The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 16, No. 97, November, 1865

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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 16, No. 97, November, 1865

Author: Various

Release date: December 11, 2006 [eBook #20088]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine Paolucci and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by Cornell University Digital Collections).


[Pg 513]



A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by Ticknor and Fields, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Transcriber's Note: Minor typos have been corrected and footnotes moved to the end of the article. Table of contents has been created for the HTML version.




There is a test of truth in popular creeds and in human opinions generally which is prominently put forward by Herbert Spencer, and has been more or less distinctly stated by other writers, long before our time,—a very searching and trustworthy test.

It is, in substance, this:—Whatever doctrine or opinion has received, throughout a long succession of centuries, the common assent of mankind, may be properly set down as being, if not absolutely true in its usually received form, yet founded on truth, and having, at least, a great, undeniable verity that underlies it.

If, however, there be conflicting details as to any doctrine, varying in form according to the sect or the nation that entertains it, then the test is to be received as affirming the grand underlying truth, but not as proving any of the conflicting varieties of investment in which particular sects or nations may have chosen to clothe it.

Thus of the world's belief in the reality of another life, and in the doctrine of future reward and punishment.

In some form or other, such a faith has existed in every age and among almost every people. Charon and his boat might be the means of conveyance. Or the believer, dying in battle for the creed of the Faithful, might expect to wake up in a celestial harem peopled with Houris. Or the belief might embody the matchless horrors painted by Dante; his dolorous city with the terrible inscription over its entrance-gate: "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate."

Again, the conception might be of a long unconscious interval after death, succeeded at last by a resuscitation; or it might be of another world, the supplement and immediate continuation of this, into which Death, herald, not destroyer, ushers us even while human friends are yet closing our eyes and composing our limbs. It might be of the Paradise in which, on the very day of the crucifixion, the penitent thief was to meet the Saviour of mankind; or it might be of that Heaven, yet increate or unpeopled, seen by some in long, distant perspective, shadowed forth [Pg 514]in such lines as these:—

"That man, when laid in lonesome grave,
Shall sleep in Death's dark gloom,
Until the eternal morning wake
The slumbers of the tomb."

Yet again, the idea may be of a Future of which the denizens shall be, on some Great Day, tried as before an earthly court, doomed as by an earthly tribunal, and sentence pronounced against them by a presiding God, who, of his own omnipotent will, decides to inflict upon sinners condign punishment, in measure far beyond all earthly severity,—torment in quenchless flames, with no drop of water to cool the parched tongue, for ever and ever.

In other words, we may conceive, as to human destiny in another world, either of punishments optional and arbitrary, growing out of the indignation of an offended Judge who hates and requites sin, or of punishments natural and inherent, growing out of the very nature of sin itself, as delirium tremens requites a long career of intemperance. We may conceive of punishments which are the awards of judicial vengeance; or we may believe in those only which are the inevitable results of eternal and immutable law, a necessary sequence in the next life to the bad passions and evil deeds of this.

Those who incline to this latter aspect of the Great Future, as the scene of reward or punishment supervening in the natural order of things, may chance to find interest, beyond mere curiosity, in the following strange narrative.

There is not, perhaps, a country more rife in legends of haunted houses than Germany. No province but has its store of them. Many, drawn by tradition from the obscurity of the past, have lost, if they ever possessed, any claim to be regarded except as apocryphal. But others, of a recent date and better attested, cannot be disposed of in so summary a manner.

In furnishing a specimen of this latter class, I depart from a rule which I think it well to observe in regard to original narratives of character so marvellous: to record such, namely, only when they can be procured direct from the lips of the witnesses themselves. This comes to me at second hand. I had no opportunity of cross-questioning the actors in the scenes narrated. Yet I had the story from a gentleman of high respectability: the principal Secretary of the —— Legation at Naples: and his sources of information were direct and authentic.

In the southeastern portion of Pomerania, at no great distance from the frontier of the province of West Prussia, and in the vicinity of the small town of Bütow, there stood, not many years since, an ancient château. It was the ancestral residence of an old Pomeranian family of baronial rank; and the narrative of its destruction, with the causes which led thereto, is curious and remarkable.

Its former owner, the Baron von Putkammer, after leading a wild and dissolute life, had expired within its walls. For years previously, many a mysterious story, fraught with dark hints of seduction and infanticide, had been whispered over the surrounding country; and when at last death arrested the Baron's profligate career, some reported that he had been strangled in requital of outrage committed,—others, that the Devil had taken home his own, as they had long expected.

His estate went to a relative of the same name, who granted the enjoyment of it to his eldest son, heir to the title. This young man, after a time, arrived to take possession. He found in the château the administrator of the deceased Baron's estate.

It was late, the first night, before he went to bed. Yet he was scarcely undressed, when he heard, through the stillness of the night, the approach of a carriage, at first rolling over the sharp gravel of the avenue, then entering the paved court-yard. This was succeeded by the noise of the front door opening, and the distinct sound of steps on the principal staircase.

Young Putkammer, surprised at this[Pg 515] unseasonable visit, yet supposing it some friend who had been benighted, hastily donned his dressing-gown, and, with light in hand, stepped to the landing. Nothing to be seen there! But he heard behind him the opening of a door leading into the principal gallery of the château,—a long hall which for some time had been out of use. It had been employed by the former owner of the castle as a banqueting-room, was hung with old family portraits, and, as the young man had noticed during the day, was so completely incumbered with furniture, which had been temporarily stored there, that no one could pass through it.

He returned in great surprise, which was much increased when he found the door of the gallery in question closed and locked. He listened, and heard quite distinctly, within the room, the noise of plates and dishes and the clatter of knives and forks. To this, after a time, succeeded the sound of shuffling cards and the rattle of money, as if thrown on the table in the course of the game.

More and more astonished, he awoke his servant, and bade him listen at the door and tell him what he heard. The terrified valet reported the same sounds that had reached his master's ears, Thereupon the latter told him to arouse the administrator and request his presence.

When this gentleman appeared, the young nobleman eagerly asked if he could furnish any explanation of this strange disturbance.

"I was unwilling," said he, in reply, "to anticipate what you now witness, lest you might imagine I had some interested motive to prevent your coming hither. We are all familiar with these sounds. They occur every night at about the same hour. And we have sought in vain any natural explanation of their constant recurrence."

"Have you the key of the gallery?"

"Here it is."

The door was unlocked and thrown open. Silence and darkness! And when the lights were introduced, not an object to be seen through the gloom, but the old furniture confusedly piled up over the floor.

They closed and locked the door. Again the same sounds commenced: the clatter of dishes, the noise of revelling, the clink of the gamblers' gold. A second time they opened the door, this time quickly and suddenly; and a second time the sounds instantly ceased, and the hall, untenanted except by the silent portraits on its walls, appeared before them, the same still and gloomy lumber-room as before.

Baffled for the time, young Putkammer dismissed his attendants and retired to his chamber. Erelong he heard the door of the gallery open, the heavy footsteps sound on the stairway, the front door creak on its hinges,—and then the roll of the carriage, first over the stone pavement, then along the gravelled avenue, till the sounds gradually died away in the distance.

The next night he was ready dressed and prepared with lights. When, about the same hour, the noise of the approaching carriage was heard, he had the lights immediately carried to the top of the stairway, and he himself half descended the stairs. Up the stairs and past his very side came the footsteps; but neither living being nor spectral form could his eyes perceive.

The same noises in the old banqueting-hall. The same fruitless attempts to witness the revel, or to get at the secret, if any, of the imposition.

The young man was brave and devoid of superstition. Yet, in spite of himself, these mysterious sounds, renewed night after night, irritated his nerves, and preyed upon his quiet. He thought to break through the spell by inviting a party of living guests. They came, to the number of thirty or forty; but not for their presence did the invisible revellers intermit their nocturnal visit. All heard the approach of the carriage, the steps ascending the staircase, the sounds of revelry in the hall. And all, when the opened door disclosed, as wont, but darkness and silence, turned away with a shudder,—and to the subsequent[Pg 516] invitation of their host to favor him again with their company replied by some shallow apology, which he perfectly understood.

Thus deserted by his friends, and subjected, night after night, to the same ghastly annoyance, the young man found his health beginning to suffer, and decided to endure it no longer.

Returning to his father, he informed him that he would receive with gratitude the rents of the property, but only on condition that he was not required to reside in its haunted château.

The father, ridiculing what he termed his son's superstitious weakness, declared that he would himself take up his residence there for a time, assured that he could not fail to discover the true cause of the sounds that had driven off its former occupants.

But the result belied his expectations. Like his son, he never could see anything. But the selfsame sounds nightly assailed his ears. He caused the hall to be cleared out and occupied daily. So long as it was lighted, and there was any one within it, no sounds were heard; and by thus occupying it all night, the disturbance could be averted. But as often as it was closed or left in darkness, the invisible revel recommenced at the wonted hour, preceded by the same preliminaries, terminating in the same manner.

Nothing was left untried to penetrate the mystery, and to detect the trick, if to trickery the disturbances were due. But every effort to obtain an explanation of the phenomena utterly failed. And the father, like the son, after a few weeks' struggle against the nightly annoyance, found his nervous system unable to cope with this constant strain upon it, and left the château, determined never again to enter its walls.

The next expedient was to rent it to those whom the fame of its ghostly reputation had not reached. But this was unavailing, except for a brief season. No tenant would remain beyond a week or ten days. This plan, therefore, was abandoned in despair; the principal rooms were closed; and the building remained for years untenanted, except by one or two unwilling dependants.

Finally the proprietor, deeming all change hopeless, and finding that the keeping up of the château was a mere useless expense, resolved to destroy it. The dead had fairly driven out the living. He had it pulled down; and a few low, ruined walls alone remained to mark the place where it stood.

Still, even within these deserted ruins, the same sounds of nightly revelry were declared to have been heard by those who were bold enough to approach them at the midnight hour. When this was reported to the proprietor, he determined, if possible, to outroot this last remnant of disturbance. Accordingly, he caused to be erected, out of the remaining materials of the château and on the spot where it had stood, a small chapel, now to be found there, a mute witness of the story I have here told.

The chapel was completed and consecrated in the year 1844. Even while the rites attending its consecration were in progress, strange and unwonted noises disturbed the congregation; but from that time on they ceased; and the chapel has since been entirely free from any such.

A relative of the proprietor, a young officer in the Prussian army, was present at the consecration, himself witnessed the noises in question, and had previously heard, from the parties themselves, all the former occurrences. He it was who related the circumstances to my informant, the Baron von P——, a gentleman of a grave and earnest character, whose manner, in repeating them to me, evinced sincerity and conviction. But it is not merely upon his authority that the details of the narrative rest. They are, it would seem, of public notoriety in Pomerania; and hundreds of persons in the neighborhood, as my informant declared, can yet be found to testify, from personal observation, to the general accuracy of the above narration.[A]

[Pg 517]

The most salient point in this story is the practical and business part of it,—the actual pulling down of the château, as a last resort, to get rid of the disturbance. Mere fancy is not wont to lead to such a result as that. The owner of a piece of valuable property is not likely to destroy it for imaginary cause. Interest is a marvellous quickener of the wits, and may be supposed to have left no stone unturned, before assenting to such a sacrifice.

I inquired of the gentleman to whom I am indebted for the above narrative if there were no skeptical surmises in regard to the origin of the disturbance. He replied, that he had heard but one,—namely, that the administrator of the deceased Baron's estate might, from motives of interest and to have the field to himself, have resorted to a trick to scare the owners from the premises.

It is beyond a doubt that such devices have been successfully employed ere now for similar purpose. An example may be found in the story of the monks of St. Bruno, and the shrewd device they employed to obtain from King Louis the Saint the grant of one of his ancestral palaces. It was in this wise.

Having heard his confessor speak in high terms of the goodness and learning of the monks of St. Bruno, the King expressed a desire to found a community of them near Paris. Bernard de la Tour, the superior, sent six of the brethren; and Louis assigned to them, as residence, a handsome dwelling in the village of Chantilly. It so happened, that from their windows they had a fine view of the old palace of Vauvert, originally erected for a royal residence by King Robert, but which had been deserted for years. The worthy monks, oblivious of the Tenth Commandment, may have thought the place would suit them; but ashamed, probably, to make a formal demand of it from the King, they seem to have set their wits to work to procure it by stratagem.

At all events, the palace of Vauvert, which had never labored under any imputation against its character until they became its neighbors, began almost immediately afterwards to acquire a bad name. Frightful shrieks were heard to proceed thence at night. Blue, red, and green lights were seen to glimmer from its casements, and then suddenly disappear. The clanking of chains succeeded, together with the howlings of persons as in great pain. Then a ghastly spectre, in pea-green, with long, white beard and serpent's tail, appeared at the principal windows, shaking his fist at the passers-by. This went on for months.

The King, to whom all these wonders were duly reported, deplored the scandal, and sent commissioners to look into the affair. To these the six monks of Chantilly, indignant that the Devil should play such pranks before their very faces, suggested, that, if they could but have the palace as a residence, they would undertake speedily to cure it of all ghostly intrusion. A deed, with the royal sign-manual, conveyed Vauvert to the monks of St Bruno. It bears the date of 1259. From that time all disturbances ceased,—the green ghost, according to the creed of the pious, being laid to rest forever under the waters of the Red Sea.[B]

Some will surmise that the story of the castle of Putkammer is but a modified version of that of the palace of Vauvert. It may be so. One who was not on the spot, to witness the phenomena and personally to verify all the details, cannot rationally deny the possibility of such an hypothesis. Yet I find little parallel between the cases, and difficulties, apparently insuperable, in the way of accepting such a solution of the mystery.

The French palace was deserted, and nothing was easier than to play off there, unchallenged, such commonplace tricks as the showing of colored lights, the clanking of chains, shrieks, groans, and a howling spectre with beard and tail,—all in accordance with the prejudices[Pg 518] of that age; nor do we read that any one was bold enough to penetrate, during the night, into the scene of the disturbance; nor had the King's commissioners any personal motive to urge a thorough research; nor had a pious sovereign, the owner of a dozen palaces, any strong inducement to refuse the cession of one of these, already untenanted and useless, to certain holy men, the objects of his veneration.

Very different, in every respect, is the affair of the Pomeranian castle. It is a narrative of the skeptical nineteenth century, that sets down all ghost-stories as nursery-tales. The owner, and his son, the future possessor, each at separate times and for weeks, reside in the castle, and occupy themselves in repeated attempts to discover whether they have been imposed on. The selfsame trick, if trick it was, is repeated night after night, without variation. The roll of the approaching carriage-wheels, first along the gravelled avenue, then over the paved court-yard, while no carriage was visible,—how were such sounds to be imitated? The fall of footsteps, unaccompanied by aught in bodily form, up the lighted stairway, and past the very side of the bold youth who stepped down to meet them,—what human device could successfully simulate these? The sound of the opening gallery-door and the noises of the midnight orgies, with full opportunity to examine every nook and corner of the scene whence, to every ear, the same identical indications came,—how, in producing and reproducing these, could trickery, time after time, escape detection? Both father and son, it is evident, had their suspicions aroused; and both, as evidently, were men of courage, not to be blinded by superstitious panic. Is it a probable thing that they would destroy an old and valued family mansion, without having exhausted every conceivable expedient to detect imposture?

Nor was this imposture, if as such we are to regard it, conducted in approved form, after the orthodox fashion. It assumed a shape contrary to all usually received ideas. No spectre clanking its chains; no lights burning blue; no groans of the tormented; no ordinary getting-up of a ghostly disturbance. But a mere succession of sounds, indicating, if we are to receive and interpret them literally, the periodical return from the world of spirits of some of its tenants, restless and unblest. Was this the machinery a mystifier was likely to select?

Such are the difficulties which attend the hypothesis of a concerted plan of deception. They will be overlooked by those who have made up their minds that communications between this world and the next are impossible, and who will content themselves with pronouncing, that, though they cannot detect the mode of the imposture, yet imposture of some kind or other it plainly must have been.

And such skeptics will very properly remind us of other difficulties in the way of accepting as a reality the alleged phenomena. What have the spirits of the departed to do with conveyances resembling those of earthly structure? Are there incorporeal carriages and horses? Can grave men admit such fancies as these?[C] Or is all this, even if genuine, only symbolical,—sounds without objective counterpart? Then what becomes of the positive character of this narrative, as a lesson, as a warning to us? The whole degenerates into an acted parable. It fades into the idle pageantry of a dream. Thus we lose ourselves in shadowy conjecture.

But, none the less, the facts, if facts they be, remain to be dealt with. And if at last we concede the ultramundane origin of these manifestations, whether as objective reality or only as truth-teaching allegory, what a field is opened to our speculations regarding the realms[Pg 519] of spirit and the possible punishments there in store for those who, by degrading their natures in this world, may have rendered themselves unfit for happiness in the next,—and who, perhaps, still attracted to earth by the debasing excesses they once mistook for pleasure, may be doomed, in the phantom repetition of their sins, to detect their naked reality, to have stamped on their consciousness the vileness of these without the brutal gratifications that veiled it, the essence of vice shorn of its sensual halo, the grossness without the glitter: if so, a terrible expiation!

I beg it may not be imagined, that, because I see grave difficulties in the way of regarding this case as one of imposture, I therefore set it up as proof of a novel theory regarding future punishments. A structure so great cannot be erected on foundation so slender. I but furnish it as a chance contribution towards the probabilities of ultramundane intercourse,—as material for thought,—as one of those hints which future facts may render valueless, but which, on the other hand, other observed phenomena may possibly serve to work out and corroborate and explain.


[A] I find in my journal the following:—"August 17, 1857. Read over to the Baron von P—— the Putkammer narrative; and he assented to its accuracy in every particular."

[B] This story is given in Garinet's Histoire de la Magie en France, p. 75.

[C] Yet in a recent case, occurring in England, and authenticated in the strongest manner, the "sound of carriages driving in the park when none were there" is one of the incidents given on the authority of the lady who had witnessed the disturbances, and who furnishes a detailed account of them. See "Facts and Fantasies," a sequel to "Lights and Sounds, the Mystery of the Day," by Henry Spicer, London, 1853, pp. 76-101.



None who saw it can forget
How they went into the fight,
Four abreast,—
Thereby was the foe perplexed,—
With the Essex on the right,
That is nearest to the Fort,
And the Cincinnati next,
The St. Louis on her left,
All so gallant and so deft,
And the brave Carondelet.
Boom, boom, from every bow!
(They'll have to answer that!)
From the Rebel bastions, now,
There's a flash.
Cool, keep cool, boys, don't be rash!
Mind your eyes, as the old Boss said;
Keep together and go ahead,—
Not too high and not too low,
Fire slow!
Now we have it from the Fort,
And the Rebels all a-crowing;
While the devils'-echoes laugh,
With a loonish thunder-lowing,
After every gun's report:
'Tisn't bird-shot they are throwing,—
'Tisn't chaff![Pg 520]
Ping! Ping!
If you've ever seen the thing
That can fly without a wing
Swifter than the Thunder's bird,
Lightning-clenching, lightning-spurred,—
If you've ever heard it sing,
You will understand the word,
And look out;
For, beyond a mortal doubt,
It can sting!
'D y' ever hear anything like it?
Sounded very much like a ten-strike,—it
Appears they're after a spare!
Bet it made the old Boss jump,
Or at any rate awfully screw up his brows,—
Hit the pilot-house,
And he's up there,—
Must 'a' been a hundred-pounder,—
Had the twang of a conical ball,—
Would 'a' gone plumb through a ten-foot wall.
Isn't the old Cinc. a trump?
They meant that for a damper!
Square it off with an eighty shell
And a fifteen-second fuse,
(With all the latest news!)—
Pretty well done, boys, pretty well!
Guess that'll be apt to tell
'Em all about where it came from,
And where it's a-going to,
What it took its name from,
And all it's a-knowing to!
See 'em scamper!
The Conestoga, the Tyler,
And the Lexington, you know,
Are in line a half a mile, or
A little less, below,—
Just this side of the Panther
(Little woody island),
They've their orders——Oh,
But, after all, how can their
Wooden-heads keep silent?
Wonder 'f it don't make 'em feel bad,
Even if they ain't all steel-clad,
At being slighted so!
'Tisn't so bad a day,
Although it's a little cloudy,—
Or rather, as one might say,
Smoky, perhaps,—
[Pg 521] A little hazy, a little dubious,
A little too sulphury to be salubrious.
D' ye mind those thunder-claps?
Do you feel now and then the least little bit
Of an incipient earthquake fit,
Accompanied with awful raps?
But give 'em gowdy, give 'em gowdy,
And it'll soon clear away!
Old Boss ain't to be balked.—
All this, you know,
Was only the way (or nearly so)
The boys talked,
And felt and thought,
(And acted, too,)
The harder they fought
And the hotter it grew.—
But there was a Hand at the reel
That nobody saw,—
Old Hickory there at every keel,
In every timber, from stem to stern,—
A something in every crank and wheel,
That made 'em answer their turn;
And everywhere,
On earth and water, in fire and air,
As it were to see it all well done,
The Wraith of the murdered Law,—
Old John Brown at every gun!
But the Fort was all in a roar:
No use to talk, they had the range,—
Which wasn't strange,
Guess they'd tried it before,—
And the pounding was not soft,
But might well appall
The boldest heart.
Cool and calm,
Trumpet in hand,
Up in the cock-loft,
Where 'twas the hottest of all,
Our brave old Commodore
Took his stand,
And played his part,
Humming over some old psalm!
Tut! did ye hear the hiss and scream
Of that hot steam?
It's the Essex that's struck,—
She never had any luck:
Ah, 'twas a wicked shot,
And, whether they know it or not,
It doesn't give us joy!
[Pg 522]
Thorough an open port it flew,
As with some special permit to destroy;
And first, for sport,
Struck the soul from that beautiful boy;
Then through the bulkhead lunged,
And into the boiler plunged,
Scalding the whole crew!
We know that the brave must fall,—
But that was a sight to see:
All in an instant scalded and scathed,
All at once in the white shroud swathed!
A low moan came from the deck
Of the drifting wreck,—
And that was all.
How the traitors'll boast,
As soon as they come to see her
All adrift and aghast!—
Hark! d' ye hear? d' ye hear?
D' ye hear 'em shout?
They see it already, no doubt.
We shall have to count her out,—
That white breath was her last,—
She has given up the ghost!
What does the old Boss think?
Will he shrink?
Will he waver or falter now?—
A little shadow flits over his brow,
For the sharp pang in his heart,—
Flits over—and is gone,—
And a light looms up in his old gray eye,
Whether you see it or not,
That is like a sudden dawn
In a stormy sky!
What does he think?
What will he do?—
Well! he don't say!
But I'll tell you what,
You can bet your life,
As you would your knife,
And your wife, too,
He'll do
(And put 'em up at once!)—
He'll run these boats right up to their guns,
And take that Fort, or sink!
But, oh—oh, it was hot!
So thick and fast the solid shot
[Pg 523] Upon our iron armor played,
It kept, like thunder, a kind of time—
Devil's tattoo or gallopade—
That, like an awful, awful rhyme,
Rang in the ear;
And they sent us cheer after cheer.
But the boys had been to school,
And their guns were not cool;
For they knew what Cause they served,
And not a man of 'em swerved!
But on, right on, they swept,
And from every grim bow-port
Their nutmegs and shell-barks leaped
Into the jaws of the Fort!
And (to give her, perhaps, a chance to breathe)
Knocked out some of her big, black teeth!
And (to raise a better crop, no doubt,
Than was ever raised there before)
Ploughed her up into awful creases,
Inside and out!—
For now they were up and doing the chore
At only four hundred yards,
And the death-dealing shreds and shards
Of our shell were tearing 'em all to pieces!
Hurrah for the brave old Flag!
To triumph see her ride!—
Ha, ha! they dodge and duck,—
The Snake's expiring!
Their gunners run and hide,—
By heaven, they've struck!
Down comes the rattlesnake rag
By the run,—
Stop the firing!
The work is done!—
Anyhow, she'll do for batter!—
You see now, Butternuts, you were plucky;
But that ain't "what's the matter,"—
Not by a long shot!
No, no,—no! I'll tell you what—
And you mustn't take it at all amiss—
I'll tell you what the matter is:
'Tain't because you were born unlucky,
(Bear in mind,)
Nor that you've good eyes and we are blind,—
Nothing of the kind,—
But it's something else, if it isn't more:
The reason—pardon!—you had to cotton
Was simply this: Your Cause was rotten,—
Rotten to the very core:
That's what's the matter!
[Pg 524]
But you ought to 'a' heard our water-dogs yelp!—
Just an hour and fifteen minutes!—
(Twitter away, you English linnets!)
Horizontal and perpendicular,
Fair and square, without any help,—
That is, any in particular,—
The old ferry wash-tubs of the West,
With some new-fashioned hoops, for a little test,
And a few old pounders from—Kingdom Come,
And nothing for suds but the "Nawth'n scum,"
Made these "gen'l'men" turn as white
As a head o' hair in a single night!
Cleaned their army completely out,
(We're going to give that another wipe!)
On the double-quick, by the shortest route,—
Wrung their stronghold from their gripe,—
Brought their garrison right to taw,
And made 'em get down to the "higher law"!
So that when Grant and his boys came up,
(There's places enough for a man to die!)
Swearing that we had "spoiled" their "sport,"
With a quiet twinkle in his eye,
Old Boss asked 'em to come in and sup,
And set 'em to house-keeping in the Fort!—
But all the old fellow could say or do,
They'd still keep a-going it: "Bully for you!"
"Bully" for Grant and for Foote!—
E'en if the voice must tremble,—
And "bully" for all who helped 'em to do 't!
Bully for Porter and Stemble!
For Paulding and for Walke,—
For Phelps, for Gwin, and for Shirk!—
But what's the use to talk?
They were all of 'em up to the work!
Bully for each brave tub
That bore the Union Blue!
And for every mother's son
Of every gallant crew,
Whatever his color or name,
Who, when it came to the rub,
Shall be found to have been game!
     *     *     *     *     *
Such was the Rhyme of the Master's Mate,
Just as they found it in the locker,
With this at the foot:—
"It's getting late,
And I hear a pretty loud Knock at the knocker!
Captain, if I should chance to fall,
Try to send me home. Good bye!" That's all,—
Excepting the date, the name, and rank:—
"Feb. 12th, '62, —— ——,
Master's Mate."
[Pg 525]
All next day a great black Cloud
Hung over the land from coast to coast;
And the next, the Knocking was "pretty loud,"—
With a sudden Eclipse, as it were, of the sun,—
And the earth, all day, quaked—"Donelson!"
But the next was the deadliest day of all,
And the Master's Mate was not at Call!
Yet nobody seemed to wonder why,—
There was something, perhaps, the Master knew
Far better than we, for his Mate to do,—
And the Day went down with a bloody sky!
But when the long, long Night was past,
And our Eagle, sweeping the traitor's crag,
Circled to victory up the dome,
The great Reveille was heard at last!—
They wrapped the Mate in his country's flag,
And sent him in glory home!


A visible library is a goodly sight. We do not underrate the external value of books, when we say it is the invisible which forms their chief charm. Sometimes rather too much is said about "tall copies," and "large-paper copies," and "first editions," the binding, paper, type, and all the rest of the outside attraction, or the fancy price, which go to make up the collector's trade. The books themselves feel a little degraded, when this sort of conversation is carried on in their presence: some of them know well enough that occasionally they fall into hands which think more "of the coat than of the man who is under it." We must, however, be honest enough to confess that we are ourself a bibliomaniac, and few possessions are more valued than an old manuscript, written on vellum some five hundred years ago, of which we cannot read one word. Nor do we prize less the modern extreme of external attraction,—volumes exquisitely printed and adorned, bound by Rivière, in full tree-marbled calf, with delicate tooling on the back, which looks as if the frost-work from the window-pane on a cold January morning had been transmuted into gold, and laid on the leather. Ah, these are sights fit for the gods!

Nevertheless, we come back to our starting-point, that what is unseen forms the real value of the library. The type, the paper, the binding, the age, are all visible; but the soul that conceived it, the mind that arranged it, the hand that wrote it, the associations which cling to it, are the invisible links in a long chain of thought, effort, and history, which make the book what it is.

In wandering through the great libraries of Europe, how often has this truth been impressed upon the mind!—such a library as that in the old city of Nuremberg, housed in what was once a monastery, and looking so ancient, quaint, and black-lettered, visibly and invisibly, that, if the old monk in the legend who slipped over a thousand years while the little bird sang to him in the wood, and was thereby taught, what he could not understand in the written Word, that a[Pg 526] thousand years in God's sight are but as a day,—if that old monk had walked out of the Nuremberg monastery and now walked back again, he might almost take up the selfsame manuscript he had laid down a thousand years ago.

What invisible heads have ached, and hands become weary, over those vellum volumes, with their bright initial letters! What hearts have throbbed over the early printed book! How triumphantly was the first copy, now worm-eaten and forgotten, contemplated by the author! How was that invisible world which surrounded him to be stirred by that new book!

We remember looking into one of the cell-like alcoves arranged for students in a college library at Oxford, and watching a fellow of the college (a type of scholars, grown old among books, rarely found in our busy land) crooning over a strange black-letter folio, and laughing to himself with a sort of invisible chuckle. The unseen in that volume was revealed to us through that laugh of the old bookworm, and quite unseen we partook of his amusement. Another alcove was vacant; a crabbed manuscript, just laid down by the writer, was on the desk. He was invisible; but the watchful guardian at the head of the room saw us peering in, and warned us with a loud voice not to enter. Safely might we have been permitted to do so, for we could hardly have deciphered at a glance all the wisdom that lurked in the open page; yet that hidden meaning, invisible to us, was of real value to the unseen writer.

There are many incidents connected with the visible and invisible of libraries existing in the great houses of England, which could point a moral in sketches of this subject. One, concerning a pamphlet found at Woburn Abbey, has a peculiar interest.

Lord William Russell, eldest son of Francis, fourth Earl of Bedford, after completing his education at Oxford, and travelling abroad for two years, returned home in the winter of 1634. Young, handsome, accomplished, and the eldest son of the House of Russell, the fashionable world of London marked him as a prize in the matrimonial speculations of the times, and was quite in a flutter to know which of the reigning beauties, would captivate the young Lord Russell. Lady Elizabeth Cecil, Lady Dorothy Sidney, Lady Anne Carr were the rival belles upon whom the eyes of the world were fixed. It was with no small consternation that the Earl of Bedford soon found that the affections of his son had been attracted by Lady Anne Carr, the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Somerset, more widely known as Robert Carr and Lady Essex. The Earl of Bedford had taken a prominent part in the Countess's trial, and participated in the general abhorrence of her character. In vain his son pleaded the innocence of the daughter, who, early separated from her parents, knew nothing of their history or their crimes. The Earl of Bedford shrunk with a feeling of all but insurmountable aversion to such an alliance; and not until the king interceded for the youthful lovers, did the father yield a reluctant consent, and their marriage was celebrated. The undisturbed happiness and harmony in which the parties lived reconciled the Earl to the connection; he became much attached to his beautiful daughter-in-law; and in the sweetness and domestic purity of her character he could sometimes forget her parents. Lady Anne's life passed quietly in the discharge of the duties of a wife and mother, and of those which devolved upon her when her husband became fifth Earl of Bedford in 1641. In 1683, their eldest son, Lord William Russell, died on the scaffold.

"There is a life in the principles of freedom," says the historian of the House of Russell, "which the axe of the executioner does not, for it cannot, touch." This great thought must have strengthened the souls of the parents under so terrible a trial. The mother's health, however, sunk under the blow, which, in the sympathy of her celebrated daughter-in-law, the heroic Lady Rachel Russell,[Pg 527] she endeavored to sustain. One day, seeking, perhaps, some book to cheer her thoughts, Lady Bedford entered the library, and in an anteroom seldom visited chanced to take a pamphlet from the shelves. She opened its pages, and read there, for the first time, the record of her mother's guilt. The visible in that page rent aside the invisible veil which those who loved Lady Bedford had silently woven over her whole life, as a shield from a terrible truth. She was found by her attendants senseless, with the fatal book open in her hand. The revelations of the past, the sorrows of the present, were too much for her to bear, and she died. Lady Rachel Russell, writing from Woburn Abbey at the time, states her conviction that Lady Bedford's reason would not have sustained the shock received from the contents of the pamphlet, even had her physical powers rallied.

Turning aside one moment from our subject, we stand in awe before the striking contrast presented by the characters of two women, each so closely linked with Lady Bedford's life,—the one who heard her first breath, and the other who received her last sigh. If Lady Somerset causes us to shrink with horror from the depth of depravity of which woman's nature is capable, let us thank God that in Lady Rachel Russell we have a witness of the purity, self-sacrifice, and holiness a true woman's soul can attain.

In the library at Wilton House, the seat of the Sidneys, we were shown a lock of Queen Elizabeth's hair, hidden for more than a hundred years in one of the books. A day came when some member of the family took down an old volume to see what treasures of wisdom lurked therein. "She builded better than she knew," for between the leaves lay folded a paper which contained a faded lock of the once proud Queen Bess. How it came there, and by whose hand it was placed in the book, is one of the invisible things of the library, but the writing within the paper authenticated the relic beyond doubt; and it is now shown as one of the visible treasures of the library of Wilton House.

Magdalen College, Cambridge, contains the Pepysian Library,—placed there by the will of Pepys, under stringent conditions, in default of whose fulfilment the bequest falls to Trinity. One of the fellows of Magdalen is always obliged to mount guard over visitors to the library. Such an escort being provided, we ascended the stairs, and found ourselves in the presence of the bookcases which once adorned Pepys's house in London, containing the "three thousand bookes" of which he was so proud. The bookcases are handsome, with small mirrors let into them, in which, doubtless, Mrs. Pepys often surveyed the effect of those "newegownes" which pleased her husband's vanity so well, although he rather reluctantly paid the cost. There, too, is the original manuscript of that entertaining Diary, wherein Pepys daguerrotyped the age in which he lived, and himself with all his sense and nonsense. That Diary would have remained one of the invisible treasures of libraries, for it was written in a cipher of his own invention, but, by a very curious chance, the key to that cipher was unintentionally betrayed through comparison with another paper, and the journal was brought to light, and many things made visible which the writer dreamed not of confiding to future ages. Pepys was an indefatigable, and, we cannot but half suspect, an unscrupulous collector. Volumes of autographs, great scrap-books filled with prints, tickets, invitations, ballads, let us into the visible and invisible of the reign of Charles II. A manuscript music-book, elegantly bound, and labelled, "Songs altered to suit my Voice," carried us back to the days when, after going to the play in the afternoon, Pepys and some of his companions "came back to my house and had musique."

Pepys certainly never meant to be one of the invisible things in his own library, for every book contains an engraving from his own portrait. Should[Pg 528] he ever come back to look after the possessions he so much valued, he can surely be at no loss to find the likeness of the form he once wore. If a spirit can retain any human vanity and self-importance, his must certainly be unpleasantly surprised that the great collection looks small in these days, and attracts but little attention. To antiquaries and lovers of the odd and curious it must ever be valuable; but the obligation of having a fellow of Magdalen at one's elbow much interferes with that quiet, cozy "mousing" so dear to the soul of a bibliomaniac. We heartily wished that we could have made an appointment with the shade of old Pepys, and, returning to the library in the stillness of midnight, have found him ready to show off his collections. That would have been, indeed, the visible and the invisible of the Pepysian Library. The Cambridge men of to-day are too busy about their own affairs to look much into Pepys's collections, which remain quietly ensconced under the guardianship of Old Magdalen, one of the visible links between the seen and unseen in libraries.

Nestled quietly in an old Elizabethan house, among the great trees at Wotton, is the library of John Evelyn. Belonging to the same age as that of Pepys, but collected by a man of widely different tastes and character, there is much outwardly to charm as well as to elevate the mind in the influences shed around it. Here are tall copies and folios of grave works, classic and historical, the solid literary food of a man who kept his soul pure amid a corrupt age, books as harmonious with the reflective mind of Evelyn as were the grand old woods of Wotton with the refined tastes of the author of "Sylva." Here is preserved the original manuscript of Evelyn's Journal, the paper yellow with the mellow tints of two hundred autumns, yet the thought as fresh as if written yesterday. Near the manuscript is seen the prayer-book which Charles I. held in his hand when he mounted the scaffold at Whitehall. There is much of the visible and invisible in that quaint old library at Wotton.

The internal treasures of Christian faith opened a wide field for the outward decoration of religious books. "The Hours" (meaning devotional hours) of kings and queens are magnificent specimens of chirography, showing also the skill of artists in the earliest centuries. The art of preparing these volumes was divided into two branches: that of the Miniatori, or illuminators, who furnished the paintings, the borders, and arabesques, and also laid on the gold; and that of the Miniatori calligrafi, who wrote the whole of the book, and drew the initial letters of blue and red with their fanciful ornaments. Many of the great libraries of Europe contain these splendid manuscripts, and although but one page is open to the passing visitor, which he sees "through a glass darkly," yet that page is written over and illuminated with associations and memories. Could a glance reveal thoughts which have looked out of eyes bending over these pages, when they were held in the hand of their first owner, what messages from the invisible would be received! Some of these rare and regal possessions have gone a little astray, and wandered about in the wilderness of the world, as is confirmed by an anecdote we recently received from good authority. A magnificent volume, illustrated by views of French châteaux of the Middle Ages, presented to a princess of the House of Bourbon, was known to have existed. This manuscript had disappeared, and for more than a hundred years it could not be traced. The Duc d'Aumale, son of Louis Philippe, while in Genoa, was informed (by a person who called upon him for that purpose) that there was for sale in that city a valuable illuminated manuscript, and, as the Duke was known to be a collector of rare books, it would be shown to him. He accordingly followed his informant to an obscure part of the city, and into an old house, where the manuscript was produced. What was his astonishment, when he beheld before him the lost Bourbon manuscript, so long sought for in vain! He immediately became its purchaser; and[Pg 529] whatever secret history belongs to the volume, connected with the time when it was invisible, it is now one of the most treasured realities in the magnificent library at Orleans House.

In the illuminated pages of many of these old manuscripts there lurks much more, doubtless, than meets the eye. Thus, that famous poem of the Middle Ages, the "Romance of the Rose," has passed for a mere fanciful allegory, or love-story. Splendidly illuminated copies of this Romance are well known. The British Museum possesses one, which Dibdin calls "the cream of the Harleian Collection": it is in folio, and replete with embellishments. He also mentions another copy, at that time belonging to Mr. North, the frontispiece of which represents Francis I. surrounded by his courtiers, receiving a copy from the author. Only the visible of the illuminated volume was probably opened to the eyes of Francis, or even of Dibdin. A later student pronounces the Romance to be a complete specimen of Hermetic Philosophy, concealing great truths under its allegory,—the Rose being the symbol of philosophic gold.

Such is the view taken of this Romance by our distinguished fellow-countryman, Major-General Hitchcock, who found time, in the interval between two wars, to collect and study three hundred volumes of Hermetic Philosophy, coming forth therefrom as a champion in defence of a much misunderstood class. This ingenious work, entitled "Alchemy and the Alchemists," published in 1857, was written to prove that the alchemists were not foolish seekers for sordid gold, nor vain believers in the elixir of life, but philosophers of deep thought and high aims, who, in days when a man dared not say his soul was his own, veiled in mystic language, perfectly understood by each other, theological and philosophical truths, theories, and discoveries, which would have brought them to the stake or the rack, had they been produced openly. "Man was the subject of alchemy, and the object of the art was the perfection, or at least the improvement, of man." These were the real Hermetic Philosophers. After them came men who, not knowing the meaning of the symbolic language which concealed the spiritual truths, took the written word in a literal sense, and went to work with crucibles and retorts, seeking the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life, not knowing, indeed, the Scripture, that "the letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alive."

Such a theory as that advanced in "Alchemy and the Alchemists" opens a new chapter in the visible and invisible of a library of Hermetic Philosophy.

The most ancient specimens of calligraphy extant are probably the Terence of the fourth century and the Virgil of the fifth century, in the Vatican Library. Alas for those who have no open sesame to that collection! We shall never forget our disappointment upon entering the Vatican. We could not gaze even on the mouldy vellum or faded leather of old bindings, and saw nothing but stupid modern painted cases, bodies quite unworthy of the souls they hid. Gladly would we have laid aside our theory concerning unseen treasures, and looked that great collection face to face.

"The taste for the external decoration of manuscripts," says Labarte, (whose interesting "Hand-Book on the Arts of the Middle Ages" has been admirably translated by Mrs. Palliser,) "already existed among the ancients. Marcus Varro called forth the praises of Cicero for having traced in his book the portraits of more than seven hundred celebrated persons; Seneca, in his treatise 'De Tranquillitate Animi,' speaks of books ornamented with figures; and Martial addresses his thanks to Stertinius, who had placed his portrait in his library."

These ancient works of Art have vanished, none have survived the stormy passage of ages, yet this casual mention of them carries us into the otherwise invisible past. We see the seven hundred portraits in Marcus Varro's[Pg 530] book, and walk into the library of Stertinius to give our opinion of the portrait of Martial.

"The miniatures of manuscripts were long considered," says Labarte, "only as ornaments. Montfaucon was the first to recognize their usefulness as historical documents. To possess manuscripts of the Middle Ages with miniatures is in fact to possess a gallery of contemporaneous pictures."

The most beautiful specimen of ancient illuminated manuscript we have seen in this country belongs to the Honorable Charles Sumner. It is a missal of the fifteenth century, of finest quality. Several of the miniatures might well be claimed as the work of Van Eyck. The frontispiece consists of the portrait of the lady for whose devotions the book was prepared. She kneels before the Madonna, while her patron saint stands beside her. Beneath this celestial vision is the heraldic shield of the lady's family, thus throwing in a glimpse of visible worldly grandeur. The borders and arabesques of this manuscript are equal in execution to the miniatures, and the missal is one of rare beauty.

Can we forbear alluding to that other treasure of Senator Sumner's collection,—the Album which belonged to Camillus Cordoyn, who, more than two centuries ago, entertained guests at his house as they journeyed into Italy? One of these, Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Lord Strafford, then a young man gayly travelling about the world, wrote his name in the volume, little thinking of the block and the axe which were to illustrate the closing chapter of his book of life. The immortal Milton, on his return from Italy, was the guest of the same nobleman. What would we not give for a look into that house at Geneva, and see this little volume laid before the visitor! The glorious eyes of John Milton looked over its pages, and perhaps he listened to the story of some of the distinguished personages, now all forgotten, whose names and heraldic shields are there. Then he turned to a blank leaf, and wrote two lines from his own "Comus,"—

"If Virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her."

He signed his name on that 20th of June, 1639, and the host took back the book. And now, more than two hundred years after, that page is held as priceless in this great republic beyond the sea.

We should speak gratefully of the externals of books, because for two long years our oculist did not allow us to open them. We dared not go farther than their titles, yet even these were talismans which revealed wide regions, and carried us from Indus to the Pole. We went with Arthur Penrhyn Stanley to the Holy Land, discovered Nineveh with Layard, explored Art treasures with Mrs. Jameson, plunged among icebergs with Parry. A volume of Belzoni bore us not only to pyramids and mummies in Egypt, but away to a strange old hall "in Padua, beyond the sea." Cabalistic paintings cover the walls, misty with age; lurking in one corner of the vast apartment is a gigantic wooden horse, that figured at some public festival four hundred years ago, and now pauses, ready to prance out of the mouldy past into the affrighted present; opposite stand two Egyptian statues, cat-headed human figures, resting their hands on their stone knees. These were gifts from Belzoni to his native city of Padua; and his handsome head in the Eastern turban, turned into white marble, stands above the entrance-door.

Coming back from the Paduan hall, so weird and ghostly, we glance along the shelves at a long row of volumes which bear De Quincey's name, and we need not open a page to feel the mysterious spell of the opium-eater. Like one of those strange dreams of his seems a remembrance which comes back to us with his name. A quaint, tall house in the old part of Edinburgh has admitted us into a quiet apartment, where, as the twilight is creeping in through the windows, a small gray man receives us, with graceful and tender courtesy. He converses with a felicity of language like that of his printed[Pg 531] pages, but in a voice so sweet, so low, so exquisitely modulated, that the magical tone vibrates on the ear like music. It was De Quincey, who held us entranced until darkness gathered around us, then bade us farewell, his kind words lingering on the air, as, with a flickering candle in his hand, he flitted up the winding stair, and vanished away.

Another volume bears the name of William Wordsworth, and beneath his autograph he writes that it was purchased at Bath from a circulating-library. It is that strange journal of the Margravine of Bareith, sister of Frederic the Great, a sad story of those who dwell in kings' houses; but we think only of Wordsworth, and of the viewless history of the book carried by the poet from circulating in Bath to quiet rural Rydal Mount, and now having wandered over to New England.

A dainty volume near by bears the autograph of Rogers, and though the association is not so purely imaginative, perhaps, as a poet should call up, yet it always brings to our mind the breakfasts at his house, of which many of our friends have partaken, and related divers stories concerning those morning refections. They are invisible feasts to us, for we never even picked up the crumbs from them, except at second hand; yet this elegant little book knew all about them, and heard what was said before, and also behind—the table-cloth.

Singular experiences connected with books are sometimes known to their owners, quite invisible to others. In yonder corner are two volumes. Book-collectors know that they are rare, and the uninitiated think they contain queer old wood-cuts. To us that corner is haunted; an invisible lady hovers about those volumes. Once upon a time an order was given for those books, but the answer came back from over the sea, that they were not to be had, or to be had only at rare intervals on the breaking up of a library. To our no small surprise, very soon after this quietus had been given to bibliomaniacal hopes, the books in question appeared before us in excellent condition. We could hardly suppose that any one had been benevolent enough to break up a library on purpose to oblige us, and we waited to hear a very odd story.

Soon after the letter had been sent, announcing the ill success of our commission, the writer of it was in a bookshop in London, when a lady entered and desired an interview with the master. After some private conversation, the lady returned to her carriage and drove away. The bookseller remarked to his friend, that the lady had brought with her some books, which she desired to part with. Our informant asked to see them, and, lo! the very volumes for which in our behalf he had searched in vain: he immediately secured the prize, which was forwarded by the next steamer.

Can any one ask why the figure of the lady who brought those books to us three thousand miles over the sea "haunts us like a shadow"? We see her ascend her invisible carriage, we go with her to her invisible home, we meet her viewless husband;—here we shudder, but we recover ourselves; we are convinced that he could not have been a book-collector, or she had not dared such a deed. Then we puzzle ourselves about her unseen motives for selling the books. Had she gambled? Had she bet on the losing horse at the Derby? Had she bought an expensive bonnet? Or was it the impulse of some strong benevolent purpose? Why did she sell those books? Since she did thus part with them, we thank her, and are content that by very strange combinations of circumstances, blending the visible and invisible together, those books, viewless in her library, are now apparent in our own.

Here is another volume which has also something mystical about it in its visible and invisible effect. It is a copy of Dibdin's "Bibliomania," which belonged to Dawson Turner. A note in his handwriting states that the tools required for the binding were used exclusively for Lord Spencer, and that a view[Pg 532] of Strawberry Hill will be found on its edges. Gilt edges, however, are all that meet the eye; but turned by a skilful hand to the right light, the gilding vanishes, and a picture of Strawberry Hill appears, painted with velvety softness. Such a nice bibliomaniacal fancy must have delighted Dibdin; and as he was at one time librarian at Althorpe, he doubtless was the medium of bestowing this charm upon the binding of his own work for his friend.

The invisible in libraries has ever seemed to us linked with those who have written or read the books. If souls are allowed to return to their earthly haunts, a library would surely be the place to meet them. For this reason we have cherished a firm belief in the apparition which the distinguished librarian of the Astor Library beheld, and never desire to hear any commonplace explanations concerning it; and on visiting the Astor collection, we were more desirous to see the spot where the reading phantom appeared than all the rest of the building. Who shall say that authors and students do not come back to the books which contain their invisible souls, or spirits like themselves? Without venturing to invoke the sceptred sovereigns of literature, or to call up the shades of the prophets and sibyls of elder time, yet at midnight what a circle might come forth and visit the library! Scott and Burns and Byron, Burke and Fox and Sheridan, all in one evening; clever, pretty Mrs. Thrale comes bringing Fanny Burney to meet Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth; Horace Walpole, patronizing Gray, Rogers, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Charles Lamb,—what a social club that would be! Ah, the librarian of the Astor is more fortunate than we; these spirits are all invisible, and we catch not even at midnight the rustle of the leaf they turn or the passing murmur of their voices. Yet within the library, ever ready to meet us, their souls still linger; and when we open the visible book which enshrines it, we find the hidden spirit.

A number of gentlemen once went together to a friend's house. While they awaited his entrance, one of the party, being a lover of books, naturally turned to the shelves of the library. Without any particular attraction to the title, he chanced to take down one of the volumes. As he opened it, a sealed letter fell from between the leaves on the floor. He took it up, and, to his no small astonishment, perceived that it was addressed to himself.

He called the attention of his companions to this strange circumstance. As it could be no breach of decorum to break the seal of a letter addressed to one's self, he did so. The surprise was increased by finding a bank-note within. The letter came from a well-known gentleman, and bore the date of a year past. When the owner of the house entered, he found his guests in quite a tumult of surprise and puzzle. At first he was quite as much at a loss as themselves to account for this discovery. It was, however, remembered by the gentleman to whom the letter was addressed, that about a year before he had applied to the writer for aid in some charity, but, having many demands of the same kind to supply, he declined. Afterwards, as it appeared, he regretted having done so, and had accordingly inclosed the money. Probably, soon after, he met the gentleman in whose book it was found, (with whom he was on intimate terms,) and asked him to give the letter as addressed. The receiver brought it home, laid it on his table, and forgot it. The book lying open, it may be that the letter slipped between the leaves and the volume was returned to the shelf. And there it had waited for more than a year, holding the invisible letter quite safe, until the person to whom it was addressed took down, for the first time in his life, a volume from those shelves, and received into his own hand the communication intended for him. No one can wonder that the invisible in libraries has a strong hold on the faith of our friend.

Although few may be so fortunate as to find bank-notes in letters addressed to themselves between the leaves of[Pg 533] books in libraries, yet we all have felt the sensation of discoverers of hidden treasures. After carelessly looking at a volume which has stood on the shelves for years, we open it and find within thoughts which appeal to our deepest experiences, high incentives to our nobler energies, deep sympathy in our sorrows, sustaining words to help us on with our life-work. How differently do we ever after regard the visible of that book! The invisible has been revealed to us, and we almost wonder whether, if we had looked into it two or three years before, we should have found there what now we prize so much. Perhaps not; for after different experiences in life come different revelations from books. The pages which a few years ago we might have glanced over with indifference now speak to us as if uttering the emotions of our own souls.

Sometimes it is a work of fiction which, we open for the first time, the title of which has been familiar to our eyes. Out of it invisible spirits walk. We are introduced to charming people who never existed, and yet who become our daily companions. We go with them through many trials, we rejoice with them, we know all their secrets, and share with them many of our own. Is it possible, that, shut up between those covers, long unknown, all these existed which have since made life brighter and better to us?

In Sterling's "Onyx Ring," Walsingham, the poet, takes down a volume from Sir Charles Harcourt's library, and reads a charming romance, apparently from its pages. A lady of the company afterwards turned to the same book, which proved to be a work of Jeremy Bentham's, and searched in vain for the graceful narrative. Walsingham smiled at her perplexity, and said, "Those only find who know where to look."

The invisible world of thought, and the invisible representation of it in books, have known many changes since Cicero looked at the volume which Marcus Varro had illustrated; and from an earlier civilization than Cicero's comes the exclamation of the soul-wearied Job, "Oh that mine adversary had written a book!" Solomon also exclaims, "Of making many books there is no end." He dreamed not of the extent to which the manufacture would be carried in these days. On the other hand, how little we know of the literary world existing in the days of Job or Solomon! and may we not be led by these exclamations to suspect not only a large supply of books, but even the existence of an Arabian Review or a Dead-Sea Magazine?

The increase of wealth, and the restless activity of intellect in the new world which surrounds us, lead naturally to the accumulation of libraries, both public and private. In our daily walks we often pass dwellings which we know hold literary treasures. Sometimes the beauties of Nature can be combined with those of Art, even in a city, around the library. We recall one from the windows of which we look forth, not on crowded streets, but on the wide river as it bends to the sea. Behind the distant hills the heavens are resplendent with the autumnal hues of sunset, the water is aglow with reflected glories, while swooping and sailing over the waves come the white sea-gulls. It is a leaf from the illuminated prayer-missal for all eyes and hearts. The literary treasures of that friend's library have been elsewhere described, some of them gifts from wise men, earnest women, world-worshipped poets, bearing on their leaves the signatures of their authors' friendship. Other treasures are there, visible and invisible, among which we would fain linger, but we must pass on. We enter another library, once filled with rare and costly works, which taught of the wonderful structure of plants, from the hyssop on the wall to the cedar of Lebanon. Gone now are these volumes, and vanished, too, is their collector, whose wide and generous culture was veiled by the curtain of modesty and quietness. His collections he bestowed upon a public institution, where the wonders of God's universe will be a subject of study for all coming time.[Pg 534] These he gave, and then went peacefully away from our sight to learn yet wider and grander lessons at the feet of that Teacher who, when he was on earth, bade his followers "consider the lilies of the field." Is not that library as real to us as when the books filled its shelves, and we were welcomed by the gentle voice of its master?

The crowds which form the living stream that surges through Washington Street and eddies around the Old South Church seldom, perhaps, pause to think of that edifice as one of the links uniting the memorable past of our country's history with the momentous present. Still less do they who raise their eyes to the tower to learn the hour of the day imagine that there is an invisible library connected with the familiar form of the belfry. Yet a romance of literary and historic interest encircles it. At the time of the Revolution, Dr. Prince was pastor of the Old South Church, and in the tower he kept his historical treasures along with the New England Library. Among these volumes were Governor Bradford's letter-book and the manuscript of his "History of the Plantation of Plymouth." During the siege of Boston, the British turned the Old South into a riding-school, and the troopers had free scope to do what mischief they pleased. After the evacuation of the town the library was found in a disordered condition, and the valued manuscripts of Bradford were missing. Some time after, a person observed that the article he had bought from a grocer in Halifax was wrapped in paper written over in a peculiar hand. He deciphered enough to make him earnest to obtain what remained of the manuscript in the grocer's possession. It proved to be fragments of the missing letter-book of Governor Bradford. Years passed on until 1856, when the attention of an historical writer was attracted by a quotation, in a note to an English work, from "a manuscript history of the Plantation of Plymouth, in the Fulham Library." As the extract contained passages not found in any part of that history known in America, it immediately occurred to those interested that this might be the missing volume from the Prince Library. A correspondence was thereupon opened with the Bishop of London. The handwriting of Bradford being authenticated, as well as that of Dr. Prince, which was found in a memorandum, dated "June 28th, showing how he obtained it from Major John Bradford," there could no longer remain a doubt that this was indeed the lost historical treasure. Part of the manuscripts of Bradford had been carried by the British soldiers to Halifax, and sold at last as waste-paper to a grocer; and the rest, after some history unknown, reached England and found protection under the care of the Bishop of London. A copy of this manuscript is now in the possession of the Boston Historical Society.

In the rooms of that society is preserved the Dowse Library. A rare collection of books, formed by a man daily engaged in the mechanic craft of a leather-dresser, is a singular illustration of the visible and invisible of libraries. We recall past days in Cambridge, when, beneath the sign of a white wooden sheep, we entered the unpretending house which contained not only the leather-dresser's shop, but a small gallery of pictures and this valuable library. We remember, also, with grateful interest, the modest, but manly, welcome of the master of both the mechanic craft and the treasures of art and literature, and how quietly he would give us a few words about his books. The Dowse Library we visit is always there, and although much is visible in the beautiful room where the bequest of the owner has been fittingly enshrined, yet its distinctive charm is invisible.

The City Library of Boston has one feature entirely new in the visible of a great public collection. A large portion of the books, under certain regulations, are circulated among the inhabitants of the city, and thousands avail themselves of this privilege. Here, then, is opened a great fountain of knowledge in the midst of a wide population: all may come, without money and[Pg 535] without price. The visible pages of learning, wisdom, science, truth, imagination, ingenious theory, or deep conviction lie open not only to the eyes, but to the hearts and homes of a great people. It is like the overflowing Nile, carrying sweet waters to irrigate many waste places, and clothing the dry dust of common life with the flowers, the fruit, and the sustaining grain, springing from invisible seeds cast by unseen hands into the wide field of the world.

"If," says Lord Bacon, "the invention of ships was thought so noble, which carrieth riches and commodities from place to place, how much more are letters to be magnified, which, as ships, pass through the vast seas of time, and make ages so distant to participate of the wisdom, illuminations, and inventions, the one of the other!"

Note.—Since these pages were written, one who knew how to prize the visible and invisible of books has passed away. The silent library of George Livermore speaks eloquently of him. That collection, gathered with a love which increased as years advanced, includes ancient copies of the Bible of rarest values. His life was a book, written over with good deeds and pure thoughts, illuminated by holy aspirations. That volume is closed, but the spirit which rendered it precious is not withdrawn; living in many hearts, it will continue to be a cherished presence in the world, the home, and the library.


You know, dear M., it is said that in times of bankruptcy men go home to get acquainted with their wives; perhaps it should be added that wives then go to get introduced to their kitchens. But your sensible letter is an omen, little friend, that to you and H. this does not apply. You will not wait for poverty to teach you economy, but will learn economy to ward off poverty. So herewith I send a few of the culinary notes of the last two years; but neither of us is to be taken for a bankrupt's wife, for all that. It is simply recognizing that you are alone in new duties, and that cookery is an art which may not be gained even from that fountain of knowledge, named by the Apostle Paul as one's husband. The successes of the art no one knows better than he; but of the processes he will be found sublimely ignorant. There are but two points in which you can defer to him,—punch and lobster-salad. These, like swearing and smoking, are strictly masculine accomplishments.

If you had the thrifty maiden aunt kept in reserve by most families for an emergency, you would kindly offer her a home at your house for a while. But since you have not, I will be as disagreeable to you as she. So turn your glowing Spanish eyes toward me, instead of looking demurely about, as people do when they are having old letters read to them.

Byron said he hated to see a woman eat; and there is a class of housekeepers who certainly return the compliment upon men. These ethereal beings are forever sighing for life with appetite left out. Like Lord Dundreary's lady-love, they are "so delicate," unless caught in the pantry hastily devouring onions and beefsteak. To be hungry is so vulgar! One should live by nothing grosser than inhalation, and should never have an appetite greater than that of a healthy bumble-bee. But, thanks to the robust, latter-day theory, that the best saints have the best bodies, this puerile class is diminishing. For who can doubt that the senses are entitled to their full blossom? Gustation was meant to be delightful; and cooking is certainly half as good as tasting. At times one may have longed for the old Roman custom of two meals a day, and going to bed at chicken-time, bringing the hour of roast near the hour of roost; but this was[Pg 536] probably in families where there were three repasts, with lunch all the way between, and an incessant buying of cookies from the baker, lest the children should go hungry. After this surfeit one pardons a recoil. Or, in an enervating day of July, one may have longed to dine upon humming-bird, with rose-leaves for dessert. But these are exceptional times; the abiding hope is, that we shall continue to eat, drink, and be merry. For the practical is in the imperative. It is cumulative, and reinforces itself,—a real John Brown power that is always marching on, and we must march beside it with patient, cheery hearts. Is it strange that even the moss-covered Carlisle town, of which the Last Minstrel sang, and where the Scottish Mary tarried in her flight from the cousin queen, is now chiefly remarkable for its cotton-factory and biscuit-bakery?

Indeed, the enthusiasm over biscuits has its place, as well as that over books; and it is not always that there is as much genuine joy in a novel as one may get out of bread-making. This is quite too scientific and interesting to be left to a domestic. It is really among the most exciting experiments. Try it every week for two years, and it seems just as new an enterprise as at the beginning,—but a thousand times more successful, we observe. Working up the light drifts of flour, leaving them at night a heavy pat and nothing more,—waking to find a dish flowing-full of snowy foam. The first thing on rising one's self is, to see if the dough be risen, too; and that is always sure to be early, for every batch of bread sets an alarm in one's brain. After breakfast one will be as expectant as if going to a ball in lieu of a baking. Then to see the difference a little more or less flour will make, and out of what quantity comes perfection! To feminine vision, more precious than "apples of gold in pictures of silver" are loaves of bread in dishes of tin. If one were ever penurious, might it not be of these handsome loaves of hers? The little housewife will be very gentle to the persecuted man of Scripture who was so reluctant to get up at midnight and give away his bread. She will even be charitable to the stingy merchant scorned by Saadi, of whom it was written, that, "if, instead of his loaf of bread, the orb of the sun had been in his wallet, nobody had seen daylight in the world till the Day of Judgment."

Dr. Kane says, he knows how bread can be raised in three hours without salt, saleratus, or shortening,—knows, but sha'n't tell. This must be another mystery of the Arctic regions. Certainly that bread could not have been raised in the sun. But how one quantity was managed the Doctor is free to say. He kneaded a whole barrel of flour in a pickled-cabbage cask, and baked it at once by firing several volumes of the "Penny Cyclopædia of Useful Knowledge."

After compliments, however, to come in with the cash down of the practical, here is a veritable bread-making recipe, well-tested and voted superior. Take a quart of milk; heat one third and scald with it a half-pint of flour; if skimmed milk, use a small piece of butter. When the batter is cool, add the remainder of the milk, a teacup of hop-yeast, a half-tablespoon of salt, with flour to make it quite stiff. Knead it on the board till it is very fine and smooth; raise over night. It will make two small loaves and a half-dozen biscuits.

This recipe ought to give good bread week in and week out, so saving you from the frequent calamity of soda-biscuits. These may be used for dumplings, or as a sudden extempore, but do not let them be habitual. True, you will occasionally meet people who say that they can eat these, when raised ones are fatal. But some persons find cheese good for dyspepsia, many advocate ice-cream, others can eat only beans, while some are cured by popped corn. Yet these articles are not likely to become staples of diet. They would hardly answer a normal appetite; and any stomach that can steadily withstand the searchingness of soda and tartaric acid[Pg 537] seems ready to go out to pasture and eat the fences. Chemists will say, if bread must be improvised, use soda and muriatic acid. These combined in precise proportions are supposed to evaporate in the baking, and leave common salt. But this acid is such furious stuff! It will come to you from the druggists in a bottle marked "Poison," and it is not pleasant to put into one's mouth a substance that will burn a hole in her apron. It is too much of the Roland for an Oliver,—You eat me and I will eat you. For it is quite difficult to perfectly combine the acid and alkali, and then the bread is streaked with muriatic fire; then one might easily take into the system a thousand streaks a year, and then one would become a fire-eater.

But probably the greatest of all bread wonders are the unleavened Graham cakes. These are worth a special mail and large postage to tell of. I was about to beg that you surprise H. with them at your next breakfast. But no, he won't like them; besides, according to the theory of "Woman and her Era," they're a deal too good for men, they are fit only for women and angels. So just salt and scald some Graham meal into a dough as soft as can be and be handled. Roll it an inch thick, cutting in diamonds, which place on a tin sheet and thrust into the hottest of ovens. (Note this last direction, or the diamonds will be flat leather.) Strange to say, they will rise, and keep rising, till in ten minutes you take them out quite puffed. One would never guess them innocent of yeast. An inch thick is the rule; but there is nothing like an adventurous courage. It is at once suggested, if they are so good at an inch, will they not be twice as good at two inches. And certainly they are. The meal will not be outwitted. It is the liveliest and most buoyant material. Its lightness keeps up with the utmost experiment. Finally, it may be turned into a massive loaf, and with a brisk heat it will refuse to be depressed.

The morning when were produced these charming little miracles remains a red-letter day in our household. Who ever tasted anything, save a nut, half so sweet, or who ever anything so pure? We ate, lingered, and revelled in them, thus becoming epicures at once. It seemed as if all our lives we had been seeking something really recherché, and had just found it. They were as great a revelation to the palate as Bettine or Thoreau might be to the mind. Now all was couleur de rose. Here was found, if not the philosopher's stone, the philosopher's bread, that should turn everything into health. Henceforth the strong heroes celebrated by Emerson, who "at rich men's tables eat but bread and pulse," might sit at ours, arising refreshed and glorified. And was not this also coming very near Nature? but two removes from the field, wheat cracked, then ground. (I have since come a degree nearer on cracked wheat at a water-cure!) It sounded altogether wholesome and primitive. I hastened with a sample to my best friend. She, too, tasted, exulted, and passed on the tidings to others. Now, indeed, was the golden age in dawn. Already we saw a community purified and rejuvenated. Before our philosopher-cakes sin and bad blood would disappear, and already the crowns of grateful generations were pressing on our brows. But something went wrong with all the cooks. Either they didn't scald the meal or they didn't heat the oven,—what in one hand was light beaten gold in another became lead. For a while it seemed that I could not go to my friend's without meeting some one who cast scorn on our reformation cakes. All tried them and failed; so sin remains in the world.

But now hope plumes itself anew. You at least will attempt the little wheatens. You have a deft hand, and will succeed. The buoyancy of the meal revives in my blood. Now the world rights itself again, and once more we are all bounding sunward.

But to be honest. For a few weeks I and the radical cakes were as satisfied as young lovers, but soon came temptations to progress from the primitive,—first to add a little sugar. But I vetoed[Pg 538] as resolutely as Andrew Jackson himself, thus putting up the bars between the wheat-field and cane-field, or probably by this time I should have been pouring in spice, eggs, and milk, and at last should have committed the crime of doing just as other people do.

If you would confess it, you have probably found in your new captain-general a susceptibility not only to your charms, but to those of good cooking. Always count these among the young wife's fascinations. Remember how Miss Bremer's Fannie, of "The Neighbors," in a matrimonial quarrel with her Bear, conquered him with fresh-baked patties aimed at his mouth. But be not too conciliatory,—especially towards coffee. If you could be hard-hearted enough to win H. from this bilious beverage, would it not be worth the perils? Entertain him for a few mornings so brilliantly that he won't know what he is drinking, then——But I'll tell you how we will cheat him admirably; and it isn't very cruel either, for merely to gratify the taste make-believes are as good as realities. First, every one knows Taraxacum or dandelion; invalids know crust-coffee, and many with indignation know burnt peas. Also Miss Beecher, whose estimable cook-book you certainly must get, mentions that ochra seeds or gumbo cannot be told from Java; an army correspondent has since reported coffee made at the South from oker seeds, doubtless the same; another found in use the sweet potato, roasted, and flavored with coffee; while a friend has just described the most enticing beverage made from chickory,—the root being stripped and dried under the stove. This is said to be so rich that sometimes it has to be diluted with a trifle of coffee. And still further, there is simple rye, which is cheaper found than either. Jeff. Davis drank it for four years and wrote all her grand proclamations out of it. But probably the wholesomer article is wheat coffee. I have lately prepared some by boiling a cup of well-scorched wheat-bran in a pint of water; and although I don't quite know how good coffee tastes, no doubt this was very like the true Java. It poured clear and rich as wine. Now try this in full strength with your spouse, being very witty when he drinks. And as the mornings pass, oh, weaken it more and more. That is, cheat him pleasantly at first, then worse and worse, till he is glad to take milk or pure water with you. Conspiracies are usually contemptible; but this is one of the very "best water," you see.

Perhaps we who never drink coffee can hardly understand the affection its votaries have for it. To their minds, water seems to be given only for steeping that delicious mud. Said one extravagant Madame Follet, "When I see a coffee-pot, 'tis exactly the same as if I saw an angel from heaven." And the Biloxi people, whom General Butler surprised of a morning, were found to be in a very tragic state. One boy exclaimed, "Oh, give me just a handful of coffee, master, an' I'll give you 'lasses, sugar, anything!" while a strong man ejaculated, "My God, we're short of everything! I haven't tasted tea or coffee for four months!"—as grievous as if he hadn't seen a human face for a year. According to the "Herald" correspondent, the chief reason that the South rejoices in peace is that "Now we'll be able to get some real coffee!"—perhaps, he adds, in the next breath inquiring, "What are you going to do with our niggers?"

No, we could not, with Ward Beecher, "bless the man who discovered the immortal berry." Nor could we, with De Quincey, apostrophize to a certain other excitant, "O just, subtle, and mighty opium! thou boldest the keys of Paradise!" Yet one must concede the possible uses of a stimulant. Coffee has been priceless to our army, on its cold, wet marches; and benedictions should be ordered in the churches, if need be, to the man who made it into that wondrous pemmican, so that the coffee of a regiment may be carried in a few tin cans. Then, too, it seems good for men who go driving up and down the world on stage-coaches and locomotives; but for stay-at-home,[Pg 539] counting-house mortals, is it not a mere delicious superfluity? Quite as much of one as a cigar, I think.

But henceforth, when Rio is high, drink rye. If one must have either, better the simulant than the stimulant.

Among other things, you have doubtless discovered that one admirable breakfast dish is eggs. If you serve them in the shell, it is quite worth while to follow the English way, keeping them close covered for ten minutes in very hot water without boiling. The yolks are thus left running, and the whites are beautifully jellied. These are convenient to get when relations arrive at night, and there is no meat in the house. Relations always expect meat for breakfast.

In fact, it is just at this point that one's genius is to come in,—when a nice meal must be gotten at short notice, and the larder is empty. None but the woman of resources can do it; and she knows her realm is as full of strategies as was ever the Department of the Potomac. Under her hand, when there was supposed to be nothing for breakfast, I have seen bits of meat snatched from cold soup, and wrought up into the most savory morsels,—one would never guess that the goodness was all boiled out of them; while a cup of yesterday's griddle-cake batter went suddenly into the oven, and came out a breakfast-cake finer than waffles.

One who had the knack of the heroine Fleda, in "Queechy," would be friendly to omelets, and tell of them too. But you must be self-reliant, and put them on the list of experiments. It will probably be some time before you come to that refinement of egg-eating which Mrs. Stowe found at the mansion of the Duke of Sutherland, where she was honored with lunch. Her sylvan spirit was somewhat startled, when a servant brought five little speckled plover eggs, all lying in the nest just as taken from the tree. How they were cooked is unknown; but one would certainly need a recipe to eat them by.

But an American woman can outdo the Duchess of Sutherland. She will find an egg daintier than the plover's, and not stir from her own door; for awhile since, some one, fumbling among the secrets of Nature, discovered, not that stones were sermons, but that snow was eggs, and straight made a cook-book to tell it, as we will do on discovering that rain is milk. Of course all things have their limitations; and these new eggs are not just the article for custards, will not do to poach for breakfast, or would hardly keep in brine; but they may be used in any compound that requires lightness without richness. Even our grandmothers made snow pancakes; but, in the present age, to be distinguished is to be venturesome, and in this experiment one need not stop short of veritable loaf-cake. The volatile element in snow makes two table-spoons of it equal to one egg; therefore to a small loaf I should allow ten table-spoons. Cooks always put in as many eggs as they can afford, you know.

Thus, when snow falls every day for four months, as it does in New England, eggs get exceedingly cheap in the prudent household. Then one can smile to think how she circumvents the grocer, and pray the clouds to lay a good nestful every week.

A friend the other day improvised a list of edibles headed, "Poisonous Ps,"—pastry, pickles, pork, and preserves. She was pleased to leave out puddings, and hereto we shall say, Amen. Not that one is to indorse such odiously rich ones as cocoa-nut, suet, and English plum; but, bating these, there are enough both nice and wholesome to change the dessert every day for a fortnight, at least. At another time I may give you some recipes, with various items by this writing omitted.

Pastry the physiologists have been shaking their heads about for some time,—especially as many persons use soda with the lard, not being aware that they are making soft soap. This sort of paste one often sees in the country. But it is easy to omit the soap. On the next bread-making day, simply reserve a piece of the well-raised dough, and roll in butter. This gives a palatable[Pg 540] and harmless crust. I have also experimented with a shortening of hot, fine-mashed potato and milk, which, if it may not be recommended to an epicure, is really better than it sounds, And does it not sound better than Dr. Trall's proposal of sweet oil? Will not some of these ways satisfy our ardent reformers and physiologists? But about chicken-pie, remember the tradition, that, unless the top crust is punctured, it will make one very ill. (Who knows but this was the secret of the National Hotel sickness?) At least, it is truer than some other traditions, such as that eating burnt crusts will make the cheeks red, or that fried turnip will make the hair curl.

Pickles do not seem so good that they must be eaten, nor so bad that they must not be. But with them comes evermore the vision that Trollope has prepared of all our smart little five-year-old men and women perched at hotel-tables, pale-faced and sedate, with waiters behind their chairs, and ordering chowders and chops with an inevitable "Please don't forget the pickles."

Preserves, aside from the recent luxury of canned fruit, have the happiest substitutes, if we will take what the seasons bring to our hands. Not a month in the year is left wholly barren of these relishes for the tea-table. There are berries all the summer, apples and cranberries in the winter, when, just as the last russet disappears, and with it every one's appetite, up springs the pungent and luxuriant rhubarb. Somewhat curious is it concerning this last article. Forty years ago it was such a pure experiment in England, that a Mr. Myatt, who took seven bundles of it to London, succeeded in selling but three. Still he persisted in keeping it before the people, although he seemed only to lose rhubarb and to gain ridicule, being designated as the man who sold "physic pies."

And besides our own zone, with its fruits fresh or dried, there are the abounding tropics always at the door: Pine-apples, which, if unwholesome, are yet charmingly convenient to help a luckless housekeeper, and which, by the way, made a better entrée in London than pie-plant, being so popular that their salesmen floated flags from the top of their stalls; bananas, those foreign muskmelons of spring; oranges, gilding every street-corner; dates, which do not go meanly with bread and butter, though one is a little fearful of finding a whole straw bed therein; and prunes, which, if soaked several hours and stewed slowly, are luscious enough for a prince.

But pork it appears to be the common impression that man cannot do without. Certainly he must have partaken somewhat of its nature to make him so greedy; and there would seem to be animals enough on land and sea, without devouring the swine. If pork be important anywhere, it is so in the old Puritan dish of baked beans; yet those who have tasted baked beans prepared with fine rich beef instead have voted them quite sumptuous, and possibly rich enough for people who live at restaurants. But so long as fish, bird, and fowl remain, and men even eat turtles and frogs,—so long as sheep do not die of wolves, nor cattle of the county commissioners,—may not the pig be left to his wallowing in the mire?

Thus much for the poisonous ps. We do not place among them that popular plant, the potato, though it has the blood of the nightshade in its veins. But these may be made moderately poisonous by putting them into soup. Once taste clear potato-water, and you will not aspire to drink a strong broth from it. And even potatoes one may eat at a dozen tables, and not find nicely served at any. With domestics generally they figure as the article that in cooking takes care of itself,—the convenient vegetable, that may be thrown into the kettle, and taken up when nothing else needs to be. In the end they are either half done and hard, or when done, being left soaking, are watery and soggy; whereas they should be pared, kept boiling in salted water till they break, then drained and shaken over the coals till powdery dry. They need[Pg 541] tossing up with as light a hand as an omelet, you see. If they are not of the nicest variety, they should be mashed with milk, butter, and salt, and placed in the oven to brown. This is a kind of medication which usually makes the poorest article quite palatable, and is resorted to in the early summer, when potatoes are become decidedly an "aged p." I was once amused to hear a man complaining of a certain potato, because it was "too dry." It is doubtful what he would do in Maine, the land of the famous Jackson whites, which boil to a creamy powder. One must be grateful that our Massachusetts Dovers cannot be dampened by this original potato-taster. He probably would like juicy potatoes and mealy oranges.

But of course none can have studied diet and its varied effects on various persons, without seeing it to be impossible to make up two lists of dishes, one of which shall be voted hurtful and the other harmless. Nor does the healthfulness of food seem to consist wholly in its simplicity, according to old Grahamite theories. There is probably some truth in the saying of Hippocrates, "Whatever pleases the palate nourishes"; but one cannot fail to recognize the wisdom of M. Soyer, that prince of the cuisine, who maintains that the digestibility of food depends, not on the number of articles used in its manufacture, but in their proper combination. Says M. Soyer, "I would wager that I could give a first-class indigestion to the greatest gourmet, even while using the most recherché provisions, without his being able to detect any fault in the preparation of the dishes of which he had partaken,—and this simply by improperly classifying the condiments used in the preparation." This gives a hint of the nicety of the culinary art, the genius required to practise it, and the fine physical effects that hinge upon it. It is no wonder that Vatel committed suicide before the great banquet which he had prepared for his master, the Prince of Condé, because he feared it was to fail. It is certainly enough to alarm ordinary amateurs,—and such are the most of us; for, while Americans place all due stress upon the table, they neglect to emphasize the cuisine. Instead of this nonchalance, we have yet to discover that cookery belongs to the fine arts; that it is exhaustive alike of chemistry and physiology, and touches upon laws as sure as those which mingle the atmospheric elements, hourly adjusting them to man's nicest needs. And we should count it among the best of the progressive plans of our country, if to the new Industrial College under subscription at Worcester were to be added an elaborate culinary department, with the most accomplished professor that could be obtained. Perhaps, as M. Soyer was philanthropic enough to go to the Crimea, and teach the English to make hospital soup, he would even come here and give our nation a glimpse of those marvellous morsels that have made Paris the envy of epicures the world over.

And if there is a proper harmony to be attained in the combining of various ingredients, making every perfect dish a poem, there is no less harmony in combining the various dishes for a repast, making a poem in every perfect meal. For every leading dish has its kindred and antagonistic ones: as, at dinner, one would not serve cauliflower with fricasseed chicken, nor turnips with boiled salmon, nor, at tea, currants with cream-toast, nor currants with custard. But this is something that cannot be fully taught or learned. It is almost wholly at the mercy of one's instinct, and may be ruled by a tact as delicate as that which conducts a drawing-room.

But we are quite curious to learn, M., if your excellent companion has yet been away from home so long that you have had to go to market. And can you wisely discern roasts, steaks, and fowl? Says one, "The way to select fowl is first to select your butcher"; and away he swings out of intelligence and responsibility with a magnificent air. A lady friend has this charming fashion of frankness: "Now, Mr. ——, I don't know one piece of meat from another, and[Pg 542] shall expect you to give me the best"; thus throwing herself directly on her faith and fascinations. But these might grow jejune, nor is it safe to trust the tender mercies of a butcher. Better know what you want, and know if you get it. Therefore you will study the anatomy of animals, as laid down in all modern cook-books. But really it is a little perplexing. I confess I am near concluding that every beef creature is a special creation; for one never finds the same joint twice, and apparently the only things common to all are tongue and liver.

Not long since, having a discussion at the market with an elderly gentleman, he said something pleasant which must be written for the husband of a young housekeeper. We agreed that a rump steak was of more uniform richness than a sirloin, the best of the latter being only that luscious strip underlying the bone. "But," added the kindly man, "I always buy the sirloin, because I give that juicy scrap to my wife." It is worth while, M., to be wedded to the thoughtful heart, who, after forty years, yet wills to give one the single choice bit from the table.

Aside from the ordinary beef-routine, there is another dish which is usually popular. Select a cheap, lean piece of beef, weighing two or three pounds, put it on the stove in cold water soon after breakfast, boiling gently. Half an hour before dinner add a small onion, a sliced parsnip and carrot, a few bits of turnip, and a half-dozen dumplings. When these are done, remove them; season and thicken, serving a dumpling with meat and vegetables to each plate of stew. This may be rather plebeian, but is certainly palatable,—unless there be choice company to dine. We might call it Rainy-Day Stew.

But the toothsome time for beef-eaters was undoubtedly in the days of pleuro-pneumonia. Then the frightened public fled from beef as from the plague, and all the best cuts were left for the bold. One was tempted to pray that such pleuro might last for the season, save that the Commissioners were so costly, and the dear cattle were having an unusually sanguinary Bull Run. I know what our vegetarian friend, Mr. Alcott, will say; but he must indulge me in a very small mania, even if it seem to him a kind of cannibalism; therefore, whatever rhapsodies are left from bread and potato, let them all be given to good beef. While the quarrel of round, rump, and sirloin goes on, this let us buy and eat and reinforce ourselves. In it are poems, powers, and possessions ineffable. Twenty-five cents a pound, and the strength of the gods in one's veins! Broil it carefully and rare, then go and toss quoits with Hercules. In this, ye disconsolate, behold lands, lovers, and virtues in plenty. It fills and steadies the pulse, and plants the planet plump under one's feet. "My friend, is he who makes me do what I can," says the sage. Only beefsteak can come to the rescue. If one were going to a martyr's fire, of this should he eat, lest he die, not sublimely, with a fainting body. He would try this steak, and then that stake.

But there is one event that comes alike to all, and that is a holiday dinner. Even the poor have their plum-pudding days, and all seem to think that on a Christmas or Thanksgiving Nature suspends her laws and lets one eat as much as he can. It is quite in the spirit of the Scottish Lord Cockburn, who, ending a long walk, used to say, "We will eat a profligate supper,—a supper without regard to discretion or digestion." Or after the theory of one who ate whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased, and as much as he pleased, saying, "Oh, if it makes me sick, I can take medicine. What are the doctors for, if 'tisn't to cure people?" He did not know how small hope can be gotten from the doctors, and how those who know best get more and more courage to travel into places where they are not. There must have been a poor chance for the Egyptians, who, Herodotus says, had a physician for each part of the body; so that the human frame would seem to have been a sort of university, and each of the organs a vacant professorship. In[Pg 543] case of malady, every officer worked away on his own member without regard to what his medical neighbors were doing. Michelet mentions a fish that has the power of multiplying stomachs to the number of one hundred and twenty. Fortunately that power is not man's. Think of dyspepsia with a hundred and twenty stomachs, and a different doctor for each!

Do not imagine this a plea for the transcendental diet that drove Sydney Smith to that pathetic sigh, "Ah, I wish they would allow me even the wing of a roasted butterfly!" But perhaps it would not be amiss to conjure up a terror-demon from these bodies of ours, so that we should fear to violate laws with such merciless penalties,—should have none but well-cooked food, at sensible and systematic hours. Is it strange that little Miss Bremer, who thought herself of soundest digestion, after three months of American night-dinners with oysters and preserve, is at last seen to grasp Dr. Osgood with both hands, exclaiming, in tears, "Oh, help me!" I want to save you from resembling the great people of the world after the manner of Dr. Beattie, whose title to genius was, "Have I not headaches like Pope, vertigo like Swift, gray hairs like Homer? Do I not wear large shoes for fear of corns like Virgil, and sometimes complain of sore eyes like Horace?"

Therefore I hope that your H. will make the counting-room conform to regular mid-day dinner and early tea-time. And let us trust that it will not have the same fatal result as with King Louis XII., who is said to have died earlier from changing his dinner-hour in compliment to his foreign bride.

One can hardly think of late suppers without turning quite away to those ideal tea-takings of the Wordsworths at Grasmere. "Plain living and high thinking," was the motto of the philosopher-poet, and that table was never crowded with viands. One can well believe, that, as De Quincey said, in the quiet walks after tea the face of the poet "grew solemn and spiritual as any saint's." But he probably was thinking very high when he drew a knife from the buttered toast and cut the leaves of a new book just lent to him!

Quite sombre are the memories of Rydal Mount; but since we are really alive, let us be lively. Behold me, then, dear M., well turbaned and aproned, and know that this is our churning-day. You give one of your gleeful little shrieks, perhaps; but yes, it is true; we live in the city, take a pint of milk per day, and make butter.

And where is the churn? you suggest. Oh, I extemporize that. It is out of the question to buy every convenient thing, or purse will run dry and house overflow. Dr. Kane hints how few dishes it is possible to use; and the plan is admirable; so one need not buy a churn, but make one out of a bowl and spoon. Into the bowl goes the cream, into the cream the spoon, and then I beat, beat, beat, not as one who beateth the air. This often lasts for two hours or more; it might be said that the cream remains in chrysalis, and refuses to butterfly! Indeed, there is no reason why a small bowl of cream shouldn't be as refractory as a wooden churnful. But when it "won't come," my distress is not at all proportioned to the size of the bowl.

Still I beat, beat, beat, perspiringly, but resolutely, while it whisks about, spattering over face, bib, and turban. At length there appear within it greasy-looking flecks. These increase till the mass thickens, beats solidly, separates from the milk, and declares itself butter. A limited quantity, certainly, but I will none the less press it dry, salt, and make it into cakes as large as a full-blown tea-rose. Each of these I will stamp, lay on a dapper glass cup-plate, and at tea-time several dear ones in various households will find these astonishing little pats beside them. Think you not they are genuine love-pats?

This would be a pretty way to serve butter always, did it not remind one of cheap hotels kept on the European plan, where those small, slushy, yellow cakes come in with the rolls. A choicer way[Pg 544] is to form it into acorns or strawberries,—though I don't in the least know how it is done,—placing them all together on a plate and serving one to each at the table. This dainty way, however, would hardly make a bad article good, and no one would crave a berry of ancient firkin butter. For, as trivial a matter as it seems, this single condiment of food, one has only to encounter it in a strong, cheesy state to feel it among the most important things in the cuisine. Then one suddenly discovers that butter is in everything. Eating becomes intolerable, living dwindles into dyspepsia, and finally one is tempted to exclaim with a certain epicure, "I wish I were under the sod! There's no lump butter in the market!"

It is related of Apicius, who lived at Rome, that he ate very large shrimps; but hearing that those of Greece were larger, he straightway sailed for that coast without losing a day. He met a great storm and much danger; but on arriving, the fishermen brought him of their best. Apicius shook his head.

"Have you never any larger shrimps?"

"No, Seignior, never!"

At which, rubbing his hands with delight, he ordered the captain to sail back at once, saying,—

"I have left some at home larger than these, and they will be spoiled, if the wind is not in our favor."

We will not carry our dilletantism so far as this, nor let it carry us so far; still we are glad not to be driven to the expedient of the Syrians, whose only butter is the fat procured from the tails of their sheep,—which is literally being reduced to extremities.

By the way, something quite remarkable occurred in my first churning. I began with one cup of cream and ended with a cup of butter and a full cup of buttermilk! This law of expansion is paralleled only by that of contraction, as shown to the farmer who took a brimming pail of dinner to the sty; and after the little pig had eaten it all, the farmer put him into the pail, and had room for another half of a pig beside.

But, dear M., it is hardly two moons since the bridal trunks were taken from our hall, and you went away with the friend. You have scarcely been domesticated long enough to see that bright tins bake badly, and that one must crucify her pride by allowing them to blacken; yet so soon do I overwhelm you with culinary suggestions. I am distressed to remember them. But you must forgive and smile me into peacefulness again. And be not discouraged, little housewife! It may take years of attention to excel in bread-making, some skill even for boiling potatoes, and common-sense for everything; but stand steadily beside your servants, and watch their processes patiently. Take notes, experiment, amend, and if there be failure, discover the reason; then it need not happen again.

And despite the difficulties of the practical, you and H. will not slight the ideal. Love the work you are doing and must do; but when it is done, oh, train the rose-vines over your door!

[Pg 545]


Thank God for rest, where none molest,
And none can make afraid,—
For Peace that sits as Plenty's guest,
Beneath the homestead shade!
Bring pike and gun, the sword's red scourge,
The negro's broken chains,
And beat them at the blacksmith's forge
To ploughshares for our plains.
Alike henceforth our hills of snow,
And vales where cotton flowers;
All streams that flow, all winds that blow,
Are Freedom's motive-powers.
Henceforth to Labor's chivalry
Be knightly honors paid;
For nobler than the sword's shall be
The sickle's accolade.
Build up an altar to the Lord,
O grateful hearts of ours!
And shape it of the greenest sward
That ever drank the showers.
Lay all the bloom of gardens there,
And there the orchard fruits;
Bring golden grain from sun and air,
From earth her goodly roots.
There let our banners droop and flow,
The stars uprise and fall;
Our roll of martyrs, sad and slow,
Let sighing breezes call.
Their names let hands of horn and tan
And rough-shod feet applaud,
Who died to make the slave a man,
And link with toil reward.
There let the common heart keep time
To such an anthem sung,
As never swelled on poet's rhyme,
Or thrilled on singer's tongue.
Song of our burden and relief
Of peace and long annoy;
The passion of our mighty grief
And our exceeding joy!
[Pg 546]
A song of praise to Him who filled
The harvests sown in tears,
And gave each field a double yield
To feed our battle-years!
A song of faith that trusts the end
To match the good begun,
Nor doubts the power of Love to blend
The hearts of men as one!



Meantime Reuben was gaining, month by month, in a knowledge of the world,—at least of such portion of it as came within the range of his vision in New York. He imagined it, indeed, a very large portion, and took airs upon himself in consequence. He thought with due commiseration of the humble people of Ashfield. He wonders how he could have tolerated so long their simple ways. The Eagle Tavern, with its creaking sign-board, does not loom so largely as it once did upon the horizon of his thought. That he should ever have trembled as a lad at walking up to the little corner bar, in company with Phil! And as for Nat Boody, whose stories he once listened to admiringly, what a scrubby personage he has become in his eye! Fighting-dogs, indeed! "Scamp" would be nothing to what he has seen a score of times in the city!

He has put Phil through some of the "sights": for that great lout of a country lad (as Reuben could not help counting him, though he liked his big, honest heart for all that) had found him out, when he came to New York to take ship for the West Indies.

"I say, Phil," Reuben had said, as he marched his old schoolmate up Broadway, "it's rather a touch beyond Ashfield, this, isn't it? How do you think Old Boody's tavern and sign-board would look along here?"

And Phil laughed, quietly.

"I should like to see old Deacon Tourtelot," continued Reuben, "with Huldy on his arm, sloping down Broadway. Wouldn't the old people stare?"

"I guess they would," Phil said, demurely.

"I wonder if they'd knock off at sundown Saturday night," continued Reuben, mockingly.

And his tone somehow hurt Phil, who had the memories of the old home—a very dear one to him—fresh upon him.

"And I suppose Miss Almiry keeps at her singing?"

"Yes," said Phil, straining a point in favor of his townswoman; "and I think she sings pretty well."

"Pretty well! By Jove, Phil, you should have been at the Old Park night before last; you would have heard what I call singing. It would have stirred up the old folks of Ashfield."

And Phil met it all very seriously. It seemed to him, in his honesty, that Reuben was wantonly cutting asunder all the ties that once bound him to the old home. It pained him, moreover, to think—as he did, with a good deal of restiveness—that his blessed mother, and Rose perhaps, and the old Squire, his father, were among the Ashfield people at whom Reuben sneered so[Pg 547] glibly. And when he parted with him upon the dock,—for Reuben had gone down to see him off,—it was with a secret conviction that their old friendship had come to an end, and that thenceforth they two could have no sympathies in common.

But in this Phil was by no means wholly right. The talk of Reuben was, after all, but the ebullition of a city conceit,—a conceit which is apt to belong to all young men at some period of their novitiate in city life. He was mainly anxious to impress upon Phil the great gain which he had made in knowledge of the world in the last few years, and to astound him with the great difference between his present standpoint and the old one, when they were boys together on the benches of the Ashfield meeting-house. We never make such gains, or apparent gains, at any period of life, it is to be feared, without wishing to demonstrate their magnitude to the slow coaches we have left behind.

And on the very night after Reuben had parted from Phil, when he came late to his chamber, dazed with some new scene at the theatre, and his brain flighty with a cup too much, it may well have happened, that, in his fevered restlessness, as the clock near by chimed midnight, his thoughts ran back to that other chamber where once sweet sleep always greeted him,—to the overhanging boughs that rustled in the evening air at the window,—to the shaded street that stretched away between the silent houses,—to the song of the katydids, chattering their noisy chorus,—to the golden noons when light feet tripped along the village walks,—to the sunny smiles of Rose,—to the kindly entreaty of good Mrs. Elderkin,—and more faintly, yet more tenderly, than elsewhere, to a figure and face far remote, and so glorified by distance that they seem almost divine, a figure and a face that are somehow associated with the utterance of his first prayer,—and with the tender vision before him, he mumbles the same prayer and falls asleep with it upon his lip.

Only on his lip, however,—and the next day, when he steals a half-hour for a stroll upon Broadway with that dashing girl, Miss Sophie Bowrigg, (she is really a stylish creature,) he has very little thought of the dreamy sentiments of the night before, which seemed for the time to keep his wilder vagaries in subjection, and to kindle aspirations toward a better life. It is doubtful, even, if he did not indulge in an artful compliment or two to the dashing Miss Sophie, the point of which lay in a cleverly covered contrast of herself with the humdrum manners of the fair ones of Ashfield. Yet, to tell truth, he is not wholly untouched by certain little rallying, coquettish speeches of Miss Sophie in respect to Adèle, who, in her open, girl-like way, has very likely told the full story of Reuben's city attentions.

Reuben had, indeed, been piqued by the French girl's reception of his patronage, and he had been fairly carried off his feet in view of her easy adaptation to the ways of the city, and of her graceful carriage under all the toilet equipments which had been lavished upon her, under the advice of Mrs. Brindlock. A raw boy comes only by long aptitude into the freedom of a worldly manner; but a girl—most of all a French girl, in whom the instincts of her race are strong—leaps to such conquest in a day. Of course he had intimated to Adèle no wonder at the change; but he had thrust a stray glove of hers into his pocket, counting it only a gallant theft; and there had been days when he had drawn out that little relic of her visit from its hidden receptacle, and smoothed it upon his table, and pressed it, very likely, to his lips, in the same way in which youth of nineteen or twenty are used to treat such feminine tokens of grace.

It was a dainty glove, to be sure. It conjured up her presence in its most alluring aspect. The rustle of her silk, the glow of her cheek, the coyness of her touch, whenever she had dropped that delicate hand on his, came with the sight of it. He ventures, in a moment of gallant exuberance, to purchase a[Pg 548] half-dozen of the same number, of very charming tints, (to his eye,) and sends them as a gift to Adèle, saying,—

"I found your stray glove we had a search for in the carriage, but did not tell of it. I hope these will fit."

"They fit nicely," said Adèle, writing back to him,—"so nicely, I may be tempted to throw another old glove of mine some time in your way."

Miss Eliza Johns was of course delighted with this attention of Reuben's, and made it the occasion of writing him a long letter, (and her letters were very rare, by reason of the elaboration she counted necessary,) in which she set forth the excellence of Adèle's character, her "propriety of speech," her "lady-like deportment," her "cheerful observance of duty," and her "eminent moral worth," in such terms as stripped all romance from Reuben's recollection of her, and made him more than half regret his gallant generosity.

The Doctor writes to him regularly once a fortnight; of which missives Reuben reads as regularly the last third, containing, as it does usually, a little home news or casual mention of Miss Rose Elderkin or of the family circle. The other two thirds, mainly expostulatory, he skips, only allowing his eye to glance over them, and catch such scattered admonitions as these:—"Be steadfast in the truth.... Let your light shine before men.... Be not tempted of the Devil; for if you resist him, he will flee from you.... The wisdom of this world is foolishness.... Trust not, my son, in any arm of flesh."

Ah, how much of such good advice had been twisted into tapers for the lighting of Reuben's cigars! Not because it was absolutely scorned; not because it was held in contempt, or its giver held in contempt; but because there was so much of it. If the old gentleman had been in any imminent bodily peril, it is certain that Reuben would have rushed far and wide to aid him. It is certain that he loved him; it is certain that he venerated him; and yet, and yet, (he said to himself,) "I do wish he would keep this solemn stuff for his sermons. Who cares to read it? Who cares to hear it, except on Sundays?"

Our good reader will exclaim,—A bad young man! And yet we think our good readers—nay, our best of readers—have shirked godly counsel over and over, with very much the same promptitude. We all grow so weary with the iteration of even the best of truths! we all love youth so much! we all love the world so much! we all trust to an arm of flesh so much!

Not for a moment did the Doctor believe that his recreant son pondered wisely and deeply these successive epistles of his. He knew him too well for that. But for him duty was always duty. "Here a little, and there a little." It would have pained the old gentleman grievously to know the full extent of the wickedness of his boy,—to have looked for a moment into the haunts to which he was beguiled by his companions of the city,—to have seen his flushed and swollen face after some of those revels to which Reuben was a party. But the good Doctor was too ignorant of the world to conceive, even, of larger latitude than an occasional cigar or a stolen sight at the orgies of the theatre. And when Mr. Brindlock wrote, as he took occasion to do about this period, regretting the extravagance of Reuben and the bad associations into which he had fallen, and urging the Doctor to impress upon him the advantages of regularity and of promptitude, and to warn him that a very advantageous business career which was opening upon him would be blighted by his present habits, the poor gentleman was fairly taken aback.

That even this worldly gentleman, Mr. Brindlock, should take exception to the courses of his son was a most startling fact. What admonition could the Doctor add to those which he had addressed to his poor son fortnightly for years past? Had he not warned him over and over that he was standing upon slippery places? Had he not unfolded the terrors of God's wrath upon sinners? Had he not set before him in "line upon[Pg 549] line" the awful truth that his immortal career was at stake? And should he descend from this ground to plead with him upon the score of his short-lived worldly career? What were all business prospects, however they might wane, compared with that dreadful prospect which lies before him who refuseth godly counsel and hardeneth his heart? Was it not a fearful confirmation of Satan's reign upon earth, that peril to a temporal career should serve for warning against criminal excesses, when the soul's everlasting peril was urged vainly? The Doctor wrote to Reuben with even more than his usual unction. But he could not bring himself to warn his boy of the mere blight to his worldly career,—that was so small a matter! Yet he laid before him in graver terms than he had ever done before the weight of the judgment of an offended God, and the fearful retribution that would certainly overtake the ungodly. Reuben lighted his cigar with the letter, not unfeelingly, but indifferently, and ventured even upon a blasphemous joke with his companions.

"It ought to burn," he says, "There's plenty of brimstone in it!"

It would have crazed the minister of Ashfield to have heard the speech. In his agony of mind he went to consult Squire Elderkin, and laid before him the dire accounts he had heard.

"Ah, young men will be young men, Doctor. There's time for him to come out right yet. It's the blood of the old Major; it must have vent."

As the Doctor recalled what he counted his father's godless death, he shuddered. Presently he talked of summoning his boy home immediately.

"Well, Doctor," said the Squire, meditatively, "there are two sides to that matter. There are great temptations in the city, to be sure; but if God puts a man in the way of great temptations, I suppose He gives him strength to resist them. Isn't that good theology?"

The parson nodded assent.

"We can always resist, if we will, Squire," said he.

"Very good, Doctor. Suppose, now, you bring your boy home; he'll fret desperately under your long lectures, and with Miss Eliza, and perhaps run off into deviltries that will make him worse than those of the city. You must humor him a little, Doctor; touch his pride; there's a fine, frank spirit at the bottom; give him a good word now and then."

"I know no word so good as prayer," said the Doctor, gravely.

"That's very well, Doctor, very well. Mrs. Elderkin gives him help that way; and between you and me, Doctor, if any woman's prayers can call down blessings, I think that little woman's can,"—and the Squire's eyes fairly flashed with the dew that came into them.

"An estimable lady,—most estimable!" said the Doctor.

"Pray, if you will, Doctor; it's all right; and for my part, I'll drop him a line, telling him the town feels an ownership in him, and hopes he'll do us all credit. I think we can bring him out all right."

"Thank you,—thank you, Squire," said the Doctor, with an unusual warmth.

And he wrought fervently in prayer that night; may-be, too, the hearty invocation of that good woman, Mrs. Elderkin, joined with his in the Celestial Presence; and if the kindly letter of the Squire did not rank with the prayers, we may believe, without hardihood, that the recording angel took note of it, and gave credit on the account current of human charities.


Mr. Brindlock had, may-be, exaggerated somewhat the story of Reuben's extravagances, but he was anxious that a word of caution should be dropped in his ear from some other lips than his own. The allowance from the Doctor, notwithstanding all the economies of Miss Eliza's frugal administration, would have been, indeed, somewhat narrow, and could by no means have kept Reuben[Pg 550] upon his feet in the ambitious city-career upon which he had entered. But Mr. Brindlock had taken a great fancy to the lad, and, besides the stipend granted for his duties about the counting-room, had given him certain shares in a few private ventures which had resulted very prosperously,—so prosperously, indeed, that the prudent merchant had determined to hold the full knowledge of the success in reserve. The prospects of Reuben, however, he being the favorite nephew of a well-established merchant, were regarded by the most indifferent observers as extremely flattering; and Mr. Bowrigg was not disposed to look unfavorably upon the young man's occasional attentions to the dashing Sophie.

But the Brindlocks, though winking at a great deal which the Doctor would have counted grievous sin, still were uneasy at the lad's growing dissoluteness of habit. Would the prayers of the good people of Ashfield help him?

It was some time in the month of September, of the same autumn in which poor Adèle lay sick at the parsonage, that Reuben came in one night, at twelve or thereabout, to his home at the Brindlocks', (living at this time in the neighborhood of Washington Square,) with his head cruelly battered, and altogether in a very piteous plight. Mrs. Brindlock, terribly frightened,—in her woman's way,—was for summoning the Doctor at once; but Reuben pleaded against it; he had been in a row, that was all, and had caught a big knock or two. The truth was, he had been upon one of his frolics with his old boon companions; and it so happened that one had spoken sneeringly of the parson's son, in a way which to the fiery young fellow seemed to cast ridicule upon the old gentleman. And thereupon Reuben, though somewhat maudlin with wine, yet with the generous spirit not wholly quenched in him, had entered upon a glowing little speech in praise of the old gentleman and of his profession,—a speech which, if it were garnished with here and there an objectionable expletive, was very earnest and did him credit.

"Good for Reuben!" the party had cried out. "Get him a pulpit!"

"Hang me, if he wouldn't preach better now than the old man!" said one.

"And a deused sight livelier," said another.

"Hold your tongue, you blackguard!" burst out Reuben.

And from this the matter came very shortly to blows, in the course of which poor Reuben was severely punished, though he must have hit some hard blows, for he was wondrously active, and not a few boxing-lessons had gone to make up the tale of his city accomplishments.

Howbeit, he was housed now, in view of his black eye, for many days, and had ample time for reflection. In aid of this came a full sheet of serious expostulations from the Doctor, and that letter of advice which Squire Elderkin had promised, with a little warm-hearted postscript from good Mrs. Elderkin,—so unlike to the carefully modulated letters of Aunt Eliza! The Doctor's missive, very likely, did not impress him more than the scores that had gone before it; but there was a practical tact, and good-natured, common-sense homeliness, in the urgence of the Squire, which engaged all Reuben's attention; and the words of the good woman, his wife, were worth more than a sermon to him. "We all want," she writes, "to think well of you, Reuben; we do think well of you. Don't disappoint us. I can't think of the cheery, bright face, that for so many an evening shone amid our household, as anything but bright and cheery now. We all pray for your well-being and happiness, Reuben; and I do hope you have not forgotten to pray for it yourself."

And with the memory of the kindly woman which this letter called up came a pleasant vision of the winsome face of Rose, as she used to sit, with downcast eyes, beside her mother in the old house of Ashfield,—of Rose, as she used to lower upon him in their frolic, with those great hazel eyes sparkling with indignation. And if the vision did not quicken any lingering sentiment, it at[Pg 551] the least gave a mellow tint to his thought,—a mellowness which even the hardness of Aunt Eliza could not wholly do away.

"I feel it my duty to write you, Reuben," she says, "and to inform you how very much we have all been shocked and astonished by the accounts which reach us of your continued indifference to religious duties, and your reckless extravagance. Let me implore you to be frugal and virtuous. If you learn to save now, the habit will be of very great service when you come to take your stand on the arena of life. I am aware that the temptations of a great city are almost innumerable; but I need hardly inform you that you will greatly consult your own interests and mitigate our harassment of feeling by practising a strict economy with your funds, and by attending regularly at church. You will excuse all errors in my writing, since I indite this by the sick-bed of Adèle."

Adèle, then, is sick; and upon that point alone in the Aunt's letter the thought of Reuben fastens. Adèle is sick! He knows where she must be lying,—in that little room at the parsonage looking out upon the orchard; there are white hangings to the bed; careful steps go up and down the stairway. There had never been much illness in the parson's home, indeed, but certain early awful days Reuben just remembers; there were white bed-curtains, (he recalls those,) and a face as white lying beneath; the nurse, too, lifting a warning finger at him with a low "hist!" the knocker tied over thickly with a great muffler of cloth, lest the sound might come into the chamber; and then, awful stillness. On a morning later, all the windows are suddenly thrown open, and strange men bring a red coffin into the house, which, after a day or two, goes out borne by different people, who tread uneasily and awkwardly under the weight, but very softly; and after this a weary, weary loneliness. All which drifting over the mind of Reuben, and stirring his sensibilities with a quick rush of vague, boyish griefs, induces a train of melancholy religious musings, which, if they do no good, can hardly, it would seem, work harm. Under their influence, indeed, (which lasted for several days,) he astonished his Aunt Mabel, on the next Sunday, by declaring his intention to attend church.

It is not the ponderous Dr. Mowry, fortunately or unfortunately, that he is called upon to listen to; but a younger man, of ripe age, indeed, but full of fervor and earnestness, and with a piercing magnetic quality of voice that electrifies from the beginning. And Reuben listens to his reading of the hymn,

"Return, O wanderer! now return!"

with parted lips, and with an exaltation of feeling that is wholly strange to him. With the prayer it seems to him that all the religious influences to which he has ever been subject are slowly and surely converging their forces upon his mind; and, rapt as he is in the preacher's utterance, there come to him shadowy recollections of some tender admonition addressed to him by dear womanly lips in boyhood, which now, on a sudden, flames into the semblance of a Divine summons. Then comes the sermon, from the text, "My son, give me thine heart." There is no repulsive formality, no array of logical presentment to arouse antagonism of thought, but only inglowing enthusiasm, that transfuses the Scriptural appeal, and illuminates it with winning illustration. Reuben sees that the evangelist feels in his inmost soul what he utters; the thrill of his voice and the touching earnestness of his manner declare it. It is as if our eager listener were, by every successive appeal, placed in full rapport with a great battery of religious emotions, and at every touch were growing into fuller and fuller entertainment of the truths which so fired and sublimed the speaker's utterance.

Do we use too gross a figure to represent what many people would call the influences of the Spirit? Heaven forgive us, if we do; but nothing can more definitely describe the seemingly electrical influences which were working[Pg 552] upon the mind of Reuben, as he caught, ever and again, breaking through the torrent of the speaker's language, the tender, appealing refrain, "My son, give me thine heart!"

All thought of God the Avenger and of God the Judge, which had been so linked with most of his boyish instructions, seemed now to melt away in an aureole of golden light, through which he saw only God the Father! And the first prayer he ever learned comes to his mind with a grace and a meaning and a power that he never felt before.

"Whether we obey Him," (it is the preacher we quote,) "or distrust Him, or revile Him, or forget Him, or struggle to ignore Him, always, always He is our Father. And whatever we may do, however we may sin, however recreant we may be to early faith or early teaching, however unmoved by the voice of conscience,—which is smiting on your hearts, as it is on mine to-day,—whatever we are, or whatever we may be, yet, ever while life is in us, that great, serene voice of the All-Merciful is sounding in our ears, 'My son, give me thine heart!' Ay, the flowers repeat it in their bloom, the birds in their summer carol, the rejoicing brooks, and the seasons in their courses, all, all repeat it, 'My son, give me thine heart!'

"Oh, my hearers, this is real, this is true! It is our Father who says it; and we, unworthy ministers of His word and messengers to declare His beneficence, repeat it for Him, 'My son, give me thine heart!' Not to crush, not to spurn, not for a toy. The great God asks your hearts because He wishes your gratitude and your love. Do you believe He asks it? Yes, you do. Do you believe He asks it idly? No, you do not. What, then, does this appeal mean? It means, that God is love,—that you are His children,—straying, outcast, wretched, may-be, but still His children,—and by the abounding love which is in Him, He asks your love in return. Will you give it?"

And Reuben says to himself, yet almost audibly, "I will."

The sermon was altogether such a one as to act with prodigious force upon so emotional a nature as that of Reuben. Yet we dare say there were gray-haired men in the church, and sallow-faced young men, who nodded their heads wisely and coolly, as they went out, and said, "An eloquent sermon, quite; but not much argument in it." As if all men were to plod to heaven on the vertebræ of an inexorable logic, and not—God willing—to be rapt away thitherward by the clinging force of a glowing and confiding heart! Alas, how the intellect droops in its attempt to measure or comprehend the infinite! How the heart leaps and grows large in its reach toward the altitude of Boundless Love, if only it be buoyed with faith!

"Is this religion?" Reuben asked himself, as he went out of the church, with his pride all subdued. And the very atmosphere seemed to wear a new glory, and a new lien of brotherhood to tie him to every creature he met upon the thronged streets. All the time, too, was sounding in his ears (as if he had yielded full assent) the mellow and grateful cadence of the hymn,

"Return, O wanderer! now return!"


Reuben wrote to the Doctor, under the influence of this new glow of feeling, in a way that at once amazed and delighted the good old gentleman. And yet there were ill-defined, but very decided, terrors and doubts in his delight Dr. Johns, by nature as well as by education, was disposed to look distrustfully upon any sudden conviction of duty which had its spring in any extraordinary exaltation of feeling, rather than in that full intellectual seizure of the Divine Word, which it seemed to him could come only after a determined wrestling with those dogmas that to his mind were the aptest and compactest expression of the truth toward which we must agonize. The day of Pentecost showed a great miracle, indeed; but was not the day of miracles past?[Pg 553]

The Doctor, however, did not allow his entertainment of a secret fear to color in any way his letters of earnest gratulation to his son. If God has miraculously snatched him from the ways that lead to destruction, (such was his thought,) let us rejoice.

"Be steadfast, my dear Reuben," he writes. "You have now a cross to bear. Do not dishonor its holy character; do not faint upon the way. Our beloved Adèle, as you have been told, is trembling upon the verge of the grave. May God in His mercy spare her, until, at least, she gain some more fitting sense of the great mission of His Son, and of the divine scheme of atonement! I fear greatly that she has but loose ideas upon these all-important subjects. It pains me beyond belief to find her indifferent to the godly counsels of your pious aunt, which she does not fail to urge upon her, 'in season and out of season'; and she has shown a tenacity in guarding that wretched relic of her early life, the rosary and crucifix, which, I fear, augurs the worst. Pray for her, my son; pray that all the vanities and idolatries of this world may be swept from her thoughts."

And Reuben, still living in that roseate atmosphere of religious meditation, is shocked by this story of the danger of Adèle. Is he not himself in some measure accountable? In those days when they raced through the Catechism together, did he never provoke her mocking smiles by his sneers at the ponderous language? Did he not tempt her to some mischievous sally of mirth, on many a day when they were kneeling in couple about the family altar?

And in the flush of his exalted feeling he writes her how bitterly he deplores all this, and, borrowing his language from the sermons he now listens to with greed, he urges Adèle "to plant her feet upon the Rock of Ages, to eschew all vanities, and to trust to those blessed promises which were given from the foundation of the world."

Indeed, there is a fervor in his feeling which pushes him into such extravagances of expression as the Doctor would have found it necessary to qualify, if Adèle, poor child, had not been by far too weak for their comprehension.

The Brindlocks were, of course, utterly amazed at this new aspect in the character of their pet young nephew from the country. Mr. Brindlock said, consolingly, to his wife, when the truth became only too apparent, "My dear, it's atmospheric, I think. It's a 'revival' season; there was such a one, I remember, in my young days."

(Mrs. Brindlock laughed at this quite merrily.)

"To be sure there was, my dear, and I was really quite deeply affected. Reuben will come out all right; we shall see him settling down soon to good merchant habits again."

But the animus of the new tendency was far stronger than Brindlock had supposed; and within a month Reuben had come to a quiet rupture with his city patron. The smack of worldliness was too strong for him. He felt that he must go back to his old home, and place himself again under the instructions of the father whose counsels he had once so spurned.

"You don't say you mean to become a parson?" said Mr. Brindlock, more than ever astounded.

"It is very likely," said Reuben; "or possibly a missionary."

"Well, Reuben, if you must, you must. But I don't see things in that light. However, my boy, we'll keep our little private ventures astir; you may need them some day."

And so they parted; and Reuben went home to Ashfield, taking an affectionate leave of his Aunt Mabel, who had been over-kind to him, and praying in his heart that that good, but exceedingly worldly woman, might some day look on serious things as he looked on them.

He had thought in his wild days, that, when he should go back to Ashfield for any lengthened stay, (for thus far his visits had been few and flying ones,) he should considerably astonish the old people there by his air and city[Pg 554] cultivation. It is quite possible that he had laid by certain flaming cravats which he thought would have a killing effect in the country church, and anticipated a very handsome triumph by the easy swagger with which he would greet old Deacon Tourtelot and ask after the health of Miss Almira. But the hope of all such triumphs was now dropped utterly. Such things clearly belonged to the lusts of the eye and the pride of life. He even left behind him some of the most flashy articles of his attire, with the request to Aunt Mabel that she would bestow them upon some needy person, or, in default of this, make them over to the Missionary Society for distribution among the heathen,—a purpose for which some of them, by reason of their brilliant colors, were certainly most admirably adapted. Under his changed view of life, it appeared to Reuben that every unnecessary indulgence, whether of dress or food, was a sin. With the glowing enthusiasm of youth, he put such beautiful construction upon the rules of Christian faith as would hardly survive the rough every-day wear of the world. Even the stiff dignity of Dr. Mowry he was inclined to count only an accidental incrustation of manner, beneath which the heart of the parson was all aglow with the tenderest benevolence. We hope he may have been right in this; it is certain, that, if he could carry forward the same loving charity to the end of his days, he would have won the best third of the elements of a Christian career, without respect to dogmas.

So Reuben goes back to Ashfield with a very modest and quiet bearing. He is to look with other eyes now upon the life there, and to judge how far it will sustain his new-found religious sympathies. All meet him kindly. Old Squire Elderkin, who chances to be the first to greet him as he alights from the coach, shakes him warmly by the hand, and taps him patronizingly upon the shoulder.

"Welcome home again, Reuben! Well, well, they thought you were given over to bad courses; but it's all right now, I hear; quite upon the other tack, eh, Reuben? That's well, my good fellow, that's well."

And Reuben thanked him, thinking perhaps how odd it was that this worldly old gentleman, of whom he had thought, since his late revulsion of feeling, with a good deal of quiet pity, should commend what was so foreign to his own habit. There were, then, some streaks of good-natured worldliness which tallied with Christian duty. The serene, kindly look of Mrs. Elderkin was in itself the tenderest welcome; and it was an ennobling thought to Reuben, that he had at last placed himself (or fancied he had) upon the same moral plane with that good woman. As for Rose, the joyous, frolicsome, charming Rose, whom he had thought at one time to electrify by his elegant city accomplishments,—was not even the graceful Rose a veteran in the Christian army in which he had but now enlisted? Why, then, should she show timidity and shyness at this meeting with him? Yet her little fingers had a quick tremor in them as she took his hand, and a swift change of color (he knew it of old) ran over her face like a rosy cloud.

"It is delightful to think that Reuben is safe at last," said Mrs. Elderkin, after he had gone.

"Yes, mamma," said Rose.

"It must be a great delight to them all at the parsonage."

"I suppose so, mamma. I wish Phil were here," said Rose again, in a plaintive little tone.

"I wish he were, my child; it might have a good influence upon him: and poor Adèle, too; she must surely listen to Reuben, he is so earnest and impassioned. Don't you think so, Rose?"

Rose is working with nervous rapidity.

"But, my child," says the mother; "are you not sewing that breadth upon the wrong side?"

True enough, upon the wrong side,—so many weary stitches to undo!

Miss Eliza had shown a well-considered approval of Reuben's change of opinions; but this had not forbidden a certain reserve of worldly regret that[Pg 555] he should give up so promising a business career. She had half hinted as much to the Doctor.

"I do not see, brother," she had said, "that his piety will involve the abandonment of mercantile life."

"His piety," said the Doctor, "if it be of the right stamp, will involve an obedience to conscience."

And there the discussion had rested. The spinster received Reuben with much warmth, in which her stately proprieties of manner, however, were never for one moment forgotten.

Adèle, who was now fortunately in a fair way of recovery, but who was still very weak, and who looked charmingly in her white chamber-dress with its simple black belt, received him with a tender-heartedness of manner which he had never met in her before. The letter of Reuben had been given her, and, with all its rawness of appeal, had somehow touched her religious sentiment in a way it had never been touched before. He had put so much of his youthful enthusiasm into his language, it showed such an elasticity of hope and joy, as impressed her very strangely. It made the formal homilies of Miss Eliza seem more harsh than ever. She had listened, in those fatiguing and terrible days of illness, to psalms long drawn out, and wearily; but here was some wild bird that chanted a glorious carol in her ear,—a carol that seemed touched with Heaven's own joy. And under its influence—exaggerated as it was by extreme youthful emotion—she seemed to see the celestial gates of jasper and pearl swing open before her, and the beckonings of the great crowd of celestial inhabitants to enter and enjoy.

For a long time she had been hovering (how nearly she did not know) upon the confines of the other world; but with a vague sense that its mysteries might open upon her in any hour, she had, in her sane intervals, ranked together the promises and penalties that had been set before her by the good Doctor: now worrying her spirit, as it confronted some awful catechismal dogma, that it sought vainly to solve; and then, from sheer weakness and disappointment, seizing upon the symbol of the cross, (of which the effigy was always near at hand,) and by a kiss and a tear seeking to ally her fainting heart with the mystic company of the elect who would find admission to the joys of paradise. But the dogmas were vain, because she could not grapple them to her heart; the cross was vain, because it was an empty symbol; the kisses and the tears left her groping blindly for the key that would surely unlock for her the wealth of the celestial kingdom. In this attitude of mind, wearied by struggle and by fantasies, came to her the letter of Reuben,—the joyous outburst of a pioneer who had found the way. She never once doubted that the good Doctor had found it, too,—but so long ago, and by so hard a road, that she despaired of following in his steps. But Reuben had leaped to the conquest, and carried a blithe heart with him. Surely, then, there must be a joy in believing.

"I thank you very much for your letter, Reuben," said Adèle, and she looked eagerly into his face for traces of that triumph which so glittered throughout his letter.

And she did not look in vain; for, whether it were from the warm, electric touch of those white, thin fingers of hers, or the eager welcome in her eyes, or from more sacred cause, a great joy shone in his face,—a joy that from thenceforward they began to share in common. At last—at last, a bright illumination was spread over the dreary teachings of these last years. Not a doubt, not a penalty, not a mystic, blind utterance of the Catechism, but the glowing enthusiasm of Reuben invested it with cheery promise, or covered it with the wonderful glamour of his hope. Between these two young hearts—the one, till then, all doubt and weariness, and the other, just now, all impassioned exuberance—there came a grafting, by virtue of which the religious sentiment, in Adèle shot away from all the severities around her into an atmosphere of peace and joy.[Pg 556]

The Doctor saw it, and wondered at the abounding mercies of God. The spinster saw it, and rejoiced at the welding of this new link in the chain of her purposes. The village people all saw it, and said among themselves, "If he has won her from the iniquities of the world, he can win her for a wife, if he will."

And the echoes of such speeches come, as they needs must, to the ear of Rose, without surprising her, so much do they seem the echo of her own thought; and if her heart may droop a little under it, she conceals it bravely, and abates no jot in her abounding love for Adèle.

"I wish Phil were here," she says in the privacy of her home.

"So do I, darling," says the mother, and looks at her with a tender inquisitiveness that makes the sweet girl flinch, and affect for a moment a noisy gayety, which is not in her heart.

Rose! Rose! are you not taking wrong stitches again?



In 1842 there appeared in New York a little brochure with scarcely any letter-press, which contained many pages of the most humorous and spirited sketches. Its title told the whole story, namely:—

"The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck: wherein are duly set forth the Crosses, Chagrins, Calamities, Checks, Chills, Changes, and Circumgyrations by which his Courtship was attended. Showing also the Issue of his Suit, and his Espousal to his Ladye-Love."

Thousands laughed themselves to tears, when looking at these grotesque, yet lifelike pictures; but scarcely one knew the name of their author, M. Rodolphe Töpffer, of Geneva, Switzerland.

Long before Mr. Oldbuck made his appearance in America, he had been the means of uniting in fast friendship the great poetic giant of Germany, Goethe, and the modest Genevese caricaturist. The least of M. Töpffer's merit, however, was his ability to handle the pencil. As a humoristic, satiric, pathetic, and æsthetic writer, he is unique in the French language. His wonderful genius was so pliable, that, while he excelled in the power of catching the warmest glow of Nature in those exquisite descriptions with which his writings are filled, and while, with picture-words, he could reproduce all the tender beauty of a sunset in the Alps, or the soft, singing gurgle of the mountain-brook, no one better than he could also portray every subtile shade and feature of the human mind. He excelled in analyzing character. His mental perception was sympathetic and ready. His mind-eye was so keen and so piercing, that nothing could escape its searching glance. The most insignificant attitude of the heart was not only seen, but at once noted down and studied by him; and in its delicately skilful dissection, Töpffer comprehended the whole of the individual. Hence his universality. In manner of thought, and in style, his writings have traits which remind one of Sterne, Addison, Charles Lamb, Montaigne, Xavier de Maistre, (the author of the famous "Voyage autour de ma Chambre,") and our own Hawthorne.

It is just twenty-three years ago, that Xavier de Maistre, being besieged by publishers for another of his charming stories, answered, "Before all, take Töpffer, not me." Previously to this, a Swiss gentleman, while visiting Weimar,[Pg 557] introduced to Goethe the comic series already referred to, which Töpffer had merely thrown off in his hours of leisure. Goethe at once sent over the Alps for "Mr. Jabot," "Mr. Pencil," "Mr. Crépin," and "Dr. Festus"; and, in the "Kunst und Alterthum," the great poet expressed to his admiring circle of friends his full appreciation, of the unequalled ability and charming humor of Töpffer. He went still farther; for, in his favorite literary journal, he drew the attention of all Germany to the merit of the Genevese author.

In 1839, M. de Sainte-Beuve introduced, with the highest eulogium, M. Töpffer to the wide and fastidious world of French letters. Thus did the greatest genius of Germany, the most celebrated modern romancer of Northern Italy, and one of the first writers of France stand godfathers to M. Töpffer. Their judgment did not misguide them; for, though Töpffer was not a littérateur by profession, his few volumes stand out in French literature like those gigantic Alpine summits whose snow-white purity is never dimmed by cloud-shadows.

But I anticipate. Personal recollections become more interesting in proportion to the distance of time which intervenes between us and the death of the loved and admired. Violets are not gathered on a fresh-made grave; and the soil of Memory must have been moistened with tears, before we can expect it to yield its most cherished flowers.

As some of our author's works, "Les Nouvelles Génevoises," and "Les Voyages en Zig-Zag," have attracted considerable attention in the United States, a sketch of his life and a mention of his various writings will be acceptable to American readers.

I was but a child when the name of Töpffer already had for me a significance and a meaning which no other possessed. I had a feeling of deepest regard and veneration for him, as I would meet him in the narrow streets of Geneva, or in some of the shaded walks, which clasp, like loving arms of Beauty, that bright little city of Central Europe. His tall, commanding figure gave him an air of dignity and patrician distinction; which latter was his by right. When he looked at you from under the shadow of his broad-brimmed hat, you felt in that gaze there was power,—a something which dropped from his eye into your very heart, and made its home there.

But allow me to make a détour, and call attention to that city where Töpffer was born, and where society had such an influence upon his creative mind.

No spot in all Europe has more intrinsic importance than Switzerland. Perched, as it is, amid inaccessible summits of intellectual and of geographical elevation, it remains the magnetic centre, towards which, from every part of the world, the sympathies of people most naturally converge. And Geneva—the proud, miniature Republic—is to-day what she has been for three long centuries, the Mecca of Switzerland, a luminous altar of freedom of thought and of intellectual independence, from which bold opinions have sprung and radiated, and around which every son of Liberty has rallied. The Republic of Geneva stands alone in her celebrity. So small a country that one morning's drive embraces the whole of its territory, it can yet boast of a nationality so deeply rooted, and of an individuality so strongly marked, that no foreign invasion and no foreign contact have ever been able to impair them.

It is impossible, even for the most superficial reader of history, to overlook that great array of names which made the last years of the eighteenth century so illustrious in Europe. Among them it is equally impossible not to recognize those which Geneva so proudly furnished. Theology, Natural Science, Philology, Morals, Intellectual Philosophy, and Belles-Lettres,—all these branches are admirably represented, and bend down with their luxuriant weight of fruit. The native land of such men as Bonnet, De Saussure, De Candolle, Calandrini, Hubert, Rousseau, Sismondi, Necker, has nothing to covet from other countries. Still Geneva became the foster-mother of many great men.[Pg 558] Calvin she took from his own Picardy. Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigné, the grandfather of Madame de Maintenon, and ancestor of Merle d'Aubigné, the truest friend of Henry IV., Geneva honored as if her own son. Voltaire so loved Geneva that there he had a residence as well as at Ferney, and sang with enthusiasm of blue Lake Leman, "Mon lac est le premier." Madame de Staël was born of Swiss parents in Paris, but her childhood and many of her mature years were spent in charming Coppet, where the waters of the lake lave the shores within the boundary of the Canton of Geneva. Sismondi was a native of Geneva, and under the influence of Madame de Staël, and inspired by his visits to Italy, resolved to devote himself to the past glories of the land of his ancestors. It was in the city of Geneva that he first delivered those lectures on "The Literature of Southern Europe," which, in book-form, are so well known to every civilized nation. Benjamin Constant, another Genevese, was a kindred spirit, who shared with Madame de Staël a delightful and profitable intimacy. Dumont; (so highly eulogized by Lord Macaulay,) the friend of Mirabeau and of Jeremy Bentham, was also of Geneva. De Candolle and his son gave to science their arduous labors. De la Rive in Chemistry, Pictet in Electrology, and Merle d'Aubigné in History, Gaussen and Malan in Theology, and many others, not unknown to fame, might be mentioned as continuing the list of distinguished names that testify to the intellectual supremacy of Geneva.

Here, in our own day, what sons of Fame have gone to linger near a society so congenial! Byron tells us that his life was purer at Geneva than that which he led elsewhere. Here, amidst the scenes consecrated by Milton nearly two centuries before, Shelley delighted to dream away his summer hours. He loved to go forth on the pellucid surface of "clear, placid Leman," there to drink in the soft beauties of the shores, or to gaze upon the distant sublimities of Mont Blanc. Here Sir Humphry Davy came, after his Southern tour, and "laid him down to die." Wordsworth found here the graces of his Westmoreland home wedded to a grandeur which realized the loftiest conception of his mind. At Geneva, to-day, is found that noble son of France and devoted friend of America, the Count Agénor de Gasparin.

Here, too, have members of the royal and noble houses of Europe come to be wooed by those waters whose "crystal face" Byron calls

"The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect."

The late Charles Albert, the hero King of Sardinia, was educated at Geneva. More than once did the future benefactor and monarch of Northern Italy stray along the road to Lausanne, or float in his little shallop on the side of Bellevue, whence he could look upon that prettiest of summer residences, Pregny, and at night could listen to the trills of the nightingales, which sing with a tenderness peculiar to the Valley of Geneva. At Pregny lived Josephine, whose Imperial spouse had driven away from Sardinia the members of the House of Savoy. But Time is a wonderful magician, and to-day near beautiful Pregny the nephew of Europe's great conqueror and conquered and the grand-daughter of Charles Albert have their own villa. The favorite residence of the late Grand Duchess Constantine of Russia was La Boissière, in the Canton of Geneva, and on the road to Chamouny, not far from the house of Sismondi. The late Duchess de Broglie, the daughter of Madame de Staël, lived during the winter in the street St. Antoine; near where M. Töpffer had his house, and in the summer at Coppet. Not far from her, at Genthod, resided that gentle daughter of America, the Baroness Rumpf, still remembered in New York as the daughter of John Jacob Astor. The Duchess de Broglie and the Baroness Rumpf are rare instances of the truest Christian womanhood in exalted stations.—But a whole magazine article would not suffice to give a list of the great, the noble, and the gifted who[Pg 559] have sojourned for a time in the city of Geneva.

Yet, if Geneva has borrowed some of the great of other countries, she has amply repaid the debt. She sent her Casaubon to the court of James I. of England, to be the defender of the faith. Later, she lent to England her De Lolme, who added to his distinguished political acumen such affluent philological knowledge, that he wrote one of the best works ever written on the British Constitution in the English and the French languages. She lent to Russia Le Fort, the famous general and admiral, the counsellor of Peter the Great, the originator of the Russian navy, and the founder of that army out of which grew the forces that defeated Charles XII. at Pultowa. During the tempestuous days which signalized the downfall of a monarchy, and while France was rent asunder by the mad upheavings of an infuriated populace, Necker was called to the head of the finances. After five years of indefatigable probity, and when his services had enlisted the profound gratitude of the doomed king, he was compelled to quit Paris. Recalled again, and again dismissed, his final departure was the signal for a general outbreak, which resulted in the taking of the Bastille and the overthrow of the House of Capet. Albert Gallatin she gave to the United States. How curious it is to trace the life of this son of Geneva! Graduating with honors at his native university, he came to America in 1780, was commander of a small fort at Machias while Maine was still Massachusetts, was teacher in Harvard University, filled high places under the government of Pennsylvania; elected Senator to Congress from that State, (but vacating his seat because his residence had not been sufficiently long to qualify him,) Secretary of the Treasury under Jefferson, Envoy Extraordinary to sign the Treaty of Ghent, and for seven years Minister Plenipotentiary to France. He was offered the Secretaryship of State by Madison, a place in the Cabinet by Monroe, and was selected by the dominant party as a candidate for the second office in the gift of the American people. All of these last three proffered honors he refused, and passed the remainder of his long life in the genial pursuits of literature.

If Geneva has been the fireside of learning and of belles-lettres, it has not been less the home of the fine arts. Petitot, the celebrated painter on enamel, has handsomely paid his share to the chefs-d'[oe]uvres of the seventeenth century. While enjoying the capricious favors of Charles I. at Whitehall, where he had his lodgings, he worked on some of those perfect portraits which to-day have their place in the Louvre, and which for ages must remain the triumphs of minutely finished, expressive Art. Nor is the little Republic poor in contemporaneous artistic talent. Pradier was born and grew up in presence of Mont Blanc, whose sublime grandeur may well inspire the dreams of the sculptor and ennoble him. Calame, Diday, and Hubert in landscape painting, and Hornung in historical painting, (widely known by his "Death of John Calvin,") are all sons of Geneva. Thalberg, the musician, is a native of Geneva.

The habitual companionship of master minds must necessarily exert an immediate and irresistible influence upon the rapid growth of thoughts and ideas in the young. And it is not to be wondered at that those who from their earliest infancy have had the readiest access to such a companionship, and who have most fully imbibed that influence, retain through the after-years of life a strength and a boldness of originality essentially opposed to the hesitating timidity of less favored individuals. In a society like that of Geneva, where family traditions are jealously cherished as a part of the national history, and where every family has its importance and its well-defined place, the memory of distinguished men cannot perish, but is handed down from father to son, as a portion of the state patrimony. Every little boy, as he plays in the street, feels that he has reason[Pg 560] to be proud that he is a Genevese. It was with such sentiments and under such auspices that Töpffer glided through the years of childhood. He drank deep at the fountain of inspiration unawares, and manhood found him ready to follow those who beckoned to him from the pages of history.

Rodolphe Töpffer was born at Geneva on the seventeenth day of February, 1799. As his name indicates, he was of German descent; but his family had resided so many years in French Switzerland that he could no longer be claimed by the land of Schiller and Goethe, though it was said that one of his most distinctive literary characteristics was like that of Mozart in music,—that he blended the deep, warm feeling of Germany with the light and elegant graces of Southern Europe.

Americans who have visited the public Gallery of Art, known in Geneva as the Musée Rath, will perhaps recall a small, but very spirited, winter-scene, painted in oil, and which bears the name of Töpffer. This picture is by the father of Rodolphe. M. Töpffer le père was the first of that long list of Swiss painters who became devoted students of Nature. The names of Calame, Diday, (Calame's master,) and Hubert are now known throughout the world; and that of Calame stands among the first in the rank of eminent living landscape painters. They are worthy successors of the father of Rodolphe Töpffer, who was peculiarly happy in rendering the mountain-scenes of Savoy, and in portraying those picturesque and attractive episodes of peasant-life entitled "The Village Wedding," "The Fair in Winter," etc., etc.

There are but few incidents to record of Töpffer fils. It is in his writings mostly that he is to be found. Elsewhere he is only passing by; but there he dwells and shines in full radiance. His life was so quietly modest, so tranquil and far removed from the tumultuous preoccupations which belong to a fashionable society, it was so simple and pure, that the biographer is at a loss to find any striking event that may give it an outward coloring. When only a child, as he so charmingly tells us in his inimitable pages of the "Presbytère," he devoured books, all sorts of books,—indeed, all the books he could get hold of in his uncle's well-stocked library. And many an hour of his sunny boyhood did he pass at the window in the house where he was born, gazing dreamily at the mullions, arches, and fretted work of the old Cathedral, or at the distant flight of the swallows, while in his mind he dwelt upon some brilliant saillie of Montaigne or Rabelais. His marked fondness for sketching showed itself in numerous and picturesque outlines, all of which bore the unmistakable stamp of talent, and foretold in the exuberance of the boy-fancy what the man would be. Happily for him, happily for us who are allowed to gather up the crumbs of art and authorship which fell from his ample store, Töpffer enjoyed the very best and most propitious advantages which in any country can bless childhood. He was born in the lap of a society daintily intellectual and fastidiously cultivated. His very first impressions were those of refinement. His very first steps were directed towards culture. There was no arid waste around him, and he had not to cut his way through the newly broken furrows of a young civilization. He was taken by the hand of Genius at the very outset of his career, and was never allowed to falter; for in the successive creations of his pencil and of his pen there is the same fulness of imagination, the same delicacy of observation, the same exquisite perfection of analysis. He seems to have understood so well the power of his mind, that he never ventured beyond his depth, but sustained himself through all his years of authorship with the same grace and elegance.

And nowhere could he have better artistic encouragement and emulation than in his native city. We do not remember who said that "in Geneva every child is born an artist," but the statement would bear investigation. Talent as well as taste for drawing and painting is almost universal, and belongs[Pg 561] as well to the poor as to the rich. It may not be well known that De Candolle, the celebrated and untiring Genevese botanist, made use, in a course of lectures, of a valuable collection of tropical American plants, intrusted to his care by a Spanish botanist. Unfortunately, the herbarium was needed by its owner sooner than expected, and Professor De Candolle was requested to send it back. This he stated to his audience, with many a regret for so irreparable a loss. But some of the ladies present at once offered to copy the whole collection in one week, This was done. The drawings, "filling thirteen folio volumes, and amounting in number to eight hundred and sixty, were accurately executed by one hundred and fourteen women-artists in the time specified." In most cases the principal parts of the plants alone were colored; the rest was only pencilled with great accuracy. Where is the other city of the same size in which such a number of amateur lady-artists could be found? One of these very drawings, having been accidentally dropped in the street, was picked up by a little girl ten years old, and was returned to De Candolle, copied by the child; and it is no blemish to the collection.

The son of an artist, Töpffer found his own career ready made, and stepped into it with all the instincts of his Art-loving nature. His few early paintings are full of promise. But the young artist was not destined to distinguish himself in his chosen career. A disease of the eyes compelled him to give up his favorite pursuit. His brush, still warm from the passionate ardor with which it had been grasped, was broken and thrown away. Töpffer lamented all his life long the privation that was thus forced upon him. Art, as a profession, was closed against his eager ambition; yet he loved Art, and lived for it. Happily for him, he was still in the complete possession of all his hopes and illusions. Happily for him, he was young; and, without being discouraged by his great disappointment, he turned the bent of his mind study-ward. Töpffer became a close student of human nature. He took to analyzing it instinctively, as the bird takes to the air. He was more than a dreamer, though the charming dreams which we have from him make us half regret, perhaps, that he did something else besides dreaming. He says, in his story, "La Bibliothèque de mon Oncle,"—"The man who does not enjoy dreaming his time away is but an automaton, who travels from life to death like a locomotive rushing from Manchester to Liverpool. A whole summer spent in this listless manner does not seem de trop in a refined education. It is even probable that one such summer would not prove enough to produce a great man. Socrates dreamed his time away for years. Rousseau did the same till he was forty years old; La Fontaine—his whole life. And what a charming mode of working is that science of losing time!"

But, either dreaming or working, Töpffer knew well what he was capable of; and without impatience, without restlessness, he awaited the future, consoling himself with the sentiment he expresses so well in the following sentence:—"What can be said of those beardless poets who dare to sing at that age, when, if they were true poets, they would not have too much in their whole being with which to feel, and to inhale silently, those perfumes which later only they may know how to diffuse in their verse? There are precocious mathematicians; but precocious poets—never."

Töpffer was right. Life is the true poet. Its teachings drop in tears, and the heart receives them kneeling, and is in no hurry to babble to the world all their silent beauty.

If Töpffer studied, it was not alone. He had devoted himself to the serious task of education. His pupils, mostly the sons of wealthy Englishmen and Russians, together with a few lads from France, Italy, and America, served only to widen his family circle. His relation to them was charming. As an authority, he used the most winning persuasion. He respected the mental individuality[Pg 562] even of a child, and would use his admirable tact in kindly encouraging every indication of talent, which, from want of a sufficient self-reliance or of a timely care, was hiding itself. Year after year, in vacation-time, Töpffer left the city with his thirty or forty young companions, and with them he travelled on foot through the mountains and around the lakes of Switzerland,—sometimes pushing in the track of Agassiz over glacier billows, sometimes wandering far down upon the fertile plains of Lombardy and Venetia. These were always most delightful excursions, when the ordinary halt became a common enjoyment, not only from the fun-loving spirit of the master, but also for the promise of future illustrations. After the return home, during the long winter evenings, Töpffer took either his pen or his pencil, and, with his pupils, re-gathered from their memoranda and drawings their summer impressions and adventures. Then he made his paper laugh with the spirited and piquant sketches which all know who have peeped into the "Voyages en Zig-Zag." Thus his fireside amusements have become those of the world. The "Voyages en Zig-Zag," before his death, were already classic in France. The richest luxury of type, paper, and illustration has not been spared, and edition after edition is scattered in Europe from the Neva to the Tagus. In the "Voyages" we find the most correct delineation, in words and sketches, of the peculiarities and glories of Alp-land. The exquisite French of this work has never yet found a translator.

His early style had something so fresh and so quaint that it can be accounted for only by going to the books which Töpffer studied. His dii majores were Montaigne and Amyot, and Paul Louis Courier, a learned Hellenistic scholar, as well as vivacious writer of the French Revolution and of the first Empire. For Montaigne Töpffer cherished the highest admiration. In his "Reflections and Short Disquisitions upon Art," (Réflexions et Menus Propos,) he thus tersely sums up the excellency of the French philosopher:—"Thinker full of probity and grace; philosopher so much the greater by that which he said he did not know than by that which he thought he knew." In our own language, Shakspeare was his favorite author. M. de Sainte-Beuve says, "Töpffer was sworn to Shakspeare," and adds that the works of Hogarth first taught the Genevese writer to appreciate Shakspeare, Richardson, and Fielding.

Besides possessing the ability to convey instruction to others, Töpffer was a fine classical scholar. With two other literary gentlemen, he published some excellent editions of the Greek classics, which he enriched with notes. All these qualifications marked him as the man for a still higher position. Accordingly, in 1832, when only thirty-three, he was appointed Professor of Belles-Lettres in the College of Geneva. At the same time, while discharging faithfully his duties in the College, he conducted, aided by tutors, his little pension, now so well known by the "Voyages en Zig-Zag."

It was in the midst of these various occupations that Töpffer took his recreation in contributing to the literary periodicals of Geneva superior essays on Art, and many of those charming stories which to-day delight us in the collection entitled "Les Nouvelles Génevoises." He also wrote for political journals. But what made him first known outside those communities where the French tongue is spoken were his humoristic sketches. They were not thrown off from his fertile and genial hand for gain or for renown. From childhood, under the influence of artistic example at home, and of his admiration of Hogarth, he had acquired a remarkable skill in graphically delineating whatever his close observation of men prompted. Like Hogarth, his artist-wit, his fun, and his moral teachings took the shape of series. These were handed around the circle of his intimate friends; yet he had thoughts only of his own amusement and of that of his companions, and did not contemplate offering them to the[Pg 563] public. It was at the urgency of Goethe that he gave them to the world.

In 1842, as we stated before, "M. Vieux Bois" (Mr. Oldbuck) appeared in the United States; and the following year, 1843, "M. Cryptogame," under the name of "Bachelor Butterfly," (by no means so amusing or so full of hits for America as some other sketches,) delighted the Transatlantic reader.

Visitors to Geneva had their attention drawn to the "Voyages en Zig-Zag" as soon as it was published; and in 1841 "Les Nouvelles Génevoises" took the literary and artistic world of Paris by surprise. These simple graphic stories gained the hearts of thousands. French tourists and French artists sought the basin of Lake Leman, the wild passes of the Vallée de Trient, the Lac de Gers, the Col d'Anterne, and the Deux Scheidegg, wooed thither by the picturesque pages of Töpffer. The "Presbytère," a fresh story in the epistolary form, not long after crossed the Jura, and amidst the artificial, heated literature of Paris, appeared as reviving as a bracing morning in the Alps.

In this modest way M. Töpffer was unconsciously building up his European reputation. The warp of his talent is the richest of humor blended with woman-like sensibility and tenderness. Fanciful, but never exaggerated, he stands before us an amiable philosopher, whose heart is large enough to comprehend and to pity the frailties of human nature, yet whose spotless purity serves as a beacon—light on the wreck-strewn shore of human passions. He has not the exaltation nor the ardent vehemence of Rousseau, neither has he the sentimental morbidity of Xavier de Maistre. On the contrary, he is always true and always simple, and he remains within the bounds of emotion which the family circle allows. This must be accounted for by the peaceful life which he led, (a life so different from that of his French literary brothers,) as well as by the beneficial influence of the society in which he resided. That society, though cultivated and liberal, has, in contrast with that of France, remained pure. It retains as its birthright a certain nameless innocence, unknown in the polished French circles a few leagues beyond. M. de Sainte-Beuve wonders at this, and asks,—"Is it that man is kept pure and good by the magnificent beauties in which Nature rocks him there from his babyhood? Is it that the heart becomes awed in presence of that sublime calm of Nature, and, before he is aware of it, the passions have transformed themselves into a religious adoration?"

But the true source of the Genevese author's purity was apart from, though deeply influenced by Nature. He was a man of principle and of religious faith. Töpffer had but to gaze into his own heart to find all the sweet, the graceful, and the fresh poetry of his country. His untiring and patient observation of Nature is the secret of his power as a writer. He disdained nothing, for nothing seemed too small for him. Nature, in none of its phases, could appear insignificant to his fertile and mellow soul. When he could not soar in the high regions of contemplative philosophy, he stooped as low as the little child whose rosy cheek he patted, and who then became to him a teacher and a study. An insect crawling on a leaf,—a bit of grass bringing the joy of its short life around the stones of the pavement,—a cloud floating over the meadows,—a murmur of voices in the air,—the wings of a butterfly, or the thundering of the storm above the lake,—all and everything was the domain where his genial disposition reaped so plentiful a harvest of rare graces and smiles.

When Töpffer abandoned his brushes for his pen, it seems that the vision of his mind became intensified, and he began to study man as minutely as he had studied Nature. He became a moral portrait-painter, in the same way as his illustrious townsmen, Calame and Diday, were landscape painters. To analyze and to describe became the occupation he most delighted in; and the more minute the analysis and the more subtile the description, the more also was he pleased with it.[Pg 564]

Töpffer's writings are eminently moral. There are few works in French literature in which the moral aspiration is so alive and the worship of duty so eloquently advocated. In reading them one feels that the writer did not step beyond his own sentiments, that he did not borrow convictions, that he did not affect the austerity of a stolen creed. He writes as he feels, and he feels rightly,—never forgetting to remain indulgent, even when he appears most unbendingly severe. Then to it all he adds an inexhaustible cheerfulness. His mind wears no dark-colored glasses; it is strong and healthy enough to bear the dazzling effulgence of the sun. Töpffer was a joyous man. If he so rapidly seized the ridiculous, it was through his love of fun; but while he laughed at others, so kind and genial was he ever that he made others join and laugh with him also.

We said that his genius was universal. He is eminently so in his artistic creations. Take, for instance, his unique comic sketches and compare them with those of other leading caricaturists. Our impression must be that none are like his. Leech, Doyle, and Gavarni have attained a reputation which the world acknowledged long ago, and which no one would dare dispute; yet they differ entirely from the Genevese caricaturist. "Oldbuck" (M. Vieux Bois) is as universal as music or Shakspeare, and belongs to no one country in particular. All of Leech's pretty women, his "Mr. Briggs" and his "Frederick Augustus," with his "Haw" and other swell words and airs, are all unmistakably English. They could have been born on no other soil than England. It requires an Englishman, or an American familiar with English fashions and foibles, to appreciate them. The German, the Frenchman, the Spaniard, the Italian, or the Russian, could no more understand them without a previous initiation, or study and experience of English manners, than they could speak English without long application and practice. The same may be said of Richard Doyle's famous "Foreign Tour of Messrs. Brown, Jones, and Robinson." Here we have an irresistible series of sketches, depicting what the famous trio saw, what they said, and what they did, in Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy. The interest of that work lies in an intense expression of English nationality, carried everywhere by the three Englishmen. Their mishaps and adventures are exactly such as every American has witnessed a thousand times, when some of his cousins from the fast-anchored isle have visited him. Gavarni, though freer with his pencil than either Doyle or Leech, is still as much of a Parisian as Albert Smith was a Londoner. Every one of his spirited sketches is intensely French, and, above all, Parisian. To a person who knew nothing of Paris, who had never been in Paris, and who was not somewhat au fait with the gay and triste, the splendid and squalid, the brilliant and unequal society there, these sketches would be meaningless. Again, Gavarni's pictures are not series. He does not develop his heroes and heroines. He does not make us feel for them in their mishaps. We do not laugh with them, as we would with friends or acquaintances, but we laugh at them. We do not once recognize ourselves in them. His portraits stand before us, but we gaze at them as we would at some half-civilized creatures, with curiosity more than with mirth; and while we admire and acknowledge the truthfulness of the sketch, we do not desire to have any familiarity or contact with the individuals represented. Furthermore, Gavarni is more limited than Doyle, by making the "Sweep," the "Rag-Picker," the "Grisette," tell his or her own story; and what each one says is necessary to the comprehension of the person before you. But very different is Töpffer. He possesses, with the funny conception of Leech and Doyle, a freer pictorial conception than either, and holds a pencil that is more at command than Gavarni's. In his single outlines, often of the rudest kind, there is the very rollicking of freedom, the exact hitting of traits and character. He dashes down his creation[Pg 565] with the quickness of thought, and with as much confidence that Messrs. Oldbuck, Crépin, and Jabot will leap into the very existence he wishes them to assume, as Giotto had, when, with a single sweep of his arm, he drew his magic circle. It may be objected, that the comparison between the two Englishmen and the two Continentals is hardly equal. Doyle and Leech lost, doubtless, much of their freedom by drawing with hard pencils upon box for the wood-engraver. Töpffer and Gavarni swept the soft, yielding crayon over the lithographer's stone, and hence we have the very conception of the artists in their sketches.

The whole Continent roared over "M. Vieux Bois," then England began to laugh, and finally America. Yet "M. Vieux Bois" was only the portrait of a foolish old bachelor in love. Though born in Geneva, he was neither Swiss nor French, neither English nor American; he was simply human. He exemplifies Töpffer's universality.

I have already mentioned the "Nouvelles Génevoises," the "Voyages en Zig-Zag," and the "Presbytère." But it is not possible to quote from them. Before pages so lively and so picturesquely effective, one feels embarrassed in selecting any particular portion, lest another should be left unnoticed,—like the child, who, being told that he may help himself to choice flowers, feels afraid that he will not take those he most wants, and, in his hesitation, dares not so much as untie the bouquet. The reader must choose for himself. He can accompany the amiable philosopher in his summer excursions, take the Alpine-stock, and with him visit the mountain solitudes, or linger around the blue lakes—those air-hung forget-me-nots—which gem the highest valleys of Switzerland.

His remaining works, published in book-form, are "Rosa et Gertrude," and the "Réflexions et Menus Propos d'un Peintre Génevois, ou Essai sur le Beau dans les Arts."

"Rosa et Gertrude," given to the public a short time before his death, is considered by some as holding the first place in Töpffer's works of imagination. It is a touching story of two orphan girls, deeply attached to each other, one of whom, deceived and maltreated by the world, receives that kind and Christian charity "which thinketh no evil" from M. Bernier, the good old clergyman, who is the guardian of Rosa and Gertrude, as well as the narrator of their simple history. In this book Töpffer has abandoned the humoristic, his ordinary vein in his short stones, and in taking up the more serious mode of treating his characters has succeeded so well that Albert Aubert of Paris, in his criticism, says, "In 'Rosa and Gertrude' M. Töpffer has surpassed himself"; and yet it is not so characteristic as his other writings.

However, that one of M. Töpffer's works which, it seems to me, is destined to live longest in the future, is his "Réflexions et Menus Propos," etc.,—"Reflections and Short Disquisitions on Art." Here are the results of twelve years' meditations on Art, by one who felt Art in his inmost soul, and who understood its practice as well as its theory. In this work we find a Ruskin without dogmatism, uncertainty, or man-worship. If Töpffer had written several volumes on his favorite subject, we should not find him, in each succeeding tome, taking back what he had said in the first. He studied, reflected, rewrote, and then waited patiently for years before he committed his mature judgment to the perpetuity of print. Long before Ruskin's first volume appeared, Töpffer's "Réflexions et Menus Propos" had commanded the admiration of the best writers and artists of the Continent. As an æsthetic and philosophic work, it is of the highest value. Pearls of thought and beauty are dropped on every side. It is relieved by fanciful episodes; and yet the whole book starts from and plays around a stick of India ink! It is not merely a volume in which the professional artist can gain great advantage, but one by which the general reader is fascinated as well as instructed. The former may discern its scope and its[Pg 566] importance in the felicity with which Töpffer illustrates the true aim of Art, as being the expression, the idealization, and not the rigid copy of Nature. He maintains that Nature should be the only teacher, and that we are to be wedded to no man's mannerism.

It is to be hoped that some day the "Réflexions et Menus Propos" may be rendered into English by one fully acquainted, not only with French, but with the philosophic and the æsthetic writings of France. If the late Bayle St. John (whose knowledge of the French language and manner of thought was so thorough) had possessed the finished style of the author of "Six Months in Italy," he would have been the very man to have introduced M. Töpffer's works to English readers.

Whoever reads the works which I have thus briefly mentioned will regret that so genial and gifted a man as M. Töpffer should have been so soon snatched away from earth. It is rare to find in any author's or artist's life such calm happiness as that which smiled over his existence. Fame did not spoil him; and if he lived long enough to win it, he died too soon to enjoy it.

The last two years of M. Töpffer's life were years of continual suffering, through which his amiable cheerfulness never faltered. When he was told by his physicians that he could not recover, as if he thought only of alleviating the sorrow of those who loved him, he did not give way for one hour to impressions of sadness, and his private journal alone received the confidence of the keen regret he felt in taking farewell of his young wife and his lovely children. To the very last day of his life his friends found him in the evening surrounded by his family, and even then handling the pencil for their amusement and his own.

On Sundays, Calame dined with him; and we may imagine what a brilliant coloring of thought must have characterized the conversation of these two sympathetic men.

In 1844, when M. Töpffer had just concluded his romance of "Rosa et Gertrude," his disease took an alarming turn, and he became aware that he was fast drawing to the close of his earthly voyage. After two repeated visits to the French watering-place of Vichy, he returned to Geneva. Towards the end of the following winter he was obliged to abandon those duties which hitherto had been to him so pure an enjoyment. Unable now to write, he tried painting, which, it will be remembered, he had given up in early manhood. Leaning heavily forward in his chair, his easel before him, he painted with an enthusiasm which was the last of his life. But that diversion could not be kept up long, and he was soon compelled to sit motionless, awaiting his release.

On the morning of the 8th of June, 1846, consoled by the hopes of the Christian, he expired. On the 14th he was followed to his final resting-place by the whole city, among whom were those who in him had lost their friend, their colleague, and their master. His remains sleep in the cemetery of Plain-palais, which he has so graphically described in "La Peur"; but his memory and his works still live in the minds of his countrymen, and his fame is daily widening, wherever the good, the true, and the beautiful are appreciated.[Pg 567]




"Well, what will you do with her?" said I to my wife.

My wife had just come down from an interview with a pale, faded-looking young woman in rusty black attire, who had called upon me on the very common supposition that I was an editor of the "Atlantic Monthly."

By the bye, this is a mistake that brings me, Christopher Crowfield, many letters that do not belong to me, and which might with equal pertinency be addressed, "To the Man in the Moon." Yet these letters often make my heart ache,—they speak so of people who strive and sorrow and want help; and it is hard to be called on in plaintive tones for help which you know it is perfectly impossible for you to give.

For instance, you get a letter in a delicate hand, setting forth the old distress,—She is poor, and she has looking to her for support those that are poorer and more helpless than herself: she has tried sewing, but can make little at it; tried teaching, but cannot now get a school,—all places being filled, and more than filled; at last has tried literature, and written some little things, of which she sends you a modest specimen, and wants your opinion whether she can gain her living by writing. You run over the articles, and perceive at a glance that there is no kind of hope or use in her trying to do anything at literature; and then you ask yourself, mentally, "What is to be done with her? What can she do?"

Such was the application that had come to me this morning,—only, instead of by note, it came, as I have said, in the person of the applicant, a thin, delicate, consumptive-looking being, wearing that rusty mourning which speaks sadly at once of heart-bereavement and material poverty.

My usual course is to turn such cases over to Mrs. Crowfield; and it is to be confessed that this worthy woman spends a large portion of her time and wears out an extraordinary amount of shoe-leather in performing the duties of a self-constituted intelligence-office.

Talk of giving money to the poor!—what is that, compared to giving sympathy, thought, time, taking their burdens upon you, sharing their perplexities? They who are able to buy off every application at the door of their heart with a five or ten dollar bill are those who free themselves at least expense.

My wife had communicated to our friend, in the gentlest tones and in the blandest manner, that her poor little pieces, however interesting to her own household circle, had nothing in them wherewith to enable her to make her way in the thronged and crowded thoroughfare of letters,—that they had no more strength or adaptation to win bread for her than a broken-winged butterfly to draw a plough; and it took some resolution in the background of her tenderness to make the poor applicant entirely certain of this. In cases like this, absolute certainty is the very greatest, the only true kindness.

It was grievous, my wife said, to see the discouraged shade which passed over her thin, tremulous features, when this certainty forced itself upon her. It is hard, when sinking in the waves, to see the frail bush at which the hand clutches uprooted; hard, when alone in the crowded thoroughfare of travel, to have one's last bank-note declared a counterfeit. I knew I should not be able to see her face, under the shade of this disappointment; and so, coward that I was, I turned this trouble, where I have turned so many others, upon my wife.[Pg 568]

"Well, what shall we do with her?" said I.

"I really don't know," said my wife, musingly.

"Do you think we could get that school in Taunton for her?"

"Impossible; Mr. Herbert told me he had already twelve applicants for it."

"Couldn't you get her plain sewing? Is she handy with her needle?"

"She has tried that, but it brings on a pain in her side, and cough; and the Doctor has told her it will not do for her to confine herself."

"How is her handwriting? Does she write a good hand?"

"Only passable."

"Because," said I, "I was thinking if I could get Steele and Simpson to give her law-papers to copy."

"They have more copyists than they need now; and, in fact, this woman does not write the sort of hand at all that would enable her to get on as a copyist."

"Well," said I, turning uneasily in my chair, and at last hitting on a bright masculine expedient, "I'll tell you what must be done. She must get married."

"My dear," said my wife, "marrying for a living is the very hardest way a woman can take to get it. Even marrying for love often turns out badly enough. Witness poor Jane."

Jane was one of the large number of people whom it seemed my wife's fortune to carry through life on her back. She was a pretty, smiling, pleasing daughter of Erin, who had been in our family originally as nursery-maid. I had been greatly pleased in watching a little idyllic affair growing up between her and a joyous, good-natured young Irishman, to whom at last we married her. Mike soon after, however, took to drinking and unsteady courses, and the result has been to Jane only a yearly baby, with poor health, and no money.

"In fact," said my wife, "if Jane had only kept single, she could have made her own way well enough, and might have now been in good health and had a pretty sum in the savings bank. As it is, I must carry not only her, but her three children, on my back."

"You ought to drop her, my dear. You really ought not to burden yourself with other people's affairs as you do," said I, inconsistently.

"How can I drop her? Can I help knowing that she is poor and suffering? And if I drop her, who will take her up?"

Now there is a way of getting rid of cases of this kind, spoken of in a quaint old book, which occurred strongly to me at this moment:—

"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,' notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?"

I must confess, notwithstanding the strong point of the closing question, I looked with an evil eye of longing on this very easy way of disposing of such cases: a few sympathizing words, a few expressions of hope that I did not feel, a line written to turn the case into somebody else's hands,—any expedient, in fact, to hide the longing eyes and imploring hands from my sight was what my carnal nature at this moment greatly craved.

"Besides," said my wife, resuming the thread of her thoughts in regard to the subject just now before us,—"as to marriage, it's out of the question at present for this poor child; for the man she loved and would have married lies low in one of the graves before Richmond. It's a sad story;—one of a thousand like it. She brightened for a few moments, and looked almost handsome, when she spoke of his bravery and goodness. Her father and lover have both died in this war. Her only brother has returned from it a broken-down cripple, and she has him and her poor old mother to care for, and so she seeks work. I told her to come again to-morrow, and I would look about for her a little to-day."

"Let me see, how many are now down on your list to be looked about for, Mrs.[Pg 569] Crowfield?—some twelve or thirteen, are there not? You've got Tom's sister disposed of finally, I hope,—that's a comfort!"

"Well, I'm sorry to say she came back on my hands yesterday," said my wife, patiently. "She is a foolish young thing, and said she didn't like living out in the country. I'm sorry, because the Morrises are an excellent family, and she might have had a life-home there, if she had only been steady and chosen to behave herself properly. But yesterday I found her back on her mother's hands again; and the poor woman told me that the dear child never could bear to be separated from her, and that she hadn't the heart to send her back."

"And, in short," said I, "she gave you notice that you must provide for Miss O'Connor in some more agreeable way. Cross that name off your list, at any rate. That woman and girl need a few hard raps in the school of experience before you can do anything for them."

"I think I shall," said my long-suffering wife; "but it's a pity to see a young thing put in the direct road to ruin."

"It is one of the inevitables," said I, "and we must save our strength for those that are willing to help themselves."

"What's all this talk about?" said Bob, coming in upon us rather brusquely.

"Oh, as usual, the old question," said I,—"'What's to be done with her?'"

"Well," said Bob, "it's exactly what I've come to talk with mother about. Since she keeps a distressed-women's agency-office, I've come to consult her about Marianne. That woman will die before six months are out, a victim to high civilization and the Paddies. There we are, twelve miles out from Boston, in a country villa so convenient that every part of it might almost do its own work,—everything arranged in the most convenient, contiguous, self-adjusting, self-acting, patent-right, perfective manner,—and yet, I tell you, Marianne will die of that house. It will yet be recorded on her tombstone, 'Died of conveniences.' For myself, what I languish for is a log cabin, with a bed in one corner, a trundle-bed underneath for the children, a fire-place only six feet off, a table, four chairs, one kettle, a coffee-pot, and a tin baker,—that's all. I lived deliciously in an establishment of this kind last summer, when I was up at Lake Superior; and I am convinced, if I could move Marianne into it at once, that she would become a healthy and a happy woman. Her life is smothered out of her with comforts: we have too many rooms, too many carpets, too many vases and knickknacks, too much china and silver; she has too many laces and dresses and bonnets; the children all have too many clothes;—in fact, to put it Scripturally, our riches are corrupted, our garments are moth-eaten, our gold and our silver is cankered,—and, in short, Marianne is sick in bed, and I have come to the agency-office for-distressed-women to take you out to attend to her.

"The fact is," continued Bob, "that, since our cook married and Alice went to California, there seems to be no possibility of putting our domestic cabinet upon any permanent basis. The number of female persons that have been through our house, and the ravages they have wrought on it for the last six months, pass belief. I had yesterday a bill of sixty dollars' plumbing to pay for damages of various kinds which had had to be repaired in our very convenient water-works; and the blame of each particular one had been bandied like a shuttlecock among our three household divinities. Biddy privately assured my wife that Kate was in the habit of emptying dust-pans of rubbish into the main drain from the chambers, and washing any little extra bits down through the bowls; and, in fact, when one of the bathing-room bowls had overflowed so as to damage the frescoes below, my wife, with great delicacy and precaution, interrogated Kate as to whether she had followed her instructions in the care of the water-pipes. Of[Pg 570] course she protested the most immaculate care and circumspection. 'Sure, and she knew how careful one ought to be, and wasn't of the likes of thim as wouldn't mind what throuble they made,—like Biddy, who would throw trash and hair in the pipes, and niver listen to her tellin'; sure, and hadn't she broken the pipes in the kitchen, and lost the stoppers, as it was a shame to see in a Christian house?' Ann, the third girl, being privately questioned, blamed Biddy on Monday and Kate on Tuesday; on Wednesday, however, she exonerated both; but on Thursday, being in a high quarrel with both, she departed, accusing them severally not only of all the evil practices aforesaid, but of lying, and stealing, and all other miscellaneous wickednesses that came to hand. Whereat the two thus accused rushed in, bewailing themselves and cursing Ann in alternate strophes, averring that she had given the baby laudanum, and, taking it out riding, had stopped for hours with it in a filthy lane, where the scarlet fever was said to be rife,—in short, made so fearful a picture, that Marianne gave up the child's life at once, and has taken to her bed. I have endeavored all I could to quiet her, by telling her that the scarlet-fever story was probably an extemporaneous work of fiction, got up to gratify the Hibernian anger at Ann, and that it wasn't in the least worth while to believe one thing more than another from the fact that any of the tribe said it. But she refuses to be comforted, and is so Utopian as to lie there, crying,—'Oh, if I only could get one that I could trust,—one that really would speak the truth to me,—one that I might know really went where she said she went, and really did as she said she did!' To have to live so, she says, and bring up little children with those she can't trust out of her sight, whose word is good for nothing,—to feel that her beautiful house and her lovely things are all going to rack and ruin, and she can't take care of them, and can't see where or when or how the mischief is done,——in short, the poor child talks as women do who are violently attacked with housekeeping fever tending to congestion of the brain. She actually yesterday told me that she wished, on the whole, she never had got married, which I take to be the most positive indication of mental alienation."

"Here," said I, "we behold at this moment two women dying for the want of what they can mutually give one another,—each having a supply of what the other needs, but held back by certain invisible cobwebs, slight, but strong, from coming to each other's assistance. Marianne has money enough, but she wants a helper in her family, such as all her money has been hitherto unable to buy; and here close at hand is a woman who wants home-shelter, healthy, varied, active, cheerful labor, with nourishing food, kind care, and good wages. What hinders these women from rushing to the help of one another, just as two drops of water on a leaf rush together and make one? Nothing but a miserable prejudice,—but a prejudice so strong that women will starve in any other mode of life, rather than accept competency and comfort in this."

"You don't mean," said my wife, "to propose that our protégée should go to Marianne as a servant?"

"I do say it would be the best thing for her to do, the only opening that I see,—and a very good one, too, it is. Just look at it. Her bare living at this moment cannot cost her less than five or six dollars a week,—everything at the present time is so very dear in the city. Now by what possible calling open to her capacity can she pay her board and washing, fuel and lights, and clear a hundred and some odd dollars a year? She could not do it as a district school-teacher; she certainly cannot, with her feeble health, do it by plain sewing; she could not do it as a copyist. A robust woman might go into a factory and earn more; but factory-work is unintermitted, twelve hours daily, week in and out, in the same movement, in close air, amid the clatter of machinery; and a person delicately organized[Pg 571] soon sinks under it. It takes a stolid, enduring temperament to bear factory-labor. Now look at Marianne's house and family, and see what is insured to your protégée there.

"In the first place, a home,—a neat, quiet chamber, quite as good as she has probably been accustomed to,—the very best of food, served in a pleasant, light, airy kitchen, which is one of the most agreeable rooms in the house, and the table and table-service quite equal to those of most farmers and mechanics. Then her daily tasks would be light and varied,—some sweeping, some dusting, the washing and dressing of children, the care of their rooms and the nursery,—all of it the most healthful, the most natural work of a woman,—work alternating with rest, and diverting thought from painful subjects by its variety,—and what is more, a kind of work in which a good Christian woman might have satisfaction, as feeling herself useful in the highest and best way: for the child's nurse, if she be a pious, well-educated woman, may make the whole course of nursery-life an education in goodness. Then, what is far different from many other modes of gaining a livelihood, a woman in this capacity can make and feel herself really and truly beloved. The hearts of little children are easily gained, and their love is real and warm, and no true woman can become the object of it without feeling her own life made brighter. Again, she would have in Marianne a sincere, warm-hearted friend, who would care for her tenderly, respect her sorrows, shelter her feelings, be considerate of her wants, and in every way aid her in the cause she has most at heart, the succor of her family. There are many ways besides her wages in which she would infallibly be assisted by Marianne, so that the probability would be that she could send her little salary almost untouched to those for whose support she was toiling,—all this on her part."

"But," added my wife, "on the other hand, she would be obliged to associate and be ranked with common Irish servants."

"Well," I answered, "is there any occupation, by which any of us gain our living, which has not its disagreeable side? Does not the lawyer spend all his days either in a dusty office or in the foul air of a court-room? Is he not brought into much disagreeable contact with the lowest class of society? Are not his labors dry and hard and exhausting? Does not the blacksmith spend half his life in soot and grime, that he may gain a competence for the other half? If this woman were to work in a factory, would she not often be brought into associations distasteful to her? Might it not be the same in any of the arts and trades in which a living is to be got? There must be unpleasant circumstances about earning a living in any way; only I maintain that those which a woman would be likely to meet with as a servant in a refined, well-bred, Christian family would be less than in almost any other calling. Are there no trials to a woman, I beg to know, in teaching a district school, where all the boys, big and little, of a neighborhood congregate? For my part, were it my daughter or sister who was in necessitous circumstances, I would choose for her a position such as I name, in a kind, intelligent, Christian family, before many of those to which women do devote themselves."

"Well," said Bob, "all this has a good sound enough, but it's quite impossible. It's true, I verily believe, that such a kind of servant in our family would really prolong Marianne's life years,—that it would improve her health, and be an unspeakable blessing to her, to me, and the children,—and I would almost go down on my knees to a really well-educated, good, American woman who would come into our family, and take that place; but I know it's perfectly vain and useless to expect it. You know we have tried the experiment two or three times of having a person in our family who should be on the footing of a friend, yet do the duties of a servant, and that we never could make it work well. These half-and-half people are so sensitive, so exacting in[Pg 572] their demands, so hard to please, that we have come to the firm determination that we will have no sliding-scale in our family, and that whoever we are to depend on must come with bona-fide willingness to take the position of a servant, such as that position is in our house; and that, I suppose, your protégée would never do, even if she could thereby live easier, have less hard work, better health, and quite as much money as she could earn in any other way."

"She would consider it a personal degradation, I suppose," said my wife.

"And yet, if she only knew it," said Bob, "I should respect her far more profoundly for her willingness to take that position, when adverse fortune has shut other doors."

"Well, now," said I, "this woman is, as I understand, the daughter of a respectable stone-mason; and the domestic habits of her early life have probably been economical and simple. Like most of our mechanics' daughters, she has received in one of our high schools an education which has cultivated and developed her mind far beyond those of her parents and the associates of her childhood. This is a common fact in our American life. By our high schools the daughters of plain workingmen are raised to a state of intellectual culture which seems to make the disposition of them in any kind of industrial calling a difficult one. They all want to teach school,—and school-teaching, consequently, is an overcrowded profession,—and, failing that, there is only millinery and dress-making. Of late, it is true; efforts have been made in various directions to widen their sphere. Type-setting and book-keeping are in some instances beginning to be open to them.

"All this time there is lying, neglected and despised, a calling to which womanly talents and instincts are peculiarly fitted,—a calling full of opportunities of the most lasting usefulness,—a calling which insures a settled home, respectable protection, healthful exercise, good air, good food, and good wages,—a calling in which a woman may make real friends, and secure to herself warm affection: and yet this calling is the one always refused, shunned, contemned, left to the alien and the stranger, and that simply and solely because it bears the name of servant. A Christian woman, who holds the name of Christ in her heart in true devotion, would think it the greatest possible misfortune and degradation to become like him in taking upon her 'the form of a servant.' The founder of Christianity says, 'Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat or he that serveth? But I am among you as he that serveth.' But notwithstanding these so plain declarations of Jesus, we find that scarce any one in a Christian land will accept real advantages of position and employment that come with that name and condition."

"I suppose," said my wife, "I could prevail upon this woman to do all the duties of the situation, if she could be, as they phrase it, 'treated as one of the family.'"

"That is to say," said Bob, "if she could sit with us at the same table, be introduced to our friends, and be in all respects as one of us. Now as to this, I am free to say that I have no false aristocratic scruples. I consider every well-educated woman as fully my equal, not to say my superior; but it does not follow from this that she would be one whom I should wish to make a third party with me and my wife at mealtimes. Our meals are often our seasons of privacy,—the times when we wish in perfect unreserve to speak of matters that concern ourselves and our family alone. Even invited guests and family friends would not be always welcome, however agreeable at times. Now a woman may be perfectly worthy of respect, and we may be perfectly respectful to her, whom nevertheless we do not wish to take into the circle of intimate friendship. I regard the position of a woman who comes to perform domestic service as I do any other business relation. We have a very respectable young lady in our employ who does legal copying for us, and all is perfectly[Pg 573] pleasant and agreeable in our mutual relations; but the case would be far otherwise, were she to take it into her head that we treated her with contempt, because my wife did not call on her, and because she was not occasionally invited to tea. Besides, I apprehend that a woman of quick sensibilities, employed in domestic service, and who was so far treated as a member of the family as to share our table, would find her position even more painful and embarrassing than if she took once for all the position of a servant. We could not control the feelings of our friends; we could not always insure that they would be free from aristocratic prejudice, even were we so ourselves. We could not force her upon their acquaintance, and she might feel far more slighted than she would in a position where no attentions of any kind were to be expected. Besides which, I have always noticed that persons standing in this uncertain position are objects of peculiar antipathy to the servants in full; that they are the cause of constant and secret cabals and discontents; and that a family where the two orders exist has always raked up in it the smouldering embers of a quarrel ready at any time to burst out into open feud."

"Well," said I, "here lies the problem of American life. Half our women, like Marianne, are being faded and made old before their time by exhausting endeavors to lead a life of high civilization and refinement with only such untrained help as is washed up on our shores by the tide of emigration. Our houses are built upon a plan that precludes the necessity of much hard labor, but requires rather careful and nice handling. A well-trained, intelligent woman, who had vitalized her finger-ends by means of a well-developed brain, could do all the work of such a house with comparatively little physical fatigue. So stands the case as regards our houses. Now over against the women that are perishing in them from too much care, there is another class of American women that are wandering up and down, perishing for lack of some remunerative employment. That class of women, whose developed brains and less developed muscles mark them as peculiarly fitted for the performance of the labors of a high civilization, stand utterly aloof from paid domestic service. Sooner beg, sooner starve, sooner marry for money, sooner hang on as dependents in families where they know they are not wanted, than accept of a quiet home, easy, healthful work, and certain wages, in these refined and pleasant modern dwellings of ours."

"What is the reason of this?" said Bob.

"The reason is, that we have not yet come to the full development of Christian democracy. The taint of old aristocracies is yet pervading all parts of our society. We have not yet realized fully the true dignity of labor, and the surpassing dignity of domestic labor. And I must say that the valuable and courageous women who have agitated the doctrines of Woman's Rights among us have not in all things seen their way clear in this matter."

"Don't talk to me of those creatures," said Bob, "those men-women, those anomalies, neither flesh nor fish, with their conventions, and their cracked woman-voices strained in what they call public speaking, but which I call public squeaking! No man reverences true women more than I do. I hold a real, true, thoroughly good woman, whether in my parlor or my kitchen, as my superior. She can always teach me something that I need to know. She has always in her somewhat of the divine gift of prophecy; but in order to keep it, she must remain a woman. When she crops her hair, puts on pantaloons, and strides about in conventions, she is an abortion, and not a woman."

"Come! come!" said I, "after all, speak with deference. We that choose to wear soft clothing and dwell in kings' houses must respect the Baptists, who wear leathern girdles and eat locusts and wild honey. They are the voices crying in the wilderness, preparing the way for a coming good. They go down on their knees in the mire of life to lift[Pg 574] up and brighten and restore a neglected truth; and we that have not the energy to share their struggle should at least refrain from criticizing their soiled garments and ungraceful action. There have been excrescences, eccentricities, peculiarities about the camp of these reformers; but the body of them have been true and noble women, and worthy of all the reverence due to such. They have already in many of our States reformed the laws relating to woman's position, and placed her on a more just and Christian basis. It is through their movements that in many of our States a woman can hold the fruits of her own earnings, if it be her ill luck to have a worthless, drunken spendthrift for a husband. It is owing to their exertions that new trades and professions are opening to woman; and all that I have to say of them is, that in the suddenness of their zeal for opening new paths for her feet, they have not sufficiently considered the propriety of straightening, widening, and mending the one broad, good old path of domestic labor, established by God Himself. It does appear to me, that, if at least a portion of their zeal could be spent in removing the stones out of this highway of domestic life, and making it pleasant and honorable, they would effect even more. I would not have them leave undone what they are doing; but I would, were I worthy to be considered, humbly suggest to their prophetic wisdom and enthusiasm, whether, in this new future of woman which they wish to introduce, woman's natural, God-given employment of domestic service is not to receive a new character and rise in a new form.

"'To love and serve' is a motto worn with pride on some aristocratic family shields in England. It ought to be graven on the Christian shield. Servant is the name which Christ gives to the Christian; and in speaking of his kingdom as distinguished from earthly kingdoms, he distinctly said, that rank there should be conditioned, not upon desire to command, but on willingness to serve.

"'Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.'

"Why is it, that this name of servant, which Christ says is the highest in the kingdom of heaven, is so dishonored among us professing Christians, that good women will beg or starve, will suffer almost any extreme of poverty and privation, rather than accept home, competence, security, with this honored name?"

"The fault with many of our friends of the Woman's Rights order," said my wife, "is the depreciatory tone in which they have spoken of the domestic labors of a family as being altogether below the scope of the faculties of woman. 'Domestic drudgery' they call it: an expression that has done more harm than any two words that ever were put together.

"Think of a woman's calling clear-starching and ironing domestic drudgery, and to better the matter turning to type-setting in a grimy printing-office! Call the care of china and silver, the sweeping of carpets, the arrangement of parlors and sitting rooms, drudgery; and go into a factory and spend the day amid the whir and clatter and thunder of machinery, inhaling an atmosphere loaded with wool and machine-grease, and keeping on the feet for twelve hours, nearly continuously! Think of its being called drudgery to take care of a clean, light, airy nursery, to wash and dress and care for two or three children, to mend their clothes, tell them stories, make them playthings, take them out walking or driving; and rather than this, to wear out the whole livelong day, extending often deep into the night, in endless sewing, in a close room of a dressmaking establishment! Is it any less drudgery to stand all day behind a counter, serving customers, than to tend a door-bell and wait on a table? For my part," said my wife, "I have often[Pg 575] thought the matter over, and concluded, that, if I were left in straitened circumstances, as many are in a great city, I would seek a position as a servant in one of our good families."

"I envy the family that you even think of in that connection," said I. "I fancy the amazement which would take possession of them as you began to develop among them."

"I have always held," said my wife, "that family work, in many of its branches, can be better performed by an educated woman than an uneducated one. Just as an army where even the bayonets think is superior to one of mere brute force and mechanical training, so, I have heard it said, some of our distinguished modern female reformers show an equal superiority in the domestic sphere,—and I do not doubt it. Family work was never meant to be the special province of untaught brains, I have sometimes thought I should like to show what I could do as a servant."

"Well," said Bob, "to return from all this to the question, What's to be done with her? Are you going to my distressed woman? If you are, suppose you take your distressed woman along, and ask her to try it. I can promise her a pleasant house, a quiet room by herself, healthful and not too hard work, a kind friend, and some leisure for reading, writing, or whatever other pursuit of her own she may choose for her recreation. We are always quite willing to lend books to any who appreciate them. Our house is surrounded by pleasant grounds, which are open to our servants as to ourselves. So, let her come and try us. I am quite sure that country air, quiet security, and moderate exercise in a good home will bring up her health; and if she is willing to take the one or two disagreeables which may come with all this, let her try us."

"Well," said I, "so be it; and would that all the women seeking homes and employment could thus fall in with women who have homes and are perishing in them for want of educated helpers!"

On this question of woman's work I have yet more to say, but must defer it to another month.


When I first knew this great and good man, he was in his seventy-ninth year, and quite as remarkable for strength of constitution, (though he had been always ailing up to the age of threescore,) and for cheerfulness of temper, as for the oddities which made him a laughing-stock for Professor Wilson and the reprobates of "Blackwood," a prodigious myth for the "Edinburgh" and "Quarterly," and a sort of Cocklane ghost for Sydney Smith, Hazlitt, Captain Parry, Tom Moore, and Lord Byron.

His "Benthamee" was believed to be a language he had invented for himself, and quite incapable of being understood, or even deciphered, by any but a thorough-going disciple, such as Dr., now Sir John, Bowring, James Mill, the author of "British India," John Stuart Mill, the two Austins, or George Grote, the banker and historian of Greece.

"Ah," said Mrs. Wheeler, a strong-minded, clever woman, the Mary Wollstonecraft of her day, on hearing that I had been asked to the "Hermitage" of Queen-Square Place by Mr. Bentham,—"Ah, you have no idea of what is before you! I wonder you are not afraid."

"Afraid, my dear Madam! Of what should I be afraid?"

"Afraid of being left alone with him after dinner. He cannot bear contradiction. The queerest old man alive. One of his most intimate friends told[Pg 576] me that he was undoubtedly deranged, mad as a March hare upon some subjects, and a monomaniac upon others. Do you know that he keeps a relay of young men, thoroughly trained for the work, to follow him round all day and pick up his droppings,—or what his followers call 'sibylline leaves,'—bits of paper, that is, written all over with cabalistic signs, which no mortal could ever hope to decipher without a long apprenticeship? These 'leaves' he scatters round him right and left, while on the trot through his large, beautiful garden, or, if in the house, while taking his 'post-prandial' vibration,—the after-dinner walk through a narrow passageway running between a raised platform in what he calls his 'workshop,' and the outer partition. Here he labors day after day, and year after year, at codification, without stopping to draw a long breath, or even to look up, so afraid is he of what may happen to the world, if he should be taken away before it is all finished. And here, on this platform, the table for one guest, two secretaries, and himself is always set, and he never has more than one guest at a time."

Extravagant and laughable as all this appeared to me at the time, I found truth enough at the bottom, before six months were over, to justify many of the drollest caricatures.

That Mr. Bentham's minutes were drops of gold about this time, and his half-hours ingots, in the estimation of others, I had reason to know,—of others, too, among the foremost celebrities of the age. Hence, though he gave capital dinners, it was one of the rarest things in the world for a stranger to be seen at his table. The curious and the inquisitive stood no chance; and men of the highest rank were constantly refused the introductions they sought.

"Anne, if the Duke of Sussex calls, I am not at home," said he one day to his housekeeper: nobody ever knew why.

And there were hundreds of distinguished men, otherwise well-informed, who believed in Jeremy Bentham, afar off, somewhat as others do in the heroes of Ossian, or in their great Scandinavian prototypes, Woden and Thor. If to be met with at all, it was only along the tops of mountains, where "mist and moonlight mingle fitfully."

For myself, I can truly say, that, of those I met with, who talked most freely about him, and who wrote as if well acquainted, not only with his works, but with the man himself, there was not one in fifty who had ever set eyes on him or knew where to look for the "Hermitage," while the fiftieth could not tell me whether he was an Englishman or Frenchman by birth, (most of his writings on jurisprudence being written by him in French,) nor whether he was living or dead.

Nevertheless, they were full of anecdotes. They went with the scoffers, and quoted Sydney Smith and "Blackwood," while "the world's dread laugh" made them shy of committing themselves to any decided opinion. But if Bentham was a myth, surely Dumont was not, and the shadow might well be allowed to prove the substance; and yet they persisted in believing the most extravagant inventions, and the drollest, without investigation or misgiving.

And even I,—I, myself,—though familiar with his works, both in French and English, was so much influenced by the mystery about him, and by the stories I heard of him, and by the flings I saw in the leading journals, that I was betrayed into writing as follows in "Blackwood," about a year before I first met Mr. Bentham, notwithstanding my profound convictions of his worth and greatness, and my fixed belief that he was cruelly misunderstood and shamefully misrepresented, and that his "Morals and Legislation" and his "Theory of Rewards and Punishments" would change the jurisprudence of the world, as they certainly have done:—

"Setting aside John Locke's Constitution for North Carolina, and Jeremy Bentham's conundrums on Legislation, to speak reverently of what we cannot speak irreverently of, a truly great and incomprehensible mind, whose thoughts are problems, and whose words—when they are English—miracles," etc.[Pg 577]

This paragraph occurs incidentally. I durst not go farther at the time; for Bentham had never been mentioned but with a sneer in that journal. I was writing a review of another "British Traveller in America," whose blundering misrepresentations had greatly disturbed me. The book was entitled, "A Summary View of America ... By an Englishman." My review was the longest paper, I believe, that ever appeared in "Blackwood." It was the leader for December, 1824; and on the back of the title-page is a note by Christopher North himself, (Professor Wilson,) from which I extract the following rather significant passages.

"Our readers will perceive that this number opens with an article much longer than any that ever appeared in our journal before. As a general rule, we hate and detest articles of anything like this length; but we found, on perusing this, (and so will our readers, when they follow our example,) that in reality every paragraph of it is an article by itself; in fact, that the paper is not an article, but a collection of many articles upon subjects, all full of interest, and most of them not less important than interesting."

"In short, this review of a single book on America contains more new facts, more new reasonings, more new speculations of and concerning the United States of America, than have as yet appeared in any ten books (by themselves, books) upon that subject. This is enough for us, and this will be enough for our readers.

"We do not know personally the author of this article; nor do we pledge ourselves for the justice of many of his views. From internal evidence we believe that he says nothing but what he believes to be true."

On the whole, perhaps, I had better add another paragraph from Christopher North's note. It may serve to disabuse not a few of my countrymen who have hitherto misunderstood the purpose of my "mission" abroad, and especially the nature of my connection with the "Blackwood" freebooters.

"It is certain that he does know America well," continues the Professor; "and it is equally certain that we fully participate in his feelings, as to the folly or knavery of every writer, English or American, who libels either of these countries for the amusement of the other; and we have not the smallest doubt that the appearance of such a writer as we have had the good fortune to introduce will henceforth operate as a salutary check both on the chatterers of the 'Westminster Review' and the growlers of the 'Quarterly.'"

Entertaining the opinions I have stated with regard to Mr. Bentham and his labors, and being well aware that his early writings in English (the "Fragment on Government," for example, wherein, at the age of twenty-eight, he enters the lists with Blackstone so successfully, and the "Defence of Usury," an argument not only unanswered, but unanswerable, to this day) were such models of clearness, strength, and precision, and so remarkable for a transparent beauty of style, that the first was attributed to Lord Mansfield, and the last to others of like reputation; while some of his earlier pamphlets (like that which is entitled "Emancipate your Colonies," being an address to the National Assembly of France, whose predecessors had made him a French citizen, or the "Draught of a Code for the Organization of the Judicial Establishment of France," written at the age of two-and-forty) were quite as remarkable for genius, warmth, manly strength, and a lofty eloquence, as the earlier writings mentioned were for clearness and logical precision,—how could I be guilty of such irreverence, not to say impertinence?

My answer is, that the believers in "Blackwood," having been pampered so long on highly seasoned, fiery pap, to which the lines of M. G. Lewis might often be applied,—

"And this juice of hell,
Wherever it fell,
To a cinder burned the floor,"—

were not ready for the whole truth, for the strong meat, much less for the lion's[Pg 578] meat I should have been delighted to serve them with; and so, as in the case of Leigh Hunt and some others eminently obnoxious to that journal, I slipped in the few words I have quoted incidentally, as a sort of entering wedge: and the result in both cases, I must acknowledge, fully justified my expectations; for neither Mr. Bentham nor Leigh Hunt was ever unhandsomely treated or in any way disparaged by that journal from that time forward, so far as I know.

Let me add, that I did this for the same reason that I began writing about our country, and about the institutions, the people, the literature, and the fine arts of America, as if I were an Englishman,—for otherwise what hope had I of being admitted into the "Field of the Cloth of Gold," or of being allowed to break a lance in the tournament which was always open there?—and that I continued writing as an Englishman long after it was known by Blackwood himself, and by Wilson, that I was not only an American, but a Yankee, and a Yankee to the backbone, and that the signature I had adopted—"Carter Holmes"—was not so much a nom de plume as a nom de guerre, till I had got possession of the enemy's battery, and turned the guns upon his camp.

In personal appearance, in features, and in the habitual expression of countenance, Mr. Bentham bore an astonishing resemblance to our Dr. Franklin. He was, to be sure, of a somewhat heavier build, though shorter by two or three inches, I should say, judging by the bronze full-length you have in Boston. The prevailing expression was much alike in both; but there was not so much of constitutional benignity in the looks of Bentham, nor was he ever so grave and thoughtful as Franklin is generally represented in his portraitures; but he was fuller of shrewdness and playfulness,—of downright drollery, indeed,—of boyish fun,—and, above all, of a warm-hearted, unquestioning sympathy for everything alive, man or beast, that he called "virtuous," like the "virtuous deer" and the "affectionate swan": and all this you could see plainly in the man's countenance, whether at play or in repose.

So great, indeed, was the outward resemblance between these two extraordinary men,—so much alike in appearance were they, though so utterly unlike in reality,—that, after Mr. Bentham had passed the age of threescore-and-five, a bust of Dr. Franklin, by a celebrated French artist, was bought by Ricardo, at the suggestion of La Fayette, I believe, and sent to Mr. James Mill for a likeness of Bentham.

"Do you know," said the philosopher to me one day, while talking upon this very subject, "that Ricardo was my grand-disciple?"

"Your grand-disciple? How so?"

"Why, you see, Mill was my disciple, and Ricardo was his; ergo, Ricardo was my grand-disciple: hey?"

But perhaps you would like to see for yourself the "white-haired Sage of Queen-Square Place," as Dr. Bowring, now Sir John Bowring, used to call him,—the "Philosopher,"—the "Hermit,"—the "High Priest of Reform," as others, like Mr. Canning, the Premier, Sir Samuel Romilly, Sir Francis Burdett, the two Mills, father and son, Dr. Southwood Smith, the Austins, and Frank Place, the great radical tailor, used to call him.

If so, have the goodness to follow me step by step for a few minutes, forgetting all the long years that have interposed, and you shall see him, with your eyes shut, as I saw him first, and as I continued to see him almost every day for eighteen months or so, face to face.

Picture to yourself a man "fourscore and upwards," like Lear, and like Lear, too, "mightily abused," about five feet seven, a little stooping, but still vigorous and alert; with a pleasant, fresh countenance, and the complexion of a middle-aged, plump, healthy woman, such as Rubens or Gilbert Stuart would gloat over in portraiture, and love to paint for a wager; with a low, cheerful, trembling voice in conversation, though loud and ringing in the open[Pg 579] air; large, clear, bluish-gray eyes,—I think I cannot be mistaken about the color, though Hazlitt, who was a tenant of Bentham's at one time, and got snubbed for some little impertinence, which of course he never forgave, calls them "lack-lustre eyes"; very soft, plentiful white hair, slightly tinged with gold, like flossed silk in the sunshine,—pushed back from a broad, but rather low forehead, and flowing down to the shoulders. This white hair, when the wind blows it about his face in the open air, or he is talking earnestly at his own table,—and he never goes to any other,—he has a strange habit of throwing off with a sudden crook and spring of the left elbow, and a sort of impatient jerk of the left forefinger, which has come to be so characteristic of the man himself, that, if Mathews (Charles Mathews) were to do that, and that only, before you, after you had been with Bentham for five minutes, you would have, not, perhaps, a photograph or a portrait, but a "charcoal sketch" of the philosopher, which you would instantly acknowledge. And, by the way, this reminds me that I wanted to call these "Charcoal Sketches,"—that title being mine long before the late Joseph C. Neal borrowed it of me without leave, and used it for his "Loafer" and a variety of capital sketches, which have been attributed to me, and still are, notwithstanding my denials. I wrote one number only,—the first. It was a Yankee sketch; while his were street sketches, and among the best in our language.

But let us return to the living Bentham. The stoop, you see, is not so much on account of his great age as from a long habit of bending over his abominable manuscript,—the worst you ever saw, perhaps, not excepting Rufus Choate's or Napoleon Bonaparte's,—day after day, and year after year, while adding his marginal annotations in "Benthamee" to what has been corrected over and over again, and rewritten more than once by the secretary.

He wears a plain, single-breasted coat, of the Quaker type, with a narrow, straight collar, and a waistcoat of thin, striped calico, all open to the weather, and trousers,—not small-clothes, nor breeches, never being able to look at himself in breeches without laughing, he says; thick woollen stockings rolled up over his knees, and shoes with ties instead of buckles,—in short, the every-day costume of our Revolutionary fathers, barring the breeches, the shoe-buckles, and the ruffles, which he never could endure.

In the warmest weather he wears thick leather gloves, and in the coldest a straw hat, bound and edged with the brightest green ribbon, and carries a stout stick of buckthorn, which he has named Dapple, after the ass of Sancho Panza, for whom he professes the greatest admiration.

While thus equipped, and while you are in conversation with him perhaps, or answering one of his hurried questions, he starts off ahead in a slow trot, up one alley and down another, or to and fro in the large garden of Queen-Square Place,—the largest but one of all that open into the Green Park; and this trot he will continue for a whole hour sometimes, without losing his breath or evincing any signs of weariness,—occasionally shouting at the top of his lungs, to show that his wind is untouched, till the whole neighborhood rings with the echo, and the blank walls of the Knightsbridge Barracks "answer from their misty shroud."

On the whole, therefore, that extravagant story told by Captain Parry has a pretty good foundation, though he never saw with his own eyes what he describes with so much drollery, but took the whole upon trust; for Mr. Bentham was in the habit of going after his annuity every year, trotting all the way down and back through Fleet Street, with his white hair flying loose, and followed by one or both of his two secretaries. He was the last survivor—the very last—of the beneficiaries, and seemed to take a pleasure in astonishing the managers once a year with his "wind and bottom." Parry[Pg 580] represents him as being taken for a lunatic running away from his keepers.

Having now the man himself before you, let me give you some idea of his habits and characteristics, his temper,—and I never saw him out of temper in my life, though he had enough to try him almost every day in his household arrangements,—his kindness of heart, his drollery, and his wonderful powers of endurance, while working out the great problem of his life.

At the time I knew him, he used to sleep in a bag, and sometimes with most of his clothes on. This he did for economy. "It took less of sheeting," he said. Then, too, there was not so much likelihood of his getting the clothes off, should he get restless or fidgety. He was read to sleep every night by one of his secretaries, who told me that he often amused himself with reading the same paragraph or the same page over and over again, without turning a leaf, the philosopher declaring that he had never lost a word of the whole, and that he not only understood, but remembered, the drift of the author. In this way my "Brother Jonathan," then just published by Blackwood in three large volumes, was read to him every night for weeks, and greatly to his satisfaction, as I then understood; though it seems by what Dr. Bowring—I beg his pardon, Sir John Bowring—says on the subject, that the "white-haired sage" was wide enough awake, on the whole, to form a pretty fair estimate of its unnaturalness and extravagance: being himself a great admirer of Richardson's ten-volume stories, like "Pamela" and "Clarissa Harlowe," and always looking upon them as the standard for novel-writers.

Mr. Bentham was very "regular" in his habits, very,—and timed most of his doings, whether asleep or awake, by a watch lying on the table. But then he always breakfasted between twelve and three, or a little later on special occasions, and always dined at half past six, or thereabouts, taking two cups of strong coffee in bed every morning, though he never allowed himself but one, and died in the belief that he had never broken the pledge.

And yet, notwithstanding all this, he maintained that there is no getting along in this world—or the other—without "regularity," or what he called "system." And that "system" he carried into all the business of life, as well as into legislation and government; going back, after years of uninterrupted labor and the severest analysis, to invent a panopticon, a self-sustaining penitentiary, or rather to apply that invention of his brother, General Sir Samuel Bentham, to the bettering of our prison-houses and to the restoration of the lost,—or perhaps a ballot-box, that nothing might be wanted, when that "system" he valued himself so much upon should be adopted throughout the world, as the outlines already are.

Scores of anecdotes are crowding upon my recollection, as I call to mind his affectionate manner, his habitual good temper, and his amiable, almost childish, kindness of heart. While yet a boy, for example,—and this he told me himself, with a singular mixture of self-complacency and self-depreciation, as if more than half ashamed of his weakness,—while yet a boy, he was on a visit, where two different persons undertook to help him to the goodies, among which was a magnificent gooseberry-pie, one of his favorite dishes to the last. He ate until he could eat no more. A third person offered him another piece; but, notwithstanding his capacity, being "full up to here," he was obliged to refuse. He couldn't swallow another mouthful, and the idea of ingratitude was so strong with him that he fell a-crying. I have no doubt of his entire truthfulness; but I could not help thinking of the poor boy at his grandfather's table on Christmas-day, who began at last to take things rather seriously. "What's the matter, Georgie? what are you crying for?" said the grandfather. "I can't eat another mouthful, grandpa," said Georgie, still blubbering. "Never mind, my boy, never mind, fill your pockets." "They're all full now, grandpa."[Pg 581]

One of the cleverest women I ever knew, Mrs. Sarah Austin, the magnificent mother of Lady Duff Gordon, and the author of a capital and safe book on Germany, which seems to be little known here, though greatly esteemed there, once wrote me as follows. She was a great favorite of Mr. Bentham, a pet indeed; and her husband, the elder Austin, John, was a disciple of the philosopher, a briefless barrister, though one of the clearest reasoners and profoundest thinkers of the age, as a paper on Jurisprudence, in the "Encyclopædia Britannica," will show. He wrote very little, but his pages were worth volumes; and he gave Benthamism unadulterated and undiluted, though made intelligible to the "meanest capacity," in or out of the "Edinburgh" and the "Quarterly,"—grasping every subject he handled with fingers of steel.

"God bless you," she says, after we had been talking about the philosopher and his vagaries and whimsicalities,—"God bless you for exalting me in my beloved grandpa's good graces. You can't think how dearly I do love him, legislation and all that apart; and yet, if there ever was a woman peculiarly prone to love and admire a man for his public affections and public usefulness, I do say I am that she, and that I could not love a paragon of beauty, wit, and private kindness, if he looked on the good or ill being of mankind with indifference or scorn, or with anti-social feelings. Think of the divine old man growing a sort of vetch in his garden to cram his pockets with for the deer in Kensington Garden. I remember his pointing it out to me, and telling me the 'virtuous deer' were fond of it, and ate it out of his hand. I could have kissed his feet; it was the feeling of a kind, tender-hearted, loving child."

He had another pet, almost a rival on some special occasions for Mrs. Austin. It was a large sleepy-looking tomcat, very black, and of a most uncommon seriousness of deportment. The philosopher treated him with great consideration, I might almost say reverence, and called him Doctor,—but whether an LL. D., a D. D., or only an M. D., I never clearly understood, though I have a faint recollection, that, on the happening of some event in which Tom bore a part, he accounted for the deference he showed, by calling him the Reverend Doctor somebody. Like Byron, too, he once had a pet bear; but he was in Russia at the time, and the wolves got into the poor creature's box, on a terrible winter's night, and carried off a part of his face, a depredation which the philosopher never forgot nor forgave to his dying day. He always kept a supply of stale bread in the drawer of his dining-table for the "mousies."

When he introduced me to Mr. Joseph Hume, the great penny-wise and pound-foolish reformer, he begged me to bear in mind that he was only a Scotchman, or "no better than a Scotchman"; and he once gave me an open letter to the celebrated philanthropist, Dr. Southwood Smith, which he asked me to read before it was delivered. I did so, and found that he wished the Doctor to know that I had been at Queen-Square Place a long while, and that, so far as he knew I had neither told lies nor stolen spoons. Of course I delivered the letter, leaving Dr. Smith to take the consequences, if any silver should be missed after I left him.

And, by the way, this reminds me that this very Dr. Smith was the individual to whom he bequeathed his body, with certain directions, which appear to have been carried out to the very letter, according to Miss Margaret Fuller, who describes what she herself saw with her own eyes not long after Mr. Bentham's death.

"I became acquainted with Dr. Southwood Smith," she says. "On visiting him, we saw an object which I have often heard celebrated, and had thought would be revolting, but found, on the contrary, an agreeable sight; this is the skeleton of Jeremy Bentham. It was at Bentham's request, that the skeleton, dressed in the same dress he habitually wore, stuffed out to an exact resemblance of life, and with a portrait-mask[Pg 582] in wax,—the best I ever saw,—sits there as assistant to Dr. Smith in the entertainment of his guests, and companion of his studies. The figure leans a little forward, resting the hands on a stout stick which Bentham always carried, and had named 'Dapple'; the attitude is quite easy, the expression on the whole mild, winning, yet highly individual."—In Westminster Abbey there was at this time, and probably is now, a wax figure of Lord Nelson in the very dress he wore at Trafalgar. It is set up in a show-case, just as Barnum would do it.

One other incident, showing his imperturbable good temper, and I have done. A Frenchman had somehow got access to him,—through Dr. Bowring, I believe. No sooner was he seated than he pulled out Mr. Bentham's pamphlet, already mentioned, and entitled, "Emancipate your Colonies," which opens in this way:—

"You have made me a Frenchman. Hear me speak like one."

This the poor Frenchman read, in an ecstasy of admiration, as if written, "You have make me a Frainchman. Hear me speak like own." Yet Mr. Bentham kept his countenance, gave the poor fellow a good dinner, and gossiped with him till the time had run out.

But Mr. Bentham could be "terribly in earnest," when the proper occasion arose. Aaron Burr had been a guest of his for a long while, after being driven abroad by the outburst of indignation here,—and, while with him, made such revelations of character, that Mr. Bentham, who acknowledged his talents, actually shuddered when he mentioned his name. Burr declared, in so many words, that he meant to kill Hamilton, because he had threatened to do so long before. He told Mr. Bentham, while boasting of his great success with our finest women, that Mrs. Madison herself was his mistress before marriage; and seriously proposed—in accordance with what may be found in his Life by Matthew L. Davis, about educating daughters and sons alike, and exposing them in the same way—that he would send for his daughter Theodosia, and Mr. Bentham should take her for his mistress; and in a marginal note, now before me, by the Reverend John Pierpont, I find abundant confirmation of what Mr. Bentham told me, though Mr. Davis undertook to say that the stories of Aaron Burr's bonnes fortunes were true, and that he had a trunkful of letters from the leading women of his day to prove it, and that Mr. Bentham was untrustworthy. Upon this point I challenged him to the proof; but he shrunk from the issue.

"This reminds me," says Mr. Pierpont, in the note referred to, "that Colonel William Alston, the father of Joseph, who married Miss Burr, once told me, at his own table, that, soon after the marriage of his son to Miss Burr, her father, Colonel Burr, had told him, (Colonel Alston,) that, rather than have had his daughter marry otherwise than to his mind, he would have made her the mistress of some gentleman of rank or fortune, who would have placed her in the station in society for which he had educated her.

"I believe, however," he adds, in a postscript, "that not even parental authority or influence could ever have brought the beautiful and accomplished Miss Theodosia Burr thus to prostitute herself to her father's ambitious purposes."

In speaking of Burr, one day, and of his wonderful strength of character and keenness of observation, he broke away suddenly, called him an "atrocious scoundrel," and then asked me about his life and history. Then it was that the kind-hearted, benevolent old man underwent a sudden transfiguration. He trembled all over; his clear eyes lighted up; his white hair was like a glory about his face; and he seemed like one of the Hebrew Prophets, in his terrible denunciations of the heartless manslayer, and the shameless, boastful profligate.

Our very pleasant, and, to me, most profitable intercourse for a year and a half was brought to an end by the happening of two or three incidents. His fat housekeeper, who ruled him with a[Pg 583] rod of iron, and insulted Mrs. Austin and others, undertook to manage me in the same way, and got packed off in consequence, though I did all I could to keep the secret, and prevent the catastrophe; but he insisted on knowing why I left him, and he applied to the secretaries, who were witnesses of the whole transaction. The philosopher was indignant, and insisted on her making me a suitable apology. I said I wanted no apology, having made up my mind to go on my journey. She refused, and he cut her adrift, after having been so dependent upon her, I know not how many years, that he would allow her to say, "The pan is put away," when he asked for more of a favorite dish,—fried parsley,—which he had prepared for Dr. Macculloch, the geologist, who at one time could eat nothing else. She was reinstated, however, within two or three years after I left him.

The other incident was this. Mr. Bentham had urged me to write a paper for the "Westminster Review," of which Dr. Bowring and Mr. Henry Southern were the editors. I did so, and took for my text four or five orations by Webster, Everett, and Sprague, and then launched out upon the subject of Jurisprudence, of the Militia System, as it prevailed here at the time,—a monstrous folly, and a monstrous outrage upon the rights of man,—and of Slavery. The proof came without a word of alteration or amendment. Of course I had nothing to do but correct any verbal errors. But, lo! when the article appeared, not only had changes been made, passages struck out, and various emendations worked in, but I was made to say the very reverse of what I did say, and to utter opinions which I never entertained, and for which I have had to suffer from that day to this among my countrymen.

For example. The editor, who had never seen the pamphlets, as he proves by calling them "books," interpolates the following, which, as I have said before, I have had to answer for:—

"Violent exaggeration is the character of American literature at the present day, and, compared with the chaster and more rational style of our best writers, the style of the North American authors is usually the rant and unmeaning vehemence of a strolling Thespian, when placed beside the calm, appropriate, and expressive delivery of an accomplished actor." Bear in mind that the samples I gave were from Webster, and Everett, and Sprague!—three of our coldest and clearest crystals, and among the least impassioned, and certainly the least extravagant, of our orators. "Sometimes," the editor adds, with a show of relenting at last, "sometimes the reader will find these remarkable parts the worst, and sometimes the best of the paragraph, and often composed in a spirit worthy of a less vitiated expression."[D]

This was a little too much; but, owing to the expostulations of Mr. Bentham, who had wasted about twenty or twenty-five thousand dollars on the "Westminster Review," without a hope of getting a sixpence in return, I consented to overlook the outrage. But my confidence in the amiable Dr. Bowring was ended forever. We had a short interview, but no intimacy after this, and I had begun to think of Northern Europe more seriously than ever, when at last the tiff with the housekeeper settled the question,—the Doctor declaring, though he knew from Mr. Bentham's own lips how much he desired me to stay, and how unwilling he was to part with me, that he, Mr. Bentham, said that he would as lief have a rattlesnake under his roof!


[D] See "Westminster Review" for January, 1826.

[Pg 584]


How the mountains talked together,
Looking down upon the weather,
When they heard our friend had planned his
Little trip among the Andes!
How they'll bare their snowy scalps
To the climber of the Alps,
When the cry goes through their passes,
"Here comes the great Agassiz!"
"Yes, I'm tall," says Chimborazo,
"But I wait for him to say so,—
That's the only thing that lacks,—he
Must see me, Cotopaxi!"
"Ay! ay!" the fire-peak thunders,
"And he must view my wonders!
I'm but a lonely crater,
Till I have him for spectator!"
The mountain hearts are yearning,
The lava-torches burning,
The rivers bend to meet him,
The forests bow to greet him,
It thrills the spinal column
Of fossil fishes solemn,
And glaciers crawl the faster
To the feet of their old master!
Heaven keep him well and hearty,
Both him and all his party!
From the sun that broils and smites,
From the centipede that bites,
From the hail-storm and the thunder,
From the vampire and the condor,
From the gust upon the river,
From the sudden earthquake shiver,
From the trip of mule or donkey,
From the midnight howling monkey,
From the stroke of knife or dagger,
From the puma and the jaguar,
From the horrid boa-constrictor
That has scared us in the pictur',
From the Indians of the Pampas,
Who would dine upon their grampas,
From every beast and vermin
That to think of sets us squirming,
From every snake that tries on
The traveller his p'ison,
From every pest of Natur',
Likewise the alligator,
And from two things left behind him,
(Be sure they'll try to find him,)—
[Pg 585] The tax-bill and assessor,—
Heaven keep the great Professor!
May he find, with his apostles,
That the land is full of fossils,
That the waters swarm with fishes
Shaped according to his wishes,
That every pool is fertile
In fancy kinds of turtle,
New birds around him singing,
New insects, never stinging,
With a million novel data
About the articulata,
And facts that strip off all husks
From the history of mollusks.
And when, with loud Te Deum,
He returns to his Museum,
May he find the monstrous reptile
That so long the land has kept ill
By Grant and Sherman throttled,
And by Father Abraham bottled,
(All specked and streaked and mottled
With the scars of murderous battles,
Where he clashed the iron rattles
That gods and men he shook at,)
For all the world to look at!
God bless the great Professor!
And Madam too, God bless her!
Bless him and all his band,
On the sea and on the land,
As they sail, ride, walk, and stand,—
Bless them head and heart and hand,
Till their glorious raid is o'er,
And they touch our ransomed shore!
Then the welcome of a nation,
With its shout of exultation,
Shall awake the dumb creation,
And the shapes of buried æons
Join the living creatures' pæans,
While the mighty megalosaurus
Leads the palæozoic chorus,—
God bless the great Professor,
And the land his proud possessor,—
Bless them now and evermore!

[Pg 586]



"One more horse to shoe, Sandy. The man's late, but he's come a matter of ten mile, perhaps, over the cross road by Derby, yonder. Lead the critter up, boy, and give a look at the furnace."

I stooped to replenish the glowing fire, then turned toward the door, made broad and high for entrance of man and beast, and giving a coarse frame to the winter landscape without. The trees fluttered their snow-plumed wings in the chill wind; on the opposite hill a red light glared a response to our glowing smithy. It was the eye of elegant luxury confronting the eye of toil; for it shone from the windows of the only really fine mansion for miles around. I had always felt grateful to those stone walls for standing there, surrounded by old trees on lawn and woodland, an embodiment to my imagination of all I had heard or read of stately homes, and a style of life remote from my own, and fascinating from its very mystery.

But I anticipate. My glance travelled over the intervening stretch of level country, wrapped in its winding-sheet of snow, and stopped at a tall figure confronting me, leading by the bridle the finest horse I had ever seen.

"Well, young man, shall you or I lead in the horse?" he asked, haughtily; "that light on the hill must be reached before an hour goes by, if I would keep an engagement"; and tossing me the bridle, as he spoke, he drew carelessly toward the forge.

The few villagers whose day's work was ended, or whose business called them to the smithy, suddenly remembered waiting wives and children at home, the bit of supper spread for their return, or the evening gossip at the tavern; and thinking the matter they came for could wait the morning, since the smith was busy, gave way, and left only the stranger, my master, myself, and the noble horse grouped around the forge.

"Look alive, Sandy! you'd better keep at it steady, if you want to git to your schoolin' to-night," growled the blacksmith, in an undertone; for he, too, had a memory for the smoking dish at home, and would gladly stop work to eat of it.

So I busied myself at once collecting the needed materials, while the smith proceeded to lift the horse's leg and examine the foot. The animal resisted the attempt, however, by plunging in the most violent manner.

"Confound the beast!" muttered the blacksmith, as he dodged to escape a kick.

"I thought as much," said the stranger, quietly. "The horse is very particular as to who handles him. I shall have to hold his foot, I suppose"; and with rather a scornful smile, as if the dislike of his horse to my master confirmed his own, he stepped up and held out a slender brown hand.

The horse lifted his foot, and gently dropped it on the outstretched palm. No bird ever settled more trustfully on its nest.

My master swore an oath or two by way of astonishment, and then, seizing his shoe, approached again. But the scene was repeated with even more violence on the part of the horse: he pranced, reared, shook his head, and snorted at the smith, who again drew off.

"I sha'n't get off to-night," murmured the stranger, impatiently.

"Let me try," I said. "Horses have their fancies, as well as people. He'll like me, may-be."

"May-be he will," laughed my master, hoarsely; "but you're not a boss at puttin' a shoe on. A dumb critter might take a shine to you, who's one of their kind." And again he laughed at his own wit.

"Step up and try," exclaimed the stranger, impatiently.[Pg 587]

I grasped the leg firmly in my hand; the horse made no resistance, and I began my work.

"Well, seein' as you've made friends with the critter, I'll be the gainer and take a bit of supper," said my master, after a dogged stare. "Be sure you put it on strong, Sandy. I don't say as I'll charge any more, though I'd make a man pay for showin' he'd a spite agin me, let alone a dumb critter." And taking his hat from a peg, he walked off, leaving me, with the sparks flying from the forge, busy at the shoe, and the stranger, with one arm across the neck of the horse, watching me.

Ten minutes of silent work, and, as I loosened my grasp on the leg for a moment, I met the eye of the gentleman, who, I was conscious, had been watching me narrowly.

"The horse likes you," he said, pleasantly, here again as though he shared the feeling.

"Yes," I replied. "Is he in the habit of doing as he did to-night with strangers?"

"He is fastidious, if you know what that means,—as fond of gentlemen as his master," he returned, so pleasantly, that, when I looked up, reddening at the cool assumption of the speech, blacksmith's apprentice though I was, my eye fell beneath the amused glance of his.

"I'm not a gentleman," I said, after a pause,—a little resentfully, I fear; "but I'm not a clown, like my master."

"No, that one can see at a glance," he replied. "You may be a gentleman for aught I see to the contrary; but it requires a great deal to make one.—What school was that the blacksmith spoke of?"

"It is a village class kept by a young lady who rides over from the hillside twice a week to teach us poor fellows something. I'm learning to draw," I added,—the frankness coaxed out of me by a sympathy implied rather than expressed.

"And you are sorry enough to lose any of this lesson," he said, kindly, as I put the horse's foot, firmly shod, upon the ground. "There is the regular pay which goes to the smith, I suppose; and here is a ten-dollar bill for you, if you have the sense to take it. I don't know what kind of a youth you may be; but you have a good head and face, and evidently are superior to the people about you. You don't feel obliged to use their language or lead their life because you are thrown with them, I suppose; but neither are you obliged to leave this work because you are better than the man who calls himself your master. Learn all you can and get a smithy of your own. A good blacksmith is as respectable as a good artist," he said, looking at me keenly, as he mounted his horse, and then rode rapidly through the village street.


I was no proud-spirited hero to work my way independently in the world, but a poor blacksmith's apprentice, glad of every penny honestly earned or kindly given; so I handled my bill over and over again with real pleasure. Amos Bray, my master, was about as well to do as any man in the village, its doctor excepted; but I doubted if Amos ever had a ten-dollar bill over and above the quarter's expenses to spend as he liked.

The smithy often glowed with the double fire of its forge and my fancy. I walked about with a picture-gallery in my brain, and was usually led into its rather meagre display whenever the past was recalled or the future portrayed. The smithy hung there, in warmth and brightness, a genuine Rembrandt of light and shadow, filled with many an odd, picturesque group on winter evenings, or just at twilight, when the fire had died away to its embers. My master had gone home, and work was over; the village children in gay woollen garments and with ruddy faces crowded round the door, fringing brightly the canopy of darkness within.

Again, when, after days of monotonous work, I felt a benumbing sense of[Pg 588] being but a part of the world's giant machinery, chosen because the mobility and suppleness of human material worked by the steam-power of the brain were more than a match even for the durability and unwearied stroke of steel or iron, the warm blood rushed back, life throbbed again with its endless ebbs and flows of desire and disappointment, as my master's daughter, with her golden hair and innocent eyes, summoned us to dinner, breaking like blue sky and sunshine through the cloud-rifts of our toil.

But now the smithy was not merely idealized, it was transformed. The stranger, whose haughty bearing and address had changed to kindly and appreciative words, had filled it with a new presence and excited new hopes.

Pleased as I was with the unexpected gift of money, the stranger's hint of my superiority to those around me was a more generous bounty still. I had been jeered at for years by the village boys, because I never followed my master to the tavern in the evenings to listen to the gossip there and learn to drink my mug of beer, and because I rarely talked with any one except a few of the village children more modest than the rest.

The alphabet of my mind, like that of the race, was first found in the hieroglyphics of the pencil; and by its aid I communicated with my little friends more frequently than by word, drawing pictures for them with chalk on the rude walls of the smithy, and carving images of the various devices my experience or imagination suggested out of wood with my master's jack-knife.

From this group of children had arisen a constant companion and sympathizer in my master's daughter. In leisure hours we explored the woods together, or she sat beside me while I pored over the few old books which were my father's sole legacy to me.

During the last winter and this, however, my evenings had been almost constantly occupied in study and sketching at the class to which I have alluded. What an endless store of drawing-materials now loomed before me! And what a swelling of heart I experienced at the thought that the aims for which I had been taunted by the villagers were acknowledged by my new friend as a ground of superiority!

I was startled from these pleasing dreams by my master's voice.

"Hullo there, Sandy! where's the money for that job? He's a mean one, if he a'n't made it double."

Instinctively I thrust my ten-dollar bill into one pocket, as I drew the pay for the horseshoeing from the other. He swore a little as I handed it to him, but he knew me well enough never to doubt my honesty; and, as I was leaving, he called, with a gruff kindness,—the only approach to courtesy of which he was capable,—

"Hurry up, Sandy; Miss Bray can't git Sary Ann to bed till she sees you, and you're late for your schoolin' besides."

So I ground my way quickly through the snow, choosing the middle of the street, because it was less worn, and helped me better to work off my unusual excitement.

My master's cottage stood on the same street with his smithy. In fact, this Main Street was, as its name indicated, the principal thoroughfare of Warren; the real village life all centred here; and it contained, besides the stores and the church, the dwellings of the more prosperous inhabitants. The smithy being at one end, on the outskirts, as it were, of the social and gay life, Mr. Bray had been able to rent it for a low sum, although more pleasantly situated than any other building on the street. Here the land made a slight ascent, giving a more extended view of the valley and distant hills than at any other point. The business character of this street mingled oddly in summer with the rural life around it. At several right-angles, green and mossy lanes, arched by venerable elms, seemed to be offering their crooked elbows to lead it back to the simple pastoral life from which it sprang.

Bordering these sequestered paths,[Pg 589] which were dignified by the title of streets, were cottages surrounded by small inclosures, whose proprietors cultivated vegetables, hens, pigs, and cows,—these last being, quite unconsciously, the true surveyors of Warren; for, in direct obedience to pathways they had worn when traversing the fields to and from their homes, chewing the quiet cud of meditation, had the buildings been erected. Outside these lanes, again, were the larger land-owners, whose farms formed the outer circle of our life.

Annie Bray was fond of penetrating beyond these various circles of social existence, and wandering far off to the woods and hills, whose ring of emerald, studded now and then with the turquoise of some forest-lake, inclosed us as in a basin.

As I entered the kitchen of the cottage, Mrs. Bray, a stout woman of forty, the oracle of her sex in the village as to matters of domestic economy and dress,—which last was of a more costly and varied material than the others could afford, abounding in many-colored prints, and a stuff gown for Sunday wear,—made her appearance, her apron covered with flour, an incrustation of dough on each particular finger, which it always destroyed my appetite to see.

"Well, Sandy, I'm glad you've come. You've jest sp'iled Sary Ann. There she sets a-nid-nid-noddin' on that stool, and won't stir to bed till she sees Sandy."

There, by the stove, sat the blacksmith's blue-eyed daughter, a proof that God sometimes interferes with hereditary botch-work, and makes a child fresh and fair, letting her, like a delicate flower in noisome marsh or stagnant water, draw pure, nourishing juices out of elements poisonous to anything less impregnated with Himself.

To be sure, through ignorance of the nature of the child intrusted to them, the blacksmith and his wife blundered with her tender soul and beautiful body. One of their most heinous crimes against her, in my estimation, had been in the bestowal of the name of Sary Ann,—a filial compliment paid by Mrs. Bray to the mother who bore her. Then they dressed her in the brightest of red or orange, so that Nature, which had tinted her complexion brightly, though delicately, seemed forever to be put to shame by the brazen garments which infolded her. They called her 'sp'iled,' when her innocent eyes filled with tears at her father's oaths or her mother's coarse scolding; and though her tender beauty touched the rough smith with a kind of awe, he often said, "Such pootty gals a'n't of much use. I mistrust if Sary Ann will ever 'arn her livin'."

Anxious as I was to get to my class this evening, I could not neglect my little friend; so, going hurriedly to her, I said, as I bent over the head which at every breath of sleep waved like a pale golden flower on its stalk,—

"Good night, Annie. To-morrow evening I'll be home earlier, and then we can have our lesson together."

And she, quite satisfied, held up her face for a kiss, and rose to leave the room.

"Your supper is a-warmin' in the stove, Sandy," said Mrs. Bray; but I did not wait either to eat it or to chat with her about the stranger whose horse I had shod, and who interested her because she thought he might have given "Amos" extra pay. Reminding her of my lesson, I pushed up the rickety stairs to my attic, and began as quickly as possible to make those preparations for meeting the teacher which the young men of the class, impelled by a rude kind of gallantry, never failed to observe, and which they described by the expressive term of "smartenin' up."


The class met in the village school-house; and when I entered, Miss Darry, our teacher, was seated at her desk, talking to about a dozen rough country youths, of ages ranging from fourteen to twenty-five, and of occupations as diverse[Pg 590] as the trades of the village afforded.

She was of medium height, rather full than slim, with clear, intelligent, dark eyes, a broad, open forehead, a nose somewhat delicately cut, a wide mouth, with thin lips, and teeth of dazzling whiteness. Her whole aspect was that of physical and mental health,—not only removed from morbid sensitiveness, but as far from sentiment even as a breezy spring wind, and yet as prompt to fathom it in others as the wind to search out violets.

One would think that even an ordinary nature might have so revealed itself through such a face as to give an impression of unusual beauty; yet such was not the case,—and this, it seemed to me, because she had no feminine consciousness of personal beauty or attractiveness. I know that unconsciousness is regarded as the first element of fascination; and it may be, when it pervades the entire character: but Miss Darry was conscious of mental power, of the ability to wrest from the world many of its choicest gifts, to taste the delights of scholarship, of self-supporting independence and charity to range freely over the whole domain where man is usually sole victor; and thus one felt the shock of a vigorous nature before recognizing the fact that it was clad in the butterfly robes of a woman's loveliness.

Her evening teaching of us was purely a labor of love. Fortunately, she was not of that shrinking nature which dreads contact with persons less refined than itself. There was a world of sympathy in her frank, good-natured smile, which placed her at once more in harmony with her scholars than I, who had passed my life among them. There was, too, a dash and spirit about this young woman, in which I, as a man, was entirely lacking; and it was this element which held her rough pupils in subordination.

I was the only one of them who had not been communicative with her. My lessons were always better prepared and understood than those of the others, yet I talked less with her about them; and in the half-hour after recitation, which she devoted to my drawing, I rarely uttered a word not called forth by my occupation at the moment.

To-night, however, I must have betrayed my new mood to the first glance of her keen eye; for, after the other scholars had stumbled noisily out of the room, she turned to me, saying,—

"Well, Sandy, often as you have been here, I have never seen your visor of reserve or diffidence lifted until to-night. Do you mean to let me share your happiness? Bob Tims has been telling me that the rosy-faced girl up by Fresh Pond has smiled upon him; and Tracy Waters says he's 'going to hoe his own row next year, and not spend his strength for Dad any longer': they are both happy in their way, but, mind, I don't expect such confidences from you, Sandy."

Miss Darry spoke without satire. She sympathized with these rough natures far more than with many of the more polished whom she met in society, and I could not withhold my confidence from the cordial smile and ready ear which waited to receive it.

So I related the incident of the afternoon, revealing unconsciously, I suppose, many a budding hope, which waited only the warm sun of opportunity and encouragement to burst into blossom.

"I am very glad for you, Sandy," she said, giving me her hand, as I concluded. "Your village friends would probably advise you to hoard the money as so much towards a forge; while others, less judicious than your new friend, would say, 'Give up your trade, and support yourself by your brain'; but I say, support yourself by your forge, and let what surplus power you have be expended on your mind."

And here let me hold the thread of my story a moment, to express my sense of the wisdom of Miss Darry's advice. It would be well, perhaps, if more men, when striving to elevate their condition, should still rely upon the occupation to which they have been trained, as a stepping-stone to something better. Now and then comes an exceptional[Pg 591] character, a David Grey, who must follow the bent of his genius, and listen so intently to the melody to which his soul is set that the coarser sounds of daily toil are dumb for him; but usually the Elihu Burritt who strikes hard blows with hands and brain alike is the man to achieve success.

"Your friend may be worth far more to you than his money," continued Miss Darry, thoughtfully. "He can do much more for you than I, if he only will."

"Do you know him?" I exclaimed. "Tell me who he is."

"A tall, dark-eyed gentleman, on a magnificent horse," she replied, playfully. "I shall know him, Sandy, from your description, if I meet him."

And she placed my crayon-study before me, changing so entirely from confidential friend to teacher, that I had no resource but to relapse into my customary shyness.

After the lesson, we consulted as to the purchases to which my money had best be applied. She offered to buy the books I needed in the city, to which she was going soon for a visit, but she insisted on supplying me with drawing-materials as before. Our good-bye was said more cordially than usual, and I drew on my overcoat and closed the door with the comfortable feeling that my welfare was becoming a matter of interest to others besides myself.


The man who drove over from the hillside with Miss Darry was always waiting in the sleigh when I went out from my lesson. To-night, however, he was not to be seen. Supposing he had merely stopped for one more glass than usual at the tavern, I walked down the street, but, finding that he did not appear, and disliking to leave Miss Darry alone in the school-house, so late in the evening, I resolved, as I approached the turn which led into Main Street, to go back and investigate the matter. The tavern was beyond the school-house, at a little distance from the village,—as, indeed, it should have been, to insure sleep to its quiet-loving inhabitants. As I approached the school-house again, I saw Miss Darry, warmly muffled for the drive home, walking also in the direction of the tavern. "She surely cannot know what rough men go there," I thought, and, conquering my awkwardness, I ran after her.

"Miss Darry!" I cried, when within a few steps of her. She turned, and I strode to her side. "I am going to the tavern to look after your driver; it will never do for you to go there alone. Hadn't you better go back to the school-house and wait for me?" I said.

"You must have a great deal of native gallantry, Sandy. One would imagine, from your lot in life, you had not been used to seeing women shielded from disagreeable duties. I will go on with you, and wait outside," she answered, smiling. So we walked on together.

The sleigh stood before the tavern-door. A warm buffalo was thrown over the horse, who was, nevertheless, pawing impatiently in the snow, as if aware that it was time to go home. Asking Miss Darry to get into the sleigh, for I would not have taken the liberty of assisting her for the world, I hastened up the low wooden steps, and, pushing open the door, stood inside the bar-room. I had heard snatches of song, as we drew near, and, afraid lest they should reach Miss Darry's ear also, I closed it after me. A few of the village loafers were there, with the addition of one or two less harmless characters, who, strolling through the country, had tarried here for refreshment and a frolic: among the latter was the man for whom Miss Darry was waiting, stretched in a state of intoxication on the floor. I made my exit as soon as by a glance I comprehended matters, yet not soon enough to escape the recognition of the villagers, who cried out, "Come on, Sandy Allen!—don't slink off that way!—let's have a drink!"

As I stood by the sleigh, explaining to Miss Darry the condition of her driver, a crowd of the half-drunken fellows came out of the tavern, and staggered[Pg 592] down the path toward us. I had not the courage to offer to drive her home, but she did not wait for me to grow bolder.

"Jump in, Sandy,—no, not on the front seat,—here by me. I am afraid of those men. Besides, I want to talk with you."

So I seated myself next her, drew the warm robe over us both, and just as one of the men attempted to seize the reins, declaring he had himself promised to carry the lady home, I caught them from him, and we drove rapidly up the street.

Somehow Miss Darry's confession of a little feminine timidity put me more at ease with her than I had ever been before. I was a strong, muscular fellow of nineteen, perfectly able to defend myself in circumstances of ordinary danger, and proud that a woman so superior to me should trust in my readiness to protect her. Life and vigor tingled in every nerve of my body; the clear, stinging winter air, exhilarating to healthy, as wine is to enfeebled bodies, thrilled me with enjoyment; and I was seated beside the most intelligent and appreciative companion I had ever known.

How much of my life, with its restless desires and unsatisfied tastes, must have revealed itself in that ride, which seemed only too short, as she asked me to drive up the avenue leading to the stone house, whose beacon I had looked at that same evening from the forge!

"Do you live here?" I asked, in surprise, as we drove swiftly along.

"Yes, I teach Miss Merton's little sisters."

We had no time for further words. The horse stopped before the house, whose great hall-door swung open, letting a flood of light stream over the stone steps. A young girl, wrapped in an ermine cape, ran down to us, followed by the stranger whose appearance in the forge that afternoon had created such a tumult in my mind.

The scene was a beautiful one. Every shrub and tree on the lawn was enveloped in a garment of more dazzling purity than the ermine before me. The moonlight was radiant, the stars sparkled lustrously in the steel cold sky, the earth was carpeted and canopied with a beauty more resplendent than the graceful luxuriance of summer. Miss Darry probably ascribed my immovable position to artistic enjoyment of the landscape, for I remained perfectly quiet while she explained the cause of her detention to Miss Merton.

"We have been quite anxious about you," said the gentleman, as she concluded; and turning to me, "Why, we are indebted for your safe return to the young man by whom my horse was shod this evening!"

And before I could stammer a reply, Miss Darry exclaimed,—

"Jump out, if you please, Sandy. I should like to do the same."

I did so, mechanically, and was about to stand aside for the gentleman to offer his hand, but she extended hers to me, and sprang lightly beside me.

"You will surely take cold, Alice," said the gentleman, drawing Miss Merton's hand within his arm, and turning to ascend the steps. Then, first, I awoke from mingled surprise and admiration sufficiently to say quietly,—

"I must go home. Good evening."

"Not at all," exclaimed the gentleman, turning round; "it is nearly twelve o'clock, and I verily believe you think of walking back to Warren to-night. You must take the horse and sleigh, if you go. Shall he not, Alice?"

Miss Merton, thus appealed to, replied by saying to me,—

"Come in with us, Mr. Allen, and get warmed at least. I have heard Miss Darry speak of you as the one of her class in whom she is especially interested; so you see we are not strangers, after all."

There was no condescension in the gentle voice and smile for even my sensitiveness to detect. I had never been addressed as Mr. Allen before; and this of itself would have confused me sometimes, but now I forgot myself in admiration of her.

That face was of perfect contour. Small and delicately fair, soft bands of light-brown hair shaded the low, smooth[Pg 593] brow and large gray eyes, and the full red lips were tremulous with varying expression. Her hands and figure were of the same delicate outline as her face. And as her cape blew aside, I noticed the violet silk she wore, of that blended blue and purple so becoming to blondes.

It were surely a narrow view, to ascribe this grace of expression and manner, so peculiarly womanly, this evident desire to please even, betrayed in careful attention to the artistic finish and details of dress, to vanity or coquetry merely,—it is so often the outgrowth of a beauty-loving nature, to be found in some of the most sensitive and refined of the other sex.

Looking at Miss Merton, therefore, I seemed to have a vision of what Annie Bray might become, if she were developed from within and surrounded from without by that halo of refinement which crowned the lady before me. Already I was developing an Epicurean taste for that spirit of beauty which flooded Annie Bray's humble life as well as her own.

Miss Darry spoke to me, as we went up the steps; but to what I assented I do not know. I listened to the low tones in front of me. I have always possessed a preternaturally quick ear; but I confess I might have used it to better purpose on that occasion.

"Now, Hamilton, of course he must stay all night," she whispered, as she leaned on the gentleman's arm; "and I want you to make him feel perfectly comfortable in doing so."

"Certainly, if he will; but pray don't spoil him, Alice, darling. Because he is a youth of some scholarship, a good deal of refinement, and develops a talent for drawing, it is no reason he should be made to forget he's a blacksmith."

"It is too late for theories to-night, Hamilton," she replied, playfully. "I have none, you know, like you and Frank Darry. I only wish to treat him considerately. We can afford to forget distinctions which undoubtedly seem a great barrier to him. If he stays, he shares our hospitality like any other guest."

The answer I did not catch. I had heard enough, however, to feel both grateful and irritated.

I went in and warmed myself by the coal-fire in the library. I looked covertly at books and Miss Merton while toasting my hands, and answered intelligently, I believe, Mr. Hamilton Lang's questions as to the village and my pursuits there. I did not neglect to speak a few cordial, yet respectful, words to Miss Darry, at parting; but all I clearly recall is the fact that I insisted upon going home that night, and that Miss Merton, kindly offering to lend me any books I could find time to read, laid her little hand in my rough palm at parting.


There was a variety-store on Main Street, with "Jane Dinsmore" painted in letters of mingled blue and orange on the sign above its door. Miss Dinsmore boarded in one of those green lanes whose inhabitants formed the second circle of Warren society. To this fact it may have been partly due that she was less appealed to than Mrs. Bray on all questions of social etiquette; but undoubtedly a more sufficient reason was to be found in Miss Dinsmore herself, who, though more beloved than any other woman in the village, had a suppressed, quiet manner, not at all adapted for leadership. Her reputation was that of having been a pretty, giddy young girl, a farmer's daughter; but some great crisis had swept over her life, muffling all the tinkling melodies, the ringing laugh, the merry coquettings of the village belle. It was rumored that the old story of disappointed love had changed the current of her life. Jenny Dinsmore, though humbly born and bred, had been fastidious; the uncouth advances of her rustic admirers were not agreeable to her; and so the romance of the fresh young heart was expended on a college youth, who found his way to Warren from classic halls for the renovation[Pg 594] of physical and moral health, and who, attracted by her pretty face and figure, made his rustication less burdensome by devotion to her.

Jenny had not one of those weak natures whose influence dies away in absence. She had inherited some of the old farmer's sturdy traits of character, and her affections had a clinging tenacity of hold which would not suffer the young scholar to throw her off so easily. When he returned to college, he walked the grounds more than once, summoning through the avenues of embowering elms the slender figure, the smiling face, with the glow of the setting sun upon it, which had so often awaited his coming at the stile of the old orchard.

However, parental authority, and the prospect of an ample fortune on good behavior, soon convinced the young man of his folly. Let us be thankful, who note this brief sketch of their mingled fortunes, that he had a tender care for Jenny's trusting nature, and removed the sting from the sorrow he inflicted by making her believe it inevitable. Thus this little wellspring of romance forever watered and kept fresh her otherwise withered life; if subdued, she was not bitter; and no one can tell how the thin, wan face renewed its youth, and the wrinkled cheeks their pinkish bloom, caught in that far-off spring-time in her father's orchards, as, sitting in her solitary room, she remembered the man, now occupying a prominent position in life, who said, as he bade her tenderly good-bye, that he would never forget her, no matter what woman reigned by his fireside, or what children played on his hearth. Perhaps, in his stately library, no book was so welcome on a winter's evening as an idyl of rural life, no picture so pleasing as that of some Maud Muller raking hay or receiving the dumb caresses of the cows she milked.

What would the elegant woman, with her costly jewels, India shawls, and splendid equipage, have thought of this whilom rival, who issued every summer morning from the lane, in her hand a bunch of those simple flowers, occupying, as she did, the border-ground between the wild hemlock and honeysuckle of the wilderness and the exotic of the parterre, the bachelor's-button, mulberry-pink, southernwood, and bee-larkspur, destined to fill a tumbler on an end of the counter where she displayed her most attractive goods?

She prided herself upon the tastefulness and variety of her selections: ribbons and gowns, pins, needles, soap, and matches for all; jars of striped candy for well, and hoarhound for sick children; and a little fragrant Old Hyson and San Domingo for venerable customers. She walked about gently; was never betrayed into any bustle by the excitement of traffic; liked all sweet, shy, woodland natures, from Annie Bray to squirrels; and contracted an affection for me because of my diffidence and devotion to the former.

Whenever she came to the cottage, she poured oil upon the turbulent waters of its domestic life; coaxed up Amos as daintily and charily as a child would proffer crumbs to a bear in a menagerie; pleased Mrs. Bray by accounts of her city shopping; and petted Annie, giving her occasionally, in a shy way, some bow or bit of silk, of an especially brilliant hue, which had caught her eye in town. She was a very useful member of the Methodist Society, for she had always innumerable odds and ends for pin-cushions and needle-books; and although her religious experiences did not seek those stormy channels which the Reverend Mr. Purdo believed to have been elected for the saints, yet her sympathies were so ready, her heart so kind, that, when he saw her after a day of activity collect her bunch of flowers again in her hand, and start, as she often did, for one of the lanes or outlying farms, to watch through the night with some sick woman or child, he was fain to remember that "faith without works is dead."

Miss Dinsmore's store was exceedingly attractive to the young people of the village. She lent a cordial ear to every matrimonial scheme; was quite willing that all preliminaries for such arrangements should be settled within[Pg 595] her precincts; and many a tender word and glance, doubtless, received its inspiration from a conspicuous stand for bonnets, whose four pegs were kept supplied with those of Miss Dinsmore's own manufacture, originally white, but so seldom demanded for village wear that the honey-moon in Warren shed its pale yellow beams on this crowning article of bridal attire long before it was donned by the happy wearer. These bonnets were severally labelled on modest slips of paper, after city nomenclature, "Bridal Hat"; and Miss Dinsmore would on no account have parted with them for any less occasion, however festive; so that one consulting her stand had as accurate a knowledge of impending marriages as could have been obtained from the "publishing-list" of the "meeting-house."

Moreover, Miss Dinsmore herself was laboring under that hallucination, not infrequent with maiden ladies rather advanced, that her own spring-time was perennial; and though by no means disposed to displace the hero of her youth from his supremacy in her heart, she yet accepted, with the ordinary feminine serenity, gallant attentions from youths over whose infant slumbers she had, in times of domestic disturbance, often presided. Hence it happened that the "Variety Store" often afforded the first introduction to Warren society; indeed, so sharp was the rivalry between it, as a lounging-place, and the tavern, that, when a youth was won over from the bar-room to its counter fascinations, his work of regeneration was regarded by Mr. Purdo as begun; and the walk round the corner to the parsonage (which Miss Dinsmore's hats suggested) made his calling and election sure.

Entering the store, therefore, on one of my leisure evenings, I was not surprised to find there a number of Miss Darry's class, and the Reverend Mr. Purdo himself, who had evidently walked in to discover what young men had sowed their wild oats and were seeking the "strait and narrer path" between Miss Dinsmore's counter and the wall. Mr. Purdo was of middle height, and portly; and there was such a sombre hue about the entire man,—black suit of clothes, jet-black hair, eyebrows, and eyes,—that it was a relief to find that Nature had relented in her mourning over making him, and bestowed a sallow complexion, which strove to enliven his aspect by an infusion of orange. He greeted me with a mild and forgiving manner, which at once reminded me of the quiet strolls I occasionally preferred, on a pleasant Sunday, to a prolonged sitting and homily in the church; but I was glad of his presence, since it would be likely to restrain the boisterous mirth of the young men, when I should make known my errand.

Since seeing Miss Merton, my imagination had been so filled with the idea of how complete a transformation Annie Bray would undergo, if only the ugly garments she wore could be pulled away like weeds from her sweet, flower-like beauty, that I resolved to expend a part of my money in buying her a dress. With diffidence, therefore, I made known my wish to Miss Dinsmore, who responded at once with a ready comprehension of the whole matter.

"I know jest what'll suit you, Sandy. Nothin' like vi'let for blue eyes and yeller hair; my own was like June butter once, but of course it's been darker since I've grown up" (Miss Dinsmore's gold was fast becoming silver); "Sary Ann's is changin', too, I see. Miss Bray says she isn't over-fond of stirrin' round; and I shouldn't wonder if 't was so. Sary Ann don't look no more like workin' than a buttercup; but then, as I tell Miss Bray, corn is made for usin' and flowers for starin' at, and I don't know as any special sign is set on either of 'em to show which is the best. Don't mind them youngsters, Sandy; they're always pretty chipper of an evenin'. You see, I've measured off this piece of calico,—nine yard and a finger; if you like it, seein' it's for you and Annie, and a remnant, I'd want it to go cheap."

It was as near the shade of Miss Merton's dress as the coarser material could copy it; and with all the embarrassment[Pg 596] of a novice in such matters, I signified my wish to take it, when the door swung open to admit Annie Bray herself, who had come to make some trifling purchase for her mother.

"All right, Sandy; we'll settle some other time," whispered Miss Dinsmore, quite aware that I should scarcely like to make so public a presentation of my gift, and quietly concealing it in a sheet of wrapping-paper, while Annie, surprised and pleased at seeing me, approached the counter.

"Bless your sweet face, it isn't often I see it of an evenin'," was Miss Dinsmore's welcome to her favorite.

"Beauty's but a witherin' flower," said Mr. Purdo, by way of professional improvement of the occasion, and pointing the remark by a glance at Miss Dinsmore, whose early bloom he undoubtedly remembered. "Still it's cause for great gratitude, Sary, that your cheeks are so rosy,"—here a general laugh warned him of the dangerous admission, and he added,—"it shows you're healthy, and that's a most aboundin' blessin'."

"That's so!" exclaimed Tracy Waters. "You're mighty pretty now, Sary Ann; and it a'n't no use to look ahead to the time when you won't be, is it?"

Annie's cheeks glowed more deeply still now. She was accomplishing her errand as quickly as possible; and while Miss Dinsmore tied up her parcel, Tracy Waters bent over her, whispering. It may have been only that "innate gallantry" alluded to by Miss Darry that made me reprove his evidently unwelcome admiration.

"Annie is a shy little thing. Don't you see, Tracy, that she doesn't like flattery?" I exclaimed, angrily approaching them.

"I see pretty plain that you don't want her to have it from any other fellow than yourself," he answered, roughly. "Miss Annie," he added, in imitation of my manner, "supposin' I see you home?"

But I pushed past him and went out of the store with her.

"He says I am to be his little wife by-and-by," said Annie, a most unusual expression of disgust and alarm ruffling the quiet serenity of her face; "but that can never be, unless I wish it, can it, Sandy?"

"I should think not, indeed," I answered, smiling at her earnestness. "When he speaks of it again, tell him I want you myself."

"That would be a good way to stop him," she replied, accepting graciously this solution of her present difficulty.


Miss Darry, knowing I could borrow books at Hillside, and that those which I already possessed were the old English classics, bought for me in the city only a Greek Grammar, through whose intricacies she proposed to be my guide, and a box of water-colors, and brought to me some lives of the old painters from Miss Merton's library.

She bewildered my mind by telling me of all there was in store for it in the way of work and study. Her interest in my progress seemed to have received a new impetus from her visit in town. She described the rooms where were casts of legs and arms, heads and groups of figures, to which I might one day have access, with the privilege of copying; and in return I showed her two crayon sketches I had made in her absence. Michel Angelo might have relished the knotty, muscular development of the arm I showed her first. If there is beauty and satisfaction in coarse brute strength, this member of my master's body was worthy of all praise. On another sheet I had drawn, by way of contrast, Annie's delicately small and fair, but round, arm and hand, which might have served in her infancy as models for those of one of Raphael's cherubs. She liked them both, and said that I should do as well, perhaps, in the school of Nature as anywhere, for the present.

She desired me to become a sculptor, for form appealed more strongly to her nature than color; and it seemed to be[Pg 597] tacitly decided between us that Art was to be my vocation. She thought that my strong hands, accustomed to labor, could hew my own idea out of the marble for the present, and save the expense of workmen. And then she described to me the beautiful marbles she had seen abroad, where the artist's inspiration was so chastely uttered by the purity of his material, declaring that a subject which coloring would debase might be worthily treated by the chisel. And when I exclaimed, that Autumn, with her glowing palette, was as pure an artist as the old sculptor Winter, chiselling in unvaried white, she reminded me that Nature was infinite, handling all themes with equal power and purity; but that man, in copying, became, as she thought some of the Preraphaelites had done, a caricaturist, in attempting to follow her too closely. I was unconvinced by her arguments, but held my newly bought color-box as a means of proving to her the wisdom of my choice.

When I was about to leave, she said,—

"Sandy, pray don't make an enemy of Tracy Waters on account of any words you had the other evening about the blacksmith's little girl. He's a rough, but kind fellow, and your superiority and desire to rise in life will stir up envy enough of themselves. Why not let him show his admiration of the child, if he wanted to?"

"Oh, have they been telling you about that, Miss Darry?" I answered, awkwardly. "If you knew Annie Bray, you would not ask me why I didn't let him bend his great rough face over hers. She's only a child in years, to be sure; but she has a woman's modesty."

"Oh, well, if she shrank from it, of course, as a gentleman, you were bound to take her part; but don't spoil your chances in life, Sandy, I beg, by any entanglement with these villagers of which you may repent. A pretty country lassie to smile when you look at her would doubtless be a comforting companion in your struggles. But once attain what you long for in other ways, and you will crave an intelligent friend, whose gaucheries shall not forever put you to the blush."

Miss Darry, in her appreciation of my abilities, sometimes forgot my lack of attainment. I was not always familiar with her quotations, but now I was more disturbed by her regarding so seriously my brotherly devotion to Annie Bray, and by the depreciating estimate which she held of her.

"I did not know you looked down so entirely upon our villagers. The only way in which I could expect to differ from them is through my talent for painting, if I prove to have any. My mother was a good woman, gentle and quiet in her ways, but only a farmer's daughter; and though my father was the village doctor, he studied his profession without any regular training, and I suppose knew less of chemistry and anatomy than you, Miss Darry. Annie Bray is as much a lady, in her childish way, as Miss Merton; only she is the stone in its native soil, and Miss Merton has been set by the jeweller."

I was irritated and had spoken warmly, but the bright smile did not leave Miss Darry's face, as she answered,—

"Sandy, you have unmistakably the poetic temperament; but use your brush on the canvas, and don't color every human being you see. I never could comprehend why the practical affairs of life should not be ruled by judgment and reason,—why the mental mansion should not have every needful arrangement for comfort, though a hundred illusions may fresco its ceilings. Every child is charming because it is a child, as every bud is charming because it is a bud, though it may open a poppy or a rose. I haven't a doubt but this little friend of yours will develop some qualities of her ignorant ancestors to remove her in a few years far from your ideal of womanhood. The rare gift of genius is as often bestowed on the child of common parentage as on any other; but the refinement which makes a woman a congenial companion is a mingling of birth, education, and associations, in[Pg 598] my opinion. It seems from your own account, that poverty, not choice, apprenticed you to Amos Bray."

Her good-nature shamed me, and her unselfish labor for my improvement touched me more deeply. So, though we did not agree about my profession or friendship, I said no more.


As I have said, Miss Darry and I differed about Annie Bray. Yet her words, having the weight of her greater knowledge of the world, and really strong, though prejudiced mind, made their impression upon me. Instead of regarding Annie with the old brotherly interest, I looked critically now to see if any sign of rude origin betrayed itself in look or speech. I found only the wayside bloom and sweetness quite peculiar to herself, and many a quaint, rare fancy born of lonely rambles in field and wood; but at fourteen, with no outward stimulus to act upon her life, she was an undeveloped being, a child to be loved and petted, but no friend for my growing and restless manhood.

In the evenings I worked hard, endeavoring both to improve myself intellectually and to progress in my art. I was supplied with constant reading from the Hillside library; but I had never been there since the evening when I had driven Miss Darry home. The impression made upon me at that time by Mr. Lang had not been wholly pleasant. Notwithstanding his words at the forge, I felt as though he had in some way contended for making me feel the drawbacks of my position.

One mild day in April, the Spring sun lay warm upon the earth, and the wind brought from the woods the delicious scent of early flowers. I had worked very steadily for several days in sole charge of the smithy; for Mr. Bray had been away to visit a sister who lived some thirty miles off. I had handed him quite large profits that morning; so I ventured to ask for a half-holiday. It was granted, and after dinner I went up to my room to prepare for it. I had practised in water-colors for the last few weeks, and intended to surprise Miss Darry with a picture from Nature as the result of the afternoon's work. So I thrust my paint-box into the pocket of my portfolio, took a tin cup for water, and ran down stairs.

Annie was sitting on the door-step studying Gray's Botany, which at odd moments in the winter I had attended to with her. My heart smote me for that egotistic contemplation of myself and my prospects which had led me to neglect her.

"Come, Annie," I said, "bring your Botany into the woods. We will find plenty of wild-flowers there, and you shall help me, besides, to paint my first picture."

The little face which had looked so dull a moment before brightened at once. She gained her mother's permission, and was soon walking by my side.

On the slope of the hill which led to the stone house where so many of my dreams centred, we found innumerable bloodroot and anemone blossoms, with a few buds of trailing arbutus just blushing at their edges.

Annie had a wonderful fellowship with Nature, liking even its wildest, most uncouth forms. The snakes, with shining skin and sinuous movement, glistening like streams of water, or lying coiled like stagnant pools amid the rank luxuriance of grass and flowers, were as eagerly watched by her as the most brilliant butterfly that ever fanned a blossom. She had a faculty for tracing resemblances in the material creation, akin to that, perhaps, which causes many to see points of likeness in faces, so that they, as it were, carry their home about with them, and see their friends in the new costume of every land.

Childhood and genius alike look through and over the lattice-work which separates the regions of the natural and the supernatural. She had firm faith in midnight revels in the woods, held by those elves, fairies, and satyrs who[Pg 599] come down to us from the dim and shaded life of earlier ages, and whose existence she had eagerly accepted when I hinted its possibility. Her theory of the mutability of species exceeded Darwin's; for she fancied that the vegetable world was occasionally endowed with animal life, and that the luxuriant and often poisonous vines, which choked by their rude embrace so many tenderer forms of life, waked up, under some unknown influence, into the snakes, of which she felt as little fear.

As for me, I encouraged this tangle of woodland dreams across her brain, and liked to think she dwelt apart, blind and deaf to all contamination through its simple power.

Annie was to-day, therefore, most happy that Spring was reorganizing her dreamland again; and while I seated myself on a stone to arrange my materials, she ran to fill the tin cup with water from the brook below. Then she helped me with my paints, and watched curiously all my preparations. When these were completed, I said,—

"Now, Annie, prepare a little scene for me, and I will paint it."

At first she was reluctant to make the attempt; but I insisted, and she did so.

The tiny thread which fed the stream below trickled over a stone beside us, making rich with its silver beads of moisture a cushion of moss beneath. On this Annie heaped bloodroots and anemones, a few early violets, and one or two arbutus-sprays, and then looked up to see if I was satisfied.

"Yes," I said, "if you will sit on that tree-stump, and leave your hand there."

She laughed merrily, pleased to be in my first painting. I drew out my paper, and rapidly sketched the outlines. Then I took my brush; the pale spring beauties grew beneath its touch, and lay with careless grace on the soft, damp moss.

Annie had resumed her Botany as the afternoon wore on, reaching forward occasionally to note my progress; and her hand lay relaxed, the fingers loosely clasping the last violets laid down.

I was giving most affectionate pats of my camel's-hair to the last little pink nail, feeling more elated at this first attempt than at many a better picture since, when I heard the tramp of horses' feet in the road to the left of the meadow where we sat. I was too intent upon my work to raise my eyes, and Annie sat with her face turned toward the woods, so that I thought nothing more of it until we were startled by a voice at a little distance.

"Well, my young friend, I suppose this studio is open to visitors?"

I looked up, and saw Miss Merton and Mr. Lang.

"We were riding, and called at the forge," said Miss Merton, with a wondering glance at Annie, whose astonishment had not admitted of a change of position; "and as Mr. Lang heard there you were off on an excursion, we have been expecting to see you, and caught our first glimpse as the horses walked up the hill. Won't you introduce us to your young friend, Mr. Allen?"

"This is Annie Bray, my master's daughter," I stammered, with a keen and very unpleasant remembrance of Miss Darry's remarks.

Annie rose, and returned with natural ease Miss Merton's smile and kindly greeting, while Mr. Lang bent over to look at my painting.

"Alice, look here. This is as pretty a bit of water-color as I've ever seen. A young girl's hand is a gratifying possession, but I am not sure that I should have stopped with it in the present instance." And he looked admiringly at Annie's modest beauty.

Miss Merton walked round the stump, and stood behind me.

"It is indeed pretty. Miss Annie's hand suggests the idea that these blossoms at least were not 'born to blush unseen.' It reminds me of our object in seeking you, Mr. Allen. A friend," she added, with an arch look at Mr. Lang, "has been audacious enough to give me a costly picture. I am to[Pg 600] have a few friends to admire it to-morrow evening. I know you will enjoy it; so I want you to come, too."

"You are very kind, but"——I hesitated.

"But what?" inquired Mr. Lang. "Speak out boldly, Sandy."

"I should not think you would care to have a poor blacksmith with your friends. Let me come another evening."

"I am sorry, that, judging by your own feelings, you have arrived at this conclusion," answered Mr. Lang, dryly. "I might have thought, under similar circumstances, you would have treated us in the same way. Do as you choose, of course; but remember, blacksmith or artist, no one will respect you, unless you so thoroughly respect yourself as to hold your manhood above your profession, and accept every courtesy in the spirit in which it is offered."

I began to understand that he would guard me from the vanity and over-sensitiveness which were the natural outgrowth of my position; yet I reddened at the implied weakness.

"Pray don't mind Mr. Lang's criticisms," said Miss Merton, noticing my confusion. "You certainly do not doubt the sincerity of our invitation?"

"Not at all," I exclaimed, warmly.

"Then will you not come to-morrow evening?"

Yielding to the fascinating persuasiveness of her manner, I now consented so readily, that Mr. Lang, laughing, asked, in the old friendly tone,—

"Did you paint this picture, Sandy, for any special purpose?"

"Only that I might show it to Miss Darry."

"Ah, well, let us take it to her. I have another use for it besides. Are there any further touches to be given it?"

I looked; it might have been improved by more work, but I had not the courage to undertake it before them. So I said I thought it would do.

He lingered a moment, while Miss Merton spoke a few words to Annie, who only waited until they reached the stile to express warmly her admiration of the lovely lady, who had invited her also to come some day to Hillside, to see the air-plants in her conservatory.


When I descended from my room to the kitchen, the next evening, arrayed for my visit, with all the elegance of which my simple wardrobe admitted, Mrs. Bray exclaimed,—

"Well, Sandy, I protest, you do look smart! But don't be set up, 'cause you keep high company. I s'pose, knowin Amos was a family man, and couldn't go visitin' round, they took a notion to you."

Annie followed me to the door, saying,—

"You must remember to tell me about the picture, Sandy, and what they say of yours; and do look at the plants Miss Merton promised to show me, and see just how she looks herself."

"And anything more?" I asked, laughing.

"Yes,—what they say to you. You look as handsome to-night, Sandy, as the tall gentleman with Miss Merton,—only such a very different handsome!"

"Then you admired his appearance?" I asked, lingering. "I fancied you were too busy looking at Miss Merton to think of him."

But Annie continued to unfold her opinion without noticing my remark.

"I should be afraid he wouldn't care for me, if I didn't look and act just as he wanted me to. I don't like his way of being handsome, Sandy, so well as yours."

Unconsciously, Annie was making her first experiment in analysis; and as I did not quite relish the basis upon which my beauty rested, I bade her good-night, and hurried away.

I knew I was not handsome, yet Annie's naïve admiration undoubtedly braced me to face the evening. In my gray eye there was nothing of the soft, dreamy expression usually supposed to[Pg 601] accompany the æsthetic temperament. On the contrary, it had the earnest, scrutinizing glance peculiar to a more restless intellect than mine. The intent gaze of some ancestor, perhaps, looked out from these "windows of my soul." If so, and his spirit was occasionally permitted to view the world through me, the "fancy gardening" in which I so extensively indulged could scarcely have been congenial to his tastes. The eye was the salient point, however, of a countenance not otherwise noticeable, except from a girlish habit I had of coloring whenever I was suddenly addressed.

When I reached Hillside, I rang the bell with some trepidation, which was increased by the announcement of the servant that the ladies were at the tea-table. This trifling annoyance of presenting myself at the tea-hour, when expected to pass the evening, was sufficiently serious to my awkwardness to threaten my enjoyment of the visit; but I had scarcely seated myself in the library when Miss Darry appeared.

"I hoped you would be in doubt as to the hour of coming, Sandy, and get here early," she said, smiling brightly. "You must let me thank you for painting that picture for me to look at; I even admired the little white hand of your plebeian friend, it was so charmingly done."

I could not be annoyed at this mingling of praise and badinage, especially when she relieved me from all sense of intrusion. Moreover, she looked so brilliant, so sparkling and happy, that I watched her, amazed at the metamorphosis from her ordinarily calm, intellectual conversation and plain appearance.

"I thought perhaps you would keep the picture to please me, Miss Darry," I faltered, feeling that I was presenting it to an entirely new character.

She accepted it, however, most graciously, and led me into the conservatory, that I might assist her in arranging some baskets of flowers for the parlor-tables.

"I never did believe in conservatories," she exclaimed, as I expressed my admiration of the many rare plants. "It is as unnatural a life for flowers to be crowded together, each in its little pot of earth, as for human beings in their separate beds in a hospital. The idea of shutting up plants and pictures in a room by themselves, to be visited on state occasions, or when some member of the family in a vagrant mood chances unexpectedly among them, seems to me preposterous."

Meanwhile she ran in and out among the flower-stands, breaking off branches of flame-colored azalea, creamy, voluptuous-looking callas, and a variety of drooping blossoms and sprays of green, with a reckless handling of their proud beauty, which I involuntarily contrasted with Annie Bray's timid, half-caressing touch of the wild-flowers.

The umber-colored silk she wore toned down what I, who fancied the delicate sea-shell hue of blondes, should have termed her rather strong colors; and now, bent on my enjoyment rather than improvement, she looked much younger, and certainly far handsomer, than I had supposed she could. Her entire self-possession, the familiarity with which she approached human beings, Nature, and Art, were to me so many indications of her power, and because of my own awe in the presence of any revelation of beauty or intellect, seemed the more wonderful. In admiration of her ease, I became at ease myself, and was thoroughly enjoying her gay mood, which puzzled while it charmed me, when the glass door opening into the drawing-room was pushed aside, and Mr. Lang entered.

"Good evening, Sandy. Alice and Mr. Leopold have been inquiring for you, Miss Darry; but don't run away with those baskets so quickly. I want a few blossoms for Alice's hair. Yours is gorgeous, tropical. Sandy's here has as much of a wild-wood appearance as exotics will admit of. One would think Nature was in league with Darley in making these ferns; they are outlines merely; but this rich red japonica in the centre, on its cushion of white flowers,[Pg 602] shows you a genuine colorist, Sandy."

Miss Darry, making some gay reply, gave me a basket, which, designedly or not, made me less awkwardly conscious of my hands, and we entered the drawing-room. Unaccustomed to gayeties of any kind, I was quite dazzled by the sudden and brilliant blaze of light, the few guests already assembled, and by Miss Merton's beauty enveloped in soft floating folds of gossamer, looking as though the mist itself had woven her a garment. No time, however, was given in which I could relapse into self-consciousness. Miss Darry occupied me with various statuettes and engravings, until Mr. Lang rejoined us, accompanied by a gentleman whom he introduced to me as Mr. Leopold, the painter of the picture which I was to see in the course of the evening. Although my reading had necessarily been limited, Miss Darry's persistent training, and my own voracious appetite for information in everything relating to the arts, had given me a somewhat superficial knowledge of the pictures, style, and personal appearance of the best old and modern painters. In spite of some obstinate facts tending to a different conclusion, I had imbibed the conventional idea of a genius, that he must dwell in an etherealized body,—and Mr. Leopold's stalwart frame, full, florid face, and well-rounded features were a surprise and disappointment. I expected the Raphaelesque,—tender grace and melancholy; but about these frank blue eyes and full red lips lurked the good-nature of a healthy school-boy, the quaint, unchecked humor of a man upon whose life had fallen the sunshine of prosperity.

"So, you are the young man, Mr. Allen, who painted the Spring Flowers and the Maiden's Hand," he said, in a full, rich voice, and with a genial smile. "It is evident, you, too, are in your spring-time, while I, near my autumn, can afford to refer to the peculiarities of that period. I cannot regret that you have a life of struggle before you; for it is not merely the pleasing fancy which paints fine pictures. You would have let a sunbeam play over that little hand, had you possessed the technical knowledge to manage it: now, wouldn't you?"

I crimsoned, assenting as though to a crime.

"Effects of sunlight on bright colors are sometimes very striking," he continued. "A crimson flower wet with dew and nodding in sunshine is a kind of tremulous rainbow, which a man might well like to copy. We must make a compact to help each other, Mr. Allen, I want to study human nature, and would like an introduction to all the oddities of the village."

I promised to make him acquainted with them, wondering meanwhile that he craved for his culture what I regarded as the chief obstacle to mine.

"You shall meet Sandy at the forge some day, when work is over, and visit the villagers," said Mr. Lang. "Miss Darry, shall you or I take Mr. Allen to see the picture? He may like a longer inspection of it than some of us."

I looked imploringly at Miss Darry, who, slipping her hand within my arm, led me into a room corresponding to the conservatory in size and position. The walls were mostly covered with cabinet-pictures, and among several larger ones was the recent addition by Mr. Leopold. At my first glance, I was conscious of that sense of disappointment which comes to us when our imagination devises an ideal beauty, which human hands rob of delicacy by the very act of embodiment: moreover, how could I, in my dreamy, undeveloped boy-life, with a fancy just awakened, and revelling in its own tropical creations, appreciate the simple strength, the grand repose of the picture before me? What appeared barren to me in the man and his works was born of the very depth of a nature which, in copying the Infinite, had learned not only the tender beauty of flowers, the consolations of the clouds, the grandeur of mountains, seas, and rocks, but the beauty of common scenes, the grass and herbage of daily intercourse and use. Touching the world at all points, he had something to give and receive from[Pg 603] nearly every one he met; and, as Sydney Smith has said Dr. Chalmers was a thousand men in one, I can say that he had the versatility and power of ten ordinary artists. At the time, however, nothing of all this was in my mind; only a certain sense of satisfaction took the place of disappointment, as I looked at the picture. He had given clearly the impression of magnitude in the gigantic mass of gray limestone which juts out of the deep blue Spanish sea. Misty flakes of dispersing cloud above suggested the recent rain which had clothed its frequently barren sides with a mantle of verdure. A few bell-shaped blossoms hung over crevices of rock, fearless in the frail foothold of their thread-like stems, as innocent child-faces above a precipice. It was in this simple way, and by the isthmus of sand connecting it to the continent, long and level, like the dash Nature made after so grand a work, before descending to the commonplaces of ordinary creation, that he had toned down the grandeur of stern old Gibraltar.

Miss Darry Indulged me long in my desire to look at the first fine picture I had ever seen; but when other guests entered, we withdrew to the farther side of the room, where I was not left in undisturbed possession of her society, though conscious that she never, for a moment, lost sight of me or my manner of acquitting myself. Miss Merton, Miss Darry, Mr. Lang, Mr. Leopold, and a few others, formed the group of talkers; and I stood within the circle, a listener, until Miss Darry and Mr. Leopold obliged me to participate. They had an admirable power of drawing each other out, and he seemed greatly attracted by her brilliant criticisms of life and Art. Had I known of the theory which, robbed of its metaphysical subtilties, is advanced in some of our fashionable romances, I should have been convinced that evening that Miss Darry was, intellectually at least, my counterpart. If I faltered in my vocabulary, when expressing an opinion or replying to a question, she supplied the missing word, or by glance and approving smile reassured me to recall it; if my thought lacked shape and completeness, she gave it a few sharp cuts with the chisel of her keen wit and clear intellect, handing it back for me to color as I chose. Miss Merton, lovely as she was, shone with a lesser light that evening in Miss Darry's presence; yet Mr. Lang, tempted away for a moment, always rejoined her with an admiring smile, well pleased at fascinations less indiscriminately exercised.

A little later, as I again approached Mr. Leopold's picture, not venturing to return to the parlors, now that Miss Darry was engrossed by other gentlemen, I became an unwilling listener to a few words of conversation between Miss Merton and Mr. Lang, who stood just outside the door.

"What a girl Frank Darry is for accomplishing everything she undertakes!" said Miss Merton, admiringly; "how she has improved her protégé! he can talk on subjects where I have to be silent, though I have had what dear mamma used to call a 'finished education.'"

"Yes, darling. She has made his mental growth very rapid; but, in the process of cultivation, he is gaining a little false pride, which I hope is not of her planting. He blushes, whenever his trade is alluded to: foolish fellow! not to see that the very fact of being a blacksmith is his claim to superiority. A thoroughly trained youth might have done far more than he without any special ability."

"But, Hamilton, you may misconstrue blushes which are so frequent; he is in a new world, too; do give him a chance to make himself at home, before you criticize him. You must admit I was right about his not annoying one by any decided awkwardness of behavior."

"Oh, yes, dear. A certain sense of fitness goes with the artistic temperament. I suppose old Dr. Johnson, devouring his food and drinking innumerable cups of tea, might be a far more shocking social companion than this blacksmith's apprentice. You are always drawing out the lovable traits of[Pg 604] people, dear Alice," he added, in a lower tone; "and that is a thousand times better than Frank Darry's intellectual developments."

They turned away then; and I, angry at being forced to listen at all to what was not meant for my ear, and the more so that Mr. Lang had spoken of me so depreciatingly, stood burning with shame and indignation. Annie Bray's undoubting faith and love would have comforted me without a word of spoken confidence; but she was not here to give it; and, longing for the reassurance of Miss Darry's presence, I entered the drawing-room,—but would gladly have withdrawn again, for Mr. Lang came quickly toward me.

"Sandy," he said, "this may not be exactly the time to discuss business matters with you; but your friends seem to feel that you deserve a better chance in the world. Mr. Bray, to whom I spoke yesterday, says you were not bound to serve him after your eighteenth birthday, but that you have never expressed a wish to leave. Don't you see what a foolish fellow you are to work for him, when you might be earning for yourself?"

"But I have had no money to start with. I have had time for study, too," I stammered.

"Two reasons sufficient for an abstracted youth like you, but utterly unpractical. I want you to hire a forge this side of Warren. I will insure you custom enough to warrant the step."

He looked at me keenly as he spoke, while I colored with the pride and indignation which, since his words to Miss Merton a few moments before, I had been trying to control. Was this to be the end of all my hopes, the object of Miss Darry's instructions, her flattering encouragements and exaggerated estimate of my "genius," as she had termed it, that I might have a forge of my own, to which I should be compelled to give undivided attention, and shoe Mr. Lang's horses, and possibly some others belonging to Miss Merton's visitors? Yet, remembering how much had been already, if unwisely, done for me, I held down these thoughts, and, after a momentary pause, professed my willingness to think the matter over, if I could reserve time for other pursuits. His face lighted up, then, with the smile which had charmed me at the forge.

"You are not spoiled yet, Sandy, I see. If you will only keep to your trade, I will keep you to your art. You must have a boy at the forge, and in the afternoons you can come here and paint under Mr. Leopold's direction: he makes his home here during the summer, and he says you have a talent worth cultivation."

The revulsion of feeling was as complete as he could have desired; and I had not fully expressed my gratitude when Miss Darry appeared. I went with her to bid Miss Merton good-evening, and she stood in the moonlight beside me on the step, as Annie Bray had done a few hours before; but now I also was a changed character.

"I am proud of my pupil, Sandy," she said, with more of her ordinary manner than I had observed during the evening. "If I can place you in better hands than mine, I shall be willing to give you up."

"Give me up? never!" I cried, "Why, Miss Darry, this evening has proved to me that I could not sustain myself in any untried position without some help from you."

She smiled, saying I was ridiculously unconscious of my own ability, and yet looking gratified, I fancied, at the confession.

(To be continued.)

[Pg 605]


In the spring of 1860 an article was published in this magazine with the above title, giving an account of the extension of the telegraph up to that time. Its progress since has been very great in every quarter of the globe. Upon this continent the electric wire extends from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, connecting upwards of six thousand cities and villages; while upon the Eastern Continent unbroken telegraphic communication exists from London to all parts of Europe,—to Tripoli and Algiers, in Africa,—Cairo, in Egypt,—Teheran, in Persia,—Jerusalem, in Syria,—Bagdad and Nineveh, in Asiatic Turkey,—Bombay, Calcutta, and other important cities, in India,—Irkoutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia,—and to Kiakhta, on the borders of China.

But however rapid the extension of the telegraph has been in the past, it is destined to show still greater advancement in the future. Neither the American nor the European system has yet attained to its ultimate development. Transient wars now delay the establishment of lines in San Juan, Panama, Quito, Lima, Valparaiso, Buenos Ayres, Montevideo, Rio Janeiro, Surinam, Caraccas, and Mexico, and the incorporating of them, with all their local ramifications, into one American telegraph system. The Atlantic cable, although its recent attempted submergence has proved a failure, will yet be successfully laid; while the equally important enterprise of establishing overland telegraphic communication with Europe viâ the Pacific coast and the Amoor River is now being vigorously pushed forward towards its successful completion.

The latter project, which is being carried out by the Western Union Extension Telegraph Company, with a capital of ten million dollars, embraces the construction of a line of telegraph from New Westminster, British Columbia, the northern terminus of the California State Telegraph Company, through British Columbia and Russian America to Cape Prince of Wales, and thence across Behring's Strait to East Cape; or, if found more practicable, from Cape Romanzoff to St. Lawrence Island, thence to Cape Tchuktchi, and thence by an inland route around the Sea of Okhotsk to the mouth of the Amoor River. At this point it is to be joined by the line now being constructed by the Russian Government to connect with Irkoutsk, where a line of telegraph begins, which stretches through Tomsk and Omsk, in Western Siberia, Katharinburg, on the Asiatic-European frontier, Perm, Kasan, Nijni-Novogorod, and Moscow, to St. Petersburg.

This line, which was projected by Perry McDonough Collins, Esq., United States Commercial Agent for the Amoor River, with its extension by the Russian Government to Irkoutsk, is the link now wanted to supply direct and unbroken telegraphic communication from Cape Race, in Newfoundland, on the eastern coast of America, across the Western Continent, the Pacific Ocean, and the Eastern Continent, to Cape Clear, in Ireland, the westernmost projection of Europe; and when a submarine cable shall be successfully laid between Cape Clear and Cape Race, will complete a telegraphic circuit around the earth between the parallels of forty-two and sixty-five degrees of north latitude.

The chief difficulties to be anticipated in Mr. Collins's enterprise are the extent of the territory to be traversed, its wild and rugged surface formation, and the uncivilized character of its inhabitants.

The distance to be traversed through British America is six hundred miles; through Russian America, nineteen hundred miles; the length of the submarine cable across Behring's Strait, four hundred miles; and the distance from East[Pg 606] Cape, by an inland passage around the Sea of Okhotsk, and through the settlements of Okhotsk, Ayan, and Shanter's Bay, which are well-known stations of the whale-fishery, to the mouth of the Amoor River, is about twenty-five hundred miles. The entire length of the line would thus be about five thousand four hundred miles.

That portion of the route which lies through British Columbia is chiefly mountainous, but divided into three ranges, whose courses are from north to south, while intervening valleys invite the introduction of telegraphs and roads. The Pacific coast of Russian America is mainly level. The portion of Siberia which lies between East Cape and the head of the Sea of Okhotsk is, for a large extent, a steppe or plain, with gentle elevations occasionally rising into mountainous ridges. At the head of the Sea of Okhotsk a range of mountains must be crossed; and the region lying between that range and the mouth of the Amoor River is of the same character as that before mentioned, which extends from the same range northward to East Cape. The electric telegraph has already been carried over steppes, in both continents, similar to those above described; and the Pacific telegraph line, in crossing the Sierra Nevada, rises to an elevation greater than that which is to be surmounted on this line.

Suitable timber for setting up the line can be found on those portions of the route lying within British Columbia and the Russian dominions on each continent, with the exception of an unwooded steppe five hundred miles wide on each side of Behring's Strait. Here the needful timber can be brought near to the line, either by sea or from the forest-covered shores of navigable rivers.

The temperature of the region through which the northern part of the line would pass is very low; but the winter is less severe than between the same parallels of latitude on the Atlantic coast. The telegraphic line which connects St. Petersburg with Archangel, on the White Sea, and that also which passes around the Gulf of Bothnia and connects St. Petersburg with Tornea, are maintained in operation without difficulty, although they cross as high parallels of latitude as those which lie in the way of this overland line to Europe. The waters of Behring's Strait are about one hundred and eighty feet deep, and they are frozen through one half of the year; but the congealed mass, when broken, generally takes the form of anchor ice, and not that of iceberg. Thus climate seems to offer no serious obstacle to the enterprise; while it is worthy of consideration that in high latitudes timber is far less perishable than in low, and less insulating material is required in cold regions than in more genial climates.

Indian tribes are found along the American part of the route, but they have been so well subjected to the influences of society and government, through the operations of the fur-trade, that no serious resistance from them is apprehended. The inhabitants of Asiatic Russia, who dwell inland, are nomadic Tartars, affecting much independence, but they are, nevertheless, not savages, like the American natives. After centuries of internal war, they have now settled into a state of semi-civilization, in which they are accustomed to barter with whalers, with exploring parties, and with the Government agents of Russia, and they are hospitably inclined by that intercourse. Thus it is seen that there are no insuperable obstacles, either physical or social, in the way of this projected line of intercontinental telegraph.

From New Westminster, the capital of British Columbia, situated on Frazer River, about fifteen miles from its mouth, and the terminus of the California State Telegraph, the line of the Collins Overland Telegraph has already been commenced. A letter from Mr. F. L. Pope, Assistant-Engineer of the Overland Company, dated June 13th, 1865, states that the work on this portion of the line is proceeding with great energy. Scarcely two months had elapsed since[Pg 607] active operations were commenced; and yet during that time nearly three hundred miles of poles had been cut and prepared for use, a large number had been set, and the remainder had been already distributed along the line. The poles are nearly all of cedar, and of good size, and will form one of the most durable lines on the American continent. When the extremely mountainous and difficult nature of the country along the Frazer River is taken into consideration, the rapidity with which this large amount of work has been done is extraordinary. It seems quite probable that the line will be finished the present season from New Westminster to Quesnell River, the terminus of the wagon-road to the mines.

The Colonial Government are now engaged in cutting a road from New Westminster to Yale, a distance of about ninety miles, along which the wire will be carried. There has heretofore been no communication between these points except by water. The river is bordered on both sides by high mountains and dense forests of heavy timber, with an almost impenetrable undergrowth. Notwithstanding these difficulties, Mr. Conway, one of the telegraph engineers, made an exploration of the entire route, during the latter part of last winter, on snow-shoes, being at one time three days in the woods without food or blankets.

From Yale to the Quesnell River, a distance of some three hundred miles, the line will follow the wagon-road, which has been built at an enormous expense by the Colonial Government, as a means of communication with the gold-mining regions of Carriboo. It will be a matter of considerable difficulty to set up a line of telegraph over that portion of this road which passes through the great canon, as in many places the road has a perpendicular wall of rock upon one side and a perpendicular precipice on the other, and in one place is carried around the face of a cliff in this manner, at an elevation of some two thousand feet, directly over the river, being in some places blasted out of the solid rock, and in others supported by a sort of staging.

Two exploring parties have been dispatched from San Francisco: one to examine the route through Eastern Siberia, between Behring's Strait and the Amoor; and the other to follow the proposed route up the Frazer River in British Columbia, and thence along the valley supposed to exist between the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Range, to the head-waters of Pelly River, following down the valley of this river and the Yerkin, into which it empties, to a point near the mouth of the latter, or in the neighborhood of Behring's Strait.

The Pacific Telegraph Line, which will form an important link in the overland line to Europe, was projected in 1859, when the measure was first brought to the attention of Congress. A bill in aid of the project was passed after some opposition, and proposals for the construction of the line were invited by Secretary Cobb. Mr. Hiram Sibley, President of the Western Union Telegraph Company, who was really the originator of the whole enterprise, submitted to the directors of the Company the question of authorizing him to send in proposals; but so formidable did the undertaking appear, that the proposition was carried only by a single vote.

After long and tedious delays on the part of Secretary Cobb, the contract for building the line was awarded, on the 20th of September, 1860, to Mr. Sibley, on behalf of the Western Union Telegraph Company. The Company at once assumed the contract, and furnished all the money required for the line east of Salt Lake.

Mr. J. H. Wade, of Cleveland, one of the officers of the Company, now visited California to confer with parties familiar with the various routes, to determine where and how to build the line, and to arrange with the telegraph companies in the Pacific States to extend their lines eastward and form a business connection. The California Company agreed to assume the construction of the line to Salt Lake City, and, if possible, to[Pg 608] have it completed to that point as soon as the line from the eastward reached there. The route selected was viâ Forts Kearney, Laramie, and Bridger, crossing the Rocky Mountains at the South Pass, and thence to Salt Lake City; and from this point, viâ Forts Crittenden and Churchill, across the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Placerville and San Francisco. Mr. Edward Creighton, who had already surveyed the proposed route, and was convinced of the feasibility of maintaining a line over it, was appointed superintendent of construction.

The Company was organized April 17th, 1862, after which time nearly all the wire, insulators, and other material had to be manufactured before the construction of the line could be proceeded with. The reader can judge of the extent of the preparations required for setting up two thousand miles of telegraph through a wilderness inhabited only by Indians and wild beasts, and a part of which was a desert. The materials and tools were taken to Omaha, Kansas, at which point everything necessary for the enterprise was gathered in readiness to start westward.

Of the force employed on the Pacific side we have no knowledge; but for the line from Omaha to Salt Lake City, Mr. Creighton had four hundred men, fitted out for a hard campaign, with a rifle and navy-revolver for each man, and with the necessary provisions, including one hundred head of cattle for beef, to be driven with the train and killed as needed. For the transportation of the material and the supplies for this army of workmen, five hundred oxen and mules and over one hundred wagons were purchased by the Company; and these not proving sufficient, other transportation was hired, making the total number of beasts of burden seven hundred oxen and one hundred pair of mules.

The first pole was set up on the 4th of July, 1862, and the line was completed to Salt Lake on the 18th of October following,—the California party reaching the same point six days later. The work proceeded at the rate of about ten miles per day.

The whole line is upon poles,—it being thought best to cross the rivers in this manner rather than by means of submarine cables. The country is for the most part bare of wood; the longest distance, however, that timber had to be drawn in one stretch was two hundred and forty miles. The poles are of large size, and stand eighty to the mile, more than half of red cedar, the remainder mostly pine. On the highest mountains, where the snow accumulates to a great depth during the winter, they are of extra size, and sufficiently tall to keep the wires above the deepest snow; they are also placed close enough together to prevent the wire being broken by an accumulation of snow and sleet.

The wire used in this line is No. 9 iron, zinc-coated, weighing three hundred and fifty pounds to the mile, and the total weight used between Omaha and San Francisco amounts to seven hundred thousand pounds. The insulators are of glass, protected by a wooden shield, of the pattern known as the Wade insulator.

The line is worked by Morse instruments, usually direct from Chicago to Salt Lake, Hicks's self-acting repeaters being kept in the circuit at Omaha and Fort Laramie. At Salt Lake the messages are rewritten, and thence sent direct to San Francisco. The stations average about one for each fifty miles, and the whole length of the line is inspected twice a week by persons employed for the purpose. The cost of construction was about two hundred and fifty dollars per mile.

No trouble was experienced from Indian depredations until the last winter. Up to that time the line had worked almost uninterruptedly. Even during the Indian difficulties of the previous summer and autumn, which compelled the suspension of the overland mail, the telegraph was not in any manner molested by the savages. This was supposed to be owing in a great measure to the influence of superstitious fear[Pg 609] among them in regard to the wire, which they supposed to be under the especial care of the Great Spirit; but it was probably largely due also to the many kind offices done them by the telegraph-operators, who frequently ascertained where the buffalo were in force, and informed their red-skinned neighbors, who were thus enabled to find their favorite game. The charm is now, however, unfortunately, dispelled; and the savages take every opportunity to break and carry off the wire and destroy the poles. Government is dispatching a large force of cavalry to punish the marauders and protect the line, which it is to be hoped may prove effectual.

It has already been mentioned that the Russian Government has undertaken to extend the main eastern and western line from Irkoutsk to the mouth of the Amoor River. This extension is now rapidly progressing. But this is only a single and not very prominent part of the work which the Emperor of Russia has begun. His design embraces nothing less than the following stupendous works, namely:—

A line, with the necessary submarine cables, from the mouth of the Amoor River, across the Straits of Tartary, over the island of Sakhalien, across the Straits of La Pérouse, over the Island of Jesso, through Hakodadi, and across the Straits of Sangar, to Jeddo, the capital of Japan.

A line from the confluence of the Usuri with the Amoor, seven hundred miles above the mouth of the latter, thence southward, on the bank of the Usuri, to Lake Kingka, and thence to the port of Vladi Vastok, on the coast of Tartary, opposite the port of Hakodadi, on the eastern coast of the Japanese Sea. Vladi Vastok is selected by the Emperor for his naval station on the Pacific coast.

A line from Irkoutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia, through Kiakhta, now the entrepôt of European and Chinese overland commerce, through the vast territory of the Mongols, to the gate in the Chinese wall at Yahol, and thence to Pekin, the capital of the Chinese Empire.[E]

A line from a station on the main continental line at Omsk, near the southern boundary of Asiatic Russia, passing through Mongolia, and entering China at Hirck, sometimes called Illy, thence crossing Turkistan, Bokhara, and Balk, to Cabool, in Afghanistan, thence to capital places in the Punjaub, where it will meet the telegraphic system of India, and thus become a medium of communication between London and the colonial dependencies of Great Britain, Holland, Spain, and Portugal, on the shores and islands of the great Indian Ocean.

A line from Kasan, on the main central Russian line, through Georgia and Circassia, along the western shore of the Caspian Sea, to Teheran, the capital of Persia, thence to the Tigris, at Bagdad, thence descending along the banks of that river to the head of the Persian Gulf, there to be connected with the Oriental telegraph system of India.

The line from Irkoutsk to Pekin American citizens residing in China are now soliciting, with good prospect of success, permission from the Chinese Government to extend through the Empire, with the needful branches, connecting the principal ports along the Pacific coast, opposite California. A company to carry out this project has been organized under the laws of the State of New York. The wires of this company are first to be put up from Canton to Macao and Hong Kong, a distance of 140 miles,—Canton having a population of 1,000,000, Hong-Kong of 40,000, and the trade of both cities world-famous. Lying 245 miles north is Amoy, with 250,000 inhabitants; and 120 miles farther in the same direction is Foochow, a city with a population of 600,000, and within 70 miles of the black-tea districts, with large commerce, and with numerous manufactures[Pg 610] of great value. Beyond it 250 miles is Ningpo, with 300,000 inhabitants, and thriving manufactures of silks. Eighty miles north is Shanghai, a city of not less than 200,000 inhabitants, and possessing a larger inland or native trade than any other in China. Yet between these great marts there is no telegraphic communication whatever,—nor, indeed, is there a line in any part of the whole Chinese Empire. The company proposes, therefore, to connect these great commercial cities, and, having done that, to carry on its line to Nankin, with its 400,000 inhabitants, and thence to Pekin, which has a population of 2,000,000, and is the capital of an empire spread over an area of 5,000,000 square miles, and containing more than 420,000,000 souls, who pay to the Government an annual revenue of $120,000,000. It may well be understood, that, for Government purposes alone, a line of telegraph thus extending between the chief cities of China will prove of incalculable value, alike in its use, and in its profits to those who erect it and receive its income. The enterprise is a great one, but its reward will be great. Its successful accomplishment seems to be well assured; and New York may expect presently to claim the honor of first giving to the oldest of existing empires the beneficent invention which the newest of nations created, and at the same time of taking the final step for the completion of the one great line which is to put all the countries of the earth in instant communication.

A line from Calcutta to Canton is already undertaken by an English company, with due authority from the British Government.

In Australia there are now in operation twelve thousand miles of telegraph-wire. This Australian system, which is at present so purely local and isolated, is nevertheless expected to be brought into combination, by alternating submarine and island wires, with the Chinese and Russian line above described.

The statistics of the telegraph-lines in Great Britain show not only an increase in the number of lines, but a great augmentation in the amount of business transacted. In 1861 there were 11,528 miles of line open for public use; in 1862, 12,711 miles; and in 1863, 13,892 miles, comprising 65,012 miles of wire. Last year, the number of stations was augmented in like proportion; and facilities were offered for the transmission of telegraphic dispatches at no fewer than 1,755 stations, containing 6,196 instruments, through which about 3,400,000 telegrams were sent. In addition to the lines on British soil, the Submarine Telegraph Company has cables stretching to Calais, Boulogne, Dieppe, Jersey, Ostend, Hanover, and Denmark, with which the other lines are more or less in connection, covering 887 miles with 2,683 miles of wire. This company has upwards of 3,000 stations on the Continent. The messages sent by it to and from foreign countries were, in 1861, 230,000; in 1862, 310,595; and in 1863, 345,784.

France possesses a system comprising 71,034 miles of wire and 1,301 stations, which transmit about 1,500,000 private dispatches annually, and nearly 175,000 official ones. Russia has 36,663 miles of wire; Austria, 22,230; Italy, 20,120; Prussia, 24,149; Spain, 17,743; Belgium, 3,773; Switzerland, 3,720; Turkey, 6,571; Persia, 2,500; Greece, 3,000; India, 10,994, and 136 stations; Australia, 12,000; South Australia, 2,000; the United States, 120,000; the British Provinces in America, 20,000;—making a total of upwards of 440,000 miles of aërial wire in operation in all parts of the world.

The following tables give the details of the principal cables hitherto laid by all makers. They are divided into three heads: 1st, Those which have been wholly successful, and are now working (September, 1865); 2d, Those which were partially successful, having worked for a time; 3d, Those which wholly failed, or never worked after their submergence.

[Pg 611]

Table I.

Submarine Telegraph Cables which are now in Successful Working Order.

No.Date when laid.FromToNumber of conducting wires.Length of cable in statute miles.Length of insulated wire in statute miles.Maximum depth of water in fathoms.Weight in tons per statute mile.Length of time the cables have worked. Years.
21852KeyhavenHurst Castle4312....13
31853DenmarkAcross the Belt31854154.0012
51853Firth of Forth...4520..7.0012
141856Prince Edward IslandCape Breton11212142.509
151857Norway across Fiords...149493002.758
161857Across mouth of Danube...133..1.758
211858Norway across Fiords...116163002.757
301859Across rivers in India...11010..4.506
331859JerseyPirou in France12121153.756
341859South AustraliaTasmania1140140602.006
361860Denmark(Great Belt)61484188.005
371860Denmark(Great Belt)31442186.005
381860In Arracan...1116116501.005
391860BarcelonaPort Mahon11981981,4001.255
421860San AntonioIviza2761524502.005
441861Norway across Fiords...116163002.754
471861Beachy HeadDieppe680320308.004
501862Across rivers in Ireland...122....3
511862Firth of Forth...46247..3
521862Fortress MonroeCherrystone12323....3
531862Fortress MonroeNewport News133....3
551864Gwadur (Persian Gulf)Fao11,4501,450....1

In addition to the above, there have been laid across American rivers, since 1854, 95 lines, in lengths of from 120 feet to two miles, and comprising from 120 feet to 6 miles of insulated wire each,—making an aggregate of 250 miles of subaqueous wire in operation on this continent, and a total of 6,979 miles of cable, and 11,127 miles of submarine wire in operation in all parts of the world.[Pg 612]

Table II.

Submarine Telegraph Cables which have been successful for some Time, but are not now working.

No.Date when laid.FromToNumber of conducting wires.Length of cable in statute miles.Length insulated wire in statute miles.Maximum depth of water in fathoms.Weight in tons per statute mile.Length of time the cables have worked.
11850DoverCalais1252530..1 day.
21853England (Three Cables)Holland1360360302.005 yrs.
31854HolyheadHowth17575702.005 "
41854NantucketCape Cod1252516......
51855VarnaBalaklava13553553000.109 mos.
61855BalaklavaEupatoria111....9 "
71856Martha's VineyardCape Cod15515..2 wks.
81856NewfoundlandCape Breton185853602.509 yrs.
91857SardiniaBona41506001,500..3 "
101857VarnaConstantinople1170170..0.755 "
111857Cape CodNaushon11......2 "
121857Martha's VineyardNantucket1303016..4 "
131857SardiniaCorfu17007001,0000.901 "
141858EnglandChannel Islands1102102602.503 "
151858Ireland(Atlantic)Newfoundland12,5002,5002,4001.0023 ds.
161859SingaporeBatavia1630630200.042 yrs.
171859Suez (Red Sea & India)Kurrachee13,5003,5001,9100.946 mos.
181859SpainAfrica (Centa)12525..1.001 yr.
191859EnglandIsle of Man13636302.503 yrs.
201859South AustraliaTasmania1100100602.001 yr.
211859LiverpoolHolyhead22550143.101 "
221859SyraCandia1150150..0.893 yrs.
231860Across the Mersey..133....1 yr.

Table III.

Submarine Telegraph Cables Which Are Total Failures.

No.Date when laid.FromToNumber of conducting wires.Length of cable in statute miles.Length of insulated wire in statute miles.Maximum depth of water in fathoms.Weight in tons per statute mile.
61855Cape RayCape North33090360..
81857Ireland (Lost in laying)Newfoundland13003002,400..

It will be seen from the above list of failures, that the great extension and success of submarine cables has been attained through many great failure,—among the most prominent being the old and new Atlantic, the Red Sea and India, (which was laid in five sections, that worked from six to nine months each, but was never in working order from end to end,) the Singapore and Batavia, and Sardinia and Corfu. None of these cable, with the exception of[Pg 613] the new Atlantic, were tested under water after manufacture, and every one of them was covered with a sheathing of light iron wire, weighing in the aggregate only about fifteen hundred pounds per mile.

These two peculiarities are sufficient to account for every failure which has occurred, with the exception of the new Atlantic. No electrical test will show the presence of flaws in the insulating cover of a wire, unless water, or some other conductor, enters the flaws and establishes an electrical connection between the outside and inside of the cable. All cables now manufactured are tested under water before being laid.

Communication between the Ottoman capital and Western Europe passes through Vienna. From this city to Constantinople there are two distinct lines,—one passing by Semlin and Belgrade to Adrianople, the other by Toultcha, Kustendji, and Varna. There is a third line to Adrianople by Bucharest; and by the opening of the submarine line between Avlona and Otranto, in Italy, the Turkish telegraph service will be in direct communication with the West, without going through Servia or the Moldo-Wallachian Principalities.

Communication between Constantinople and India is maintained over the following route:—To Ismid, 55 miles; thence to Mudurli, 104 miles; thence to Angora, 111 miles; thence to Guzgat, 113 miles; thence to Sivas, 140 miles; Kharpoot, 178 miles; Diarbekir, 77 miles; Mardeen, 61 miles; Djezireh, 104 miles; Mosul, (Nineveh,) 91 miles; Kerkook, 114 miles; Bagdad, 189 miles. From Bagdad to Fao, at the mouth of the Shat-el-Arab, on the Persian Gulf, is 400 miles. From Fao to Kurrachee the submarine cable stretches along the bottom of the Persian Gulf for 1,450 miles; and thence are 500 miles of aërial line across a portion of British India to Bombay.

The accounts of the successful opening of this line tell of the astonishment of the savage Beloochees and Arabs along the Mekran coast at the marvel of a blue spark flashing for the Sahib to the Indus and back again in less time than it takes to smoke a hookah. At Gwadur, no sooner was the cable landed than the people of the surrounding country flocked down to hear and talk of the Feringhee witchcraft. Chiefs of the Beloochees, Muscatees, and Heratees, with their retainers, trod upon each other's toes in their eagerness to see it work. Gwadur has given up the idea that Mahomet taught everything that could be known, and now sits upon the carpet of astonishment and chews the betel-nut of meditation.

The establishment of the electric telegraph in India presented some curious as well as difficult problems. In the first place, it was discovered that the air of India is in a state of constant electrical perturbation of the strongest kind, so that the instruments there mounted went into a high fever and refused to work. Along the north and south lines a current of electricity was constantly passing, which threw the needles out of gear and baffled the signallers. Moreover, the tremendous thunder-storms ran up and down the wires and melted the conductors; the monsoon winds tore the teak-posts out of the sodden ground; the elephants and buffaloes trampled the fallen lines into kinks and tangles; the Delta aborigines carried off the timber supports for fuel, and the wires or iron rods upon them to make bracelets and to supply the Hindoo smitheries; the cotton- and rice-boats, kedging up and down the river, dragged the subaqueous wires to the surface. In addition to these graver difficulties were many of an amusing character. Wild pigs and tigers scratched their skins against the posts in the jungle, and porcupines and bandicoots burrowed them out of the ground. Kites, fishing-eagles, and hooded-crows came in hundreds and perched upon the line to see what on earth it could mean, and sometimes after a thunder-storm, when the wires were wet, were found dead by dozens, the victims of their curiosity, Monkeys climbed the posts and ran along the lines, chattering, and dropping[Pg 614] an interfering tail from one wire to another, which tended to confound the conversations of Calcutta. Parrots, with the same contempt for electrical insulation, fastened upon one string by the beak and another by the leg; and in one village, the complacent natives hung their fishing-lines to dry upon them.

In 1856 there were four thousand miles of telegraph-wire stretched over India: some upon bamboo posts, which bent to the storms and thus defied them; some, as in the Madras Presidency, upon monoliths of granite,—these, during the Mutiny, proving worth ten times their cost.

Whilst the telegraph has been thus rapidly encircling the globe with its iron threads, great improvement has been made in the apparatus for transmitting the electrical signals over them. Instruments called translators, or repeaters, have been devised, by which aërial lines may be operated, without repetition, over distances of many thousands of miles. Through the use of this valuable invention upon the California line, operators in New York and San Francisco are able to converse as readily and rapidly as those situated at the extremities of a line only a hundred miles in length.

The enormous increase in the amount of matter to be transmitted over the wires has stimulated the inventive genius of our own country and Europe to produce an apparatus by which the capacity of a wire may be greatly increased. Mr. M. G. Farmer of Boston, Mr. J. G. Smith of Portland, Maine, Dr. Gintl of Germany, and one or two other persons, have solved the problem of the simultaneous transmission of messages over a single wire in opposite directions. But while their apparatus, with the proper arrangement of batteries, will unquestionably permit the accomplishment of this apparent paradox, the natural disturbances upon a wire of any considerable length, together with the inequalities of the current caused by escape in wet weather, have precluded its practical use.

In this country, General Lefferts of New York, and in Europe, Professor Bonelli, have devoted much time and expense to the perfection of apparatus for securing greater rapidity of transmission over the aërial lines.

General Lefferts owns several patents covering inventions of great ingenuity and value, which are now being perfected and will shortly be brought into operation. The apparatus consists of an instrument, operated by keys similar to those of a piano-forte, for punching characters, composed of dots and lines, upon a narrow strip of paper. The paper, when thus prepared, is passed rapidly through an instrument attached to a telegraph-wire, at the other end of which is a similar instrument which runs in unison. The first instrument is provided with a flexible metallic comb, which presses through the perforations in the paper and thus closes the circuit at each dot and line, while the second instrument is provided with a metallic stylus, or pointer, which rests upon a fillet of paper prepared with chemicals, and produces, whenever the circuit is closed, dots and lines of a dark blue color upon the prepared paper. When the paper is prepared by the perforating apparatus, it can be run through the instrument at any rate of speed that is desirable, and it is estimated that with this apparatus one wire may easily perform as much work in a day as ten can under the ordinary arrangement.

In Professor Bonelli's system the dispatch is set up in printing-type, and placed on a little carriage, which is made to pass beneath a comb with five teeth, which are in communication with five aërial wires of the line, at the extremity of which these same wires are joined to the five teeth of a second comb, under which passes a chemically prepared paper, carried along on a little carriage similar to the one at the other end on which the printing-type is placed. If under this arrangement the electric circuit of a battery composed of a sufficient number of elements, and distributed in a certain order, be completed, then, at[Pg 615] the same time that the first comb is passing over the printing-type at the one end, the second comb at the other end will trace the dispatch on the prepared paper in beautiful Roman letters, and with so great a rapidity that it may be expected that five hundred messages of twenty words each will be transmitted hourly.

On Wednesday, April 19th, the day of Mr. Lincoln's funeral, eighty-five thousand words of reports were transmitted between Washington and New York, between the hours of 7, p. m., and 1, a. m., being at the rate of over fourteen thousand words per hour. Nine wires were employed for the purpose. Thirteen thousand six hundred words were transmitted by the House printing instruments on a single wire after half past seven o'clock.

A telegraphic message was recently received in London from India in eight hours and a half. This message was forwarded by the Indo-European Telegraph Company, viâ Kurrachee and the Persian Gulf, crossing one half of Asia and the whole of Europe.

During the late Rebellion in this country the telegraph was extensively employed both by the Government and the Insurgents. In the course of the past year, there have been in the service of the Government thirty field-trains, distributed as follows:—In the Army of the Potomac, five; in the Department of the Cumberland, five; in the Department of the Gulf, three; in the Department of North Carolina and Virginia, three; in the Department of the South, two; in the Department of the Tennessee, six; in the Department of the Ohio, two; at the Signal Camp of Instruction, Georgetown, D. C., three; at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, one. Of these trains, some were equipped with five, and others with ten miles of insulated wire. There were carried in the trains lances for setting up the wire, when necessary,—reels, portable by hand, carrying wire made purposely flexible for this particular use,—and various minor appliances, which experience has proved useful. A military organization was directed for each train.

In duty of this kind, the construction of the trains, the equipment to be carried by them, and the military organization to be provided for their use, to enable them to be most rapidly and anywhere brought into action, are the subjects for study: the particular instrument to be equipped is a secondary consideration. The soldiers drilled to the duty of construction acquire in a short time a remarkable skill in the rapid extension of these lines. As was anticipated, they have proved valuable auxiliaries to the services of the corps, and have sometimes rendered them available when they would have been otherwise useless. The greatest distance at which the instruments are reported to have worked is twenty miles. The average distances at which they are used are from five to eight miles. The average speed of the most rapid construction is reported to be at the rate of a slow walk.

At the first Battle of Fredericksburg field-trains were for the first time in the history of the war used on the battle-field, under the fire of the enemy's batteries. The movements to be made on the day of that battle were of the first magnitude. The movements of the retreat were perilous to the whole army. The trains in use contributed something to the success of those movements.

Many incidents are recorded of operators accompanying raiding parties into the enemy's territory and tapping the telegraph-lines, sometimes obtaining valuable information. One is related by the "Selma Rebel." The operator at that place was called to his instrument by some one up the Tennessee and Alabama Road, who desired information as to the number of the forces and supplies at Coosa Bridge. After getting all the information he could, regarding the location and strength of the Rebel forces, he informed the Selma operator that he was attached to the expedition under General Wilson, and that, at that particular time, he was stationed with his instruments up[Pg 616] a tree near Monticello, in the hardest rain he ever saw! Permission being given, he sent a dispatch to a young lady in Mobile, and another to a telegraph-operator in the Rebel lines, telling him he loved him as much as before the war. After some other conversation, the Yankee operator clambered down from the tree, mounted his horse, and rode away.


[E] The Chinese Government has been informed by the Russian Ambassador that the Russian portion of this line to Pekin will be completed by the first of January, 1868.


In the month of August, 1865, I set out to visit some of the scenes of the great conflict through which the country has lately passed.

On the twelfth, I reached Harrisburg,—a plain, prosaic town of brick and wood, with nothing especially attractive about it, except its broad-sheeted, shining river, flowing down from the Blue Ridge, around wooded islands, and between pleasant shores.

It is in this region that the traveller from the North first meets with indications of recent actual war. The Susquehanna, on the eastern shore of which the city stands, forms the northern limit of Rebel military operations. The "highwater mark of the Rebellion" is here: along these banks its uttermost ripples died. The bluffs opposite the town are still crested with the hastily constructed breastworks, on which the citizens worked night and day in the pleasant month of June, 1863, throwing up, as it were, a dike against the tide of invasion. These defences were of no practical value. They were unfinished when the Rebels appeared in force in the vicinity. Harrisburg might easily have been taken, and a way opened into the heart of the North. But a Power greater than man's ruled the event. The Power that lifted these azure hills, and spread out the green valleys, and hollowed a passage for the stream, appointed to treason also a limit and a term. "Thus far, and no farther."

The surrounding country is full of lively reminiscences of those terrible times. Panic-stricken populations flying at the approach of the enemy; whole families fugitive from homes none thought of defending; flocks and herds, horses, wagon-loads of promiscuously heaped household stuffs and farm produce; men, women, children, riding, walking, running, driving or leading their bewildered four-footed chattels,—all rushing forward with clamor and alarm under clouds of dust, crowding every road to the river, and thundering across the long bridges regardless of the "five-dollars-fine" notice (though it is to be hoped that the toll-takers did their duty):—such were the scenes which occurred to render the Rebel invasion memorable. The thrifty German farmers of the lower counties did not gain much credit either for courage or patriotism at that time. It was a panic, however, to which almost any community would have been liable. Stuart's famous raid of the previous year was well remembered. If a small cavalry force had swept from their track through a circuit of about sixty miles over two thousand horses, what was to be expected from Lee's whole army? Resistance to the formidable advance of one hundred thousand disciplined troops was of course out of the question. The slowness, however, with which the people responded to the State's almost frantic calls for volunteers was in singular contrast with the alacrity each man showed to run off his horses and get his goods out of Rebel reach.

From Harrisburg, I went, by the way of York and Hanover, to Gettysburg. Having hastily secured a room at a hotel in the Square, (the citizens call it the "Di'mond,") I inquired the way to the battle-ground.

"You are on it now," said the landlord,[Pg 617] with proud satisfaction,—for it is not every man that lives, much less keeps a tavern, on the field of a world-famous fight. "I tell you the truth," said he; and, in proof of his words, (as if the fact were too wonderful to be believed without proof,) he showed me a Rebel shell imbedded in the brick wall of a house close by. (N. B. The battle-field was put into the bill.)

Gettysburg is the capital of Adams County: a town of about three thousand souls,—or fifteen hundred, according to John Burns, who assured me that half the population were Copperheads, and that they had no souls. It is pleasantly situated on the swells of a fine undulating country, drained by the headwaters of the Monocacy. It has no special natural advantages,—owing its existence, probably, to the mere fact that several important roads found it convenient to meet at this point, to which accident also is due its historical renown. The circumstance which made it a burg made it likewise a battle-field.

About the town itself there is nothing very interesting. It consists chiefly of two-story houses of wood and brick, in dull rows, with thresholds but little elevated above the street. Rarely a front yard or blooming garden-plot relieves the dreary monotony. Occasionally there is a three-story house, comfortable, no doubt and sufficiently expensive, about which the one thing remarkable is the total absence of taste in its construction. In this respect Gettysburg is but a fair sample of a large class of American towns, the builders of which seem never once to have been conscious that there exists such a thing as beauty.

John Burns, known as "the hero of Gettysburg," was almost the first person whose acquaintance I made. He was sitting under the thick shade of an English elm in front of the tavern. The landlord introduced him as "the old man who took his gun and went into the first day's fight." He rose to his feet and received me with sturdy politeness,—his evident delight in the celebrity he enjoys twinkling through the veil of a naturally modest demeanor.

"John will go with you and show you the different parts of the battle-ground," said the landlord. "Will you, John?"

"Oh, yes, I'll go," said John, quite readily; and we set out at once.

A mile south of the town is Cemetery Hill, the head and front of an important ridge, running two miles farther south to Round Top,—the ridge held by General Meade's army during the great battles. The Rebels attacked on three sides,—on the west, on the north, and on the east; breaking their forces in vain upon this tremendous wedge, of which Cemetery Hill may be considered the point. A portion of Ewell's Corps had passed through the town several days before, and neglected to secure that very commanding position. Was it mere accident, or something more, which thus gave the key to the country into our hands, and led the invaders, alarmed by Meade's vigorous pursuit, to fall back and fight the decisive battle here?

With the old "hero" at my side pointing out the various points of interest, I ascended Cemetery Hill. The view from the top is beautiful and striking. On the north and east is spread a finely variegated farm country; on the west, with woods and valleys and sunny slopes between, rise the summits of the Blue Ridge.

It was a soft and peaceful summer day. There was scarce a sound to break the stillness, save the shrill note of the locust, and the perpetual click-click of the stone-cutters, at work upon the granite headstones of the soldiers' cemetery. There was nothing to indicate to a stranger that so tranquil a spot had ever been a scene of strife. We were walking in the time-hallowed place of the dead, by whose side the martyr-soldiers, who fought so bravely and so well on those terrible first days of July, slept as sweetly and securely as they.

"It don't look here as it did after the battle," said John Burns. "Sad work was made with the tombstones. The ground was all covered with dead horses, and broken wagons, and pieces of shells, and battered muskets, and[Pg 618] everything of that kind, not to speak of the heaps of dead." But now the tombstones have been replaced, the neat iron fences have been mostly repaired, and scarcely a vestige of the fight remains. Only the burial-places of the slain are there. Thirty-five hundred and sixty slaughtered Union soldiers lie on the field of Gettysburg. This number does not include those whose bodies have been claimed by friends and removed.

The new cemetery, devoted to the patriot slain, and dedicated with fitting ceremonies on the 19th of November, 1863, adjoins the old one. In the centre is the spot reserved for the monument, the corner-stone of which was laid on the 4th of July, 1865. The cemetery is semicircular, in the form of an amphitheatre, except that the slope is reversed, the monument occupying the highest place. The granite headstones resemble rows of semicircular seats. Side by side, with two feet of ground allotted to each, and with their heads towards the monument, rest the three thousand five hundred and sixty. The name of each, when it could be ascertained, together with the number of the company and regiment in which he served, is lettered on the granite at his head. But the barbarous practice of stripping such of our dead as fell into their hands, in which the Rebels indulged here as elsewhere, rendered it impossible to identify large numbers. The headstones of these are lettered, "Unknown." At the time when I visited the cemetery, the sections containing most of the unknown had not yet received their headstones, and their resting-places were indicated by a forest of stakes. I have seen few sadder sights.

The spectacle of so large a field crowded with the graves of the slain brings home to the heart an overpowering sense of the horror and wickedness of war. Yet, as I have said, not all our dead are here. None of the Rebel dead are here. Not one of those who fell on other fields, or died in hospitals and prisons in those States where the war was chiefly waged,—not one out of those innumerable martyred hosts lies on this pleasant hill. The bodies of once living and brave men, slowly mouldering to dust in this sanctified soil, form but a small, a single sheaf from that great recent harvest reaped by Death with the sickle of war.

Once living and brave! How full of life, how full of unflinching courage and fiery zeal, they marched up hither to fight the great fight, and to give their lives! And each man had his history; each soldier resting here had his interests, his loves, his darling hopes, the same as you or I. All were laid down with his life. It was no trifle to him, it was as great a thing to him as it would be to you, thus to be cut off from all things dear in this world, and to drop at once into a vague eternity. Grown accustomed to the waste of life through years of war, we learn to think too lightly of such sacrifices. "So many killed,"—with that brief sentence we glide over the unimaginably fearful fact, and pass on to other details. We indulge in pious commonplaces,—"They have gone to a better world, they have their reward," and the like. No doubt this is true; if not, then life is a mockery, and hope a lie. But the future, with all our faith, is vague and uncertain. It lies before us like one of those unidentified heroes, hidden from sight, deep-buried, mysterious, its headstone lettered "Unknown." Will it ever rise? Through trouble, toils, and privations,—not insensible to danger, but braving it,—these men—and not these only, but the uncounted thousands represented by these—confronted, for their country's sake, that awful uncertainty. Did they believe in your better world? Whether they did or not, this world was a reality, and dear to them.

I looked into one of the trenches in which workmen were laying foundations for the headstones, and saw the ends of the coffins protruding. It was silent and dark down there. Side by side the soldiers slept, as side by side they fought. I chose out one coffin from among the rest, and thought of him whose dust it contained,—your[Pg 619] brother and mine, although we never knew him. I thought of him as a child, tenderly reared—for this. I thought of his home, his heart-life:—

"Had he a father?
Had he a mother?
Had he a sister?
Had he a brother?
Or was there a nearer one
Still, and a dearer one
Yet, than all other?"

I could not know: in this world, none will ever know. He sleeps with the undistinguishable multitude, and his headstone is lettered, "Unknown."

Eighteen loyal States are represented by the tenants of these graves. New York has the greatest number,—upwards of eight hundred; Pennsylvania comes next in order, having upwards of five hundred. Tall men from Maine, young braves from Wisconsin, heroes from every state between, met here to defend their country and their homes. Sons of Massachusetts fought for Massachusetts on Pennsylvania soil. If they had not fought, or if our armies had been annihilated there, the whole North would have been at the mercy of Lee's victorious legions. As Cemetery Hill was the pivot on which turned the fortunes of the battle, so Gettysburg itself was the pivot on which turned the destiny of the nation. Here the power of aggressive treason culminated; and from that memorable Fourth of July when the Rebel invaders, beaten in the three days' previous fight, stole away down the valleys and behind the mountains on their ignominious retreat,—from that day, signalized also by the fall of Vicksburg in the West, it waned and waned, until it was swept from the earth.

Cemetery Hill should be the first visited by the tourist of the battle-ground. Here a view of the entire field, and a clear understanding of the military operations of the three days, are best obtained. Looking north, away on your left lies Seminary Ridge, the scene of the first day's fight, in which the gallant Reynolds fell, and from which our troops were driven back in confusion through the town by overwhelming numbers, in the afternoon. Farther south spread the beautiful woods and vales that swarmed with Rebels on the second and third day, and from which they made such desperate charges upon our lines. On the right as you stand is Culp's Hill, the scene of Ewell's furious, but futile, attempts to flank us there. You are in the focus of a half-circle, from all points of which was poured in upon this now silent hill such an artillery fire as has seldom been concentrated upon one point of an open field in any of the great battles upon this planet. From this spot extend your observations as you please.

Guided by the sturdy old man, I proceeded first to Culp's Hill, following a line of breastworks into the woods. Here are seen some of the soldiers' devices hastily adopted for defence. A rude embankment of stakes and logs and stones, covered with earth, forms the principal work; aside from which you meet with little private breastworks, as it were, consisting of rocks heaped up by the trunk of a tree, or beside a larger rock, or across a cleft in the rocks, where some sharpshooter stood and exercised his skill at his ease.

The woods are of oak chiefly, but with a liberal sprinkling of chestnut, black-walnut, hickory, and other common forest-trees. Very beautiful they were that day, with their great, silent trunks, all so friendly, their clear vistas and sun-spotted spaces. Beneath reposed huge, sleepy ledges and boulders, their broad backs covered with lichens and old moss. A more fitting spot for a picnic, one would say, than for a battle.

Yet here remain more astonishing evidences of fierce fighting than anywhere else about Gettysburg. The trees in certain localities are all seamed, disfigured, and literally dying or dead from their wounds. The marks of balls in some of the trunks are countless. Here are limbs, and yonder are whole tree-tops, cut off by shells. Many of these trees have been hacked for lead, and chips containing bullets have been carried away for relics.

Past the foot of the hill runs Rock Creek, a muddy, sluggish stream, "great[Pg 620] for eels," said John Burns. Big boulders and blocks of stone lie scattered along its bed. Its low shores are covered with thin grass, shaded by the forest-trees. Plenty of Rebel knapsacks and haversacks lie rotting upon the ground; and there are Rebel graves in the woods near by. By these I was inclined to pause longer than John Burns thought it worth the while. I felt a pity for these unhappy men which he could not understand. To him they were dead Rebels, and nothing more; and he spoke with great disgust of an effort which had been made by certain "Copperheads" of the town to have all the buried Rebels, now scattered about in the woods and fields, gathered together in a cemetery near that dedicated to our own dead.

"Yet consider, my friend," I said, "though they were altogether in the wrong, and their cause was infernal, these, too, were brave men; and under different circumstances, with no better hearts than they had, they might have been lying in honored graves up yonder, instead of being buried in heaps, like dead cattle, down here."

Is there not a better future for these men also? The time will come when we shall at least cease to hate them.

The cicada was singing, insects were humming in the air, crows were cawing in the tree-tops, the sunshine slept on the boughs or nestled in the beds of brown leaves on the ground,—all so pleasant and so pensive, I could have passed the day there. But John reminded me that night was approaching, and we returned to Gettysburg.

That evening I walked alone to Cemetery Hill to see the sun set behind the Blue Ridge. A quiet prevailed there still more profound than during the day. The stonecutters had finished their day's work and gone home. The katydids were singing, and the shrill, sad chirp of the crickets welcomed the cool shades. The sun went down, and the stars came out and shone upon the graves,—the same stars which were no doubt shining even then upon many a vacant home and mourning heart left lonely by the husbands, the fathers, the dear brothers and sons, who fell at Gettysburg.

The next morning, according to agreement, I went to call on the old hero. I found him living in the upper part of a little whitewashed two-story house, on the corner of two streets, west of the town. A flight of wooden steps outside took me to his door. He was there to welcome me. John Burns is a stoutish, slightly bent, hale old man, with a light blue eye, a long, aggressive nose, a firm-set mouth, expressive of determination of character, and a choleric temperament. His hair, originally dark brown, is considerably bleached with age; and his beard, once sandy, covers his face (shaved once or twice a week) with a fine crop of silver stubble. A short, massy kind of man; about five feet four or five inches in height, I should judge. He was never measured but once in his life. That was when he enlisted in the War of 1812. He was then nineteen years old, and stood five feet in his shoes. "But I've growed a heap since," said the old hero.

He introduced me to his wife, a slow, somewhat melancholy old lady, in ill health. "She has been poorly now for a good many years." They have no children.

At my request he told me his story. He is of Scotch parentage; and who knows but he may be akin to the ploughman-poet whose "arrowy songs still sing in our morning air"? He was born and bred in Burlington, New Jersey. A shoemaker by trade, he became a soldier by choice, and fought the British in what used to be the "last war." I am afraid he contracted bad habits in the army. For some years after the war he led a wandering and dissipated life. Forty years ago he chanced to find himself in Gettysburg, where he married and settled down. But his unfortunate habits still adhered to him, and he was long looked upon as a man of little worth. At last, however, when there seemed to be no hope of his ever being anything but a despised old man, he took a sudden resolution to reform. The fact that he kept that[Pg 621] resolution, and still keeps it so strictly that it is impossible to prevail upon him to taste a drop of intoxicating liquor, attests a truly heroic will. He was afterwards a constable in Gettysburg, in which capacity he served some six years.

On the morning of the first day's fight he sent his wife away, telling her that he would take care of the house. The firing was near by, over Seminary Ridge. Soon a wounded soldier came into the town and stopped at an old house on the opposite corner. Burns saw the poor fellow lay down his musket, and the inspiration to go into the battle seems then first to have seized him. He went over and demanded the gun.

"What are you going to do with it?" asked the soldier.

"I'm going to shoot some of the damned Rebels!" replied John.

He is not a swearing man, and the strong adjective is to be taken in a strictly literal, not a profane, sense.

Having obtained the gun, he pushed out on the Chambersburg Pike, and was soon in the thick of the skirmish.

"I wore a high-crowned hat, and a long-tailed blue; and I was seventy years old."

The sight of so old a man, in such costume, rushing fearlessly forward to get a shot in the very front of the battle, of course attracted attention. He fought with the Seventh Wisconsin Regiment, the Colonel of which ordered him back, and questioned him, and finally, seeing the old man's patriotic determination, gave him a good rifle in place of the musket he had brought with him.

"Are you a good shot?"

"Tolerable good," said John, who is an old fox-hunter.

"Do you see that Rebel riding yonder?"

"I do."

"Can you fetch him?"

"I can try."

The old man took deliberate aim and fired. He does not say he killed the Rebel, but simply that his shot was cheered by the Wisconsin boys, and that afterwards the horse the Rebel rode was seen galloping with an empty saddle. "That's all I know about it."

He fought until our forces were driven back in the afternoon. He had already received two slight wounds, and a third one through the arm, to which he paid little attention: "only the blood running down my hand bothered me a heap." Then, as he was slowly falling back with the rest, he received a final shot through the leg. "Down I went, and the whole Rebel army ran over me." Helpless, nearly bleeding to death from his wounds, he lay upon the field all night. "About sun-up, next morning, I crawled to a neighbor's house, and found it full of wounded Rebels." The neighbor afterwards took him to his own house, which had also been turned into a Rebel hospital. A Rebel surgeon dressed his wounds; and he says he received decent treatment at the hands of the enemy, until a Copperhead woman living opposite "told on him."

"That's the old man who said he was going out to shoot some of the damned Rebels!"

Some officers came and questioned him, endeavoring to convict him of "bushwhacking"; but the old man gave them little satisfaction. This was on Friday, the third day of the battle; and he was alone with his wife in the upper part of the house. The Rebels left, and soon after two shots were fired. One bullet entered the window, passed over Burns's head, and struck the wall behind the lounge on which he was lying. The other shot fell lower, passing through a door. Burns is certain that the design was to assassinate him. That the shots were fired by the Rebels there can be no doubt; and as they were fired from their own side, towards the town, of which they held possession at the time, John's theory was plainly the true one. The hole in the window, and the bullet-marks in the door and wall remain.

Burns went with me over the ground where the first day's fight took place. He showed me the scene of his hot day's work,—pointed out two trees, behind which he and one of the Wisconsin boys stood and "picked off every Rebel[Pg 622] that showed his head," and the spot where he fell and lay all night under the stars and dew.

This act of daring on the part of so aged a citizen, and his subsequent sufferings from wounds, naturally called out a great deal of sympathy, and caused him to be looked upon as a hero. But a hero, like a prophet, has not all honor in his own country. There's a wide-spread, violent prejudice against Burns among that class of the townspeople termed "Copperheads." The young men, especially, who did not take their guns and go into the fight as this old man did, but who ran, when running was possible, in the opposite direction, dislike Burns. Some aver that he did not have a gun in his hand that day, and that he was wounded by accident, happening to get between the two lines. Others admit the fact of his carrying a gun into the fight, but tell you, with a sardonic smile, that his "motives were questionable." Some, who are eager enough to make money on his picture, sold against his will, and without profit to him, will tell you in confidence, after you have purchased it, that "Burns is a perfect humbug."

After studying the old man's character, conversing both with his friends and enemies, and sifting evidence, during four days spent in Gettysburg, I formed my conclusions. Of his going into the fight, and fighting, there is no doubt whatever. Of his bravery, amounting even to rashness, there can be no reasonable question. He is a patriot of the most zealous sort; a hot, impulsive man, who meant what he said, when he started with the gun to go and shoot some of the Rebels qualified with the strong adjective. A thoroughly honest man, too, I think; although some of his remarks are to be taken with considerable allowance. His temper causes him to form immoderate opinions and to make strong statements. "He always goes beyant," said my landlord, a firm friend of his, speaking of this tendency to overstep the bounds of calm judgment.

Burns is a sagacious observer of men and things, and makes occasionally such shrewd remarks as this:—

"Whenever you see the marks of shells and bullets on a house all covered up, and painted and plastered over, that's the house of a Rebel sympathizer; but when you see them all preserved and kept in sight, as something to be proud of, that's the house of a true Union man."

Well, whatever is said or thought of the old hero, he is what he is, and has satisfaction in that, and not in other people's opinions; for so it must finally be with all. Character is the one thing valuable. Reputation, which is a mere shadow of the man, what his character is reputed to be, is, in the long run, of infinitely less importance.

I am happy to add that the old man has been awarded a pension.

The next day I mounted a hard-trotting horse and rode to Round Top. On the way I stopped at the historical peach-orchard, known as Sherfy's, where Sickles's Corps was repulsed, after a terrific conflict, on Thursday, the second day of the battle. The peaches were green on the trees then; but they were ripe now, and the trees were breaking down with them. One of Mr. Sherfy's girls—the youngest, she told me—was in the orchard. She had in her basket rareripes to sell. They were large and juicy and sweet,—all the redder, no doubt, for the blood of the brave that had drenched the sod. So calm and impassive is Nature, silently turning all things to use! The carcass of a mule, or the godlike shape of a warrior cut down in the hour of glory,—she knows no difference between them, but straightway proceeds to convert both alike into new forms of life and beauty.

Between fields made memorable by hard fighting I rode eastward, and, entering a pleasant wood, ascended Little Round Top. The eastern slope of this rugged knob is covered with timber. The western side is steep, and wild with rocks and bushes. Near by is the Devil's Den, a dark cavity in the rocks, interesting henceforth on account of the fight that took place here for the possession of these heights. A photographic[Pg 623] view, taken the Sunday morning after the battle, shows eight dead Rebels tumbled headlong, with their guns, among the rocks below the Den.

A little farther on is Round Top itself, a craggy tusk of the rock-jawed earth pushed up there towards the azure. It is covered all over with broken ledges, boulders, and fields of stones. Among these the forest-trees have taken root,—thrifty Nature making the most of things even here. The serene leafy tops of ancient oaks tower aloft in the bluish-golden air. It is a natural fortress, which our boys strengthened still further by throwing up the loose stones into handy breastworks.

Returning, I rode the whole length of the ridge held by our troops, realizing more and more the importance of that extraordinary position. It is like a shoe, of which Round Top represents the heel, and Cemetery Hill the toe. Here all our forces were concentrated on Thursday and Friday, within a space of three miles. Movements from one part to another of this compact field could be made with celerity. Lee's forces, on the other hand, extended over a circle of seven miles or more around, in a country where all their movements could be watched by us and anticipated.

At a point well forward on the foot of this shoe, Meade had his head-quarters. I tied my horse at the gate, and entered the little square box of a house which enjoys that historical celebrity. It is scarcely more than a hut, having but two little rooms on the ground-floor, and I know not what narrow, low-roofed chambers above. Two small girls, with brown, German faces, were paring wormy apples under the porch; and a round-shouldered, bareheaded, and barefooted woman, also with a German face and a strong German accent, was drawing water at the well. I asked her for a drink, which she kindly gave me, and invited me into the house.

The little box was whitewashed outside and in, except the floor and ceilings and inside doors, which were neatly scoured. The woman sat down to some mending, and entered freely into conversation. She was a widow, and the mother of six children. The two girls cutting wormy apples at the door were the youngest, and the only ones that were left to her. A son in the army was expected home in a few days. She did not know how old her children were,—she did not know how old she herself was, "she was so forgetful."

She ran away at the time of the fight, but was sorry afterwards she did not stay at home. "She lost a heap." The house was robbed of almost everything; "coverlids and sheets and some of our own clo'es, all carried away. They got about two ton of hay from me. I owed a little on my land yit, and thought I'd put in two lots of wheat that year, and it was all trampled down, and I didn't get nothing from it. I had seven pieces of meat yit, and them was all took. All I had when I got back was jest a little bit of flour yit. The fences was all tore down, so that there wa'n't one standing, and the rails was burnt up. One shell come into the house and knocked a bedstead all to pieces for me. One come in under the roof and knocked out a rafter for me. The porch was all knocked down. There was seventeen dead horses on my land. They burnt five of 'em around my best peach-tree, and killed it; so I ha'n't no peaches this year. They broke down all my young apple-trees for me. The dead horses sp'iled my spring, so I had to have my well dug."

I inquired if she had ever got anything for the damage.

"Not much. I jest sold the bones of the dead horses. I couldn't do it till this year, for the meat hadn't rotted off yit. I got fifty cents a hundred. There was seven hundred and fifty pounds. You can reckon up what they come to. That's all I got."

Not much, indeed!

This poor woman's entire interest in the great battle was, I found, centred in her own losses. That the country lost or gained she did not know nor care, never having once thought of that side of the question.[Pg 624]

The town is full of similar reminiscences; and it is a subject which everybody except the "Copperheads" likes to talk with you about. There were heroic women here, too. On the evening of Wednesday, as our forces were retreating, an exhausted Union soldier came to Mr. Culp's house, near Culp's Hill, and said, as he sank down,—

"If I can't have a drink of water, I must die."

Mrs. Culp, who had taken refuge in the cellar,—for the house was now between the two fires,—said,—

"I will go to the spring and get you some water."

It was then nearly dark. As she was returning with the water, a bullet whizzed past her. It was fired by a sharpshooter on our own side, who had mistaken her for one of the advancing Rebels. Greatly frightened, she hurried home, bringing the water safely. One poor soldier was made eternally grateful by this courageous womanly deed. A few days later the sharpshooter came to the house and learned that it was a ministering angel in the guise of a woman he had shot at. Great, also, must have been his gratitude for the veil of darkness which caused him to miss his aim.

Shortly after the battle, sad tales were told of the cruel inhospitality shown to the wounded Union troops by the people of Gettysburg. Many of these stories were doubtless true; but they were true only of the more brutal of the Rebel sympathizers. The Union men threw open their hearts and their houses to the wounded.

One day I met a soldier on Cemetery Hill, who was in the battle, and who, being at Harrisburg for a few days, had taken advantage of an excursion-train to come over and revisit the scene of that terrible experience. Getting into conversation, we walked down the hill together. As we were approaching a double house with high wooden steps, he pointed out the farther one, and said,—

"Saturday morning, after the fight, I got a piece of bread at that house. A man stood on the steps and gave each of our fellows a piece. We were hungry as bears, and it was a godsend. I should like to see that man and thank him."

Just then the man himself appeared at the door. We went over, and I introduced the soldier, who, with tears in his eyes, expressed his gratitude for that act of Christian charity.

"Yes," said the man, when reminded of the circumstance, "we did what we could. We baked bread here night and day to give to every hungry soldier who wanted it. We sent away our own children, to make room for the wounded soldiers, and for days our house was a hospital."

Instances of this kind are not few. Let them be remembered to the honor of Gettysburg.

Of the magnitude of a battle fought so desperately during three days by armies numbering not far from two hundred thousand men no adequate conception can be formed. One or two facts may help to give a faint idea of it. Mr. Culp's meadow, below Cemetery Hill,—a lot of near twenty acres,—was so thickly strown with Rebel dead, that Mr. Culp declared he "could have walked across it without putting foot upon the ground." Upwards of three hundred Confederates were buried in that fair field in one hole. On Mr. Gwynn's farm, below Round Top, near five hundred sons of the South lie promiscuously heaped in one huge sepulchre. Of the quantities of iron, of the wagon-loads of arms, knapsacks, haversacks, and clothing, which strewed the country, no estimate can be made. Government set a guard over these, and for weeks officials were busy in gathering together all the more valuable spoils. The harvest of bullets was left for the citizens to glean. Many of the poorer people did a thriving business, picking up these missiles of death, and selling them to dealers; two of whom alone sent to Baltimore fifty tons of lead collected in this way from this battle-field.[Pg 625]


The greatest name in American history is that of Alexander Hamilton, if we consider the versatility of the man who bore it, the early age at which he began a great public career, the success which attended all his labors, the impression which he made on his country and its government, and the rare foresight by which he was enabled to understand that our political system would encounter that very danger through which it has just passed,—and passed not without receiving severe wounds, which have left it scarcely recognizable even by its warmest admirers. Talleyrand, who had a just appreciation of Hamilton's talents and character, said that he had divined Europe. An American need not be possessed of high powers or position to venture the assertion that Hamilton divined American history, and foresaw all that we have suffered because our predecessors would build the national edifice on sand, so that it could not stand against the political storm which it was in the breath of selfish partisans to send against it, but has, as it were, to be buttressed by mighty fleets and armies. A system, which, had it been rightly formed in the first place, would have been self-sustaining, was saved from destruction solely by the uprising of the people, who had to operate with bullets and bayonets, when it had been fondly hoped that the ballot would ever be a sufficiently formidable weapon in the hand of the American citizen, and that he never would have to become the citizen-soldier in a civil contest. Had Hamilton been allowed to shape our national polity, it would have worked as successfully for ages as that financial system which he formed has ever worked, and which has never been departed from without the result being most injurious to the country. At this day, when events have so signally justified the views of Alexander Hamilton, and are daily justifying them,[F] it may not be unprofitable to glance over the career of one whose virtues, services, and genius are constantly rising in the estimation of his countrymen and of the world, "the dead growing visible from the shades of time."

To be born at all is to be well born is the general belief in this very liberal-minded age: but even the most determined of democrats is not averse to a good descent; and Hamilton, who was a democrat in no sense, had one of the noblest ancestries in Europe, though himself of American birth. His family was of Scotland, a country which, the smallness of its population considered, has produced more able and useful men than any other. The Hamiltons of Scotland, and we may add of France, were one of the noblest of patrician houses, and they had a great part in the stormy history of their country. Walter de Hamilton, of Cambuskeith, in the[Pg 626] County of Ayr,—Burns's county,—second son of Sir David de Hamilton, Dominus de Cadyow, was the founder of that branch of the Hamilton family to which the American statesman belonged. He flourished temp. Robert III., second of the Stuart kings, almost five hundred years ago. Many noble Scotch names are very common, because it was the custom of the families to which they belonged to extend them to all their retainers; but Alexander Hamilton obtained his name in no such way as that. His descent from the Lord of Cadyow is made up with the nicest precision. The family became of Grange in the sixteenth century. The names of the ladies married by the heads of the Hamiltons of Cambuskeith and Grange all belong to those of the ingenuous classes. The same Christian names are continued in the line, that of Alexander appearing as early as the latter part of the fifteenth century, and reappearing frequently for three hundred years. Alexander Hamilton of Grange, fourteenth in descent from Sir David de Hamilton, had three sons, the third bearing his father's name; and that son's fifth child was James Hamilton, who emigrated to the West Indies, settling in the Island of Nevis. Mr. James Hamilton married a French lady, whose maiden name was Faucette, and whose father was one of many persons of worth who were forced to leave France because of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, through the bigotry of that little man who is commonly called the Grand Monarch, and whose bigotry was made active by the promptings of Madame de Maintenon, who was descended from a fierce Huguenot, as was the monarch himself.

Alexander Hamilton was born on the 11th of January, 1757. His mother died in his early childhood, a more than usually severe loss, for she was a superior woman. He was the only one of her children who survived her. His father soon became poor, and the child was dependent upon the relatives of his mother for support and education. They resided at Santa Cruz, where he was brought up. Just before completing his thirteenth year he entered the counting-house of Mr. Cruger, a merchant of Santa Cruz. Young as he was, his employer left him in charge of his business while he made a visit to New York, and had every reason to be satisfied with the arrangement. He read all the books he could obtain, and read them understandingly. Even at that early age he was remarkable for the manliness of his mind. He wrote, too; and an account of the hurricane of 1772, which he contributed to a public journal, attracted so much attention that he was sought out, and it was determined to send him to New York to be regularly educated. He left Santa Cruz, and sailed for Boston, which port he reached in October, 1772. Proceeding to New York, he was sent to school at Elizabethtown, New Jersey; and in 1773 entered King's College, in the city of New York, where he pursued his studies with signal success. But events were happening that were to place him in a very different school from that in which he was preparing to become a physician. He was to be the physician of the State, and to that end he was thrown among men, and appointed to do the work of men of the highest intellect, at an age when most persons have not half completed the ordinary training which is to fit them to begin the common routine of common life.

Hamilton's connection with the history of his country, as one of those who were making material for it, began at the age of seventeen. The American Revolution was moving steadily onward when he arrived at New York, and by the summer of 1774 it had assumed large proportions. He first spoke at "the Great Meeting in the Fields," July 6th, and astonished those who heard him by the fervor of his eloquence and the closeness of his logic. His fame dates from that day. He sided with the people of his new home from the time that he came among them, and never had any doubt or hesitation as to the course which duty required him[Pg 627] to adopt and pursue. As a writer he was even more successful than as a speaker. A pamphlet which he wrote in December, 1774, vindicating the Continental Congress, attracted much attention, and that and another from his pen were attributed to veteran Whigs, particularly to John Jay; but the evidence of Hamilton's authorship is perfect, or we might well agree with the Tories, and believe that works so able could not have been written by a youth of eighteen. Other writings of his subsequently appeared, and were most serviceable to the patriots. Young as he was, he was already regarded by the country as one of its foremost champions with the pen. The time was fast coming when it was to be made known that the holder of the pen could also hold the sword, and hold it to effective purpose.

He had joined a volunteer corps while in college, and was forward in all its doings. The first time he was under fire was when this corps was engaged in removing guns from the Battery. The fire of a man-of-war was opened on it, doing some injury. This was the first act of war in New York, and it is interesting to know that Hamilton had part in it. In the commotion that followed, he was zealous in his efforts to prevent the triumph of a mob, and not more zealous than successful. From the very beginning of his career, he never thought of liberty, save as the closest associate of law. Diligently devoting himself to the study of the military art, and particularly to gunnery, he asked for the command of an artillery company, and obtained it after a thorough examination, being made captain on the 14th of March, 1776, when but two months beyond his nineteenth year. He completed his company, and expended the very last money he received from his relatives in making it fit for the field. Even at that time he advocated promotion from the ranks, and succeeded in having his first sergeant made a commissioned officer: a fact worthy of mention, when it is recollected that his enemies have always represented him as an aristocrat, there being nothing less aristocratical than the placing of the sword of command in the hands of men who have carried the musket. While pursuing his military duties, he did not neglect the study of politics; and his notes show that before the Declaration of Independence he had thought out a plan of government for the nation that was so soon to come into existence. Among them is this inquiry: "Quære, would it not be advisable to let all taxes, even those imposed by the States, be collected by persons of Congressional appointment? and would it not be advisable to pay the collectors so much per cent on the sums collected?" This, as his son says, "is the intuitive idea of a general government, truly such, which he first proposed to Congress, and earnestly advocated." He was in his twentieth year when he showed himself capable of understanding the nature of the situation, and the wants of the country. Probably no other person had got so far at that time, and it required years for the people to reach the point at which Hamilton had arrived intuitively. With them it was a conclusion reached through bitter experience. The lesson has not been perfectly acquired even at this time.

Hamilton's company belonged to that army which Washington commanded, in 1776, in New England and New Jersey; and it was while the army was on the heights of Haerlem, in the autumn of 1776, that he attracted the notice of Washington. The General inspected an earthwork which the Captain was constructing, conversed with him, and invited him to his tent. This was the beginning of an acquaintance that was destined to have memorable consequences and lasting effects on the American nation. On the 1st of March, 1777, Hamilton was appointed to a place on Washington's staff, becoming one of his aides, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel,—his "principal and most confidential aide," to use Washington's language. It was not without much hesitation that Hamilton accepted this post. He had already made a name, and his promotion in the line of the army was secured; and had he remained to take[Pg 628] that promotion, he would have won the highest distinction, supposing him to have escaped the casualties of war. His military genius was unquestioned; and what Washington required of him was service that would not secure promotion or opportunity to show that he deserved it. He required the mind and the pen of Hamilton. These he obtained; and the amount of labor performed by the youthful aide-de-camp with his pen was enormous. He was something more than an aide and a private secretary. He was the commander's trusted friend, and he proved that he deserved the trust reposed in him, not less by his high-minded conduct than by the talent which he brought to the discharge of the duties of a most difficult post,—duties which were of an arduous and highly responsible character. The limits of a sketch like the present do not admit of more than the general mention of his great services. Those who would know them in full should consult the work in which Mr. John C. Hamilton has done justice to the part which his father had, first in the Revolutionary contest, and then in the creation of the American Republic, and the settlement of its policy.[G] There was no event with which Washington was concerned for more than four years with which Hamilton was not also concerned. The range of his business and his labors was equal to his talents, and it is not possible to say more of them. He was but twenty years old when Washington thus really placed him next to himself in the work of conducting the American cause. In what estimation his services were held by the commander-in-chief may be inferred from the fact that he was selected by him, in 1780, being then in his twenty-fourth year, as a special minister to France, to induce the French Government to grant more aid to this country. Hamilton did not take the office, because it was desired by his friend, Colonel Laurens, whose father was then a prisoner in England.

Colonel Hamilton was married on the 14th of December, 1780, to Miss Elizabeth Schuyler, second daughter of General Philip Schuyler, one of the most distinguished soldiers of the Revolution, to whom was due the defeat of General Burgoyne, and head of one of those old families of which New York possessed so many. This lady was destined to survive her husband half a century, and to be associated with two ages of the country,—her death occurring in 1854, in her ninety-eighth year. She was a woman of exalted character, and worthy to be the wife of Alexander Hamilton.

The relations between Washington and Hamilton were briefly interrupted early in 1781, and Hamilton left the commander's military family. He had a command in that allied army which Washington and Rochambeau led to Yorktown, the success of which put an end to the "great war" of the Revolution on this continent. When the British redoubts were stormed, Hamilton commanded the American column, and carried the redoubt he assailed before the French had taken that which it fell to their lot to attack. Shortly afterward he retired from the service, and, taking up his residence in Albany, devoted himself to the study of the law. In 1782 he was elected a member of the Continental Congress by the Legislature of New York, and took his seat on the 25th of November. He proved an energetic member, his attention being largely directed to the financial state of the country, than which nothing could be more dreary. At an early day he had been convinced that something sound must be attempted in relation to our finances; and in 1780 he had addressed a letter on the subject to Robert Morris, which showed that his ideas regarding money and credit were those of a great statesman. But the time had not come in which he was to mould the country to his will, and make it rich in spite of itself, and against[Pg 629] its own exertions. More suffering was necessary before the people could be made to listen to the words of truth, though uttered by genius. Military matters also commanded the attention of the young member, as was natural, he having been so distinguished as a soldier, and retaining that interest in the army which he had acquired from six years' connection with it. His Congressional career was brilliant, and added much to his reputation. It seemed that he was destined to succeed in everything he attempted. Yet at that time he thought of retiring altogether from public life, and of devoting himself entirely to his profession, in which he had already become eminent. In November, 1783, he removed to the city of New York, which then had entered on that astonishing growth which has since been so steadily maintained.

The first of the law labors of this great man were in support of those national principles which are more closely identified with his name than with that of any other individual. In advocating the cause of his client, he had to argue that the terms of the treaty of peace with England and the law of nations were of more force than a statute passed by the Legislature of the State of New York. He carried the court as decidedly with him as public opinion was against him; and he had to defend himself in several pamphlets, which he did with his usual success. As time went on, it became every day more apparent that the country's great need was a strong central government, and that, until such a government should be adopted, prosperity could not be looked for, nor order, nor anything like national life; and had not something been done, North America would doubtless have presented very much the same spectacle that has long been afforded by South America, and from which that rich land is but now slowly recovering. Of those who most earnestly and effectively advocated the action necessary to save the country from anarchy, Hamilton was among the foremost. As we have seen, he had thought soundly on this subject as early as 1776, and years and events had confirmed and strengthened the impression formed before independence had been resolved upon.

Appointed a delegate from New York to the commercial convention held at Annapolis in 1786, Colonel Hamilton wrote the address put forth by that body to the States, out of which grew the Convention of 1787, which made the Federal Constitution. To that Convention he was sent by the New York Legislature, and his part in the work done was of the first order, though the Constitution formed was far from commanding his entire approbation. Like a wise statesman, who does not insist that means of action shall be perfect, but makes the best use he can of those that are available, Hamilton accepted the Constitution, and became the strongest advocate for its adoption, and its firmest supporter after its adoption. This part of his life—a part as honorable to him as it was useful to his country—has been systematically misrepresented, so that many Americans have been taught to believe that he was an enemy of freedom, and would have established an arbitrary government. He was accused of being opposed to any republican polity, and of seeking the annihilation of the State Governments. He was called a monarchist and a consolidationist. These misrepresentations of his opinions and acts were forever dispelled, according to the views of honest and unprejudiced men, by the publication of a letter which he wrote to Timothy Pickering, in 1803. In that letter he said,—"The highest-toned propositions which I made to the Convention were for a President, Senate, and Judges, during good behavior, and a House of Representatives for three years. Though I would have enlarged the legislative power of the General Government, yet I never contemplated the abolition of the State Governments; but, on the contrary, they were, in some particulars, constituent parts of my plan. This plan was, in my conception, conformable with the strict theory of a government purely republican; the essential[Pg 630] criteria of which are, that the principal organs of the executive and legislative departments be elected by the people, and hold the office by a responsible and temporary or defeasible nature.... I may truly, then, say that I never proposed either a President or Senate for life, and that I neither recommended nor meditated the annihilation of State Governments.... It is a fact that my final opinion was against an executive during good behavior, on account of the increased danger to the public tranquillity incident to the election of a magistrate of his degree of permanency. In the plan of a constitution which I drew up while the Convention was sitting, and which I communicated to Mr. Madison about the close of it, perhaps a day or two after, the office of President has no longer duration than for three years. This plan was predicated upon these bases: 1. That the political principles of the people of this country would endure nothing but a republican government; 2. That, in the actual situation of the country, it was itself right and proper that the republican theory should have a full and fair trial; 3. That to such a trial it was essential that the government should be so constructed as to give it all the energy and the stability reconcilable with the principles of that theory. These were the genuine sentiments of my heart; and upon them I then acted. I sincerely hope that it may not hereafter be discovered, that, through want of sufficient attention to the last idea, the experiment of republican government, even in this country, has not been as complete, as satisfactory, and as decisive as could be wished."

Such were the views of Hamilton in 1787, and which had undergone no change in the sixteen years that elapsed between that time and the date of his letter to Colonel Pickering. Yet this man, so true a republican that his only desire was to have the republican polity that he knew must here exist so framed and constituted as to become permanent, has been drawn as a bigoted monarchist and as the enemy of freedom! In the eyes of good democrats he was the Evil Principle incarnate; and even to this day, in the more retired portions of the country, they believe, that, if he had lived a few years longer, he would have made himself king, and married one of the daughters of George III. They had, and some of them yet have, about as clear conceptions of Hamilton's career and conduct as Squire Western and his class had of the intentions of the English Whigs of George II.'s time, whom they suspected of the intention of seizing and selling their estates, with the purpose of sending the proceeds to Hanover, to be invested in the funds.

The leaders of the great party which triumphed in 1801, and who had libelled Hamilton while they were in opposition, found it for their interest to continue their misrepresentations long after the fall of the Federalists, and when the ablest of all the Federalists had been for years in his grave. Many of them could overlook Burr's party treachery, as well as his supposed treason, because he had been the rival of Hamilton; though probably it would be unjust to them to suppose that they approved of his conduct in murdering the man whose talents and influence caused them so much alarm. So far was Hamilton from pursuing a course in the Convention of 1787 that would have embarrassed that body, because it did not adopt all his plans, that Dr. W. S. Johnson, one of Connecticut's delegates, said, that, if "the Constitution did not succeed on trial, Mr. Hamilton was less responsible for that result than any other member, for he fully and frankly pointed out to the Convention what he apprehended were the infirmities to which it was liable,—and that, if it answered the fond expectations of the public, the community would be more indebted to Mr. Hamilton than to any other member, for, after its essential outlines were agreed to, he labored most indefatigably to heal those infirmities, and to guard against the evils to which they might expose it." M. Guizot, who understands our politics,[Pg 631] who knows our history, and whose practical statesmanship and lofty talents render his opinion most valuable, when he declared that "there is not in the Constitution of the United States an element of order, of force, of duration, which Hamilton has not powerfully contributed to introduce into it and to give it a predominance," stated but the simplest truth. Equally correct is his remark, that "Hamilton must be classed among the men who have best known the vital principles and fundamental conditions of a government." Alone of all the New York delegates Hamilton subscribed the Constitution.

In the discussions that followed the labors of the Convention, Hamilton had the principal part in urging the adoption of the Constitution. "The Federalist," that first of all American political works, and the excellence of which was quickly recognized by foreign statesmen, was his production. Not only did he write most of it, but the least of what he wrote for it excels the best that was contributed to it by men so able as Jay and Madison. Every attempt that has been made to take from him any portion of the honor of this masterly work has failed, and it is now admitted that it can fairly be associated only with his name. "The total number of these essays," says Mr. John C. Hamilton, "by Hamilton's enumeration, approved by Madison, is seen to be eighty-five. Of this enumeration, an abbreviated copy by Hamilton from his original minute, both in Hamilton's autograph, ascribes to himself the sole authorship of sixty-three numbers, and the joint authorship with Madison of three numbers, leaving to the latter the sole authorship of fourteen numbers, and to Jay of five numbers."[H] "The Federalist" had a powerful influence on the public mind, and contributed vastly to the success of the Constitutionalists; and other writings of Hamilton had scarcely less effect. Had he not been a friend of the Constitution, and had he sought only the creation of a powerful central government, he never would have labored for the success of the Constitutional party; for the surest road to despotism would have been through that anarchy which must have followed a refusal by the people to ratify the action of the Convention of 1787. As a member of the Convention of the State of New York, Hamilton most ably supported the ratification of the Constitution made at Philadelphia.

The Constitution was adopted, and the new government was organized on the 30th of April, 1789, on which day General Washington became President of the United States. It was not until the 2d of September that the Treasury Department was created; and on the 11th Alexander Hamilton was made Secretary of the Treasury. Writing to Robert Morris, Washington had asked, "What are we to do with this heavy debt?" To which Morris answered, "There is but one man in the United States who can tell you: that is Alexander Hamilton. I am glad you have given me this opportunity to declare to you the extent of the obligations I am under to him." Hamilton had thought of the station for himself, but his warmest personal friends objected to his taking it Robert Troup says,—"I remonstrated with him: he admitted that his acceptance of it would be likely to injure his family, but said there was a strong impression on his mind that in the financial department he would essentially promote the welfare of the country; and this impression, united with Washington's request, forbade his refusal of the appointment." Having said, in conversing with Gouverneur Morris, that he was confident he could restore public credit, "Morris remonstrated with him for thinking of so perilous a position, on which calumny and[Pg 632] persecution were the inevitable attendants. 'Of that,' Hamilton answered, 'I am aware; but I am convinced it is the situation in which I can do most good.'" He had the same just self-confidence that Cromwell felt, when he said to John Hampden that he would effect something for the Parliamentary cause, and that William Pitt felt in 1757, when he said to the Duke of Devonshire, "My Lord, I am sure that I can save this country, and that nobody else can." As with Cromwell and with Pitt, Hamilton's self-confidence was to be conclusively justified by the event.

Hamilton's career as the first finance minister of the United States is the greatest evidence of statesmanship in American history; nor is it likely ever to be surpassed, so complete is the change in the country's condition,—a change due in great measure to his policy and conduct. The world's annals show no more striking example of the right man in the right place than is afforded by Hamilton's Secretaryship of the Treasury. "The discerning eye of Washington," said Mr. Webster in 1831, "immediately called him to that post which was far the most important in the administration of the new system. He was made Secretary of the Treasury; and how he fulfilled the duties of such a place, at such a time, the whole country perceived with delight, and the whole world saw with admiration. He smote the rock of the National Resources, and abundant streams of revenue gushed forth. He touched the dead corpse of the Public Credit, and it sprung upon its feet. The fabled birth of Minerva, from the brain of Jove, was hardly more sudden or more perfect than the financial system of the United States, as it burst forth from the conceptions of Alexander Hamilton." Lofty as this praise is, it is literally true. American Public Credit was a dead corpse in 1789; and in 1790 it was living and erect, as it has ever since remained, in spite of the utmost exertions of all political parties to reduce it to the state in which Hamilton found it, in the hope of injuring their rivals. All that has been good in our financial history for three quarters of a century is due to Alexander Hamilton; and all that has been evil in it can be traced directly to violation of his principles or disregard of his modes of action. That we were enabled to preserve the Union against the attacks of the Secessionists must be attributed to Hamilton's genius and exertions. He is one of those "dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule our spirits from their urns."

Ten days after his appointment to office, Secretary Hamilton was required by Congress to report a plan for the support of the public credit. His report is admitted, even by those who do not agree with its views, to be an able state paper. Besides upholding the payment of the foreign debt, on which all parties were of one mind, he recommended that the domestic debt should be treated in the same spirit. As the revival and maintenance of the public credit was the object which the Secretary had in view, he advocated the fulfilment of original contracts, no matter by whom claims might be held. His recommendations were adopted; and the famous "funding system" dates from that time, and with it the prosperity of the United States. He had recommended the assumption of the State debts; but in this he was only partially successful. The measures suggested for the carrying out of his system were adopted. Among these was the creation of a national bank, at the beginning of 1791. Other measures concerned the raising of revenue, and were extraordinarily successful. And yet others for the advancement of trade, both foreign and domestic, were not less successful: there being no subject that came properly within his department to which he did not give his entire attention; and as he was laboring for a new nation, it necessarily happened that all the machinery had to be improvised, To the demands made on his intellect, his time, and his industry, the Secretary was found to be more than equal. His triumphs astonished and gratified the friends of good government throughout[Pg 633] the world, and carried his name to all nations. In only eighteen months, a change had been effected such as it well might have taken as many years to accomplish, and which thoroughly justified the new polity, and the measures which had been adopted under it. Foreign commerce flourished, and also the domestic trade. The agricultural interest prospered, and manufactures steadily increased. "The waste lands in the interior were being rapidly settled; towns were springing up in every direction; the seaports were increasing in wealth and population; and that great career of internal improvement, by numerous highways, with which the United States have amazed the world, was begun." Fisher Ames wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury that the national bank and the Federal Government possessed more popularity than any institution or government could long maintain. "The success of the government, and especially of the measures proceeding from your department," he said, "has astonished the multitude; and while it has shut the mouths, it has stung the envious hearts, of the State leaders." American credit was raised so high in Europe, that, at the opening of 1791, a great loan was taken in Holland in two hours, on better terms than any European government but one could have obtained. The subscriptions to the national bank were filled in a day, and could easily have been doubled. Such another instance of successful statesmanship it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find.

It is sometimes said that the success of the Hamiltonian system was due to European events,—that the great wars which grew out of the French Revolution created so extensive demands for our productions that we must have prospered, no matter what should have been the course of American political life. What might have been, had the Constitution failed of adoption, it is not necessary to discuss; but this we know, that the success of Secretary Hamilton's plans was pronounced and complete before the European wars alluded to began. That success was seen in the early days of 1791, and war did not commence until 1792; and then it was not waged on that grand scale to which it subsequently reached. The war between France and England, which affected this country most, broke out in 1793, two years after Ames had written so encouragingly to Hamilton, and yet warning him to prepare for the inevitable Nemesis, that "envy of the gods," which, according to the Hellenic superstition, but fairly justifiable by innumerable historical facts, waits on all prosperity and rebukes human wisdom. To us it seems that the most that can be said of the effect of the wide-spread and long-continued European quarrel on our business was this,—that it gave to it much of its peculiar character, but did not create it, and was not necessary to its creation or its continuance. What Hamilton did was to remove depressing influences from American life and the American mind,—to substitute order for disorder, hope for fear, and confidence and security for dread and distrust. This was what was done by Hamilton and his associates; and this done, the native energies of the people did all the rest. It is all but certain that the extraordinary career of material prosperity that began immediately after it was seen what was to be our policy under the new polity, would have been essentially the same, as to the general result, had Europe remained quiet for twenty years longer, and had there been no downfall of the old French monarchy. The details of American business life would have been different, but the result would have been pretty much the same as what we have seen.

Events soon justified the apprehensions of the sensitive, but sagacious Ames. Hamilton's prosperity bred its natural consequences, and he became the target at which many aspiring men directed their attacks,—Thomas Jefferson standing at their head. The cause of this, which has been sought in the French Revolution, in opposition to the supposed centralizing tendencies of the Hamiltonian policy, and so forth, really[Pg 634] lies on the surface. It grew out of men's ambition, and their desire for power. It was plain to Southern men, that, if Hamilton were permitted to accomplish his purpose entire, he must become the man of men, and that his influence would become equal to that of Washington, whose influence they bowed to most unwillingly. Not less plain was it that power would be with the North. Hence their determination to "break him down," which they would have pursued with all their might, had the French Revolution been postponed, though its occurrence furnished them with means of attack,—the larger part of the American people sympathizing with the French, while Hamilton shared with Edmund Burke opinions which time has done much to show were sound; and he was a strenuous supporter of that policy of neutrality which Washington wisely adopted. The Secretary of the Treasury was assailed by those who envied and hated him, in various ways. His official integrity was called in question, but the investigations which he courted led to the confounding of his enemies, while his personal character stood brighter than ever. So bitter became the opposition that some of their number wished for the success of the Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania, as Mr. Jefferson's correspondence shows; and the part which Hamilton had in suppressing that outbreak did not increase their regard for him. The presence of two such men in Washington's Cabinet as Hamilton and Jefferson made it the scene of dissension until Jefferson retired.

Hamilton remained in office some time longer; and when he left it, he did so only for personal reasons. He was poor. He had expended, not only his salary, but almost all the property he possessed when he took office. The man who had made his country rich had made himself poor by his devotion to her interests, and had received nothing but vindictive abuse in requital of his unrivalled labors. He resolved to return to the practice of his profession, which he never would have left, had he consulted merely his individual interests and those of his family. Some weeks before he retired, he addressed a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, announcing his purpose, in order that inquiry might be made into the state of his department, should Congress see fit to make it; but his foes had been so humiliated by the results of the two inquiries undertaken at their instance, that they would not venture upon a third. In January, 1795, he sent a letter to Congress on the subject of the public credit, which is one of his ablest productions, full of sound financial doctrine, and showing that he was in advance of most men on those economical questions the proper settlement of which so closely concerns the welfare of nations. This letter affords a complete view of the financial history of the government, and may be considered as Secretary Hamilton's statement of his case to the world. The debt exceeded $76,000,000, a sum that bore as great a proportion to the revenues of the country seventy years since as the debt of to-day bears to our present resources. As Hamilton was no believer in the absurd doctrine that "a national debt is a national blessing," we need say no more than that he dwelt with emphasis on the necessity of providing for the debt's payment. It is important to mention that he declared government could not rightfully tax its promises to pay.

Though Hamilton, as Madison wrote to Jefferson, went to New York "with the word Poverty as his label," his great reputation rapidly secured for him abundant professional employment. But he was too important a personage to be able to refrain altogether from political pursuits, and was forced to defend some of the measures of government, though no longer responsible for them. He advocated Jay's Treaty, one of the most unpopular measures that ever were carried through by an honest government in face of the most vehement opposition. Had the treaty been rejected, war with England would probably have followed, which would have been a profound calamity. While living in retirement,[Pg 635] Hamilton was assailed by his Southern enemies, who were supported by their Northern allies, their object being to show that he had acted corruptly while at the head of the Treasury. His reply was as complete a refutation as their earlier calumnies had encountered. He wrote the celebrated Farewell Address of President Washington. On all occasions he was ready with pen and tongue to defend and uphold those political principles in the triumph of which he had that interest which a statesman must ever have in the advancement of truth.

When it was supposed that the French might attempt the invasion of this country, in 1798, preparations were made to meet them. Washington was made Commander-in-Chief, with the rank of Lieutenant-General; but he stipulated that he should not be required to take the field save for active service, and that Hamilton should have the post next to his own, which made the latter actually commander of the army. He was indefatigable in discharging the duties of this station; but, fortunately, hostilities with France were confined to the ocean, and the seizure of power in that country by Bonaparte led to a settlement of the points in dispute. Hamilton again returned to private life. He could not, however, altogether give up politics, but was forced to take some part in the exciting political contests of those days. When the Presidential election of 1801 devolved upon the House of Representatives, he exerted his influence against Burr, whom the Federalists were inclined to support, preferring him to Jefferson. In 1804 he again labored to defeat Burr's political aspirations, and prevented his being chosen Governor of New York. Burr was then on the verge of ruin, and he resolved upon being revenged, and on the destruction of so powerful a political foe. He required from Hamilton the disavowal of language which there was no evidence that he ever had used, and so managed the dispute that a duel became inevitable,—reference being had to the state of public sentiment then prevalent on the subject of honor, and to the circumstance that duelling was almost as common in New York at that time as it was in any Southern State just before the Secession War.

The death of Alexander Hamilton was as much the work of assassination as was that of Abraham Lincoln, in all save the forms that were observed on the occasion. Aaron Burr, of whose actions he had sometimes spoken with severity,—but not with more severity than is common in all high party times,[I]—was determined that so bold and able an enemy should be removed from his political path; and to that end he fastened a duel upon him, and in the meeting that ensued deliberately shot him. It has been said, that Burr, who was "a good shot" from his youth, and whose nerves were as brazen as his brow, practised with the pistol for some days before the fatal encounter took place; and the story is perfectly in character, and helps sustain the position[Pg 636] that Hamilton was assassinated. That Hamilton should have consented to meet such a man, knowing as he did what was his purpose, and that he was capable of any crime, has often been remarked upon; and probably his decision will serve to point many a moral for ages, and all the more emphatically when the force of that opinion in regard to duelling which once was so strong shall not only have utterly passed away, but have been forgotten, and have become quite incomprehensible to men who shall live in the light of sounder opinion than prevailed at the beginning of this century. A soldier, it was reasonable that Hamilton should feel very differently on the point of honor from a mere civilian, and that he should not have felt himself at liberty to decline Burr's challenge. He believed that his ability to be useful thereafter in public life would be greatly lessened, should he not fight. In the paper he drew up, giving his reasons for the course he pursued, he says,—"The ability to be in future useful, whether in resisting mischief or in effecting good, in those crises of our public affairs which seem likely to happen, would probably be inseparable from a conformity with public prejudice in this particular." He was particularly thinking of his power to contend against a scheme for a dissolution of the Union which had been formed in the North, the existence of which he knew, and also that it was known to Burr, who, had he not committed suicide by the same act which made him a murderer, would soon have been seen at the head of a rebellion. The result of the duel was to deprive Burr of all power and influence. He killed Hamilton, but he fell himself by the same shot that carried death to his opponent; and so complete was his fall that he never could rise again, though he continued to cumber the earth for more than thirty-two years. Hamilton's quarrel with Burr, as his son and biographer truly observes, "was the quarrel of his country. It was the last act in the great drama of his life. It was the deliberate sacrifice of that life for his country's welfare,—a sacrifice which, by overwhelming his antagonist with the execrations of the American people, prevented a civil war, and saved from 'dismemberment' this great republic."

What strikes us most forcibly, in considering Hamilton's career, is the remarkably, early development of his powers. At thirteen, he was found competent to take charge of a mercantile establishment. At fifteen, his writings win for him public applause and the aid of friends. At seventeen, he addresses with success a great public meeting. At eighteen, his anonymous productions are attributed to some of the leading men of America. At nineteen, he has thought out that principle of government which is indelibly associated with his name. At twenty, he has not only approved himself a skilful and courageous soldier, but he has won the esteem of the grave and reserved Washington, and is placed by that great man in a post of the closest confidence, and which really makes him the second man in the American service. At twenty-three, he has shown that he is master of the intricate subject of finance. At twenty-five, after an active military life that had allowed no time for study, he is known as a lawyer of the first order. At twenty-six, he is distinguished as a member of Congress. At thirty, he takes a leading part in framing the Constitution of the United States. And in his thirty-third year, he becomes the most extraordinary finance minister the world has ever seen. He was statesman, soldier, writer, and orator, and first in each department; and he was as ready for all the parts which he filled as if he had been long and studiously trained for each of them by the best of instructors. When Mr. Webster so happily compared the instantaneousness and perfection of his financial system to "the fabled birth of Minerva," he did but allude to what is to be remarked of all Hamilton's works. All that he did was perfect, and no one seems to have been aware of his power until he had established the fact of its existence. Such a combination of precocity[Pg 637] and versatility stands quite unparalleled. Octavius, William the Third, Henry St. John, Charles James Fox, and William Pitt the younger, all showed various powers at early periods of their lives; but not one of them was the equal of Hamilton in respect to early maturity of intellect, or in ability to command success in every department to which he turned his attention. The historical character of whom he most reminds us is the elder Africanus. In the early development of his faculties, in his self-reliant spirit, in his patriotism, in his kingliness of mind, in his personal purity, in his generosity of thought and of action, and in the fear and envy that he excited in inferior minds, he was a repetition of the most majestic of all the Romans. But, unlike the Roman soldier-statesman, he did not desert the land he had saved, but which had proved ungrateful; and the grave only was to be his Liternum. He died at not far from the same age as that to which Africanus reached. In comparing him with certain other men who achieved fame early, it should be remembered that they all were regularly prepared for public life, and were born to it as to an inheritance; whereas he, though of patrician blood, was possessed of no advantages of fortune, and had to fight the battle of life while fighting the battles of the nation.


[F] Mr. Riethmüller, in his volume on "Hamilton and his Contemporaries," coolly assumes that Hamilton would have opposed the late war for the maintenance of the Union, had he been living! Anything more absurd than such a view of Hamilton's probable course, under circumstances like those which occurred in 1861, it would be impossible to imagine. Hamilton would have been the firmest supporter of the war, had he lived to see it, or had such a war broken out in his time. His principles would have led him to be for extreme measures. It is easy to see why Mr. Riethmüller thus misrepresents Hamilton's opinions. Living in London, where it is thought that every foreign nation should submit to destruction, if that be desirable to England, he wrote under the influence of the place. The English do not take the same view of Secession, when it comes home to them. They think as unfavorably of that repeal of the Union which the Irish demand as we thought of that dissolution of our Union which South Carolinians demanded; and they moved against the Fenians much earlier than we moved against the Carolinians. Mr. Riethmüller's assumption is pointedly disclaimed by General Hamilton's representatives, who declare that it is a palpable misrepresentation of their father's views: and no one who is familiar with Hamilton's writings and history can honestly say that they are wrong. To say that Andrew Jackson, who crushed Nullification, would have been a Secessionist, had he been living in 1861, would be a moderate assertion, compared to that which places Alexander Hamilton in the list of possible Secessionists, had he survived to Secession times.

[G] History of the Republic of the United States of America, as traced in the Writings of Alexander Hamilton and his Contemporaries. By John C. Hamilton. Seven Volumes. 8vo. New York: D. Appleton & Co. A work in every respect deserving of the closest and most attentive study, replete as it is with valuable and well-arranged matter and able writing.

[H] The Federalist: a Commentary on the Constitution of the United States. A Collection of Essays, by Alexander Hamilton, Jay, and Madison. Also, The Continentalist and other Papers, by Hamilton. Edited by John C. Hamilton, Author of "The Republic of the United States." 1 vol. 8vo. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.—This is by far the best edition of "The Federalist" that has appeared, and should alone be consulted and read by Hamilton's admirers. The Historical Notice with which Mr. Hamilton has prefaced it is a noble production, and worthy of the subject and of his name.

[I] Burr, in his correspondence with Hamilton just before the challenge that led to the duel, said,—"Political opposition can never absolve gentlemen from the necessity of a rigid adherence to the laws of honor and the rules of decorum. I neither claim such privilege, nor indulge it in others." This has been called affectation; but we have no doubt that Burr uttered the truth in the sentences quoted. He was exactly the man to observe the rules of decorum, and those of honor, as he understood them, in political warfare. The strong language that is so common in political disputes is proof as much of the abundance of men's sincerity as it is of their want of good breeding. They are honestly moved by the evil words or deeds, or both, or what they consider such, of their opponents, and speak of them coarsely. The man who is indifferent to all opinions, principles, and actions, but who is nevertheless ambitious, is never tempted to the utterance of disparaging language concerning his political foes. He may laugh at their zeal, but he cannot be offended by it. Burr was utterly indifferent to all political principle. He never really belonged to any party, and was as ready to act with Federalists as with Democrats; and it was only through the force of circumstances that he did act generally with the latter. A party man never would have done as Burr saw fit to do when the Presidential election of 1801 devolved on the House of Representatives. The party to which he professed to belong intended, as everybody knew, that Jefferson should be President; and yet Burr allowed himself to be used against Jefferson. That "all is fair in politics" was his creed. He may have been "a man of honor," but what Lord Macaulay says of Avaux is strictly applicable to him, namely,—"that of the difference between right and wrong he had no more notion than a brute."


Memoirs of the Life of William Shakespeare, with an Essay toward the Expression of his Genius, and an Account of the Rise and Progress of the English Drama to the Time of Shakespeare. By Richard Grant White. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.

Mr. White's closing-up of his Shakespeare labors has been long in coming, but comes good and acceptable at last. The volume now in hand, however, does not form a part of his edition of the poet; it stands by itself; though a portion of its contents is repeated in the first volume (the last published) of this edition. It is rich in matter, and the workmanship, for the most part, capital. All Shakespearians are bound to relish it; and if any general reader does not find it delectable, he may well suspect some fault in himself.

The contents of the volume are, first, "Memoirs of the Life of William Shakespeare"; second, "An Essay toward the Expression of Shakespeare's Genius"; third, "An Account of the Rise and Progress of the English Drama to the Time of Shakespeare."

In his "Memoirs," the author of course adds nothing to what was already known of the poet's life. But his presentation of the matter is eminently readable, and, in parts, decidedly interesting; which is as much as can fairly be looked for in any writing on that subject. Some readers may think, we do think, that the author is a little at fault on one or two points. For instance, he overworks certain questions touching the poet's wife, worrying up the matter against her to the utmost, and, in fact, tormenting the poor woman's memory in such a way as to indicate something very like spite. Now this is not fair; and Mr. White's general fairness on other subjects makes his proceeding the less excusable in this case.

Of course everybody knows that Mrs. Anne Shakespeare was some eight years older than her husband; that the circumstances of the marriage were not altogether what they should have been; and that the oldest daughter was born a little too soon for the credit of either parent. This is all, all, there is known about the matter. And if conjecture or inference must be at work on these facts, surely it had better run in the direction of charity, especially of charity towards the weaker vessel. We say weaker vessel, because in this case the man must, in all fairness, be supposed to have had the advantage, at least as much in strength of natural understanding as the woman had in years. And as Shakespeare was, by all accounts, a[Pg 638] very attractive person, it does not well appear but that the woman had as good a right to lose her heart in his company as he had to lose his head in hers. Yet our author insinuates, perhaps we should say more than insinuates, that the lady immodestly angled for and seduced the youthful lover, and entangled his honor in an obligation of marriage; and he seems quite positive that the poet afterwards hated her, and took refuge in London partly to escape from her society. Moreover, he presumes her to have been a coarse, low, vulgar creature, such as, the fascination of the honeymoon once worn off, the poet could not choose but loathe and detest. Now all this is sheer conjecture; it has no basis of fact or of fair likelihood to stand upon; there is not so much as a particle even of tradition to support it. Rowe hints nothing of the sort; and surely his candor would not have spared the parties, if he had found anything: it was the very point of all others on which scandal would have been most apt to fasten and feed; and yet even Aubrey, arrant old gossip as he was, supplies nothing to justify it.

In default of other grounds, resort has been had to certain passages in the poet's dramas. And Mr. White, though knowing, none better, the poet's wonderful self-aloofness from his representations, thinks it worth the while to make an exception in this particular case. Presuming such and such things to be true in his own experience, the poet, our author observes, must have thought of them while writing certain passages. Our answer is, To be sure, he must have thought of them, and he must have known that others would think of them too; and a reasonable delicacy on his part would have counselled the withholding of anything that he was conscious might be applied to his own domestic affairs. Does not Mr. White see that his inferences in this are just the reverse of what they should be? Sensible men do not write in their public pages such things as would be almost sure to breed or to foster scandal about their own names or their own homes. The man that has a secret cancer on his person will be the last to speak of cancers in reference to others; and if the truth of his own case be suspected at all, it will rather be from his silence than from his speech. We can hardly think Shakespeare was so wanting in a sense of propriety as to have written the passages in question, but that he knew no man could say he was exposing the foulness of his own nest.

But we are dwelling too long on this point; and we confess something of impatience at Mr. White's treatment of it. His animus in the thing is shown, perhaps, in one slight mistake he has made. Speaking of the lady's haste to "provide herself with a husband," he says, "In less than five months after she obtained one she was delivered of a daughter." The bishop's license for the marriage was dated November 28th, 1582, and Susannah Shakespeare was baptized May 26th, 1583; thus leaving an interval of but two days short of six months between the marriage and the birth. As Sir Hugh observes, "I like not when a 'oman has a great peard."

We are moved to add one more item of dissent.—Mr. White thinks, and it appears that the German critic, Gervinus, coincides with him, that Shakespeare must have acquired all his best ideas of womanhood after he went to London, and conversed with the ladies of the city. And in support of this notion he cites the fact—for such it is—that the women of the poet's later plays are much superior to those of his earlier ones. But are not the men of his later plays quite as much superior to the men of his first? Unquestionably they are. Are not his later plays as much better every way, as in respect of the female characters? Mr. White is too wise and too ripe in the theme to question it. The truth seems to be, that Shakespeare saw more of great and good in both man and woman as he became older and knew them better; for he was full of intellectual righteousness in this as in other things. But if there must be any conjecturing about it, we prefer to conjecture that the poet caught his ideas of womanhood, or at least the rudiments of them, from his mother, and other specimens of the sex in his native town. For in this matter it may with something of special fitness be said that a man finds what he brings with him the faculty of finding; and he who does not learn respect for woman in the nursery and at the fireside will hardly learn it at all. The poet's mind did not stay on the surface of things. He had the head to know, and the heart to feel, the claims of humble, modest worth; for, as he was the wisest, so was he also the most human-hearted of men. And to his keen, yet kindly eye, the plain-thoughted women of Stratford may well have been as pure, as sweet, as lovely, as rich in all the inward graces which he delighted to unfold in his female characters, as anything he afterwards[Pg 639] found among the fine ladies of the metropolis: though far be it from us to disrepute these latter; for he was, by the best of all rights, a thorough gentleman; and the ladies who pleased him in London had womanhood enough, no doubt, to recognize him as such, without the flourishes of rank. At all events, it is reasonable to infer that the foundations of his mind were laid before he left Stratford, and that the gatherings of the boy's eye and heart were the germs of the man's thoughts. And, indeed, if his great social heart had found all the best delights of society in London, how should he have been so desirous, as Mr. White allows he was, to escape from the city, and set up his rest in his Stratford home?

Mr. White's history of the Drama, though far from copious, supplies enough, perhaps, to put the reader right as regards Shakespeare's historical relations to that great branch of English literature. From what is there given, any one can, with reasonable attention, learn that the English drama, as we have it in Shakespeare, was the well-ripened fruit of centuries of preparation: the form, structure, and order of the thing being settled long before his time. The attentive reader will also see, though this point is not emphasized so much as it might be, that the national mind and taste were ready and eager to welcome the right man as soon as the right man came; so that, in catering wisely for the public taste, the poet could hardly fail of the supremacy due to his transcendent genius; which infers, of course, that the public taste had nearly as much to do in forming him as he had in forming it. On one or two points, as, for instance, in the matter of Shakespeare's senior contemporaries, we should have preferred a somewhat larger outlay of the author's learned and well-practised strength; while, again, in reference to the old plays of "Jeronimo" and "The Spanish Tragedy," he might well have used more economy of strength, as the matter is neither interesting in itself nor helpful to his purpose. Here is a specimen of his felicity, referring to the plays of old John Lily, the euphuist.

"They are in all respects opposed to the genius of the English drama. They do not even pretend to be representations of human life and human character, but are pure fantasy pieces, in which the personages are a heterogeneous medley of Grecian gods and goddesses, and impassible, colorless creatures, with sublunary names, all thinking with one brain, and speaking with one tongue,—the conceitful, crotchety brain, and the dainty, well-trained tongue of clever, witty John Lily."

This is, indeed, the exact truth of the matter, and it could hardly be better said. On divers points, however, the little that he gives us just sets the reader on fire for more: that is, he does not satisfy the desire quite enough in proportion as he stimulates it. But he probably goes on the safe principle, that in such cases an intelligent reader is apt to crave more than he will justify a writer in giving; or, in other words, that he does not seem to have enough, until he has too much.

But the "Essay" is most decidedly the jewel of the volume: not, however, to disparage the other parts; for it is worthy to be the jewel of anybody's volume. A single reading of the "Essay," as it ought to be read, will suffice to make any one glad to own the book, and will almost certainly induce him to mark it down for a second reading, as the second also will for a third. The work, indeed, is a positive, and we think it will prove a permanent addition to our already opulent inheritance of Shakespearian criticism. It is weighty throughout with fresh, yet sober and well-considered thought, expressed in tight and sinewy English,—every part being highly elaborate, but nothing over-labored. The author discusses a large number of topics, all in "a manly style, fitted to manly ears," but is particularly full and instructive in regard to the poet's language and style: a rich field, indeed, which has not been proportionably cultivated by the poet's later critics, who have put their force mainly on what may be called his dramatic architecture, and on his development of character, where there is more room to be philosophical, but less chance of determinate results. Over this field Mr. White walks with the firm, yet graceful step of a master: his current of thought running deep, strong, and clear, and carrying us through page after page full of nice and subtile discrimination, without over-refinement, and of illustrations apt and luminous, yet without a touch of false brilliancy or mere smartness; which is saying a good deal, in these days of high-pressure rhetoric.

We commend the "Essay" to all lovers of solid and well-proportioned critical discourse.

[Pg 640]


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