tom Thorne, when sent out to South America, in the first instance, came
under great advantages. He was the son of the head of one of the richest
firms in Europe, and with an ill-judged liberality was allowed lots of
pocket-money; and more consideration was paid to him than to other
clerks by the managers of the house in Buenos Ayres. Thus he had both
more time and money to spend than other “young men” with more limited
prospects. Tom was not one to throw away these advantages; and so his
horse was the swiftest, his coat the tippiest, his cigar the longest,
his gloves were ever the whitest, and his bouquet the richest of all the
riding, smoking, flower-giving youths of Buenos Ayres; and it may be
conceived, that with all “these appliances, and means to boot,” he was
more an adept in the ways of gallantry than scriveny. In the course of
time Mr Thorne, in spite of all his failings, arrived at the dignity of
representative in Buenos Ayres of the rich firm of Thorne, Flower, & Co.

Once established as his own master, Tom’s natural levity of character
was not long of displaying itself, pleasure was his business, and
business his pastime. The lute or the piano (he was a splendid
musician) occupied him more than the pen; he was more in the camp or in
the streets, than in his house--and more in other people’s houses than
his own. And yet with all this, his business went on most swimmingly--he
was an indulgent master, paid his clerks well, and fed them like
princes: this they requited by paying more attention to his business
than he did himself, and thus Tom, almost in spite of himself, was, as
we have formerly said, one of the richest merchants in the city.

Some of our fair readers may say--This is all very well, but why does he
not marry? and then he might rest happy at home, instead of being so
dependent on others for enjoyment. But it was this very dependence on
others for excitement and the means of enjoyment, that made Tom shirk
marriage. It would have been a thraldom to him. Was it, could it be
possible for him to stop all night at home, reading a book, and looking
at his wife? Oh no! Could you drink brandy and water, and smoke cigars
in a parlour? Oh no! Tea and toast at seven, was tame work in comparison
with toddy and devilled kidneys at eleven. It was very agreeable,
certainly, to see ladies dressed out in smiles and silks; but he had
heard or read that husbands might sometimes see them in sulks and
slippers. It was more pleasant for Tom to be knight-errant to the fair
in general. There could be little romance about a husband, little poetry
about a wife, and very little Jollity about a nursery. So thought Tom;
but as we shall see,

    The best laid schemes of mice and men
            Gang aft a-gley.


CHAPTER II.

In Buenos Ayres, though a town of fully sixty thousand inhabitants,
nearly every body of any pretensions knows every other body, either by
sight, by report, or nodding acquaintanceship. Society may be divided
into English, French, and native, or Spanish. Among the English we
comprise the British, Americans, Germans, Danes, and Swedes--in fact,
all the Anglo-Saxon family, (without excluding therefrom the Irish,) as
they can all speak English, and are somewhat allied in character,
pursuits, and political relationship. The French and Italians, again,
resemble each other more than they do the above.

The visiting and visitable part of the native community, form a most
interesting and agreeable feature in Buenos-Ayrean society. Thanks to
civil wars, and to Rosas, the females vastly preponderate in numbers
over the males. You may visit five or six families, and meet five or six
ladies in each, and not a single gentleman; partly from the reasons we
have given above, and partly because to ladies appear exclusively to be
allotted the duties of ceremonial reception--husbands and brothers, if
there be any, remaining in their studies, or back rooms, even when the
sala, or reception room, is crowded with visitors or a small evening
party. Oh, how pleasant and agreeable are these Senoras, and Senoritas!
how sweetly they help you out with a sentence when you are at a loss!
how freely they suggest subjects of conversation! how good-humouredly
they smile at your awkward mistakes, and make you fancy that you will
soon be a perfect proficient in Spanish--as indeed you soon would be
under their tuition; how soon you forget that you have never seen them
before! how soon you learn to suck _matte_, and to pay compliments! and
when you are about to leave, and a flower is agreeably presented to you
by a smiling Senorita, with an assurance that the house and every thing
in it is entirely at your disposal, you bow your way out with a
profusion of promises to return, with a rose at your button-hole, a
smile on the face, and an elasticity of step that will last half the
day. Oh, Tom Thorne! Tom Thorne! how could you resist so many dimpling
smiles and sweet compliments? How could you flirt away the forenoons in
the circles of beauty, look the language, breathe the gay atmosphere,
reflect the glad glances, enjoy the warm enlivening glow of youthful
feelings, bask in the sunshine of favour streaming upon you from the
eyes of youth, innocence, and beauty, and then cool down your feelings
with cigars and brandy?

But we are forgetting our subject. Among each of the great national
families we have classed together, there were particular sets and
circles, out of which many would seldom or never move, while some would
be nearly equally familiar with all: and this mixture of different
nations, tinctured with a dash of republicanism, gives a tone of
metropolitan urbanity and courtesy to Buenos-Ayrean society, which is
very agreeable. All being dependent on their own exertions, there can be
little affectation of superiority; and all being occupied through the
day, they are the more inclined to relax into the agreeable in the
evening: and perhaps there are few places under the sun where there are
more or merrier evening reunions than there were in the city of Buenos
Ayres before the blasting tyranny of Rosas decimated the natives, made
fathers suspicious of sons, brothers spies upon brothers, Frenchmen arm
themselves for mutual protection, Englishmen almost afraid of the name,
and banished wealth and security from the province.

The sala of Senora Tertulia was brilliantly lighted up and brilliantly
filled with youth and beauty; the atmosphere was loaded with rich
perfumes from the gay and gaudy festoons that adorned the massy
chandeliers, and from the sweet little bouquets that heaved on the
bosoms of the fair dancers. Knights of every order of chivalry were
strutting through the room. Priests were listening to innocent
confessions. Don Juans were whispering sweet compliments into willing
ears. Dominoes were playing at cards with Italian Counts. Turks were
drinking the firewaters of the Franks at side-tables. Gauchos were there
rigged out in all the finery of the Pampas; and every masquerade-shop in
the town had been ransacked by those whose wit could not supply, or
whose means could not afford new or appropriate costumes. And so there
was a fair proportion of clowns, harlequins, starved apothecaries, and
Highlanders with cotton drawers. Many old gentlemen with the long
ruffles, the broad skirts, powdered wigs, and jockey looking waistcoats
of the sixteenth century, were seen bowing, scraping, and taking snuff:
in fine, every one either was or ought to have been enjoying himself.
The music struck up, and off they went.

A quadrille had just finished. Lords wore handing dames and ladies fair
to their seats, which the polite old gentlemen of the sixteenth century
vacated for them; that short interregnum was commencing in which young
ladies study attitudes and young gentlemen compliments, when a scream of
surprise and a loud roar of laughter at one of the doors of entrance
attracted the attention of all. There appeared to be a struggle for
admission on one part and a dubious attempt at exclusion on the other.
The lady of the house hurried to the spot; a card was secretly shown to
her; and the cloud of doubt that hung over her brow at the first sight
of the strange spectacle before her was exchanged in a moment for the
warm sunshine of a kindly welcome. “Walk in, pray--walk in, Mr Bruin,”
and a tall slim figure in a strange dress, the front of which was
buttoned behind, with a mask on the back of his head, and long hair
streaming all over his face so as completely to conceal his features,
led into the room a great white bear. The conductor carried a huge high
baton, surmounted by a garland of flowers; and the neck of Bruin was
attached to the baton by a chain of the same materials. The Bear and his
conductor soon became the centre of attraction.

“Now, Mr Brain, show the ladies how you can dance, sir;” and the shaggy
hero stumped on his huge hind paws, shook his head and his tail, and
dangled his fore flippers, to the admiration of all.

“Now for a waltz, Mr Bruin.”

“Bur wur hough,” growled the bear in guttural accents, very like German.

“Mr Bruin says he must have a partner,” drawled the conductor from the
back of his head; and Bruin, clutching the garland of flowers from the
top of the pole, stumped round the circle of fair by-standers, with the
view apparently of suiting his fancy.

“I presume, Mr Bruin, you are dazzled with such a galaxy of bright
star-like eyes,” said a wag.

“Bur wur hur ough,” growled Bruin.

“They remind him of the Aurora Borealis, in the North Seas,” was the
interpretation given out from the back of the head.

“I suppose you are a great traveller, Bruin,” demanded another querist.

“Wur bur ough hur.”

“He accompanied Sir John Ross in his polar expeditions,” was the
response.

By this time every one enjoyed the humour of the conceit; and when Bruin
placed the garland of flowers on the brow of Anita Mendoza, the belle of
the ball-room, it was not ungraciously received by the blushing beauty,
and raptures of applause approved the selection.

“You show a very fair taste, Mr Bruin,” said the smiling landlady.

“We represent Beauty and the Beast of the nursery tale,” was the meaning
of the bur wur of the response.

“Can I offer you any thing to eat or drink?” demanded the landlady.

“Mr Bruin will trouble you for an ice and a young sea unicorn,” replied
the transposed conductor.

“I hope you won’t eat any of us, Mr Bruin,” said one of the ring.

“He would rather hug his partner than worry puppies,” was the ready
rejoinder.

“When did you meet your great father-in-law, Dr Johnson, ursa major?”
asked a would-be wit.

“Mr Bruin desires me to give you a pot of his grease to make your
whiskers grow,” said the conductor, handing an elegant little bear’s
grease pot out of the pouch that hung by Bruin’s side.

“Give me one! give me one!” shouted a number of ladies at the same time.

“For a hug a-piece,” shouted the bear in _propria persona_, forgetting
his disguise.

“It is Tom Thorne! ’tis Mr Thorne!” shouted out a number of voices; and
the bear was soon patted, caressed, and rifled of all the contents of
his pouch by the fair triflers, no longer afraid of a hug from bear like
Tom Thorne. Amid the fun and merriment created by this incident, a smart
explosion was heard, followed by wreaths of aromatic smoke from pastiles
ignited by the explosion caused by opening the elegant little grease pot
given to the beardless youth. The proprietress of every one of Bruin’s
little presents now became a heroine.

Great was the curiosity displayed to know the contents, and great was
the glee and satisfaction as curious little devices or bonbons, wrapped
up in love-verses, were extracted from the elegant little receptacles;
and not till the music struck up, and Bruin led Anita Mendoza as his
partner to the head of the country-dance, was the usual routine of the
ball room resumed. All pretensions to etiquette had vanished; and
good-humour, mirth, and jollity reigned triumphant throughout the
evening. Many thought Bruin’s lot not only bearable but even enviable,
judging from the easy and smiling reception with which his attentions
were welcomed by courtly lady and stately dame. The supper that followed
was as merry as the dance; and our hero, divesting himself of his
bearish accoutrements, was as much the source of amusement in the
supper-room by his jokes as in the ball-room by his tricks. Refreshing
himself with copious draughts of champagne, he appeared to find no
difficulty whatever in allaying hunger in the absence of young unicorns.

But the merriest night must have a close, and the clearest head will get
dizzy under the influence of champagne; and Tom, finding himself
unusually excited, and unwilling to detract from the éclat of his
previous debout, slid unperceived out of the room.


CHAPTER III.

About the time our story commences, 1841, Rosas was beginning that
system of terrorism, espionage, confiscation, and secret assassination,
which has since made his government so notorious abroad and so dreaded
at home. The Monte Videans were in his province of Santa Fé, in the
north; and his political opponents, the Unitarians,[6] were supposed to
be plotting in the capital: but Rosas not a man to stick to the common
modes of war. If he could not inspire confidence among friends, he could
at least inspire terror among his foes. A club, calling themselves the
friends of public security, the sons of liberty, or some such name, but
called by others “Masorcheros,” was established, and many enrolled
themselves in this murderous body to save themselves. Rosas betook
himself to the encampment he called the “sacros Ingares,” holy places;
and thence issued secret orders to his myrmidons, to whose fury the town
was completely abandoned.

There are few darker pages in the modern annals of South America than
the record of the months of October 1841, and April 1842, in the devoted
town of Buenos Ayres. Rosas, himself secure amid his savage soldiery,
issued his secret death-roll. The chiefs of the Masorcheros, anxious to
secure their own safety, rivalled each other in their zeal to capture;
and the work of death itself was intrusted to hands whose trade was
blood. Without trial[7] for offences, without warrants for apprehension,
without even a knowledge of danger, houses were openly entered, men
massacred, women flogged, and property destroyed; victims were decoyed
out, by friends, from theatres and ball-rooms; men were followed in the
streets, and stabbed at their own doors; and concerted signals were
arranged to tell the police carts, that wandered about the streets at
night, where to find out the victims. We shall not give any more
harassing details here. There is no doubt that there were more massacres
committed than ever were ordered by authority: the machinery of murder,
once set agoing, revolved of itself, and knives were sometimes made to
settle old quarrels and long accounts; Rosas, when he found things going
on too far, easily put a stop to them by disposing of some of the
Masorcheros themselves, among others, the chief, who was thus for ever
prevented from telling any tales against his master.

Such unheard-of and unexpected scenes suddenly occurring in the midst of
a happy, prosperous, and orderly city, were accompanied by strange
anomalies. Foreigners could scarcely conceive the existence of a regular
organised body of assassins. Natives, not yet schooled into distrust of
their best friends, and perhaps not even conscious of guilt, could not,
all at once, throw aside their habits of social conviviality. The
churches were open for their usual services, the markets still crowded;
there was no rioting in the streets, which the police paraded as usual.
Ministers and consuls still displayed their flags, and balls and dinners
were as numerously attended as ever; and those who had not seen or
suffered were unwilling to believe the horrid reports that circulated in
secret whispers; and many who knew, or had seen some of the fearful
goings-on around them, probably deemed an affectation of ignorance or
indifference their best policy. Such was the state of the city until the
frequency of outrages forced the natives to keep their houses, take
refuge under the roofs of foreigners, smuggle themselves on board
merchant vessels or men-of-war, or sneak through the deserted streets
like doomed men, shunning the contact of their fellows as if it had been
a city of the plague.

It was at the beginning of this reign of terrorism, and the morning
after the ball at Señora Tertulia’s, that our friend Tom Thorne awoke in
a room by no means so snug, airy, or odorous as his own well-appointed
bed-chamber in the Calle Derecho. Close beside, him, busily engaged in
brushing his clothes with his hands, and alternately muttering
maledictions against sanguinary Spaniards, and mumbling over odds and
ends of old songs, was a strong-built ruddy-looking gentleman of about
twenty-eight or thirty.

“Holla, Griffin!” cried Tom, “where the deuce is this, and how came you
here?”

“Faith, Mr Thorne. I came here for much the same reason as you did; and,
though not in a very creditable place, I can thank my stars I’m in good
company any how.”

“But how came we here, Griffin?”

“Faith, Thorne, except your nerves are very steady--and in virtue of
Señora Tertulia’s champagne, mine are not--I think it might be as well
to defer that same story until you have shaved, or you may run the risk
of having some of the cuts in your face which were intended for your
throat last night. You see, sir, I left La Señora’s about the same time
you did. They say the cool air is refreshing, but I never found it so
after drinking champagne. Well, as I was stumbling along, I fell over a
body, stretched across the pavement. ‘You have taken mighty convenient
quarters for a cold night,’ thought I, ‘bad luck to you;’ and, intending
to do him a good turn, as I might require it myself soon, I was trying
to raise him up, when two men, who were standing in the shadow of a
door-way, within a few feet of me, cried, ‘Hist, hist, passa adelante,
amigo.’ ‘Come and help me with this poor devil here,’ said I. ‘Pass
a-head, friend, if you do not wish the same accommodation,’ said they,
throwing the light of a dark lantern suddenly, and only for a moment, on
the object of my attention. I required no second bidding, Thorne. The
pavement was soft and warm enough for a corpse! My first thought was for
a pistol or a stick, but I had neither. I looked at the men,--there they
stood as cool and careless as the door-posts, and me fixed and staring
at them as if they had been Gog and Magog. ‘Passa adelante,’ growled out
one of them, drawing a knife, at the same time. This brought me to my
senses, and I passed on--and, mark me, Thorne, as sober as a judge.

“Well, sir, off I started, leaving Gog and Magog to keep their watch at
the door-post, when who should I overtake but yourself, walking as proud
as a prince and as bold as a lion. We did not walk far, till three men
met us, one of whom threw the light of his dark-lantern full into your
face, scanning it for a few seconds with more freedom than manners.
Although dazzled and stupefied by the light, I saw you grasping your
stick, and beginning to break out, when I interposed. ‘Gentlemen,’ said
I, in my best Spanish--for it’s always best to be civil--‘Gentlemen,’
said I, ‘we are gentlemen who have lost our way. I’ll give you fifty
dollars,[8] and thanks to boot, if you please to take us to the police
office.’ You appeared inclined to show fight at the mention of the
police office, but I passed it off as if you had more money than sense,
and promised them fifty from you too; so after a slight struggle we
secured you, and here we are, without any solutions of continuity, as
surgeons say, except in our raiment.”

“But why did you not tell them to take us to my house?” said Thorne.

“Why, in the first place,” said Griffin, “I have not the honour of
knowing where you live; and, by Castor and Pollux! I would not have
left you with these ruffians for a world of coppers.”

“But then the disgrace of being lodged in the prison all night!”

“As for that,” said the imperturbable Griffin, “in my opinion the
prisons will soon be fuller than the hotels in this city; and wherever
you and I condescend to take up our quarters becomes _de ipso facto_
respectable.”

“Well, well, Griffin, it’s no use telling you to keep it quiet, but
don’t tell the ladies of it at any rate.”

“Don’t trouble yourself, Thorne,--I won’t be such a bear as that. But by
the way, Gog and Magog, as I’m a sinner, were standing either at or
close by Mendoza’s door: they could not be watching for any of them,
could they?”

“Never fear,” said Thorne; “Mendoza is very thick with the Government;
at all events he was not at the party, and the ladies are sure to be
well convoyed.”

Just as they were talking, a messenger came from the Commissary of
Police, to summon them to the presence of the Functionary, into whose
dread presence they were immediately ushered.

The Commissary--a stout, healthy-looking man about middle age--sat
smoking a cigarito, dressed in a red waistcoat, a braided jacket, and a
slouching cap with a broad gilt band; from the button-hole of his jacket
was the usual red ribbon with the head of Rosas upon it, and the
favourite motto which he has caused to be inscribed on the national
colours, and over every proclamation, “_Vivan los Federales--mucran los
salvages imundos ascherosas Unitarios._”[9] He was listening attentively
to the information given by a very precise, trim, well-dressed looking
youth, if we might call him so, for his dress betokened youth more than
his face, which at that moment appeared particularly pale. The
conversation, whatever was its nature, appeared to be taken notes of by
a clerk, who was sitting near them, and it dropped the moment they
entered; whether it was that Thorne, who was the first to enter, had
still the sound of Mendoza buzzing in his ears, or that, in the excited
state of his nervous system, he was thinking of the frightful scene
committed at his doors, certain it is, that on his appearance, Don
Felipe Le Brun started and appeared agitated for a moment, and our
friend thought he heard the name of Mendoza.

“Sorry to meet you here,” exclaimed Don Felipe, suddenly recovering from
his start. “Can I be of any service, sir? If so, command me.”

“I am sorry to meet you here, sir,” said Thorne in German, so as not to
be understood by the Commissary, and viewing Le Brun with a keen and
inquisitive look--“I am sorry to find that you have such private
business in these quarters. Pray, señor,” he continued to the
magistrate, who appeared on the point of interrupting him, “do not allow
me or my friend to disturb your correspondence with Don Felipe Le Brun.”

“My business with you, Señor Thorne,” said the magistrate, “is confined
to giving you the advice, which you may find of use, to keep more
orderly hours, and thus you will save the police the trouble of
providing you with night-quarters. I have no complaint against you--you
may go.”

Most men living in a community where a magistrate is not only the
instrument but the interpreter of the law, and where there is no free
press or public opinion to expose the injustice or temper the insolence
of power, would have gladly and immediately availed themselves of the
magisterial permission to withdraw, with thanks for the leniency
extended to them. But Mr Thorne was neither a selfish man nor a timid;
and his was not the disposition humbly to accept that as a favour which
he did not conceive could be withheld from him as a right. He knew that
the most arrogant and imperative of the natives were only so to those
who cringed to them as they themselves cringed to their superiors. As a
proud and independent man, and a good citizen, he resolved to let the
proud official know of the scene witnessed by his friend the preceding
night; and he had hopes, by so doing, either to confirm or allay his
suspicions of the nature of Bruin’s communication with the _Juez de
Paz_. He therefore answered with a bold front--

“I thank the Senor _Juez de Paz_ for his counsel, and I beg to inform
him, that the officers of the police could scarcely be better, and have
been much worse employed than in affording protection to those who
demanded it on a night like the last.”

The official started up--his eye sparkling, his face suffused with
passion. Before he could speak, Mr Thorne pursued--

“Sir, as a respectable citizen of this city, as an accredited consular
agent to this government, I think it my duty to report to you, as one of
its chief magistrates, that last night a man was found murdered on the
pavement in front of Luis Mendoza’s house, and two men standing close
beside him; and these men, Signor _Juez de Paz_, were dressed the same
as those who brought us here last night. Probably, Signor Le Brun, this
may be the same information you were conveying to his honour.”

Signor Le Brun with great energy protested that it was the first he had
heard of the affair.

By this time the _juez de paz_ had recovered his command of temper. He
was, in fact, somewhat cowed by the bold and manly bearing of Thorne,
who, as an Englishman, and in a kind of official capacity, was, in some
respects, beyond his jurisdiction. Moreover, he was aware that Thorne
had, in one instance, for some petty grievance, demanded and obtained
redress from the “Illustrious Restorer of Laws” in person; and thus,
though he felt indignant at being bearded in his own hall--I had almost
said _hell_; he rather considered Thorne as a person whose officious
information was to be got rid of than as a culprit to be bullied. He
therefore contented himself by saying, “Don Thomas, this is not an
affair that comes under my cognisance, or yours; and let me assure you,
the less you trouble yourself with the affairs of others the better.”

“But, sir, with respect to the man on the pavement,” commenced Griffin.

“Officers, take the fool away!” roared the magistrate, with his hand on
the bell.

But the worthy Radamanthus and his myrmidons were saved the trouble; for
Tom Thorne, with a bow to the exasperated official, and a kind of
dubious glance at Le Brun, hurried Griffin out of the Sala of Justice
without any extraneous assistance.

“By the powers of Moll Kelly and the bean-stalk of Jack the
Giant-Killer!” said Griffin, when once they were out of sight and
hearing, “but that justice cares no more about the finding of dead men
in the street than I would care when I am hungry for a chop from the
Brother of the Sun and Moon interdicting pork.”

“Why, of course, he knew all about it before,” said Thorne.

“Then, I should think, you might as well have kept the information to
yourself.”

“No,” said Tom; “I thought there could be no harm in letting them see
that there might be some suspicions of who did it, if any thing out of
the way did happen to old Mendoza.”

“If you have a twinkling of suspicion that that square-shaved sinner in
the corner is in your way at all, I’ll let day-light shine through him
in the presence of his friends before you call say hair-trigger.”

“Griffin, dine with me to-day, will you, and we will have a scamper into
the Camp after.”

“I shall be delighted,” said Griffin.

“_Hasta luego_, then--at three precisely,” and each took a different
route.

“He is a jolly, frank fellow that,” said Thorne to himself. “I wonder
what he is!”

“That’s the very man I wanted,” said Griffin. “Faith, I may know every
body I care about now, and dine every day of the week for nothing.”

Griffin was one of those genteel adventurers that you find in every
large community hanging on to the outskirts of society, who come from
nobody knows where, and live nobody knows how; who have no profession
except that of an idler, and no occupation except paying off their
debts with promises; they never lose a bet; they often, very often, lose
one game of billiards or ecarte, but never a rub; they never _can_
remember to carry small change in their pockets; and they never _do_
forget an invitation to dinner. They probably answer some good purpose
in society--perhaps, that of teaching flats the sweet lessons of
experience, and preparing them for the wiles and stratagems of the
world: be this as it may, they fulfil, at least, one maxim of the word
of Wisdom, for they neither toil nor spin; and they steadfastly practise
the principle, that sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.


CHAPTER IV.

A scamper into the Camp of Buenos Ayres is one of the greatest treats
that the citizens of that town can enjoy. True, there is nothing to
interest you in the scenery, nothing to admire in the goodness of the
roads, and nothing to guide you in your journey but trees; still there
is an indefinable charm in galloping with a good horse and a lively
companion over the boundless green plain. With “the blue above” and “the
green below” you rove free and unconfined--the fresh balmy air
revivifying the blood which the rapid and easy motion sends thrilling
through the whole frame. You feel etherialized. Without bounds to your
progress or your prospects, away you go. No trace of art here to mar the
simplicity of nature. The Arabs never were and never will be slaves, and
now you are the Arabs of the plains--hurrah! hurrah!

Tom Thorne and Richard Griffin appeared to consider themselves as Arabs
of the plain, calculating from the rapidity with which they were
scampering over the ground, clearing their way through herds of oxen,
sheep, and horses, with long whips and loud huzzas.

“Where, in the name of Nimrod, are we tearing to, Thorne?” said Griffin
after a pause. “Sure we are out-stripping the wind; for a moment ago it
was in our face, and now it is on our back.”

“We are going to Mendoza’s country-house,” said Thorne, “to have some
bantering with the ladies after our canter, and to let that awkward
scrape of last night blow over, and be laughed at before I go back.--You
have never been in the Camp before?” inquired Thorne.

“Never.”

“Then you have a great pleasure before you. A few days in the Camp
refreshes one like a month’s sea-bathing. The air is so fresh, and every
thing wears such a simple holiday aspect that it almost makes you forget
that you are a sinner, and throw off bad habits, rise with the lark,
drink milk, marry a wife, and become a patriarch.”

“Well done, Thorne! and so it may yet.”

“Then, you can ride and dance without getting weary, drink without
getting seedy, and eat innumerable beef-steaks for breakfast without
mustard; nay, you can even relish water without brandy, and sleep
without cigars.”

“Love and beef, Thorne, _versus_ cigars and brandy. You alternate
between town and country till you resemble a rich rowley-powley pudding,
solids and sweets, revolving round and round each other, making a most
delicious _tout-en-semble_.”

While our friends thus talk and canter to the place of their
destination, let us take the liberty of introducing ourselves.

The house of Louis Mendoza was situated on a rising ground on the banks
of the “River,” of which it commanded a beautiful prospect. There was a
large garden attached to it, adorned with all the flowers which the
country produced, most of them at that season in the full bloom and
vigour of spring. Fruit-trees, both of the northern and southern
hemisphere, from the tropic and temperate zones, diffused sweet perfumes
from their blossoms; and vines, peaches, and orange trees were already
decked with the budding promises of a rich harvest. Summer-houses were
there, woven into shape with creepers and ever-greens. Birds of the
tropics, in large aviaries, nearly invisible from being formed of
green-painted wire, lent the splendour of their plumage to enrich a
scene which the songsters of the air delighted to enliven with their
music.

Beware of that garden, Tom Thorne, in the evenings when your heart is
soft. Ride not with the ladies over that velvet lawn when the flush of
the morning’s sun is reflected from their lovely faces, Tom Thorne. You
are lost to the bachelor world for ever, Tom, if you be seduced to
wander through these lovely woods with the ringlets of Anita Mendoza
playing round your manly shoulder; and as for the summer-houses, if ever
you enter them let it be with a book or a cigar only; mind that, Tom,
mind that. Anita Mendoza might be sixteen or seventeen, Mariquita
eighteen or nineteen; both were beautiful, and possessed of all the
graces and accomplishments of the country. The contour of the features,
of Mariquita might be more regularly beautiful than that of Anita. She
was more of a _blonde_, too; her eye was beautiful and bright, her
figure graceful and elegant, but still it would strike you that you had
seen others as fair and graceful. She was a beauty; of that there was no
doubt, but a beauty too much resembling the style of her sister, to bear
a favourable contrast with her, and yet not sufficiently distinct to
establish a separate and independent claim. But how shall we describe
Anita Mendoza? She was the mistress of grace and elegance, for they
followed her every step and attended her every movement; you were a
slave at her mercy the moment you saw that dark black liquid eye,
whether it beamed in kindness, flashed in raillery, melted in sympathy,
or sparkled with delight from under its long dark dangerous eyelashes.
To be in the presence of Anita Mendoza was to be in an enchanted circle.
When that eye was upon you, your own identity was lost; your soul was
lit up by the beams that flashed from that magic eye, and rays of love
or envy, mirth or folly, were reflected back to the source from which
they sprang. Let none despise the theory of animal magnetism; beside
Anita Mendoza, your heart throbbed, your pulse played, and your soul
thought in unison with hers. Such were your feelings when under the
influence of the syren, but only then; for well you knew that that eye
flashed or melted, and that smile played and that lip pouted, as
brightly and pertly, for others, one and all, as for your own dear
envious self. Beside her, she was your queen and empress; away, she was
a little minx, a sweet little flirt. To sum up, in dancing she was a
fairy, in singing a cherub, and far or near an enchanting, bewitching
creature.

Luis Mendoza, the father of these ladies, was a rare old Spaniard. He
had travelled a good deal in Europe, especially in England, where he had
acquired not only some knowledge of the language but also a predilection
for its convivial habits; and brandy and water had more charms for him
in a cool evening, than _matte_ or _eau sucrée_. He had early lost his
helpmate, and, freed from this check on his convivial habits, it
required little encouragement on his part to keep his house constantly
full of _bon vivants_ to assist him at the duties of the table, and
gallants to amuse his daughters in the sala; and more of his gallants
and _bon vivants_ were to be found among the Anglo-Saxons than among the
natives. Thus were Mariquita and Anita Mendoza accustomed from their
earliest years to the language of adulation; and from having the duties
of a household thus early thrust upon each, there was less of maidenly
reserve, a little more of maidenly coquetry, with a dash more of
masculine character, than in other circumstances would have been
becoming at such tender years.

These ladies were seated alone in an elegantly fitted up sala, the elder
busy with her needle at some fancy work, and the other idly and
listlessly hurrying her soft white little dimpled fingers over the keys
of a rich-toned piano--to a well-known air in South America, the words
of which imply that the singer never, never, never will get married--

    “No no no no quiero,
    No quiero casarme
    Es mejor, es mejor,
    Ser soltéra
    Siempre paseandera
    Del mundo
    Del mundo gozar.
    Amantes amantes
    Constantes se encuentran
    Muy pocos al dia
    Con cara tan fresca
    Como una violéta
    Y con ojos tan
    Brillantes a mi gusto.

“Well, Mariquita,” said the young lady, throwing aside the music, “I
admire the patience you can bestow upon that endless sampler, when you
must feel as tired and exhausted as I am.”

“Of course, Anita, after that ball, sampler work is rather tame and
tedious; but what shall we do?”

“I am afraid we shall have nobody out here to-day,” said Anita, with a
kind of suppressed yawn.

“I see how it is, Anita; you are wearying already for even a languid
compliment to those flashing eyes of yours.”

“Depend upon it, Mariquita, that my eyes could stand no comparison to
your lips with any man of taste.”

“How did you relish Bruin’s hugs last night?” retorted the elder.

“Oh, the dear Bruin! I could not forbear hugging him now in return, were
he here to enliven us. And _gracias a Dios_, here he is!”

Scarcely were the words uttered, when the portly person and beaming face
of Tom Thorne stood before them.

“Welcome, welcome! Mr Thorne,” said Mariquita. “Anita has just been
stating that Mr Bruin’s attentions last night were so very pressing that
she considers herself indebted to him a hug in return.”

“Miss Anita shall find Mr Bruin a very pressing creditor for the
liquidation of that debt,” said our hero, advancing towards her; and in
the full playfulness of their character, both girls seized the gratified
bachelor by the hands as if he had been an overgrown playmate. At this
moment Mr Griffin presented himself, and the ladies hastily, but without
agitation, assumed the attitude of polite and attentive hostesses.

“Permit me, ladies,” said Thorne, “to introduce my friend Mr Griffin,
who I have no doubt regrets not being yet entitled to the warm and frank
reception extended to old friends in the _Camp_ of Buenos Ayres.”

“We are happy to see you in the _Camp_, Mr Griffin,” replied the elder
sister with great courtesy. “We have been longing for some company all
day, and consider ourselves very fortunate in being favoured with a
visit from Mr Thorne, and any friend of his.”

“I consider myself fortunate in being introduced to you by Mr Thorne at
a time when our company promises to be agreeable to you.”

“I hope you are accustomed to our long, and rather fatiguing rides in
the Camp.”

“I assure you, I am amply repaid already, miss, for the fatigue we have
undergone, by the beauty and richness of every thing I see near and
around me,” said Griffin giving a kind of circuitous bow.

“As you are accustomed to the beauty and freshness of the scenery,” said
Mariquita with an arch smile, “may I offer you a glass of your favourite
champagne, Mr Thorne?”

“You are very kind, Señorita, to be so attentive to my favourite tastes.
A glass of champagne will be very refreshing after the ride.”

“Or shall it be your favourite brandy and water?” edged in the little
wicked Anita, with a twinkle in the eye which took away every vestige of
satire that the question might otherwise have implied when addressed to
our hero.

“The brandy and water will be fully as good, Miss Anita,” replied Tom,
“if you would brisk it up with a few sparkles from these eyes of yours.”

“A truce to such bubbles of fancy,” said Mariquita. “Which shall it be,
gentlemen?”

“Mr Thorne or I could be happy with either,” said Griffin; “but pray let
it be champagne, and then we may hope that you will partake.”

“Bravo, bravo, Griffin! champagne be it.”

“Pray, ladies, is not the ‘Patron’ here?”

“Oh yes!” replied Anita, “but he is not likely to be back till late; he
is taking a ride over the chacra with Señor Le Brun.”

An involuntary start escaped Thorne at the mention of that name.

“What ails you, Mr Thorne?” cried Anita.

“Nothing, Anita--nothing. Why, I have had the pleasure of meeting him
this morning already. But I see we have interrupted your amusements at
the piano, which I trust will be renewed after our refreshment.”

That start was not lost upon Anita, though she affected not to notice
it.

Refreshments, music, and gay conversation passed off the time most
pleasantly, until the arrival of Luis Mendoza and his companion.

And now let us leave the merry party to enjoy themselves, and sally out
to introduce ourselves to the old gentleman and his companion.

Felipe Le Brun was a Creole, of about six or eight-and-twenty: his
father a Jerseyman, his mother a native of Buenos Ayres. He was what may
be called a respectable merchant broker, who bought and sold for others
as well as for himself. His knowledge of most European languages, his
activity, intelligence, and business habits were great advantages to him
as a broker, and as such he was extensively employed. Luis Mendoza was
in every respect a different character from Le Brun: the one social to a
fault, the other temperate to a degree. Frankness, honesty, stout
good-heartedness, and aversion to business, were the characteristics of
Mendoza. Le Brun was one of the new-school men of business--sharp,
acute, and active. Mendoza was an extensive landed proprietor, and Le
Brun was the agent through whom all his sales of produce were effected.
It was under Le Brun’s guidance that Mendoza entered into those
investments in which he delighted to believe that he was growing rich;
and so he was, too, as long as Le Brun’s speculations were successful
also. A more acute and careful man of business might perhaps have had
some doubts as to whether or not Le Brun was not trading on Mendoza’s
capital. This, however, was enough to satisfy the old gentleman, that,
whenever his accounts were presented to him, they were always very
flattering, especially in the perspective, and that when he wanted
money, he could have it to any amount from Le Brun, who was thus in a
manner both his agent and his banker: and why should he not be? since it
was all but arranged that he should be his son-in-law. Le Brun had long
paid court to Anita Mendoza; and a more accomplished suitor there was
not to be found within the range of the city. Polite, attentive, and
gallant--scrupulously neat in attire--a perfect master of all the
_petits soins_ of the drawing-room--and expert in all elegant triflings
permissible in the _laisser aller_ of the _sala_, Don Felipe Le Brun
would have been a formidable rival against any worshipper of kid or _eau
de Cologne_, that ever smirked and simpered over a Brussels carpet, and
whose accomplishments were confined to carving a merry-thought, sighing
on a flute, or tenderly composing a sonnet to the shadow or the shoe-tie
of his lady-love. Add to all these accomplishments the recommendation of
a father,[10] and none need be surprised that he was a favoured suitor
of Anita Mendoza.

Such was Don Felipe Le Brun. We have given every characteristic except
that of honesty of principle; and yet there could not have been more
upright, honourable principles than those with which Le Brun first
commenced and flourished in business. He had every requisite, and all
the knowledge necessary for business on the largest and most extensive
scale, and every accomplishment that could adorn the active, and solace
the retired life of a gentleman. And in such uprightness of conduct Le
Brun might, and most probably would, have continued under any ordinary
circumstances. But, alas! his very accomplishments proved his ruin. He
lived under one of the most suspicious, inquisitive, corrupt, and
tyrannical governments that ever existed. The suspicious tyranny of
Buenos Ayres extended even into the private and domestic relationship of
life; and to effect this, spies of every grade and quality were
employed. Now Le Brun, being of foreign extraction, and yet a native
born and bred, moving in good society, being a respectable merchant, and
in a line of business that brought him in daily contact with every
moneyed man in the city, and even made him more or less acquainted with
their means, resources, and transactions, was in every way suited to be
an admirable agent of Rosas; and it was determined that he should be so,
cost what it might in time, money, and political influence. And well the
secret agents of Rosas knew how to lure the ambitious, tempt the
effeminate, force the timid, bribe the sordid, and flatter the vain.

Slow and insidious were the approaches made to undermine the honour of
Le Brun. No difficulty was ever experienced by him in shipping gold or
silver without permits. A passport for a friend in trouble was always at
his command; his goods were the first to pass through the custom-house,
and the first intelligence that could affect paper currency and exchange
was always communicated to Le Brun. Such were some of the substantial
proofs of favour, and still more numerous were the polite attentions
showered on the intended agent of tyranny.

Now, when an individual finds himself thus highly favoured, without any
exertion used, or any return required on his part, he becomes naturally
disinclined to believe any reports to the prejudice of those who treat
him so well; and disposed to attribute the blame more to the complainant
than the party complained of; or, wrapping himself up in his own
selfishness and self-security, to go upon the maxim of “praising the
ford as he finds it.” So it was with Le Brun: from being a passive
supporter of Rosas, he was led on to be his justifier. He had so often
been indebted to the good services of government officials, that he
considered himself indebted to them _personally_, and then
politically--and then--_facilis descensus_--poor Le Brun!

Luis Mendoza had long been an object of avaricious suspicion to the
government. He was rich, fond of foreigners--intelligent. All these were
crimes; and it was known that he held correspondence with the friends of
the enemy, if not with Rivera himself. Be this as it may, he was no
partisan of the government; and the maxim of Rosas is, “those that are
not for me are against me.” Mendoza was a marked man, and Le Brun was
set to mark him; and, observe this, others marked Le Brun. Oh, how he
now loathed his position! the suitor of his intended victim’s
daughter--the friend, the private friend, of the very man whose every
motion he was to watch and _report_--to betray the friend who reposed in
him implicit trust. Can the ingenuity of tyranny go further than this?
Le Brun knew well that Mendoza had held correspondence with the
Unitarian party, who were opposed to Rosas, but this he never reported.
He knew well that Mendoza hated the tyranny and policy of the Federals,
and that the Unitarians expected to find in him a rich and influential
supporter, if ever their party predominated; and this he did report,
because he knew full well the government were aware of it. Thus did Le
Brun seek a middle course, until he almost began to fancy that he was
suspected himself; and thus, thoroughly disgusted with his position, he
determined at last to free himself from his ignominious espionage, give
Mendoza warning of his perilous situation, and, when every thing was
arranged for his escape from the country, he would then take the credit
for giving information, when it would be too late. Thus he would gain
time to arrange his own complicated affairs, seek out Mendoza in his
exile, and fulfil his dearest hopes by marrying Anita Mendoza.

Such was the scheme which Le Brun had formed to extricate himself from
the troubled waters in which he perceived himself beginning to founder;
and in this scheme he would no doubt have succeeded, had not the
accidental incarceration of our honest friend Tom Thorne, and the bold
freedom of his speech before the magistrate, forced him to commence his
scheme at once and prematurely, if he wished to avoid the suspicion of
friends whom he wished to save, or employers whom he wished to deceive.
And with this view, the moment he was free from the presence of the
_juez de paz_, he flew to the _chacra_ of Mendoza.

“And how came you to know of the body that was found opposite my door?”
said Mendoza to Le Brun, as they were riding together.

“Why, sir, Mr Thorne with a friend encountered it on coming from a party
in the evening. They encountered some of--of the ‘_Masorcheros_,’” said
Le Brun, (looking all round him, and whispering the phrase;) “and taking
fright, I suppose, they requested to be taken to the police office for
security; and before the magistrate he told what he had seen.”

“And how happened you to be there?” urged Mendoza.

“Sir,” replied the other, mingling truth and falsehood with great tact,
“I had heard, nay knew, that the government were suspicious of you: the
number of massacres the preceding night alarmed me for your safety.
Making an excuse of a criminal complaint against a servant, I repaired
to the _juez de paz_, to find out, if possible, upon what grounds their
suspicious were founded. Thus we were engaged when Thorne entered.
Whether he heard your name mentioned I know not, but Mr Thorne, sir, is
suspicious of me. Yes, sir, I verily believe that Mr Thorne, in his
jealousy--yes, it must be jealousy of my favour in the eyes of your
daughter, that makes Thorne suspect me. Good God! Mendoza, to what have
I fallen when I should be suspected by an idle, champagne-swilling
babbler, of betraying the man to whom I am so much indebted, who, I may
say, has made me what I am, and who has it in his power to make me happy
or miserable for life. Oh, sir, sir! what a wretched country this is,
when one learns to distrust even their best friends.”

“Come, come, Le Brun, not so bad as that yet. But, Don Felipe, have I
not often told you that you were in too high favour with these
hypocritical cut-throat miscreants in office?”

“And if I have found favour, which I never sought for, have not you
reaped the benefit more than me? What have I to fear from them? I, who
am supposed to be of their party, rat them! Should _your_ skins have
passed the custom-house? Could Mendoza’s gold in Mendoza’s name have
been shipped to invest abroad? Could Mendoza, the Unitarian, have
procured passports for the Unitarian brothers or _compadres_? And now,
sir, at this very moment I am seeking to do for you what you have often
asked me to do for others. That remark of yours, Mendoza, has nearly
driven me distracted.”

“Don Felipe, forgive me! we are too much bound up together for me to
suspect you now. Have you not the promise of my daughter’s hand? have
you not the command of all my means? I believe, I know that I am an
object of suspicion. I know that, at the present time, the miscreants
stand at no obstacles; that my money would be instruments to strengthen
their hands. I know you have saved my friends, and I believe you are
anxious to save me. Forgive me for expressing my sentiments of horror
against those who render it necessary that honest men and quiet citizens
should seek of security at the hands of others.”

“Ay, sir, and these others not only thereby risk their own safety, but
may be branded as traitors for so doing.”

“So, Don Felipe, you think that body on my pavement was a warning for
me?”

“No, Don Luis, it was not intended as a warning for you, but you are
intended for the same fate.”

“You can have no proof of that, Don Felipe.”

“No, Don Luis, I have no _proof_ of that; but those who ordered such
deeds only to inspire terror, will not scruple at higher victims for
greater advantages. Thorne’s bold accusation, I may call it of
indifference or neglect on the part of the magistrate, and the way your
name was alluded to, will protect you from open attack. The prison will
be your first doom--I shudder to think of what may follow. Thorne is a
brave fellow, but he was mad to brave them as he did. There is not a
_Masorchero_ in the city who does not thirst for his blood. Thorne knows
this and defies them. I hate him for his suspicions, but yet, Mendoza, I
admire him--with a hundred men like him, this city would not now be a
nest of cut-throats. Yes,” continued Le Brun, who felt pungently the
whole truth of what he said, “their spies would be ashamed to show their
degraded heads, Masorcheros afraid, ay, afraid to execute the hated
commissions intrusted to them, and an end put to the whole brutal
cowardly system, which none can more detest and deplore than I do. But
to business. To-morrow morning you must come to town; to avoid
suspicion, let there be a small party at the house in the evening. I
return to town to-night I shall busy myself to-night and to-morrow in
having every penny of your capital and debts secured, transferred, or in
some way rendered intangible to your persecutors, and recoverable in
better times to yourself. Stop, stop--don’t interrupt me. As soon as
possible I will arrange my own affairs, and then, my dear sir, I shall
bid adieu to this city, which is now doomed, and join you in your exile,
there to claim the reward of all my exertions in the hand of Anita.
Shall it not be so?--yes or no!--time is precious, time flies?”

“It shall, Le Brun--my hand upon it. Arrange my affairs as best you may,
I rely upon you for every thing.”

“Now, then, let us proceed to the house, and talk slowly over the
details.”

The gay inmates of the house were disturbed in the midst of their mirth
and music by the entrance of a servant, announcing that her father
desired to speak to Señorita Anita.

“Daughter,” said Luis Mendoza, as she entered his presence with a
smiling face, and a courteous bow to Le Brun; “my dearest daughter, I am
sorry to be the bearer of intelligence which will throw a shade of gloom
over your happy face. Are you prepared to hear of sad truths and dismal
forebodings?”

“Yes, dearest father, I am prepared. We are now surrounded by our best
friends, keep me no longer in dark suspense--I am prepared to hear every
misfortune which I may share with you.”

“The cloud of misfortune,” interrupted Le Brun, “now hovering over our
heads, Anita, will, I predict, only prove a summer thunder-storm, which
may sweep every thing exposed and unprotected before it, during its
first burst, but pass harmless by those who have watched its coming and
prepared for its approach.”

“Daughter--I have long been suspected by the government of disaffection
to their cause; they are now hard pressed, and no means which terror,
tyranny, avarice, or suspicion can suggest, are left untried to support
their failing cause, and crush that of their rivals; and now they seek
my life and fortune.”

“Merciful heaven! And what harm, have you done the government, that they
should single you out for a victim?”

“The question,” said Le Brun, “is not what harm your father has done; he
is guiltless of any active opposition to the government, but much may be
effected for their cause by confiscation of his property, much terror
may be struck into dubious adherents by--by disposing of his person.
Dearest Anita, I do not wish to terrify you unnecessarily. Pray lean on
your father’s arm, love; you look pale and exhausted.”

“Alas! alas! this old arm, Anita, will soon be no longer able to shelter
and support the dear girls who now cling to it for protection. Midnight
assassins prowl round the city for victims. Emboldened by impunity,
higher prey will be fixed upon, and then--”

“No, no, father, you shall never suffer. I will seek the tyrant’s den
myself, throw myself on my knees before him, and implore him by his
hopes of salvation, by the memory of the departed wife of his bosom. I
will take his own daughter with me, to join our united prayers for mercy
on the innocent head of a gray-haired father. We will give him your
money, father, let him have your lands, and houses; we, have many
friends in other parts, we will rid him of our presence; Mariquita, you,
and I, father, will seek some other country, and save him from the crime
of dishonouring gray hairs. No, father, he shall not, dare not touch
you.”

“My noble girl,” said Le Brun, with a feeling of self-reproach at an
instance of energy and decision so superior to his own, “I admire your
heroic resolution; I pay honour to the purity and elevation of your
sentiment; but let me, who unfortunately know too much of their villany,
assure you that the tears and prayers of youth, innocence, and beauty,
would draw down the scoffs of a brutal soldiery, and would have no
other effect on their master than to set his quick wits at work how to
deceive you, and hold you forth as a bait, yes, as a bribe, to reward
the treachery of a foe, or retain the services of an ally.”

“Alas! that is too true, my dearest child--let me perish sooner than
risk the honour of my children. Felipe Le Brun, Anita, is I believe the
only man who can save us. He has influence with the government, all my
floating capital is in his hands: I have long known, and placed
confidence in him: it is he who has informed us of our present danger,
and is prepared to assist us out of it. He has long loved you, Anita,
and I believe he is not indifferent to you. I have this day promised him
your hand in marriage, and given him the right as my intended
son-in-law, and the heir of half my fortune, to secure what of my
property he can on such short notice. Have I not done right, my love?”

“Stop, father! stop!” cried Anita, labouring under the utmost agitation,
“we have other friends as well as Señor Le Brun, and God knows we will
need them all. What if the man who disregards the petitions of innocence
for mercy, and despises the rights of property and laws of justice, with
respect to the old and harmless, should as suddenly turn round on the
young and active, should he become afraid of its power, or jealous of
its exercise? Mr Thorne, who is bold, generous, and a foreigner, is here
in the next room, let us ask his advice and assistance. What say you,
Señor Le Brun?”

“Certainly, let Mr Thorne be called in for advice, if Señor Mendoza has
no objections.”

“I do object, my dear child. Mr Thorne has been the cause--unwittingly,
I allow, but still he has been the cause--of hurrying on our fate. He
has already,” said the old man, echoing the sentiments of Le Brun,
“rendered himself obnoxious to the whole body of Masorcheros. None, my
dear child, can save our property if it be not Le Brun: if the
government be resolved to push things to extremities, Le Brun is the man
whom I would trust.”

“Anita,” said Le Brun, earnestly laying her hand in his, “cheer up, my
brave girl--better days await us all yet. I flatter myself that I have
influence with the government--how acquired it boots not now to state:
that influence shall be exerted to the utmost to secure you father’s
interests and safety. This is a strange time, Anita, to talk of love;
often--often have I longed for a more favourable opportunity. I seek not
to urge my suit by my power to save your father’s life--I protest
against thus bargaining for your priceless affections. I am struggling
to merit your love, not to buy it. When your father’s life and property
are secured, I shall be in misery till I join you in your exile, and lay
my fate and fortune at your feet. Say, dearest, shall we then forget all
our past misfortunes, and seek for future happiness in the society of
each other?”

“Say yes, my child--give him your promise.”

“When my father’s life is saved by YOU, I will,” and she sunk exhausted
in her father’s arms.

“Adieu, then, dearest. Adieu, Mendoza, for the present--_hasta manana_.
I now hurry to town to arrange your affairs as I best may.” And Don
Felipe Le Brun withdrew, a happier man than he had long been, ay and a
better.

It may well be conceived that the evening, which on this occasion might
have passed off in a lively manner, was dull in the extreme. Every one
felt embarrassed: they soon retired, and next morning they all found
their way back to the city.


CHAPTER V.

On the evening succeeding to the day at the _chacra_, a small evening
party--or tertulia, as it is called--was held at the town residence of
Luis Mendoza. Our friends Thorne and Griffin were there, two midshipmen
belonging to an English man-of-war lying in the roads, with such a
sprinkling of young ladies and gentlemen as could be called on such a
short notice. Mendoza and Le Brun were closeted hard at work by
themselves in an adjoining room. The daughters of the former strove to
keep up an appearance of gaiety which they could not feel; even Thorne
himself was more silent than was his wont, and it seemed as if the
gloomy prospect of the times had its effect in diffusing a shade of
sadness over the countenances of those who had met to be gay.

The midshipmen were the only parties who appeared really to enjoy
themselves. They feared their first-lieutenant more than Rosas, and him
they had left on board: they had come on shore in quest of amusement,
and like birds free from the cage, they fluttered about in the full
hey-day of enjoyment. Happy themselves, they conceived all around them
to be the same, and at last diffused a little of their light-heartedness
to others.

“Come, Mr Thorne, we have had plenty of singing and music,” said Anita
Mendoza, forcing herself to exertion: “I make you the ‘bastonero.’ What
say you to dancing now?”

“A fair challenge! Gentlemen, choose your partners for a quadrille. Miss
Anita, will you favour me with your hand. Gentlemen, please hand round
refreshments to the ladies to give them a little life before we begin.
Griffin, the pleasure of a glass of champagne with you. Here, my young
captains, you come and wet your mustaches. _Vive la bagatelle._ Now,
then, gentlemen.” Thus rattled on Tom Thorne, seeking to rouse up the
flagging spirits of the company; but he himself had seldom been in worse
spirits--he scarce knew how.

“I have strange forebodings this night,” said Mr Thorne to Anita
Mendoza, as he stood beside her during an interval in the dance. “I see
both you and your sisters are dull, too; your father and Le Brun are as
busy as if this were to be the last night of their existence. Anita, I
suspect that man--I wish to God your father would trust some
foreigner--one native is not better than another, that is, not more
secure.”

“_Por dios_, tell me, Mr Thorne, what do you suspect in Mr Le Brun? Tell
me at once; tell me without reserve--it may not be too late yet?”

“I suspect him of being more intimate with the authorities than an
honest man can be.”

“He allows he has influence with them, Mr Thorne; my father has the
utmost confidence in him--their interests are bound up together; may he
not honestly exert what influence he has for my father’s safety?”

“How can he have influence with them except he lends himself to their
schemes and plots? Even were he honest in his intentions to secure
Mendoza’s interests--and God forbid that he be not!--who can say that
his influence will outweigh the value of Mendoza’s doubloons and lands?”

“Mr Thorne,” said Anita, during another interval in the dance, “I know
that Señor Le Brun will _now_ use every effort in his power to secure my
father and his interests. Have you--I beg you--I beg you most earnestly
to answer me distinctly and at once, for we have not one moment to
spare--have you any _positive_ knowledge of Le Brun’s acting a
dishonourable part, of his being a spy in fact?”

“I have not.”

“Is he suspected of being so in the town?”

“As far as I know, he is not.”

“What are your reasons for suspecting him in respect to my father?”

“I met him in close and secret communication with the notorious ----.”

“My dear Mr Thorne, excuse me, I have heard all that explained by my
father. His confidence must go further with me than the suspicion of
another, even if that other be----Oh, Mr Thorne, you can scarcely fancy
how much I am relieved, how much I am indebted to you for your
frankness; but I _must_ trust Le Brun. And now, as the dance is
finished--which, by the way,” said she with a smile, “you appear to have
forgotten--I shall feel obliged to you for a glass of wine, for indeed I
feel very faint.”

In spite of every exertion of our hero, the small party went off very
stiffly, and at an early hour the whole company had disappeared except
the two midshipmen, Thorne, and Griffin; when Mendoza and Le Brun
entered the _sala_ with the air of men who had just escaped from a long,
troublesome, and anxious job, and who rub their hands with delight at
having finished it.

“Come, Le Brun,” said Mendoza, “after our long _sederunt_, let us have a
glass of the best the girls can give us. Ha! Thorne, how are you?
wherever you are there is sure to be champagne--so champagne be it.” But
Le Brun declined, and bidding an affectionate adieu to the ladies, and
making a formal bow to Thorne, he withdrew.

“Hang me if I like that man!” said Thorne.

“I never knew a man who flinched from his liquor stand by his friend;
and I shall make a point of telling him so,” said Griffin, following up
Thomas’s resentment.

“That may be the case in Ireland, friend, but cannot apply here,” said
Mendoza. “But come, we can finish a bottle of champagne without any
assistance. I leave you to-morrow, Thorne,” he said in a whisper: “the
blood-hounds are on the _qui vive_, but you will see me double them.”

Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when a rap was heard at the
door. A servant entered pale and trembling, to inform his master that
two of the “friends of liberty” were at the door, and wished to speak to
the Patron.

Had a thunderbolt fallen at their feet, the whole party could not have
stood more aghast. Of the object of their visit at twelve o’clock at
night, there could be no mistake. The ladies threw themselves upon their
father and wept aloud; protesting with tears and sobs that they should
never tear him from them. “Thorne, Griffin, young gentlemen, you will
defend my father, will you not? They shall tear us in pieces before they
separate us,” sobbed Anita, franticly. The midshipmen, in their
enthusiasm, drew their swords. Thorne produced two small pistols from a
great-coat pocket; but Griffin,--he was the most collected of the whole.

“Be cool, ladies; I will save your father. Thorne, give me your pistols.
Servant, go to the door--say Mr Mendoza will be there in a moment--say
he is putting on his cloak. Now, Mendoza, be a man--no time for acting
the father or crying now. Ladies, one of you get me your father’s cloak
and hat. Now, Mendoza, are you listening to me?”

“I am.”

“Well, then, come to the door with me--ask the gentlemen very politely
what they want; of course they will invite you to accompany them to
prison or somewhere or other--answer without hesitation you will be with
them in one moment. This you will do with your cloak and hat on: give me
then your cloak and hat--bid them advance;--I follow, with your cloak
and hat on, as Don Luis Mendoza, and damn all consequences--pistols
_versus_ knives,--hurrah!”

“But, sir,” commenced Mendoza.

“Not a word, sir, I have no family, and I would die to serve an honest
man or bonny lassie: and, Thorne, you look after the ladies--never mind
me, I have two pistols for their two knives.”

The thing was arranged as quickly as this has been told. And away went
Griffin followed by the “friends of liberty.”

“Now, Mendoza, you must out at once,--it’s all Le Brun’s doings,--cut
for your life,--cut,” said Thorne, “and run for my house. Ladies, this
is no safe place for you--excuse me, will you honour my house. There is
no time for ceremony, rather on with your cloaks. Young gentlemen,
you’re escort--servant, your master’s pistols--Now then, ladies, are you
ready?--Anita, my arm--friend, give Mariquita yours--you for the
look-out, now heave a-head.” “Patricio,” cried Anita, “secure my
father’s papers, and then look out for yourselves.” And the whole house
was clear in less than ten minutes from the first rap at the door.

Mr Thorne and his interesting convoy arrived safe at the Calle Derecho
without any interruption; but great was their dismay as time passed on
and no Mendoza made his appearance. Early next morning Thorne was on
foot to make his inquiries, but not a word could he hear of his
whereabouts. The only consolation he could hold out to his fair and
trembling guests was the probability that he might be concealed in some
friend’s house, or might find his way on board of some vessel. “But
cheer up, ladies, you at least are safe, both from Rosas and Le Brun;
and what a comfort that would be to your old father if he knew it!
Ladies, you are the mistresses of the house. I must send for a female
servant to attend you, and you may send for some lady friend to keep you
in countenance, if you can find one, or think it proper.--You will see
the propriety of not moving out of doors for a few days. The only
restriction I impose upon both of you is, that you never drive me away
from your presence by even whispering a word about thanks. And now,
ladies, excuse me--I am going to sally out on another voyage of
inquiry,” and, before a word could be said in reply, he hurried from the
room.

After running about till he was almost exhausted, Thorne repaired to the
Sala de los Estrangeros residentes, or club-room of resident foreigners,
for a little refreshment; and scarcely had he entered when Le Brun stood
before him, pale, breathless, and wo-begone.

“Le Brun,” cried Thorne, “you are a spy, a traitor;--you are worse than
I even conceived you to be. Leave me--fly this moment, or you meet your
deserts from my hands and in this very place.”

“Thorne,” cried Le Brun with the most abject air, “I am the most
miserable man in existence. I swear to you, by every thing that binds
man to man, I was not the cause of Mendoza’s capture last night;--my
life, sir, is in more peril than his. At this moment the emissaries of
the police are at my heels, and ere sunset, I shall be in prison,--ere
sunrise probably a corpse;--where is Mendoza?”

“He is not in prison?” demanded Thorne.

“No, no--he is not.”

“Then thank God he is in safer hands than yours or _your_ friends,--he
is safe. Confess, Le Brun, that you seek him to save yourself?”

“He is safe, you say;--did you say he was safe?”

“I did,” said Thorne, who had no idea of Mendoza running any risk,
except that of his falling into the hands of Rosas. “But begone, sir. I
see your object;--you would now sell his life to save your own little
miserable existence.”

“Mr Thorne,” said Le Brun, “I am too abject now to resent insults or
injuries. Thanks be to Heaven! Mendoza is now safe;--my course is _now_
clear. I can prove to you now that, however base you may think me, I
have his interest at heart.”

“Yes, after your own weak truckling schemes have failed. Go on, sir.”

“Thorne, my steps were tracked out to Mendoza’s _chacra_; my steps were
watched to Mendoza’s house last night, he was seized, but, Thorne, not
by my information--no, thank God! not by mine. After this confession, I
ask you if I am not more to be pitied than despised. I may be upbraided
as a spy and traitor, but I have always struggled to befriend Mendoza.”

“And why, Le Brun, are you so anxious to know of Mendoza?”

“If I find him not by sunset, I myself suffer the punishment intended
for him.”

“I foresaw that, wretch.”

“Press me not too hard, Thorne; I thank Heaven that I alone shall be the
victim; and yet, how I shudder at the thought, with all my sins upon
me--no, I cannot bear to dream of it. Save me, Thorne!--save me! save
me! I throw myself on my knees before you. I never wronged you--I have
admired your firmness when I have cursed my own weakness. Save me! save
me!”

“Confess, then, did you not mean to sell Mendoza to save yourself?”

“I know not my own motives, Thorne. I am entirely unmanned--ask me not
to what lengths despair might have driven a guilty man. Believe me, I
laboured anxiously and keenly for his safety to the neglect and danger
of my own; for then my thoughts were ennobled by my aspirations for his
daughter. I am too mean and degraded now to dream of matching myself
with such purity; and I have sunk into mean grovelling selfishness.
Thank God! he has escaped. I would not--no, it is impossible I could
have betrayed Mendoza, the father of Anita, to have saved my own
worthless self. The first sight of that old man’s honest self must have
driven such demon thoughts from my mind. I sought Mendoza, Thorne, to
give him these papers. Nay, do not frown so upon me: they are papers
signed by himself last night disposing of the half of his property to me
in the anticipation of my being his son-in-law; if he escapes his
property may be disembargoed--mine never can be. Some papers of my own
are there too; some of these claims of mine, Thorne, will be
recoverable. I have not a relative in the world; pray give them
when--oh, I shudder to think of it--give them to the family of Mendoza,
give them to Anita.”

“Silence, wretched pettifogger! think not that Anita Mendoza can ever
stoop to accept the wages of treachery. I may, I will try to save your
own mean life. Sit down there, take advantage of the short time yet
spared you to arrange your affairs. I am off to see what may be done to
save you from Rosas, whom I despise more than I pity you!” and he rushed
out of the room before the trembling Le Brun could thank him for his
offered assistance.

Thorne was the creature of impulse. Possessed of a generous heart and
warm temperament, he often conferred favours at the same time that he
showered reproaches. He had known Le Brun as a respected and honoured
member of society: he had never liked him--he was too prim, sober, and
methodical, for his errant and jovial disposition. Le Brun’s steady,
plodding business habits Tom Thorne had sometimes considered a kind of
reproach to his own careless, hap-hazard way of conducting his affairs;
and though he had never made regular approaches to gain the favour of
Anita Mendoza, his vanity was offended to see the advances that the
quiet, easy, insinuating address of Le Brun made, in gaining the
affections of the only woman who ever interested him. For all these
reasons he had ever disliked Le Brun, and now he despised him: but
still, however dangerous it might be, he resolved, if possible, to save
him; and while in this state of mind he fell in with the captain of an
English man-of-war. It was usual for the English and French
vessels-of-war in those dismal times to receive all fugitives who
claimed their protection; and the Frenchmen even went so far as to walk
through the streets in armed bodies, and receive among their number
those whom persecution induced to claim their assistance. Thorne had
little difficulty in persuading the captain to lend his assistance in
carrying off an intended victim. His vessel was to sail that evening;
many of his boats were on shore; and it was arranged that at four
o’clock, when they were ready to start, a number of the seamen should
find their way to the Sala by different routes; and as the Sala was not
far from the beach, they anticipated no difficulty in carrying off Le
Brun.

This being arranged, Thorne hurried to inform and prepare the fugitive.
Le Brun was still there, and another was there also, heaping every term
of opprobrium that could be fancied on that hapless and miserable
individual.

“You scum of the sea, you! Will nothing I can say to you persuade you to
be a gentleman? By the powers of Moll Kelly! I’ll bring in the marker to
dust your hair with chalk powder--the only powder you know any thing
about, you black-faced sheep! Faith! a sheep is innocent, and a ram will
stand to its own defence: so the only resemblance you have to a sheep is
the chance you have of----”

“Hallo there, Griffin!” cried Thorne, “don’t abuse Le Brun now: our
friends with the lanterns are after him, and here we come to the rescue.
Le Brun, there is not one moment to spare. English seamen are now at the
door--they will take you safe to their ship in spite of the friends who
are dodging you outside--and so good-bye. God forgive you!”

“Oh, Thorne, how can I?”

“Come, come, no blarney!” cried Griffin interrupting Le Brun. “By St
Patrick, if he go, I go too--this place has become too hot for
me--Thorne, I did not know the poor devil was in such trouble. There is
my address, Thorne, please forward my luggage. Let us have a bottle of
champagne before we start. I will recommend Le Brun to a warm half-deck
passage to the captain; and when we land, wherever it may be, if he do
not give me satisfaction, by the powers! I’ll take it. What say you,
Thorne?”

“Now, Le Brun, all ready?” demanded Thorne.

“All ready, sir.”

“Here’s to you then, Griffin,” as Le Brun crept cautiously out of the
room. “Spare his life, Griffin--he is not worth the risk of your
exposing yourself for him: spare his life for the sake of the black-eyed
girl; but don’t forget that he spoiled a merry evening for us out at the
_chacra_. By the way, your hurried departure must be rather inconvenient
to you; please take this, (offering him some money)--nay, friend, take
it; your intended caning match may cost you as much for damages. Now
hurry off, for I must not appear in this affair.” And so Le Brun the spy
was hurried down to the beach amid a party of English seamen, to the
great disappointment of two gentlemen with long cloaks, who were waiting
to attend upon him until sunset, and who followed them still, with the
view, probably of seeing him safely embarked, in spite of repeated
adieus bowed to them by our friend Griffin, who begged of them not to
trouble themselves any further.

All hands arrived safely on board; but whether Griffin had to refund any
of Tom Thorne’s money for damages, or whether he pinked his friend, or
was pinked himself, we have never heard.

Return we to Tom Thorne and his fair guests. Their rage at Le Brun’s
treachery was modified by the news that their father had escaped--for
that he was not in prison was an escape; and to all parties it appeared
best, that they should wait in their present quarters until they should
hear from him.

In the mean time, Tom Thorne’s position was a most singular one. A
bachelor, we may say, by profession, he was harbouring two lovely
girls--one of whom had often roused feelings in his breast that he could
not easily account for: he was, moreover, their protector, he had been
partly the cause of their misfortunes; they were, it might be said,
fatherless and portionless; they interested every best feeling of his
heart. Need we work out the progress of results? Tom found more
attractions in their mild, subdued, but lively conversation than in the
loud rolicsome sports in which he had hitherto been a leader; smiles
banished or supplanted cigars, and the sparkle of fair eyes were more
often in Tom’s thoughts than the sparkles of champagne. During this
state of transmutation, Tom received a message that a friend wished to
see him: the messenger was none to be relied on, but he brought a
password--_ipso facto_. Tom went, and it was Mendoza he found. The old
man had concealed himself in the house of a friend, until he thought all
danger past. With prudent care he had concealed his retreat, even from
his best friends; and well it was he had done so, for Thorne’s house was
watched for several days.

“I have heard,” said the old man, “the care you have taken of my
daughters: God reward you for it, I never can.”

“Excuse me, sir, you may,” said Thorne. “Give me the hand of Anita, and
I shall be more than repaid. We will smuggle you off to Rio, or Monte
Video; this storm will blow over--your political back-holdings will soon
be forgotten in the greater criminality of others: your estates will yet
be restored to you; and if they be not, I have sufficient to maintain
you and your family, without even missing the resources of the _chacra_
or mourning over the ruined speculations of Don Felipe Le Brun.”

“Thorne, you are a man after my own heart. I have ever given you credit
for stainless honesty of purpose: if my daughter accepts of you as her
protector you shall have my blessing.”

Mendoza, with his daughters, sought temporary exile, the embargo was
soon taken off their property, and Tom Thorne afterwards sought, in the
sweet smiles and flashing eye of Anita Mendoza, an exchange for the idle
luxuries of cigars and champagne. Let us hope that he found them.

  A. M.



LETTER FROM A RAILWAY WITNESS IN LONDON.


MY DEAR BOGLE,--In the words of the venerable Joe Grimaldi,--“Here I am
again!” swearing away before the committees at no allowance. The trade
is not quite so good a one as it was two years ago, when any intelligent
and thorough-going calculator of traffic commanded his own price, and
therefore invariably stood at an exorbitant premium. Still it would be
very wrong in me to grumble. Though there is a woful defalcation of new
lines, there is still a good deal to be done in the way of Extensions
and Amalgamations; and I am happy to tell you that I am presently in the
pay of no less than three companies, who are driving branch lines
through the pleasure-grounds of different proprietors. I recollect the
day when, in the exuberance of my greenness, I used to feel a sort of
idiotical compassion for the situation of the men of land. I used to
picture to myself the hardship of having your nice green policy cut into
shreds by the forks of some confounded Junction--of seeing your
ancestral trees go down like ninepins, before the axe of a callous
engineer--of having sleep banished from your eyes by the roar of the
engine, which sweeps past night and day, with disgusting punctuality,
within fifty paces of your threshold--and of beholding some fine
forenoon your first-born son conveyed a mangled corpse from the rail,
because the company, out of sheer parsimony, have neglected to fence in
their line, which goes slick through the centre of your garden; and the
poor little innocent, in the absence of Girzy, then flirting among the
gooseberries with the gardener, has been tempted to stray upon the irons
in pursuit of an occasional butterfly! But I am thankful to say that I
have now got rid of all such visionary scruples. Thanks to Sir Robert
Peel, I have learned a new lesson in political economy. I have become a
convert to the doctrine, that land is nothing else than manufactures;
and I snap my fingers in derision at protection in all its shapes. Would
you believe it, Bogle? I was giving evidence yesterday on behalf of the
Clachandean railway--part of which, I am sorry to observe, has sunk into
the centre of a bog--against a thick-headed proprietor, who has
absolutely been insane enough to oppose, for three successive sessions,
a branch line, which is to run through his estate for the purpose of
communicating with some bathing-machines. The property has been in his
family for some four or five hundred years. The mansion-house is an
ordinary kind of tumble-down old affair, with turrets like pepper-boxes
on the corners, and the fragment of an abbey behind it. There is no
timber worth speaking of in the policy, except half-a-dozen great
useless yew-trees, beneath which they show you a carved stone, that
covers the dust of stout old Lord Alexander, whose body was brought home
from the bloody field of Flodden;--and yet this absurd agriculturist has
the coolness to propose to the company that they shall make a deviation
of nearly half-a-mile, for the sake of avoiding this remnant of the
darker ages! Three times, Bogle, has that man come up to London, at a
most enormous expense, for the purpose of defending his property. The
first time he was successful in his opposition before the committee of
the House of Commons, because the chairman happened to be a person
imbued with the same ridiculous prejudices as the proprietor, and was
what these foolish Protectionists call a man of birth and connexion. He
had on his own grounds a mausoleum with some rubbishy remains of his
ancestors, who had been out with Harry Hotspur; and the moment he heard
of the old tomb-stone and the yew-trees, he began to rave about
desecration, and made such a row that the projectors were fain to give
it up. That job cost the Protectionist proprietor at least a cool
thousand; however, he was pleased to say, that he did not mind the
expense, since he had succeeded in saving the mansion of his fathers.
But we did not by any means intend to let him off so easily. My friend
Switches, the engineer, laid out two new branches--if possible more
annoying than the first, for they were to intersect one another at the
yew-trees. We tipped the parliamentary notices; and, though the
venerable Cincinnatus came with tears in his eyes to our directors, and
offered them the land for nothing if they would only consent to a very
slight and practicable deviation, we determined to make him pay for his
whistle. Accordingly, next year we had him up again, all right and
tight, before a fresh committee. Lord! what fun it was to hear him
cross-examined by Sergeant Squashers! That’s the counsel for my
money!--no feeling, or delicacy, or nonsense of that kind about him. I
wish you had seen the rage of the proprietor when he was asked about his
buried ancestor; whether his name was Sawney, or Sandy--and whether he
was embalmed with sulphur! We all roared with laughter. “Don’t attempt
to bully me, sir!” said the Sergeant,--for the red spot began to glow
upon the old man’s cheek, and I believe that at that moment, if he had a
weapon, he could have driven it hilt-deep into the body of the facetious
barrister. “Don’t attempt to bully me, sir! thank Heaven, we are in a
civilised country, where people wear breeches, and live under the
protection of the law. Answer me, sir--and try to do it in something
like intelligible English--was that fellow, Lord Saunders or Sawney, or
whatever you call him, pickled up in brimstone or in pitch?” Squaretoes
could not stand this; so he gathered himself up, I must say rather
grandly--muttered something about scorn, and Squashers being a disgrace
to the gown he wore, and marched out of the committee room amidst the
guffaws of a group of us who were brought up to testify that the house
was falling to pieces, and that no Christian, of ordinary intellect,
would trust his carcass beneath its roof.

That time we had a capital chairman--a regular man of calico, who never
professed to have a grandfather, hated the agriculturists like the
pestilence, and had made a large fortune by the railways. He was
perfectly delighted at the way in which our friend the Sergeant had put
down Sir Pertinax M’Sycophant--a nickname suggested by our solicitor,
and employed in the learned counsel’s reply with very considerable
effect; and as there were two other members of the League on the
committee, we had it all our own way. The preamble was declared to be
proven, and no clauses of compensation were allowed. But, if we were
obstinate in our purpose, so was Pertinax. He fought us in the House of
Lords, and there, to be sure, he got what he termed justice--that is,
our bill was thrown out, and some rather harsh expressions used with
respect to the company’s behaviour. We were ten days before each
committee--for Squashers is rather fond of spinning out a case, and none
of us who are paid for attendance by the day, are in the habit of
objecting to the same--so that Pertinax must have been out of pocket at
least two thousand pounds by this second silly opposition. And
considering that the fortunes of the family are not so flourishing as
they once were, and that the old fellow can barely afford to give his
son a university education, you will admit that this must have been a
tolerable pull at his purse-strings. However we were determined to keep
it up. The wisdom of the legislature in refusing, under any
circumstances whatever, to give costs against the railways, has put it
in the power of a company to drive any individual, by unremitting
perseverance, to the wall. We set Switches to work again, and this time
we propose to metamorphose the mansion into a station-house. I don’t
know how the thing will go. Old Pertinax is fighting like a Trojan; and
I rather fear that he made a little impression on the committee
yesterday, by telling them that he has been obliged to borrow money upon
his estate at a ruinous rate of interest, and to endanger the portions
of his three pretty and motherless daughters solely to defend his
patrimony from the wanton aggressions of the company. But--as Sergeant
Squashers well observed, when he saw a tear stealing down the furrowed
cheek of the Protectionist--this is not the age nor the place for such
imbecile snivelling. We have been taught a new lesson with regard to the
sacredness of rights and of property; and the sooner those antiquated
hereditary notions are kicked out of the minds of the landowners, the
better.

When I said, in the commencement of this letter, that I was swearing
before the committees, I made use of a wrong term. We are not sworn--not
even examined on soul, or on conscience, or on honour; and I must say
that the recollection of that circumstance is sometimes a great comfort
when I lie in bed awake of nights. What is technically termed at
Westminster, engineering evidence, would, I am afraid, were an oath to
be interposed, become very like the thing called perjury; which, not to
mention its effect on a future state of existence, is popularly supposed
in Scotland to bring one under the unpleasant but especial attention of
the High Court of Justiciary. The beauty of the present system is, that
it gives ample scope and rein to the imagination without imposing any
restrictive fetters upon the conscience. It allows a fair latitude for
that difference of opinion which always must prevail amongst
professional gentlemen, and relieves them from whatever qualms they
might otherwise have left in replying without any hesitation--the
leading quality of a witness--to questions upon subjects of which they
are utterly and entirely ignorant. I have found this advantage in my own
case. I am positive that I could not, had I been on oath, have given any
satisfactory evidence as to the amount of the bathing traffic on the
line; though I certainly admit that I have sometimes of a Saturday
afternoon sauntered along the shore with a cigar, to enjoy the _posés
plastiques_ of our northern aquatic Nereids. But as all such formality
was dispensed with, I had no hesitation in stating the numbers of the
amphibious animals, male and female, at eight hundred per hour during
seven months of the year; which, on an average of nine hours a day, and
at the rate of sixpence a head, would increase the income of the company
by about £37,800 per annum. Such was one item of my evidence yesterday,
for the clearness and accuracy of which I was politely complimented by
the chairman. I must say, however, that I think Switches went rather too
far when he valued poor Pertinax’s garden land at less than half-a-crown
per acre. I can make every allowance for enthusiasm; but surely, surely
this was pushing the principle a little to the extreme. One ought always
to preserve, even for the sake of our employers and paymasters, some
little semblance of probability. I do not object to an engineer stating
in evidence that he is ready to tunnel Ben Nevis, throw a suspension
bridge, over the Queensferry, or convert Lochlomond into a green and
fertile meadow. All these--as Switches once observed with consummate
coolness when badgered about the draining of a quicksand--are mere
matters of estimate; but I like facts when we can have them; and had I
been questioned on the subject, I think I should have been inclined to
have allowed an additional shilling for the land.

Between ourselves, Bogle, I begin to suspect that this kind of work is
not altogether conducive to the growth of a healthy state of morality
amongst us, I would not say it in the hearing of our chairman; but I
really do suspect that we have stretched a point or two exorbitantly far
in our attempts to bolster up the bill. I know a lad who was brought up
here, two years ago, to speak to the amount of minerals in a district
which at present shall be nameless. He was then a good green creature,
fresh from the superintendence of his mother, who--poor old body--had
done her best to train him up in the ways of truth, and to instil into
his mind a sound moral and religious principle. And she had so far
succeeded. I do not believe that, at that time, he would have told a lie
or injured a human being for the world; but evil was the day on which
lie was brought up to London in order to testify before a committee. He
was delivered into the hands of a big-boned Aberdonian engineer,
notorious for his pawkiness and the adroit manner in which he always
contrived to evade a direct answer to any hostile question whatever. The
training proceeded, and in less than a month the youth was pronounced to
be tolerably perfect in his paces. But he broke down upon
cross-examination. He could not point out upon the map the locality of
certain coal-fields which he had averred to be in existence; and a rigid
heckling elicited the fact that a seam of black-band, valued at some
annual thousands, was neither more nor less than a dyke of ordinary
whinstone. It was clear that Jock was not yet entirely qualified for his
vocation. He stammered too much--got red in the face when closely
pressed, and was apt to potter with the compasses, instead of boldly
measuring out his quota of imaginary furlongs. So he was remitted to his
studies, and underwent another fortnight’s purification at the Coalhole
and the Cyder cellars. A natural propensity for drink which lurked in
his constitution, was carefully fostered, until his thirst became
absolutely unappeasable. He, was drunk from morning to night, or more
strictly speaking, from night till morning. His face broke out in
blotches; a dark rim gathered beneath his eyes; his nose gave token of
the coming pimple, and his lips were baked and bulging. A more
disgusting object you never saw; and I only hope that when he was sent
down after the session to Scotland, he had the common humanity not to
visit the mother that bore him, for the spectacle would have broken her
heart. Jock, however, had now risen in value, for he was ready to
testify to any thing. To swear that black is white was nothing: he had
no hesitation to depone in favour of the whole colours of the rainbow.
When questioned for his employers, he was as acute and active as an eel;
when under cross, he took refuge either in a stolid dulness of
apprehension, which was extremely aggravating to his inquisitor, or had
recourse to the safe and convenient operation of the _non mi recordo_
system. In short, he was voted the prince of surveyor’s assistants, and
his services were eagerly sought before every species of committee.
Roads, canals, harbours, waterworks, or railways--nothing came amiss to
Jock. Through habit he had become a quick study, and could
satisfactorily master the details of the most intricate case in the
course of a single evening, provided he was liberally, but not too
exorbitantly, supplied with liquor. He is now a blackguard of the first
water. I firmly believe that he has not spoken one word of truth for the
last eighteen months, nor could he do so by any possibility even were
you to pay him for it.

Such is the career of a true child of the railway committee system; nor
can it well be otherwise, so long as witnesses are allowed to depone
without reference to oath, and without the pains of perjury before their
eyes. Don’t think me, my dear Bogle, unnecessarily strict in my
censures. I make no pretence of having a conscience much less elastic
than those of my fellow mortals; but I have a kind of indistinct feeling
that it would be better for all of us if, somehow or another, we could
be brought to speak the truth, or at least to make some sort of
approximation towards it. The very first question which used to be asked
of a witness in a court of law, was the remarkably suggestive one,--“Has
any body paid you any thing, or promised you any thing, for giving your
testimony?” And even yet, when a bribe can be established, it is held to
disqualify, or at least to cast discredit upon a witness. Now, although
I do not like to confess that we are bribed in the strictest acceptation
of the term, we have, all of us, more or less interest in the success of
the companies who are judicious enough to secure our services. The
leading engineer has the prospect of a large and profitable job. The
contractor expects a slice; the surveyor constant employment; and the
capability-man and the calculator of traffic know very well that a
break-down in evidence will effectually debar them from a future visit
to London on the occasion of the next extension, which exclusion is
equivalent to a loss of five guineas a-day with all expenses paid. So
that, on the whole, I think it is abundantly clear, that we are not
altogether patriots of the highest and most exalted breed. Why, then,
should we be exempted from that species of purification to which even
the peerage of the realm are subjected in a court of law? Of this I am
certain, that larger interests are arbitrarily disposed of every session
by committees of the House of Commons, than are painfully and
laboriously adjudicated on, with all the formalities of law, by the
judges of the Court of Session. And if the safeguard of an oath is
deemed indispensable in the one case, I cannot for the life of me
understand on what principle it should entirely be omitted in the other.

But perhaps you think that a good deal may safely be left to the
discretion, discrimination, and prudence of those honourable members who
are virtually the judges between the merits of the invading company and
the rights of the invaded proprietor. You think that exaggerated or
perverted testimony would be of no avail before a tribunal of such
exalted intelligence; and that it would be as impossible to get up a
fictitious case of traffic, as it would be to persuade a Birmingham
trader that a metallic basis to the currency is the foundation of our
national prosperity. Bless you, my dear friend! you know nothing at all
about the matter. You have not the smallest idea of the extent of
swallow of the Sassenach. In nine cases out of ten, they are as ignorant
of the points at issue, as that unclean Whig Mr Gisborne is of the
nation which he had the impudent audacity to revile. I shall put the
case to you in a clear and intelligible point of view. Suppose that a
company were proposing to run a line from Rutherglen across the Clyde,
the Green of Glasgow, and, through the very heart of the city to the
terminus near George Square. You will not deny that there are tolerably
weighty interests involved in such a project as that, and I presume you
would like to have the whole matter thoroughly expounded, before a
locomotive train was permitted to shoot over a skew-bridge in the middle
of the Trongate. Now, apart from evidence, who do you think would be the
best judges of the expediency of such a measure? Are you not of opinion
that the interests of Glasgow would be safer in the hands of the members
for the West of Scotland, who have all some local knowledge of the
place, than if intrusted to the tender mercies of five gentlemen, not
one of whom has ever crossed the Border, and who, during, the whole
period of their sitting, are impressed with a strong idea that
Rutherglen is the same place as Rugby? Would you consider yourself, and
our mutual friends Walter Sheddon, Steenie Provan, Tammy Gilkison, and
Ephraim Cansh, a proper or a competent committee to try the merits of a
line which was to intersect the heart of Bristol? Not one of you ever
set foot in that respectable metropolis of spar; and it baffles my
imagination to conceive how your aggregate wisdom could manage to detect
and discriminate the truth amidst the conflicting evidence of a cloud of
witnesses. Is it not a mere matter of toss-up, whether your decision
would be right or wrong? Would you not be apt to abide by the testimony
of the most plausible and practised witness, simply because you have no
means of testing the accuracy of his deposition? But if the Rutherglen
Junction were referred to the decision of you five, I warrant me we
should have the business conducted in a very different kind of manner. I
think I see Gilkison’s expression of face, at hearing a herring-curer
brought up to speak to the value of the salmon fisheries at the Green;
or the mute ire of Cansh at being told that the Trongate is a mere lane,
and the buildings of no earthly value! I think I hear the obstreperous
roar of Provan, consequent on the testimony of an intoxicated
brass-founder, that the substratum of the Green is black band! Would not
the oleaginous cheeks of Sheddon glisten with indignant dew, if he heard
the Clyde described as a positive nuisance to the community?--and would
not you, O Bogle, annihilate with a terrific frown, the ruffian who
should aver that the finest square in Glasgow is evidently intended by
nature for the purposes of a railway station? My life upon it, that you
five would soon bring the witnesses to their senses. But, as the
business is conducted at present, neither the judges--that is, the
members of the committee--nor the counsel who are examining, know any
thing at all about the localities. There is a complete monopoly in the
business. Members of the English bar, who are necessarily strangers to
the site of the proposed operations, are invariably employed by the
solicitors in preference to our own advocates who were born and bred
upon the spot. Friend Squashers, for example, was never in his life
twenty miles north of the Old Bailey, and yet he is considered the
fittest person to expatiate to the committee on the advantages of a
Highland line. And I will say this for him, that he makes his mountains
remarkably like Shooter’s Hill; and in point of bullying a witness, and
insulting a landed proprietor, none of our native lads are fit to hold
the candle to him.

The question, therefore, which I once put to you before, and which I
certainly would put to that plucky little fellow Lord John Russell, if I
happened to have the honour of his acquaintance, is simply this--Would
it not be better that the evidence which is now taken before committees
of the House of Commons on railway and other bills should be given in
Scotland, Ireland, and the provinces, before a paid commission and on
oath? Certain I am that the work would be far better done. Results would
be more accurately brought out, the truth would be better sifted, and
there would be an end to that profligate system of demoralisation which
is doing no good to London, and is rapidly corrupting such of us as are
necessarily drawn within its influence. Honourable members would be
relieved from a harassing, tedious, and laborious duty; and their
legislative functions need not be interfered with, as the printed
evidence would fall to be leisurely and thoroughly sifted. At present a
member of the House of Commons is far less a legislator than a mere
railway machine. He has not time to study the merits of the vast public
questions which ought above every thing to claim his attention; for his
whole day is occupied with a dreary detail of curves, gradients, and
sections; and by being compelled to do too much, he is crippled in the
exercise and discharge of by far his most important functions. And
further, the railway interest is already too widely spread in the House
of Commons. Almost every member has an interest, direct or indirect, in
some particular line or company; and it is impossible to expect that in
every case there shall not be a particular sway or bias in the minds of
some of the judges. This is not right nor decent. The leading quality
which is required of a judge in every department is a strict and
thorough impartiality, and an absolute renunciation of every interested
motive;--and no sacrifice on the part of the public can be too great to
attain so desirable an end. It would be well for us if, during the last
and the preceding year, country members had been more occupied with
watching the attitude and the proceedings of the ministry, and less with
the conflicting statements of rival companies and engineers. Had they
been attending to the Currency and the Corn Laws, we ought to have
escaped from a commercial crisis, in which even the railway shareholder,
as I imagine, has been tolerably severely pinched.

And really, Bogle, I do not think that we are compensated in the sight
of Heaven, by our five guineas a-day, for the enormous immoralities
which we contract in this overgrown and seductive city. There are some
thousands of us here, all living like plethoric gamecocks; and, so far
as I can gather, going, in plain language, as fast as possible to the
devil. I wish you saw the scramble which takes place in the lobby of the
committee-rooms at twelve. A perfect torrent of engineers, surveyors,
solicitors, agents, and witnesses--in the middle of which, every here
and there, appears the cauliflower head of a counsel--pours up the
stairs. The refreshment table below is blocked up with thirsty demons,
all clamorous for soda-water, their matutinal tea having failed to
quench the old hereditary drought. You wrestle your way into the
committee-room, and before the members meet, you become the edified
auditor of such scraps of information as the following:--

“Whaur d’ye think Jimsey and me gaed tae last nicht after ‘The Judge and
Jury?’”

“I’m sure I dinna ken: some deil’s buckie’s errand, I’se be bound.”

“Gosh, man! we gaed tae the Puckadully Saloon; and Jimsey there took
twa turns wi’ an opera dancer at the Polka. Eh, man! she was a grand
yin.”

“Was ye no feared, Jimsey?”

“Me feared? Deil a bit. She telt me I was unco like Count Dorsy.”

“And whaur did ye gang after?”

“I dinna mind: I was awfu’ fou.”

“Weel, I wasna muckle better mysel’. Me and Wattie Strowan gaed down to
Greenitch, and we forgathered wi’ twa Paisley lads in the steamboat. But
there’s Wattie. How d’ye find yoursel’ this morning, Wattie?”

“No richt ava. I woke at eleven with my boots on, and somebody has
helped theirsel’ to my watch.”

“Man, that’s fearsome.”

“I dinna care muckle aboot it. It was an auld pinchbeck ane o’ my
auntie’s.”

“What’s become o’ Geordie MacAuslan?”

“That’s mair nor ony body kens. Geordie hasna been seen thae twa days.
He’s an awfa’ body when he gets upon the batter. He drinks waur nor a
trout.”

“Hae ye been to hear Jeanie Lind yet?”

“No me. I dinna care for thae skirling foreigners, and it’s ower dear.”

“Ye should gang though. What’s keeping the committee?”

“The chairman o’t will hae been fon tae. Hech me, I’ve got a sair heid!
Jimsey, quae down to the lobby, and we’ll hae a glass of soddy, wi’ a
wee thing o’ brandy intil it.”

And so exeunt for a quarter of an hour my fine and faithful compatriots.

Do not think, Bogle, that I am unnecessarily severe, or that I have the
slightest wish whatever to detract from the merits of my countrymen. On
the contrary, I love them exceedingly; and it is only because I cannot
bear to see them lowered in the eyes of the stranger, that I would have
them speedily removed from the influences of such perilous temptation.
Few of my young railway friends possess the continence or austere
morality which were the creditable characteristics of Richie Moniplies.
They have got more money than is good for them, and they are by no means
particular how and where they spend it. Centralisation, which is now the
favourite theory of our government, is unquestionably productive of
great and serious evils. The system of transacting the whole business of
the country, in so far as public works and improvements are concerned,
in London, acts as a heavy drain upon the provinces, and is, I think, in
many ways detrimental to the well-being of the country. It is very easy
for ministers who are constantly resident here to forget the existence
of the smaller and remote capitals; and therefore it is that Edinburgh
has shared so little in the bounties and benefactions which are
liberally heaped upon London. If you run your eye over the public
estimates, you cannot fail to be struck with the prodigious sums which
are annually expended by government upon the metropolitan improvements
and institutions, the liberal state-patronage which is bestowed upon the
fine arts, and the grants to hospitals and museums. This is wise and
proper, and I do not grudge nor complain of it. All I contend for is,
that some consideration should be shown to the other leading cities of
the empire. We are all taxed for London: is it not but fair and
reasonable that some portion of the public money should be appropriated
for the encouragement of similar objects in the north? If London is to
remain as now the only favoured city, the necessary consequence must be,
that it will attract towards it all the intellect and excellence, which
otherwise would be scattered through the kingdoms--that the smaller
capitals must decay in proportion as the large plethoric central one
augments. And such, indeed, is the true state of matters at the present
period. The moment that a rising artist shows himself among us, he is
instantly transported to London; because it is the only field where he
can meet with proper encouragement, or where his talents will be
adequately rewarded. In literature it is the same thing. The position of
our Universities is lowered, simply because they are starved by the
government, which ought to foster and protect them. Sir Robert Peel,
yielding as usual to the Irish howl, had no objections whatever to found
and endow most liberally the Papist colleges. The same statesman
positively declined to do any thing for the University of Edinburgh, in
which the government-salary of the best endowed professor is not equal
to the emolument of a common mail-guard, or a postman! Under such
circumstances the only marvel is, that men can be found to occupy the
chairs. The present Premier is an alumnus of that university, and also
an honorary graduate; but it is too much to hope that he will move one
inch in support of his Alma Mater. It is clear that the Presbyterian has
not the ghost of a chance in competition with the Papist. And although
the Commissioners appointed in 1825 urgently represented to government
the necessity of doing something to enable these unhappy professors to
live, not one single step has been taken by the Treasury in consequence.
The natural result is that the professors are being constantly drafted
away to the manifest detriment of the university. Some take refuge at St
Andrew’s and elsewhere, where the chairs are more liberally endowed.
Others, sick at heart, throw up their commissions altogether. That noble
institution, the Edinburgh Infirmary, is almost bankrupt, and never has
received the slightest assistance from the public purse; and yet one of
the city members is in the Cabinet! I wonder that it has not occurred to
the somnolent citizens of Edinburgh, that some little advantage as well
as glory might be derived from such distinguished representation.
Honourable members are generally rather squeezable on the eve of an
election; and were I a burgess of the good town, I think I should be
disposed to require some little explanation on these points, and some
assurance that the candidates would advocate in future the undoubted
interests and rights of the electors, before I again came forward with
my vote.

Dublin, with her vice-regal court, has something like the appearance of
a capital; and I sincerely trust that it may be long before any
government, yielding to the clamours of the parsimonious Joseph Hume,
shall attempt to rob her of that privilege. Edinburgh has not a shadow
of royalty left her, save the Commissioner to the General Assembly! The
dreary halls of Holyrood, I fear, will never again be rendered gay by
the presence even of a delegate of sovereignty; and were it not for the
existence of the courts of law, now miserably contracted in their
functions, Edinburgh would inevitably become a retrograding city.
Notwithstanding the habitual jealousy with which we of the balmy west
are wont to contemplate our beautiful rival, I really am, from the
bottom of my soul, sincerely sorry for the capital of Scotland. Last
year, after our parliamentary campaign, I treated myself to a run on the
Continent, and I never was more struck in my life than with the
remarkable similarity which exists between Edinburgh and Darmstadt.
There are the same spacious streets, the same wide squares, the same
imposing and substantial buildings; but, alas! there is also the same
dearth of inhabitants, and the same remarkable absence of that traffic
and bustle which is the surest index of the wealth and prosperity of a
town. Huge plate-glass windows in the shops are not, I apprehend,
unerring tokens of the thriving business of the tradesman; and it is
quite possible that a city of palaces may be inhabited by those who rank
in the monetary scale very far indeed below the point which their
external appearance indicates.

Edinburgh is, in my mind, the best existing evidence of the baneful
effects of centralisation. She never was, and in all probability never
will become, a seat of commerce or manufacture; and perhaps it is better
so, for I hardly think that her noble aspect would be beautified by the
addition of some hundred chimney stacks, on the model of the St. Rollox
column, vomiting out long streams of smoke across the surface of the
clear blue sky. She is no longer a seat of government. Even had it been
intended, as some still maintain, that, after the incorporating Union, a
shadow of local government should be left to Scotland, subsequent events
and mighty uncontemplated changes have arisen to render such a view
untenable. But then, until some thirty years ago, Edinburgh had many
privileges. The whole public business of the country was transacted by
native functionaries residing within her walls. She had her boards of
Custom and Excise. The high officers of the law all resided there, and
she still was able to maintain something of the semblance of a
metropolis. But the besom of reform, nowhere else so ruthlessly and
cruelly wielded, swept every cranny and corner of her clean. Under the
pretext of economy, all the local boards were suppressed and transferred
to London, amidst the insane joy of our primitive native reformers, who
do not seem for one moment to have reflected on the fatal consequences
which were sure to follow. The courts of law, and all that remained to
us of the ancient Scottish constitution were next assailed. In vain did
Sir Walter Scott and others, who had not bowed the knee to Baal,
demonstrate the impolicy of measures which must have the effect of
degrading the status of the bar by narrowing its prospects, and of
impoverishing the bulk of the citizens of Edinburgh by materially
diminishing the income which had hitherto been expended amongst them.
Such warnings were regarded as the drivellings of a senile intellect.
Year after year the work of abolition went on. Some offices were
suppressed, others grievously curtailed; and in several departments,
where the fees of office were retained, these were ordered to be
transmitted, and are so at the present moment, to the general account of
the Treasury, in which they figure under the item of Miscellaneous
Revenue;--so that the public purse of Great Britain is now augmented by
the balance of the fees which were originally intended for the
maintenance and support of the high officers of the Scottish crown.

Now, mark the consequence of all this. The bar, as a profession, has
been very materially lowered; for it is impossible to expect that the
same class of men as formerly will devote themselves assiduously to the
law, when it no longer holds out to their ambition the reasonable
prospect of an ultimate prize. No Scottish advocate now-a-days can hope
to be comfortably shelved save on the Bench, and it is a long and weary
toil to attain that coveted eminence. There are hardly any middle
situations left, which a man of any talent or enterprise would accept.
But a lower field has been opened, and the bar is now, to the detriment
of the country practitioners, monopolising the inferior situations of
sheriffs-substitute; and the holders of these places are still,
notwithstanding a recent change for the better, but inadequately
remunerated for the onerous duties which they perform. It is now quite
notorious that the Scottish bar can hold out no inducement to young men
of talent and distinguished abilities. It is therefore not surprising to
find that many members of our oldest and most influential families have
now qualified themselves for the English bar, which, with its colonial
judgeships, commissionerships, and high offices, is in all probability
the first profession in the world. The English, Bogle, are too wise a
people to strip themselves naked, because at certain seasons their
clothing may have been inconveniently warm.

I say, therefore, that the wholesale spoliation and reduction of offices
in Scotland has had, in the first instance, the effect of removing from
Edinburgh many of the ablest men, at least of the rising generation. And
if that should be thought a light matter, let me remark, that not only
the law but the literature of the country has suffered. The time has
been, and is not long gone by, when, in a single turn of the Parliament
House, you might encounter in their advocates’ gowns, such men as Scott,
Wilson, Jeffrey, and Lockhart--it would now, I think, rather puzzle you
to select from the children of the Scottish Themis, one single name
equal in weight to the least of these. Edinburgh, I am afraid, has
ceased to hold rank as a nursery of talent; and for that, as well as
other deteriorations, she may thank the Reformers and the Whigs.

In the second place, I say that there is not a single tradesman in
Edinburgh who has not suffered materially in purse on account of these
insane reductions; and it would have been far better if some of them who
set up for practical economists, had been minding their own
balance-sheet instead of attending to the ledger of the nation. Is it
not as clear as sunshine, that every penny which has been taken out of
Edinburgh, has been ultimately abstracted from their pockets? Will any
one of them venture to say, that trade has not declined since the work
of spoliation began? I am told by those who are intimately acquainted
with the place, that the contraction of general society, even in the
winter session, is something positively remarkable--that there is less
festivity, less social intercourse, fewer equipages, and fewer
entertainments now, than were common thirty years ago, when the city had
attractions not only for our own but even for the English nobility. At
present, as I understand, not a single Scottish peer maintains a mansion
in Edinburgh, and the more influential of the gentry are gradually
withdrawing from it also. It is useless to say that this is owing to the
superior attractions of London. A small capital, provided it be
otherwise a pleasant residence, will always attract to it persons of
moderate fortune; because they are certain to obtain a much higher
position in proportion to their means, than they could possibly aspire
to in the more plethoric metropolis. But then the fundamental charm of
such a residence consists in an agreeable society. And where, as in
Edinburgh, every thing has been done to impoverish the habitual
residenters--where every possible inducement is held out to draw talent
away from it, and where nothing is attempted to create a corresponding
influx--where genius, however bright, must linger in obscurity and
decay--is it, I ask, possible to expect that any such society can be
found? You will find beauty there, no doubt; but, alas! that beauty can
do but little for those who possess it. Go into an Edinburgh ballroom,
and you will see groups of pretty young women, well educated, well
principled, and with ancient blood in their veins, whose fate it is to
be left withering on the stalk, because they have no portions of their
own, and the men cannot afford to marry. And do you think that the poor
fellows, bred up, through the mistaken pride of their parents, to a
thankless and declining profession, are less legitimate objects of pity?
Morning after morning, throughout the cold and dreary routine of the
winter session, do they pace the barren boards of the Parliament House
in a kind of dreamy languor, or laugh off with reckless witticism the
disgust which is preying on their souls. No kind agent approaches them
with a fee, for there is scarcely legal business left--thanks to the
new-fangled Jurisdiction Acts which throw a triple burden on the
sheriffs--to keep twenty or at most thirty elderly advocates in
something like tolerable employment. They are afraid to try literature,
for the common prejudice is against it; and so the best and most
precious years of their lives are consumed in idle listlessness, and in
dull and sickening expectation. Far better had it been for them, if,
like their younger and more fortunate brothers, they had been shipped
off from school to India, even though they had fallen with glory on the
banks of the distant Sutlej, or gone to sleep, benumbed and frozen,
amidst the snows of the Kyber Pass! For then they would have left behind
them a brave and an honourable name, and have escaped the weary curse of
a profitless and ignoble existence. If not one other word of old
Belhaven’s prophecy were true, he spoke like a faithful seer, when he
warned the Scottish gentry that ere long their daughters would be
languishing for want of husbands, and their sons driven away to seek
employment at the hand of the stranger.

All this is so perfectly conspicuous and self-apparent, that one cannot
but be amazed at the apathy which has prevailed at the time when, and
since, these miserable innovations were made. And I can hardly persuade
myself that the citizens of Edinburgh--indeed the people of Scotland,
for it is their common cause--will remain much longer quiescent, without
making some effort for the restoration of their decaying capital. Let
Edinburgh, in the first instance, have its due; and let the system of
centralisation be so far relaxed, that the ordinary business of the
nation may be conducted in its own capital. The loss to London would be
nothing--the gain to Edinburgh would be immense; and I am sure no
ministry whatever ought to grudge so reasonable a demand, more
especially as the whole patronage would still be left in their power. As
regards the legal and other official changes, I have every reason to
believe that even the Whigs are now convinced of the fatal effects of
their policy; and far be it from me in any way to impede their
repentance. Indeed, neither party in the state are altogether blameless
in this matter; and I hope that as both have sinned against their
country, both will join cordially in the graceful act of reparation.

Let us, moreover, have a board of commissioners, sitting at the same
time with the Court of Session, before whom all evidence relating to
private bills may be laid, before these are submitted to the
consideration of the Imperial Parliament. I cannot figure to myself any
possible objection to this scheme. It would cost the country nothing,
for the whole expense of the establishment should be defrayed by the
companies who are demanding constitution; and considering the
multiplicity of these projects, the quota of each would be a matter of
absolute indifference. I maintain broadly, that justice will never be
done, even to the companies themselves, until things are put upon such a
footing. No man, or body of men, can properly perform the judicial
function, unless they are directly responsible to the public. It is this
principle which secures the due administration of justice, and it is
universally acted upon throughout the civilised world.

In Committee practice, points are constantly occurring which involve
legal questions of the subtlest and most delicate nature. Do five
country squires, or five manufacturing cotton-lords, or five railway
millionaires form a proper tribunal to hear or to decide upon these? The
simpler points of form and of order, and the competency or incompetency
of leading a certain line of evidence, are matters which few of these
gentlemen have any pretension to understand. And the consequence is,
that in some cases the inquiry is protracted to a ridiculous length, by
the intervention of parties who have no right whatever to be heard, and
in others, a fair and legitimate opposition is ruthlessly strangled in
the bud. The wisdom of collective parliament is undoubtedly great, but I
deny that such wisdom is equally divided among the members. One
blockhead, through sheer obstinacy or stupidity, may throw out a bill on
committee; and surely it is rather imprudent that the risk should be
unnecessarily incurred. On all these considerations, therefore, I
advocate the establishment of a local board for Scotland, to relieve
honourable members of the most onerous and thankless duty which they are
now called upon to perform. The public would be better and more
economically served; and I need hardly point out the advantages which
would accrue to Edinburgh. It is true, that under such an arrangement,
my vocation and that of several thousands more would be at an end. We
should no longer be brought up to London, at the cost of the unfortunate
shareholders, to testify with Mandeville courage to the existence of
imaginary mines, or the wealth of uncultivated districts. Our fictitious
statistics would disappear beneath the operation of a sounder system
than the present; but I cannot presume to maintain that the interests of
the nation would thereby be exorbitantly damaged. The establishment of
such a board would cause far less expense to all parties concerned, than
the course which is now pursued; and surely it would be better if we
were allowed to retain within ourselves that considerable portion of
capital which is now either squandered in London, or quietly transferred
to the pockets of the English lawyers. These gentlemen may well be
satisfied with the product of their own country, without rapaciously
absorbing the smaller item, which, if retained at home, is sufficient to
resuscitate the poorer bar of Scotland.

I think it is very generally admitted, at least by the sufferers, that
something should be done to counteract the baneful effects of that
centralisation which has been gradually but surely on the increase. The
members whom we send to parliament are infinitely too supine upon such
really important points: they seem to forget altogether that they are
intrusted with a national duty, and exhibit none of that watchfulness
and spirit which characterise the zealous Irish. It is to be devoutly
wished that some intelligent and patriotic nobleman--some true and
generous Scotsman, such as we all know the Earl of Eglinton to be--would
put himself at the head of a national movement, and force these subjects
upon the attention of our drowsy governments. I am certain that he would
not look around him in vain for sympathy and support. The feeling that
our Scottish interests have been culpably and dangerously overlooked, is
now far more prevalent than ever; more especially since the detrimental
effects of Peel’s wanton aggression upon the Banking system of the
nation have been felt by the commercial community. Every true Scotsman
must feel that our present position is a degrading one; and we want but
a vigorous effort to compel that justice which is our fair prerogative.
But so long as our Peerage and members sit with folded hands, and allow
every remnant of our native institutions to be uprooted and removed
without a struggle and without remonstrance, we cannot expect any thing
else than a continued drain upon our country, and a decline in the
resources, the wealth, and the institutions of our capital city. Oh, for
some spirit powerful enough to rouse those sluggards to their duty!
Brave old Sir Walter sleeps in his honoured grave at Dryburgh, and as
yet no one has arisen who is worthy to occupy his place.

But I must turn to some other theme; for I really can hardly keep myself
within bounds when I reflect on this. What shall I tell you of now?--the
theatres or Jenny Lind? You have no doubt heard of the great sensation
which the long-deferred appearance of the Swedish warbler has excited in
the metropolis, but you can scarcely form any adequate idea of its
extent. The long delay which intervened between her first engagement and
her actual visit,--the fuss, lighting, and controversy betwixt the two
rival managers--and the reports of the unparalleled enthusiasm with
which she was received at Vienna and elsewhere, all served to keep the
expectation of the public screwed up to the highest pitch. And when it
was at last ascertained that the actual Jenny was in London, and
speedily to appear, the price of opera-boxes and of stall-tickets rose
as rapidly in the market as railway scrips in the redoubted days of
staging. Mr D’Israeli’s friends, the Caucasians, were too acute to let
so glorious an opportunity escape them. They bought up on speculation
every vacant place, and retailed them at exorbitant profits to the eager
and impatient amateurs. The expenditure of coat-tails at the pit-door
for the first two or three nights was, I understand, something
prodigious. Fractured ribs were as plentiful as gooseberries in their
season; and the triumph of the syren was complete. She retired amidst a
shower of bouquets--one of them thrown by a royal hand; and next morning
the journals, forgetting politics for a time, vied with each other in
ecstatic rhapsody and high-flown panegyric of the fair and gifted
stranger. All this was extremely stimulating to the curiosity; and
though, as you are well aware, nature has not gifted me with extreme
nicety of ear, and the exorbitant rate of admission was somewhat of a
stumbling-block, I resolved to throw parsimony to the winds for once,
and took a box upon joint speculation with our friend Mr Archy
Chaffinch.

After all, Her Majesty’s Theatre upon a gala-night presents a very
gorgeous spectacle, and I do not wonder that, apart from the music, it
is a place of so much attraction. The mere sight of the company is
enough to strike us poor provincials with astonishment--for I believe
that in no other assemblage in the world will you see so much beauty,
rank, and elegance congregated as here. The opera for the evening was
the “Somnambula,” and after the curtain had risen, and the preliminary
scene was over, a fair, fresh, innocent-looking girl, attired in peasant
costume, tripped upon the stage, and the storm of applause which
literally shook the house welcomed the appearance of the celebrated
Swedish singer. I do not purpose, Bogle, to go through the performance
in detail--for two reasons: first, because I am not a competent critic;
and secondly, because even supposing that I were qualified to write the
musical article for the _Morning Post_, I am well convinced that you
could not understand me. But I will tell you generally, and in plain
words, what I think of Jenny Lind. The great charm of her performances
seems to be this--that she combines together in extraordinary perfection
the leading qualities of the actress and the singer. Nothing could be
more natural, more touching, or more beautiful than the manner in which
she embodied the character of Amina, and I write this with the full
memory of the exquisite Malibran before me. But Malibran, with all her
grace and genius, was more artificial than Jenny Lind. She always made
it visible to you that somewhat of her simplicity was assumed; and
occasionally she rather imitated the archness of the grisette, than the
soft, modest, and yet playful demeanour of the village maiden. Jenny, on
the other hand, is faultless in the expression of her emotions. Whether
she is giving way to a burst of confiding love, or chiding her betrothed
for his jealousy, or repelling with vexed impatience the approaches of
the libertine Count, she never for a moment is untrue to the proper
nature of her character. I never saw any thing so perfect as the
sleep-walking scene; Siddons could not have done it better: and if
mesmerism had often such charming pupils, it would soon become a popular
science. Her voice in singing is most charming, but I think it strikes
one less with surprise at its compass, than with delight at the
exquisite melody and birdlike clearness of its tones. Indeed, no more
appropriate name could have been bestowed on her than that by which she
is now familiar throughout Europe--the peerless Nightingale of Sweden.

It is to be wished, however, that the more ardent admirers of this
delightful syren would preserve some little moderation in their
encomium. For it is quite obvious to me that, in actual power of voice,
she is exceeded by several singers at present on the London stage; and
whenever much physical exertion is required, she fails to electrify the
audience with such bursts of magnificent song as thrill from the throat
of Grisi. Jenny Lind seems to be quite aware of her own capabilities;
for she has not yet selected a vehement or stormy part, which may be
said to embody the highest operatic tragedy. And she does wisely in
confining herself to her own sphere, in which she has no equal. And I do
most devoutly hope that all the adulation and applause which has been
showered upon her, may not turn that sweet young innocent head; that
when her period of probation is over, she may return to Sweden the same
gentle and unassuming creature as when she left it; and in the quiet
retreats of her native Scandinavian valley, find that happiness and calm
content of soul which is better than all the plaudits of a changeable
and fantastic world.

To tell you the truth, Bogle, I wish all this row was over. I am sick of
hot committee-rooms, of gentlemen in horse-hair wigs, and of the whole
paraphernalia of railway bills; and I long either to be throwing a fly
on the breezy surface of Loch Awe, or enjoying a cool bowl of punch in
your company at the open window of your marine villa which looks out
upon the hills of Cowall. I no longer take pleasure in white-bait and
those eternal courses of eels and diminutive flounder which constitute a
fish-dinner at Greenwich, or in the equally unvarying repast which
awaits one at Richmond of a Sunday. I get quite unhappy as I survey
those gasping goldfish parboiling in the basin at Hampton Court: now
that the horse-chestnuts have faded, Bushy Park appears to me but a
seedy sort of place; and I have no inclination whatever to trust myself
in the ring at Ascot. I am sighing for a wimpling burn or a green brae
in the north, where I can lie down upon the gowans, look up into the
clear deep sky, and listen to the pleasant sounds that in summer give
glory to a Scottish glen. I cannot see any charm in the dusty Park, with
its long strings of coronetted carriages--more than half of which, I am
afraid, are justly challengeable at Heralds’ College--and the bold,
broad, Semiramis-like beauty of the women who are reclining luxuriously
within. Titmarsh is decidedly right. It is but a picture of Vanity Fair;
and, I fear me, vanity displayed in its poorest and most contemptible
form. All that rivalry of equipage--all that glitter and splendour--all
that parade of lazy menials in crimson and orange attire, fail to
impress me with any thing like admiration, and certainly do not excite
within me the smallest thrill of envy. It is but the race of wealth, the
competition of pomp, the exhibition of pitiful rivalry which now whirls
along that smoking road: each is striving to outvie the other--not in
greatness, nor in goodness, nor even in substantial comfort, but simply
in the gew-gaws and trappings which are produced by the common
artificer. I am not a “oneness-of-purpose” man, Bogle, nor do I set up
for an “earnest spirit;” but all this sort of thing strikes me as
incalculably mean and plebeian. There is, in fact, among the English
people, especially the Londoners, a degree of toadyism, and worship of
the externals of Mammon, which would be utterly ludicrous in any other
part of Europe. In some countries a man is esteemed for his personal
talents and pretensions; in others, the claim of noble blood and
unalloyed descent reflects a borrowed splendour and consideration upon
individuals; but nowhere, except here, as far as I know, are claims to
rank put forward on the foundation of a lacquered equipage, and a couple
of flaunting and pimpled dependants, for whose sake one is almost
tempted to believe that a portion of the human race are created without
the awful and immortal attribute of a soul! Aristocracy-hunting, indeed,
is a passion which is carried in London to a most incredible extent.
Much as the son of the soap-boiler values himself on his wealth, he is
yet a discontented person if he cannot by some means attach himself to a
scion of nobility, of whose acquaintance he may boast to his less
fortunate compeers. He will even go so far as to pay hard money for such
an adventitious distinction; and many are the thousands which annually
find their way from ignoble to titled pockets for this meanest of
earthly privileges. Nay, I believe that there is no possible form of
imposture which will not be assumed by some, for the sake of
constituting an imaginary link between themselves and the members of the
class whom they look up to with a species of adoration. I shall give you
a very pregnant proof of this. A hereditary tendency to corns, and a
lingering regard for the ancient bond of alliance between Scotland and
France, have caused me for many years to submit my toes to papooshes of
the foreign manufacture. In former times, it is true, I might have
undergone reproach as a discourager of the home market--but all such
scruples have been removed by the policy of Sir Robert Peel. Accordingly
I went, the other day, to a rather celebrated warehouse in Regent
Street, where ready-made Parisian boots are vended; and after some
trouble selected a couple of pairs, which I fondly hoped might enhance
the native symmetry of my instep. When the parcel came home, I opened
it, and the first pair which I extricated bore on the inside and on the
sole, the name of the Hon. Augustus Bosh. I thought at first there might
be some mistake, but on inspection I was convinced that they were the
same boots which, that morning, I had fitted on unsullied and unmarked,
and, as Bosh and I seemed to be of about the same calibre of pedestal, I
felt no hesitation in perambulating London for a couple of days upon his
soles. I then drew forth the other pair, which, to my great
astonishment, I found were marked as the property of a certain Viscount
St Vitus. Now, I had only experimented in the first instance with the
right moiety of these boots, and on attempting the other, I was annoyed
to find that my heel was at least twice as large as that of the noble
peer. In consequence I went back to the warehouse, and this time
selected a virgin pair without spot or blemish, in order that I might
possess at least one unquestionable footing of my own. It would not do,
Bogle. The boots were sent to me inscribed as the property of Lord
Alfred Le Pitcher, and at this moment I am installed in that respectable
nobleman’s leather. Now, mark the consequences. If I go down to the
country, I shall inevitably be taken either for the Honourable Augustus,
who is notorious for his defalcations in the ring, or for Le Pitcher,
who is proverbially a _roué_ and a spendthrift. In the one case I run
the risk of a horse-whipping, in the other I am perfectly certain to be
subjected to an exorbitant bill. Or, supposing that my personal
appearance does not justify the noble imputation, am I to run the hazard
of being charged as an impostor, or possibly mistaken for a thief?
Heaven knows, I have no earthly desire to represent those distinguished
personages. I would much prefer to walk in unchallengeable boots of my
own, but I am not permitted to do so. Now I hold this Frenchman to be
quite a genius in his way. He sees the leading foible of the people with
whom he has to deal, and humours them to the top of their bent. Many a
cadaverous Cockney has he dismissed from his apartment exulting and
frolicsome in spirit, and convinced in his inmost soul that he has now
some tangible connexion with the aristocracy, and may possibly be able
to persuade some country chambermaid that he is the scion of a noble
house.

But I really must break off now, as it is almost time to go down to the
committee. The period of the Session of Parliament seems as yet quite
uncertain; but you may be sure I shall make as good use of my time as I
can. Our people were thrown, the other day, into a terrible state of
consternation by the rumour of a dissolution when the money market was
just at its tightest; and for my own part I thought that the Whigs would
be justified had they taken the easiest way of disposing of the Gordian
knot. Peel’s Banking Restriction Act, like the car of Juggernaut, was in
full operation, crushing under its wheels the small trader and every man
who required credit throughout the country; and as the ministry had not
the courage or the ability to stop it, they might with considerable
grace have taken up their garments and fled. However, things are now
looking somewhat better; shares, though not buoyant, are on the rise,
and the hearts of the proprietors are being cheered by the prospect of a
coming dividend. Farewell, Bogle. Give my compliments to Cansh, and tell
him that the Powhead’s Junction was yesterday pitched into limbo.



SIR H. NICOLAS’S HISTORY OF THE NAVY.[11]


“Her ancient British name, _Clas merdin_, ‘the sea-defended green spot,’
indicated alike her fertility and natural protection,” writes Sir Harris
Nicolas, in the commencement of his Naval History of Great Britain.
_Clas merdin_ may she still and long deserve to be called--“the
sea-defended green spot!” Long may she fight her battles on the waste of
waters--on the untilled and untenanted plains of the ocean! Long may she
carry forth, and offer up, upon the seas, her great sacrifices to the
god of war!

It has been remarked that war, though it assumes a most terrible aspect
when to its own proper dangers are added all the perils of the sea, is
yet carried on with more humanity, and with a more generous spirit of
hostility, between ships upon the ocean than between armies upon land.
“Two armies,” says Mr James, in the preface to his Naval History, “meet
and engage: the battle ends, but the slaughter continues; the pursuing
cavalry trample upon and hew to pieces the dead, the wounded, and the
flying. A fort is stormed, and after a stout resistance carried: the
garrison for their brave defence are put to the sword--as for their tame
surrender they would have been branded (and who can say unjustly?) with
cowardice. Two ships meet and engage: the instant the flag of one falls,
the fire of the other ceases; and the vanquished become the guests
rather than the prisoners of the victors. In another case, boarding in
all its fury succeeds the cannonade: still no cutlass is raised after
possession is complete. Again: a vessel, instead of flying from or
quietly yielding to, boldly engages an opponent of treble her strength.
Her temerity is accepted as valour; and all the mischief she may have
caused--all the blood she may have spilt--far from provoking the rage,
does but ensure the respect of the captors. In a fourth case, a fatal
broadside sinks one ship: out go the boats of the other, and the
emulation then is, not who shall destroy, but who shall save the
greatest number of the enemy.”

Perhaps it may not be altogether fanciful to deduce that love of _fair
play_, or rather of fair fighting, and that generosity to the vanquished
which refuses to strike an adversary when _down_--traits which
confessedly distinguish the national character of the English--to these
more liberal customs which prevail in naval combat, the form in which
war is so well known and honoured amongst them. Their naval victories,
and the spirit in which they have been won, fill the imagination from
the earliest years, and animate and regulate the combative propensities
of the boy. Only strike your colours--know me for your better,--exclaims
the young hero, and his adversary may quit the field uninjured--nay,
shall be protected from all other assailants. Our national character,
some may be disposed to suggest, has given the tone to our naval
combats, and not these the temper which distinguishes our national
character; seeing there is nothing peculiarly mollifying in the
circumstances themselves of a sea-fight. Perhaps not; but still the
customs which prevail in maritime warfare have a less capricious, and
what will be thought a less noble, cause than the national character of
the people who have chiefly distinguished themselves in it. We suspect
they must be traced to the vulgar, but the constant motive of cupidity.
In a naval combat one great object of victory is to capture the vessel
itself--a prize in which all are interested. If it were not the custom
to spare the vanquished crew--if, on the contrary, it were the custom to
put them to death, no enemy would surrender his ship; he would rather
set fire to it, or sink it, and sink with it in the waves. Were not the
conquered secure of their lives on the surrender of their vessel, they
would have no motive whatever for suffering it to become the rich prize
of their adversary. On this account it is, and not because men are a
whit more disposed to spare their enemies on sea than on land, that by
general consent the battle is supposed to be at an end the moment the
flag is struck.

As to that “fourth case,” in which a fatal broadside sinks one of the
combatants, we have no difficulty in believing that a quick revulsion of
feeling may naturally take place, and that hostility may suddenly change
into compassion on beholding their drowning enemy within the clutch of
their great common adversary, the sea. But even this change of feeling
has been facilitated by the previous habit of regarding the combat as
definitively closed when a ship has been fought as long as possible.

That it should ever have been considered a law of war that the captain
or governor of a fort should be put to death by the conqueror for having
attempted to hold an untenable place, is only one of those many
instances where tyranny and overbearing force loves to clothe itself in
the form of law or custom. The pretence of diminishing bloodshed is
shallow enough. A general at the head of a great army is impatient at
being detained before some insignificant town or fortress, and revenges
himself by a sort of military execution on the bold man who has ventured
to oppose him with so contemptible a force. Wallenstein, one of the
proudest of men, and the least scrupulous of shedding blood, is said to
have adopted, more systematically than any other general, this so-called
law of war. If the same custom has never been introduced into naval
combats, it is because there is not even the shallowest pretext on which
it can be founded. A ship, however inferior in force to its adversary,
if it have no chance of victory, may yet have a chance of escape. The
governor of a castle--he and his castle are rooted to the earth: the
sea-captain gives his walls and his artillery to the winds; he and his
guns, by some skilful manœuvre, by some obstruction or crippling of his
foe, may, after a brief encounter, get out of reach and out of sight.
Many are the turns and tides of fortune in a naval engagement; all the
accidents of navigation are added to those of war. There is no shadow of
reason, therefore, for treating with peculiar severity the captain of a
vessel who refuses to obey the summons of his more powerful adversary,
but resolves to take advantage of whatever chance his skill, his
bravery, and the various incidents of a sea-fight may afford him.

We hold it, therefore, to be a fortunate circumstance, favourably
influencing our national character, as well as preserving us from many
of the calamities that attend on war, that we as a nation have been
called upon chiefly to defend ourselves by means of “our wooden walls.”

A more national subject, or one on which there was more evidently a
vacant space for a new book, Sir Harris Nicolas could hardly have
selected, than this of a history of our Navy from the earliest times
down to the period when the Naval History of Mr James commences. Yet the
expectations of a reader who sits down to the perusal of such a work
should not be too highly raised. Nothing is more glorious than the naval
victories which our country has achieved; but few things are more
monotonous and wearisome than the description of a series of naval
engagements. There is the same repeated account of masts shot away or
“badly wounded,” of rigging cut to pieces, sails rent and riddled, and
shattered hulls; till the ships, not the men, seem the real combatants,
and it appears to be a contest between oak timbers and cannon-balls,
between the power of endurance in the wooden fabric and the explosive
force of gunpowder. A naval battle is always split into details; if two
hostile fleets encounter, no matter of what magnitude, it is still but a
multitude of single combats between ship and ship. When we have gone
through the incidents of one or two of these tremendous duels, it must
require in the historian singular power of narration to induce us to
proceed to the final destruction and capture of the rest of the fleet.
If any thing could abate the enthusiasm of an Englishman in the naval
heroes of his country, it would be the obligation to read a detailed
account of the victories they had achieved. Very feeble is the cheer we
give for Trafalgar, after reading all we can read of Mr James’s account
of the battle.

Not by any means that naval warfare is destitute of its stirring annals,
and of adventures which have all the colouring of romance. But the
interest of the narrative does not rise with the importance and
magnitude of the occasion. It is in the single combat of detached
frigates--in the perils and fortunes of the light cruiser, probably some
frigate’s tender--that the incident which stirs the blood is most
frequently encountered. A little gun-brig, the Speedy, mounting its
fourteen four-pounders, and manned by some forty men with a few boys, is
cruising in the Mediterranean, cutting up the coasting trade of the
Spaniard, who thereupon despatch, from several ports, armed vessels in
pursuit of her. One of these, the Gamo, (we are abridging one of Mr
James’s narratives) a thirty-two-gun zebec frigate, by means of hanging
or closed ports, decoys the Speedy within hail, and then drawing these
suddenly up, discovers her heavy battery. Against stratagem let
stratagem be first tried. The English captain hoists Danish colours, and
parades upon the gangway a man dressed in the costume of a Danish
officer, who roars out something which with the Spaniard passes for the
Danish language. The Gamo is, however, but half satisfied, and sends her
boat with an officer to make more particular inquiries. Him they softly
hail before he can well get alongside, and inform--in some other
language, we presume, than their Danish--that their brig has lately
quitted one of the Barbary ports; reminding him that a nearer visit will
subject him and his ship to a long quarantine. This he knows well
enough; so, after a few mutual salutations and wavings of the hand, the
vessels part company, one glad at having escaped the plague, the other
equally glad, one might suppose, at having escaped capture.

But not at all. The officers and men of the English brig had been all
impatience to encounter their superior antagonist, and desired nothing
better than to try their fourteen four-pounders and their forty men and
some boys against the thirty-two long guns of their opponent, and their
crew of some three hundred men. Lord Cochrane--for he it was who
commanded the Speedy--on learning this disposition of his crew, promised
them, if he again fell in with the Spaniard, to give full scope to
their wishes. “On the 6th of May, at daylight, the Speedy being close
off Barcelona, descried a sail, standing towards her. Chase was given,
but owing to light winds it was nearly nine o’clock before the two
vessels got within mutual gun-shot. The Speedy soon discovered that the
armed zebec, approaching her was her old friend the Gamo. The former,
then close under the latter’s lee, tacked and commenced action. After a
forty-five minutes’ cannonade, in which the Speedy, with all her
manœuvring, could not evade the heavy broadsides of the Gamo, and had
sustained in consequence a loss of three seamen killed and five wounded,
Lord Cochrane determined to board. With this intent the Speedy ran close
along side the Gamo; and the crew of the British vessel, headed by their
gallant commander, made a simultaneous rush from every part of her upon
the deck of the Spaniard. For about ten minutes the combat was
desperate, especially in the waist; but the impetuosity of the assault
was irresistible; the Spanish colours were struck, and the Gamo became
the prize of the Speedy!”

There is more to interest the imagination in a detail of this
comparatively insignificant combat than in the manœuvres and engagement
of a whole fleet. They are the episodes in the great war that supply the
naval historian with his most stirring narratives. Even the frigate’s
tender has a more romantic history than the frigate herself, combining
in her solitary cruise all the charms of adventure with all the perils
and enterprise of war. Few, we suspect, go steadily through Mr James’s
history of the battle of the Nile; and there are few, perhaps, who do
not retrace their steps to read a second time his account, succinct and
unadorned as it is, of the tender of the Abergavenny. We will indulge
our own readers with a portion of it.

“Amongst the many weary hours,” writes Mr James, “to which a naval life
is subject, none surely can equal those passed on board a stationary
flag-ship; especially in a port where there is a constant egress and
regress of cruisers; some sailing forth to seek prizes, others returning
with prizes already in their possession. During the whole of 1799 and a
great part of 1800 the fifty-four-gun ship Abergavenny, as she lay
moored in Port Royal harbour, Jamaica, daily exposed her officers and
men to these Tantalusian torments. At length it was suggested that a
small tender sent off the east end of the island might acquire for the
parent ship some share of the honours that were reaping around her. A
thirty-eight-gun frigate’s launch having been obtained, and armed with a
swivel in the bow, the next difficulty was to find an officer who, to a
willingness, would add the other requisites for so bold and hazardous an
enterprise. It was not every man who would like to be cramped up night
and day in an open boat, exposed to all kinds of weather, as well as to
capture from some of the many pickaroons that infested the coast. An
acting lieutenant of the Abergavenny, one on whom nature had conferred
an ardent mind,--habit, an indifference about personal comfort,--and
eighteen or twenty years of active service an experience in all the
duties of his profession, consented to take charge of the cruiser-boat.
Mr Michael Fitton soon gave proofs of his fitness for the task he had
undertaken; and the crew of the Abergavenny could now and then greet a
prize of their own among the many that dropped anchor near them.

“Late in December 1800, Lieutenant Fitton transferred himself and his
crew to one of their prizes, a Spanish privateer, a felucca of about
fifty tons, mounting one long twelve-pounder on a traversing carriage,
with a screw to raise it from the hold when wanted for use. Having
embarked on board of her, and stowed as well as he could his crew of
forty-four men and officers, Lieutenant Fitton, early in January, sailed
out to cruise on the Spanish main.”

After destroying many of the small craft of the enemy which had been
committing vexatious depredations on the West Indian commerce, and
having suffered much himself from a succession of storms, and refitted
his now crazy vessel to the best of his power, “he bore up to
Carthagena, intending to coast down the main to Portobello, in the
hopes of being able to capture or cut out some vessel that might answer
to carry his crew and himself to Jamaica. On the 23d of January, early
in the morning, as the tender was hauling round Cape Rosario, a schooner
was discovered, to which she immediately gave chase. The schooner, which
was the Spanish guarda-costa Santa Maria of six (pierced for ten) long
six-pounders, ten swivels, and sixty men, commanded by Don José Corei, a
few hours only from Carthagena, bore down to reconnoitre the lugger. As
the latter had her gun below, and as many of her men hid from view as
the want of a barricade would permit, the former readily approached
within gun-shot. Lieutenant Fitton could not resist the opportunity of
showing how well his men could handle their twelve-pounder. It was soon
raised up, and discharged repeatedly in quick succession, with evident
effect.

“After about thirty minutes’ firing with cannon and musketry, the Santa
Maria sheered off, and directed her course for the Isle of Varus,
evidently with intent to run on shore. Her persevering opponent, with
his one gun, stuck close to her, plying her well with shot great and
small; but the tender was unable to grapple with the schooner because
the latter had the wind. At length the Santa Maria grounded, and
Lieutenant Fitton, aware that if the schooner landed her men in the
bushes, no attempt of his people would avail, eased off the lugger’s
sheets, and ran her also on shore about ten yards from the Santa Maria.
The musketry of the latter, as she heeled over, greatly annoyed the
tender’s men, who had no barricades to shelter them; but Lieutenant
Fitton leaped overboard, and _with his sword in his mouth_, followed by
the greater part of his crew, _similarly armed_, swam to, boarded, and,
after a stout resistance, carried the schooner.

“Four or five that were on the sick list, heedless alike of the doctor’s
injunctions and their own feeble state, sprang over the side with their
comrades; and one or two of them nearly perished in consequence of their
inability to struggle with the waves.

“The Spanish inhabitants having collected along, and opened a fire from,
the shore, and the prize having grounded too fast to be got off,
Lieutenant Fitton took out of her what was most wanted for his own
vessel, landed the prisoners (for whom, being without a ’tween-decks, he
had no room) and even the dead, and then set the vessel on fire. Having
effectually destroyed this Spanish guarda-costa, the Abergavenny’s
tender sailed back to Jamaica, and on the fourth day reached Black River
with scarcely a gallon of water on board.”--(_James’s Naval History_,
vol. ii. p. 563.) These sea-tigers, swimming with their swords in their
mouths--climbing in this fashion the steep sides of a defended
vessel--assailing, taking it--then landing safely the conquered and
their very dead, before they set fire to it--here is war in all its
pristine ferocity, while the fight is forward, and in its most humanised
and generous mood when the victory is won.

How the present writer, Sir Harris Nicolas, will acquit himself in the
description of naval engagements, we can hardly judge, as the first
volume only of his work is yet published, and this does not bring him
into the era of broadsides, and “tremendous cannonading.” This volume
addresses itself rather to the naval antiquarian than to the
professional seaman, or the enthusiast in naval exploits. It contains
much interesting material; and it is rather our object to give some
account of its contents, than to pass an elaborate criticism, which
would be somewhat premature, upon a work of which we have merely the
commencement before us.

In a manly, distinct, and well written preface, the author gives a
statement of the sources of his details, and of the course which he has
prescribed for himself in the treatment of his subject. Our old
chroniclers have hitherto, it seems, been the sole source from which
historians have derived their accounts of the naval transactions of the
earlier reigns of the Kings of England. Sir Harris Nicolas has
illustrated, corrected, and enlarged the scanty and often precarious
information which these old chroniclers afford, by a variety of details
extracted from the public records. These details cannot be supposed to
be always of an interesting or popular character, but their utility will
not be questioned, and the industry which is here displayed in
collecting them will meet with its due acknowledgment and undisputed
praise.

In the treatment of his subject our author has made two great divisions.

“I. The civil history--containing the formation, economy, and government
of the navy.

“II. The military history.

“To the first division belong the construction, the size, rig,
appearance, tonnage, armament, stores, equipment, and expense of the
various classes of vessels; the manner in which ships and seamen were
obtained by the crown, and the number and description of the officers
and crews, their pay, provisions, prize-money, and discipline. Under
this division, every thing else relating to the navy has been noticed;
namely the Cinque Ports, dock-yards, lighthouses, pilotage, maritime
laws, the law of wreck, taxes and other contributions for naval
subsidies, the Court of Admiralty, the right of England to the
sovereignty of the seas, the invention of the compass and of the modern
rudder, the national flag, &c. To these statements are added
biographical notices of the admirals, and other persons, who have been
eminently distinguished for their talents or prowess at sea.

“The second division treats only of active naval proceedings; that is to
say, the employment of ships in piratical acts, military expeditions,
remarkable voyages, and, of course, all sea-fights.”

Here, it will be observed, is a wide range of subjects on which
information is promised, and so far as the work has advanced, the
performance by no means belies the promise: on almost all these topics
something is added, of more or less importance, to the stock of our
knowledge. The classification, however, here adopted has this great
inconvenience, it obliges the author to travel twice over the same
epoch, first for his civil, and then for his military history of the
navy. As the same public events are necessarily alluded to in both
departments, an air of repetition is thrown over the book, and the
reader finds himself on two or three occasions brought back to the
commencement of some king’s reign,--an Alfred or a Richard
Cœur-de-Lion,--whom he thought he had left long ago behind him. This
repetition Sir Harris Nicolas is not unconscious of, but thinks it
“inevitable;” we cannot help thinking that a little more pains bestowed
on the arrangement of his materials might have obviated this
disagreeable effect, produced by the retracing of his steps. With a
little more labour of the _artistic_ kind, with a little more attention
to the subordinate toils of composition, he might, we imagine, have so
kept his materials together as to have come down the stream of time in
one voyage, with both civil and military equipage on board. This
ascending again and descending a second time, with a cargo which to all
appearance might have been stowed away on the first voyage, gives an
unusual tediousness to our mode of progression. This want of a skilful
arrangement, and dexterous blending of his materials, together with the
dryness of some of the details--which many readers will think should
have been relegated to an appendix--will operate against the popularity
of the work. But a popular work it was not the ambition of Sir Harris
Nicolas to produce: he has compiled one which will be highly useful to
the laborious student of history. We must add, too, lest we should be
creating a false impression, that the idlest of readers, allowing for a
little _skipping_, may peruse it with interest. And in point of style,
the work has one invariable charm: it is free from all
affectation--simple, manly, straightforward--a charm which, next to that
of the highest order of eloquence, is the greatest and the rarest.

Our history of the navy begins, as may be supposed, from the invasion of
Cæsar, and with the scanty notices he has recorded of the maritime skill
of these barbarian islanders whom he both discovered and conquered. From
these notices it would appear that our British ancestors, at the time of
the invasion of Cæsar, were more advanced in naval architecture than
were the Anglo-Saxons, who, at the decline of the Roman Empire, took
possession of the island. But the British navy, whatever it might have
been, seemed to pass away with the Roman name and the Roman protection,
and our history may be said to have its true commencement with the
shipping of our northern invaders and settlers. There is no line of
_filiation_ between the Saxon and the British navy; it is the northmen
we must regard as our direct naval ancestors. We open the work of Sir
Harris at the description he gives of the Anglo-Saxon shipping.

“However much the vessels Anglo-Saxons may have differed from each other
in length, it may be safely concluded that though described as ‘ships’
or ‘long ships,’ these vessels were, in fact, only large, deep, open,
undecked boats, and that none of them exceeded fifty tons in burden.
Their prows and sterns were considerably elevated; and one or both were
usually ornamented with effigies of men, birds, lions, or other animals,
which were sometimes gilded. To a single mast, supported by a few
shrouds, or rather stays, a large square sail was suspended, which could
only have been useful when going large, or before the wind; hence their
main dependence in contrary winds and calms was upon their oars. The
modern rudder being unknown for many centuries after this period, they
were steered by paddles fixed to the quarter. While the steersman, who
was also the captain or master, and perhaps, too, the pilot, held the
paddle in one hand, he kept the sheet of the sail in the other, thus
guiding and providing for the safety of his vessel at the same time. It
is doubtful if for any purpose these vessels ever carried more than
fifty or sixty men; and when not employed they were drawn up on the
sea-shore....

“A very interesting account is given by northern historians of the
Danish fleets which so frequently harassed this country. The crews
obeyed a single chief, whom they styled their ‘King,’ and who also
commanded them on land; who was always the bravest of the brave, who
never slept beneath a raftered roof, nor ever drained the bowl by a
sheltered hearth--a glowing picture of their wild and predatory habits.
To these qualities a celebrated sea-chieftain, called Olaf, added
extraordinary eloquence, and great personal strength and agility. He was
second to none as a swimmer, could walk upon the oars of his vessel
while they were in motion, could throw three darts into the air at the
same time, and catch two of them alternately, and could moreover hurl a
lance with each hand; but he was impetuous, cruel, and revengeful, and
‘prompt to dare and do.’”--(P. 9.)

To enter more minutely into the naval antiquities of this period would
appear to be a hopeless enterprise. There were a class of vessels, we
are told, called “ceols,” probably longer, narrower, and of less burden
than others, but which Sir Harris will not venture to describe more
accurately. “In a later document,” he adds, “they are classed with
‘hulks,’ but there is as much uncertainty about an ancient ‘hulk,’ as
about an ancient ‘ceol.’”

Alfred, our first admiral, as he has been justly called, was also the
best shipwright of his day; he not only led the way to naval victory,
but he also built ships of an improved structure, and of a greater
magnitude than had over been seen before. “They were full-nigh twice as
long as the others;” says the chronicler, “some had sixty oars, and some
had more; they were both swifter and steadier, and also higher than the
others. They were shapen neither like the Frisian nor the Danish; but so
as it seemed to him that they would be most efficient.” Evidently a man
of original genius, this Alfred. Taking himself the command of his “long
ships,” he conquered the Danes in several battles, and in particular
repelled a certain invasion of one Hasting who had made a camp at
_Boulogne_! where he had collected his infantry and cavalry and a fleet
of two hundred and fifty sail.

In the reign of Edgar, if our ships were still small, they were numerous
enough. If we are to believe the monkish historians of this reign, his
fleet consisted of three thousand six hundred sail, “all very stout
ones;” some say four thousand, and others four thousand eight hundred.
But these monkish historians were not only tempted, in gratitude to
their munificent patron, to extol his power to their utmost; they were
probably quite ignorant of nautical affairs. They were not likely to be
much better informed on the shipping of their own country than they were
of the geography of the island on which they were living; and of the
singular notions on this subject sometimes entertained by these
recluses, we have authentic testimony. _Here_ their ignorance can be
convicted. Edgar’s fleet, “all stout ones,” as they were, have passed
away, and none can tell what their number may have been; but the hills,
and seas, and rivers, which they misdescribed in their maps, still
remain to speak for themselves. “In some of these maps of the twelfth
century,” (discovered in the monasteries at the time of their
suppression by Henry VIII.,) “Scotland is represented as an island
separated from England by an arm of the sea. Ireland is also divided in
two by the river Boyne, which is represented as a canal connecting the
Irish Channel with the Atlantic. The towns are drawn in them of a
disproportionate size, and the _abbeys_, with the walls, gates, and
belfreys, occupy so great a space as to leave little room for the
rivers,” &c.[12]

If the Anglo-Saxons had been capable of manning such a fleet as is here
described, they must have been sad poltroons to have succumbed as they
did to the Danes under Swain and Canute--the naval heroes who next
appear in review before us. This Canute, after all his victories, is
remembered chiefly, and remembered by every man, woman, and child
amongst us, by the singular dialogue he is said once to have held with
the sea. We must quote the story again for the sake of the commentary
which is here attached to it. We are glad to find, by the way, that the
story has escaped--it is a very narrow escape--from the clutches of
historical criticism.

“The anecdote by which the name of Canute is best known to posterity,
though unnoticed by the Saxon annalist, stands on the authority of an
early historian. ‘Besides many splendid warlike deeds,’ says Henry of
Huntingdon, who flourished about the middle of the twelfth century,
‘Canute did three elegant and celebrated things, of which the following
was the most memorable: Being at Southampton in all regal pomp, he
placed himself on a seat on the sea-shore, and addressing the flowing
tide with an air of authority, said, ‘Thou, O sea! art subject to me, as
is the land on which I sit; nor is there any one therein who dare resist
my commands; now I enjoin thee neither to approach my land, nor presume
to wet the feet or garments of thy sovereign.’ But the tide rising, as
usual, soon wetted his feet and legs, and the king, retreating,
exclaimed,--‘Let every inhabitant of the world know that the power of
kings is a vain and trifling thing, nor is there any one worthy of the
name of king but He at whose nod the heavens, and earth, and sea, and
all that in them are, obey his eternal laws.’ From this time Canute
never wore the crown, but placing it upon the head of an image of the
crucifixion, set a great example of humility to future kings.

“The world,” adds our author, “has always seen, in this beautiful
anecdote, a striking lesson to courtly sycophants; but it was reserved
for two profound lawyers to discover in it an important political fact,
they having gravely insisted that the king thereby most expressly
asserted the sea to be a part of his dominions.”--(P. 18.)

How far the two profound lawyers in their argument for England’s
dominion of the seas, could strengthen their case from the title which
Canute the Dane chose to bear, we stop not to inquire; but it gives its
full meaning and point to the popular anecdote to understand of Canute,
that he claimed a dominion over the sea as well as the land, and that
his title proclaimed him to be lord of the ocean. Otherwise, his refusal
to wear the crown after the contumacious rising of the waters, and his
suspending it on the holy image, would be devoid of any peculiar
significance. It was as monarch of the sea that he declared himself
dethroned by the rebellious waves.

However numerous the fleets which our Anglo-Saxon kings were capable of
occasionally collecting--as, for instance, Edward the Confessor when
threatened by an invasion from Norway--it is evident but little progress
had been made towards establishing a permanent naval force. For when
William the Conqueror invaded England, although his great preparations
were matter of notoriety, and he had taken no pains whatever to conceal
his design, the attempt was not made to encounter him at sea; all was
left to the issue of the battle upon land. And William himself had so
little appreciation of any naval power attached to the possession of the
island, that he burned his ships as soon as he had landed, merely to
give his men an additional motive for their courage.

Sir Harris Nicolas has given us here an engraving of the vessel in which
William himself set sail from Normandy--a copy from the celebrated
Bayeux tapestry; and on several other occasions we are presented with
etchings taken from some antique representation. These are well to have,
and curious to look at; but it is very difficult to extract any
information whatever from such designs, it being impossible to know what
is to be attributed to the rude state of the pictorial art, and what to
the rude condition of naval architecture. It would be almost as safe to
take our notion of a Chinese _junk_ from the ships we see sailing in the
sky upon their porcelain ware, as to derive our ideas of William the
Conqueror’s ship from the tapestry of the Empress Matilda and her
ladies. Though needle-work was in such repute and perfection, that we
are told by Miss Strickland, quoting Malmsbury, how “the proficiency of
the four sisters of King Athelstane in weaving and embroidery procured
these royal spinsters the addresses of the greatest princes of Europe,”
we must still take leave to think that the fidelity of representation
was often somewhat sacrificed to the exigencies of the worsted work. In
this engraving, the unhappy pilot or steersman, while he is working his
paddle-rudder with one hand, holds the sail in the other, holds it
bodily by the sheet in his extended hand, without the assistance of any
belaying pin, or even of a rope. Are we to infer from this, that the
simple expedient of turning a rope round a pin to hold the sail the
firmer and the easier, with capability of slackening it at pleasure, was
unknown in these times, or that the fair artist had but slender
knowledge of the management of sailing craft? We are informed that the
original exhibits a tri-coloured sail of three broad stripes, brown,
yellow, and red: who can tell us whether these gay colours had any other
origin than the taste of the needle-woman, and the claims of the worsted
work? Sir Harris Nicolas has gravely observed that there are more
shields hung round the outside of the vessel than there are men within
it--which might have been anticipated without counting them, as it was
much easier to work a round shield than even such figures as are here
intended to pass for men. We must plainly be content with as many men as
she of the needle can manage.

The accession of William the Conqueror, owing to the contempt which the
Norman had of commerce, and the little care he took to protect or honour
the merchant--(little would he have dreamed of ennobling, as did the
Saxon, the man who had made three voyages!)--must have retarded the
progress of England as a naval power. Land and castles, forests and
hunting-fields, were all the Normans thought of. But though chivalry was
no friend to commerce or to navigation, the crusading spirit which
seized upon all the knights of Europe, gave fresh employment and a new
impetus to our marine. It is thus that the reign of Richard Cœur-de-Lion
came to be an important epoch in our naval history. His expedition to
the Holy Land incurred the necessity of building many and large vessels;
voyages were to be performed to the Mediterranean; and the British navy
made its first conquest in distant seas--the isle of Cyprus.

“The English navy at this time seems to have consisted chiefly, if not
entirely, of large galleys, afterwards called galliasses and galiones,
small and light galleys for war, and of _busses_, which were large ships
of burden, with a bluff bow and bulging sides, chiefly used for the
conveyance of troops, stores, provisions, and merchandise. No drawing or
description of English ships before the reign of King Edward II.
justifies the idea that they had ever more than one mast; but some of
the busses in the fleet which accompanied King Richard I. from Messina
to Cyprus, are said to have had ‘a three-fold expansion of sails’--an
ambiguous expression, which may mean that they had three sails on one
mast, or that the sails were affixed to two or more masts.”--(P. 75.)

These small craft, so gaily decorated, sailing and rowing together in
even lines, and in such close order that each ship was within hail of
its neighbour, with the armour of the knights, their spears and their
pennons, seen glittering within them, and their shields ranged on the
outside, must have presented a very picturesque appearance, especially
when spread out in the calm blue waters of the Mediterranean. “As soon
as the people heard of the arrival of Richard at the port of Messina,”
says a contemporary writer, Vinesauf, “they rushed in crowds to the
shore to behold the glorious King of England, and at a distance saw the
sea covered with innumerable galleys; and the sounds of trumpets from
afar, with the sharper and shriller blasts of clarions, resounded in
their ears; and they beheld the galleys rowing in order nearer to the
land, adorned and furnished with all manner of arms, countless pennons
floating in the winds, ensigns at the ends of the lances, the beaks of
the galleys distinguished by various paintings, and glittering shields
suspended to the prows. The sea appeared to boil with the multitude of
the rowers; the clangour of their trumpets was deafening; the greatest
joy was testified at the arrival of the various multitudes: when thus
our magnificent King, attended by crowds of those who navigated the
galleys--as if to see what was unknown to him, or to be beheld by those
to whom he was unknown,--stood on a prow more ornamented and higher than
the others; and landing, displayed himself elegantly adorned, to all who
pressed to the shore to see him.”

Richard was as much distinguished for bravery on sea as on land, and
during his expedition to Palestine he zealously performed the duties of
admiral of his fleet. He sailed in the rear--which in him must have been
a remarkable self-denial--for the better protection of the convoy.
During a tempest which overtook them and threatened their destruction,
he remained cool and collected, encouraging all around him by his
speeches and his example. And when the gale abated, the King’s ship,
which was indicated during the night by a light at the mast-head,
brought to, that the scattered vessels might gather round her. “In
truth,” says Vinesauf, “the King watched and looked after his fleet as a
hen doth after her chickens.”

These, his “chickens,” however, he was by no means disposed to spare, if
any thing like battle was going forward. Sailing along the coast of
Syria, an immense ship was discovered a-head. It proved a Turk. It was
the largest vessel the English had ever seen, and excited great wonder
and admiration. Some chroniclers, call her a “dromon,” others a “buss,”
while one of them exclaims, “A marvellous ship! a ship than which,
except Noah’s ship, none greater was ever read of!--the queen of ships!”
It had three masts, and was reported, though it is incredible, to have
had on board fifteen hundred men. It was on its way to Acre to assist in
the defence of that place, and was laden with bows, arrows, and other
weapons, an abundance of Greek fire in jars, and “two hundred most
deadly serpents prepared for the destruction of Christians.”

Lingard has, in his severe classical manner, described the contest of
Richard’s fleet with this gigantic Turk. But the account which our
present author gives of it, being in great part immediately translated
from the original of Vinesauf, is so highly graphic, and withal so
characteristic of our _Cœur-de-Lion_, that we must find room for a
portion of it.

“The moment the galley (which had been sent to reconnoitre the strange
vessel) came alongside of the ship, the Saracens threw arrows and Greek
fire into her. Richard instantly ordered the enemy to be attacked,
saying, ‘Follow, and take them! for if they escape ye lose my love
forever; and if ye capture them, all their goods shall be yours.’
Himself foremost in the fight, and summoning his galleys to the royal
vessel, he animated all around by his characteristic valour. Showers of
missiles flew on both sides, and the Turkish ship slackened her way; but
though the galleys rowed round and about her in all directions, her
great height and the number of her crew, whose arrows fell with deadly
effect from her decks, rendered it extremely difficult to board her. The
English consequently became discouraged, if not dismayed; when the King
cried out, ‘Will ye now suffer that ship to get off untouched and
uninjured? Oh, shame! after so many triumphs do ye now give way to sloth
and fear? Know that if this ship escape, every one of ye shall be hung
upon the cross or put to extreme torture.’ The galley-men making, says
the candid historian, a virtue of necessity, jumped overboard, and
diving under the enemy’s vessel, fastened ropes to her rudder, steering
her as they pleased; and then, catching hold of ropes and climbing up
her sides, they succeeded at last in boarding her. A desperate conflict
ensued; the Turks were forced forward, but being joined by those from
below, they rallied and drove their assailants back to their galleys.
Only one resource remained, and it instantly presented itself to the
King’s mind. He ordered his galleys to pierce the sides of the enemy
with the iron spurs affixed to their prows. These directions were
executed with great skill and success. The galleys, receding a little,
formed a line; and then, giving full effect to their oars, struck the
Turkish ship with such violence that her sides were stove in many
places, and the sea immediately rushing in, she soon foundered.”--(P.
120.)

Of the Greek fire, which is here incidentally mentioned, Sir Harris
Nicolas gives us a terrible description. He thinks it an instrument of
war more dreadful than gunpowder, or than any other discovery of modern
chemistry. “It was propelled in a fluid state through brazen tubes from
the prows of vessels and fortifications with as much precision as water
is now thrown from a fire-engine. The moment it was exposed to the air
it ignited, and became a continuous stream of fire, bringing with it
excruciating torture and inevitable destruction. Unlike any other
combustible, water increased its properties, and it could only be
extinguished by vinegar, or stifled with sand;[13] while to its other
horrors were added a thick smoke, loud noise, and disgusting stench.”

A stream of fire playing upon a vessel presents a terrible enough
picture to the imagination; but we doubt very much if this Greek fire
would have ever been replaced by gunpowder, if there had not been very
good reasons for the preference. To have your instruments of destruction
under complete control is one of the first requisites of war; and it is
probable that this continuous stream of fire, which might be avoided by
a slight movement to the right or left, was often utterly wasted, and
that its preparation and employment was almost as perilous to those who
used it, as to those against whom it was directed. The sagacity of man
is rarely at fault in the work of destruction, and we have perfect
confidence that he would in this matter make choice of the most
effective means at his disposal.

If the impression on the imagination, or the terror excited in a
spectator, were any test of the efficacy of these terrible
contrivances, many of the earliest and rudest would claim our
preference. We might look with respect upon that expedient which an old
traveller, Carpini, attributes to the fabulous hero and monarch, Prester
John. “This Prester John (whom he places somewhere in India) caused a
number of hollow copper figures to be made, resembling men, which were
stuffed with combustibles and set upon horses, each having a man behind
on the horse with a pair of bellows to stir up the fire. At the first
onset of the battle these mounted figures were set forward to the
charge; the men who rode behind them set fire to the combustibles, and
then blew strongly with the bellows. Immediately the Mongul men and
horses were burned with wildfire, and the air was darkened with smoke.
Then the Indians fell upon the Monguls, who were thrown into confusion
by this new mode of warfare, and routed them with great
slaughter.”--(_Maritime and Inland Discovery_, vol. i. p. 258.)

These fiery cavaliers must have been fearful enough to look upon,
darting flames from eyes and mouth like so many Apollyons; but it must
also have been a fearful business to act as faithful squire to one of
these combustible knights; and, after all, a single piece of artillery,
one long black cylinder of iron with its sooty charge, were worth a
whole regiment of them.

It is worthy of remark how few of these schemes for the wholesale
destruction of an enemy, or his fleet, have ever succeeded. They have
raised great expectations on one side, and great alarm on the other, but
have generally ended in some very paltry result. Even in modern times,
when the use of explosive materials is so much better understood,
fire-ships, and the like inventions, have proved of little efficacy. The
means of destruction are great, but they are not sufficiently under the
control of those who would use them. In the late war, in order to
destroy the flotilla at Boulogne, we despatched four fire-ships in
succession--“catamarans” as they were called, horribly stuffed with
gunpowder and all sorts of inflammable matter. They exploded one after
the other with a terrible noise, but effected nothing. Those who have
read Cooper’s History of the American Navy, will remember the disastrous
issue of that “floating mine” which was to destroy the fleet and arsenal
at Tripoli. This “infernal,” as it was called, was filled with a hundred
barrels of gunpowder, a hundred and fifty shells, a large quantity of
shot, great and small, and all manner of fragments of iron. In the dead
of night it was to sail unperceived into the harbour of Tripoli, and the
officer and men who had the charge of it, after having lit the fuse,
were to return in their boats to the frigate Nautilus from which they
had proceeded. The men on board the frigate, watched the “Infernal” till
its dim sail was lost in a pitch-dark night. Then came a fierce and
sudden blaze--a torrent of fire like the great eruption of Vesuvius, and
a concussion that made the vessel tremble from its keel to its topmost
spar. Tenfold night succeeded--and silence; and every eye was vigilant
to discover the returning boats. Some leaned over the sides of the
vessel, holding lights to guide them; others placed their ears near the
water, to detect the sound of their oars. They never reappeared; not a
single man of them returned. By some unexplained accident, all had
perished in the explosion; and the morning dawned, and the enemy was
untouched and uninjured.

Amongst the many subjects which Sir Harris Nicolas has occasion to treat
in the course of his naval history, none is more curious than that of
the _law of wreck_. A rude and barbarous people concluded that what was
thrown by the tempest on their coast was a sort of god-send, and the
property of the first finder. The king, as general finder of all lost
treasure, was not long before he put in his paramount claim; and the
common law sanctioned it, proceeding, we are told, upon the principle,
that by the loss of the ship all property had passed away from the
original owner. With equal gravity it might have sanctioned any species
of theft or spoliation, by promulgating the principle, that when a man
can no longer keep possession of his goods, “all property has passed
away from the original owner.” This was indeed “adding sorrow to sorrow,
and injustice to misfortune. Henry I. has the merit of having first
mitigated this cruelty of the common law. “He ordained that if any
person escaped alive from the ship, it should not be considered a
wreck:” on the principle, we suppose--for the law loves what it calls a
principle, and if it partakes of the nature of a fiction loves it the
more--that the person who escaped might be considered as an agent for
the merchant or proprietor, retaining in his name a possession of the
goods and the ship. But the next step in this humane course of
legislation was still more singular. A statute of Edward I.
enacts--“Concerning wrecks of the sea, it is agreed that when a man, _a
dog_, _or a cat_, escape quick out of the ship, that neither such ship
or barge, nor any thing within them, shall be adjudged wreck.” Here the
dog or the cat, which was so fortunate as to escape, must, in the eye of
the law, we presume, have been clothed with the character of an agent,
and looked upon, for the time being, as the servant of the hapless
merchant. Such, we suppose, must have been the legal reasoning; but
perhaps some prejudice of an ignorant people, which we cannot now follow
or define, was in reality taken advantage of by the legislation of those
days; and a rude selfishness, which would have been deaf to reason or
humanity, was assailed by the aid of some superstition as rude as
itself. However, after such a law, we hope no ship set sail without
having a supply of dogs and cats on board.

The extent to which piratical habits, and indeed all manner of robbing
and violence, prevailed in these early periods, is very well known; but
the reader will find some curious and startling instances in the work
before us. Between foreign countries there was generally a species of
private war being carried on; for it was an understood custom, that when
a native of one country was injured by a native of another, and could
get no redress, he was justified in obtaining what compensation or
revenge he could from the fellow-countrymen of the person who had
injured him. In such cases, his government granted him letters of
marque--“license to _mark_, retain, and appropriate,” the men and goods
of such foreign nation. Even on land the creditor of one foreigner, who
could not get paid, might attach the goods of any other foreigner--of
the same nation, we presume. It had to be enacted by Statute i. West. c.
23., that “no stranger who is of this realm shall be distrained in any
town or market for a debt wherein he is neither principal nor
security.”[14] Sir Harris Nicolas mentions a curious case at p. 235,
which shows how rooted this idea must have been in the general mind,
that the goods of all foreigners were liable for the debt of any one of
them. One Richard de Canne had captured a ship in Brittany, and Helen,
widow of Richard Clark, had lost a ship in Brittany; whereupon widow
Helen laid claim to Richard’s ship, and got possession of it. But the
king reversed the sentence of the justiciary of Ireland--“forasmuch that
it does not appear to us to be just that the said Richard should lose
the aforesaid ship, which he acquired in a land at war with us, on
account of a ship which the said Helen afterwards lost in the same
hostile land.”

The present volume of Sir H. Nicolas’s history carries us no further
than the reign of Edward II. We shall watch its future progress with
interest. Hitherto we have to familiarise the imagination with ships or
boats of very small dimensions, and their very limited exploits. And it
is singular what an effort of the imagination it requires here to reduce
sufficiently the scale of things. How complete is the contrast of that
Saxon ship, with its one sail held by the hand, its few oars, its paddle
at the quarter, and its sea-captain showing his dexterity in walking
upon the oars while in motion, and throwing, like a conjuror, three
darts in the air at once--with the stately man-of-war, and its calm and
intelligent commander! Nothing can exhibit more strikingly than this
contrast the gradual improvements which age after age may make and
transmit. Mast has been added to mast, and sail to sail, and rope to
rope; and in the hull, tier after tier of guns have been raised, till
the ship has become the hugest and most complicated piece of mechanism
the world has ever seen.

Who has not in his time gazed with wonder on those floating castles
which the citizen of England from time to time sees hovering on his
coast, the watchful and moving fortresses of his island home? You are a
dweller in cities--you are lying, in some holiday and summer month,
listlessly upon the beach--the great ocean is spread before you,
illimitable--and it almost terrifies the imagination to think of men
passing _out there_, in that wild waste of waters, given up to the two
unthinking and gigantic powers of wind and wave, that have no more
respect for man or his structures than if they were still in the liberty
of chaos. That men _do_ go forth to the uttermost ends of the world
seems a thing almost fabulous--incredible. You have eaten of the lotus
leaf: why _should_ they go?--go from the firm and sheltering earth, to
lay their lives upon the winds? But now comes in sight a sail; the
extended wing floats unfluttered; the tall tapering masts are visible;
it moves imperturbable, like a god upon the waters. And look at that
tongue of flame drawn back with a serpent’s swiftness, and that wreath
of whitest vapour that steals out from its side so soft and
graceful!--is that the deadly shot that levels stoutest walls, and puts
to silence the bastion and the fort? So beautiful--so strong!--it walks
the waves, how fearless!--and nothing on the sea can harm it, and
nothing on the shore resist.

Where now are the great waters that swallowed up all enterprise, and
smote the heart with despair? The sea is ours!--we live, we revel, we
fight, we conquer on it.

The ship casts anchor, and you rush with many others upon the shore, and
you enter a skiff, which will take you off to a nearer survey of this
great visitor. You approach, and mount the sides of this floating
arsenal. Is this the thing you saw moving light as a bird upon the
horizon? You look down as from a house-top. That yacht which bore its
pennon so gallantly in the air, and which is now moored under the stern,
can just lay its fluttering flag on the solid deck you are walking. Look
down--you are giddy with the height; look up--and you are again level
with the waters; for there rises the enormous mast, piercing the sky,
laying its steady spars against the blue ether, bearing its acre-broad
canvass, that makes the vast hull with all its iron stores, bound over
the surface of the wave. O _Clas merdin_!--thou “sea-defended green
spot,”--such, and so great, is the sacrifice thou art called to offer up
upon the deep to the god of war! May it avail to keep thy homes for ever
untouched by the invader!



EVENINGS AT SEA.


It has often been a matter of surprise that we should owe so little of
the contents of our treasury of literature to officers of the navy while
actually employed at sea. The abundant leisure at their disposal, the
endless variety of places visited, of events witnessed, of perils shared
in, which their noble and important profession forces upon them, would
appear to give every facility to those who are gifted with descriptive
or imaginative powers, and to be almost capable of creating such where
they do not originally exist.

But any one who has himself been for a long time on the desert of waters
can no longer regard this with astonishment; he will have felt the
difficulty of bringing the mind into active and continued exertion in
pursuits unconnected with passing events. Though the physical functions
may be stimulated into unusual vigour by the bracing air and healthful
life on board, the power and energy of the mind are far from being
proportionately increased.

Having just landed from a long and tedious voyage, I feel in my own
experience a reproachful confirmation of this accusation of idleness
against a life at sea. All the admirable resolutions of study and
self-improvement, formed with the firmness of a Brutus on the shore,
melted away with the weakness of an Antony when I trusted myself to the
faithless bosom of the deep.

But there is no place where the stores of memory are more brought into
use in the way of narration, than on board ship; perhaps it is that
those who are at all inclined to garrulity find patient and idle
listeners more readily than under any other circumstances.

My fellow-passengers, though not very numerous, were men of sundry
countries, characters, and pursuits, and their manners and conversation
made up in their odd and discordant variety, for what they lacked in
refinement and intellectuality. It appears to me always the wisest plan
for a traveller to join in the society of his fellow-passengers, whoever
or whatever they may be. It is our own fault if we ever meet any one so
dull as to be incapable of affording us some amusement, or so ignorant
that we can derive no instruction from their conversation. The fact is,
that we are sure to be thrown into communication with many men who have
travelled much, who have seen many countries, and tried many pursuits,
of which we have known but little, and of which it must be always
desirable that our information should be increased.

During our voyage, we usually assembled, in the fine calm evenings of a
southern latitude, on the poop of the vessel, guarded from the evils of
the dewy air by a tent-like tarpaulin attached to the mizen-mast
overhead, with the friendly glass and the pipe or cigar to aid our
social chat. After a little time our conversation often lapsed into
narrative. As the thread of our discourse twisted through the various
textures of our different minds, a subject would at times strike on the
strong point or favourite idea of some one of our party, and with a half
passive, half interested attention, we would hear him to the end.

A few of these men had lived active and adventurous lives, and witnessed
stirring scenes; indeed, there was hardly one of them who had not some
experience of interest, wherewith to contribute to the armoury with
which we waged war against time, that enemy whose strength becomes
almost a tyranny on board ship. Frequently, on the following morning, I
used to endeavour to record the most striking of these narratives in the
best manner my memory permitted--but I fear in a way which will prove
but a too strong evidence of the soundness of the assertion I commenced
by putting forth, as to the difficulty of any literary effort while at
sea. The first narrative which I find noted in my manuscript was related
to us by the agent of an English mining company in Peru: he was then on
his way to London on business connected with his calling, and seemed a
man of quick intelligence, information, and kindly feelings. His
description of the golden and beautiful region whence he had come, and
the adventurous and prosperous labours of our own countrymen in that
distant land, were highly interesting; but a simple story of the noble
conduct of one of his miners--a rude and illiterate Cornish man--caught
my attention far more than any thing else, and added another strong link
to the chain of sympathy which binds my heart in love and kindly feeling
to my fellow beings. I give you his tale as I best can.


EVENING FIRST.--THE MINER.

In the spring of the year 1838 a vessel sailed from Falmouth, with
thirty-two Cornish miners and artisans on board, engaged by different
companies for Peru. They were principally young and adventurous men, who
were readily induced to change the certainty of hard work and
indifferent remuneration at home for the chances of a strange land. Some
of them took their families to share their fate, others left them
behind, to await their return if unsuccessful, or to follow the next
year if fortune should befriend the emigrants.

Among these latter was John Short, a man of about four-and-thirty years
of age; his brother-in-law, William Wakeham, five or three years his
junior, accompanied him: both were skilled and experienced miners. Mary
Short, the, wife of the former, remained with old Wakeham, her father,
who was a small farmer, living in the neighbourhood of Penzance. She had
been married some twelve years before this separation from her husband,
and had two surviving children, both of them young and helpless.

Her father had been much angered at her marriage; as in those days her
young husband bore no very steady character, and was better known in the
tap-room of the alehouse than at the labour-muster of the Captain of the
mine. Indeed, the father had threatened to turn her out of doors for
persisting in keeping acquaintance with the idle miner; and her brother,
William Wakeham, a very robust and quick-tempered young man, had beaten
her lover severely in a drunken quarrel, originating in the same cause.
The injuries were so severe that John Short was carried to an hospital,
where his kind-hearted but violent assailant paid him the most careful
and anxious attention. A friendship was there formed which resulted in
William Wakeham becoming a miner and John marrying his sister. The
father was finally and with much difficulty reconciled to both these
arrangements.

The young couple toiled on well enough through their hard life; the
alehouse was abandoned, and but that poor John was sometimes weak and
ailing and could not work, Polly had no reason to regret her choice.
William, who lived with them, was not quite so steady as they could have
wished: he often staid out all night, and they were not without
suspicion that the employment of these hours of darkness was scarcely
reconcileable with strict obedience to the very arbitrary game-laws. In
short, he was “had up” several times, and more indebted to good luck,
than either his innocence or any mild weakness of legislation, that he
did not become one of those whom we have driven forth from among
ourselves to be the founders of that great future empire, whose
principal geographical feature is Botany Bay.

But whenever his brother was too ill to go down to the mines, he worked
double tides; and neither the heathery moors nor shady coverts had
charms enough to tempt him away, when his sister or her family wanted
half the loaf his labour was to purchase. At length hard times came upon
the neighbourhood: work was scarce and wages low; the consequence was
that the game in the adjoining preserves suffered considerably, and the
tap-room of the village alehouse echoed with the voice of sedition and
discontent, instead of the coarse but good-humoured gossip and song
which had formerly been wont to be heard within its walls. This proved
an excellent opportunity for the mining agent to secure good workmen for
some speculations then being entered upon in South America. Accordingly
a flaming advertisement in huge red and blue letters was posted up all
over the country,--“Speedy fortune to be realised--gold mines of
Peru--wanted some steady and experienced miners--high wages--free
passage and a bounty.”

Poor William Wakeham’s literary acquirements but just enabled him to
make out the drift of the offer: Peru or Palestine, it was all the same
to him; no change could make him much worse off than he already was. A
picture at the top of the advertisement, of a man with a broad-brimmed
hat, a pickaxe in one hand, and an enormously plethoric purse in the
other, had great weight with him; and a strong hint from a neighbouring
magistrate who preserved pheasants, quite determined his acceptance of
the opportunity, if he could only persuade his brother-in-law to join
the venture. After a good deal of argument and many consultations, John
Short consented to go. He was threatened with ejectment from his cottage
for arrears of rent, which the company’s promised bounty would be more
than sufficient to discharge; but what overcame his greatest difficulty
was, that he received a promise from the agent, that Polly and the
little ones should follow them out next spring, for in this present
voyage the number of women allowed to accompany the emigrants had been
already completed. In the mean time she was to receive a portion of her
husband’s and brother’s wages, which would make her comfortable and
independent in her father’s house. Poor thing! she combated the scheme
strenuously; and all the prospects of making their fortune, and their
present dire necessity, could scarcely induce her to agree to so long a
separation.

Her husband and brother embarked after a cheerful but affectionate
parting. She went home to her father’s, who treated her kindly enough,
and cried her eyes out for a week; but then the toils and anxieties of
daily life distracted the sadness of her mind, and the strong hope of
soon joining her husband again, and of their returning to England in a
few years’ time, supported her through the tedious interval.

The brothers were astonished at all they saw on board. The ship
itself--the rudder--the compass, every thing was new to them: they had
scarcely ever been out of their own remote parish before, and the
strangeness and novelty of what they saw diverted their simple minds for
a time even from poor Polly and her parting sorrow. But when the vessel
was once fairly under way, and the verdant slopes and woody hills of
their fatherland had begun to grow dim in the distance, and the gloomy
monotony of the great sea lay around instead, a dreary anxiety possessed
their minds, and a vague feeling, almost of terror, sank into their
stout hearts. They would then have gladly sacrificed all their gilded
prospects, to be back once again in their little cottage, with poor
Polly and their poverty. It was, however, too late; they could scarcely
tell, in the fading light of evening, whether it were a cloud or a dim
line of hills which stretched close along the horizon, in the direction
where lay the home they had left behind, perhaps for ever.

Before them was the ocean; to them a confused and indistinct
idea--unknown and uncertain as their future fate.

I am sorry to say William Wakeham’s education had been by no means
elaborate. Perhaps he was not altogether to blame for this; for though
the masters he had laboured under cared very closely for the development
of his stout and vigorous limbs, his moral improvement by no means
interested them. But, worse than all, his ideas on theological subjects
were exceedingly indistinct--the only religious instruction he had ever
received having been in a small chapel of the Ranting persuasion, which,
as the only house of worship close at hand, he occasionally attended.
Indeed his stock of knowledge on these subjects consisted in a vague
notion that the Pope and the Devil were perpetually engaged in mining
operations, with explosive intentions, under houses of parliament.

But there was an instinct of reverence in his rude mind, an impression
of awe and love for that God of whom he had heard his mother often
speak, many years ago when he was a little child, before her early
death. Sometimes in the bright summer nights, when he was labouring in
the bowels of the earth, he would rest awhile from his work, and gaze up
through the shafts at the blue sky, till the dim but holy memories of
the past crowded on his brain. He fancied then that the Great Being
looked down from the high Heaven through a million starry eyes, into the
deep mine--into his simple heart; and he felt that there was One far
greater than the Captain of the workmen, or even than Squire Trebeck the
neighbouring magistrate, and to whom the strength of his vigorous limbs
was but the weakness of a child.

When in the summer Sunday afternoon, he rambled on the pleasant surface
of the earth, in the fresh open air, with his brother and sister, and
felt the warm sunshine, and saw the golden corn, and the lazy cattle,
and the trout leaping in the pool; and heard little fidgety birds with
very big voices, singing with all their might to tell how happy they
were; he felt that He who is great is also good.--that He who has all
power has boundless mercy too.

But ignorance and evil companions very often led poor William astray;
and when temptations pulled one way and his good instincts another, it
sometimes ended that he would poach, and drink, and fight as much as any
of them, and prove very sore and penitent the next morning. John Short
was what is called “a good kind of man,” with few of the faults or
virtues of his brother-in-law. He was quiet, industrious, and a good
husband, but of a weakly constitution, and not much character or
peculiarity one way or the other. Ever since their first quarrel these
two had continued in hearty favour and good-will one towards the other.
And this friendship helped them through many a pinch, and cheered many a
rough day.

It would be needless to follow the miners all through their voyage,--to
tell at length how they wondered that the sea could be so wide and the
world so large,--how the sun, as they went westward, seemed to travel so
much faster--and that, in spite of all they could do, their great fat
watches could not keep up with him;--and how a great storm arose, and
blew for three whole days and nights in their teeth, and raised up
monstrous waves to drive the vessel back;--then how the calm came, and
the sails, wet with the heavy dews, hung idly on the spars, like Polly’s
washing on the lines in the back-yard at home.

After many weeks they touched at Rio Janeiro, when they went ashore for
a little while to stretch their limbs. They were astonished at all they
saw--the vast fleet of ships, the busy quays, the crowds of
strange-looking brown people, who were dressed like the man they had
seen in the play long ago at Penzance fair, and the queer way they all
talked, so that our friends could not understand a word they said; and
the priests with loose robes and comical hats, who made them wonder if
there were a parliament at Rio, for it would be surely blown up; mules
larger than horses, with coats as smooth as satin; and above all, they
were astonished at seeing a crowd of very ugly black people chained hand
to hand in one of the squares, tethered for all the world like sheep on
the market-green at home. They were fairly bewildered; and when they got
on board again they agreed that they could not attend to digging, even
for gold itself, if Peru were half so foreign a looking place as that.

They have left Rio, and steer along the Patagonian shore; the weather
grows colder, the seas more stormy. They pass the gloomy mountains of
the desolate and mysterious “Land of fire.” Sometimes in the dark and
tempestuous nights they can distinguish, far away over the western sea,
sudden bursts of volcanic flame issuing from these unknown solitudes,
illuming the frowning sky above, and the rocky wilderness around. In a
long-continued storm of wind, and sleet, and snow, they double Cape
Horn; then in a short time more, as they tend again towards the
delightful regions of the tropics, the soft breezes of the Pacific fill
their sails, and the calm sea and gentle climate repay them for the
storms and hardships they have struggled through.

They touch at Valparaiso for a few days, where their simple wonder is
again renewed; and finally, early in August, disembark at Lima, having
gone through their long voyage in health and strength. After a short
time allowed them to recruit, the emigrants were divided into several
parties, and pushed on to the different stations in the interior. The
mine which our friends were destined to aid in working, was about ten
days’ journey from the coast. At some remote period of time, it had
been worked with great success by the Indians; but till its recent
re-discovery by a singular accident, when it passed into the hands of a
wealthy English company, it had remained unknown: the secret of its
locality having died with the Indian chief, whose hatred of the
rapacious Spaniards had caused him to fill up the shaft, and hide all
traces by which it could be found. There was a continual ascent: for a
few days they passed through comparatively peopled lands, and usually
stopped at some village or hamlet by a river’s side, where provisions
and refreshments could be obtained for themselves and their mules,
without trenching on their stores. Indeed the abundant wild fruits, and
rich and luxuriant grasses, would have stood them in good stead with but
little other assistance.

But the last three days of their journey was through savage and sterile
hills, by rocky gorges cut in the hard soil by streams now nearly dry;
and the unbeaten track told them that travellers but rarely intruded on
this lonely district. At length they reached their journey’s end, and
set stoutly to work to erect huts, and establish themselves for the
coming winter. Numbers of Indians and half-castes soon joined them to
assist in the simpler labours of the mine, and supply the workmen with
provisions and other necessaries of life. Twelve of the Cornish men were
employed in this party. Their first labours were directed to sinking a
shaft of considerable depth in the mountain’s side, at the place which
the discoverer pointed out.

Some months elapsed before the miners arrived at any satisfactory
indications of precious ores; but, confident in ultimate success, our
friends had got the clerk to write for them to Polly to say “all’s
well,” and that she must not fail to come, as they were now housed and
ready to make her and the little ones comfortable in that strange
country.

At the time of the expected arrival of the ship which was to bear her,
the completion of the great shaft Was close at hand; the appearance of
the veins of ore were such as to create the most sanguine expectations,
and a day was fixed for finishing off the shaft previous to commencing
to raise the precious object of their labours. They worked till late on
the evening of the appointed day in boring and tamping for a large blast
Which was to clear away the last ledge of rock lying between them and
the vein of metal.

When the charge was completed, William Wakeham and John Short were left
below to fire it. The other workmen were raised upon a stage by the
windlass in the usual manner; and with most culpable carelessness
hastened off to the spirit shop which had already cursed the little
settlement with its presence, to make merry for having arrived at this
stage of their labours, leaving only a weakly boy of fourteen or fifteen
years of age at the windlass. There was some delay in fixing the match:
and ere all was ready, the short twilight of those sultry regions had
darkened into night, and William’s old friends, the stars, looked down
on him again through the deep well, as they had often done of yore. Then
he and John talked of the old times and the old country, and of Polly’s
coming soon, and how the little ones would have grown, and how, in a few
years, they would all go back home again over that terrible sea, and lay
their bones to rest at last under the Cornish soil. They had no business
to linger so long over their work; but once they began to talk over such
things as these, it was hard to stop them.

“Now we have done with this weary blast,” said Wakeham, as he lighted
the fuse, and stepped, with his brother, on to the stage. He then
sounded the whistle, the signal for working the windlass to raise them.
They rose very slowly--unpleasantly so, indeed, for the fuse would burn
but for five minutes. “Hurry on, wind faster,” shouted William. Instead
of that the stage stopped altogether, and a feeble childish voice from
the top of the deep pit cried, “You are too heavy, I can only raise one
at a time.” “Get help quickly or we’ll be blown up,” shouted William,
now seeing the imminent peril. For some twenty feet below in the dark
hole he saw the match burning rapidly down, fizzing and flashing as if
running a race with them for life. “Get help,” again he shouted. But the
feeble voice, now in a terrified tone, told them that all were gone
away but that one weak boy. “But I think I can raise one.” There was but
a moment to spare--perhaps not even that.

What passed through William Wakeham’s mind at that tremendous time no
tongue can ever tell. He dearly loved life; his pulse beat in the full
vigour of sturdy health; he had learned but little of that hope whose
fulfilment “passeth all understanding;” he had never read how the Roman
or the Greek sought death in a good cause, and gave their names to
brighten history’s page, and gain what in our vain human talk is
immortality. But that Great Being whose power and love had spoken to him
in the bright stars and pleasant fields, had planted in the rude miner’s
breast a good and gallant heart, and in that time of trial he did as
brave a deed as ever poet sang. “Good-by, John--look to poor Polly!” One
grasp of his brother’s hand, and he leaped from the stage down into the
darksome pit.

Now the windlass winds freely up: there is hope for the one left; but
the match burns quickly too, and writhes and flashes close down to the
charge. Lay on stoutly! lay on!--strain every nerve, weak boy!--on every
pull is the chance of a human life! John Short reaches the mouth of the
shaft in safety; but before he springs out on the ground he turns one
look below. His brother lay motionless on the bottom on one side of the
rich vein of metal; at the other, the terrible match blazed up just as
it reached the charge. Senseless with terror, he fell on his face at the
pit’s mouth, and the next moment up burst the mine, shooting the rent
rock and the heavy clay into the air above.

When John Short recovered himself from his stupor, he looked down the
gloomy hole with hopeless agony, from whence the heavy sulphurous smoke
of the powder still ascended; and as he wrung his hands he cried, “Oh!
poor Bill, dear boy, would that I had been there instead of you!” But
stop--surely that is a voice--listen closer--yes--God of mercy! he is
alive still. Up from the bowels of the earth comes that cheery, hearty
voice, not a tone the worse.

How my heart warms as I tell this tale! Would that words came now at my
desire to stir up the spirit to love and admiration! Gallant William
Wakeham--noble child of nature--chivalrous boor--hero unstained by
slaughter! Were there in the sight of the Omnipotent aught of glory in
any human action, surely your brave deed would shine before him in a
brighter light than “the sun of Austerlitz” shed upon the bloody field
where the power of an empire was trampled in the dust.

Down went the stage,--up came Bill, blackened and bruised a little to be
sure, but not to signify a jot; he had struck his head in falling
against the side of the shaft and was stunned by the blow. It so
happened, by one of those wonderful contingencies which sometimes occur
when, in human eyes, escape seems impossible, that he fell in a corner
protected by the tough metallic vein which projected a little above the
level of the bottom. The explosion bent this by its force, instead of
shattering it like the surrounding rock, and turned the ledge over him.
This in a great measure defended him from the stones which fell back
again into the mine. The shock aroused him from the stunning effect of
the blow which he had received in falling, and he shouted heartily, “All
right, John! all right!”

His reward soon came--Polly and the children arrived safe and well. When
she wept with joy and thanked him in her own simple way for having saved
her husband for her, he was so happy in their happiness that he would
readily have jumped into the bursting mine again, rather than they
should be parted any more. When our narrator, the mining agent, left
Peru, the brothers were preparing to return to England; they had got on
well enough, and had saved sufficient money to enable them to stock a
little farm, near the village in Cornwall where they were born.

By the time this long story was told, it was past the usual hour of
going to our berths; but I am ashamed to say that several of our party
had already taken a large instalment of their night’s rest, and knew no
more about our friend William Wakeham than of the man in the moon.



THE DOG OF ALCIBIADES.


In Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades the following passage occurs:--

“Alcibiades had a dog of an uncommon size and beauty, which cost him
seventy _minæ_, and yet his tail, which was his principal ornament, he
caused to be cut off. Some of his acquaintance found great fault with
his acting so strangely, and told him that all Athens rang with the
story of his foolish treatment of the dog. At which he laughed, and
said, ‘This is the very thing I wanted; for I would have the Athenians
talk of this, lest they should find something worse to say of me.’”

This anecdote, move popularly known in France than in England, has there
been the origin of a proverbial metaphor. When a minor vice, folly, or
eccentricity is assumed as a cloak for a greater one, with a view to
throw dust in the eyes of all inquisitive public, and to veil from its
curiosity real motives, intentions, and inclinations, the pretext
paraded is called the Dog of Alcibiades. The true application of the
term may be better illustrated than exactly defined, and the former
course has been adopted in a French book of no distant date, entitled
_Le Chien d’Alcibiade_. A single volume, the only one its author has
produced--its wit, elegance of style, and general good taste would do
credit to the most experienced novelist; whilst the warm reception it
met from the Parisian public, ought, one would imagine, to have
encouraged a repetition of the attempt. On its title-page was found the
assumed name of Major Fridolin, the same under which a noted Parisian
_turfite_ enters his horses for the races at Chantilly and the Champ de
Mars. The _gentleman-rider_ (_vide_ the Anglo-Gallic vocabulary
patronised by the Paris _jochai-clubb_) who owns the fantastical
pseudonyme, is more esteemed for wealth than wit, better known as a
judge of horse-flesh than as a cultivator of literature, and generally
held more likely to achieve renown by the strength of his racers’ legs
than of his own head. So that when an ably-written novel appeared under
his _nom-de-guerre_, people asked one another if he were possibly its
author, and had previously kept his candle under a bushel, only to
dazzle the more when the shade was withdrawn. There could be no doubt
that the book was from the pen of a man of talent and refinement,
accustomed to good society, and seizing with peculiar felicity its
phases and foibles. The characters were so true to life, that it was
impossible for those moving in the circles portrayed to avoid
recognising the originals, not as individuals but as types of classes.
The gay world of Paris was painted with a sharp and delicate pencil,
without exaggeration or grotesque colouring. Some similarity might be
traced to the manner of Charles de Bernard, but in one respect the new
author had the advantage. His wit was as sparkling, his tone quite as
gentlemanly and agreeable, but he eschewed the caricature into which De
Bernard’s _verve_ not unfrequently seduces him. The name of the new
aspirant for literary fame soon oozed out, and to Monsieur Valbezene was
decerned the honour of having produced one of the most attractive novels
of the day. It at once gave him a reputation for ability, and is even
said to have conduced to his shortly afterwards receiving a government
appointment. It brought him under the notice of the bestowers of loaves
and fishes, as a man whose _finesse d’esprit_ and knowledge of the world
might be rendered serviceable to the state. M. Valbezene is now consul
of France at the Cape of Good Hope. It is to be desired that he may
there find leisure to cultivate his literary talents, and add others to
the favourable specimen of them he has already given. In Paris we should
have had less expectation of his so doing, for his book denotes him, if
a writer may her judged by his writings, to be a man of ease and
pleasure, more disposed and likely to sink into _far niente_ and form
the chief ornament of a brilliant circle, than to seclude himself in a
study, and apply seriously to literature.

The opening scene of M. Valbezene’s book is a brilliant ball-room in the
Faubourg St Honoré. At a whist-table sits the Count de Marsanne--a man
of forty years of age, at most; of robust health and handsome person.
His figure is stout without being corpulent; his ruddy countenance,
tanned by exposure to the weather, is not without distinction and grace;
his blue eyes are remarkably fine and intelligent; he wears his beard,
and his thick strong hair is cropped short. His dress denotes the
gentleman. His linen is exquisitely white, and the cut of his coat can
only be attributed to the skilful hand of Blin or Chevreuil. The Count,
who served previously to the July revolution in the hussars of the
Guard, and who, since leaving the service, has sought in field-sports
the peril, excitement, and activity essential to his ardent and
impetuous character, drives his dowager partner to despair by his
blunders at whist. He pays less attention to the game than to the
facetious whispers of his cousin, De Kersent--a young man of
five-and-twenty, short, fat, always happy and good-humoured, an eager
sportsman, and much more at his ease at a battue than a ball. The rubber
over, the Count leaves the heated card-room, to seek cooler air in an
outer apartment. M. Valbezene shall speak for himself.

“Whilst posted at the entrance door, Marsanne was accosted by a young
man of about eight-and-twenty, of elegant figure and most agreeable
countenance. The exquisitely polished tone of this new personage, the
tasteful simplicity of his costume, indicated a man of the best society,
to whom the epithet of _lion_ might with propriety have been applied,
were it not that, in these days of promiscuous lionism, the word has
lost its primitive acceptation.

“‘Well! my dear Vassigny,’ said Marsanne, breathing with difficulty,
‘did you ever experience such a temperature? For my part, I was never so
hot in my life, not even in Africa, when our soldiers blew out their
brains to escape the scorching sun. Refreshments, too, are scarce at the
whist-table; we did not see even a glass of water. Consequently, my
friend, I was so inattentive to the game, that, through my fault, my
very heinous fault, we lost the rub. The Baroness de Pibrac, my unlucky
partner, was tragically indignant. Ah! she will not forgive me in a
hurry! If heaven has any regard for her maledictions, I shall pay dearly
for the fourteen francs I made her lose.’

“‘Madame de Marsanne is here?’ inquired the young man.

“‘Of course. You know me well enough to be sure I should not remain from
choice in such a furnace. I am no great lover of balls, but this is the
last of the season; so, one hour’s patience, and a year’s holiday is
before me. Remember, we meet to-morrow morning at seven, sharp. Kersent
accompanies us to Rambouillet. At last, then, I shall revisit my horses,
my dogs, my forests; I shall have air--motion... _Tonton, tontaine,
tonton_’ ... hummed the sportsman, whose face beamed with joy at
thoughts of the chase.

“‘Certainly, I shall be exact.... But as you have been here some time,
you will perhaps be so good as to show me Mr Robinson, the master of the
house. None of my friends have been able to point him out, and I am
rather curious to make my bow to him.’

“‘_Ma foi!_ my dear fellow,’ replied Marsanne, ‘your question is not
easy to answer. I am inclined to think it is that crooked little
gentleman in black--unless, indeed, it be yonder portly handsome man in
the blue coat. Upon reflection, I vote for the latter. His wholesome
corpulence tells of the substantial and judicious nourishment of the
Anglo-Americans. In fact, I am as ignorant as yourself. On arriving, we
were met at this door by the Marchioness de Presle, who, as you know,
sent out the invitations for Mr Robinson; and as soon as we had paid our
respects to the Marchioness, Madame de Marsanne dragged me forward to
the third saloon, so that I know no more of our amphitryon than you do.
But here is little Movillez. He will settle our doubts.’

“The new personage whose coming Marsanne announced, owed to his age
alone the epithet applied to him, for he was above the ordinary height.
He was apparently about one-and-twenty: his insignificant countenance,
which in character bore some resemblance to that of a sheep, expressed
perfect self-satisfaction. An embroidered shirt, and a white satin
waistcoat, spangled with gold, might have made him suspected of a great
leaning to the frivolities of dress, had not a white flower in his
buttonhole revealed serious political predilections, and an unchangeable
attachment to the fallen House of Bourbon.

“‘Movillez,’ said Marsanne, ‘show Vassigny the master of the house; he
wishes to make his bow to him.’

“‘For what?’ inquired the youth, with adorable impertinence.

“‘For the sake of good breeding,’ replied Vassigny drily.

“‘Nonsense!’ cried Movillez, ‘you surely do not dream of such a thing:
If you knew Mr Robinson he would bow to you in the street, and that
would be very disagreeable.’

“‘There is pleasure in giving you parties; you are not even grateful for
your entertainment.’

“‘Perfectly true; and what is more, I consider Mr Robinson under an
obligation to me. Persons of his sort are too happy to get people like
us to go to their routs and help them to devour their dollars. But we do
not on that account become one of them; that, _parbleu_! would never do.
Thank heaven! even in these days of equality we have not come to that.
An unknown individual arrives at Paris, having made his fortune in
India, Peru, or Chili, in the slave-trade, in cotton, or in tallow. All
well and good; I have nothing to do with it. I go to his balls, I eat
his suppers; but I do not know him the more for that.’

“‘You have your theory, I have mine,’ replied Vassigny; ‘each of us
thinks his own the best, I suppose.’

“‘Come, come, confess candidly that you wish to do the eccentric,’ said
Movillez. ‘Well, for your government, that little gentleman in the black
coat, leaning against the chimney-piece, is the Robinson. He is very
ugly. I am heartily sorry the Marchioness de Presle did not suggest to
him to adopt the costume of his patron saint. The pointed hat and
palm-leaf inexpressibles would become him admirably. As to the ball, it
is tolerably brilliant: there is a good deal of faubourg St Germain and
faubourg St Honoré. _Dame!_ there are other sorts too--a little finance,
some beauties from the citizen-court, a few prudes from the Bal
Rambuteau. The company is mixed, certainly, but still it is astonishing
that this exotic has been able to collect so many people of fashion. You
know the report about _il Signor_ Robinson, that he was ten years in
prison at Philadelphia? Yes, he is an interesting victim of human
injustice; I am assured he reasons most eloquently on the penitentiary
system.’

“These silly and slanderous jokes seemed any thing but agreeable to the
two persons to whom they were addressed.

“‘Is your father’s counting-house still in the Rue Lepelletier?’ said
Vassigny, with freezing _sang froid_. ‘I want some bills on London, and
shall give him my custom in preference to any other banker.’

“These words brought a vivid flush to the cheek of the young dandy; he
replied only by an affirmative sign, left the two friends, and entered
the dancing-room.

“‘Do you know, Gaston,’ said Marsanne, ‘little Movillez was any thing
but well pleased by your promising his father your custom?’

“‘I both know and am delighted at it. The little puppy forgot, when he
sneered at the beauties of the citizen-court, that my sister belongs to
the household of the Duchess of.... I was very glad to remind him that
his father is neither more nor less than a banker, and that it takes
something more than a white rose in the buttonhole to make a Montmorency
or a Biron. But I must leave you.’

“So saying, Vassigny pressed his friend’s hand, addressed a few polite
words to the master of the house, who seemed touched and surprised at
this unusual piece of courtesy, and passed into the adjoining saloon.
The ball was at the gayest; the elegant costumes had lost nothing of
their freshness, the faces of the women, animated by pleasure, as yet
showed no traces of fatigue. The orchestra, conducted by Tolbecque, was
remarkable for its spirit and harmony. Every thing in this charming fête
was calculated to excite the indignation of those narrow-minded
reformers who cannot understand that the luxury of the rich gives bread
to the poor. Vassigny sauntered for some time through the crowd, shaking
hands with friends and bowing to ladies; but it was easy to judge from
his irregular movements and wandering glances, that he had not
undertaken this peregrination without an object. At last he reached the
door of a little boudoir--a delightful and mysterious asylum, hung with
silk and perfumed with flowers. A chosen few had taken refuge in this
sanctuary, where the murmur of the ball and the crash of the orchestra
arrived faint and subdued. Here Vassigny seemed to have attained the
goal he had proposed himself, as his eyes rested upon a lady gracefully
sunk in an arm-chair, and chatting familiarly with M. de Kersent. It
were necessary to borrow the swan-quill of Dorat, of gallant memory,
faithfully to trace a portrait of this young woman, then in the flower
of her age and beauty. Priding ourselves, unfortunately, on being of our
century, and consequently very ungallant, we shall merely say, that it
is impossible to imagine a sweeter or more charming countenance: without
having the regularity of a classic model, the features were replete with
fascination. Her eyelids, fringed with long curved lashes, protected
eyes whose liquid and languishing expression was exchanged at intervals
for bright and brilliant glances, indicative of a passionate and
powerful organisation. The arch of her eyebrows was accurately and
delicately pencilled; so affable was her smile, so white and regular her
teeth, that one dared not call her mouth large, or tax it with
extending--according to Bussy Rabutin’s expression--from ear to ear. Her
neck and shoulders, perfectly moulded and of dazzling whiteness, would
have enchanted a sculptor. Her dress, extremely plain, was of white
lace; a wreath of fresh-gathered corn-flowers decked her head--the
humble field-blossom seeming proud of its place in the midst of a
magnificent forest of golden hair, worthy to support a diadem. A bunch
of the same flowers in her hand, completed a costume whose simplicity
was equalled by its elegance.”

Thus, at setting off, M. Valbezene sketches the five principal actors in
his domestic drama; and we have little further to read before
discovering their virtues and vices, and the relation in which they
stand to each other. The Count de Marsanne is a man of strict honour,
and warm heart; generous instincts, and much delicacy of feeling.
Sincerely attached to his wife, he has, nevertheless, from a very early
period of their wedded life, greatly neglected her, leaving her to pine
in solitude, whilst he indulged his violent passion for field-sports.
The affection Amélie de Marsanne originally felt for her husband has
yielded to the neglect of years, and been replaced by a violent passion
for Vassigny, which he ardently reciprocates. So guarded, however, has
been their conduct, that none suspect the intrigue. Marsanne has perfect
confidence in his wife’s virtue; and the gay, good-humoured Kersent, who
is warmly attached to his beautiful cousin, and on terms of great
intimacy with Vassigny, has not the remotest idea of the good
understanding between the two persons he best loves. Movillez, an
admirable specimen of the pretensions young Frenchman just escaped from
college, and aping the vices and follies of more mature Parisian
_roués_, affords many comic scenes, which agreeably relieve the grave
and thrilling interest of the book. He also, unknown to himself, plays
an important part in the plot, and by his indiscretion, is the cause of
a world of unhappiness to the four persons already described. Francine,
a fifth-rate actress at a Paris theatre, vulgar, profligate, and
mercenary; and Major d’Havrecourt, a good-hearted old officer,
punctilious on the point of honour, and fancying himself a man of most
pacific dispositions, whilst in reality he is ever ready for a
duel,--complete the _dramatis personæ_. Although D’Havrecourt has
attained the ripe age of fifty, he still knows how to sympathise with
youth, to understand its tastes and excuse its follies; and Movillez is
one of the hopefuls whom he not unfrequently favours with his society
and benefits by his advice.

The day after the ball, Marsanne’s hunting-party takes place. A
wild-boar is killed, and poor Movillez, who has joined the chase in
hopes of distinguishing himself before the eyes of a fair English
amazon, meets with numerous disasters, principally occasioned by his bad
horsemanship, but which his indomitable conceit prevents his taking much
to heart. A week later we find him dining at the Café de Paris, in
company with D’Havrecourt, and listening to sundry narratives of
remarkable single combats which the old fire-eater had witnessed, heard
of, or shared in. Dessert is on table, when these bellicose
reminiscences are interrupted by the arrival of Kersent.

“‘Allow me to enjoy your society,’ said the new comer, until the arrival
of Marsanne, who is behind his time, as usual.’

“‘With great pleasure,’ replied the Major cordially. ‘What will you
take?’

“‘Nothing: I should spoil my dinner. Well! young man,’ continued
Kersent, addressing himself to Movillez, ‘so we are getting on in the
world, conquering a position, becoming a lion of the very first water.
The _Journal des Chasses_ talks of nothing but your exploits at the
Rambouillet hunt.’

“‘How so?’ cried Movillez, greatly surprised.

“‘Yes, in the account of the day’s sport it cites the elegant, the
courageous, the dauntless Movillez as first in at the death. Two pages
about you, neither more nor less, in the style of the passage of the
Rhine by defunct Boileau.’

“‘I did not deserve such praise. Henceforward, I will take the paper.’

“‘You cannot do less.’

“‘Read the article twice,’ said D’Havrecourt, who had listened
attentively to Kersent’s words. ‘You know me for a man of peaceable
temper and disposition, an enemy, both by nature and habit, of all
violence. Well, I read that article to-day, and it seemed to me that
under the form of praise it concealed a tendency to satire. I hesitated
to tell you of it, but since another has started the hare, you shall
have my candid opinion on the subject. We must not allow the press to
take liberties with us; a man of the world should be extremely severe
with those who dare to turn his private life into ridicule. Read the
article attentively, and if you are of opinion the affair should be
followed up, which in my conscience I think it ought to be, why, then,’
concluded the Major martially, ‘you may reckon on my services.’

“‘_Parbleu!_ D’Havrecourt,’ cried Kersent gaily, ‘you won’t succeed in
setting us by the ears.’

“‘What! the article is yours?’ exclaimed the two diners.

“‘Mine. Your astonishment does not indicate a very flattering estimate
of my literary capacity. Yes, my friends! I mean to make myself a
position, I aspire to become a legislator, and by way of getting my hand
in, I write for the _Journal des Chasses_. Electors like to find in
their candidate a man of letters, rich in the honours of pica and
long-primer. So I flatter the elective weakness; I sacrifice to the
parliamentary calf. Ah! only let me get into the Chamber,’ continued
Kersent, in the tone of a future tribune, ‘and you shall see me take up
a solid position. My plans are formed. Once in the Chamber, I defend the
partridge, I plead for the rabbit, I declare myself the champion of fur
and feather. Find a college of electors intelligent enough to return me,
and you shall have a game-law worthy of Solon. It is already framed in
my head. Death for the poacher, death for the snare-setter: the
philanthropical system of the Committee of Public Salvation! With such a
law, you would soon see prodigious results.... But I arrived only this
morning from Plessy, with Marsanne, and we set out again to-morrow for
the forest of Orleans. His hunting equipage has preceded us. Any fresh
scandal here? Are you successful with Lady Emilia? _Sapristie!_ if she
does not look favourably on you after your exploits of last week, her
heart must be granite.’

“‘Perhaps!’ muttered Movillez with an air of consummate coxcombry.

“‘The _perhaps_ is very significant; but I know your discretion, and
will question you no further. And Vassigny, how is he? what is he
doing? where is he?’

“‘I know a thing or two about him; and bye the bye, I will tell you what
I know. You may be able to help me in my researches.’

“‘I am all ears,’ said Kersent. ‘Ah! there you are, Marsanne! three
quarters of an hour late, that’s all: if I have an indigestion, I shall
know whom to thank. But hush! Movillez is about to unfold the mysteries
of Vassigny.’”

Marsanne, who had just arrived, nodded to his friends, and lent his
attention to Movillez, who began as follows:

“‘I have given up the new system of horsemanship, and devote myself
entirely to the equitation of the race-course; I am resolved to make a
brilliant appearance next spring upon the turf of Versailles. Every day
I take a sweating in the Bois de Boulogne, under the guidance of Flatman
the jockey, who meets me at nine in the morning at the corner of the
Allée de Marigny. I leave my house, therefore, at half-past eight, and
proceed to my appointment by the Rue de la Pépinière and the Rue de
Miromesnil. Several days together I met Vassigny at that unusual hour,
in that out-of-the-way quarter, and saw him enter a small house, No. 17,
in the Rue de Miromesnil, where it is impossible any acquaintance of his
can live. This very morning I saw him again, and I determined to solve
the riddle. I sauntered up and down the street, and, thank heaven! my
patience was not put to a very severe trial. A little blue hackney
coach, of mysterious aspect, with the blinds down, turned out of the Rue
Verte, and stopped at No 17. The coach-door opened, a lady tripped down
the steps with the rapidity of a frightened doe and darted into the
house. Impossible to say who it was. Her figure was elegant, she wore a
dark-coloured morning dress; an odious black veil, impenetrable to the
eye, fell from her velvet hat. But there was such an aristocratic air
about her, such a high-bred atmosphere environed her, that I would wager
my head it was some duchess or marchioness. The driver had resumed his
seat, and I was venting execrations on black veils, when the god of
scandal came to my aid. I perceived, on the pavement at my feet, a
little purse which the lady had dropped. In a second, I had picked it
up, thrust it in my pocket, and run away like a thief with the police at
his heels. As to the purse,’ continued Movillez, producing a small purse
of plain green silk network, ‘here it is. Let us see if you can guess
its owner; for my part I have not even a suspicion.’

“The purse, curiously examined by Kersent and D’Havrecourt, at last came
into the hands of Marsanne. He looked at it for a few moments, and then
with a severe expression of countenance, addressed Movillez:

“‘You are young, Monsieur de Movillez,’ he said; ‘allow me to tell you
how a well-bred man, a man of delicacy, would have acted under such
circumstances. He would have given the money to the poor and thrown the
purse into the fire. I will do for you what you should have done
yourself.’

“And approaching the fireplace, Marsanne dropped the purse upon the
glowing embers, which instantly consumed it. There was something noble
and solemn in the action of the Count’s; the blood of the French
chevaliers, those loyal subjects of beauty, had been stirred in the
veins of their descendant by the recital of this blamable act of
curiosity. Marsanne continued:

“‘Allow me to tell you, sir, that the men of your generation, accustomed
to live with courtezans, and to seek venal and ready-made loves, are
ignorant of what is due to women because they are women. None make more
allowance than I do for the levities of youth. But what I blame is, that
in utter wantonness, and for the gratification of an idle curiosity, you
lift the curtain shrouding a secret, and pour out misery and desolation
upon a poor woman, more deserving, perhaps, of censure than of utter
condemnation. Be not more severe than a husband,--you, a young man,
liable to profit by such errors; and remember that a true gentleman will
respect women even in their weaknesses. Weigh my words, M. de Movillez;
you will not be offended at my frankness.’”

A few hours after this scene, the Countess do Marsanne, alone in her
boudoir, and busy with her embroidering frame, receives a visit from her
husband. Just returned from one hunting-party, and about to start upon
another, the incorrigible sportsman is seized with remorse at the
solitude to which his wife is condemned, and, touched by her resignation
to a lonely and cheerless existence, he generously resolves to sacrifice
his own pleasures to her happiness. He proposes that they should go to
Italy, and pass the winter at Florence or Naples, where he trusts to
wean himself from the chase and acquire a taste for domestic enjoyments.
The Countess refuses to take advantage of the generous impulse,
professes her sincere friendship for her husband, but avows that her
love for him has fled, driven from her heart by suffering and neglect.

“At this moment Madame de Marsanne’s maid came to tell her that her
bedroom was ready for her reception. Then she added:

“‘I have looked every where for the purse of Madame la Comtesse, but it
is no where to be found.’

“At these words, Marsanne’s countenance assumed a singular paleness, and
it was all he could do to master his emotion and say to his wife:

“‘You have lost your purse?’

“‘Yes,’ replied the Countess, unobservant of her husband’s agitation;
‘or, rather, I have mislaid it in some corner.’

“‘It was doubtless of value?’

“‘Oh! by no means. A little green silk purse, my own work, and nearly
empty.’

“The Count remained motionless, like a man struck by a thunderbolt.

“‘You have no commissions for Plessy?’ he at last articulated, breathing
short and quick, and not knowing what he asked.

“‘I thought you just said you were going to Orleans,’ replied the
Countess.

“‘I shall visit Plessy on my return.’

“‘Then kiss my little godson Henriot. Much pleasure to you; and return
as soon as possible.’

“Marsanne raised the Countess’s hand to his lips, and left the boudoir;
but he staggered like a drunken man, and was obliged to support himself
by the bannister in order to reach his room.

“Towards the middle of that night, a belated passenger through the Rue
d’Anjou would have witnessed a curious spectacle. Although the cold was
intense, a window was wide open, and by the light of a lamp a man was to
be seen leaning upon the balustrade. From time to time, deep-drawn sobs
of rage and despair burst from his breast, and he violently pressed his
head between his hands, as if to prevent it from splitting. This man was
the Count de Marsanne.

“The following morning a hackney coach, containing a lady closely
veiled, had scarcely turned from the Rue Miromesnil into the Rue Verte,
when a man, who for some time previously had paced to and fro, muffled
in a large cloak, paused at No. 17 in the former street, dropped the
folds of his mantle, and took off a pair of huge green spectacles that
had previously concealed his face. The Count de Marsanne, for he it was,
remained motionless beside the door whence the coach had driven. From
his extreme paleness, and the gloomy immobility of his features, he
might have been taken for a statue of stone.

“The hackney-coach was scarcely out of sight, when Vassigny appeared at
the door of No. 17. On beholding him, the Count’s eyes sparkled; he
extended his hand and seized Vassigny by the arm.

“‘Will M. de Vassigny,’ he said, ‘honour me with a moment’s interview?’

“Don Juan, dragged towards the abyss by the statue of the Commanditore,
cannot have experienced such a feeling of terror as at that moment took
possession of Vassigny.

“‘Sir,’ ... he stammered, ‘I know not....’

“‘I ask an interview, sir,’ said the Count, with sinister calmness; "I
have grave matters to discuss with you; we should not be at our ease in
the street; will you be good enough to conduct me to your house.’

“‘Really I know not what you mean.’

“‘I repeat, M. de Vassigny, that I have things to say which none but you
must hear. Be so kind as to lead the way.’

“‘My house, as you know, is in the Rue de Provence,’ said Vassigny, with
a constrained air. ‘I shall be happy to receive you there.’

“‘Let us go,’ said the Count.

“They walked in the direction of the Rue de Provence. By the time he
arrived there, Vassigny’s emotion had attained the highest pitch, and
his legs bent under him as he ascended the stairs.

“A servant introduced the two men into an elegant drawing-room.

“There was a moment of terrible silence: Marsanne seemed to have shaken
off his gloomy despair: inflexible resolution was legible in his eyes.
Vassigny, on the contrary, appeared exhausted and overcome, a criminal
awaiting sentence of death.

“‘You have seen Madame de Marsanne this morning,’ said the husband, with
strange solemnity.

“‘Madame de Marsanne!... In Heaven’s name, you are mistaken!’ cried
Vassigny. But his tone of voice, and the wild expression of his
features, fully confirmed the Count’s words.

“‘You have seen Madame de Marsanne this morning,’ repeated the Count. ‘I
know, sir, that as a man of honour, you are incapable of betraying a
lady’s secret; but I prefer the evidence of my eyes even to your word.’

“‘Well, sir, my life is yours--take it!’ cried Vassigny, casting towards
heaven a glance of rage and despair. Marsanne gazed at the young man for
a brief space, and then resumed.

“‘Listen to me, M. de Vassigny, The law authorised me to assassinate
you, but that is not a gentleman’s revenge. The law further authorised
me to have my dishonour certified by a commissary of police, and to drag
you before the tribunals for condemnation--to six months’ imprisonment
and a few thousand francs’ damages!--Mockery!! My instinct of honour
rejected such an alternative. An honourable man revenges himself of an
outrage by meeting his offender bare-breasted, and with equal weapons.
You think as I do, sir?’

“‘Your seconds, your time, your arms?’ cried Vassigny, all his courage
revived by this appeal to the point of honour.

“‘Patience, sir--patience. The time will come when we shall meet face to
face; but the hour of that mortal combat has not yet tolled.’

“‘I wait your orders; from this day forward I am ready.’

“‘I expected no less, sir, from your courage.’

“There was a pause, and then Marsanne continued.

“‘Whatever be the issue of our duel,’ he said, ‘you have poisoned my
life, heaped misery and bitterness upon the rest of my days. I believe
you capable of appreciating what I am about to demand. Yesterday, sir,
when I became aware of my dishonour, my first thought was a thought of
blood. Then I examined my own conscience--a cruel and painful
examination, for I was compelled to own that if Madame de Marsanne had
betrayed me she was not alone to blame. I searched the innermost
recesses of my heart, and I felt that this woman, abandoned by her
husband, had at least the excuses of unhappiness and neglect. I thought
of my poor child, whose mother’s name I should tarnish, and my thirst of
vengeance yielded to these all-powerful considerations. Honour requires,
sir, that I should take your life, or you mine: but it demands still
more imperatively that the cause of the duel should remain unknown.’

“‘A pretext is easily found: a quarrel at the theatre or club will
suffice.’

“‘What, sir’ replied Marsanne, ‘you, who know the world and its greedy
curiosity as well as I do, can you think that it will be satisfied with
a frivolous pretext, and will not strive, by cruel investigation, to
penetrate our secret? No, sir! to-day a duel would leave too large a
field for conjecture; our meeting must be prepared long before-hand. In
this night of agony I have calculated every thing the interests of my
vengeance, the interests of my honour, the interests of a woman whom I
still love.’

“The Count’s voice quivered as he pronounced these last words, and a
scalding tear coursed down his cheek.

“‘Your wishes are orders for me,’ said Vassigny.

“‘You shall give me your word of honour,’ continued the Count, ‘that
from this moment you will see Madame de Marsanne no more. Then, resuming
a gay life, you shall make a parade of some intrigue, either in society
or behind the scenes of a theatre, which, by misleading suspicion, will
enable us to have the meeting you must desire as much as myself.’

“Vassigny reflected for a few moments, and replied in a firm tone-

“‘Monsieur le Comte,’ he said, ‘I have long known you for one of those
men with whom honour stands before every thing; and from the very first
day I made, as now, the sacrifice of my life. But I am not bound to do
more; and if I subscribe to your demand, I have a right also to
stipulate a condition.’

“‘You!’ exclaimed Marsanne, with repressed fury.

“‘Yes, I!’ repeated Vassigny, with indescribable energy: ‘my honour and
my heart render it my imperious duty. Pledge me your word as a
gentleman, that for every one, even for Madame de Marsanne, the real
cause of our duel shall remain an impenetrable secret, and I at once
adhere to all your conditions.’

“‘You love her, then, very dearly,’ ... said the Count, with a bitter
laugh.

“‘Enough to sacrifice my life, my honour, even my love, to her repose.’

“After a few instants of silence, the Count again spoke in a grave
voice:

“‘You do your duty as a man of honour, sir, as I have done mine; and I
now pledge you my word that for every one, even for Madame de Marsanne,
the cause of our duel shall remain a profound secret.’

“‘On your day, at your hour, I am ready,’ said Vassigny.

“‘I thank you, sir; depend on my word, as I depend on yours.’ And with a
dignified wave of the hand to his adversary, Marsanne left the room.”

This violent scene had exhausted Vassigny’s fortitude; the Count gone,
he, sank into an arm-chair, covered his face with-his hands, and wept
like a child.

Some weeks have elapsed and the characters of the tale are assembled at
a theatre: Marsanne, his wife, and Kersent in a box--Movillez and
D’Havrecourt in stalls--Mademoiselle Francine on the stage. Vassigny, in
one of the proscenium boxes, has no eyes or ears but for the actress. He
has kept his word to Marsanne, and Paris rings with the scandal of his
attachment to Francine. She is the _Chien d’Alcibiade_. Strictly
honourable in the observance of his promise, he has neither seen nor
written to Madame de Marsanne since the day of his terrible interview
with her husband. Such self-denial has not been exercised with impunity.
In a few weeks, ten years have passed over the head of the unhappy
Gaston de Vassigny. His brow is furrowed, his temper soured, and his
amazed friends attribute these sad changes to his insane passion for the
worthless Francine. He plays high; it is to supply the wants of his
extravagant mistress. At the club, Marsanne is his usual antagonist, and
always wins. Vassigny loses his temper with his money, and says harsh
things to the Count, who bears them with exemplary patience, for the
hour of his revenge is not yet come. But if Vassigny is supremely
wretched, Amélie de Marsanne is not less so. She too, within a few
weeks, has changed so as to be scarcely recognisable; and on her wan and
pallid countenance the outward and visible signs of a breaking heart are
unmistakably stamped. In vain has she striven to learn the reason of
Vassigny’s sudden and unaccountable estrangement. He steadily avoids
her. She sees him in public, ostentatiously displaying his disgraceful
_liaison_ with a low actress, constant in his attendance at her
performances, galloping on the Champs Elysées beside the carriage he has
given her. She catches the innuendos of his acquaintance, sneering at or
pitying his infatuation. At the theatre, on the night in question, she
is agonised by the malicious jests of little Movillez, who pitilessly
ridicules Vassigny’s absurd and ignoble passion. Early the next morning
Vassigny receives one of Kersent’s cards, with a request written upon it
for an immediate visit. Supposing his friend to have had a quarrel, and
to need his services, he hurries to his house. Kersent, who is soundly
sleeping, abuses his visitor for arousing him, declares he has sent no
message, and disavows the handwriting on the card. Just then the servant
enters and announces the arrival of a veiled lady, who waits in an
adjoining apartment to speak to the Viscount de Vassigny.

With pensive and care-laden brow, Gaston left his friend’s room, and
entered that in which the lady waited. But on the threshold he paused,
and a deep flush overspread his countenance. He beheld Madame de
Marsanne.

It was indeed the Countess, who, in contempt of propriety, and
half-crazed with suffering, had resolved to hear her sentence from
Vassigny’s own lips. In vain she had written to him--her letters
remained unanswered; in vain she had neglected no means of seeing
him--her endeavours had invariably been fruitless. Her heart torn by
such ingratitude, and by the scandalous passion Vassigny paraded for
Mademoiselle Francine, she had not hesitated to seek an interview in the
house of her husband’s cousin. In the sad conversation that ensued, the
most touching appeal that tenderness and suffering could inspire was
addressed by the Countess de Marsanne to Vassigny. But he was able to
impose silence on the passion that devoured him.

Divided between his love and the respect due to his plighted word, the
two most violent sentiments that find place in man’s bosom, Gaston’s
heart bled cruelly; but he triumphed over himself. Words full of the
coldest reason issued from his lips; he had sufficient strength to break
for ever the tie that bound him to the Countess. These cruel words did
not fail of their effect: Madame de Marsanne believed that she had
honoured with her tenderness one unable to appreciate its value, and
incapable of a generous sacrifice.

“‘M. de Vassigny’ she said, ‘you are a heartless man!’”

Such was the phrase that terminated this melancholy interview. The heart
of Madame de Marsanne was broken, but a guilty love had for ever left
it.

Some moments after the close of this scene, Vassigny re-entered
Kersent’s chamber; but his face was livid, and he could scarcely drag
himself along. Without a word, he sank upon a chair and remained plunged
in the most gloomy despair. Kersent’s countenance, usually so joyous,
had assumed an expression of anguish. He had examined the writing on the
card, and he could not conceal from himself that he knew the hand. The
scene at the theatre the previous evening came back to his memory: he
remembered the strange melancholy of his cousin, her confusion when she
returned him the card-ease she had asked to look at; and from all these
things combined, he concluded that a fatal secret weighed upon two
beings whom he cherished with equal tenderness. On beholding Vassigny’s
profound consternation, the sportsman heaved a sigh of deep distress.

“‘My dear friend,’ he said to Gaston, ‘a misfortune threatens you: open
your heart to me, I conjure you, in the name of our old friendship.’

“Vassigny made no reply.

“‘Hear me, Gaston; you know me well enough to be certain that no idle
curiosity impels me. Perhaps I can serve you. If I may believe the sad
presentiment that fills my heart, you suffer not alone, and the poor
woman that suffers with you has a right to all my sympathy. For she who
has just left this house, is----’

“Vassigny sprang to his feet, and placed his hand over his friend’s
mouth. ‘No, no!’ he exclaimed, ‘the fatal secret shall die with me.’
Then, without another word, he sat down at a table, and with a trembling
hand traced the following lines:

“‘Monsieur le Comte, there are tortures which human strength cannot
endure. For mercy’s sake, let us terminate this sad affair as soon as
may be, or I will not answer for keeping my promise. I shall pass the
night at the club.’

“This letter was addressed: ‘_Monsieur le Comte de Marsanne_.’”

At the club, the husband and the lover meet and play high. Vassigny
loses, as usual; affects anger, shuffles the cards offensively, and
hints suspicions of foul play. A challenge is the natural result. Late
upon the following night, we find Kersent pacing the Boulevard in
despondent mood, accompanied by D’Havrecourt, who has acted as one of
Marsanne’s seconds in the inevitable duel. They discuss the melancholy
event of Vassigny’s death, which has occurred that evening, a few hours
after his adversary’s ball had pierced his breast. Vassigny had fired
in the air.

“‘The more I reflect on it,’ said D’Havrecourt, ‘the more convinced I am
that the unworthy affection of which Vassigny made a parade, was only a
feigned sentiment, a mock passion thrown as a blind to the indiscreet
curiosity of the world, to mask a devoted, although, perhaps, a guilty
love. To you, who loved him as a brother, and to you alone, I may
divulge an episode of this fatal drama. This it is. Vassigny was still
stretched upon the grass; the surgeon, after vainly endeavouring to
extract the bullet, put up his instruments, with a countenance that left
me no hope. Tinguy had led away Marsanne; Navailles and Lord Howley had
gone off in all haste, one to have every thing prepared at Vassigny’s
house, the other to summon the first physicians. I was alone with the
wounded man. His senses returned; he opened his eyes, and I saw by the
expression of his agonised features that he wished to speak to me. I
knelt beside him. He raised his left hand, and in a feeble voice asked
me to unfasten his shirt-sleeve. I obeyed. His wrist was encircled by a
small bracelet of hair, so tightly fastened to the arm, that, to get it
off, I had to cut the tress. ‘D’Havrecourt,’ said he faintly, ‘that
bracelet was only to quit me with life; I confide it to your honour;
swear to annihilate it the instant you get home.’ I made the required
vow, and from that moment he spoke not a word. On reaching home, my
first care was to fulfil my promise, by burning the bracelet. It was
composed of a tress of fair hair, and the hair of that Francine is
black. And it was secured by a gold plate, upon which were engraved an A
and a G intertwined, with the words ‘14 October 1840.’’

“‘Oh! say no more, my dear friend,’ cried Kersent, interrupting the
Major, ‘Alas! I have too much reason to believe that there are now upon
this earth two beings infinitely more to be pitied than Vassigny. He, at
least, has found in death oblivion of his sorrows; but they survive for
misery and tears.’”

None, save Kersent and D’Havrecourt, suspect the true cause of the duel;
they are men of honour, and the secret is safe with them. For once, the
inquisitive and scandal-loving Parisian world has been put upon a wrong
scent. The Count’s precautions and Vassigny’s sufferings have not been
thrown away. The Countess’s reputation is saved--the honour of the De
Marsannes remains unblemished. It is not without success that the
ignoble Francine has been made unwittingly to play the part of the Dog
of Alcibiades.

An epilogue, in the shape of a letter from Kersent, dated a year later,
from the bivouac of Bab-el-Oued, closes this tragical and well-told
tale. It informs D’Havrecourt and the reader of the death of the Count
de Marsanne and his erring and unhappy wife. The latter had died some
months previously, of a malady brought on by grief. The Count met his
fate by a Bedouin bullet in the deserts of Algeria. Kersent, whom
affection and compassion had prompted to accompany his cousin in his
last campaign, found upon the breast of the dead officer a locket
enclosing a fragment of paper, the legacy of Madame de Marsanne to her
husband. It contained the avowal of a fault and a prayer for pardon.



SIR ROBERT PEEL AND THE CURRENCY.


“De Mortuis nil nisi bonum” is, when applied to individuals, a generous,
if not a just rule for our ordinary guidance. But to whatever extent it
may be carried in judging of men and their motives, we apprehend that it
would be the height of Quixotism to admit a defunct cabinet or an
ejected minister to the benefit of any such act of indemnity. The evils
which statesmen may commit, either through mistaken policy or
egotistical arrogance of opinion, are too serious in their results to be
easily or readily forgotten: and no lapse of time whatever can screen
from censure those men who have wilfully tampered with the well-being
and prosperity of the nation.

It will, we think, be admitted on all hands, that the present ministry,
however well disposed, are most wofully infirm of purpose. We make every
allowance for the situation in which they found themselves when called
to office. However sanguine may have been the dreams of the Whig
partisan, he could not, some eighteen months ago, have entertained the
slightest idea of that extraordinary combination of chances which led to
his return to office; neither do we believe that the leaders of that
party ever expected to obtain even a temporary ascendency during the
existence of the present parliament. When Lord John Russell and his
confederates threw down the gauntlet of Free Trade, they could not have
calculated upon the possibility of its being picked up and appropriated
by their old antagonist of Tamworth. Well as they may have known, from
former experience, the nature of that “tricksy spirit,” they never could
have been prepared for that crowning denouement to a drama of political
apostasy; and we are certain that no section of her Majesty’s subjects
were more amazed than the Whigs when they found themselves again in
possession of their coveted quarters in Downing Street. Without plan,
and without preparation, we freely admit that they were entitled to a
large share of public indulgence. In ordinary times, their
administration might even have been productive of good. Schooled by
adversity, and instructed by previous failure, they this time put
forward in the van no opinions of a revolutionary tendency. They
promised to apply themselves in the first instance to the mental and
physical amelioration of the people--they offered to become the patrons
of educational seminaries, directors of public baths, and inspectors of
extended sewerage; and no one could gainsay in these respects the purity
of their projected measures. But, unfortunately for them, the
necessities of the time required more than sanatory legislation. The
prodigious increase of national wealth which was prophesied as the
immediate result of the change in our commercial policy and the repeal
of agricultural protection, did not arise, like Aladdin’s palace, in one
night from the liberated ground. The various and complex questions of
Irish policy became all at once merged and confounded in the cry of
common famine. The staple food of an unenterprising and improvident
people had failed; and the Celts of the western islands, desisting from
their absurd denunciation of the Saxon, were fain to supplicate Great
Britain, herself by no means exempt from the calamity, for the means of
absolute existence.

We do not intend to criticise in detail the means which were adopted by
government for the relief of the suffering districts. We believe that
they were actuated throughout by a liberal and a kindly spirit; and upon
such an occasion as this, it was truly difficult to steer between
parsimony on the one side, and reckless extravagance on the other. At
the same time it is very evident that they were utterly unprepared for
the crisis. They neither adopted an intelligible principle, nor laid
down an extensive plan for their guidance. They vacillated every week
between one method of relief and another. At one time they were for the
promotion of useless works, which could tend to no profitable result,
but which were a mere excuse for opening the public coffers to the
relief of the starving Irish; at another, they rejected the proposal of
Lord George Bentinck for extended railway employment--a scheme which,
however objectionable from its magnitude, at least held out a feasible
prospect of ultimate reimbursement of the loan. It is right to observe
that in this refusal they were strengthened by the co-operation of Sir
Robert Peel, their former opponent, but now their confidential adviser;
and that the only ministerial measure of which the late autocrat has
been pleased to disapprove, was a subsequent veering towards the
principle recommended by Lord George, and the concession of a restricted
loan towards the promotion of the Irish railways. But, as we have said
before, the question of Irish relief was attended with much difficulty.
The most experienced and sagacious statesman of the world might have
gone astray in providing for a calamity so extended and so new; and,
upon the whole, we are not inclined to find much fault with the Whigs in
this respect, beyond what is implied by our decided conviction of their
weakness, or rather want of purpose.

But, unfortunately for us all--most unfortunately, we fear, for the
great bulk of the community--there are other questions not only
impending but absolutely pressing upon us at this moment, of even
greater vital importance than either Irish famine or British scarcity.
It may be that, through the mercy of Divine Providence, these scourges
maybe speedily removed. The soil may again be restored to its former
fertility; and if such should prove to be the case, we trust that this
calamitous lesson against idleness and improvidence will not be
forgotten in those quarters where the visitation has been most severely
felt. We trust that, in Ireland especially, and in some parts of our own
country, both landlord and tenant will be roused to a more active sense
of their respective liabilities and duties; and that, notwithstanding
the tendencies which are too likely to follow from our late pernicious
course of legislation, they will become alive to the conviction that no
nation whatever can hope to maintain its independence if it neglects the
paramount duty of cultivating and rearing within itself that supply of
food upon which its inhabitants must depend for their support. It is not
much more than a year ago, since we pointed out the miserable
consequences which, in the event of a war or a famine, must ensue from a
decrease of the cultivation of the soil, such as was not only
contemplated, but openly recommended by some leading partisans of the
League. Since then, we have had an opportunity of testing the strength
of our actual position under one of those terrible emergencies. Scarcity
has come, though not famine in its most gaunt and hideous shape; and not
only are our own supplies deficient, but the greatest difficulty has
been found in procuring a substitute from elsewhere. Had this occurred
in the time of war, not in the season of unbroken peace, when the
highway of the ocean is free, it is hardly within the power of man to
exaggerate the horror of the consequences.

But, though the heavens may again smile upon us, there are evils of
man’s creation which may not be so speedily removed, unless the nation
can be brought to a clear sense of the predicament in which they have
been placed by the insensate obstinacy and insatiable conceit of one
minister, who, though ejected from office, is yet powerful in the
councils of the empire. We cannot explain, because we do not understand,
the nature of that mysterious and undefinable power which Sir Robert
Peel seems to exercise over the proceedings of the present cabinet. We
do not know the secret composition of the philtre, or love-potion, which
he appears to have given to the Whigs; but we have seen quite enough in
the recent discussions in parliament with regard to the monetary
pressure which is now in the act of crushing and grinding to dust many
thousands of the commercial and industrious classes, to be aware that
the Russell ministry are entirely at one with Sir Robert in the
maintenance of his favourite crotchet, and that they are prepared to
abide by his delusion with regard to the currency, be the consequences
to the country what they may.

This question of the currency is at once so vast, and so vital to the
interests of every man who has any stake at all in the community--it
presents itself at this moment in so alarming, and yet so palpable a
shape--that we would be inexcusable were we to remain silent at a crisis
when the evils of circumscribed credit and bank restriction are driving
the honest trader into the Gazette. Long before the late premier had
absolved us, by his unprincipled tergiversation, from all ties of party
and support, we sedulously and earnestly protested against his perpetual
meddling and tampering with the circulation of the country. In
particular we were amongst the first to oppose his wanton, because
uncalled for interference with the Scottish Banking System, under the
operation of which the country had advanced, without risk or injury, at
a ratio which probably never was equalled, and which certainly never was
exceeded. We then warned, not only the bankers, but our national
representatives, and the public, that if they permitted one single wedge
to be driven into the fabric, the stability of the whole was endangered;
and we showed that the retention of our one-pound note circulation was,
though an important item of profit to the bankers, and of convenience to
the public, of little consequence compared with the results which must
ensue, if the circulation of the banks was arbitrarily limited, and all
extension of credit made to depend upon the possession, or rather the
purchase, of a large sum of useless and unprofitable bullion, which, so
far from increasing the wealth of the country, must inevitably render it
powerless in the event of a commercial panic. We believed then, and we
believe now, that history does not afford a parallel instance of so
reckless and shameful a disregard of public feeling and opinion on the
part of any statesman; and the confidence and perseverance with which
Sir Robert Peel proceeded to thrust his measure down the throats of the
Scottish bankers, was, in our opinion, little less than a deliberate
insult to the country,--because we never can forget this great and
pregnant fact, that no grounds for tangible accusation could be drawn,
or were attempted to be established, from the practical working of the
system. That system was created by a somewhat neglected people for their
own convenience, and without any legislative interference at all. It had
supplied all the necessities of the country, and had been found perfect
in its operation during periods of more than common exigency and
distress. It had stood the test of experience successfully at times when
the monetary system of England had been proved insufficient for the
pressure. It possessed the full confidence of the nation; and yet--we
can hardly write the sentence without a blush--it was surrendered after
a faint opposition, merely because Sir Robert Peel considered himself an
accomplished currency doctor, and was desirous to try the effects of his
_aurum potabile_ upon a sound as well as a sickly subject.

The one-pound notes, however, were spared, and the bankers in some
degree reconciled to the change by the promise of a future monopoly. Had
not that bait been thrown out to them, we can hardly believe it possible
that so unnecessary and unpopular a measure could have been carried at
all, but, the wedge being once inserted, it has since been driven home
to the quick. We appeal now with confidence to the merchants and
manufacturers of Glasgow, Paisley, and Greenock--to the landed gentry,
who are suffering under the tightening of the screw--to the enterprising
tenant, who, under a long lease, is seeking to improve his land--to the
trader, dealer, and shopkeeper of every kind throughout
Scotland--whether they ever experienced such a monetary pressure as the
present. And we ask them further to consider for themselves, and that
very seriously indeed--for an evil too long submitted to may grow beyond
the reach of a remedy--what is the real cause of this distress, and
unparalleled scarcity of money? How is it that, with property of the
most undeniable value on their hands, which they are ready to tender in
security, they cannot by any means whatever obtain their accustomed
credit? And then we ask them to compare the present state of matters
with the past, and point out, if they can, any one period or crisis,
before Sir Robert Peel was pleased of his own accord to substitute his
banking system for that established by the progressive intelligence of
the nation, when money could not be obtained and credit given, at fair
but not exorbitant rates, for good and sufficient security?

We crave the pardon of our English readers if, in the first instance, we
place this point more exclusively in a national view. It is quite true,
and we are fully alive to the fact, that, thanks to the crotchet of Sir
Robert Peel, England and Scotland are now placed in exactly the same
monetary difficulties, and we are not without hope that, on that
account, our united efforts to get rid of the nightmare which is
stifling us both, may prove more effectual than if either country were
struggling singly for liberation. But it must not be forgotten that with
us the experiment has been recently made. We are still most vividly
alive to the advantages of a system which we ourselves founded, upon
principles of mutual support among all classes of the community--under
which we have risen and thriven--and which has not been sacrificed on
account of any alleged fault or deficiency in its working, or from any
intelligible motives of public policy, but simply to gratify the whim
and feed the vanity of a minister who considers himself wiser than a
nation, and who never can be happy without change. A monetary crisis and
a panic are new things to us; for we have hitherto been accustomed to
associate public distress with low wages, low prices, and a want of
demand for products. But we find ourselves now for the first time in
this position, that with higher wages than are the average, more demand
for labour than can well be supplied, and more orders on the hands of
our manufacturers than can well be executed, we are yet brought to an
absolute stand-still for want of money. We go to our bankers with
security which is both unquestioned and unquestionable, and we proffer
it in security for that which, according to our old ideas, we think that
we are absolutely entitled to have on such terms--for money, the
life-blood of a commercial community; and we are told that it cannot be
given to us! And when we inquire the reasons for such refusal, we are
told that the banks cannot afford to increase their circulation; since,
under the new system, they are compelled to stock their own coffers with
gold for every single note which they issue beyond a given point--and
gold to be had must be paid for.

Had we a Pactolus among ourselves, this state of things might possibly
be endurable; but, unfortunately, we are not rich in that kind of
bullion, and our Mint--somewhat needlessly secured by the Treaty of
Union--has since very coolly been abolished. But we have iron and other
sorts of produce in abundance, and land tolerably valuable, and stocks
of various kinds, upon all or any of which we were wont, in former
times, to raise money without any difficulty, and so to make our capital
available in the prosecution of our different works. These are now
rendered absolutely and practically useless. We cannot raise money upon
them, because the bankers cannot afford to buy an exorbitant amount of
golden counters to remain in their cellars profitless and unseen; and
thus trade is brought to a stand-still, public enterprise is checked,
and the market is disappearing from our grasp.

In short, the present system under which the whole of us are groaning,
and which, if not speedily abandoned, must land us in irretrievable
difficulties, is neither more nor less than a most culpable interference
with credit, by restricting the ordinary circulation of the country to a
point far below that which is absolutely necessary for its exigencies,
and by making any further issue of paper dependent upon the purchase and
the hoarding of gold.

It may sound paradoxical when we say that we are almost glad when a
crisis like the present has arisen, because we are convinced that
nothing short of actual and painful experience will open the eyes of the
community to the miserable fallacies upon which the views of their
former and their present rulers are founded. Of all questions which can
be agitated we are quite aware that that of the currency is the least
palatable to the general reader, and the one which he most gladly
escapes from in a kind of mazed bewilderment, and generally with a
confession that its intricacies are beyond his comprehension. It is now
full time that this state of general apathy should be ended. If we hope
to preserve much longer our course of national prosperity, we must face
the question manfully, and not shrink even from the array of figures
which quacks in currency invariably adduce for the purpose of mystifying
their audience; just as their medical brethren contrive to render
themselves unintelligible by the use of a peculiar jargon. There is,
after all, no great mystery in the matter, if men would take the trouble
of reflecting for themselves. The laws which ought to regulate the
currency of a country should have reference to the real property of that
country as its basis, and not an artificial substitute like gold, which,
in addition to its scarcity and its liability to fluctuation, is
incomparably the dearest circulating medium which has ever yet been
adopted. In the words of the authors of the Gemini Letters--a
publication, by the way, which is well worthy the attention of every man
who seeks to make himself master of the details of the currency
question--“we must not expect to be relieved from the distress, and
difficulties, and dangers which overshadow the land, so long as we are
determined that the value of the produce of our lands, mines, and
manufactures, and the amount of the wages of labour, shall be dependant
upon the possession of a few millions more or less of gold coin. Will
some stickler for a high metallic standard tell us what proportion the
value of the whole of the gold generally to be had in the United Kingdom
at one time, bears to the value of all the other property of the
country? If this question were satisfactorily answered, it is probable
that we should not much longer be

                          “Resolved,
    Like sugar-loaf turn’d upside down,
    To stand upon the smaller end,”

but rather be disposed to treat this particular metal in the way that we
treat all other marketable commodities--namely, suffer it to find its
proper level.”

It is edifying to remark the different interpretations which are given,
by different supporters of the bullion representative system, of the
present acknowledged distress and unparalleled tightness in the money
markets of Great Britain. Sir Robert Peel--the apostle of the system,
upon whose shoulders, we maintain, the primary burden of this enormous
responsibility must rest--cannot but admit the fact of the gloomy
deficiency; but he falls back upon the ultimate causes. These are,
according to his view, over-speculation in railways, joined with a
scarcity of food and an increase in the price of cotton. Granting all
this to be true, what has that to do with the great question at issue?
We are perfectly ready to admit that at the present moment there is an
immense demand for money, and that the demand may be owing, in a great
measure, to these and similar causes. We know perfectly well that if
there exists a drain upon this country for gold, in order to purchase
from abroad the supply of food which is deficient in consequence of the
scarcity at home, the currency must necessarily be contracted, so long
as a five-pound note of the Bank of England, or of any other bank, is
held to be, in the eye of the law, not the representative of so much
real property--be it land, or stock, or iron--but the eidolon or shadow
of five golden coins of a certain weight and fineness, which cannot
escape from the empire without annihilating the existence of the
subsidiary paper. What we complain of in effect is this, that the whole
enormous property of the three kingdoms should be represented merely by
the insignificant and insufficient issue of thirty-two millions in
bank-notes, and that the whole remainder of the currency is entirely
metallic. For although there may certainly at times be a larger amount
of paper in circulation, that paper, beyond the thirty-two millions,
must be represented by bullion in the bank, and if the latter be
withdrawn, the representative issue must be recalled. So that, by a
large drain of gold, we may be reduced, and are at this moment becoming
so, to so contracted a circulation, that trade must necessarily stand
still for the sheer want of a common representative of property.

Why, and on what principles, the amount of our paper circulation was
fixed at so low a point, we are utterly unable to conceive, unless it
was for the purpose of compelling a large portion of our trading
capital to remain fruitless and withdrawn from use in the form of
unprofitable gold. Thirty-two millions, even in ordinary times, is not
above one-half of what is required for the needful circulation of the
country. In 1810 the currency of the paper for the three kingdoms was
not less than sixty millions; and during the thirty-seven years which
have elapsed since that time, not only has our population increased at
an enormous ratio, but our trade and enterprise augmented in a more than
corresponding degree. The tendency, however, of our improved system of
banking has been to reduce the circulation within the lowest possible
limit; but that limit was necessarily variable, and adjusted itself to
meet the occurring contingencies of the country. Now it is fixed by the
legislature at a point so low, that we are absolutely dependent upon the
amount of gold which we can retain in the country, for the means of
commercial interchange. We are obliged at present, it seems, to
transport a large portion of our gold to America for the purchase of
food. For every sovereign which leaves our shores a note is taken out of
circulation, and no means whatever are permitted to individuals or to
banking companies to supply the deficiency. In ordinary times, it might
be expected that the gold would again find its way to Britain; at
present, however, it is absorbed and scattered for the purpose of
enabling America to prosecute her aggressive war against Mexico. And of
what use, we ask, to the nation at large, are some ten or twelve
millions converted into specie and stored up in the vaults beneath the
Bank of England? Sir Robert Peel tells us, with a smile of peculiar
complacency, that the hoarding up of so much bullion is a safeguard
against a panic, because it renders any run upon the banks for gold a
matter of absolute impossibility. With only thirty-two millions of paper
extant for the common circulation of the nation, we shrewdly suspect
that any apprehensions of a run upon the banks are as visionary as the
dreams of El Dorado. No one knows better than Sir Robert Peel that the
paper currency of a country must be sorely depreciated indeed before any
such event can take place; and surely there are many means of preventing
an over-issue, without bringing us to such a pass that in every season
of scarcity or of war we must be reduced to an absolute halt--which, in
a commercial country like ours, is a word equivalent to the
impoverishment and the ruin of thousands.

We presume that Sir Robert Peel, when he carried through the Banking
Restriction Act, intended that measure to be a permanent one. We cannot
suppose that he meant it merely to apply to the present situation and
necessities of the country, or that it was left to be repealed and
altered every session of parliament, to suit the state of the money
market, and the fluctuations of the national prosperity. If so, we think
it must at once become apparent to every reasonable man, that a gross
and palpable absurdity was involved in the very principle of the
measure. For to limit the supply of the ordinary circulation in a
commercial country like ours, liable as it is to expansion and
contraction, to periods of peculiar activity and of occasional serious
depression, is quite as preposterous an idea as it would be to declare
by statute what amount of food or what extent of water should in all
time coming be used by the inhabitants of the British Islands. To
interfere with the operation of credit, which is the object of Sir
Robert Peel, is practically the greatest blow that can be given to the
enterprise and the advancement of the country; for it just amounts to
this, that not having a sufficiency of straw wherewith to manufacture
our bricks, we are even denied the privilege of going out into the
fields to collect the subsidiary stubble. The Pharaoh of Tamworth is a
heavier taskmaster than the Egyptian. He demands our daily rate of
taxes, but will neither furnish us with the material, nor permit us to
gather it for ourselves.

If permanent, it is incumbent upon the supporters of the Banking
Restriction Act, who are the very parties at present refusing to relax
one iota of our bondage, to show that their measure is well adapted for
every political contingency. That, we apprehend, would require greater
hardihood, and certainly more ingenuity, than they have yet enlisted on
their side. There are many things besides a scarcity or a famine which
may occasion a drain of gold. That metal has a peculiar facility of
finding its own level; it is liable to sudden demands, and its price is
variable accordingly. Were this country to be again engaged in a
European contest like the last, we should have a recurrence of the drain
of 1814, when gold was at the rate of £5, 8s. per ounce, or upwards of
one pound ten shillings and two-pence above its present value. No
political foresight, no legislative enactment whatever, can guard us
against such a state of things; and the consequence would be an entire
disappearance of bullion. According to our present system, the loss of
bullion would necessarily produce such a contraction as would lay the
credit of the country prostrate. All our extra circulation, founded on
the metallic basis, would immediately be called in; taxes could no
longer be paid, and the result would be a revolution or the sponge. Are
the capitalists of the kingdom, who, we were told some time ago, were
the chief supporters of Sir Robert Peel, anxious that the experiment
should be made? We can assure them that if it is intended to maintain
the circulation of the country permanently upon its present basis, they
stand in imminent danger, not only of occasional panics, but of that
repudiation which in America was the consequence of a similar tampering
with the banks, and the like metallic delusion. At best they must make
up their minds for the recurrence of many seasons as hard and as cruel
as the present; and it will be well if many of their class are not
involved in the ruin which is impending at this moment over the heads of
the minor traders.

But, say some of the bullionists, this measure is not intended to be
permanent. It is, like all other legislative enactments, subject to
modification; and we are prepared, when occasion presses, to alter it
accordingly. Why, then, in the name of common sense--nay, in that of
common humanity--has not the alteration been made? Is it intended that
the public shall sink beneath the pressure of this law before the
smallest portion of its burden shall be removed? Is it wise to delay all
relief until the Gazette is full, and to keep credit suspended at the
very moment when it is most urgently and clamantly required? And what
kind of law, we ask, is that which in prosperous times--that is,
whenever gold is abundant--confessedly puts no check whatever upon
speculation, but which, at the least turn of the tide, is an absolute
engine of destruction? Look at it in any view, and we maintain that a
more miserable instance of legislation upon false and contracted
principles was never yet invented by the brain of a political economist.

The host of pamphlets which has recently issued from the press, upon
this momentous and interesting topic, sufficiently demonstrates the
pressing nature of the crisis. Whatever difference of opinion may be
found amongst so many writers, with regard to the intermediate basis and
proper representative of property, they are almost to a man combined in
denouncing the impolicy of the late restrictions. Lord Ashburton, the
advocate and apologist of the Bank of England, is at one with Mr
Enderby, the able opponent of the gold standard, as to this particular
point. They are all agreed that the system which professes to rectify an
inevitable drain of gold, by crippling the trade of the country, and
forcing down the value of its property, is nothing short of absolute
infatuation, and that, considered by itself, it admits of no
intelligible defence. It would be well, therefore, if an effort were
made, in the first instance, to get rid of the odious and absurd
restrictions, or at least to substitute for the present miserable
driblet, a much larger amount of paper currency, which may be based upon
government securities. There is but one opinion prevalent throughout the
country with regard to the present insufficiency of the currency, so
long at least as the Bank is compelled by statute to deprive us of the
means of fair and legitimate accommodation. Sir Robert Peel has placed
the directors in this anomalous and invidious position, that they _must_
put on the screw whenever there is a prospect of adverse exchanges; and
the immediate effect of that measure is a stoppage of trade, and at the
same time a depression in the value of every kind of merchandise and
product. Taken singly, this is an evil of the very worst description--in
fact nothing worse could be expected from the most formidable
combination of natural and political causes. Taken in connexion with the
late tariffs, which, without securing reciprocity, have opened the home
market to the competition of the foreigner, who is less taxed and
cheaper fed than our own redundant population, each recurrence of it is
a blow to our commercial prosperity, which if often repeated would bring
us to the verge of ruin. The first measure, therefore, which ought to be
taken--and we entreat the serious attention of every man who understands
the currency question to this--is to emancipate the Directors of the
Bank of England from their present false position, by removing the
restriction of their paper issues, or at least by fixing these at a
point which will enable them to supply the ordinary wants of the
community, without reference to an accidental or inevitable drain of
bullion, so that the internal trade and production may never be checked
so long as there is a remunerative demand. A similar regulation must of
course be made with regard to the country bankers; and were this done,
we have very little fear indeed that any crisis at all equal to the
present one could arise. But we must not be left in absolute dependence
for our circulation upon the state of the harvest, or cripple labour at
the very season when employment is most urgently required.

We do not say that the repeal of the Act of 1844, or the increase of the
paper issues to a larger fixed point, can set the question of the
currency at rest. No thinking man who has devoted his time and energies
to the study of our monetary history, would be bold enough to make so
rash and confident an assertion: on the contrary, we think that the time
is not far distant, when the leading theories of the bullionists must be
thoroughly probed, and the consideration of the expediency of a fixed
gold standard most seriously and deliberately resumed. The experience of
some thirty years of peace has furnished data to us which were not known
to the older political economists, and we are now far better enabled to
explain the phenomena of commercial fluctuation. But it would be
extremely unwise at the present moment, when a palpable and tangible
evil is before us, to attempt too wide a reformation, and so to peril
the chance of a present amendment, on the necessity of which we are all
most thoroughly agreed.

From some quarters we have heard an expression of extreme surprise that
the late Premier, who cannot but be awake to the mischief which he has
so wantonly caused, should have been so obstinate and inflexible in his
adherence to the restrictive system. Very little consideration indeed is
requisite to discover the reason. Upon this question of the currency the
whole character and repute of Sir Robert Peel as a financial minister
are staked, and he dare not abandon his measure of 1844, without tacitly
admitting that he has committed a most serious and unpardonable blunder.
Accident has intervened to postpone any actual test of the efficiency of
his other measures. We do not yet know what effect the alteration of the
corn laws may produce upon the welfare of the nation in an ordinary
year, or whether any of the blessings so abundantly promised may be
realized to the poor without a more than corresponding depression. The
tariffs abroad continue still hostile and unrelaxed, and although the
smaller manufacturer, artisan, and workman, are already beginning to
feel the baneful effects of foreign competition in the home market,
their cry is not yet loud enough to excite a large share of the popular
commiseration. Two great events stand prominently forward in the aspect
of the present year--the scarcity and high price of food, and the want
of commercial accommodation among ourselves.

The first is the act of Providence. No human foresight, no political
skill, could have prevented it, and the scourge has mercifully fallen at
a time when the demand for labour has materially lessened its severity
in Great Britain. But that same scarcity, by leading to an exportation
of the precious metal, has been undoubtedly the means of testing the
soundness of our monetary system. As the prosperity of these islands,
and our wonderful ascendency in the great markets of the world, depend
upon the state of our trade and our manufactures at home, it was
obviously the duty of a minister, who, more than any other, professed
his intimacy with commercial principles, to take care that the evil of a
scarcity should not at the same time be combined with the still greater
one of a monetary crisis. If gold must be paid away in order to purchase
the necessary supply of food for our population--if in addition to our
own wants we are compelled to ward off starvation from the thoughtless
and unenterprising Irish--we were doubly bound to take care that our
great staple resources, our trade and our manufactures, should not
suffer from any cause over which we had the evident control. And yet,
how do we stand at the present moment? No sooner does the drain of
bullion begin, than the Directors of the Bank of England, placed by this
odious and uncalled-for measure of Peel’s in sudden jeopardy of their
charter, begin to put on the screw. The country bankers, who must take
their cue from, because they are rendered entirely subordinate to the
great establishment in London, are compelled to follow the example.
First of all the rates of discount are raised, and then credit is
peremptorily refused. This, be it remarked, is at a time when the
solvency of individuals is unsuspected,--were it otherwise, the crash
must have been tremendous ere now. The enormous bulk of the _real_
circulation of the country, which is represented by bills of exchange,
and which never can be estimated with any thing like an approximation to
its amount, is thus instantaneously checked. The Banks cannot
discount--the bills become useless, and the property on which they are
based, can not now command its representative. Fifty thousand pounds of
silver bullion could not command five thousand pounds of money in the
public market of London. The manufacturer saw his credit stopped, his
bills unnegociable, but he had still to pay the weekly rate of wages, or
suspend labour, as indeed in many instances has been done. And all this,
because Sir Robert Peel has forced the fountain of our currency to run
dry. And then comes a depreciation of the value of property, the extent
of which would be almost incredible, were not every one of us, except
the Capitalist and the Annuitant, aware of it by melancholy experience.
According to Lord Ashburton--“It would not be easy to estimate this
depreciation, extending over all merchandise, stocks, railway shares,
&c.; it would probably not be overstated at FROM TEN TO TWENTY PER
CENT.; but what is worse, it has paralysed this property in the hands of
the possessors, rendered it unavailable towards meeting their
engagements, and thus produced in many cases pecuniary sacrifices much
beyond the mere depreciation of the property itself. It has further
occasioned the suspension of the execution of orders from our customers
in every quarter, thus distressing manufacturers, and impeding those
very operations which would have corrected the tendency to an
unfavourable balance of trade, and given safety to the circulation of
the Bank.”

Now whatever we may think of the extreme candour of the Right Honourable
Baronet, it is perhaps rather too much to expect from human nature that
an individual who has been the cause of all this monstrous mischief,
should stand forward at once, and manfully plead guilty to the charge.
Sir Robert Peel has not yet played out his full hand of political cards;
and he is perfectly well aware that after such an admission, very few
persons indeed would be inclined to cut in with him for a partner. In
short, were he now to acknowledge himself in the wrong, it would be at
the sacrifice of his sole remaining qualification as a statesman--the
_prestige_ of his financial sagacity. If he loses this, faint though the
recommendation be compared with the far higher qualities of consistency
and open dealing, he is indeed a bankrupt in his fame! Need we wonder
then that he clings to his darling measure, with a tenacity absolutely
startling when we reflect on his former degrading versatility? Need we
wonder that he eagerly attempts to fasten the blame of the monetary
pressure upon the railroad speculators, the Bank Directors, or any other
body of men who can at all be brought into question? As to the Bank
Directors, we quite agree with Lord Ashburton that it is most unfair to
make them the scape-goats in this matter. Had they not been bound down
by stringent statutory fetters--had they been allowed to use the common
caution of every commercial dealer by measuring the amount of their
accommodation by the known responsibility of their customers, there
would have been no financial crisis. But Sir Robert, in his infinite
wisdom, would not suffer them to retain the prerogative of thinking and
rational beings. He made them mere machines for contracting the
circulation, and prohibited them from supporting credit: and surely they
are not blameable if they shaped their conduct according to the clear
letter and distinct direction of the law. In dealing with the railway
shareholders Sir Robert Peel cuts even a sorrier figure. He talks about
absorption of capital and over-trading, as if these things had in
reality any thing to do with an arbitrary restriction of the currency.
Now we do not require to be told that there is a certain limit at which
accommodation must stop; but we maintain that it is the function of the
banker to decide when that limit has arrived in the case of each
particular customer. If a man has embarked the whole of his available
capital in undertakings which are not yet profitable, or which do not
speedily promise to become so, it is unquestionably in the option of the
banker at his own risk to refuse or to increase his credit. But, as
matters presently stand, not only has the banker no such option, but he
cannot afford the required accommodation even to parties whose capital
and property are undoubted, for the very simple reason that the law, as
amended by Peel, deprives him of the means of doing so. If gold goes out
of the country, from whatever cause, the issues must be correspondingly
contracted. And is it expected that the whole ordinary business of the
country can be conducted with something like one half of its usual
amount of circulation? It will not, we presume, be denied by Sir Robert
Peel and his Whig financial adherents that the increase of internal
railway enterprise, and the vast additional labour which it may be said
to have created, require a larger amount of ordinary circulation than in
the year when the Bank Restriction Act was passed. And yet, not only
have no means been taken to provide for such an expansion, but when the
scarcity and drain arise, and the issues are arbitrarily contracted, our
candid economists, instead of acknowledging their own normal error, have
the coolness to attribute the pressure to the employment of labour at
home! Had it not been for that labour and the expenditure of capital
among ourselves, the situation of the working classes during the past
winter, when the prices of provisions were so high, would have been
lamentable indeed.

However, since the currency debate in the House of Commons, Sir Robert
Peel seems to have changed his ground a little. It is curious to remark
that, in all these financial discussions, the members of the present
administration appear as absolute ciphers. They hardly profess to
understand the question, but give their absolute faith to the doctrines
of Sir Robert, who, with some two or three of his remaining adherents,
is put forward to do battle, with the Protectionists and the mercantile
party. The member for Tamworth is now desirous of falling back upon his
old bullionist theories; and, with the utmost gravity, has invited a
serious discussion upon the following subject of debate, “What is a
pound?”

The object of this question is sufficiently clear. The astute
ex-minister, finding himself so vigorously assailed on all quarters, for
the absolute failure of his model banking act, and being unable to
defend it upon any intelligible principles, would fain rake up a point
upon which the opinions of his opponents differ, and so escape from the
dilemma under a cloud of contradictory theories. It is an old device,
and not a very creditable one; but we trust that, on the present
occasion, it may prove utterly unavailing. The question is not now of
the convertibility or inconvertibility of paper; for, if it were
absolutely this, there are materials enough in Sir Robert Peel’s own
banking measures to refute the notions which he professes to maintain as
a principle. His own currency is not altogether based upon gold.
_Fourteen millions of the Bank of England’s paper is unrepresented by
the precious metals_; and yet every one of these notes is an actual
engagement to pay the bearer of it in gold! Notwithstanding all the
arguments of the bullionists, the plain matter of fact is just this,
that the Bank of England, like every other institution of the country,
is substantially based upon credit, _and that it never had, at any one
time, the means of liquidating its engagements by payments in specie_.
The issue, therefore, of paper, as it cannot be made to depend entirely
upon the amount of hoarded gold, ought to have reference simply to the
absolute wants of the community--wants which are, as all experience has
shown, remarkably but inevitably variable, and which must be supplied in
order that trade, and manufactures, and agriculture may go on, and that
our internal products may adapt themselves, with out any difficulty, to
the demand.

The question as to the real nature of a pound is useless at the present
time. We are not now discussing the older banking acts, but the wretched
abortion of 1844, which has led to this unnatural crisis. It is, in
fact, a question which ought not to be mixed up with the others, because
if, as Sir Robert Peel maintains, a pound is neither more nor less than
a piece of metal of a certain weight and fineness, to which he, in
opposition to the practice and experience of the whole world beside, has
attempted to give a fixed unvarying price. He should in the first
instance be prepared to defend it as the sole basis for every kind of
representative circulation. In short, if his theory be correct, no
banker should be permitted to issue a note, unless he has within his
coffers a “pound,”--that is, a sovereign, to redeem it. Were the
bullionists consistent, such indeed would be the proper result of their
arguments, and the consequence would be, that at the present moment the
legal circulation of England would have been something under ten
millions. We shall not pause to demonstrate the absurdity of such a
position, because it carries distinctly upon its face its own triumphant
refutation. It follows therefore, and is admitted, that the basis of our
circulation is mixed--part of it, which fluctuates, being the
representative of these precious “pounds,” and the larger portion being
based on credit, or inconvertible government securities.

What is the use then of arguing about a “pound,” when our paper, if
called in, could not by any possibility realise it? We do not in the
slightest degree deprecate the discussion at a future time; on the
contrary, we most earnestly hope that the whole subject may engage the
early attention of the next Parliament, for we are thoroughly convinced
that the more it is sifted, the more clear and palpable will become the
fallacies of our financial empiric. But we frankly avow our anxiety that
he may not be permitted through such a begging of the question, to
escape from his present difficulties. Let him show, if he can, that his
Act of 1844 was the natural and inevitable result of his previous
measures, and then we may be in a situation to condemn the whole of them
together. But if it is not so, but a mere device of his own to show his
admirable mechanical skill, let him defend it on its own merits. That it
has acted banefully on the currency, no man can deny. It is quite clear
that it has led to an enormous depreciation of property; and the very
fact, that, notwithstanding the unprecedented pressure, the general
credit has been maintained, is above all others the strongest proof that
the pressure was utterly uncalled for. The point for immediate
consideration simply resolves itself into this: are we to leave
untouched upon the statute-book, a law which can at any time expose us
to the inevitable hardship of a monetary crisis like the present?--Are
we to continue and approve of an Act, the operation of which is, in
certain circumstances, to drain dry the fountain of our currency, and
that at the very time when an expansion of the currency is required? We
do not want to hear from Sir Robert Peel, any more than from an
itinerant lecturer, his definition of the nature of a “pound.” What we
want is a fair current representative for our property, without an
adequate supply of which, that property becomes stationary and is
depreciated. The depreciation of the last few months has, upon the most
moderate calculation, swallowed up at least two years of the surplus
capital of the country, and yet we are told that such a state of things
is not only necessary but wholesome! We are quite aware that it is in
vain to look for any remedy at the hands of the Whigs. They are at
present in a state of most hopeless bewilderment on the subject;
trusting in the first instance to Sir Robert Peel, and in the next to
the chapter of accidents. A good harvest they think will be sufficient
to remove all immediate difficulty; prices will again revive, and the
monetary distress be forgotten. We pray most earnestly that the first
part of their anticipations may prove correct, but we shall not on that
account relax in our exertions to overturn a system which may at any
moment expose us to the recurrence of a similar calamity.

With very few exceptions the whole of the public press is with us, and
we can hardly believe that the intelligence of the nation is not
adequate to work out its own relief. In fact, out of the House of
Commons there is hardly a single man who does not reprobate the
continual tampering with the currency, which, next to his marvellous
power of tergiversation, is the leading characteristic of Peel: nor
would his measure of 1844 have been carried but for his confident
puffing of the merits of his own machinery, and the almost universal
belief in his talents as a financial minister. The bankers, and all
those--who were familiar with monetary matters, and who, from long
experience, were gifted with foresight and sagacity, not only
entertained but expressed the most serious doubts as to the permanent
working of the act. But all warning was rejected with scorn by our
political dictator, who was resolved to have his own way; and at the
present moment we are reaping the delectable harvest of our confidence.

We have already spoken, quite fully enough, of the manner in which the
unanimous remonstrance of the Scottish bankers was received. The fact
that their representation was backed by the unanimous voice of the
public, beseeching that they might be left alone without any legislative
interference, went for nothing in the eyes of Sir Robert. He had, to say
the truth, too much power, and he never was chary in abusing it. He
dealt with Scotland as if she were an insignificant colony, too ignorant
to regulate her own monetary affairs, and too weak to resist any show of
forcible aggression. In the plenitude of his rashness, however, he
displayed the same disregard to public opinion in regulating the
currency of England; and we shall now proceed to detail a very few of
the several warnings which he has received.

In 1844 the following document was laid before him; and we surely do not
exaggerate its importance when we say, that it proceeded from a body of
men whose opinions, upon monetary subjects, were entitled to be listened
to with the utmost respect and deference:--“We, the undersigned bankers
of London, are induced, by the importance of the measure and our
interest in its success, to address you upon the subject of the Bank
Charter Bill, now before parliament. We were led to believe, when the
measure was first brought forward, and we feel confident it was
generally understood throughout the country, that although it was the
intention of her Majesty’s government that the paper Circulation of the
Bank of England, in their issue department, should be limited to an
amount not exceeding £14,000,000, upon securities, yet, that in the
event of any particular crisis arising, a power was to be reserved by
the bill enabling the Bank of England, with the consent of the first
Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Master of
the Mint, to extend their issue upon securities beyond that amount. It
is with considerable surprise that we find that the bill now before the
House of Commons does not contain any provision for an extension of the
issue beyond £14,000,000, upon securities, excepting under the special
circumstances named in the fifth clause of the bill now before
parliament. We are apprehensive that the absolute limitation of the
issue to £14,000,000, without any power of expansion reserved, whether
that amount be in itself a proper amount or not, will create a general
feeling of uneasiness throughout the country, and, by preventing the
satisfactory reception of the measure, will deprive the scheme of many
of the advantages it possesses, and interfere with its success. We
respectfully submit that the effect of such an absolute limitation _will
be to restrict the business of the country by leading to a general
withdrawal of legitimate accommodation_, unless some power be reserved
by the bill for extending the issue with the sanction of the authorities
above alluded to in cases of emergency, to be made apparent to such
authorities.”

This memorial, to which were adhibited the signatures of every eminent
banking firm in London, was treated by Sir Robert Peel with the most
calm and imperturbable indifference. The warning and the danger so
distinctly described and foretold had no effect in altering the
resolution of the intrepid baronet. He had made up his mind to place the
country permanently in commercial fetters, and no representation of the
consequences would cause him to swerve from his purpose. It would have
been well if at that time he had reflected with a little respect upon
the opinions entertained and expressed by his own venerated father--a
man of that sound sagacity and peculiar clearness of conception which
are incomparably more valuable than talents of an adroit and plausible
description. We wish that those few of his old supporters and adherents
who are in the daily habit of diluting the monetary notions of their
idol, would refer to the views which were enunciated by the elder Peel
in his remarkable letter of 1826, addressed to the members of both
houses of parliament. It is surely not unfair to recall the words of the
father as powerful evidence against the destructive theories of the son.

Sir Robert Peel, senior, writes thus:--"In the enlarged scale of
business carried on by this country, embracing a great variety of
pursuits, a reliance on a metallic circulation alone ever did, and ever
will fail us. Gold, though in itself massy, often disappears in
consequence of war or speculation--nay, the breath of rumour itself is
sufficient to disperse it. Our domestic concerns are interrupted, and
confidence lost, for want of an ample and approved medium of traffic.

"I am no friend to an unrestrained issue of paper money, and saw with
concern, in the absence of a due quantity of specie, bills admitted into
circulation issued by persons of respectability, possessing property,
but evidently unable to meet a sudden and large demand upon them. More
than two years ago, I mentioned to a friend, high in his Majesty’s
councils, my fears of the mischief likely to ensue if the practice were
not discontinued; accompanied with a suggestion to confine future issues
of paper money or tokens to the Bank of England and other competent
bodies of men, _who would give security in land, the public funds,
canals, buildings, or other tangible property_, amounting at least to
one-half of the value of their bills or tokens in circulation. My
proposition was not favoured with any notice; yet, had it been adopted,
I am of opinion that most of the panic and distress now so severely felt
in the nation would have been avoided. If such an improvement in the
banking system could be made available, gold would become less
requisite, and the country be supplied with a stationary medium of
exchange originating with ourselves.

"The present panic and distress in the country have been declared by
high authority to proceed from ‘overtrading’ and ‘wild speculation.’
Infant nations and establishments are liable to miscarry from want of
experience and solidity. TRADING and SPECULATION, being natives of this
island, and parents of our wealth and independence, are surely exempt
from such an imputation. The same authority has declared, that ‘gold and
paper money are incompatible with each other, and cannot exist
together.’ _The population and trade of the empire having been much
increased, a proportionate increase in the medium of circulation is
called for_; and when gold is found insufficient, recourse must be had
to paper, which if improved on the principle already suggested, the two
substances would be found in the same pocket without disunion.

“Anxious to see our situation ameliorated, I trust the currency may be
mended without changing or impairing the national commercial
character--which measure, if resorted to, would resemble the policy of
diverting from its course a powerful river that had long given fertility
and happiness to a large district, merely because, from excessive rains,
it had sometimes exceeded its natural limits, and produced partial
injury.”

A sounder and a clearer view of the sole legitimate control which
government is entitled, for security of the public, to exercise over the
issues of the bankers, cannot be found than this. The elder baronet was
fully alive to the gross absurdity of the bullionists who literally make
toys of their coin. He recognised to its fullest extent the salutary
principle that REAL PROPERTY is, after all, the only proper basis of
circulation: and he would have laughed to scorn the idea of an arbitrary
restricted issue, as the certain means of inflicting a paralytic stroke
upon the energies and the enterprise of the nation. The total neglect of
this view is the capital error of the son. He depreciates the value of
real property, by depriving its possessor of the power to command at any
time its cheap and commodious representative; and he forces us, under
the most adverse circumstances to hunt for gold, and not improbably to
humiliate ourselves in time of need, by an application to the hoarding
Russian.

We entreat the public attention to the fact, that the banking system and
mode of circulation suggested by the elder Sir Robert Peel, is in fact
precisely that which was followed out by the Scottish banks, without
failure, without complaint, and with incalculable advantage to the
country, before the late premier commenced his wanton interference with
our institutions. Heaven only knows what amount of suffering we must
undergo until the public mind is thoroughly roused to the evils which
have resulted from a weak and imbecile confidence in the nostrums of a
theoretical minister, and until the money trade is freed from its
present most odious restrictions. But we cannot, and we think we ought
not, to conceal our conviction that the present monetary crisis is
directly owing to the Restriction Act, and that the whole empire, and
Scotland in particular, has reason to curse the hour when Sir Robert
Peel thought fit to embark on his financial crusade.

We are glad to see such men as Mr Baring and Mr Newdegate protesting in
the lower House, against the iniquity of the present system, and
exposing its operations in detail. It is in vain that the Chancellor of
the Exchequer--whose deference to the opinions of Sir Robert Peel is so
ludicrously displayed--attempts to raise his voice in defence of
restriction, and to attribute to other causes the deficiency which he
cannot deny. Even Peel himself, as we have already remarked, is fain to
blink the question, and to escape from the attacks of his antagonists,
by the stale artifice of confounding and contrasting their opinions. The
memorable debate in the House of Commons on the 10th of May, has, if we
are not widely mistaken, established a principle which must lead to
important party results; and we would earnestly beseech those who have
the welfare of their country at heart, to make this matter of the
currency a leading consideration in the use of their electoral
franchise.

We have already shown the manner in which Sir Robert Peel was pleased to
treat the respectful remonstrance of the English bankers, and the total
variance of his financial views from those which were entertained by his
excellent and honoured parent. We now take leave to draw the attention
of our readers to a rather remarkable passage in Mr Alison’s late
pamphlet, entitled “_England in 1815 and 1845_.”

We need hardly state our reasons for declining to criticise that work.
We agree entirely with the views entertained by that eminent writer; and
we should be happy indeed, could we state our own arguments with a force
and a precision at all commensurate with his. Sir Robert Peel, however,
in the course of the year 1845, thought proper to make this pamphlet the
subject of his remarks, and concluded, _more suo_, with a sneer at Mr
Alison, which, apart from its propriety, does not strike us as
particularly clever. The point at issue was rather a trivial one; for
Sir Robert, as usual, did not apply himself to the main body of the
argument: he neither impeached the facts nor the conclusions of Mr
Alison, but fastened upon an incidental point of no great value or
importance. The attack, however, had this good effect, that it elicited
a reply from Mr Alison, in which he points out so distinctly the results
of the restrictive measure, that we cannot do better than transfer an
extract from his Postscript to our pages. It is proper to observe, that
this Postscript was published _two years ago_, and we leave the public
to judge of the accuracy of M. Alison’s observations:--

“Whoever,” says he, referring to the Banking Act of the preceding
year--"whoever considers these provisions with attention, will see that
they practically introduce two things: 1st, A limitation of the issue of
Bank of England notes to £14,000,000 on securities, with the addition of
the specie and bullion transferred to the issue department:--2d, A
limitation of any further issue to the amount of such securities,
bullion and specie. It is the avowed object of the Act to base the
circulation of the bank on these three things. And the opinion of its
supporters has been repeatedly expressed that they constitute the only
safe foundation of banking operations. If, therefore, the specie is
drawn out by the holders of notes who are declared entitled by the Act
to have their notes paid at £3, 17s. 10½d. an ounce of gold, it follows,
of course, that the notes in circulation must be diminished in the same
proportion. They cannot issue notes beyond the £14,000,000, _except in
exchange for specie or bullion_--the most effectual of all ways for
limiting the issue to their amount.

"_Now, suppose a bad harvest, such as we have narrowly escaped, occurs,
when undertakings of a gigantic nature are on foot, and a large quantity
of specie is drawn from the bank to purchase foreign grain or other
subsistence, what, under the existing law, must be the consequence?_
Must it not be that the paper circulation of the Bank of England and of
course of every other bank, will be simultaneously and rapidly
contracted? Their own notes pour in to be exchanged for specie to buy
foreign grain, or make the necessary remittances to foreign
undertakings. They cannot issue new ones beyond the £14,000,000, except
in exchange for specie or bullion, which is the very thing they are
every day losing, and which is bought up in all parts of the country for
foreign exportation. The result is inevitable, that their notes must be
called in as rapidly as the sovereigns go out. The screw must be put on;
the circulation must, at all hazards, be contracted. If £10,000,000 of
sovereigns are _drawn out_ to buy foreign grain, or to meet a demand for
gold in foreign states, £10,000,000 worth of notes must be _drawn in_ to
equalise the paper with the stock of gold and silver above the
£14,000,000 authorised to be issued on paper securities. _The
circulation will thus be diminished by £20,000,000, or nearly a third of
its amount_, and that at the very time when the public interests most
loudly call for its extension.

“That may occur, too, at a time when speculations the most weighty are
on foot, and the currency previously in circulation is most required for
the wants of the community! The evil will not thereby be doubled: it
will be quadrupled. Like all mischievous panics, its effects will go on
as the squares. Is it possible to contemplate such a state of things
without the most serious apprehensions: without deep regret that it
should be established and perpetuated by acts of parliament? Does it not
annul the best effects of a paper currency, that of having an elastic
quality which causes it to expand when the metallic currency is
contracted, and so obviate the ruinous and lasting effects of such
temporary diminution on general credit? Is it surprising, when such is
the law, that the mercantile classes watch the sky; that rain for a
month in autumn gives a serious shock to credit, and that stock of all
kinds rises or falls with the changes of the barometer? The Banker’s Act
of 1844 should be styled--‘An Act for the more effectual transferring of
panics from agriculture to commerce, and for perpetuating commercial
catastrophes in Great Britain.’”

When we compare the events predicted in this remarkable passage with
those which have actually taken place--when we reflect that a bad
harvest _has_ occurred, that our gold _has_ been drained, our paper
circulation contracted, and the screw put on--we think there are few
commercial men in the country who will not agree with us in wishing that
Sir Robert Peel had really accepted Mr Alison “as the philosopher who is
to instruct us on the currency.” For, most assuredly, there is no kind
of philosophy which we can discover in the scheme that is now being
tested at the expense of the merchants and manufacturers of the three
kingdoms; unless it should be held philosophic that the whole commercial
machinery of the country shall be exposed to annual dislocation, and
that credit shall hereafter be liable to the present alarming point of
contraction. Parliament, as we understand, is about to separate, without
doing any thing whatever to remedy this monster grievance. Let the Whigs
look to it. They are now to all intents and purposes the aiders and
abettors of Sir Robert Peel. They hang upon his words, adopt his
principles, and applaud his maxims to the skies. They hear from every
quarter of the country the cry of unparalleled distress. An evil much
greater than the scarcity is pressing upon the industrious classes,
interfering with labour, checking trade, and depreciating the value of
every kind of property. Manchester has been nearly at a stand-still, not
from want of orders but from absolute want of accommodation; and yet the
present ministry have neither the courage nor the capacity to step
forward and afford that relief which is in their power, and which the
nation is demanding at their hands. If, during the recess, and before a
new parliament shall meet, the present lamentable state of matters is to
continue, we say deliberately that no British ministry ever exposed
themselves to such a frightful load of responsibility. Let them share it
with their new ally and master. It may be that he intends, at some
future time, to make a second push for popularity by throwing them
overboard, and repealing his own most mischievous statute. But we trust
that the electors throughout the country will take care that the new
representative body shall not be constructed of the same malleable
materials as its predecessor, and that no more experiments, involving
the national prosperity and fortunes, shall be permitted, for the mere
sake of gratifying the caprice and augmenting the vanity of an
individual who has already brought the whole of us so close upon the
verge of ruin.

_Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh._


FOOTNOTES:

[1] _History of the Conquest of Peru; with a Preliminary View of the
Civilisation of the Incas._ By WILLIAM H. PRESCOTT. London: 1847.

[2] El Kebir, or the Great, is a term by which Mohammed Ali is usually
designated among the fellahs of Egypt, to distinguish him from the mob
of Pashas and the crowds of Mohammed Alis. Napoleon was called also El
Kebir, as the greatest among the Ferenk dogs of the West.

[3] _The Life of Jean Paul Frederick Richter._ London: Chapman, 1845.

[4] _Allemagne._ English translation. London: 1813. Vol. ii. p. 339.

[5] A work on the Immortality of the Soul--a favourite theme with
Richter.

[6] “Unitarian,” in the Political Dictionary of South America, is
opposed to “Federal.” Rosas pretends to govern on “Federal”
principles--that is, the separate legislative independence of each
province of the “Confederation;” but, in fact, he has made himself a
Unitarian, since he _unites_ in himself (by “extraordinary powers,”
given to him only for a season, but retained ever since) a supremacy
over the other provinces, and over the law and constitution.

[7] Maza, the president of the Sala of Representatives, and a high
officer in one of the courts of justice, was murdered in (or close to)
the senate house; his son was murdered the same evening; and no judicial
inquiries ever took place in consequence. Why?--Because, of course, it
was done by authority.

[8] Dollars in Buenos Ayres mean small notes manufactured in London!!
they used to be made payable at a national bank, in metallic dollars,
and then they represented a silver dollar. This bank has been abolished,
thanks to the “Great Restorer of Laws,” and these paper dollars now vary
from 1½d. to 4d. The arrival or departure of a vessel of war, with
important despatches, will, in one day, cause a doubloon (about £3, 8s.)
to be worth, say three hundred dollars, and next day worth four hundred,
much to the embarrassment of trade--metallic dollars not being current
money.

[9] “Let the Federals live--let the savage, dirty, ruthless Unitarians
die!”--or, Up with the Federals--down with the----Unitarians!

[10] Ladies in South America are more passive to parental authority,
than in England, in respect to the momentous question of selecting a
husband.

[11] _A History of the Royal Navy from the Earliest Times to the French
Revolution._ By Sir NICHOLAS HARRIS NICOLAS, G.C.M.G.

[12] _Maritime and Inland Discovery_, Vol. i. p. 230.

[13] If Sir H. Nicolas has no other authority for this fact of its being
extinguished by vinegar than the extract which he afterwards gives from
Vinesauf,--it does not stand on a very secure basis. “This fire, with a
deadly stench and livid flames, _consumes flint and iron_! and
unquenchable by water, can only be extinguished by sand or _vinegar_.”
The story about the vinegar comes, we see, in very suspicious company.

[14] _Hallam’s Middle Ages_, vol. iii. p. 397.


[Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]





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