The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 14, No. 83, September, 1864

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 14, No. 83, September, 1864

Author: Various

Release date: January 13, 2007 [eBook #20350]
Most recently updated: January 1, 2021

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).






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, 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 generated for the HTML version.




An old English divine fancied that all the world might go mad and nobody know it. The conception suggests a query whether the standard of sanity, as of fashions and prices, be not a purely artificial one, an accident of convention, a law of society, an arbitrary institute, and therefore a possible mistake. A sage and a maniac each thinks the other mad. The decision is a matter of majorities. Should a whole community become insane, it would nevertheless vote itself wise; if the craze of Bedlam were uniform, its inmates could not distinguish it from a Pantheon; and though all human history seemed to the gods only as a continuous series of mediæval processions des sots et des ânes, yet the topsy-turvy intellect of the world would ever worship folly in the name of wisdom. Arts and sciences, ideas and institutions, laws and learning would still abound, transmogrified to suit the reigning madness. And as statistics reveal the late gradual and general increase of insanity, it becomes a provident people to consider what may be the ultimate results, if this increase should happen never to be checked. And if sanity be, indeed, a glory which we might all lose unawares, we may well betake ourselves to very solemn reflection as to whether we are, at the present moment, in our wits and senses, or not.

The peculiar proficiencies of great epochs are as astonishing as the exploits of individual frenzy. The era of the Greek rhapsodists, when a body of matchless epical literature was handed down by memory from generation to generation, and a recitation of the whole "Odyssey" was not too much for a dinner-party,—the era of Periclean culture, when the Athenian populace was wont to pass whole days in the theatre, attending with unfaltering intellectual keenness and æsthetic delight to three or four long dramas, either of which would exhaust a modern audience,—the wild and vast systems of imaginary abstractions, which the Neo-Platonists, as also the German transcendentalists, so strangely devised and became enamored of,—the grotesque views of men and things, the funny universe altogether, which made up both the popular and the [Pg 266]learned thought of the Middle Ages,—the Buddhistic Orient, with its subtile metaphysical illusions, its unreal astronomical heavens, its habits of repose and its tornadoes of passion,—such are instances of great diversities of character, which would be hardly accountable to each other on the supposition of mutual sanity. They suggest a difference of ideas, moods, habits, and capacities, which in contemporaries and associates would amply justify either party that happened to be the majority in turning all the rest into insane asylums. It is the demoniac element, the raving of some particular demon, that creates greatness either in men or nations. Power is maniacal. A mysterious fury, a heavenly inspiration, an incomprehensible and irresistible impulse, goads humanity on to achievements. Every age, every person, and every art obeys the wand of the enchanter. History moves by indirections. The first historic tendency is likely to be slightly askew; there follows then an historic triumph, then an historic eccentricity, then an historic folly, then an explosion; and then the series begins again. In the grade of folly, hard upon an explosion, lies modern literature.

The characteristic mania of the last two centuries is reading and writing. Solomon discovered that much study is a weariness of the flesh; Aristophanes complained of the multitude and indignity of authors in his time; and the famed preacher, Geyler von Kaisersberg, in the age of prevalent monkery and Benedictine plodding, mentioned erudition and madness, on equal footing, as the twin results of books: "Libri quosdam ad scientiam, quosdam ad insaniam deduxere." These were successive symptoms of the growing malady. But where there was one writer in the time of Geyler, there are a million now. He saw both health and disease, and could distinguish between them. We see only the latter. Skill in letters, half a decade of centuries ago, was a miraculous attainment, and placed its possessor in the rank of divines and diviners; now, inability to read and write is accounted, with pauperism and crime, a ground for civil disfranchisement. The old feudal merry and hearty ignorance has been everywhere corrupted by books and newspapers, learning and intelligence, the cabalistic words of modern life. Popular poetry and music, ballads and legends, wit and originality have disappeared before the barbaric intellectuality of our Cadmean idolatry. Even the arts of conversation and oratory are waning, and may soon be lost; we live only in second and silent thoughts: for who will waste fame and fortune by giving to his friends the gems which will delight mankind? and how can a statesman grapple eloquently with Fate, when the contest is not to be determined on the spot, but by quiet and remote people coolly reading his speech several hours or days later? Even if we were vagarying into imbecility, like the wildest Neo-Platonic hierophants, like the monkish chroniclers of the Middle Ages, like other romantic and fantastic theorists who have leaped out of human nature into a purely artificial realm, we should not know it, because we are all doing it uniformly.

The universe is a veiled Isis. The human mind from immemorial antiquity has ceased to regard it. A small cohort of alphabets has enrobed it with a wavy texture of letters, beyond which we cannot penetrate. The glamour is upon us, and when we would see the facts of Nature, we behold only tracts of print. The God of the heavens and earth has hidden Himself from us since we gave ourselves up to the worship of the false divinities of Phoenicia. No longer can we admire the cosmos; for the cosmos lies beyond a long perspective of theorems and propositions that cross our eyes, like countless bees, from the alcoves of philosophies and sciences. No longer do we bask in the beauty of things, as in the sunlight; for when we would melt in feeling, we hear nothing but the rattling of gems of verse. No longer does the mind, as sympathetic priest and interpreter, hover amid the phenomena of time and space; for the forms of Nature have given place to volumes, there are no objects but pages, and passions have been supplanted[Pg 267] by paragraphs. We no longer see the whirling universe, or feel the pulsing of life. Thought itself has ceased to be a sprite, and flows through the mind only in the leaden shape of printed sentences. The symbolism of letters is over us all. An all-pervading nominalism has completely masked whatsoever there is that is real. More and more it is not the soul and Nature, but the eye and print, whose resultant is thought. Nature disappears and the mind withers. No other faculty has been developed in man but that of the reader, no other possibility but that of the writer. The old-fashioned arts which used to imply human nature, which used to blossom instinctively, which have given joy and beauty to society, are fading from the face of the earth. Where are the ancient and mediæval popular games, those charming vital symptoms? The people now read Dickens and Longfellow. Where are the old-fashioned instincts of worship and love, consolation and mourning? The people have since found an antidote for these experiences in Blair and Tupper, and other authors of renown. Where are those weird voices of the air and forest and stream, those symptoms of an enchanted Nature, which used to thrill and bless the soul of man? The duller ear of men has failed to hear them in this age of popular science.

Literature, using the word with a benevolent breadth of meaning which excludes no pretenders, is the result of the invasion of letters. It is the fort which they occupy, which with too hasty consideration has usually been regarded as friendly to the human race. Religions, laws, sciences, arts, theories, and histories, instead of passing Ariel-like into the elements when their task is done, are made perpetual prisoners in the alcoves of dreary libraries. They have a fossil immortality, surviving themselves in covers, as poems have survived minstrels. The memory of man is made omni-capacious; its burden increases with every generation; not even the ignorance and stolidity of the past are allowed the final grace of being forgotten; and omniscience is becoming at once more and more impossible and more and more fashionable. Whoever reads only the books of his own time is superficial in proportion to the thickness of the ages. But neither the genius of man, nor his length of days, has had an increase corresponding to that of the realm of knowledge, the requirements of reading, and the conditions of intelligence. The multiplied attractions only crowd and obstruct the necessarily narrow line of duty, possibility, and destiny. Life threatens to be extinguished by its own shadow, by the débris kept in the current by countless tenacious records. Its essence escapes to heaven or into new forms, but its ghosts still walk the earth in print. Like that mythical serpent which advanced only as it grew in length, so knowledge spans the whole length of the ages. Some philosopher conceived of history as the migration and growth of reason throughout time, culminating in successive historical ideas. He, however, supposed that the idea of every age had nothing to do with any preceding age; it had passed through whatsoever previous stages, had been somewhat modified by them, contained in itself all that was best in them, was improved and elevated at every new epoch; but it had no memory, never looked backward, and was an ever rolling sphere, complete in itself, leaving no trail behind. Human life, under the discipline of letters and common schools, is not thus Hegelian, but advances under the boundless retrospection of literature. And yet this is probably divine philosophy. It is probable that the faculty of memory belongs to man only in an immature state of development, and that in some future and happier epoch the past will be known to us only as it lives in the present; and then for the first time will Realism in life take the place of Nominalism.

The largest library in the world, the Bibliothèque Impériale of Paris, (it has been successively, like the adventurous and versatile throne of France, Royale, Nationale, and Impériale,) contains very[Pg 268] nearly one million of books, the collected fruits of all time. Consider an average book in that collection: how much human labor does it stand for? How much capital was invested originally in its production, and how much tribute of time and toil does it receive per annum? Regarding books as intellectual estate, how much does it cost mankind to procure and keep up an average specimen? What quantity of human resources has been originally and consecutively sunk in the Parisian library? How much of human time, which is but a span, and of human emotion and thought, which are sacred and not to be carelessly thrown away, lie latent therein?

The estimate must be highly speculative. Some books have cost a lifetime and a heartbreak; others have been written at leisure in a week, and without an emotion. Some are born from the martyrdom of a thinker to fire the genius of a populace; others are the coruscations of joy, and have a smile for their immortal heir. Some have made but the slightest momentary ripple in human affairs; others, first gathering eddies about themselves, have swept forward in grand currents, engrossing for centuries whole departments of human energy. Thousands publish and are forgotten before they die. Spinoza published after his death and is not yet understood.

We will begin with the destined bibliomacher at the time of his assumption of short clothes. The alphabet is his first professional torture, and that only ushers him upon the gigantic task of learning to read and write his own language. Experience shows that this miracle of memory and associative reason may be in the main accomplished by the time he is eight years old. Thus far in his progress towards book-making he has simply got his fingers hold of the pen. He has next to run the gauntlet of the languages, sciences, and arts, to pass through the epoch of the scholar, with satchel under his arm, with pale cheek, an eremite and ascetic in the religion of Cadmus. At length, at about twenty years of age, he leaves the university, not a master, but a bachelor of liberal studies. But thus far he has laid only the foundation, has acquired only rudiments and generalities, has only served his apprenticeship to letters. God gave mind and nature, but art has furnished him a new capacity and a new world,—the capacity to read, and the world of books. He has simply acquired a new nature, a psychological texture of letters, but the artificial tabula rasa has yet to be filled. Twenty obstetrical years have at last made him a literary animal, have furnished him the abstract conditions of authorship; but he has yet his life to save, and his fortune to make in literature. He is born into the mystic fraternity of readers and writers, but the special studies and experiences which fit him for anything, which make a book possible, are still in the future. He will be fortunate, if he gets through with them, and gets his first volume off his hands by the age of thirty. Authors are the shortest-lived of men. Their average years are less than fifty. Our bibliomacher has therefore twenty years left to him. Taking all time together, since formerly authors wrote less abundantly than now, he will not produce more than one work in five years, that is, five works in his lifetime of fifty years. The conclusion to which this rather precarious investigation thus brings us is, that the original cost of an average book is ten years of a human life. And yet these ten years make but the mere suggestion of the book. The suggestion must be developed by an army of printers, sellers, and librarians. What other institution in the world is there but the Bibliothèque Impériale, to the mere suggestion of which ten millions of laborious years have been devoted?

Startling considerations present themselves. If there were no other argumentum ad absurdum to demonstrate some fundamental perversity and absurdity in literature, it might be suspected from the fact that Nature herself gives so little encouragement to it. Nobody is born an author. The art of writing, common as[Pg 269] it is, is not indigenous in man, but is acquired by a nearly universal martyrdom of youth. If it had been providentially designed that the function of any considerable portion of mankind should have been to write books, we cannot suppose that an economical Deity would have failed to create them with innate skill in language, general knowledge, and penmanship. These accomplishments have to be learned by every writer, yet writers are numberless. They are mysteries which must be painfully encountered by every one at the vestibule of the temple of literature, which nevertheless is thronged. Surely, had this importance and prevalence been attached to them in the Divine scheme, they would have been born in us like the senses, or would blossom spontaneously in us, like the corollal growths of Faith and Conscience. We should have been created in a condition of literary capacity, and thus have been spared the alphabetical torture of childhood, and the academic depths of philological despair. Twenty-five years of preliminaries might have been avoided by changing the peg in the scale of creation, and the studies of the boy might have begun where now they end. Twenty-five years in the span of life would thus have been saved, had what must be a universal acquirement been incorporated into the original programme of human nature.

Or had the Deity appreciated literature as we do, He would probably have written out the universe in some snug little volume, some miniature series, or some boundless Bodleian, instead of unfolding it through infinite space and time, as an actual, concrete, unwritten reality. Be creation a single act or an eternal process, it would have been all a thing of books. The Divine Mind would have revealed itself in a library, instead of in the universe. As for men, they would have existed only in treatises on the mammalia. There are some specimens which we hardly think are according to any anticipation of heavenly reason, and therefore they would not have existed at all. Nothing would have been but God and literature. Possibly a responsible creation like ours might have been formed, nevertheless, by making each letter a living, thinking, moral agent; and the alphabet might thus have written out the Divine ideas, as men now work them out. If the conception seem to any one chilly, if it have a dreary look, if it appear to leave only a frosty metallic base, instead of the grand oceanic effervescence of life, let him remember how often earthly authors have renounced living realities, all personal sympathies and pleasures, communing only with books, their minds dwelling apart from men. Remember Tasso and Southey; ay, if you have yourself written a book that commands admiration, remember what it cost you. Why hesitate to transfer to the skies a type of life which we admire here below? But God having wrought out instead of written out His thoughts, does it not appear that He designed for men to do likewise?

And thus a new consideration is presented. The exhibit of the original cost of the Bibliothèque Impériale was the smallest item in our budget. Mark the history of a book. How variously it engrosses the efforts of the world, from the time when it first rushes into the arena of life! The industry of printing embodies it, the energy of commerce disperses it, the army of critics announce it, the world of readers give their days and nights to it generation after generation, and its echoes uninterruptedly repeat themselves along the infinite procession of writers. The process reverts with every new edition, and eddies mingle with eddies in the motley march of history. Its story may be traced in martyrdoms of the flesh, in weary hours, strange experiences, unhappy tempers, restless struggles, unrequited triumphs,—in the glare of midnight lamps, and of wild, haggard eyes,—in sorrow, want, desolation, despair, and madness. Born in sorrow, the book trails a pathway of sorrow through the ages. And each book in the Parisian library stands for all this,—some[Pg 270] that were produced with tears having been always read for jest,—some that were lightly written being now severe tasks for historians, antiquaries, and source-mongers.

Suppose an old Egyptian, who in primæval Hierapolis incased his thought in papyrus, to be able now to take a stroll into the Bibliothèque, and to see what has become of his thought so far as there represented. He would find that it had haunted mankind ever since. An alcove would be filled with commentaries on it, and discussions as to where it came from and what it meant. He would find it modifying and modified by the Greeks, and reproduced by them with divers variations,—extinguished by Christianity,—revived, with a new face, among the theurgies and cabala of Alexandria; he would catch the merest glimpse of it amid the Christian legends and credulities of the Middle Ages,—but the Arabs would have kept a stronger hold on it; he would see it in the background after the revival of learning, till, gradually, as modern commerce opened the East, scholars, also, discovered that there were wonders behind the classic nations; and finally he would see how modern research, rushing back through comparison of language-roots, through geological data, through ethnological indications, through antiquarian discoveries, has rooted out of the layers of ages all the history attendant upon its original production. He would find the records of this long history in the library around him. In every age, the thought, born of pain, has been reproduced with travail. It did not do its mission at once, penetrate like a ray of light into the heart of the race, and leave a chemical effect which should last forever. No, the blood of man's spirit was not purified,—only an external application was made, and that application must be repeated with torture upon every generation. Was this designed to be the function of thought, the mission of heavenly ideas?

This is the history of his thought in books. But let us conceive what might have been its history but for the books;—how it might have been written in the fibres of the soul, and lived in eternal reason, instead of having been written on papyrus and involved in the realm of dead matter. His idea, thrilling his own soul, would have revealed itself in every particle and movement of his body; for "soul is form, and doth the body make." Its first product would have been his own quivering, animated, and animating personality. He would have impressed every one of his associates, every one of whom would in turn have impressed a new crowd, and thus the immortal array of influences would have gone on. Not impressions on parchment, but impressions on the soul, not letters, but thrills, would have been its result. Thus the magic of personal influence of all kinds would have radiated from it in omnipresent and colliding circlets forever, as the mighty imponderable agents are believed to radiate from some hidden focal force. He would trace his idea in the massive architecture and groping science of Egypt,—in the elegant forms of worship, thought, institutes, and life among the Greeks,—in the martial and systematizing genius of Rome,—and so on through the ecclesiastical life of the Middle Ages, and the political and scientific ambitions of modern times. Its operations have everywhere been chemical, not mechanical. It has lived, not in the letter, but in the spirit. Never dropping to the earth, it has been maintained as a shuttlecock in spiritual regions by the dynamics of the soul. It has wrought itself into the soul, the only living and immortal thing, and so the proper place for ideas. Its mode of transmission has been by the suffusion of the eye, the cheek, the lip, the manner, not by dead and unsymbolical letters. It has had life, and not merely duration. It has been perpetuated in cordate, not in dactylate characters. Its history must not be sought away from the circle of life, but may be seen in the current generation of men. The man whom you should meet on the street would be the product of all the[Pg 271] ideas and influences from the foundation of the world, and his slightest act would reveal them all vital within him. The libraries, which form dead recesses in the river of life, would thus be swept into and dissolved in the current, and the waters would have been deepened and colored by their dissolution. Libraries are a sort of débris of the world, but the spiritual substance of them would thus enter into the organism of history. All the last results of time would come to us, not through books, but through the impressions of daily life. Whatsoever was unworthy to be woven into the fibres of the soul would be overwhelmed by that oblivion which chases humanity; all the time wasted in the wrong-headedness of archæology would be saved; for there would be nothing of the past except its influence on the immediate present, and nothing but the pure human ingot would finally be left of the long whirlings in the crucible of history. Some one has said that all recent literature is one gigantic plagiarism from the past. Why plagiarize with toil the toils of the past, when all that is good in them lives, necessarily and of its own tendency, in the winged and growing spirit of man? The stream flows in a channel, and is colored by all the ores of its banks, but it would be absurd for it to attempt to take the channel up and carry it along with itself out into the sea. Why should the tinted water of life attempt to carry along with it not only the tint, but also the bank, ages back, from which the tint proceeds?

As the world goes on, the multitude of books increases. They grow as grows the human race,—but, unlike the human race, they have a material immortality here below. Fossil books, unlike fossil rocks, have a power of reproduction. Every new year leaves not only a new inheritance, but generally a larger one than ever before. What is to be the result? The ultimate prospect is portentous. If England has produced ten thousand volumes of fiction (about three thousand new novels) during the last forty years, how many books of all kinds has Christendom to answer for in the same period? If the British Museum makes it a point to preserve a copy of everything that is published, how long will it be before the whole world will not be sufficient to contain the multitude thereof? At present all the collections of the Museum, books, etc., occupy only forty acres on the soil, and an average of two hundred feet towards the sky. But even these outlines indicate a block of space which under geometrical increase would in the shortest of geological periods make a more complete conquest of the earth than has ever been made by fire or water. To say nothing of the sorrows of the composition of these new literary stores, how is man, whose years are threescore-and-ten, going to read them? Surely the green earth will be transformed into a wilderness of books, and man, reduced from the priest and interpreter of Nature to a bookworm, will be like the beasts which perish.

The eye of fancy lately witnessed in a dream the vision of an age far in the future. The surface of the earth was covered with lofty rectangles, built up coral-like from small rectangles. There was neither tree nor herb nor living creature. Walled paths, excavated ruts, alone broke the desert-like prospect, as the burrows of life. Penetrating into these, the eye saw men walking beneath the striated piles, with heads bent forward and nervous fingering of brow. There the whole world, such as we have known it, was buried beneath volumes, past all enumeration. There was neither fauna nor flora, neither wilderness, tempest, nor any familiar look of Nature, but only one boundless contiguity of books. There was only man and space and one unceasing library, and the men neither ate nor slept nor spoke. Nature was transformed into the processes and products of writing, and man was now no longer lover, friend, peasant, merchant, naturalist, traveller, gourmet, mechanic, warrior, worshipper, but only an author. All other faculties had been[Pg 272] lost to him, and all resources for anything else had fled from his universe. Anon some wrinkled, fidgety, cogitative being in human form would add a new volume to some slope or tower of the monstrous omni-patulent mass, or some sharp-glancing youth, with teeth set unevenly on edge, would pull out a volume, look greedily and half-believingly for a few moments, return it, and slink away. "What is this world, and what means this life?" cried I, addressing an old man, who had just tossed a volume aloft. "Where are we, and what about this? Tell me, for I have not before seen and do not know." He glanced a moment, then spoke, like a shade in hell, as follows:—"This is the world, and here is human life. Man long enjoyed it, with wonderful fulness and freshness of being. But a madness seized him; everybody wrote books; the evil grew more and more; nought else was an object of pursuit; till at last the earth was covered with tomes, and for long ages now it has been buried beyond the reach of mortal. All forms of life were exterminated. Man himself survives only as a literary shadow. Each one writes a book, or a few books, and dies, vanishing into thin air. Such is life,—a hecatomb!"

But even if it be supposed that mind could survive the toil, and the earth the quantity of our accumulating books, there are other difficulties. There are other imperative limitations, beyond which the art of writing cannot go. Letters themselves limit the possibilities of literature. For there is only a certain number of letters. These letters are capable of only a certain number of combinations into words. This limited number of possible words is capable only of a certain number of arrangements. Conceive the effect when all these capabilities shall be exhausted! It will no longer be possible for a new thing to be said or written. We shall have only to select and repeat from the past. Writing shall be reduced to the making of extracts, and speaking to the making of quotations. Yet the condition of things would certainly be improved. As there is now a great deal of writing without thinking, so then thinking could go on without writing. A man would be obliged to think out and up to his result, as we do now; but whether his processes and conclusions were wise or foolish, he would find them written out for him in advance. The process of selection would be all. The immense amount of writing would cease. Authors would be extinct. Thinkers could find their ideas stated in the best possible way, and the most effective arguments in their favor. If this event seems at all unlikely to any one, let him only reflect on the long geological ages, and on the innumerable writings, short and long, now published daily,—from Mr. Buckle to the newspapers. Estimate everything in type daily throughout Christendom. If so much is done in a day, how much in a few decades of centuries? Surely, at our present rate, in a very conceivable length of time, the resources of two alphabets would be exhausted. And this may be the reason and providence in the amount of writing now going on,—to get human language written up. The earth is as yet not half explored, and its cultivation and development, in comparison with what shall some time be, have scarcely begun. Will not the race be blessed, when its two mortal foes, Nature and the alphabet, have been finally and forever subdued?

This necessary finiteness of literature may be illustrated in another way. An English mathematician of the seventeenth century applied the resources of his art to an enumeration of human ideas. He believed that he could calculate with rigorous exactness the number of ideas of which the human mind is susceptible. This number, according to him, (and he has never been disputed,) was 3,155,760,000. Even if we allowed a million of words to one idea, according to our present practice,—instead of a single word to an idea, which would seem reasonable,—still, all the possible combinations of words and ideas would finally be exhausted. The ideas would give out, to be sure, a[Pg 273] million of times before the words; but the latter would meet their doom at last. All possible ideas would then be served up in all possible ways for all men, who could order them according to their appetites, and we could dispense with cooks ever after. The written word would be the finished record of all possible worlds, in gross and in detail.

But the problem whose solution has thus been attempted by desperate suggestions has, by changing its elements, nullified our calculation. We have been plotting to cast out the demon of books; and, lo! three other kindred demons of quarterlies, monthlies, and newspapers have joined fellowship with it, and our latter estate is worse than our first. Indeed, we may anticipate the speedy fossilization and extinction of books, while these younger broods alone shall occupy the earth. Our libraries are already hardly more than museums, they will soon be mausoleums, while all our reading is of the winged words of the hurried contributor. Some of the most intelligent and influential men in large cities do not read a book once a year. The Cadmean magic has passed from the hands of hierophants into those of the people. Literature has fallen from the domain of immortal thought to that of ephemeral speech, from the conditions of a fine to those of a mechanical art. The order of genius has been abolished by an all-prevailing popular opinion. The elegance and taste of patient culture have been vulgarized by forced contact with the unpresentable facts thrust upon us by the ready writer. Everybody now sighs for the new periodical, while nobody has read the literature of any single age in any single country.

How like mountain-billows of barbarism do the morning journals, reeking with unkempt facts, roll in upon the peaceful thought of the soul! How like savage hordes from some remote star, some nebulous chaos, that has never yet been recognized in the cosmical world, do they trample upon the organic and divine growths of culture, laying waste the well-ordered and fairly adorned fields of the mind, demolishing the intellectual highways which great engineering thinkers have constructed within us, and reducing a domain in which poetry and philosophy, with their sacred broods, dwelt gloriously together, to an undistinguishable level of ruin! How helpless are we before a newspaper! We sit down to it a highly developed and highly civilized being; we leave it a barbarian. Step by step, blow by blow, has everything that was nobly formed within us been knocked down, and we are made illustrations of the atomic theory of the soul, every atom being a separate savage, after the social theory of Hobbes. We are crazed by a multitudinousness of details, till the eye sees no picture, the ear hears no music, the taste finds no beauty, and the reason grasps no system. The only wonder is that the diabolical invention of Faust or Gutenberg has not already transformed the growths of the mind into a fauna and flora of perdition.

It was a sad barbarism when men ran wild with their own impulses, unable to control the fierceness of instinct. It is a sadder barbarism when men yield to every impulse from without, with no imperial dignity in the soul, which closes the apartments against the violence of the world and frowns away unseemly intruders. We have no spontaneous enthusiasm, no spiritual independence, no inner being, obedient only to its own law. We do not plough the billows of time with true beak and steady weight, but float, a tossed cork, now one side up and now the other. We live the life of an insect accidentally caught within a drum. Every steamer that comes hits the drum a beat; every telegram taps it; it echoes with every representative's speech, reverberates with every senator's more portly effort, screams at every accident. Everything that is done in the universe seems to be done only to make a noise upon it. Every morning, whatsoever thing has been changed, and whatsoever thing has been unchanged, during[Pg 274] the night, comes up to batter its report on the omni-audient tympanum of the universe, the drum-head of the press. And then we are inside of it. It may be music to the gods who dwell beyond the blue ether, but it is terrible confusion to us.

Virgil exhausted the resources of his genius in his portraiture of Fame:—

"Fama, malum, quo non aliud velocius ullum:
Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo:
Parva metu primo; mox sese attollit in auras,
Ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubila condit.
*** *** *** ***
Tot linguæ, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit aures.
Nocte volat cœli medio terræque per umbram
Stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno."

What would he have done, had he known our modern monster, the alphabet-tongued, steel-sinewed, kettle-lunged Rumor? It is a sevenfold horror. The Virgilian Fame was not a mechanical, but a living thing; it grew as it ran; it at least gave a poetical impression. Its story grew as legends grow, full to the brim of the instincts of the popular genius. It left its traces as it passed, and the minds of all who saw and heard rested in delightful wonder till something new happened. But the fact which printed Rumor throws through the atmosphere is coupled not with, the beauty of poetry, but with the madness of dissertation. Everybody is not only informed that the Jackats defeated the Magnats on the banks of the Kaiger on the last day of last week, but this news is conveyed to them in connection with a series of revelations about the relations of said fact to the universe. The primordial germ is not poetical, but dissertational. It tends to no organic creation, but to any abnormal and multitudinous display of suggestions, hypotheses, and prophecies. The item is shaped as it passes, not by the hopes and fears of the soul, but grows by accumulation of the dull details of prose. We have neither the splendid bewilderments of the twelfth, nor the cold illumination of the eighteenth century, but bewilderments without splendor, and coldness without illumination. The world is too wide-awake for thought,—the atmosphere is too bright for intellectual achievements. We have the wonders and sensations of a day; but where are the fathomless profundities, the long contemplations, and the silent solemnities of life? The newspapers are marvels of mental industry. They show how much work can be done in a day, but they never last more than a day. Sad will it be when the genius of ephemerality has invaded all departments of human actions and human motives! Farewell then to deep thoughts, to sublime self-sacrifice, to heroic labors for lasting results! Time is turned into a day, the mind knows only momentary impressions, the weary way of art is made as short as a turnpike, and the products of genius last only about as long as any mood of the weather. Bleak and changeable March will rule the year in the intellectual heavens.

What symbol could represent this matchless embodiment of all the activities, this tremendous success, this frenzied public interest? A monster so large, and yet so quick,—so much bulk combined with so much readiness,—reaching so far, and yet striking so often! Who can conceive that productive state of mind in which some current fact is all the time whirling the universe about it? Who can understand the mania of the leader-writer, who never thinks of a subject without discovering the possibility of a column concerning it,—who never looks upon his plate of soup without mentally reviewing in elaborate periods the whole vegetable, animal, and mineral kingdoms?

But what is the advantage of newspapers? Forsooth, popular intelligence. The newspaper is, in the first place, the legitimate and improved successor of the fiery cross, beacon-light, signal-smoking summit, hieroglyphic mark, and bulletin-board. It is, in addition to this, a popular daily edition and application[Pg 275] of the works of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Lord Bacon, Vattel, and Thomas Jefferson. On one page it records items, on the other it shows the relations between those items and the highest thought. Yet the whole circle is accomplished daily. The journal is thus the synopticized, personified, incarnate madness of the day,—for to-day is always mad, and becomes a thing of reason only when it becomes yesterday. A proper historical fact is one of the rarest shots in the journalist's bag, as time is sure to prove. If we had newspaper-accounts of the age of Augustus, the chances are that no other epoch in history would be so absolutely problematical, and Augustus himself would be lucky, if he were not resolved into a myth, and the journal into sibylline oracles. The dissertational department is equally faulty; for to first impressions everything on earth is chameleon-like. The Scandinavian Divinities, the Past, the Present, and the Future, could look upon each other, but neither of them upon herself. But in the journal the Present is trying to behold itself; the same priestess utters and explains the oracle. Thus the journal is the immortal reproduction of the jour des dupes. The editors are like the newsboys, shouting the news which they do not understand.

The public mind has given itself up to it. It claims the right to pronounce all the newspapers very bad, but has renounced the privilege of not reading them. Every one is made particeps criminis in the course of events. Nothing takes place in any quarter of the globe without our assistance. We have to connive at omne scibile. About everything natural and human, infernal and divine, there is a general consultation of mankind, and we are all made responsible for the result. Yet this constant interruption of our private intellectual habits and interests is both an impertinence and a nuisance. Why send us all the crudities? Why call upon us till you know what you want? Why speak till you have got your brain and your mouth clear? Why may we not take the universe for granted when we get up in the morning, instead of proceeding directly to measure it over again? Once a year is often enough for anybody but the government to hear anything about India, China, Patagonia, and the other flaps and coat-tails of the world. Let the North Pole never be mentioned again till we can melt the icebergs by a burning mirror before we start. Don't report another asteroid till the number reaches a thousand; that will be time enough for us to change our peg. Let us hear nothing of the small speeches, but Congress may publish once a week a bulletin of what it has done. The President and Cabinet may publish a bulletin, not to exceed five lines, twice a week, or on rare occasions and in a public emergency once a day. The right, however, shall be reserved to the people to prohibit the Cabinet from saying anything more aloud on a particular public question, till they have settled it. Let no mail-steamer pass between here and Europe oftener than once a month,—let all other steamers be forbidden to bring news, and the utterance of news by passengers be treated either as a public libel or nuisance, or as high treason. Leave the awful accidents to the parties whom they concern, and don't trouble us, unless they have the merit of novelty as well as of horror. Tell us only the highest facts, the boldest strokes, the critical moments of daily chaos, and save us from multitudinous nonsense.

There are some things which we like to keep out of the newspapers,—whose dignity is rather increased by being saved from them. There are certain momentary and local interests which have become shy of the horn of the reporter. The leading movements in politics, the advanced guard of scientific and artistic achievement, the most interesting social phenomena rather increase than diminish their importance by currency in certain circles instead of in the press. The prestige of some events in metropolitan cities, a marriage or a party, depends on their social repute, and they are ambitiously[Pg 276] kept out of the journalist's range. Moreover, in politics, a few leading men meet together for consultation, and——but the mysteries of political strategy are unknown here. Certainly the journalist has great influence in them, but the clubs are centres of information and discussions of a character and interest to which all that newspapers do is second-rate. Science has never been popularized directly by the newspapers, but the erudition of a savant reaches to the people by creating an atmospheric change, in which task the journals may have their influence. Rightly or wrongly, the administration in civil affairs at Washington has not listened to the press much, but it may be different when a new election approaches. The social, political, scientific, and military Dii Majores all depend on the journal for a part of their daily breakfast, but all soar above it.

A well-known and rather startling story describes a being, which seems to have been neither fish, flesh, nor fowl, which a man made out of the elements, by the use of his hands, and by the processes of chemistry, and which at the last galvanic touch rushed forth from the laboratory, and from the horrified eyes of its creator, an independent, scoffing, remorseless, and inevitable enemy of him to whose rash ingenuity it owed its origin.

Such a creature symbolizes some of our human arts and initiations. Once organized by genius and consecrated by precedent, they become mighty elements in history, revelling amid the wealthy energy of life, exhausting the forces of the intellect, clipping the tendrils of affection, becoming colossal in the architecture of society and dorsal in its traditions, and tyrannizing with the heedless power of an element, to the horror of the pious soul which called it into existence, over all departments of human activity. Such an art, having passed a period of tameless and extravagant dominance, at length becomes a fossil, and is regarded only as an evidence of social upheaving in a remote and unaccountable age.

To charge such a creature with monstrosity during the period of its power is simply to expose one's self to popular jeers. Having immense respect for majorities in this country, we only venture obscurely to hint, that, of all arts, none before has ever been so threatening, curious, and fascinating a monster as that of printing. We merely suggest the hypothesis, novel since some centuries, that old Faustus and Gutenberg were as much inspired by the Evil One as they have been fabled to be, when they carved out of a mountain of ore the instrument yclept type, to completely exhaust the possibilities of which is of late announced as the sum of human destiny. They lived under the hallucination of dawning literature, when printed books implied sacred and classical perfection; and they could by no means have foreseen the royal folios of the "New York Herald" and "Tribune," or the marvellous inanities about the past, present, and future, which figure in an indescribable list of duodecimo fiction, theology, and popular science.

But there is nothing so useless as to protest against a universal fashion. Every epoch must work out its own problem in its own way; and it may be that it is appointed unto mankind to work through all possible mistakes as the condition of finally attaining the truth. The only way is, to encourage the spirit of every age, to hurry on the climax. The practical reductio ad absurdum and consequent explosion will soon accomplish themselves.

But a more palpable reason against protesting is, that literature in its different branches, now as ever, commands the services of the finest minds. It is the literary character, of which the elder Disraeli has written the natural history, which now as ever creates the books, the magazines, the newspapers. That sanctified bookworm was the first to codify the laws, customs, habits, and idiosyncrasies of literary men. He was the Justinian[Pg 277] of the life of genius. He wandered in abstraction through the deserted alcoves of libraries, studying and creating the political economy of thought. What long diversities of character, what mysterious realms of experience, what wild waywardness of heavenly endowments, what heroism of inward struggle, what shyness towards society, what devotion to the beckoning ideal of art, what defeats and what triumphs, what sufferings and joys, both in excess, were revealed by him, the great political economist of genius! In his apostolic view, genius alone consecrated literature, and made a literary life sacred. Genius was to him that peculiar and spontaneous devotion to letters which made its possessor indifferent to everything else. For a man without this heavenly stamp to engage in literature was simply for him to rush upon his fate, and become a public nuisance. Literature in its very nature is precarious, and must be plucked from the brink of fate, from the mouth of the dragon. The literary man runs the risk of being destroyed in a thousand ways. He has no track laid, no instituted aids, no specified course of action. The machineries of life are not for him. He enters into no one of the departments of human routine. He has no relations with the course of the dull world; he is not quite a man, as the world goes, and not at all an angel, as the celestials see. He must be his own motive, path, and guide, his own priest, king, and law. The world may be his footstool, and may be his slough of despond, but is never his final end. His aims are transcendental, his realm is art, his interests ideal, his life divine, his destiny immortal. All the old theories of saintship are revived in him. He is in the world, but not of it. Shadows of infinitude are his realities. He sees only the starry universe, and the radiant depths of the soul. Martyrdom may desolate, but cannot terrify him. If he be a genius, if his soul crave only his idea, and his body fare unconsciously well on bread and water, then his lot is happy, and fortune can present no ills which will not shrink before his burning eye. But if he be less than this, he is lost, the sport of devouring elements. As he fights fate on the border of ruin, so much the more should he be animated by courage, ambition, pride, purpose, and faith. To him literature is a high adventure, and impossible as a profession. A profession is an instituted department of action, resting upon universal and constant needs, and paying regular dividends. But the fine arts must in their nature be lawless. Appointments cannot be made for them any more than for the thunder-storms which sweep the sky. They die when they cease to be wild. Literary life, at its best, is a desperate play, but it is with guineas, and not with coppers, to all who truly play it. Its elements would not be finer, were they the golden and potent stars of alchemistic and astrological dreams.

Such was genius, and such was literature, in the representation of their first great lawgiver. But the world has changed. The sad story of the calamities of authors need not be repeated. We live in the age of authors triumphant. By swiftly succeeding and countless publications they occupy the eye of the world, and achieve happiness before their death. The stratagems of literature mark no longer a struggle between genius and the bailiffs. What was once a desperate venture is now a lucrative business. What was once a martyrdom is now its own reward. What once had saintly unearthliness is now a powerful motor among worldly interests. What was once the fatality of genius is now the aspiration of fools. The people have turned to reading, and have become a more liberal patron than even the Athenian State, monastic order, or noble lord. No longer does the literary class wander about the streets, gingerbread in its coat-pockets, and rhymes written on scraps of paper from the gutter in its waistcoat-pockets. No longer does it unequally compete with clowns and jockeys for lordly recognition. No longer are the poet and the fool court-rivals. No longer does it look forward to[Pg 278] the jail as an occasional natural resting-place and paradise. No longer must the author renounce the rank and robe of a gentleman to fall from airy regions far below the mechanical artists to the level of clodhoppers, even whose leaden existence was a less precarious matter. The order of scholars has ceased to be mendicant, vagabond, and eremite. It no longer cultivates blossoms of the soul, but manufactures objects of barter. Now is the happy literary epoch, when to be intellectual and omniscient is the public and private duty of every man. To read newspapers by the billion and books by the million is now the common law. We can conceive of Disraeli moaning that the Titan interests of the earth have overthrown the celestial hierarchy,—that the realm of genius has been stormed by worldly workers,—that literature, like the angels, has fallen from its first estate,—and that authors, no longer the disinterested and suffering apostles, of art, have chosen rather to bear the wand of power and luxury than to be inspired. We can imagine his horror at the sacrilegious vulgarization of print, that people without taste rush into angelic metre, that dunces and sages thrive together on the public indiscrimination. How would he marvel to see literary reputations born, grow old, and die within a season, the owners thereof content to be damned or forgotten eternally for a moment's incense or an equally fugitive shilling. Nectar and ambrosia mean to them only meanness, larceny, sacrilege, and bread and butter.

And yet, notwithstanding the imaginary reproaches of our great literary church-father, the most preciously endowed minds are still toiling in letters. The sad and tortured devotion of genius still works itself out in them. Writing is now a marvellous craft and industry. The books which last, the books of a season, the quarterlies, monthlies, weeklies, dailies, and even the hourlies, are among the institutions of its fostering. Nor should that vehicle, partly of intelligence, but chiefly of sentiment, the postal system, be unmentioned, which men and women both patronize, each after their kind. Altogether, perhaps, in some way or other, seven-eighths of the life of man is taken up by the Cadmean Art. The whole fair domain of learning belongs to it; for nowhere now, in garden, grove, or Stoical Porch, with only the living voices of man and Nature, do students acquaint themselves with the joyous solemnities, the mysterious certainties of thought. The mind lives in a universe of type. There is no other art in which so desperate adventures are made. Indeed, the normal mental state of the abundant writer is a marvellous phenomenon. The literary faculty is born of the marriage of chronic desperation with chronic trust. This may account in part for that peculiar condition of mind which is both engendered and required by abundant writing. A bold abandon, a desperate guidance, a thoughtless ratiocination, a mechanical swaying of rhetoric, are the grounds of dissertation. A pause for a few days, a visit to the country, anything that would seem designed to restore the mind to its normal state, destroys the faculty. The weary penman, who wishes his chaotic head could be relieved by being transformed even as by Puck, knows that very whirling chaos is the condition of his multitudinous periods. It seems as if some special sluices of the soul must be opened to force the pen. One man, on returning to his desk from a four weeks' vacation, took up an unfinished article which he had left, and marvelled that such writing should ever have proceeded from him. He could hardly understand it, still less could he conceive of the mental process by which he had once created it. That process was a sort of madness, and the discipline of newspapers is inflicting it alike upon writers and readers. Demoralization is the result of a life-long devotion to the maddening rumors of the day. It takes many a day to recall that fierce caprice, as of an Oriental despot, with which he watches the tiger-fights of ideas, and strikes off periods, as the tyrant strikes off heads.

And while no other art commands so[Pg 279] universal homage, no other is so purely artificial, so absolutely unsymbolical. The untutored mind sees nothing in a printed column. A library has no natural impressiveness. It is not in the shape of anything in this world of infinite beauty. The barbarians of Omri destroyed one without a qualm. They have occupied apartments in seraglios, but the beauties have never feared them as rivals. Of all human employments, writing is the farthest removed from any touch of Nature. It is at most a symbolism twice dead and buried. The poetry in it lies back of a double hypothesis. Supposing the original sounds to have once been imitations of the voices of Nature, those sounds have now run completely away from what they once represented; and supposing that letters were once imitations of natural signs, they have long since lost the resemblance, and have become independent entities. Whatever else is done by human artifice has in it some relic of Nature, some touch of life. Painting copies to the eye, music charms the ear, and all the useful arts have something of the aboriginal way of doing things about them. Even speech has a living grace and power, by the play of the voice and eye, and by the billowy flushes of the countenance. Mental energy culminates in its modulations, while the finest physical features combine to make them a consummate work of art. But all the musical, ocular, and facial beauties are absent from writing. The savage knows, or could quickly guess, the use of the brush or chisel, the shuttle or locomotive, but not of the pen. Writing is the only dead art, the only institute of either gods or men so artificial that the natural mind can discover nothing significant in it.

For instance, take one of the disputed statements of the Nicene Creed, examine it by the nicest powers of the senses, study it upwards, downwards, and crosswise, experiment to learn if it has any mysterious chemical forces in it, consider its figures in relation to any astrological positions, to any natural signs of whirlwinds, tempests, plagues, famine, or earthquakes, try long to discover some hidden symbolism in it, and confess finally that no man unregenerate to letters, by any a priori or empirical knowledge, could have at all suspected that a bit of dirty parchment, with an ecclesiastical scrawl upon it, would have power to drive the currents of history, inspire great national passions, and impel the wars and direct the ideas of an epoch. The conflicts of the iconoclasts can be understood even by a child in its first meditations over a picture-book; hieroglyphics may represent or suggest their objects by some natural association; but the literary scrawl has a meaning only to the initiated. A book is the prince of witch-work. Everything is contained in it; but even a superior intelligence would have to go to school to get the key to its mysterious treasures.

And as the art is thus removed from Nature, so its devotees withdraw themselves from life. Of no other class so truly as of writers can it be said that they sacrifice the real to the ideal, life to fame. They conquer the world by renouncing it. Its fleeting pleasures, its enchantment of business or listlessness, its social enjoyments, the vexations and health-giving bliss of domestic life, and all wandering tastes, must be forsaken. A power which pierces, and an ambition which enjoys the future, accepts the martyrdom of the present. They feel loneliness in their own age, while with universal survey viewing the beacon-lights of history across the peaks of generations. Their seat of life is the literary faculty, and they prune and torture themselves only to maintain in this the highest intensity and capacity. They are in some sort rebels battling against time, not the humble well-doer content simply to live and bless God. Between them and living men there is the difference which exists between analytical and geometrical mathematics: the former has to do with signs, the latter with realities. The former contains the laws of the physical world, but a man may know and use[Pg 280] them like an adept, and yet be ignorant of physics. He may know all there is of algebra, without seeing that the universe is masked in it. The signs would be not means, but ultimates to it. So a writer may never penetrate through the veil of language to the realities behind,—may know only the mechanism, and not the spirit of learning and literature. His mind is then skeleton-like,—his thought is the shadow of a shade.

And yet is not life greater than art? Why transform real ideas and sentiments into typographical fossils? Why have we forgotten the theory of human life as a divine vegetation? Why not make our hearts the focus of the lights which we strive to catch in books? Why should the wealthy passivity of the Oriental genius be so little known among us? Why conceive of success only as an outward fruit plucked by conscious struggle? Banish books, banish reading, and how much time and strength would be improvised in which to benefit each other! We might become ourselves embodiments of all the truth and beauty and goodness now stagnant in libraries, and might spread their aroma through the social atmosphere. The dynamics would supplant the mechanics of the soul. In the volume of life the literary man knows only the indexes; but he would then be introduced to the radiant, fragrant, and buoyant contents, to the beauty and the mystery, to the great passions and long contemplations. The eternal spicy breeze would transform the leaden atmosphere of his thought. An outlaw of the universe for his sins, he would then be restored to the realities of the heart and mind. He would then for the first time discover the difference between skill and knowledge. Readers and writers would then be succeeded by human beings. The golden ante-Cadmean age would come again. Literary sanctity having become a tradition, there would be an end of its pretentious counterfeits. The alphabet, decrepit with its long and vast labors, would at last be released. The whole army of writers would take their place among the curiosities of history. The Alexandrian thaumaturgists, the Byzantine historians, the scholastic dialecticians, the serial novelists, and the daily dissertationists, strung together, would make a glittering chain of monomaniacs. Social life is a mutual joy; reading may be rarely indulged without danger to sanity; but writing, unless the man have genius, is but creating new rubbish, the nucleus of new deltas of obstruction, till the river of life shall lose its way to the ocean, and the Infinite be shut out altogether. The old bibliopole De Bury flattered himself that he admired wisdom because it purchaseth such vast delight. He had in mind the luxury of reading, and did not think that in this world wisdom always hides its head or goes to the stake. Even if literature were not to be abolished altogether, it is safe to think that the world would be better off, if there were less writing. There should be a division of labor; some should read and write, as some ordain laws, create philosophies, tend shops, make chairs,—but why should everybody dabble with literature?

In all hypotheses as to the more remote destiny of literature, we can but be struck by the precariousness of its existence. It is art imperishable and ever-changing material. A fire once extinguished perhaps half the world's literature, and struck thousands from the list of authors. The forgetfulness of mankind in the mysterious mediæval age; diminished by more than half the world of books. There are many books which surely, and either rapidly or slowly, resolve themselves into the elements, but the process cannot be seen. A whole army of books perishes with every revolution of taste. And yet the amount of current writing surpasses the strength of man's intellect or the length of his years. Surely, the press is very much of a nuisance as well as a blessing. Its products are getting very much in the way, and the impulse of the world is too strong to allow itself to be clogged by them. Something must be done.[Pg 281]

Among possibilities, let the following be suggested. The world may perhaps return from unsymbolical to symbolical writing. There is a science older than anything but shadowy traditions, and immemorially linked with religion, poetry, and art. It is the almost forgotten science of symbolism. Symbols, as compared with letters, are a higher and more potent style of expression. They are the earthly shadows of eternal truth. It is the language of the fine arts, of painting, sculpture, the stage,—it will be the language of life, when, rising in the scale of being, we shall return from the dead sea of literature to the more energetic algebra of symbolical meanings. In these, the forms of the reason and of Nature come into visible harmony; the hopes of man find their shadows in the struggles of the universe, and the lights of the spirit cluster myriad-fold around the objects of Nature. Let Phœnician language be vivified into the universal poetry of symbolism, and thought would then become life, instead of the ghost of life. Current literature would give way to a new and true mythology; authors and editors would suffer a transformation similar to that of type-setters into artists, and of newsboys into connoisseurs; and the figures of a noble humanity would fill the public mind, no longer confused and degraded by the perpetual vision of leaden and unsuggestive letters. From that time prose would be extinct, and poetry would be all in all. History would renew its youth,—would find, after the struggles, attainments, and developments of its manhood, that there is after all nothing wiser in thought, no truer law, than the instincts of childhood.

Or, again: improvements have already been made which promise as an ultimate result to transform the largest library into a miniature for the pocket. Stenography may yet reach to a degree that it will be able to write folios on the thumb-nail, and dispose all the literature of the world comfortably in a gentleman's pocket, before he sets out on his summer excursion. The contents of vast tomes, bodies of history and of science, may be so reduced that the eye can cover them at a glance, and the process of reading be as rapid as that of thought The mind, instead of wearying of slow perusal, would have to spur its lightning to keep pace with the eye. Many books are born of mere vagueness and cloudiness of thought. All such, when thus compressed into their reality, would go out in eternal night. There is something overpowering in the conception of the high pressure to which life in all its departments may some time be brought. The mechanism of reading and writing would be slight. The mental labor of comprehending would be immense. The mind, instead of being subdued, would be spurred, by what it works in. We are now cramped and checked by the overwhelming amount of linguistic red-tape in which we have to operate; but then men, freed from these bonds, the husks of thought almost all thrown away, would be purer, live faster, do greater, die younger. What magnificent physical improvements, we may suppose, will then aid the powers of the soul! The old world would then be subdued, nevermore to strike a blow at its lithe conqueror, man. The department of the newspaper, with inconceivable photographic and telegraphic resources, may then be extended to the solar or the stellar systems, and the turmoils of all creation would be reported at our breakfast-tables. Men would rise every morning to take an intelligible account of the aspects and the prospects of the universe.

Or, once more: shall we venture into the speculative domain of the philosophy of history, and give the rationale of our times? What is the divine mission of the great marvel of our age, namely, its periodical and fugitive literature? The intellectual and moral world of mankind reforms itself at the outset of new civilizations, as Nature reforms itself at every new geological epoch. The first step toward a reform, as toward a crystallization, is a solution. There was a solvent period between the unknown Orient and[Pg 282] the greatness of Greece, between the Classic and the Middle Ages,—and now humanity is again solvent, in the transition from the traditions which issued out of feudalism to the novelty of democratic crystallization. But as the youth of all animals is prolonged in proportion to their dignity in the scale of being, so is it with the children of history. Destiny is the longest-lived of all things. We are not going to accomplish it all at once. We have got to fight for it, to endure the newspapers in behalf of it. We are in a place where gravitation changing goes the other way. For the first time, all reigning ideas now find their focus in the popular mind. The giant touches the earth to recover his strength. History returns to the people. After two thousand years, popular intelligence is again to be revived. And under what new conditions? We live in a telescopic, microscopic, telegraphic universe, all the elements of which are brought together under the combined operation of fire and water, as erst, in primitive Nature, vulcanic and plutonic forces struggled together in the face of heaven and hell to form the earth. The long ranges of history have left with us one definite idea: it is that of progress, the intellectual passion of our time. All our science demonstrates it, all our poetry sings it. Democracy is the last term of political progress. Popular intelligence and virtue are the conditions of democracy. To produce these is the mission of periodical literature. The vast complexities of the world, all knowledge and all purpose, are being reduced in the crucible of the popular mind to a common product. Knowledge lives neither in libraries nor in rare minds, but in the general heart. Great men are already mythical, and great ideas are admitted only so far as we, the people, can see something in them. By no great books or long treatises, but by a ceaseless flow of brevities and repetitions, is the pulverized thought of the world wrought into the soul. It is amazing how many significant passages in history and in literature are reproduced in the essays of magazines and the leaders of newspapers by allusion and illustration, and by constant iteration beaten into the heads of the people. The popular mind is now feeding upon and deriving tone from the best things that literary commerce can produce from the whole world, past and present. There is no finer example of the popularization of science than Agassiz addressing the American people through the columns of a monthly magazine. Of the popular heart which used to rumble only about once in a century the newspapers are now the daily organs. They are creating an organic general mind, the soil for future grand ideas and institutes. As the soul reaches a higher stage in its destiny than ever before, the scaffolding by which it has risen is to be thrown aside. The quality of libraries is to be transferred to the soul. Spiritual life is now to exert its influence directly, without the mechanism of letters,—is going to exert itself through the social atmosphere,—and all history and thought are to be perpetuated and to grow, not in books, but in minds.

And yet, though we thus justify contemporary writing, we can but think, that, after long ages of piecemeal and bon-mot literature, we shall at length return to serious studies, vast syntheses, great works. The nebulous world of letters shall be again concentred into stars. The epoch of the printing-press has run itself nearly through; but a new epoch and a new art shall arise, by which the achievements and the succession of genius shall be perpetuated.[Pg 283]


Burn, O evening hearth, and waken
Pleasant visions, as of old!
Though the house by winds be shaken,
Safe I keep this room of gold!
Ah, no longer wizard Fancy
Builds its castles in the air,
Luring me by necromancy
Up the never-ending stair!
But, instead, it builds me bridges
Over many a dark ravine,
Where beneath the gusty ridges
Cataracts dash and roar unseen.
And I cross them, little heeding
Blast of wind or torrent's roar,
As I follow the receding
Footsteps that have gone before.
Nought avails the imploring gesture,
Nought avails the cry of pain!
When I touch the flying vesture,
'Tis the gray robe of the rain.
Baffled I return, and, leaning
O'er the parapets of cloud,
Watch the mist that intervening
Wraps the valley in its shroud.
And the sounds of life ascending
Faintly, vaguely, meet the ear,
Murmur of bells and voices blending
With the rush of waters near.
Well I know what there lies hidden,
Every tower and town and farm,
And again the land forbidden
Reassumes its vanished charm.
Well I know the secret places,
And the nests in hedge and tree;
At what doors are friendly faces,
In what hearts a thought of me.
Through the mist and darkness sinking,
Blown by wind and beaten by shower,
Down I fling the thought I'm thinking,
Down I toss this Alpine flower.

[Pg 284]


Eighteen years ago there occurred in one of the provinces of France a case of an abnormal character, marked by extraordinary phenomena,—interesting to the scientific, and especially to the medical world. The authentic documents in this case are rare; and though the case itself is often alluded to, its details have never, so far as I know, been reproduced from these documents in an English dress, or presented in trustworthy form to the American public. It occurred in the Commune of La Perrière, situated in the Department of Orne, in January, 1846.

It was critically observed, at the time, by Dr. Verger, an intelligent physician of Bellesme, a neighboring town. He details the result of his observations in two letters addressed to the "Journal du Magnétisme,"—one dated January 29, the other February 2, 1846.[1] The editor of that journal, M. Hébert, (de Garny,) himself repaired to the spot, made the most minute researches into the matter, and gives us the result of his observations and inquiries in a report, also published in the "Journal du Magnétisme."[2] A neighboring proprietor, M. Jules de Farémont, followed up the case with care, from its very commencement, and has left on record a detailed report of his observations.[3] Finally, after the girl's arrival in Paris, Dr. Tanchon carefully studied the phenomena, and has given the results in a pamphlet published at the time.[4] He it was, also, who addressed to M. Arago a note on the subject, which was laid before the Academy by that distinguished man, at their session of February 16, 1846.[5] Arago himself had then seen the girl only a few minutes, but even in that brief time had verified a portion of the phenomena.

Dr. Tanchon's pamphlet contains fourteen letters, chiefly from medical men and persons holding official positions in Bellesme, Mortagne, and other neighboring towns, given at length and signed by the writers, all of whom examined the girl, while yet in the country. Their testimony is so circumstantial, so strictly concurrent in regard to all the main phenomena, and so clearly indicative of the care and discrimination with which the various observations were made, that there seems no good reason, unless we find such in the nature of the phenomena themselves, for refusing to give it credence. Several of the writers expressly affirm the accuracy of M. Hébert's narrative, and all of them, by the details they furnish, corroborate it. Mainly from that narrative, aided by some of the observations of M. de Farémont, I compile the following brief statement of the chief facts in this remarkable case.

Angélique Cottin, a peasant-girl fourteen years of age, robust and in good health, but very imperfectly educated and of limited intelligence, lived with her aunt, the widow Loisnard, in a cottage with an earthen floor, close to the Château of Monti-Mer, inhabited by its proprietor, already mentioned, M. de Farémont.

The weather, for eight days previous to the fifteenth of January, 1846, had been heavy and tempestuous, with constantly recurring storms of thunder and lightning. The atmosphere was charged with electricity.

On the evening of that fifteenth of January, at eight o'clock, while Angélique, in company with three other young girls, was at work, as usual, in her aunt's cottage, weaving ladies' silk-net gloves, the frame, made of rough oak and weighing about twenty-five pounds, to which[Pg 285] was attached the end of the warp, was upset, and the candlestick on it thrown to the ground. The girls, blaming each other as having caused the accident, replaced the frame, relighted the candle, and went to work again. A second time the frame was thrown down. Thereupon the children ran away, afraid of a thing so strange, and, with the superstition common to their class, dreaming of witchcraft. The neighbors, attracted by their cries, refused to credit their story. So, returning, but with fear and trembling, two of them at first, afterwards a third, resumed their occupation, without the recurrence of the alarming phenomenon. But as soon as the girl Cottin, imitating her companions, had touched her warp, the frame was agitated again, moved about, was upset, and then thrown violently back. The girl was drawn irresistibly after it; but as soon as she touched it, it moved still farther away.

Upon this the aunt, thinking, like the children, that there must be sorcery in the case, took her niece to the parsonage of La Perrière, demanding exorcism. The curate, an enlightened man, at first laughed at her story; but the girl had brought her glove with her, and fixing it to a kitchen-chair, the chair, like the frame, was repulsed and upset, without being touched by Angélique. The curate then sat down on the chair; but both chair and he were thrown to the ground in like manner. Thus practically convinced of the reality of a phenomenon which he could not explain, the good man reassured the terrified aunt by telling her it was some bodily disease, and, very sensibly, referred the matter to the physicians.

The next day the aunt related the above particulars to M. de Farémont; but for the time the effects had ceased. Three days later, at nine o'clock, that gentleman was summoned to the cottage, where he verified the fact that the frame was at intervals thrown back from Angélique with such force, that, when exerting his utmost strength and holding it with both hands, he was unable to prevent its motion. He observed that the motion was partly rotary, from left to right. He particularly noticed that the girl's feet did not touch the frame, and that, when it was repulsed, she seemed drawn irresistibly after it, stretching out her hands, as if instinctively, towards it. It was afterwards remarked, that, when a piece of furniture or other object, thus acted upon by Angélique, was too heavy to be moved, she herself was thrown back, as if by the reaction of the force upon her person.

By this time the cry of witchcraft was raised in the neighborhood, and public opinion had even designated by name the sorcerer who had cast the spell. On the twenty-first of January the phenomena increased in violence and in variety. A chair on which the girl attempted to sit down, though held by three strong men, was thrown off, in spite of their efforts, to several yards' distance. Shovels, tongs, lighted firewood, brushes, books, were all set in motion when the girl approached them. A pair of scissors fastened to her girdle was detached, and thrown into the air.

On the twenty-fourth of January, M. de Farémont took the child and her aunt in his carriage to the small neighboring town of Mamers. There, before two physicians and several ladies and gentlemen, articles of furniture moved about on her approach. And there, also, the following conclusive experiment was tried by M. de Farémont.

Into one end of a ponderous wooden block, weighing upwards of a hundred and fifty pounds, he caused a small hook to be driven. To this he made Angélique fix her silk. As soon as she sat down and her frock touched the block, the latter was instantly raised three or four inches from the ground; and this was repeated as much as forty times in a minute. Then, after suffering the girl to rest, M. de Farémont seated himself on the block, and was elevated in the same way. Then three men placed themselves upon it, and were raised also, only not quite so high. "It is certain," says M. de Farémont,[Pg 286] "that I and one of the most athletic porters of the Halle could not have lifted that block with the three persons seated on it."[6]

Dr. Verger came to Mamers to see Angélique, whom, as well as her family, he had previously known. On the twenty-eighth of January, in the presence of the curate of Saint Martin and of the chaplain of the Bellesme hospital, the following incident occurred. As the child could not sew without pricking herself with the needle, nor use scissors without wounding her hands, they set her to shelling peas, placing a large basket before her. As soon as her dress touched the basket, and she reached her hand to begin work, the basket was violently repulsed, and the peas projected upwards and scattered over the room. This was twice repeated, under the same circumstances. Dr. Lemonnier, of Saint Maurice, testifies to the same phenomenon, as occurring in his presence and in that of the Procurator Royal of Mortagne;[7] he noticed that the left hand produced the greater effect. He adds, that, he and another, gentleman having endeavored, with all their strength, to hold a chair on which Angélique sat down, it was violently forced from them, and one of its legs broken.

On the thirtieth of January, M. de Farémont tried the effect of isolation. When, by means of dry glass, he isolated the child's feet and the chair on which she sat, the chair ceased to move, and she remained perfectly quiet. M. Olivier, government engineer, tried a similar experiment, with the same results.[8] A week later, M. Hébert, repeating this experiment, discovered that isolation of the chair was unnecessary; it sufficed to isolate the girl.[9] Dr. Beaumont, vicar of Pin-la-Garenne, noticed a fact, insignificant in appearance, yet quite as conclusive as were the more violent manifestations, as to the reality of the phenomena. Having moistened with saliva the scattered hairs on his own arm, so that they lay flattened, attached to the epidermis, when he approached his arm to the left arm of the girl, the hairs instantly erected themselves. M. Hébert repeated the same experiment several times, always with a similar result.[10]

M. Olivier also tried the following. With a stick of sealing-wax, which he had subjected to friction, he touched the girl's arm, and it gave her a considerable shock; but touching her with another similar stick, that had not been rubbed, she experienced no effect whatever.[11] Yet when M. de Farémont, on the nineteenth of January, tried the same experiment with a stick of sealing-wax and a glass tube, well prepared by rubbing, he obtained no effect whatever. So also a pendulum of light pith, brought into close proximity to her person at various points, was neither attracted nor repulsed, in the slightest degree.[12]

Towards the beginning of February, Angélique was obliged, for several days, to eat standing; she could not sit down on a chair. This fact Dr. Verger repeatedly verified. Holding her by the arm to prevent accident, the moment she touched the chair it was projected from under her, and she would have fallen but for his support. At such times, to take rest, she had to seat herself on the floor, or on a stone provided for the purpose.

On one such occasion, "she approached," says M. de Farémont, "one of those rough, heavy bedsteads used by the peasantry, weighing, with the coarse bedclothes, some three hundred pounds, and sought to lie down on it. The bed shook and oscillated in an incredible manner; no force that I know of is capable of communicating to it such a movement. Then she went to another bed, which was raised from the ground on wooden rollers, six inches in diameter; and it was immediately thrown off the rollers." All this M. de Farémont personally witnessed.[13]

On the evening of the second of February,[Pg 287] Dr. Verger received Angélique into his house. On that day and the next, upwards of one thousand persons came to see her. The constant experiments, which on that occasion were continued into the night, so fatigued the poor girl that the effects were sensibly diminished. Yet even then a small table brought near to her was thrown down so violently that it broke to pieces. It was of cherry-wood and varnished.

"In a general way," says Dr. Beaumont-Chardon, "I think the effects were more marked with me than with others, because I never evinced suspicion, and spared her all suffering; and I thought I could observe, that, although her powers were not under the control of her will, yet they were greatest when her mind was at ease, and she was in good spirits."[14] It appeared, also, that on waxed, or even tiled floors, but more especially on carpets, the effects were much less than on an earthen floor like that of the cottage where they originally showed themselves.

At first wooden furniture seemed exclusively affected; but at a later period metal also, as tongs and shovels, though in a less degree, appeared to be subjected to this extraordinary influence. When the child's powers were the most active, actual contact was not necessary. Articles of furniture and other small objects moved, if she accidentally approached them.

Up to the sixth of February she had been visited by more than two thousand persons, including distinguished physicians from the towns of Bellesme and Mortagne, and from all the neighborhood, magistrates, lawyers, ecclesiastics, and others. Some gave her money.

Then, in an evil hour, listening to mercenary suggestion, the parents conceived the idea that the poor girl might be made a source of pecuniary gain; and notwithstanding the advice and remonstrance of her true friends, M. de Farémont, Dr. Verger, M. Hébert, and others, her father resolved to exhibit her in Paris and elsewhere.

On the road they were occasionally subjected to serious annoyances. The report of the marvels above narrated had spread far and wide; and the populace, by hundreds, followed the carriage, hooting and abusing the sorceress.

Arrived at the French metropolis, they put up at the Hôtel de Rennes, No. 23, Rue des Deux-Écus. There, on the evening of the twelfth of February, Dr. Tanchon saw Angélique for the first time.

This gentleman soon verified, among other phenomena, the following. A chair, which he held firmly with both hands, was forced back as soon as she attempted to sit down; a middle-sized dining-table was displaced and repulsed by the touch of her dress; a large sofa, on which Dr. Tanchon was sitting, was pushed violently to the wall, as soon as the child sat down beside him. The Doctor remarked, that, when a chair was thrown back from under her, her clothes seemed attracted by it, and adhered to it, until it was repulsed beyond their reach; that the power was greater from the left hand than from the right, and that the former was warmer than the latter, and often trembled, agitated by unusual contractions; that the influence emanating from the girl was intermittent, not permanent, being usually most powerful from seven till nine o'clock in the evening, possibly influenced by the principal meal of the day, dinner, taken at six o'clock; that, if the girl was cut off from contact with the earth, either by placing her feet on a non-conductor or merely by keeping them raised from the ground, the power ceased, and she could remain seated quietly; that, during the paroxysm, if her left hand touched any object, she threw it from her as if it burned her, complaining that it pricked her, especially on the wrist; that, happening one day to touch accidentally the nape of her neck, the girl ran from him, crying out with pain; and that repeated observation assured him of the fact that[Pg 288] there was, in the region of the cerebellum, and at the point where the superior muscles of the neck are inserted in the cranium, a point so acutely sensitive that the child would not suffer there the lightest touch; and, finally, that the girl's pulse, often irregular, usually varied from one hundred and five to one hundred and twenty beats a minute.

A curious observation made by this physician was, that, at the moment of greatest action, a cool breeze, or gaseous current, seemed to flow from her person. This he felt on his hand, as distinctly as one feels the breath during an ordinary expiration.[15]

He remarked, also, that the intermittence of the child's power seemed to depend in a measure on her state of mind. She was often in fear lest some one should touch her from behind; the phenomena themselves agitated her; in spite of a month's experience, each time they occurred she drew back, as if alarmed. And all such agitations seemed to diminish her power. When she was careless, and her mind was diverted to something else, the demonstrations were always the most energetic.

From the north pole of a magnet, if it touched her finger, she received a sharp shock; while the contact of the south pole produced upon her no effect whatever. This effect was uniform; and the girl could always tell which pole touched her.

Dr. Tanchon ascertained from the mother that no indications of puberty had yet manifested themselves in her daughter's case.

Such is a summary of the facts, embodied in a report drawn up by Dr. Tanchon on the fifteenth of February. He took it with him on the evening of the sixteenth to the Academy of Sciences, and asked M. Arago if he had seen the electric girl, and if he intended to bring her case that evening to the notice of the Academy. Arago replied to both questions in the affirmative, adding,—"If you have seen her, I shall receive from you with pleasure any communication you may have to make."

Dr. Tanchon then read to him the report; and at the session of that evening, Arago presented it, stated what he himself had seen, and proposed that a committee should be appointed to examine the case. His statement was received by his audience with many expressions of incredulity; but they acceded to his suggestion by naming, from the members of the Academy, a committee of six.

It appears that Arago had had but a single opportunity, and for the brief space of less than half an hour, of witnessing the phenomena to which he referred. M. Cholet, the speculator who advanced to her parents the money necessary to bring Angélique to Paris, had taken the girl and her parents to the Observatory, where Arago then was, who, at the earnest instance of Cholet, agreed to test the child's powers at once. There were present on this occasion, besides Arago, MM. Mathieu and Laugier, and an astronomer of the Observatory, named M. Goujon.

The experiment of the chair perfectly succeeded. It was projected with great violence against the wall, while the girl was thrown on the other side. This experiment was repeated several times by Arago himself, and each time with the same result. He could not, with all his force, hinder the chair from being thrown back. Then MM. Goujon and Laugier attempted to hold it, but with as little success. Finally, M. Goujon seated himself first on half the chair, and at the moment when Angélique was taking her seat beside him the chair was thrown down.

When Angélique approached a small table, at the instant that her apron touched it, it was repulsed.

These particulars were given in all the medical journals of the day,[16] as well as in the "Journal des Débats" of February 18, and the "Courrier Français" of February 19, 1846.[Pg 289]

The minutes of the session of the Academy touch upon them in the most studiously brief and guarded manner. They say, the sitting lasted only some minutes. They admit, however, the main fact, namely, that the movements of the chair, occurring as soon as Angélique seated herself upon it, were most violent ("d'une extrême violence"). But as to the other experiment, they allege that M. Arago did not clearly perceive the movement of the table by the mere intervention of the girl's apron, though the other observers did.[17] It is added, that the girl produced no effect on the magnetic needle.

Some accounts represent Arago as expressing himself much more decidedly. He may have done so, in addressing the Academy; but I find no official record of his remarks.

He did not assist at the sittings of the committee that had been appointed at his suggestion; but he signed their report, having confidence, as he declared, in their judgment, and sharing their mistrust.

That report, made on the ninth of March, is to the effect, that they witnessed no repulsive agency on a table or similar object; that they saw no effect produced by the girl's arm on a magnetic needle; that the girl did not possess the power to distinguish between the two poles of a magnet; and, finally, that the only result they obtained was sudden and violent movements of chairs on which the child was seated. They add, "Serious suspicions having arisen as to the manner in which these movements were produced, the committee decided to submit them to a strict examination, declaring, in plain terms, that they would endeavor to discover what part certain adroit and concealed manœuvres of the hands and feet had in their production. From that moment we were informed that the young girl had lost her attractive and repulsive powers, and that we should be notified when they reappeared. Many days have elapsed; no notice has been sent us; yet we learn that Mademoiselle Cottin daily exhibits her experiments in private circles." And they conclude by recommending "that the communications addressed to them in her case be considered as not received" ("comme non avenues"). In a word, they officially branded the poor girl as an impostor.

That, without any inquiry into the antecedents of the patient, without the slightest attempt to obtain from those medical men who had followed up the case from its commencement what they had observed, and that, in advance of the strict examination which it was their duty to make, they should insult the unfortunate girl by declaring that they intended to find out the tricks with which she had been attempting to deceive them,—all this is not the less lamentable because it is common among those, who sit in the high places of science.

If these Academicians had been moved by a simple love of truth, not urged by a self-complacent eagerness to display their own sagacity, they might have found a more probable explanation of the cessation, after their first session, of some of Angelique's chief powers.

Such an explanation is furnished to us by Dr. Tanchon, who was present, by invitation, at the sittings of the committee.

He informs us that, at their first sitting, held at the Jardin des Plantes, on the seventeenth of February, after the committee had witnessed, twice repeated, the violent displacement of a chair held with all his strength by one of their number, (M. Rayet,) instead of following up similar experiments and patiently waiting to observe the phenomena as they presented themselves, they proceeded at once to satisfy their own preconceptions. They brought Angélique into contact with a voltaic battery. Then they[Pg 290] placed on the bare arm of the child a dead frog, anatomically prepared after the manner of Matteucci, that is, the skin removed, and the animal dissected so as to expose the lumbar nerves. By a galvanic current, they caused this frog to move, apparently to revive, on the girl's arm. The effect upon her may be imagined. The ignorant child, terrified out of her senses, spoke of nothing else the rest of the day, dreamed of dead frogs coming to life all night, and began to talk eagerly about it again the first thing the next morning.[18] From that time her attractive and repulsive powers gradually declined.

In addition to the privilege of much accumulated learning, in addition to the advantages of varied scientific research, we must have something else, if we would advance yet farther in true knowledge. We must be imbued with a simple, faithful spirit, not presuming, not preoccupied. We must be willing to sit down at the feet of Truth, humble, patient, docile, single-hearted. We must not be wise in our own conceit; else the fool's chance is better than ours, to avoid error, and distinguish truth.

M. Cohu, a medical man of Mortagne, writing, in March, 1846, in reply to some inquiries of Dr. Tanchon, after stating that the phenomenon of the chair, repeatedly observed by himself, had been witnessed also by more than a thousand persons, adds,—"It matters not what name we may give to this; the important point is, to verify the reality of a repulsive agency, and of one that is distinctly marked; the effects it is impossible to deny. We may assign to this agency what seat we please, in the cerebellum, in the pelvis, or elsewhere; the fact is material, visible, incontestable. Here in the Province, Sir, we are not very learned, but we are often very mistrustful. In the present case we have examined, reëxamined, taken every possible precaution against deception; and the more we have seen, the deeper has been our conviction of the reality of the phenomenon. Let the Academy decide as it will. We have seen; it has not seen. We are, therefore, in a condition to decide better than it can, I do not say what cause was operating, but what effects presented themselves, under circumstances that remove even the shadow of a doubt."[19]

M. Hébert, too, states a truth of great practical value, when he remarks, that, in the examination of phenomena of so fugitive and seemingly capricious a character, involving the element of vitality, and the production of which at any given moment depends not upon us, we "ought to accommodate ourselves to the nature of the fact, not insist that it should accommodate itself to us."

For myself, I do not pretend to offer any positive opinion as to what was ultimately the real state of the case. I do not assume to determine whether the attractive and repulsive phenomena, after continuing for upwards of a month, happened to be about to cease at the very time the committee began to observe them,—or whether the harsh suspicious and terror-inspiring tests of these gentlemen so wrought on the nervous system of an easily daunted and superstitious girl, that some of her abnormal powers, already on the wane, presently disappeared,—or whether the poor child, it may be at the instigation of her parents, left without the means of support,[20] really did at last simulate phenomena that once were real, manufacture a counterfeit of what was originally genuine. I do not take upon myself to decide between these various hypotheses. I but express my conviction, that, for the first few weeks at least, the phenomena actually occurred,—and that, had not the gentlemen of the Academy been very unfortunate or very injudicious,[Pg 291] they could not have failed to perceive their reality. And I seek in vain some apology for the conduct of these learned Academicians, called upon to deal with a case so fraught with interest to science, when I find them, merely because they do not at once succeed in personally verifying sufficient to convince them of the existence of certain novel phenomena, not only neglecting to seek evidence elsewhere, but even rejecting that which a candid observer had placed within their reach.

This appears to have been the judgment of the medical public of Paris. The "Gazette des Hôpitaux," in its issue of March 17, 1846, protests against the committee's mode of ignoring the matter, declaring that it satisfied nobody. "Not received!" said the editor (alluding to the words of the report); "that would be very convenient, if it were only possible!"[21]

And the "Gazette Médicale" very justly remarks,—"The non-appearance of the phenomena at such or such a given moment proves nothing in itself. It is but a negative fact, and, as such, cannot disprove the positive fact of their appearance at another moment, if that be otherwise satisfactorily attested." And the "Gazette" goes on to argue, from the nature of the facts, that it is in the highest degree improbable that they should have been the result of premeditated imposture.

The course adopted by the Academy's committee is the less defensible, because, though the attractive and repulsive phenomena ceased after their first session, other phenomena, sufficiently remarkable, still continued. As late as the tenth of March, the day after the committee made their report, Angélique being then at Dr. Tanchon's house, a table touched by her apron, while her hands were behind her and her feet fifteen inches distant from it, was raised entirely from the ground, though no part of her body touched it. This was witnessed, besides Dr. Tanchon, by Dr. Charpentier-Méricourt, who had stationed himself so as to observe it from the side. He distinctly saw the table rise, with all four legs, from the floor, and he noticed that the two legs of the table farthest from the girl rose first. He declares, that, during the whole time, he perceived not the slightest movement either of her hands or her feet; and he regarded deception, under the circumstances, to be utterly impossible.[22]

On the twelfth of March, in presence of five physicians, Drs. Amédée Latour, Lachaise, Deleau, Pichard, and Soulé, the same phenomenon occurred twice.

And yet again on the fourteenth, four physicians being present, the table was raised a single time, but with startling force. It was of mahogany, with two drawers, and was four feet long by two feet and a half wide. We may suppose it to have weighed some fifty or sixty pounds; so that the girl's power, in this particular, appears to have much decreased since that day, about the end of January, when M. de Farémont saw repeatedly raised from the ground a block of one hundred and fifty pounds' weight, with three men seated on it,—in all, not less than five to six hundred pounds.

By the end of March the whole of the phenomena had almost totally ceased; and it does not appear that they have ever shown themselves since that time.

Dr. Tanchon considered them electrical. M. de Farémont seems to have doubted that they were strictly so. In a letter, dated Monti-Mer, November 1, 1846, and addressed to the Marquis de Mirville, that gentleman says,—"The electrical effects I have seen produced in this case varied so much,—since under certain circumstances good conductors operated, and then again, in others, no effect was observable,—that, if one follows the ordinary laws of electrical phenomena, one finds evidence both for and against. I am well convinced, that,[Pg 292] in the case of this child, there is some power other than electricity."[23]

But as my object is to state facts, rather than to moot theories, I leave this debatable ground to others, and here close a narrative, compiled with much care, of this interesting and instructive case. I was the rather disposed to examine it critically and report it in detail, because it seems to suggest valuable hints, if it does not afford some clue, as to the character of subsequent manifestations in the United States and elsewhere.

This case is not an isolated one. My limits however, prevent me from here reproducing, as I might, sundry other recent narratives more or less analogous to that of the girl Cottin. To one only shall I briefly advert: a case related in the Paris newspaper, the "Siècle," of March 4, 1846, published when all Paris was talking of Arago's statement in regard to the electric girl.

It is there given on the authority of a principal professor in one of the Royal Colleges of Paris. The case, very similar to that of Angélique Cottin, occurred in the month of December previous, in the person of a young girl, not quite fourteen years old, apprenticed to a colorist, in the Rue Descartes. The occurrences were quite as marked as those in the Cottin case. The professor, seated one day near the girl, was raised from the floor, along with the chair on which he sat. There were occasional knockings. The phenomena commenced December 2, 1845; and lasted twelve days.


[1] Journal du Magnétisme, for 1846, pp. 80-84.

[2] Pp. 89-106.

[3] In Dr. Tanchon's pamphlet, pp. 46-53.

[4] Enquête, sur l'Authenticité des Phénomènes Électriques d'Angélique Cottin, par le Dr. Tanchon. Baillière, Paris, 1846.

[5] See Minutes of the Academy, Session of Monday, February 16, 1846.

[6] Enquête, etc., p. 49.

[7] Ibid. p. 40.

[8] Ibid. p. 42.

[9] Ibid. p. 22.

[10] Enquête, etc., p. 22.

[11] Ibid. p. 43.

[12] Ibid. p. 47.

[13] Ibid. p. 49.

[14] Enquête, etc., p. 35. They were greater, also, after meals than before; so Hébert observed. p. 22.

[15] Enquête, etc., p. 5.

[16] I extract them from the "Journal des Connaissances Médico-Chirurgicales," No. 3.

[17] The words are,—"M. Arago n'a pas aperçu nettement les agitations annoncées comme étant engendrées à distance, par l'intermédiaire d'un tablier, sur un guéridon en bois: d'autres observateurs ont trouvé que les agitations étaient sensibles."

[18] Enquête, etc., p. 25.

[19] Enquête, etc., p. 36.

[20] M. Cholet, the individual who, in the hope of gain, furnished the funds to bring Angélique to Paris for exhibition, as soon as he perceived that the speculation was a failure, left the girl and her parents in that city, dependent on the charity of strangers for daily support, and for the means of returning to their humble home.—Enquête, etc., p. 24.

[21] "Non avenues! ce serait commode, si c'était possible!"

[22] Enquête, etc., p. 30.

[23] Des Esprits et de leurs Manifestations Fluidiques, par le Marquis de Mirville, pp. 379, 380.




It was at this same period of time I made the acquaintance of Monsieur Edmond About. When I met him he had just appeared as an author, and his friends everywhere declared that Voltaire's mantle had fallen on his shoulders. He had, like Voltaire, discovered instantly that mankind were divided into hammers and anvils, and he determined to be one of the hammers. He began his career by ridiculing a poetical country, Greece, whose guest he had been, and whose sovereign and ministers had received him with confidence,—repaying three years of hospitality by a satire of three hundred pages. "Greece and the Greeks" was translated into several languages. This edifying publication, which put the laughers on his side, was followed by a different sort of work, which came near producing on this budding reputation the effect of an April frost upon an almond-tree in blossom. Voltaire's heir had found no better mode of writing natural and true novels (so the scandalous chronicle said) than to copy an original correspondence, and indiscreet "detectives" of letters menaced him with publishing the whole Italian work from which he "conveyed" the best part of "Tolla." All the literary world cried, Havoc! upon the sprightly fellow laden with Italian relics. It was a critical moment in his life.

Monsieur Edmond About was introduced to me by a fascinating lady;—who can resist the charms of the other sex? I saw before me a man some eight-and-twenty years old, of a slender figure; his features were irregular, but intellectual, and he looked at people like an excessively[Pg 293] near-sighted person who abused the advantages of being near-sighted. He wore no spectacles. His eyes were small, cold, bright, and were well wadded with such thick eyebrows and eyelashes it seemed these must absorb them. I subsequently found, in a strange American book,[24] some descriptions which may be applied to his odd expression of eye. Monsieur Edmond About's mouth was sneering and sensual, and even then affected Voltaire's sarcastic grimace. His bitter and equivocal smile put you in mind of the grinding of an epigram-mill. One could detect in his attitude, his physiognomy, and his language, that obsequious malice, that familiarity, at the same time flattering and jeering, which Voltaire turned to such good account in his commerce with the great people of his day, and which his disciple was learning to practise in his intercourse with the powerful of these times,—the parvenus and the wealthy. I was struck by the face of this college Macchiavelli: on it were written the desire of success and the longing to enjoy; the calculations of the ambitious man were allied with the maliciousness of the giddy child. Of course he overwhelmed me with compliments and flattery. He had, or thought he had, use for me. I benevolently became the defender of the poor calumniated fellow in the "Revue des Deux Mondes," just as one undertakes out of pure kindness of heart to protect the widow and the orphan. Monsieur Edmond About thanked me orally with a flood of extraordinary gratitude; but he took good care to avoid writing a word upon the subject. A letter might have laid him under engagements, and might have embarrassed him one day or another. Whereas he aimed to be both a diplomatist and a literary man. He practised the art of good writing, and the art of turning it to the best advantage.

Some months after this he brought out a piece called "Guillery," at the French Comedy. The first night it was played, there was a hail-storm of hisses. No claqueur ever remembered to have heard the like before. The charitable dramatic critics—delicate fellows, who cannot bear to see people possess talents without their permission and despite them—attacked the piece as blood-hounds the fugitive murderer. It seemed as if Monsieur Edmond About was a ruined man, who could never dare hold up his head again. He resisted the death-warrant. He had friends in influential houses. He soon found lint enough for his wounds. The next winter the town heard that Monsieur Edmond About's wounds had been well dressed and were cured, and that he was going to write in "Figaro." The amateurs of scandal began at once to reckon upon the gratification of their tastes. They were not mistaken. The moment his second contribution to "Figaro" appeared, it became evident to all that he had taken this warlike position at the advanced posts of light literature solely to shoot at those persons who had wounded his vanity. For three months he kept up such a sharp fire that every week numbered its dead. Such carnage had never been seen. Everybody was severely wounded: Jules Janin, Paulin Limayrac, Champfleury, Barbey d'Aurevilly, and a host of others. Everybody said, (a thrill of terror ran through them as they spoke,)—There is going to be one of these mornings a terrible butchery: that imprudent Edmond About will have at least ten duels on his hands. Not a bit of it! Not a bit of it! There were negotiations, embassies, explanations exchanged which explained nothing, and reparations made which repaired nothing. But there was not a shot fired. There was not a drop of blood drawn. O Lord! no! Third parties intervened, and demonstrated to the offended parties, that, when Monsieur Edmond About called them stupid boobies, humbugs, tumblers, he had no intention whatever of offending them. Good gracious! far otherwise! In fine, one day the farce was played, the curtain fell upon the well-spanked critics, and all this little company (so full of talents and chivalry!) went arm-in-arm,[Pg 294] the insulter and the insulted, to breakfast together at Monsieur About's rooms, where, between a dozen oysters and a bottle of Sauterne, he asked his victims what they thought of some Titians he had just discovered, and which he wished to sell to the Louvre for a small fortune,—Titians which were not painted even by Mignard. The insulter and the insulted fell into each other's arms before these daubs, and they parted, each delighted with the other. These pseudo-Titians were for Monsieur About his Alcibiades's dog's-tail. He spent one every month. Literary, picturesque, romanesque, historical, agricultural, Greek, and Roman questions were never subjects to him: he considered them merely advertisements to puff the transcendent merits of Edmond About. Before he left "Figaro" he determined to show me what a grateful fellow he was. He made me the mark for all his epigrams, and I paid the price of peace with the others. I have heard, since then, that Monsieur Edmond About has made his way rapidly in the world. He is rich. He has the ribbon of the Legion of Honor. He excels in writing pamphlets. He is not afraid of the most startling truths. He writes about the Pope like a man who is not afraid of the spiritual powers, and he has demonstrated that Prince Napoleon won the Battle of the Alma and organized Algeria.

Among the numerous details of my grandeur and my decline, none exhibit in a clearer light our literary manners and customs than the history of my relations with Monsieur Louis Ulbach, the virtuous author, now, of "L'Homme aux Cinq Louis d'Or," "Suzanne Duchemin," "Monsieur et Madame Fernel," and other tales, which he hopes to see crowned by the French Academy. Monsieur Louis Ulbach at first belonged to a triumvirate which pretended to stand above the mob of democratic writers; and of a truth Monsieur Maxime du Camp and Monsieur Laurent Pichat, his two leaders, had none of those smoking-café vulgarities which have procured so many subscribers to the "Siècle" newspaper. Both poets, Laurent Pichat with remarkable loftiness, Maxime du Camp with bizarre energy, intent upon an ideal which democracy has a right to pursue, since it has not yet found it, men of the world, capable of discussing in full dress the most perplexed questions of Socialism, they accept none of those party-chains which so often bow down the noblest minds before idols made of plaster or of clay. Besides, both of them were known by admirable acts of generosity. There were in this triumvirate such dashes of aristocracy and of revolution that they were called "the Poles of literature."

Of course, when the storm burst which I had raised by my irreverent attacks on De Béranger, these gentlemen separated from their political friends, and complimented me. One of them even addressed me a letter, in which I read these words, which assuredly I would not have written: "That stupid De Béranger." There was a sort of alliance between us. Monsieur Louis Ulbach celebrated it by publishing in his magazine, "La Revue de Paris," an article in my honor, in which, after the usual reserves, and after declaring war upon my doctrines, he vowed my prose to be "fascinating," and complained of being so bewitched as to believe, at times, that he was converted to the cause of the throne and of the altar. This epithet, "fascinating," in turn fascinated me; and I thought that my prose was, like some serpent, about to fascinate all the butcher-birds and ducks of the democratic marsh. A year passed away; these fine friendships cooled: 't is the fate of these factitious tendernesses. With winter my second volume appeared, and Monsieur Louis Ulbach set to work again; but this time he found me merely "ingenious." It was a good deal more than I merited, and I would willingly have contented myself with this phrase. Unfortunately, I could not forget the austere counsel of Monsieur Louis Veuillot, and at this very epoch, Monsieur Louis Ulbach, who as a novelist could merit a great deal of praise, took it into his head[Pg 295] to publish a thick volume of transcendental criticism, in which he attacked everything I admired and lauded everything I detested. I confess that I felt extremely embarrassed: those nice little words "fascinating" and "ingenious" stuck in my mind. Monsieur Louis Ulbach himself extricated me from my perplexity. I had insufficiently praised his last novel. He wrote a third article on my third work. Alas! the honeymoon had set. The "fascinating" prose of 1855, the "ingenious" prose of 1856, had become in 1857, in the opinion of the same judge, and in the language of the same pen, "pretentious and tiresome." This sudden change of things and epithets restored me to liberty. I walked abroad in all my strength and independence, and I dissected Monsieur Louis Ulbach's thick volume with a severity which was still tempered by the courteous forms and the dimensions of my few newspaper-columns. A year passed away. My fourth work appeared. Note that these several volumes were not different works, but a series of volumes expressing the same opinions in the very same style; in fine, they were but one work. Note, too, that Monsieur Ulbach's "Revue de Paris" and "L'Assemblée Nationale," in which I wrote, were both suppressed by the government on the same day, which established between us a fraternity of martyrdom. All this was as nothing. Louis Ulbach, this very same Louis Ulbach, was employed by a newspaper where he was sure to please by insulting me, and the very first thing he did was to give me a kick, such a kick as twenty horses covered with sleigh-bells could not give. He called me "ignoramus," and wondered what "this fellow" meant by his literary drivelling. The most curious part of the whole business is, that he did not write the article, all he did was to sign it! Four years, and a scratch given his vanity, had proved enough to produce this change!

Shall I speak to you now of Henry Murger? I wrote this chapter of my Memoirs during his life. I should have suppressed it, did I feel the least drop of bitterness mingled with the recollection of the acts of petty ingratitude of this charming writer. But my object in writing this work is less to satisfy sterile revenge than to exhibit to you a corner of literary life in Paris in the nineteenth century.

In 1850 Henry Murger published a book in which the manners and customs of people who live by their wits were painted in colors scarcely likely to fascinate healthy imaginations. He declared to the world that the novitiate of our future great authors was nothing but one incessant hunt after a half-dollar and a mutton-chop. The world was told by others that Henry Murger had learned to paint this existence by actual experience. There were, however, in his book some excellent flashes of fancy and youth; besides, the public then had grown tired of interminable adventures and novels in fifty volumes. So Henry Murger's first work, "La Vie de Bohême," was very popular; but it did not swell his purse or improve his wardrobe. He was introduced to me, and I shall never forget the low bow he made me. I was afraid for one moment that his bald head would fall between his legs. This precocious baldness gave to his delicate and sad face a singular physiognomy. He looked not so much like a young old man as like an old young man. Henry Murger's warmest desire was to write in the celebrated and influential "Revue des Deux Mondes," which we all abuse so violently when we have reason to complain of it, and which has but to make a sign to us and we instantly fall into its arms. I was then on the best terms with the "Revue des Deux Mondes." Monsieur Castil-Blaze, being from the same neighborhood with me, had obtained a place for me in the "Revue," which belonged to his son-in-law, Monsieur Buloz. I promised Henry Murger to speak a good word for him. A favorable opportunity of doing so occurred a few days afterwards.[Pg 296]

"I do not know what is to become of us," said Monsieur Buloz to me; "our old contributors are dying, and no new ones make their appearance."

"They appear, but you refuse to see them. There is Henry Murger, for instance; he has just written an amusing book, which is the most successful of the season."

"Henry Murger! And is it you, Count Armand de Pontmartin, the literary nobleman, the aristocratic writer, who wear (as the world avers) a white cravat and white kid gloves from the time you get up, (I confess I have never seen you with them,)—is it you who propose to me to admit Henry Murger as a contributor to the 'Revue des Deux Mondes,'—Henry Murger, the ringleader of people who live by their wits?"

"Why shouldn't I? We live in a day when white cravats have to be very respectful to red cravats. Besides, nothing is too strange to happen; and I would not bet you that Murger does not write in 'Le Moniteur' before I do."

"If you think I had better admit Henry Murger, I consent; but remember what I say to you: It will be the source of annoyance to you."

The next day a hack bore Henry Murger and me from the corner of the Boulevard des Italiens and the Rue du Helder to the office of the "Revue des Deux Mondes." We talked on the way. If I had had any illusions left of the poetical dreams and virginal thoughts of young men fevered by literary ambition, these few minutes would have been enough to dispel them all. Henry Murger thought of nothing upon earth but money. How was he going to pay his quarter's rent, or rather his two or three quarters' rent? for he was two or three quarters behindhand. He still had credit with this restaurateur, but he owed so much to such another that he dared not show his face there. He was over head and ears in debt to his tailor. He was afraid to think of the amount of money he owed his shoemaker. The list was long, and "bills payable" lamentable. To end this dreary balance-sheet, I took it into my head to deliver him a lecture on the morality of literature and the duty of literary men. "Art," said I to him, "must escape the materialism which oppresses and will at last absorb it. We romantics of 1828 were mistaken. We thought we were reacting against the pagan and mummified school of the eighteenth century and of the First Empire. We did not perceive that a revolutionary Art can under no circumstances turn to the profit of grand spiritual and Christian traditions, to the worship of the ideal, to the elevation of intellects. We did not see that it would be a little sooner or a little later discounted by literary demagogues, who, without tradition, without a creed, without any law except their own whims, would become the slaves of every base passion, and of all physical and moral deformities. It is not yet too late. Let us repair our faults. Let us elevate, let us regenerate literature; let us bear it aloft to those noble spheres where the soul soars in her native majes"——

I was declaiming with fire, my enthusiasm was becoming more and more heated, when Henry Murger interrupted me by asking,—"Do you think Monsieur Buloz will pay me in advance?"

This question produced on my missionary's enthusiasm the same effect a tub of cold water would have upon an excited poodle-dog.

"Monsieur Murger," I replied, without being too much disconcerted, "you will arrange those details with Monsieur Buloz. All I can do is to introduce you."

We reached the office. I was afraid I might embarrass Monsieur Buloz and Monsieur Murger, if I remained with them; I therefore took a book and went into the garden. I was called back in twenty minutes, and was briefly told that Henry Murger had engaged to write a novel for the "Revue." We went out together; but we had scarcely passed three doors, when Murger said hurriedly to me,—"I beg your pardon, I have forgotten something!"—and he went back to the[Pg 297] office. I afterwards found out that this "something" was an advance of money which he asked for upon a novel whose first syllable he had not yet written.

If I dwell upon these miserable details, it is not (God forbid!) to insult laborious poverty, or talent forced to struggle against the hardships of life or the embarrassments of improvident, careless youth. No,—but there was here, and this is the reason I speak of it, the trade-mark of that literary living-by-the wits which had taken entire possession of Henry Murger, against which he had struggled in vain all his life long, and which at last crushed him in its feverish grasp. Living by the wits was to Henry Murger what roulette is to the gambler, what brandy is to the drunkard, what the traps of the police are to the knave and the burglar: he cursed it, but he could not quit it; he lived in it, he lived by it, he died of it. The first time I talked with Murger, and every subsequent conversation I had with him, brought up money incessantly, in every tone, in every form; and when, having become more familiar with what he called my squeamishness, he talked more frankly to me, I saw that he required to support him a sum of money three times greater than the annual income of which a whole family of office-holders in the country, or even in Paris, live with ease. This brought on him protests, bailiffs, constables, incredible complications, continual uneasiness, a hankering after pecuniary success, eternal complaints against publishers, magazine-editors, theatre-managers, anxious negotiations, an immense loss of time, an incredible wear-and-tear of brain, annoyances and cares enough to put every thought to flight and to dry every source of inspiration and of poetry. Remember that Henry Murger is one of the luckiest of the new men who have appeared within these last fifteen years, for he received the cross of the Legion of Honor, which, as everybody knows, is never given except to men who deserve it. Judge, then, what the others must be! Judge what must be the abortions, the disdained, the supernumeraries,—those who sleep in lodging-houses at two cents a night, or who eat their pitiful dinner outside the barrier-gate in a wretched eating-house patronized by hack-drivers,—those who kill themselves with charcoal, or who hang themselves, murdered by madness or by hunger, the two pale goddesses of atheistical literatures!

"Well," said I to Henry Murger, after we were once more seated in our carriage, "are you pleased with Monsieur Buloz?"

"Yes—and no. The most difficult step is taken. He allows me to contribute my masterpieces to the 'Revue des Deux Mondes,' and I shall never forget the immense service you have done me. Although you and I do not serve the same literary gods, I am henceforward yours to the death! But—the book-keeper is deusedly hard on trigger. Will you believe it? I asked him to advance me forty dollars, and he refused!"

We parted excellent friends, and he continued to assure me of his gratitude, until the carriage stopped at my door.

Years passed away. Henry Murger's promised novel was long coming to the "Revue des Deux Mondes." At last it came; another followed eighteen months afterwards; then he contributed a third. He displayed unquestionable talents; he commanded moderate success. He had been told by so many people that it was a hard matter to please the readers of the "Revue des Deux Mondes," that it was necessary for him to free himself from all his studios' fun, and everything tinctured with the petty press, that he really believed for true everything he heard, and appeared awkward in his movements. His students, his grisettes, and his young artists were all on their good behavior, but were not more droll. Marivaux had come down one more flight of stairs. Alfred de Musset had steeped the powder and the patches in a glass of Champagne wine. Henry Murger soaked them in a bottle of brandy or in a flagon of beer.

Henry Murger's gratitude, whenever we met, continued to exhale in enthusiastic[Pg 298] hymns. I lost sight of him for some time. I was told that he lived somewhere in the Forest of Fontainebleau, to escape his creditors' pursuit. At the critical moment of my literary life, I read one morning in a petty newspaper a biting burlesque of which I was the grotesque hero: I figured (my name was given in full) as a member of a temperance society, whose members were pledged to total abstinence from the use of ideas, wit, and style; at one of our monthly dinners, we were said to have devoured Balzac at the first course, De Béranger for the roast, Michelet for a side-dish, and George Sand for dessert. The next day, and every day the petty paper appeared, the joke was renewed with all sorts of variations. It was evidently a "rig" run on me. This joke was signed every day "Marcel," which was the name of one of the heroes of Henry Murger's novel, "La Vie de Bohême"; but I was very far indeed from thinking that the man who was under so many "obligations" to me (as Henry Murger always declared himself to be) should have joined the ranks of my persecutors. A few days afterwards I heard, on the best authority, that Henry Murger was the author of these articles. I felt a deep chagrin at this discovery. Literary men constantly call Philistines and Prudhommes those who lay great stress upon the absence of moral sense as one of the great defects of the school of literature and art to which Murger and his friends belong; and yet there should be a name for such conduct as this, if for no other reason, for the sake of the culprits themselves,—as, when poor Murger acted in this way to me, he was as unconscious of what he did as when he raised heaven and earth to hunt down a dollar. He was not guilty of a black heart, it was only absolute deficiency of everything like moral sense. Henry Murger was under obligations to me, as he said constantly; I had introduced and recommended him to a man and a magazine that are, as of right, difficult in the choice of their contributors; I had, for his sake, conquered their prejudices, borne their reproaches. Whenever his novels appeared, I treated them with indulgence, and gave them praise without examining too particularly into their moral tendency, to the great scandal of my usual readers, and despite the scoldings Monsieur Louis Veuillot gave me. There never was the least coolness between Henry Murger and myself; and yet, when I was attacked and harassed on every side, he hid himself under a pseudonyme, and added his sarcasms to all the others directed against me, that he might gratify his admiration for De Balzac and put a little money in his pocket.

By-and-by I continued to meet Henry Murger again on the Boulevard, and at the first performance of new pieces. Do you imagine he shunned me? Not a bit of it. He did not seem on these rare occasions to feel the least embarrassment. He gave me cordial shakes of the hand, or he bestowed on me one of those profound bows which brought his bald head on a level with his waistcoat-pockets. Then he published a novel in "Le Moniteur," after which he was decorated. Nothing was now heard from or of him for a long time. Not a line by Henry Murger appeared anywhere. I never heard that any piece by him was received, or even refused, by a single one of the eighteen theatres in Paris. At last I met him one day before the Variétés Theatre. I went up to speak to him, and ended by asking the invariable question between literary men,—"What are you at work on now? How comes it that so long a time has elapsed since you gave us something to read or to applaud?"

"I will tell you why," he replied, with melancholy sang-froid. "It is not a question of literature, it is a question of arithmetic. I owe eight hundred dollars to Madame Porcher, the wife of the 'authors'-tickets' dealer, who is always ready to advance money to dramatic authors, and to whom we are all constantly in debt. I owe four hundred dollars to the 'Moniteur,' and three hundred dollars[Pg 299] to the 'Revue des Deux Mondes.' Follow my reasoning now: Were I to bring out a play, my excellent friend, Madame Porcher, would lay hands on all the proceeds, and I should receive nothing. Were I to give a novel to the 'Moniteur,' I should have to write twenty feuilletons (you know they pay twenty dollars a feuilleton there) before I cancelled my old debt. Were I to contribute to the 'Revue des Deux Mondes,' as soon as my six sheets (at fifty dollars a sheet, that would be three hundred dollars) were printed and published, the editor would say to me, 'We are even now.' So you see that it would be unpardonable prodigality on my part to publish anything; therefore I have determined not to work at all, in order to avoid spending my money, and I am lazy—from economy!"

His reply disarmed the little resentment I had left. I took his hand in mine, and said to him,—"See here, Murger, I must confess to you I was a little angry with you; but your arithmetic is more literary than you think it. You have given me a lesson of contemporary literature; and I say to you, as the 'Revue des Deux Mondes' would say, 'Murger, we are even!'"

I ran off without waiting for his reply, and whispered to myself, as I went, "And yet Henry Murger is the most talented and the most honest of them all!"

Let me continue the story of my misfortunes. The tempest was unchained against me. It is true, there were among my adversaries some persons under obligations to me,—some persons who were full of enthusiasm at my first manner, and who would have made wry faces enough, had I published their flattering letters to me,—other persons, to whom I had rendered pecuniary services,—others, again, who had come to me with hat in hand and supple knees, to beg my permission to allow them to dramatize my novels. But what were these miserable considerations, when the great interests of national literature, taste, and glory were at stake? I was the vile detractor, the impious scorner of these glories, and it was but justice that I should be put in the pillory and made the butt of rotten eggs. Voltaire blasphemed, Béranger insulted, Victor Hugo outraged, were offences which cried aloud for chastisement and for vengeance. Balzac's shade especially complained and clamored for justice. It is true, that, while Balzac was alive, he was not accustomed to anything like such admiration. He openly avowed that he detested newspaper-writers, and they returned the detestation with interest. Everybody, while he was alive, declared him to be odd, eccentric, half-crazy, absurd. His friends and his publishers, in fine, everybody who had anything to do with him, told rather disreputable stories about him. No matter for that. Balzac was dead, Balzac was a god, the god of all these livers-by-the-wits, who but for him would have been atheists. Monsieur Paulin Limayrac tore me to pieces in "La Presse." Monsieur Eugène Pelletan shot me in "Le Siècle." Monsieur Taxile Delord mauled me in "Le Charivari." To this episode of my exposition in the pillory belongs an anecdote which I cannot omit.

I was about to set off for the country, where I reckoned upon spending some weeks of the month of May, in order to recover somewhat from these incessant attacks made upon me. I had read in a café, while taking my beefsteak and cup of chocolate, the various details of the punishment I was about to undergo. One of my tormentors, who was a great deal more celebrated for his aversion to water and clean linen than for any article he had ever written, declared that I was about to be banished from everything like decent society; another vowed by all the deities of his Olympus that I was a mountebank and a skeptic, who had undertaken to defend sound doctrines and to tomahawk eminent writers simply by way of bringing myself into public notice; a third painted me as a poor wretch who had come from his provincial home with his pockets filled with manuscripts,[Pg 300] and was going about Paris begging favorable notices as a means of touching publishers and booksellers; a fourth depicted me, on the other hand, as a wealthy fellow, who was so diseased with a mania for literature that I paid newspapers and reviews to publish my contributions, which no human being would have accepted gratuitously. As I left the café, one of my intimate friends ran up to me. His face expressed that mixture of cordial commiseration and desire to make a fuss about the matter which one's friends' faces always wear under these circumstances.

"Well," said he, "what do you think of the way they treat you?"

"Why, they are all at it,—Monsieur Edmond About, Monsieur Louis Ulbach, Monsieur Paulin Limayrac, Monsieur Henry Murger, Monsieur Taxile Delord,"——

"Ah! by the way, have you seen his article of yesterday?"


"You should have read that. Those in the morning's papers are nothing to it. Really, you ought not to leave town without seeing it." Looking very important, he added,—"In your position, you should know everything written against you."

I followed this friendly advice, and went to the Rue du Croissant, where the office of "Le Charivari" moulders. As the place is anything but attractive to well-bred persons, allow me to get there by the longest road, and to go through the Faubourg Saint Honoré. A month before the conversation above reported took place in front of a café-door, I had the pleasure of meeting the Count de ——, an intellectual gentleman who occupies an influential place in some aristocratic drawing-rooms which still retain a partiality for literature. He said to me,—

"Do you know Monsieur Ernest Legouvé?"

"Assuredly! The most polite and most agreeable of all the generals of Alexander Scribe; the author of 'Adrienne Lecouvreur,' which Rachel played so well, of 'Médée,' in which Madame Ristori shines; a charming gentleman, who, in our age of clubs, cigars, stables, jockeys, and slang, has had the good taste to like feminine society. He has a considerable estate; he belongs to the French Academy; his house is agreeable; his manners delightful; his dinners unequalled. If in all happiness there is a dash of management, where is the harm in Monsieur Ernest Legouvé's case? Why should not gentlemen, too, be sometimes adroit? Rogues are so always! Besides, has not a little art always been necessary to effect an entrance into the French Academy?"

"Monsieur Ernest Legouvé and I were at college together, and he bids me bear you an invitation which I am sure you will not refuse. He has written a play upon the delicate and thorny subject on which Monsieur Jules Sandeau has written his admirable comedy, 'Le Gendre de Monsieur Poirier': with this difference, however: Monsieur Legouvé has taken, not a ruined and brilliant noble who marries the daughter of a plebeian, but a young man, the architect of his own fortunes, with a most vulgar name, who, on the score of talents, energy, delicacy of head and heart, is loved by a young lady of noble birth, is accepted by her family, and enters by right of conquest into that society from which his birth excluded him."

"That theme is rather more difficult: for, when Mademoiselle Poirier marries the Marquis de Presles, she becomes the Marquise de Presles; whereas, when Mademoiselle de Montmorency marries Monsieur Bernard, she becomes plain Madame Bernard."

"True enough! But Monsieur Legouvé is perplexed by a scruple which reflects the greatest honor upon him: he entertains sincere respect, great sympathy, for aristocratic distinctions; therefore he is anxious to assure himself, before his piece is brought out in public, that it does not contain a single scene or a single word which will be offensive or disagreeable to noble ears. To satisfy himself in this[Pg 301] particular, he has asked me to allow him to read his comedy at my house. I shall invite the Duchess de ——, the Marquis de ——, the Countess de ——, the General de ——, the Duke de ——, the Marquise de ——, and the Baroness de ——. I shall add to these two or three critics known in good society, among whom I reckon upon you. In fine, this preliminary Areopagus will be composed of sons of the Crusaders, who are almost as sprightly as sons of Voltaire. Now Monsieur Ernest Legouvé will not be satisfied with his comedy, unless these gentlefolk unanimously decide that he need not blot a single line of it. Will you come? Remember, Monsieur Ernest Legouvé invites you."

"My dear Count, I willingly accept your proposition. Monsieur Legouvé reads admirably, and his plays are all agreeable. Nevertheless, let me tell you that this trial will prove nothing. Our poor society is like Sganarelle's wife, who liked to be thrashed. It has borne smiling, and repaid with wealth and fame, much more ardent attacks than Monsieur Legouvé can make."

Count de —— and I shook hands, and parted. A few evenings afterwards the reading took place. It was just what I expected. There were as many marquises and duchesses (real duchesses) as there were kings to applaud Talma in the Erfurt pit. The noble assembly listened to Monsieur Legouvés's comedy with that rather absent-minded urbanity and with those charming exclamations of admiration which have been constantly given to everybody who has read a piece in a drawing-room, from the days of the Viscount d'Arlincourt and his "Le Solitaire," to the days of Monsieur Viennet, of the French Academy, and his "Arbogaste." Monsieur Legouvé's play, which was then called "Le Nom du Mari," and which has since been played under the title of "Par Droit de Conquête," was pleasing. My ears were not so much offended by the antagonism of poor nobility and wealthy upstarts, which Monsieur Legouvé treated neither better nor worse than any other has done, as by the details of roads, bridges, marsh-draining, canals, railways, coal, coke, and the like, which were dead-weights on Thalia's light robe; and the improbability of the plot was not so much the marriage of a noble girl to the son of an apple-dealer as was the perfection given to the young engineer: every virtue and every grace were showered on him. The piece was unanimously pronounced successful. The aristocratic audience applauded Monsieur Legouvé with their little gloved hands, which never make much noise. He was complimented so delicately that he was sincerely touched. There was not the slightest objection, the lightest murmur made to the piece, and there trembled in my eye that little tear Madame de Sévigné speaks of.

But let us quit this drawing-room, and turn our steps towards the Rue du Croissant, where the office of "Le Charivari" is to be found. Balzac has described in "Les Illusions Perdues" the offices of these petty newspapers: the passage divided into two equal portions, one of which leads to the editor's room, and the other to the grated counter where the clerk sits to receive subscribers. Everybody knows the appearance of these old houses, these staircases, these flimsy partitions, with their bad light coming through a window whose panes are veiled with a triple coating of dust, smoke, and soot,—the whitewashed walls bearing innumerable traces of fingers covered with ink, mingled with pencil-caricatures and grotesque inscriptions. Although it was in the month of May that I made this visit, I shivered with cold as I entered this old house, and my gorge rose in disgust at the unaired smell and ignoble scenes which everywhere appeared. The clerk I applied to had the very face one might expect to find in such a place: one of those colorless, hard, sinister faces which are to be seen in nearly all the scenes of Paris reality. All things were in harmony in this shop: the air, and the light, and the house,—the letter as well as the spirit. I asked the[Pg 302] clerk to give me the file for the month of April. I soon found and read Monsieur Taxile Delord's article. Monsieur Taxile Delord comes from some one of the southern departments of France. He made his first appearance in public in "Le Sémaphore," the well-known newspaper of Marseilles; but the twilight of a provincial life could not suit this eagle, and in the course of a few years he came up to Paris. Alas! Monsieur Taxile Delord was soon obliged to add the secret sorrows of disappointed ambition to the original gayety of his character. His deepest sorrow was to look upon himself for a grave and thoughtful statesman, and be condemned by fate to a chronic state of fun and to hard labor at pun-making for life. Imagine Junius damned to lead Touchstone's life! He became sourness itself. His puns were lugubrious. His fun grew heavy, and his gayety was funereal. The pretensions of this checked gravity which settled upon his factitious hilarity were enough to melt the hearts even of his enemies, if such a fellow could pretend to have enemies. Once this galley-slave of fun tried to make his escape from the galley. He wrote a play; and as the manager of one of the theatres was his friend, he had it played. The democratic opinions of Monsieur Taxile Delord raised favorable prejudices among the school-boys of the Latin Quarter; but who can escape his fate? The masterpiece was hissed. Its title was "The End of the Comedy"; and a wretched witling pretended that the piece was ill-named, since the pit refused to see the end of the comedy. Thereupon Monsieur Taxile Delord adopted the method of Gulliver's tailor, who measured for clothes according to the rules of arithmetic: he demonstrated that his piece was played three times from beginning to end,—that, as the manager was his particular friend, and as the Odeon was always empty, he might have had it played thirty times,—and therefore that we were all bound to be grateful to him for his moderation. This last argument met no person bold enough to contradict it, and the subscribers to "Le Charivari" (which is the "Punch" of Paris) were seized with holy horror, when they thought, that, but for Monsieur Taxile Delord's moderation, "The End of the Comedy" might have been played seven-and-twenty times more.

What had I done to excite his ire? I had not treated Béranger with sufficient respect, and Monsieur Taxile Delord, though a joker by trade, would not hear of any fun on this subject. His genius had shaped itself exactly on Béranger's, and he resented as a personal affront every insult offered to the songster. Of a truth, Béranger's fate was a hard one, and all my attacks on him were not half so bad as this treatment he received at the hands of Monsieur Taxile Delord. Poor Béranger! So Monsieur Taxile Delord took up the quarrel on his account, and relieved his gall by throwing it on me. When I read his article, I felt humiliated,—but not as the writer desired,—I felt humiliated for the press, and for literature, and for Béranger, who really did not deserve this hard fate. The humid office, full of dirt and dust and printing-ink, disgusted and depressed me, and I involuntarily thought of Count de ——'s drawing-room, and that aristocratic society where everything was flowers, courtesy, perfumes, elegance, where people could not even feel hatred towards their enemies, and where the genial poet, Monsieur Ernest Legouvé, surrounded by the most charming and most sprightly women of Paris, recently obtained so delightful a triumph.

All at once a sympathetic and clear voice, a voice which I thought I had heard in better society than where I was, reached my ears. Hid in the dark corner where I sat, and where nobody could discover me, I saw the door of the editor's room open and Monsieur Taxile Delord appear and escort to the door a visitor. It was Monsieur Ernest Legouvé! They passed close to me, and I heard Monsieur Ernest Legouvé say to Monsieur Delord,—"My dear Sir, I recommend my play, 'Le Nom du Mari,' to you; I hope you will be pleased with it!"[Pg 303]

This contrast annoyed me. I was then horribly out of humor from an irritating prelection, and I felt towards Monsieur Legouvé that sort of vexation the unlucky feel towards the lucky, the poor towards the rich, the hunchbacks towards handsome men, and the awkward towards the adroit. I said to myself,—"Armand, my poor Armand, you will never be aught but a most stupid fool!"

We add no commentary to this picture of literary life in Paris. We leave the reader to draw his own conclusions. He needs no assistance,—for the picture is painted in bright colors, and the light is thrown with no parsimonious hand upon every corner. It is a curious exhibition of a most unhealthy state of things. It explains a great many of those literary mysteries, which seem so unaccountable, in the most brilliant capital of the world.


[24] Elsie Venner, by Oliver Œendell (sic) Holmes.


Yesternight, as late I strayed
Through the orchard's mottled shade,—
Coming to the moonlit alleys,
Where the sweet Southwind, that dallies
All day with the Queen of Roses,
All night on her breast reposes,—
Drinking from the dewy blooms,
Silences, and scented glooms
Of the warm-breathed summer night,
Long, deep draughts of pure delight,—
Quick the shaken foliage parted,
And from out its shadows darted
Dwarf-like forms, with hideous faces,
Cries, contortions, and grimaces.
Still I stood beneath the lonely,
Sighing lilacs, saying only,—
"Little friends, you can't alarm me;
Well I know you would not harm me!"
Straightway dropped each painted mask,
Sword of lath, and paper casque,
And a troop of rosy girls
Ran and kissed me through their curls.
Caught within their net of graces,
I looked round on shining faces.
Sweetly through the moonlit alleys
Rang their laughter's silver sallies.
Then along the pathway, light
With the white bloom of the night,
I went peaceful, pacing slow,
Captive held in arms of snow.
Happy maids! of you I learn
Heavenly maskers to discern!
[Pg 304] So, when seeming griefs and harms
Fill life's garden with alarms,
Through its inner walks enchanted
I will ever move undaunted.
Love hath messengers that borrow
Tragic masks of fear and sorrow,
When they come to do us kindness,—
And but for our tears and blindness,
We should see, through each disguise,
Cherub cheeks and angel eyes.


"Good morning! Is it really a rainy day?" asked Miselle, imploringly, as she seated herself at the breakfast-table, and glanced from Monsieur to the heavy sky and the vane upon the coach-house, steadily pointing west.

"Indeed, I hope not. Are you ready for Sandwich?" smilingly replied the host.

"More than ready,—eager. But the clouds."

"One learns here upon the coast to brave the clouds; we have, to be sure, a sea-turn just now, and perhaps there will be fog-showers by-and-by, but nothing that need prevent our excursion."

"Delightful!" exclaimed Optima, Miselle, and Madame, applying themselves to eggs and toast with that calm confidence in a masculine decision so sustaining to the feminine nature.

The early breakfast over, Monsieur, with a gentle hint to the ladies of haste in the matter of toilet, went to see that Gypsy and Fanny were properly harnessed, and that a due number of cushions, rugs, and water-proof wrappers were placed in the roomy carriage.

Surely, never were hats so hastily assumed, never did gloves condescend to be so easily found, never were fewer hasty returns for "something I have forgotten," and Monsieur had barely time to send two messages to the effect that all was ready, when the feminine trio descending upon him triumphantly disproved once and forever the hoary slander upon their sex of habitual unpunctuality.

With quiet self-sacrifice Optima placed herself beside Madame in the back of the carryall, leaving for Miselle the breezy seat in front, with all its facilities for seeing, hearing, smelling, breathing; and let us hope that the little banquet thus prepared for the conscience of that young woman gave her as much satisfaction as Miselle's feast of the senses did to her.

Arching their necks, tossing their manes, spattering the dewy sand with their little hoofs, Gypsy and Fanny rapidly whirled the carriage through the drowsy town, across the Pilgrim Brook, and so, by the pretty suburb of "T'other Side," (which no child of the Mayflower shall ever consent to call Wellingsley,) to the open road skirting the blue waters of the bay.

"Ah, this is fine!" cried Miselle, snatching from seaward deep breaths of the east wind laden with the wild life of ocean and the freedom of boundless space.

"Here we have it!" remarked Monsieur, somewhat irrelevantly, as he hastily unbuckled the apron and spread it over his own lap and Miselle's, just in time to catch a heavy dash of rain.[Pg 305]

"I am afraid it is going to be stormy, after all," piteously murmured Miselle.

"I told you we should have fog-showers, you know," suggested Monsieur, with a quiet smile.

"But what must we do?—go home?"

"No, indeed!—we will go to Sandwich, let it rain twice, four times as hard as this,—unless, indeed, Madame gives orders to the contrary. What say you, Madame?"

"I say, let us go on for the present. We can turn round at any time, if it becomes necessary"; and Madame smiled benevolently at Miselle, down whose face the rain-drops streamed, but who stoutly asserted,—

"Oh, this is nothing. Only a fog-shower, you know. We shall have it fine directly."

"Not till we are out of Eel River. This valley gathers all the clouds, and they often get rain here when the sun is shining everywhere else."

"A regular vale of tears! Happy the remnant of the world that dwelleth not in Eel River!" murmured Miselle, surreptitiously pulling her water-proof cloak about her shoulders.

"Let me help you. Really, though, you are getting very wet, dear," remonstrated Optima.

"Not in the least. I enjoy it excessively. Besides, the shower is just over.—What church is that, Monsieur, with the very disproportionate steeple?" inquired Miselle, pointing to a square gray box, surmounted by a ludicrously short and obtuse spire, expressive of a certain dogged obstinacy of purpose.

"The church is an Orthodox meetinghouse, and the steeple is Orthodox too,—for the Cape. Anything else would blow down in the spring gales. Park-Street steeple, for instance, would stand a very poor chance here."

"Yes," said Miselle, vaguely, and she felt in her heart how this great ocean that dwarfs or prostrates the works of man replaces them by a temple builded in his own soul of proportions so lofty that God Himself may dwell visibly therein.

And now, having traversed the tearful valley, the road wound up the Delectable Mountains beyond, and so into the pine forest, through whose clashing needles glints of sunshine began to creep, while overhead the gray shaded softly into pearl and dazzling white and palest blue.

"There are deer in these Sandwich woods. See if we cannot find a pair of great brown eyes peering out at us from some of the thickets," suggested Madame.

"Charming! If only we might see one! How young this nation is, after all, when aboriginal deer roam the woods within fifty miles of Boston!"

"But without game-laws they will soon be exterminated. A great many are shot every winter, and the farmers complain bitterly of those that remain. Some of their crops are quite ruined by the deer, they say," remarked Monsieur.

"Never mind. There are plenty of crops, and but very few deer. I pronounce for the game-laws," recklessly declared Miselle.

But the impending battle of political economy was averted by Madame's exclamation of,—

"See, here is Sacrifice Rock. Let us stop and look at it a moment."

Gypsy and Fanny, wild with the sparkling upland air, were with difficulty persuaded to halt opposite a great flat granite boulder, sloping from the skirt of the forest toward the road, and nearly covered with pebbles and bits of decayed wood.

"It is Sacrifice Rock," explained Monsieur. "From the days of the Pilgrims to our own, no Indian passes this way without laying some offering upon it. It would have been buried long ago, but that the spring and autumn winds sweep away all the lighter deposits. You would find the hollow at its back half filled with them. Once there may have been human sacrifices,—tradition says so, at least; but now there is seldom anything more precious than what you see."

"But to what deity were the offerings made?"[Pg 306]

"Some savage Manitou, no doubt, but no one can say with certainty anything about it. The degenerate half-breeds who live in this vicinity only keep up the custom from tradition. They are called Christians now, you know, and are quite above such idolatrous practices."

"At any rate, I will add my contribution to this altar of an unknown God. Besides, there are some blackberries that I must have," exclaimed Optima, releasing her active limbs from the carriage in a very summary fashion.

Tossing a little stick upon the rock, she hastened to gather the abundant fruit, a little for herself, a good deal for Madame and Miselle, until Gypsy and Fanny stamped and neighed with impatience, and Monsieur cried cheerily,—

"Come, young woman, come! We are not half-way to Sandwich, and the horses will be devoured by these flies as surely as Bishop Hatto was by mice."

And so on through miles of merry woodland, by fields and orchards, whose every crop is a fresh conquest of man over Nature in this one of her most niggardly phases, by desolate cabins and lonely farms, until at a sudden turn the broad, beautiful sea swept up to glorify the scene. And while Miselle with flushed cheeks and tearful eyes drank in the ever-new delight of its presence, Monsieur began a story of how a man, almost a stranger to him, had come one winter evening and begged him for God's love to go and help him search for the body of his brother, reported by a wandering madwoman to be lying on this beach, and how he begged so piteously that the listener could not choose but go.

And as Monsieur vividly pictured that long, lonely drive through the midnight woods, the desolate monotony of the beach, along whose margin curled the foam-wreaths of the rising tide, while beyond phosphorescent lights played over a world of weltering black waters,—as he told how, after hours of patient search, they found the poor sodden corpse and tenderly cared for it,—as Monsieur quietly told his tale and never knew that he was a hero, Miselle turned shuddering from sea and beach and the mocking play of the crested waves, as they leaped in the sunshine and then sank back to sport hideously with other corpses hidden beneath their smiling surface.

Presently the sea was again shut off by woodland, and the scattered houses closed into a village, nay, a town, the town of Sandwich; and swinging through it at an easy rate, the carriage halted before an odd-looking building, consisting of a quaint old inn, porched and gambrel-roofed, joined in most unholy union to a big, square, staring box, of true Yankee architecture.

Descending with reluctance, even after three hours of immobility, from her breezy seat, Miselle followed Madame into the quiet house, whose landlord, like many another man, makes moan for "the good old times" when summer tourists and commercial travellers filled his rooms and the long dining-table, now unoccupied, save by our travellers and two young men connected with the glass-manufactories.

Rest, plenty of cool water, and dinner having restored the energies of the travellers, it was proposed that they should proceed at once to the Glass Works. And now, indeed, did Fortune smile upon this band of adventurous spirits; for when the question of a guide arose, mine host of the inn announced himself not only willing to act in that capacity, but eminently qualified therefor by long experience as an operative in various departments of the works.

"How fortunate that the stage-coaches and peddlers no longer frequent Sandwich! If our friend had them to attend to, he could not devote himself to us in this charming manner," suggested Optima, as she and Miselle gayly followed Monsieur, Madame, and Cicerone down the long sunny street, whose loungers turned a glance of lazy wonder upon the strangers.

Passing presently a monotonous row of lodging-houses for the workmen, and a public square with a fountain, which, as Optima suggested, might be made very[Pg 307] pretty with the addition of some water, the travellers approached a large brick building, many-windowed, many-chimneyed, and offering ingress through a low-browed arch of so gloomy an aspect that one looked at its key-stone half expecting to read there the well-known Dantean legend,—

"Lasciate ogni speranza, voi chi'ntrate!"

Nor was the illusion quite destroyed by handling, for through the arch and a short passage one entered a large, domed apartment, brick-floored and dimly lighted, whose atmosphere was the breath of a dozen flashing furnaces, whose occupants were grimy gnomes wildly sporting with strange shapes of molten metal.

"This is the glass-room, and in these furnaces the glass is melted; but perhaps you will go first and see how it is mixed, and how the pots are made to boil it in."

"Yes, let us begin at the beginning," said all, and were led from the Inferno across a cool, green yard, into a building specially devoted to the pots. In a great bin lay masses of soft brown clay in its crude condition, and upon the floor were heaped fragments of broken pots, calcined by use in the furnaces, and now waiting to be ground up into a fine powder between the wheels of a powerful mill working steadily in one corner of the building. In another, a row of boxes or pens were partially filled with a powdered mixture of the raw and burnt clay, and this, being moistened with water, was worked to a proper consistency beneath the bare feet of several stout men.

"This work, like the treading of the wine-press, can be properly performed only by human feet," remarked Monsieur.

"So when next we sip nectar from one of your straw-stemmed glasses, we will remember these gentlemen and their brothers of the wine-countries, and gratefully acknowledge that without their exertions we could have had neither wine nor goblet," said Miselle, maliciously.

"No," suggested Optima, "we will enjoy the result and forget the process. But what is that man about?"

"Making sausages out of cheese, I should say," replied Monsieur; and the comparison was almost unavoidable; for upon a coarse table lay masses of moulded clay, in form and size exactly like cheeses, from which the workman separated with a wooden knife a small portion to be rolled beneath his hand into cylindrical shapes some four inches in length by two in diameter.

These a lad carefully placed upon a long and narrow board to carry up to the pot-room, whither he was followed by the whole party.

Miselle's first impression, upon entering this great chamber, was, that she was following a drove of elephants; but as she skirted the regular ranks of the great dun monsters and came to the front, she concluded that she had stumbled upon the factory of Ali Baba's oil-jars. At any rate, the old picture in the "Arabian Nights" represented Morgiana in the act of pouring the boiling oil into vessels marvellously like these, and in each of these was room for at least four robbers of true melodramatic stature.

Among these jars, with the noiseless solicitude of a mother in her sleeping nursery, wandered their author and guardian, a pale, keen man, and so rare an enthusiast in his art that one listening to him could hardly fail to believe that the highest degree of thought, skill, and experience might worthily be expended upon the construction of these seething-pots for molten glass.

"Will you look at this one? It is my last," said he, tenderly removing a damp cloth from the surface of something like the half of a hogshead made in clay.

"I have not begun to dome it in yet; it must dry another day first," said the artist, passing his hand lovingly along the smooth surface of his work.

"Then you cannot go on with them at once?" asked Madame.

"Oh, no, Ma'am! They must dry and harden between the spells of work upon[Pg 308] them, or they never would stand their own weight. This one, you see, is twelve inches thick in the bottom, and the sides are five inches thick at the base, and graduated to four where the curve begins. Now if I was to go right ahead, and put the roof on this mass of wet clay, I shouldn't get it done before the whole would crush in together. I have had them do so, Ma'am, when I was younger, but I know better now. I sha'n't have that to suffer again."

"And what are you at work upon while this dries?"

"Here. This one is just begun. Shall I show you how I do it? John, where are those rolls? Yes, I see. Now, Ma'am, this is the way."

Taking one of the rolls in his left hand, and manipulating it with his right, our artist laid it upon the top of the unfinished wall, and with his supple fingers began to dovetail and compact it into the mass, pressing and smoothing the whole carefully as he went on.

"You see I must be very careful not to leave any air-bubbles in my work; if I do, there will be a crack."

"When the pot dries?" asked Madame.

"No, Ma'am, when it is heated. I suppose the air expands and forces its way out," said the man, shyly, as if he were more in the habit of thinking philosophy than of talking it. "But see how smooth and fine this clay is," added he, enthusiastically, passing his finger through one of the rolls. "It is as close-grained and delicate as—as a lady's cheek."

"But, really, how could one describe the shape of these creatures?" asked Optima aside of Miselle, as she stood contemplating a completed monster.

"By comparing them to an Esquimaux lodge, with one little arched window just at the spring of the dome. Doesn't that give it?"

"Perhaps. I never saw an Esquimaux lodge; did you, my dear?"

"No, nor anything else in the least degree resembling these, unless it was the picture of the oil-jars. Choose, my Optima, between the two."

"Hark! we are losing something worth hearing."

So the young women opened their ears, and heard the pallid enthusiast tell how, after days and weeks of labor, and months of seasoning, the pots were laboriously carried to a kiln, where they were slowly brought to a red heat, and then suffered to cool as slowly. How the pot was then taken to one of the furnaces of the Inferno, and a portion of its side removed to receive it; how it was then built in, and reheated before the glass-material was thrown in; and how, after all this care and toil, it was perhaps not a week before it cracked or gave way at some point, and must be taken away to make room for another. But this was unusually "hard luck," and the pots sometimes held good as long as three months.

"And what becomes of the old ones?" asked Optima, sympathetically.

"Oh, they are all used over again, Miss. There must be a proportion of burnt clay mixed with the raw, or it would be too rich to harden."

"And what is the proportion?"

"About one-third of the cooked clay, and two-thirds of the raw."

"And where does the clay come from?"

"Nearly all from Sturbridge, in England. Some has been brought from Gay Head, on Martha's Vineyard; but it doesn't answer like the imported."

Leaving the courteous artist in glass-pots to his labors, the party, crossing again the breezy yard, entered a dismal brick-paved basement-room, where grim bakers were attending upon a number of huge ovens. One of these was just being filled; but instead of white and brown loaves, golden cake, or flaky pies, the two attendants were piling in short, thick bars of lead, and, hurry as they might, before they could put in the last of the appointed number, little shining streams of molten metal began to ooze from beneath the first, and trickle languidly toward the mouth of the oven.[Pg 309]

But our bakers were ready for them. With hasty movement they threw in a quantity of moistened clay, shaping and compacting it with their shovels as they went on, until in a very few moments they had completed a neat little semi-circular dike just within the door, as effectual a barrier to the glowing pool behind it, wherein the softened bars were rapidly disappearing, as was ever the Dutchman's dike to the ocean, with whom he disputes the sovereignty of Holland.

A wooden door was now put up, and the baking was left to itself for about twenty-four hours, at the end of which time the lead would have become transformed into a yellowish powder, known as massicot.

"You will see it here. They are just beginning to clear this oven," said Cicerone, pointing to a row of large iron vessels which the workmen were filling with the contents of the just opened kiln.

"And what next? What is it to the glass?" asked Miselle, unblushing at her ignorance.

"Next, it is put into these other kilns, and kept in motion with the long rakes that you see here, and at the end of forty-eight hours it will have absorbed sufficient oxygen from the atmosphere to turn it from massicot to minium, or red-lead. Look at this, if you please."

Cicerone here pointed to other iron vessels, in shape like the bowl out of which the giant Blunderbore ate his bread and milk, while trembling little Jack peeped at him from the oven; but these bowls were filled with a beautiful scarlet powder of fine consistency.

"That is red-lead, one of the most important ingredients in fine flint-glass, as it gives it brilliancy and ductility. But it is not used in the coarser glasses. And here is the sand-room."

So saying, Cicerone led the way to a light and cheerful room of delicious temperature, even on that summer's day, where, upon a low, broad, iron table, heated from beneath by steam-pipes, lay a mass of what might indeed be sand, and yet differed as much from ordinary sand as a just washed pet-lamb differs from an old weather-beaten sheep.

Like the lamb, the sand had been washed with care and much water, and now lay reposing after its bath at lazy length, enjoying its kief, like a sworn Mussulman. This sand is principally brought from the banks of Hudson River and the coast of New Jersey; but a finer article of quartz sand is found in Lanesboro', Massachusetts.

In the centre of the room stood a great sifting-machine, worked by steam; and the sand, after being thoroughly dried, was passed through this, coming out a fine, glittering mass, very much resembling granulated sugar, so far as looks are concerned.

"Now it is ready to be sent up to the mixing-room; but if you will step on this drop, we will go up before it," said the civil workman here in charge.

So some of the party stepped upon a solid platform about six feet square, lying under a trap in the floor overhead, and were slowly wound up to the mixing-room, feeling quite sure, when they stepped upon the solid floor once more, that they had done a very heroic thing, and were not hereafter to be dismayed by travellers' tales of descents into coal-mines, or swinging to the tops of dizzy spires in creaking baskets.

Here, in the mixing-room, stood great boxes, filled with sand, with red-lead, or with sparkling soda and potash; and beside a trough stood, shovel in hand, a good-natured-looking man, who was busily mixing portions of these three ingredients into one mass.

Him Miselle assailed with questions, and learned that the trough contained

and about 100"cullet.[25]

[Pg 310]

This was to be a fine quality of flint-glass, and to it might be added coloring-matter of any desired tint; but in the choice and proportion of this lay one of the principal secrets of the art.

All this information did the civil compounder vouchsafe to Miselle, with the indulgent air of one who humors a child by answering his questions, although quite sure that the subject is far above his comprehension; and he smiled in much amusement at seeing his answers jotted down upon her tablets. So Miselle thanked him, smiling a little in her turn, and they parted in mutual satisfaction.

"These trucks you see are ready-loaded with the frit, or glass-material, and are to be wheeled down to the furnaces presently," said Cicerone. "But, before following them, we had better go down and see the fires."

Descending a short flight of stone steps, the party now entered a long, dark passage, through which a torrent of wind swept, driving before it the ashes and glowing cinders that dropped continually from a circular grating overhead. The ground beneath was strewn with fire, and the whole arrangement offered a rare opportunity to any misanthrope whose preferences might point to death in the shape of a fiery shower-bath.

In a gloomy crypt, opening near the grating, stood a gnome whose duty it was to feed the furnace overhead with soft coal, which must be thrown in at a small door and then pushed up and forward until it lay upon the grating where it was consumed. Around this central fire the glass-pots, ten to each furnace, are arranged, their lower surfaces in actual contact with it, while the domed roof reverberates the heat upon them from above.

All around stood sturdy piers of brick and iron, and low-browed arches, crushed, one could not but fancy, out of their original proportions by the immense weight they were forced to uphold.

Returning to the Inferno, Cicerone led the way to a pot which was being filled with frit from one of the little covered cars that he had pointed out in the mixing-room. This process was to be effected gradually, as he explained,—a certain portion being at first placed in the heated pot, and suffered to melt, and then another, until the pot should be full, when the door of it would be put up and closed with cement.

"And how long before the frit will be entirely melted?" asked Monsieur.

"From thirty-six to sixty hours. The time varies a good deal with the seasons, and different sorts of glass take different times to melt. This flint-glass melts the easiest, and common bottle-glass takes the longest. Crown-glass, such as is used for window-panes, comes between the two; but that is not made here."

"And when the glass is sufficiently boiled, what next?"

"You shall see, for here is a pot just opened, and this man with the long iron rod, called a pontil, or punty, in his hand, is about to skim it."

"What is there to skim off?"

"Oh, there will be impurities, of course, however carefully the ingredients are prepared. Some of these sink to the bottom, and some rise in scum, or, as it is called here, glass-gall, and sometimes sandiver."

"Just like broth or society, isn't it, Optima?" suggested Miselle, aside.

"Why don't you discover a social pontil, then?"

"Oh, I have no taste for reforming. What would there be to laugh at in the world, if the human sandiver were removed?"

"It might be an improvement to have the gall removed, my dear," remarked Optima, significantly; but Miselle was too busy in watching the skimming to understand the gentle rebuke.

Thrusting the pontil far into the pot, the workman moved it gently from side to side, turning it at the same time, until he suddenly withdrew upon its point a large lump of glowing substance, which he shook off upon a smooth iron table standing near, called a marver, (that is, marbre,) in size and shape not unlike the[Pg 311] largest of a nest of teapoys. Here the lump of sandiver lay, while through its mass shot rays of vivid prismatic color, glowing and dying along its surface so vivaciously that one needs must fancy the salamander no fable, and that this death of gorgeous agony was something more than the mere cooling of an inert mass of matter.

"You see how bubbly and streaked that is now?" broke in the voice of Cicerone upon Miselle's little dream. "But after standing awhile the air will all escape from the pot, leaving the glass smoother, thicker, and tougher than it is now. Don't you want to look in, before it cools off?"

With a mental protest against the fate of those luckless individuals who threw Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego into the seven-times heated furnace, Miselle stooped, and, looking in, uttered a cry of surprise and delight.

It was the very soul of fire, the essence of light and heat. Above, rose a glowing arch, quivering with an intensity of color, such as fascinates the eye of the eagle to the noonday sun. Below, undulated in great oily waves a sea of molten matter, throbbing in vivid curves against the sides of its glowing basin. And arch and wall and heaving waves all mingled in a pure harmony, an accord, of light too intense for color, or rather a color so intense as to be nameless in this pale world.

Miselle knew now how the moth feels who plunges wildly into the flame that lures him to his death, and yet fascinates him beyond the power of resistance. The door was very small, or it might have been already too late, when Optima touched the shoulder of this modern Parsee, and suggested, calmly,—

"If you burn your eyes out here, my dear Miselle, you will be unable to see anything else."

The thought was a kind and sensible one, as, coming from Optima, it could not have failed of being; and Miselle stood upright, stared forlornly about her, and found the world very pale and weak, very cold and dark.

Was it to solace her sudden exile from fairy-land, or was it only as a customary courtesy, that an old man, wasted and paled by years of ministration at this fiery shrine, now seized a long, hollow iron rod, called a blow-stick, and, thrusting the smaller end into the pot, withdrew a small portion of the glass, and, while retaining it by a swift twirl, presented the mouth-piece of the tube to Miselle with a gesture so expressive that she immediately applied her lips to those of the blow-stick, and rounded her cheeks to the similitude of those corpulent little Breezes whom the old masters are so fond of depicting attendant upon the flight of their brothers the Winds?

Ah, my little dears, with your straws and soap-suds you will never blow a bubble like that! As it slowly rounded to its perfect sphere, what secrets of its birth within that glowing furnace, what mysteries of the pure element whose creation it seemed, flashed in fiery hieroglyph athwart its surface! A mocking globe, whereon were painted realms that may none the less exist, because man's feeble vision has never seen them, his fettered mind never imagined them. Who knows? It may have been the surface of the sun that was for one instant drawn upon that ball of liquid fire. Who is to limit the affinities, the subtle reproductions of Nature's grand ideas?

But as the wonder culminated, as the glancing rays resolved themselves into more positive lines, as the enigma seemed about to offer its own solution, the bubble broke, flew into a myriad tiny shards, which, with a tinkling laugh, fell to the grimy pavement, and lay there sparkling malicious fun into Miselle's eyes.

Cicerone stooped and gathered some of the fragments. Surely, never was substance so closely allied to shadow. The lightest touch, a breath even, and they were gone,—and were they caught, it was like the capture of one of the floating films of a summer morning, glancing brightly to the eye, but impalpable to the touch.[Pg 312]

When all had looked, the guide slowly closed his hand with a cruel gripe, and, opening it, threw down a little shower of scintillating dust, an airy fall of powdered diamonds, lost as they readied the earth, and that was all.

"We're casting some of those Fresnel lanterns to-day. Perhaps the ladies would like to see them," suggested the pale little old man, and pointed to a powerful machine with a long lever-handle at the top, which, being thrown up, showed a heavy iron mould, heated quite hot, and just now smoking furiously from a fresh application of kerosene-oil, with which the mould is coated before each period of service, much as the housewife butters her griddle before each plateful of buckwheat cakes.

As the smoke subsided, the old man, who proved a very intelligent as well as civil person, thrust his pontil into the pot nearest the press, and, withdrawing a sufficient quantity of the glass, dropped it squarely into the open mould, whose operator, immediately seizing the long handle, swung himself from it in a grotesque effort to increase the natural gravity of his body, and succeeded in bringing it down with great force. Then, leaning over the lever in a state of complacent exhaustion, he glared for a moment at the spectators with the calm superiority of one who, having climbed to the summit of knowledge, can afford to pity the ignorant crowd groping below.

The mould being reopened presently displayed a large, heavy lantern, whose curiously elaborate flutings and pencillings were, as the intelligent artisan averred, arranged upon the principle of the famous Fresnel light, whose introduction some years ago marked an epoch in the history of light-houses.

"Why, Miss, these little up-and-down marks, that you'd take it were just put in for fancy," said William Greaves, "have got a patent on 'em, and no one else could put 'em into a lantern without being prosecuted."

"But why? What difference do they make?"

"Why, Miss, every one of them fingerings makes a lens; you see it's just the same inside as out, and it sort of spreads the light. That a'n't the way to call it, but that's the idea; for the man that got it up was down here, and I talked with him."

"And what are they for?"

"For ships' lanterns, Ma'am. They take this round lantern, when it's all done here, and split it in two halves up and down, and then put one on each side a vessel's bows just like the lamps on a doctor's gig, and the bowsprit runs out between just like the horse does in the gig."

At this juncture a small boy rushed up, and, thrusting a stick into the still red-hot lantern, dexterously tilted it up and carried it away to a furnace of different construction from the first, into one of whose open doors he thrust it, and then returned to wait for another.

This furnace, called a flashing-furnace, was round like the first, and was fitted with eight or ten doors, from all of which the flames rushed eagerly, and in a very startling fashion.

"This is fed constantly with coal-oil," expounded Cicerone. "It is brought in pipes, as you see, and drips down inside. These doors are called 'glory-holes'"——

"Aureoles, perhaps," suggested Optima, in a whisper.

"And the lanterns, or whatever is in hand, are brought here after pressing, and put in to get well heated through again before they are given to the finisher. Fire-polishing they call it. Here you see one just ready to be taken out."

"He will drop it," cried Miselle, as another boy, wielding a pontil with a lump of melted glass at the end, darted before her, and, pressing this heated end against the bottom of the lantern, picked it up and carried it away, over his shoulder, as if he were a stray member of some torch-light procession.

"Not he! He's too well used to his trade," laughed Monsieur. "Now come and see the finishing process."[Pg 313]

Following the steps of the young wide-awake, Miselle saw him deliver the pontil, with the lantern still attached, to a listless individual seated upon a bench whose long iron arms projected far in front of him, while an idle pontil lay across them. This the boy snatched up and departed, while the man, suddenly rousing himself, began to roll the new pontil up and down the arms of his bench with his left hand, while with a pair of compasses in his right he carefully gauged the diameter of the revolving lantern, and then smoothed away its rough-cast edges by means of a blackened bit of wood, somewhat of the shape, and bearing the name, of a battledoor.

The finishing over, another stick was thrust inside the lantern, and it was separated from the pontil by the application of a bit of cold iron. It was then carried to the mouth of a long gallery-like oven, moderately heated, and fitted with a movable floor, upon which the articles put in at the hot end were slowly transported through a carefully graduated atmosphere to the cool end at a distance of perhaps a hundred feet, and on their arrival were ready to be packed for transportation.

This process was called annealing, and the oven with a movable floor was technically denominated a leer.

"Here they are pressing tumblers," continued the guide, pointing to a press of smaller size and power, standing near another door of the same furnace. "They have just had a large order from California, from a single firm, for—how many tumblers did you tell me, Mr. Greaves?"

"Twenty-two thousand dozen, Sir; and we shall have to spring to get them off at the time set."

"Nice tumblers they are, too,—just as good as cut, to my mind," continued Cicerone, poking with his stick at one of the batch that was now being placed in the leer.

Very nice and clear they were, but not as good as cut to Miselle's mind, and she remarked,—

"It is very easy to feel the difference, if not to see it, between cut and pressed glass. The latter always has these blunted angles to the facets, and has a certain vagueness and want of purpose about it; then it is not so heavy or so sparkling; there is a certain exhilaration in the gleam of cut glass that fits it for purposes to which the other would be entirely unsuited. Fancy Champagne in a pressed goblet, or tuberoses and japonicas in a pressed vase, or attar in a pressed flaçon!"

"Fortunately," replied Monsieur, to whom this aside had been addressed, "the persons who consider Champagne, japonicas, and attar of roses necessaries of life are very well able to provide cut-glass receptacles for them. But isn't it worth one's while to be proud of a country where every artisan's wife has her tumblers, her goblets, her vases, of pressed glass, certainly, but 'as good, to her mind, as cut,' to quote our friend? and don't you think it better that twenty-two thousand dozen pressed tumblers should be sold at ten cents apiece than one-third that number of cut ones at thirty cents, leaving all those who cannot pay the higher price to drink out of"——

"Clam-shells? Well, perhaps. Equality and the rights of man are very nice, of course, but I"——

"Like cut glass better," retorted Monsieur, laughing, while Miselle turned a little indignantly to the guide, who was saying,—

"The reason the edges have that blunted look is partly because they can't be struck as sharp as they can be ground, and then being heated in the glory-holes, and again in the leers softens them down a little. In fact, the very idea of annealing is to make the outside particles of the glass run together just a very little, so as to fill up the pores as it were, and make a smoother surface. If this were not done, it would fly all to pieces the first time it was put into hot water."

"The cut glass is not annealed, then?"

"Oh, yes, after it is blown it is; and although the grinding takes off part of[Pg 314] the surface, I suppose it fills up the pores at the same time."

"Cut glass is more apt to break in hot water than pressed or simply blown glass," remarked Madame.

"And is all cut glass blown in the first place?" asked Optima.

"No, Miss, a good deal of it is pressed and then ground, either wholly or in part; but this is not so clear or free from waves as the blown. Out here is a man blowing liqueur-glasses. Perhaps you would like to see that."

The idea of blowing a bubble of glass into so intricate a shape, and timing the process so that the brittle material should harden only when it had reached the desired form, struck Miselle's mind as very incredible; and she followed Cicerone with much curiosity to another furnace, where one man, blow-pipe in hand, was dipping up a small quantity of the liquid glass, and, having blown into it just long enough to make a stout little bubble, laid the pipe across the iron arms of a bench, where sat another operator, who immediately began to roll the pipe up and down the arms of his chair, while with a supple iron instrument, shaped like sugar-tongs with flattened bowls, he laid hold of the bubble, and, while elongating it into a tube, brought the lower extremity first to a point and then to a stem. To the end of this the assistant now touched his pontil, upon whose end he had taken up a little more glass, and this, being twisted in a ring round the foot of the stem, divided from the pontil by a huge pair of scissors, dexterously shaped with the plyers, and finally smoothed with a battledoor, became the foot of the wine-glass. The heated pontil was now applied exactly to the centre of this foot, the top of the glass divided from the blow-pipe by the application of cold iron, and the whole thrust for a few moments into the mouth of the furnace to soften, while the first man laid another pipe with another bubble at the end before the operator upon the bench, who recommenced the same process.

The first glass, meantime, rendered once more ductile by heat, was passed to another man upon another bench, who, keeping up all the while the rotatory motion necessary to preserve the form of the softened material, smoothed it with the battledoor, gauged it with the compasses, coaxed it with the sugar-tongs, and finally trimmed it around the top with his scissors as easily as if it had been of paper. It was then cracked off from the pontil and carried away, a finished liqueur-glass of the tiniest size, to be annealed. After this it might be used in its simple condition, or ornamented with engraving, while the bottom of the foot, still rough from contact with the pontil, was to be ground, smoothed, and then polished.

"Oh, how lovely! Look, Miselle, at this ruby glass," cried out Optima.

"Gorgeous!" assented Miselle, peeping into a small pot where glowed and heaved what seemed in very truth a mass of molten rubies.

"What are you going to make of this beautiful glass?" inquired she, enthusiastically, of a pleasant-looking man who was patiently waiting for room to approach his work.

"Lamp-globes, Ma'am," returned he, sententiously.

"Poor Miselle! You thought it would be Cinderella's slipper, at least, didn't you?" laughed Optima. "But look!"

The man, dipping his pipe, not into the ruby glass, but into an adjoining pot of fine flint-glass, carefully blew a small globe, and then removing the tube from his mouth swung it about in the air for a few moments, until it had gained a certain degree of firmness. Then dipping the bubble into the precious pot of ruby glass, (whose color, as Cicerone mysteriously whispered, was derived from an oxide of gold,) he withdrew it coated with the brilliant color, and so softened by the heat as to be capable of further distension. After gently blowing, until the shade had reached its proper size, the workman handed it to another, who, rolling it upon the iron arms of his bench, made an opening, at the point[Pg 315] diametrically opposite that attached to the blow-pipe, with the end of the compasses, and carefully enlarged, gauged, and shaped it, by means of plyers and battledoor.

"Pretty soon you will see how they cut the figures out and show the white glass underneath," said the guide; but Miselle's attention was at this moment engrossed by a series of small explosions, apparently close at hand, and disagreeably suggestive of the final ascension of the Glass Works, inclusive of all the pale men and boys, who might certainly be supposed purified by fire, and ready to be released from the furnace of affliction. Not feeling herself worthy to join this sublimated throng, Miselle hastily communicated the idea to Optima, and proposed a sudden retreat, but was smilingly bidden to first consider for a moment the operations of four workmen close at hand, two of whom, kneeling upon the ground, grasped the handles of two little presses, very like aggravated bullet-moulds, while the other two, bringing little masses of glass upon the ends of their blow-sticks and dropping them carefully into the necks of the moulds, proceeded to blow through the pipe until the air forced out a quantity of the glass in the form of a great bubble at the top of the mould. The pressure from within increasing still more, this bubble necessarily burst with a smart snap, and thus caused the explosive sounds above referred to. The two casters then scraped away the débris at the top with a bit of stick, and, opening their moulds, disclosed in one a pretty little essence-bottle, which a sharp boy in waiting immediately snapped up on the end of a long fork, where he had already spitted about a dozen more, and carried them away to the leer.

"But what are you casting?" asked Madame, puzzled, as the other workman opened his mould and poked its contents out upon a bit of board held ready by another sharp boy.

"Little inks, Ma'am," was the laconic reply; and looking more narrowly at the tiny object, it proved to be one of the small portable inkstands used in writing-desks.

More explosions at a little distance, and two more men were found to be casting, in the same manner, small bottles of opaque white glass, resembling china, a quality produced by an admixture of bone-dust in the frit. These are the bottles dear to manufacturers of pomades, hair-oils, and various cosmetics, and Miselle turned round a cool one lying upon the ground, half-expecting to find a flourishing advertisement of a newly discovered Fontaine d'Or upon its back. She did not find it, but espied instead two pretty little fellows in a corner just beyond, one of whom might be twelve and his curly-haired junior not more than ten years old, who were gravely engaged in blowing chimneys for kerosene lamps, and quite successfully too, as a large box behind their bench amply proved,—these alone of all the articles mentioned not requiring to be passed through the leer.

A little farther on, a workman, loading his pontil, by repeated dippings, with a large quantity of glass, dropped the lump into an open basin hollowed in the surface of one of the iron tables. It was here suffered to cool for some moments, and then, by means of a pontil tipped with molten glass, carried away to be fire-polished.

This was a lens, such as are used to increase the light in ships' cabins, staterooms, etc. Another and coarser quality, not lenses, but simple disks of greenish glass, about four inches in thickness by twelve in diameter, were stacked ready for removal at a short distance, and the whole association made Miselle so intolerably sea-sick that she sidled away to watch the manufacture of some decanters, "sech as is used in bar-rooms, mostly, Ma'am," as the principal workman confided to her. These were first moulded in the shape of great tumblers with an excessively ugly pattern printed on the sides, then softened in a glory-hole, and brought to a workman, who, by[Pg 316] means of plyers and battledoor, elongated and shaped the neck, leaving a queer, ragged lip at the top. The decanter was then passed to Miselle's confidant, who struck off this lip with the edge of his plyers. An attendant then presented to him a lump of melted glass on the end of his pontil, and the workman, deftly twisting it round the neck of his decanter, clipped it off with a pair of scissors, and proceeded to smooth and shape it by means of the plyers.

These decanters were probably to be used in conjunction with some Gothic goblets, whose press stood in the immediate vicinity. These were greenish in color, thick and unwieldly in shape, and ornamented with alternate panels of vertical and horizontal stripes.

Miselle was still lost in contemplation of these goblets when Monsieur approached.

"No," exclaimed she, pointing at them,—"no true patriot should congratulate his countrymen upon the plenitude of such articles as that! Far better for the national growth in art that we should all revert to clam-shells!"

"Come, then, and see if we cannot find something more to your fancy in the cutting-room," laughed Monsieur; and Miselle willingly followed through the green yard, and up some stairs to a sunny chamber, or rather hall, lined on either hand with a row of busy workmen, each seated behind a whirring wheel, to which he held the surface of whatever article he was engaged in cutting, or rather grinding.

These wheels were arranged in a progressive order. The first were of stone or iron, fed with sand and water, which trickled slowly down upon them from a trough overhead. These rapidly cut away the surface of glass presented to them, leaving it rough and opaque. The article was next presented to a smooth grindstone, that removed the roughness, and left the appearance of fine ground glass.

The next process, called polishing, was effected upon a wooden wheel, fed with pumice or rotten-stone and water, and the final touch was given by another wooden wheel, and a preparation of tin and lead called putty-powder.

The opacity was now entirely removed, and the facets cut upon the wine-glass Miselle had principally watched in its progress shone with the clear and polished brilliancy characteristic of the finest quality of cut glass.

For very nice work, such as the polishing of chandelier-drops, and articles of that sort, a leaden wheel, fed with fine rotten-stone and water, is employed; but on the occasion referred to, no work of this nature being in hand, these wheels were not used.

Other wheels, consisting of a simple disk of iron, not unlike a circular saw without any teeth, were used for cutting those narrow vertical lines, technically known as fingering, familiar to those so happy as to have had careful grandmothers, and to have inherited their decanters and wine-glasses. The revival of this style, like that of the rich old pattern in plate known as the "Mayflower," is a compliment just now paid by the present generation to the taste of the past, and Miselle was shown some beautiful specimens of the "latest mode, Ma'am," that awoke melancholy reminiscences of the shattered idols of her youth.

"Here are our friends, the ruby lampshades, again," remarked Optima.

"And now you will see how the transparent figures are made upon them," suggested Cicerone, pointing to a workman, who, with a pile of the ruby-coated globes beside him, was painting circles upon one of them with some yellowish pigment. The globe then being held to one of the rough wheels, the thin shell of red glass within these circles was ground away, leaving it white, but opaque. The globe then passed through the processes of smooth grinding and polishing, above described, until the pattern was finally developed in clear transparent medallions.

A very beautiful article in colored[Pg 317] glass was a Hock decanter of an exquisite antique pattern in green glass, wreathed with a grape-vine, whose leaves and stems were transparent, while the clusters of grapes were left opaque by the omission of the polishing process.

At the end of the noisy cutting-room was a small chamber, hardly more than a closet, called the engraving-room, and bearing the same relation to the former as the crypt where the cellarer jealously stores his Tokay for the palate of a Kaiser holds to the acres of arches where lies the vin ordinaire.

Here, in the full light of ample windows, before a high bench, over which revolved with incredible rapidity a half-dozen small copper disks fed with fine emery and oil, stood as many earnest-looking men, not artisans, but artists, each of whom, vaguely guided by a design lightly sketched upon the article under his hands, was developing it with an ease and skill really beautiful to contemplate. Intricate arabesques, single flowers of perfect grace, or rare groups of bloom, piles of fruit, or spirited animal-life, all grew between the whirring copper wheel and the nice hand, whose slightest turn or pressure had a meaning and a just result.

Miselle watched the engraving of an intricate cipher beneath the fantastic crest of some wealthy epicurean, who had ordered a complete dessert-service of such charming forms and graceful designs that envy of his taste, if not of his possessions, became a positive duty.

"Is there any limit to the range of your subjects?" asked Miselle, as the artist added the last graceful curve to the griffin's tail, and contemplated his finished work with quiet complacency.

"There may be, but I never found it. Whatever a pencil can draw this wheel can cut," said he, with such a smile as Gottschalk might assume in answering the query as to whether the score could be written that he could not render.

Having now witnessed all the processes of glass-manufacture to be seen at this time and place,[26] the party were conducted to the show-room, passing on the way through a room where a number of young women were engaged in painting and gilding vases, spoon-holders, lamps, and various other articles in plain and colored glass. The colors used showed, for the most part, but a very faint resemblance to the tints they were intended to produce, and the gold appeared like a dingy brown paint; but, as was explained by Cicerone, these-colors were to be fixed by burning, or rather melting them into the surface of the glass, and this process would at the same time evolve their true colors and brilliancy, both of paint and gilding.

In the next room to this, several workmen were busy in fitting the metal trimmings to such articles as lamps, lanterns, castors, molasses-pitchers, and the like.

One chirruping old man insisted upon mounting an immensely ugly blue and yellow lamp upon a brass foot for the edification of his visitors, and when this was over, exhibited some opaque white glass stands for other lamps, which, as he fondly remarked, "would be took for marble anyw'eres."

The show-room was a long, airy hall, with a row of tables on either hand, covered with glass, whose icy glitter and lack of color gave a deliciously cool aspect to the whole place. Glass in every graceful form and design, some heavy and crystalline, enriched with ornate workmanship by cutter and engraver, some delicate and fragile as a soap-bubble; hock-glasses as green and lucent as sea-water, and with an edge not too thick to part the lips of Titania; glasses of amber, that should turn pale Johannisberger to the true vino d'oro; glasses of glowing ruby tint, than which Bohemia sends us[Pg 318] nothing finer; vases and goblets as rare in form and wrought as skilfully as those two cups that Nero bought for six thousand sestertii; medallions bearing in intaglio portraits of distinguished men as clearly and unmistakably cut as on coin or cameo; whole services of glass, more beautiful and almost as valuable as services of plate; plumes of spun glass as fine and sheeny as softest silk; toys and scientific playthings; objects of wonder, admiration, and curiosity: all these were to be seen crowded upon these long, white tables in the cool hall, where the wind, sweeping gently through, brought the smell of the rising tide, and the sound of its waves upon the shore.

Here, too, was a man who knew the story, not only of the glass lying beneath his hand to-day, but of all the glass the world has known, from the colored beads inhumed with the Pharaonic princesses to the ruby salver he so fondly fingered as he talked.

He spoke of the glazed windows of Pompeii; of the "excellent portrait" of the Emperor Constantine VII. painted, a. d. 949, upon a church-window. He recounted the ancient story of the Phœnicians, who, landing at the mouth of the river, brought from their ships lumps of soda, and, laying them upon the sand as a support for their dinner-pot, found when they had done lumps of glass among the ashes, and so rediscovered the lost art of glass-making; but to this he added, with a dubious smile,—

"Fire must have been hotter in those days than now. We could never melt sand in that fashion now."

Then coming to window-glass, he clearly described the process of its manufacture, although confessing he had never been engaged in it, and from this Miselle, with a word, launched him into the glowing sea of mediæval painted windows, and the wellnigh forgotten glories of their manufacture.

"There is hardly one of them left that I have not seen," said he,—"from the old heathen temples of the East, that the Christians converted to their own use, and, while they burned the idols, spared the windows, which they had sense to remember they could never reproduce, to the gloomy purple-shadowed things they put up so much in England and the United States at the present day, forgetting, as it would seem, that the first idea of a window is to let the light through.

"But one of the finest works of modern times was the great tournament-window, first exhibited in London in 1820. I was a young fellow then, hardly twenty indeed, and with very little money to spare for sight-seeing. But from the day I first heard of it, until five years afterward, when I saw it, I never wavered in my determination to go abroad and look at that window, as well as all the others I had heard so much of.

"It was a beautiful thing really, Ma'am, measuring eighteen by twenty-four feet, and made up of three hundred and fifty pieces of glass set in metal astragals, so cleverly worked into the shadows that the whole affair appeared like one piece. It represented the passage-of-arms between Henry VIII., of England, and Francis I., of France, held at Ardres, June 25, 1520, and of the hundred figures shown, over forty were portraits. Among these were the two queens, Katharine of England, and Claude of France, Anne Boleyn, and Cardinal Wolsey, with a great many other distinguished persons."

"And this window, where is it now?" asked Optima.

"Destroyed by fire, June 30, 1832," he replied, with the mournful awe of one giving the date of some terrible human disaster.

"How many glass-factories like this are there in the country?" asked Monsieur, reverting to the practical view of the matter under consideration.

"Flint-glass works, Sir? There are three in South Boston, two in East Cambridge, and one here in Sandwich. That is for Massachusetts alone. Then there are two in Brooklyn, New York, one in Jersey City, and two in Philadelphia.[Pg 319] These are all flint-glass, you understand; the principal window-glass factories are in the southern part of New Jersey, and in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania. Then there is a flourishing plate-glass factory in Lenox, in this State, and another in New York. But the old Bay State, Sir, has led the van in this enterprise ever since 1780, when Robert Hewes, of Boston, opened the first glass-factory in the country at Temple, New Hampshire. His workmen were all Hessians or Wallachians who had deserted from the British army. They had learned the art in their own country, and were the best men he could have found for his purpose at that time; but they were a disorderly set, and, finally, one of the furnace-men got drunk, and burnt down the works in the night. Hewes presented a circular plate of glass, as a specimen of his manufacture, to Harvard College, and I believe they have it now. It was a very good article of glass, although a little greenish in color, and not quite so clear as we get it now.

"After he was burnt out, one Lint set up some glass-works in Boston about 1800. They were not successful for a while, but about 1802 or 1803 they got fairly started, and have kept ahead ever since."

"Four o'clock, my dear," remarked Madame, softly, to Monsieur, and Cicerone, who had fidgeted awfully all through the little lecture, brightened perceptibly, and rubbed his hands contentedly, as, with many thanks to the courteous superintendent, and a last glance at the glittering wonders of his charge, the party descended once more to the green yard, and crossed it to the principal gate.

"One minute, Optima. Do come and look at the engine in here!" cried Miselle, dragging her reluctant friend into a long, narrow den, almost filled by a black monster with shining brass ornaments, who slid his iron arms backward and forward, backward and forward, in a steady, remorseless manner, highly suggestive of what he would do, had he fists at the end of them, and all the world within reach of their swing. A sickish smell of heated oil pervaded the apartment, although everything was as clean and bright as hands could make it.

With the foolish daring characteristic of her sex, Miselle stole out a finger to touch the remorseless arm as it shot outward, but Optima detected and arrested the movement, with a grave "For shame!" and at the same moment a man suddenly emerged from behind the body of the monster, and, approaching the venturous intruder, bawled in her ear,—

"'Twould take off a man's head, Miss, as easy as a pipe-stem!"

Miselle nodded, without attempting a defence, and the man added presently,—

"'Undred 'oss power, Miss. Drives all the works."

"Do come out, Miselle! I shall go crazy in another minute!" screamed Optima; and the two young women hastened to overtake the rest of the party, who were already in the street.

Gypsy and Fanny, who had better used their four hours of rest than in exploring glass-works, stood ready-harnessed before the door of the Central Hotel when the sight-seers returned thither, and in a few moments the ladies were handed to their seats, Monsieur gathered up the reins, and Tom having "given them their heads," the spirited little nags tossed the precious gifts into the air, and took the road at a pace that needed only moderating to make it the perfection of exhilarating motion.

Words are all very well in their way, but they fail wofully when a person has really anything to say.

For instance, where are the phrases to describe that sunset sky, so clear and blue overhead that one felt it was only the scant range of human vision that hid the unveiled heavenly glories beyond the arch,—so gorgeous at the horizon, where it met the opalescent sea,—so rosy in the east, where, like a great golden shield, stood the moon gazing across the world triumphantly at the sinking sun,—the[Pg 320] dewy freshness of the woods, where lingered the intoxicating perfumes distilled by the blazing noontide from fir and spruce,—the jubilant chorus of birds, dying strain by strain, until the melancholy whippoorwill grieved alone in his woodland solitude?

On by the lonely farms and unlighted cabins, by the bare, bleak moors, where the night-wind came rolling softly up to look at the travellers,—on till the low, broad sea opened out the view, and came sobbing up on the beach, wailing at its own cruel deeds,—on beneath the cloudless night, upon whose front blazed Orion and the Pleiades,—on until the scene had wrought its charm, and the frequent speech fell to scattered words, to silent thought, to passionate feeling, where swelling heart and dim eyes alone uttered the soul's response to earth's perfect beauty, God's perfect goodness.

And so ever on, until the twinkling lights in the curve of the bay showed where the weary Pilgrims had set foot on shore, in that black, bitter December weather, and planted the seed that has borne blossoms and fruits unnumbered, and shall yet bear more and more for centuries to come.

And through the quiet suburb, and across the brook, and up the village-street, to the happy and hospitable home, where brilliant lights and a sparkling tea-service waited to welcome the weary, but well-pleased voyageurs.


[25] "Cullet" is the waste of the glass-room. The superfluous material taken up on the pontil, and the shards of articles broken in process of manufacture. The ingenious reader will thus interpret the heading of this paper.

[26] It is proper to state that Miselle subsequently visited the New-England Glass Company's Works in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, and, finding the method of manufacture nearly identical with that at Sandwich, has, for convenience' sake, incorporated her observations there with this account of her visit to the latter place.




Gentleman Bill, full of confidence in his powers of persuasion, advances, to add the weight of his respectability to his parent's remonstrance.

"Good morning, Mr. Frisbie,"—politely lifting his hat.

"Hey?" says Frisbie, sarcastic.—"Look at his insolence, Stephen!"

"I sincerely trust, Sir," begins Bill, "that you will reconsider your determination, Sir"——

"Shall I fetch him a cut with the hosswhip?" whispers Stephen, loud enough for the stalwart young black to hear.

"You can fetch him a cut with the hosswhip, if you like," Bill answers for Mr. Frisbie, with fire blazing upon his polite face. "But, Sir, in case you do, Sir, I shall take it upon myself to teach you better manners than to insult a gentleman conferring with your master, Sir!"

"Ha, ha, ha!" roared Mr. Frisbie. "You've got it, Stephen!"

The whip trembled in Stephen's angry hand, but the strapping young negro looked so cool and wicked, standing there, that he wisely forbore to strike.

"I am sure, Sir," Bill addresses the landlord, "you are too humane a person"——

"No, I a'n't," says the florid Frisbie. "I know what you're going to say; but it's no use. You can't work upon my feelings; I a'n't one of your soft kind.—Drive up to the door, Stephen."

Stephen is very glad to start the horse suddenly and graze Gentleman Bill's knee with the wheel-hub. Bill steps back a pace, and follows him with the smiting look of one who treasures up wrath. You'd better be careful, Stephen, let me tell you![Pg 321]

Joe stands holding the door open, and Mr. Frisbie looks in. There, to his astonishment, he sees the women washing clothes as unconcernedly as if nothing unusual was about to occur. He jumps to the ground, heated with passion.

"Ho, here!" he shouts in at the door; "don't you see the house is coming down?"

Upon which the deaf old grandfather rises in his corner, and pulls off his cap, with the usual salutation, "Sarvant, Sah," etc., and sitting down again, relapses into a doze immediately.

Frisbie is furious. "What you 'bout here?" he cries, in an alarming voice.

"Bless you, Sir," answers the old woman, over a tub, "don't you see? We's doon' a little washin', Sir. Didn't you never see nobody wash afore?" And she proceeds with her rubbing.

"The house will be tumbling on you in ten minutes!"

"You think so? Now I don't, Mr. Frisbie! This 'ere house a'n't gwine to tumble down this mornin', I know. The Lord 'll look out for that, I guess. Look o' these 'ere childern! look o' me! look o' my ole father there, more'n a hunderd year ole! What's a-gwine to 'come on us all, if you pull the house down? Can't git another right away; no team to tote our things off with; an' how 'n the world we can do 'thout no house this winter I can't see. So I've jes' concluded to trust the Lord, an' git out my washin'." Rub, rub, rub!

Frisbie grows purple. "Are you fools?" he inquires.

"Yes, I am! I'm Fessenden's." And the honest, staring youth comes forward to see what is wanted.

This unexpected response rather pricks the wind-bag of the man's zeal. He looks curiously at the boy, who follows him out of the house.

"Stephen, did you ever see that fellow before?"

"Yes, Sir; he's the one come to our house Saturday night, and I showed round to the Judge's."

"Are you the fellow?"

"Yes," says Fessenden's. "There wouldn't any of you let me into your houses, neither!"

"Wouldn't the people I sent you to let you in?"


"Hear that, Stephen! your philanthropical Gingerford!—And what did you do?"

"I didn't do nothin',—only laid down to die, I did."

"But you didn't die, did you?"

"No! This man he come along, and brought me here."

"Here? to the niggers?"

"Yes! You wouldn't have me, so they took me, and dried me, and fed me,—good folks, niggers!" Fessenden's bore this simple testimony.

What is it makes the Frisbie color heighten so? Is it Gentleman Bill's quiet smile, as he stands by and hears this conversation?

"And you have been here ever since?" says the man, in a humbler key, and with a milder look, than before.

"Yes! It's a r'al good place!" says the youth.

"But a'n't you ashamed to live with niggers?"

"Ashamed? What for? Nobody else was good to me. But they was good to me. I a'n't ashamed."

The Frisbie color heightens more and more. He looks at that wretched dwelling,—he glances aside at Mr. Williams, that coal-black Christian, of sad and resigned demeanor, waiting ruefully to see the roof torn off,—the only roof that had afforded shelter to the perishing outcast. Mr. Frisbie is not one of the "soft kind," but he feels the prick of conscience in his heart.

"Why didn't you go to the poor-house? Didn't anybody tell you to?"

"Yes, that's what they said. But nobody showed me the way, and I couldn't find it."

"Where did you come from? Who are you?"


"Who is Fessenden?"[Pg 322]

"The man that owns me. But he whipped me and shet me up, and I wouldn't stay."

"Where does he live?"

"Don't know. Away off."

"You'd better go back to him, hadn't you?"

"No! I like these folks. Best folks I ever seen!" avers the earnest youth.

Flush and confusion are in the rich man's face. He turns up an uneasy glance at Adsly's men, already on the roof; then coughs, and says to Stephen,—

"This is interesting!"

"Very," says Stephen.

"Don't you remember, I was going to make some provision for this fellow,—I'd have seen him safe in the almshouse, if nothing more,—but you suggested Gingerford's."

"I supposed Gingerford would be delighted to take him in," grins Stephen.

"Instead of that, he turns him out in the storm! Did you ever hear of such sham philanthropy? By George!" cries Frisbie, in his indignation against the Judge, "there's more real philanthropy in these niggers"——checking himself, and glancing again at the workmen on the roof.

"What's philanthropy?" asks Fessenden's. "Is that what you're tearin' their house down for? I'm sorry!"

Frisbie is flustered. He is ashamed of appearing "soft." He wishes heartily to be well rid of the niggers. But something in his own heart rebels against the course he has taken to eject them.

"Just hold on there a minute, Adsly!"

"Ay, ay!" says Adsly. And the work stops.

"Now what do I do this for?" exclaims Frisbie, vexed at himself the instant he has spoken. And he frowns, and blows his nose furiously. "It's because I am too good-natured, altogether!"

"No, no, Sir,—I beg your pardon!" says Mr. Williams, his heart all aglow with gratitude. "To be kind and merciful to the poor, that isn't to be too good-natured, Sir!"

"Well, well! I a'n't one of your milk-and-water sort. Look at such a man as Gingerford, for example! But I guess, come case in hand, you'll find as much genuine humanity in me, Adsly, as in them that profess so much. Wait till to-morrow before you knock the old shell to pieces. I'll give 'em another day. And in the mean time, boy," turning to Fessenden's, "you must find you another home. Either go back to your guardian, or I'll send you over to the almshouse. These people can't keep you, for they'll have no house in these parts to keep themselves in."

"So?" says Fessenden's. "They kep' me when they had a house, and I'll stay with them when they haven't got any."

Something in the case of this unfortunate stripling interested Frisbie. His devotion to his new friends was so sincere, and so simply expressed, that the robust, well-fed man was almost touched by it.

"I vow, it's a queer case, Stephen! What do you think of it?"

"I think"——said the joker.

"What do you think? Out with it!"

"You own that vacant lot opposite Gingerford's?"

"Yes; what of that?"

"I think, then, instead of pulling the house down, I'd just move it over there, niggers and all"——

"And set it opposite the Judge's!" exclaims Frisbie, catching gleefully at the idea.

"Exactly," says Stephen; "and give him enough of niggers for one while."

"I'll do it!—Adsly! Adsly! See here, Adsly! Do you suppose this old box can be moved?"

"I guess so. 'T a'n't very large. Ruther think the frame'll hold together."

"Will you undertake the job?"

"Wal, I never moved a house. There's Cap'en Slade, he moves houses. He's got all the tackle for it, and I ha'n't. I suppose[Pg 323] I can git him, if you want me to see to the job."

Agreed! It did not take Frisbie long to decide. It was such a tremendous joke! A nest of niggers under the dainty Gingerford nose! ho, ho! Whip up, Stephen! And the red and puffy face, redder and puffier still with immense fun, rode off.

Adsly and his men disappeared also, to return with Cap'en Slade and his tackle on the morrow. Then Joe began to dance and scream like a little devil.

"Have a ride! have a ride! Oh, mammy! they're gunter snake th' ole house through the village to-morrer, an' we're all gunter have a ride! free gratis for nothin'! 'thout payin' for 't neither! A'n't we, Bill?"

Mrs. Williams sits right down, overcome by the surprise.

"Now I want to know if that 'ere 's so!"

"That's what't looks like now," says Mr. Williams. "We're goin' to be sot opposite Mr. Gingerford's."

"'Ristocratic!" cries Joe, putting on airs. "That's what'll tickle Bill!"

"Oh, laws!" exclaims Mrs. Williams, with humorous sadness,—"what a show th' ole cabin'll make, stuck down there 'mongst all them fine housen!"

"I don't know's I quite like the notion," says her husband, with a good-natured expansion of his serious features. "I'm 'fraid we sha'n't be welcome neighbors down there. 'T a'n't so much out o' kindness to us as it is out o' spite to the Gingerfords, that the house is to be moved instid o' tore down."

"That's the glory of the Lord! Even the wrath of man shall praise Him!" utters the old grandmother, devoutly.

"Won't it be jimmy?" crows Joe. "He's a jolly ole brick, that Frisbie! I'm a-gunter set straddle on the ridge-pole, an' carry a flag. Hooray!"

"I consider that the situation will be very much preferable to this," observes Gentleman Bill, polishing his hat with his coat-sleeve. "Better quarter of the town; more central; eligible locality for establishing a tailor-shop."

"Legible comicality for stablin' a shailor-top!" stammers Joe, mimicking his brother.

Upon which Bill—as he sometimes did, when excited—elapsed into the vulgar, but expressive idiom of the family. "Shet yer head, can't ye?" And he lifted a hand, with intent to clap it smartly upon the part the occlusion of which was desirable.

Joe shrieked, and fled.

"No quarrellin' on a 'casion like this!" interposes the old woman, covering the boy's retreat. "This 'ere's a time for joy and thanks, an' nuffin' else. Bless the Lord, I knowed He'd keep an eye on to th' ole house. Didn't I tell ye that boy'd bring us good luck? It's all on his account the house a'n't tore down, an' I consider it a mighty Providence from fust to last. Wasn't I right, when I said I guessed I'd have faith, an' git the washin' out? Bless the Lord, I could cry!"

And cry she did, with a fulness of heart which, I think, might possibly have convinced even the jocund Frisbie that there was something better than an old, worn-out, spiteful jest in the resolution he had taken to have the house moved, instead of razed.

And now the deaf old patriarch in the corner-became suddenly aware that something exciting was going forward; but being unable clearly to comprehend what, and chancing to see Fessenden's coming in, he gave expression to his exuberant emotions by rising, and shaking the lad's passive hand, with the usual highly polite salutation.

"Tell him we're all a-gunter have a ride," said Joe.

But as Fessenden's couldn't tell him loud enough, Joe screamed the news.

"Say?" asked the old man, raising a feeble hand to his ear, and stooping and smiling.

"Put th' ole house on wheels, an' dror it!" shrieked Joe.[Pg 324]

"Yes, yes!" chuckled the old man. "I remember! Six hills in a row. Busters!"—looking wonderfully knowing, and, with feeble forefinger raised, nodding and winking at his great-grandchild,—as it were across the slim gulf of a hundred years which divided the gleeful boyhood of Joe from the second childhood of the ancient dreamer.

The next day came Adsly and his men again, with Cap'en Slade and his tackle, and several yokes of oxen with drivers. Levers and screws moved the house from its foundations, and it was launched upon rollers. Then, progress! Then, sensation in Timberville! Some said it was Noah's ark, sailing down the street. The household furniture of the patriarch was mostly left on board the antique craft, but Noah and his family followed on foot. They took their live stock with them,—cow and calf, and poultry and pig. Joe and his great-grandfather carried each a pair of pullets, in their hands. Gentleman Bill drove the pig, with a rope tied to his (piggy's) leg. Mr. Williams transported more poultry,—turkeys and hens, in two great flopping clusters, slung over his shoulder, with their heads down. The women bore crockery and other frangible articles, and helped Fessenden's drive the cow. A picturesque procession, not noiseless! The bosses shouted to the men, the drivers shouted to the oxen, loud groaned the beams of the ark, the cow lowed, the calf bawled, great was the squawking and squealing!

Gentleman Bill was sick of the business before they had gone half-way. He wished he had stayed in the shop, instead of coming over to help the family, and make himself ridiculous. There was not much pleasure in driving that stout young porker. Many a sharp jerk lamed the hand that held the rope that restrained the leg that piggy wanted to run with. Besides, (as I believe swine and some other folks invariably do under the like circumstances,) piggy always tried to run in the wrong direction. To add to Gentleman Bill's annoyance, spectators soon became numerous, and witty suggestions were not wanting.

"Take him up in your arms," said somebody.

"Take advantage of his contrariness, and try to drive him 't other way," said somebody else.

"Ride him," proposed a third.

"Make a whistle of his tail, an' blow it, an' he'll foller ye!" screamed a bright school-boy.

"Stick some of yer tailor's needles into him!" "Sew him up in a sack, and shoulder him!" "Take up his hind-legs, and push him like a wheelbarrer!" And so forth, and so forth, till Bill was in a fearful sweat and rage, partly with the pig, but chiefly with the uncivil multitude.

"Ruther carry me on your back, some rainy night, hadn't ye?" said Fessenden's, in all simplicity, perceiving his distress.

"You didn't excruciate my wrist so like time!" groaned Bill. And what was more, darkness covered that other memorable journey.

As for Joe, he liked it. Though he was not allowed to ride the ridge-pole and wave a flag through the village, as he proposed, he had plenty of fun on foot. He went swinging his chickens, and frequently pinching them to make them musical. The laughter of the lookers-on didn't trouble him in the least; for he could laugh louder than any. But his sisters were ashamed, and Mr. Williams looked grave; for they were, actually, human! and I suppose they didn't like to be jeered at, and called a swarm of niggers, any more than you or I would.

So the journey was accomplished; and the stupendous joke of Frisbie's was achieved. Conceive Mrs. Gingerford's wonder, when she beheld the ark approaching! Fancy her feelings, when she saw it towed up and moored in front of her own door,—the whole tribe of Noah, lowing cow, bawling calf, squawking poultry, and squealing pig, and so forth, and so forth, accompanying! This, then, was the meaning of the masons at[Pg 325] work over there since yesterday. They had been preparing the new foundations on which the old house was to rest. So the stunning truth broke upon her: niggers for neighbors! What had she done to merit such a dispensation?

What done, unhappy lady? Your own act has drawn down upon you this retribution. You yourself have done quite as much towards bringing that queer craft along-side as yonder panting and lolling oxen. They are but the brute instruments, while you have been a moral agent in the matter. One word, uttered by you three nights ago, has had the terrible magic in it to summon forth from the mysterious womb of events this extraordinary procession. Had but a different word been spoken, it would have proved equally magical, though we might never have known it: that breath by your delicate lips would have blown back these horrible shadows; and instead of all this din and confusion of house-hauling, we should have had silence this day in the streets of Timberville. You don't see it? In plain phrase, then, understand: you took not in the stranger at your gate; but he found refuge with these blacks; and because they showed mercy unto him, the sword of Frisbie's wrath was turned aside from them, and, edged by Stephen's witty jest, directed against you and yours. Hence this interesting scene which you look down upon from your windows, at the beautiful hour of sunset, which you love. And, oh, to think of it! between your chamber and those golden sunsets that negro hut and those negroes will always be henceforth!

Now don't you wish; Madam, you had had compassion on the wayfarer? But we will not mock at your calamity. You did precisely what any of us would have been only too apt to do in your place. You told the simple truth, when you said you didn't want the ragged wretch in your house. And what person of refinement, I'd like to know, would have wanted him? For, say what you will, it is a most disagreeable thing to admit downright dirty vagabonds into our elegant dwellings. And dangerous, besides; for they might murder us in the night,—or steal something! Oh, we fastidious and fearful! where is our charity? where is the heart of trust? There was of old a Divine Man, who had not where to lay his head,—whom the wise of those days scoffed at as a crazy fellow,—whom respectable people shunned,—who made himself the companion of the poor, the comforter of the distressed, the helper of those in trouble, and the healer of diseases;—who shrank neither from the man or woman of sin, nor from the loathsome leper, nor from sorrow and death for our sakes,—whose gospel we now profess to live by, and——

But let us not be "soft." We are reasonably Christian, we hope; and it shows low breeding to be ultra. (Was the Carpenter's Son low-bred?)

And now the Judge rides home in the dusk of the December day. It is still light enough, however, for him to see that Frisbie's vacant lot has been made an Ararat of; and he could hear the Noachian noises, were it ever so dark. The awful jest bursts upon him; he hears the screaming of the bomb-shell, then the explosion. But the mind of this man is (so to speak) casemated. It is a shock,—but he never once loses his self-possession. His quick perception detects Friend Frisbie behind the gun; and he smiles with his intelligent, fine-cut face. Shall malice have the pleasure of knowing that the shot has told? Our orator is too sagacious for that. There is never any use in being angry: that is one of his maxims. Therefore, if he feels any chagrin, he will smother it. If there is a storm within, the world shall see only the rainbow, that radiant smile of his. Cool is Gingerford! He has seized the subject instantly, and calculated all its bearings. He is a man to make the best of it; and even the bitterness which is in it shall, if possible, bear him some wholesome drink. To school his mind to patience,—to practise daily the philanthropy he teaches,—this will be much; and already his heart is humbled and warmed. And who knows,—for,[Pg 326] with all his sincerity and aspiration, he has an eye to temporal uses,—who knows but this stumbling-block an enemy has placed in his way may prove the stepping-stone of his ambition?

"What is all this, James?" he inquires of his son, who comes out to the gate to meet him.

"Frisbie's meanness!" says the young man, almost choking. "And the whole town is laughing at us!"

"Laughing at us? What have we done?" mildly answers the parent. "I tell you what, James,—they sha'n't laugh at us long. We can live so as to compel them to reverence us; and if there is any ridicule attached to the affair, it will soon rest where it belongs."

"Such a sty stuck right down under our noses!" muttered the mortified James.

"We will make of it an ornament," retorts the Judge, with mounting spirits. "Come with me,"—taking the youth's arm. "My son, call no human habitation a sty. These people are our brothers, and we will show them the kindness of brethren."

A servant receives the horse, and Gingerford and his son cross the street.

"Good evening, Friend Williams! So you have concluded to come and live neighbor to us, have you?"

Friend Williams was at the end of the house, occupied in improvising a cowshed under an old apple-tree. Piggy was already tied to the trunk of the tree, and the hens and turkeys were noisily selecting their roosts in the boughs. At sight of the Judge, whose displeasure he feared, the negro was embarrassed, and hardly knew what to say. But the pleasant greeting of the silver-toned voice reassured him, and he stopped his work to frame his candid, respectful answer.

"It was Mr. Frisbie that concluded. All I had to do was to go with the house wherever he chose to move it."

"Well, he might have done much worse by you. You have a nice landlord, a nice landlord, Mr. Williams. Mr. Frisbie is a very fine man."

It was Gingerford's practice to speak well of everybody with whom he had any personal relations, and especially well of his enemies; because, as he used to say to his son, evil words commonly do more harm to him who utters them than to those they are designed to injure, while fair and good words are easily spoken, and are the praise of their author, if of nobody else: for, if the subject of them is a bad man, they will not be accepted as literally true by any one that knows him, but, on the contrary, they will be set down to the credit of your good-nature,—or who knows but they may become coals of fire upon the head of your enemy, and convert him into a friend?

James had now an opportunity to test the truth of these observations. Was Mr. Williams convinced that Frisbie was a nice landlord and a fine man? By no means. But that Judge Gingerford was a fine man, and a charitable, he believed more firmly than ever. Then there was Stephen standing by,—having, no doubt, been sent by his master to observe the chagrin of the Gingerfords, and to bring back the report thereof; who, when he heard the Judge's words, looked surprised and abashed, and presently stole away, himself discomfited.

"I pray the Lord," said Mr. Williams, humbly and heartily, "you won't consider us troublesome neighbors."

"I hope not," replied the Judge; "and why should I? You have a good, honest reputation, Friend Williams; and I hear that you are a peaceable and industrious family. We ought to be able to serve each other in many ways. What can I do for you, to begin with? Wouldn't you like to turn your cow and calf into my yard?"

"Thank you a thousand times,—if I can, just as well as not," said the grateful negro. "We had to tear down the shed and pig-pen when we moved the house, and I ha'n't had time to set 'em up again."

"And I imagine you have had enough to do, for one day. Let your children drive the creatures through the gate yonder;[Pg 327] my man will show them the shed. Are you a good gardener, Mr. Williams?"

"Wal, I've done consid'able at that sort of work, Sir."

"I'm glad of that. I have to hire a good deal of gardening done. I see we are going to be very much obliged to your landlord for bringing us so near together. And this is your father?"

"My grandfather, Sir," said Mr. Williams.

"Your grandfather? I must shake hands with him."

"Sarvant, Sah," said the old man, cap off, bowing and smiling there in the December twilight.

"He's deaf as can be," said Mr. Williams; "you'll have to talk loud, to make him hear. He's more 'n a hunderd year old."

"You astonish me!" exclaimed the Judge. "A very remarkable old person! I should delight to converse with him,—to know what his thoughts are in these new times, and what his memories are of the past, which, I suppose, is even now more familiar to his mind than the objects of to-day. God bless you, my venerable friend!" shaking hands a second time with the ancient black, and speaking in a loud voice.

"Tankee, Sah,—very kind," smiled the flattered old man. "Sarvant, Sah."

"'Tis you who are kind, to take notice of young fellows like me," pleasantly replied the Judge.—"Well, good evening, friends. I shall always be glad to know if there is anything I can do for you. Ha! what is this?"

It was the cow and calf coming back again, followed by Joe and Fessenden's.

"Gorry!" cried Joe,—"wa'n't that man mad? Thought he'd bite th' ole cow's tail off!"

"What man? My man?"

"Yes," said honest Fessenden's; "he said he'd be damned if he'd have a nigger's critters along with his'n!"

"Then we'll afford him an early opportunity to be damned," observed the Judge. "Drive them back again. I'll go with you.—By the way, Mr. Williams,"—Gingerford saw his man approaching, and spoke loud enough for him to hear and understand,—"are you accustomed to taking care of horses? I may find it necessary to employ some one before long."

"Wal, yes, Sir; I'm tol'able handy about a stable," replied the negro.

"Hollo, there!" called the man, somewhat sullenly, "drive that cow back here! Why didn't you tell me 't was the boss's orders?"

"Did tell him so; and he said as how I lied," said Joe,—driving the animals back again triumphantly.

The Judge departed with his son,—a thoughtful and aspiring youth, who pondered deeply what he had seen and heard, as he walked by his father's side. And Mr. Williams, greatly relieved and gratified by the interview, hastened to relate to his family the good news. And the praises of Gingerford were on all their tongues, and in their prayers that night he was not forgotten.

Three days after, the Judge's man was dismissed from his place, in consequence of difficulties originating in the affair of the cow. The Judge had sought an early opportunity to converse with him on the subject.

"A negro's cow," said he, "is as good as anybody's cow; and I consider Mr. Williams as good a man as you are."

The white coachman couldn't stand that; and the result was that the Gingerfords had a black coachman in a few days. The situation was offered to Mr. Williams, and very glad he was to accept it.

Thus the wrath of man continued to work the welfare of these humble Christians. It is reasonable to doubt whether the Judge was at heart delighted with his new neighbors; and jolly Mr. Frisbie enjoyed the joke somewhat less, I suspect, than he anticipated. One party enjoyed it, nevertheless. It was a serious and solid satisfaction to the Williams family. No member of which, with the exception, perhaps, of Joe, exhibited[Pg 328] greater pleasure at the change in their situation than the old patriarch. It rejuvenated him. His hearing was almost restored. "One move more," he said, "and I shall be young and spry agin as the day I got my freedom,"—that day, so many, many years ago, which he so well remembered! Well, the "one move more" was near; and the morning of a new freedom, the morning of a more perfect youth and gladness, was not distant.

It was the old man's delight to go out and sit in the sun before the door, in the clear December weather, and pull off his cap to the Judge as he passed. To get a bow, and perhaps a kind word, from the illustrious Gingerford, was glory enough for one day, and the old man invariably hurried into the house to tell of it.

But one morning a singular thing occurred. To all appearances—to the eyes of all except one—he remained sitting out there in the sun after the Judge had gone. But Fessenden's, looking up suddenly, and staring at vacancy, cried,—


"What, child?" asked Mrs. Williams.

"The old man!" said Fessenden's. "Comin' into the door! Don't ye see him?"

Nobody saw him but the lad; and of course all were astonished by his earnest announcement of the apparition. The old grandmother hastened to look out. There sat her father still, on the bench by the apple-tree, leaning against the trunk. But the sight did not satisfy her. She ran out to him. The smile of salutation was still on his lips, which seemed just saying, "Sarvant, Sah," to the Judge. But those lips would never move again. They were the lips of death.

"What is the matter, Williams?" asked the Judge, on his return home that afternoon.

"My gran'ther is dead, Sir; and I don't know where to bury him." This was the negro's quiet and serious answer.

"Dead?" ejaculates the Judge. "Why, I saw him only this morning, and had a smile from him!"

"That was his last smile, Sir. You can see it on his face yet. He went to heaven with that smile, we trust."

To heaven? a negro in heaven? If that is so, some of us, I suppose, will no longer wish to go there. Or do you imagine that you will have need of servants in paradise, and that that is what Christian niggers are for? Or do you believe that in the celestial congregations there will also be a place set aside for the colored brethren,—a glorified niggers' pew? You scowl; you don't like a joke upon so serious a subject? Hypocrite! do you see nothing but a joke here?

The Judge leaves everything and goes home with his coachman. Sure enough! there is the same smile he saw in the morning, frozen on the face of the corpse.

"Gently and late death came to him!" says Gingerford. "Would we could all die as happy! There is no occasion to mourn, my good woman."

"Bless the Lord, I don't mourn!" replied the old negress. "But I'm so brimful of thanks, I must cry for 't! He died a blessed ole Christian; an' he's gone straight to glory, if there's anything in the promises. He is free now, if he never was afore;—for, though they pretend there a'n't no slaves in this 'ere State, an' the law freed us years ago, seems to me there a'n't no r'al liberty for us, 'cept this!" She pointed at the corpse, then threw up her eyes and hands with an expression of devout and joyful gratitude. "He's gone where there a'n't no predijice agin color, bless the Lord! He's gone where all them that's been washed with the blood of Christ is all of one color in His sight!" Then turning to the Judge,—"And you'll git your reward, Sir, be sure o' that!"

"My reward?" And Gingerford, touched with genuine emotion, shook his head, sadly.

"Yes, Sir, your reward," repeated the old woman, tenderly arranging the sheet[Pg 329] over the still breast, and still, folded hands of the corpse. "For makin' his last days happy,—for makin' his last minutes happy, I may say. That 'ere smile was for you, Sir. You was kinder to him 'n folks in gin'ral. He wa'n't used to 't. An' he felt it. An' he's gone to glory with the news on 't. An' it'll be sot down to your credit there, in the Big Book."

Where was the Judge's eloquence? He could not find words to frame a fitting reply to this ignorant black woman, whose emotion was so much deeper than any fine phrases of his could reach, and whose simple faith and gratitude overwhelmed him with the sudden conviction that he had never yet said anything to the purpose, in all his rhetorical defences of the down-trodden race. From that conviction came humility. Out of humility rose inspiration. Two days later his eloquence found tongue; and this was the occasion of it:—

The body of the old negro was to be buried. That he should be simply put into the ground, and nothing said, any more than as if he were a brute beast, did not seem befitting the obsequies of so old a man and so faithful a Christian. The family had natural feelings on that subject. They wanted to have a funeral sermon.

Now it so happened that there was to be another funeral in the village about that time. The old minister, had he been living, might have managed to attend both. But the young minister couldn't think of such a thing. The loveliest flower of maidenhood in his parish had been cut down. One of the first families had been bereaved. Day and night he must ponder and scribble to prepare a suitable discourse. And then, having exhausted spiritual grace in bedecking the tomb of the lovely, should he,—good gracious! could he descend from those heights of beauty and purity to the grave of a superannuated negro? Could divine oratory so descend?

"On that fair mountain leave to feed,
And batten on this moor"?

Ought the cup of consolation, which he extended to his best, his worthiest friends and parishioners, to be passed in the same hour to thick African lips?

Which questions were, of course, decided in the negative. There was another minister in the village, but he was sick. What should be done? To go wandering about the world in search of somebody to preach the funeral sermon seemed a hard case,—as Mr. Williams remarked to the Judge.

"Tell you what, Williams," said the Judge,—"don't give yourself any more trouble on that account. I'm not a minister, nor half good enough for one,"—he could afford to speak disparagingly of himself, the beautiful, gracious gentleman!—"but if you can't do any better, I'll be present and say a few words at the funeral."

"Thank you a thousand times!" said the grateful negro. "Couldn't be nothin' better 'n that! We never expected no such honor; an' if my ole gran'ther could have knowed you would speak to his funeral, he'd have been proud, Sir!"

"He was a simple-minded old soul!" replied the Judge, pleasantly. "And you're another, Williams! However, I am glad you are satisfied. So this difficulty is settled, too." For already one very serious difficulty had been arranged through this man's kindness.

Did I neglect to mention it,—how, when the old negro died, his family had no place to bury him? The rest of his race, dying before him, had been gathered to the mother's bosom in distant places: long lines of dusky ancestors in Africa; a few descendants in America,—here and there a grave among New-England hills. Only one, a child of Mr. Williams's, had died in Timberville, and been placed in the old burying-ground over yonder. But that was now closed against interments. And as for purchasing a lot in the new cemetery,—how could poor Mr. Williams ever hope to raise money to pay for it?

"Williams," said the Judge, "I own several lots there, and if you'll be a good boy, I'll make you a present of one."[Pg 330]

Ah, Gingerford! Gingerford! was it pure benevolence that prompted the gift? Was the smile with which you afterwards related the circumstance to dear Mrs. Gingerford a smile of sincere satisfaction at having done a good action and witnessed the surprise and gratitude of your black coachman? Tell us, was it altogether an accident, with no tincture whatever of pleasant malice in it, that the lot you selected, out of several, to be the burial-place of negroes, lay side by side with the proud family-vault of your neighbor Frisbie?

The Judge was one of those cool heads, who, when they have received an injury, do not go raving of it up and down, but put it quietly aside, and keep their temper, and rest content to wait patiently, perhaps years, perhaps a lifetime, for the opportunity of a sudden and pat revenge. Indeed, I suppose he would have been well satisfied to answer Frisbie's spite with the nobler revenge of magnanimity and smiling forbearance, had not the said opportunity presented itself. It was a temptation not to be resisted. And he, the most philanthropical of men, proved himself capable of being also the most cruel.

There, in the choicest quarter of the cemetery, shone the white ancestral monuments of the Frisbies. Death, the leveller, had not, somehow, levelled them,—proud and pretentious even in their tombs. You felt, as you read the sculptured record of their names and virtues, that even their ashes were better than the ashes of common mortals. They rendered sacred not only the still inclosure where they lay, but all that beautiful sunny bank; so that nobody else had presumed to be buried near them, but a space of many square rods on either side was left still unappropriated,—until now, when, lo! here comes a black funeral, and the corpse of one who had been a slave in his day, to profane the soil!

Nor is this all, alas! There comes not one funeral procession only. The first has scarcely entered the cemetery, when a second arrives. Side by side the dead of this day are to be laid: our old friend the negro, and the lovely young lady we have mentioned,—even the fairest of Mr. Frisbie's own children.

For it is she. The sweetest of the faces Fessenden's saw that stormy night at the window, and yearned to be within the bright room where the fire, was,—that dear warm face is cold in yonder coffin which the afflicted family are attending to the tomb.

And Frisbie, as we have somewhere said, loved his children. And in the anguish of his bereavement he had not heeded the singular and somewhat humiliating fact that his daughter had issued from the portal of Time in company with one of his most despised tenants,—that, in the same hour, almost at the same moment, Death had summoned them, leading them together, as it were, one with his right hand, and one with his left, the way of all the world. So that here was a surprise for the proud and grief-smitten parent.

"What is all that, Stephen?" he demands, with sudden consternation.

"It seems to be another funeral, Sir. They're buryin' somebody next lot to yours."

"Who, who, Stephen?"

"I—I ruther guess it's the old nigger, Sir," says Stephen.

The mighty man is shaken. Wrath and sorrow and insulted affection convulse him for a moment. His face grows purple, then pale, and he struggles with his neckcloth, which is choking him. He sees the tall form of Gingerford at the grave, and knows what it is to wish to murder a man. Were those two Christian neighbors quite alone, in this solitude of the dead, I fear one of them would soon be a fit subject for a coroner's inquest and an epitaph. O pride and hatred! with what madness can you inspire a mortal man! O Fessenden's! bless thy stars that thou art not the only fool alive this day, nor the greatest!

Fessenden's walked alone to the funeral,[Pg 331] talking by himself, and now and then laughing. Gentleman Bill thought his conduct indecorous, and reproved him for it.

"Gracious!" said the lad, "don't you see who I'm talkin' with?"

"No, Sir,—I can't say I see anybody, Sir."

"No?" exclaimed the astonished youth. "Why, it's the old man, goin' to his own funeral!"

This, you may say, was foolishness; but, oh, it was innocent and beautiful foolishness, compared with that of Frisbie and his sympathizers, when they discovered the negro burial, and felt that their mourning was too respectable to be the near companion of the mourning of those poor blacks, and that their beautiful dead was too precious to be laid in the earth beside their dead.

What could be done? Indignation and sorrow availed nothing. The tomb of the lovely was prepared, and it only remained to pity the affront to her ashes, as she was committed to the chill depths amid silence and choking tears. It is done; and the burial of the old negro is deferentially delayed until the more aristocratic rites are ended.

Gingerford set the example of standing with his hat off in the yellow sunshine and wintry air, with his noble head bowed low, while the last prayer was said at the maiden's sepulture. Then he lifted up his face, radiant; and the flashing and rainbow-spanned torrent of his eloquence broke forth. He had reserved his forces for this hour. He had not the Williams family and their friends alone for an audience, but many who had come to attend the young lady's funeral remained to hear the Judge. It was worth their while. Finely as he had discoursed at the hut of the negroes, before the corpse was brought out, that was scarcely the time, that was certainly not the place, for a crowning effort of his genius. But here, his larger audience, the open air, the blue heavens, the graves around, the burial of the young girl side by side with the old slave, all contributed to inspire him. Human brotherhood, universal love, the stern democracy of death, immortality,—these were his theme. Life, incrusted with conventionalities; Death, that strips them all away. This is the portal (pointing to the grave) at which the soul drops all its false incumbrances,—rank, riches, sorrow, shame. It enters naked into eternity. There worldly pride and arrogance have no place. There false judgment goes out like a sick man's night-lamp, in the morning light of truth. In the courts of God only spiritual distinctions prevail. That you were a lord in this life will be of no account there, where the humblest Christian love is preferred before the most brilliant selfishness,—where the master is degraded, and the servant is exalted. And so forth, and so forth; a brief, but eloquent address, of which it is to be regretted that no report exists.

Then came the prayer,—for the Judge had a gift that way too; and the tenderness and true feeling with which he spoke of the old negro and the wrongs of his race drew tears from many eyes. Then a hymn was sung,—those who had stayed to sneer joining their voices seriously with those of the lowly mourners.

A few days later, Mr. Williams had the remains of his child taken from the old burying-ground, and brought here, and laid beside the patriarch. And before spring, simple tombstones of white marble (at Gingerford's expense) marked the spot, and commemorated the circumstances of the old man's extreme age and early bondage.

And before spring, alas! three other graves were added to that sunny bank! One by one, all those fair children whom Fessenden's had seen in the warm room where the fire was had followed their sister to the tomb. So fast they followed that Mr. Frisbie had no time to move his family-vault from the degrading proximity of the negro graves. And Fessenden's still lived, an orphan, yet happy, in the family of blacks which had adopted him; while the parents of those children, who had loved them, were left alone in the costly house, desolate. Was it, as[Pg 332] some supposed, a judgment upon Frisbie for his pride? I cannot tell. I only know, that, in the end, that pride was utterly broken,—and that, when the fine words of the young minister failed to console him, when sympathizing friends surrounded him, and Gingerford came to visit him, and they were reconciled, he turned from them all, and gratefully received hope and comfort from the lips of a humble old Christian who had nursed the last of his children in her days and nights of suffering, almost against his will.

That Christian? It was the old negro woman.

Early in the spring, Mr. Williams——But no more! Haven't we already prolonged our sketch to an intolerable length, considering the subject of it? Not a lover in it! and, of course, it is preposterous to think of making a readable story without one. Why didn't we make young Gingerford in love with—let's see—Miss Frisbie? and Miss Frisbie's brother (it would have required but a stroke of the pen to give her one) in love with—Creshy Williams? What melodramatic difficulties might have been built upon this foundation! And as for Fessenden's being a fool and a pauper, he should turn out to be the son of some proud man, either Gingerford or Frisbie. But it is too late now. We acknowledge our fatal mistake. Who cares for the fortunes of a miserable negro family? Who cares to know the future of Mr. Williams, or of any of his race?

Suffice it, then, to say, that, as for the Williamses, God has taken care of them in every trial,—turning even the wrath of enemies to their advantage, as we have seen; just as He will, no doubt, in His fatherly kindness, provide for that unhappy race which is now in the perilous crisis of its destiny, and concerning which so many, both its friends and enemies, are anxiously asking, "What will become of them?"


In this dim shadow, where
She found the quiet which all tired hearts crave,
Now, without grief or care,
The wild bees murmur, and the blossoms wave,
And the forgetful air
Blows heedlessly across her grassy grave.
Yet, when she lived on earth,
She loved this leafy dell, and knew by name
All things of sylvan birth;
Squirrel and bird chirped welcome, when she came:
Yet now, in careless mirth,
They frisk, and build, and warble all the same.
From the great city near,
Wherein she toiled through life's incessant quest,
For weary year on year,
Come the far voices of its deep unrest,
To touch her dead, deaf ear,
[Pg 333] And surge unechoed o'er her pulseless breast.
The hearts which clung to her
Have sought out other shrines, as all hearts must,
When Time, the comforter,
Has worn their grief out, and replaced their trust:
Not even neglect can stir
This little handful of forgotten dust.
Grass waves, and insects hum,
And then the snow blows bitterly across;
Strange footsteps go and come,
Breaking the dew-drops on the starry moss:
She lieth still and dumb,
And counts no longer any gain or loss.
Ah, well,—'t is better so;
Let the dust deepen as the years increase;
Of her who sleeps below
Let the name perish and the memory cease,
Since she has come to know
That which through life she vainly prayed for,—Peace!




As I sit in my library-chair listening to the welcome drip from the eaves, I bethink me of the great host of English farm-teachers who in the last century wrote and wrought so well, and wonder why their precepts and their example should not have made a garden of that little British island. To say nothing of the inherited knowledge of such men as Sir Anthony Fitz-Herbert, Hugh Platt, Markham, Lord Bacon, Hartlib, and the rest, there was Tull, who had blazed a new path between the turnip and the wheat-drills—to fortune; there was Lord Kames, who illustrated with rare good sense, and the daintiness of a man of letters, all the economies of a thrifty husbandry; Sir John Sinclair proved the wisdom of thorough culture upon tracts that almost covered counties; Bakewell (of Dishley)—that fine old farmer in breeches and top-boots, who received Russian princes and French marquises at his kitchen-fireside—demonstrated how fat might be laid on sheep or cattle for the handling of a butcher; in fact, he succeeded so far, that Dr. Parkinson once told Paley that the great breeder had "the power of fattening his sheep in whatever part of the body he chose, directing it to shoulder, leg, or neck, as he thought proper,—and this," continued Parkinson, "is the great problem of his art."

"It's a lie, Sir," said Paley,—"and that's the solution of it."

And yet Dr. Parkinson was very near the truth.

Besides Bakewell, there was Arthur Young, as we have seen, giving all England the benefit of agricultural comparisons by his admirable "Tours"; Lord[Pg 334] Dundonald had brought his chemical knowledge to the aid of good husbandry; Abercrombie and Speechly and Marshall had written treatises on all that regarded good gardening. The nurseries of Tottenham Court Road, the parterres of Chelsea, and the stoves of the Yew Gardens were luxuriant witnesses of what the enterprising gardener might do.

Agriculture, too, had a certain dignity given to it by the fact that "Farmer George" (the King) had written his experiences for a journal of Arthur Young, the Duke of Bedford was one of the foremost advocates of improved farming, and Lord Townshend took a pride in his sobriquet of "Turnip Townshend."

Yet, for all this, at the opening of the present century, England was by no means a garden. Over more than half the kingdom, turnips, where sown at all, were sown broadcast. In four counties out of five, a bare fallow was deemed essential for the recuperation of cropped lands. Barley and oats were more often grown than wheat. Dibbling or drilling of grain, notwithstanding Platt and Jethro Tull, were still rare. The wet clay-lands had, for the most part, no drainage, save the open furrows which were as old as the teachings of Xenophon; indeed, it will hardly be credited, when I state that it is only so late as 1843 that a certain gardener, John Reade by name, at the Derby Show of the Royal Agricultural Society, exhibited certain cylindrical pipes, which he had formed by wrapping damp clay around a smooth billet of wood, and with which he "had been in the habit of draining the hot-beds of his master." A sagacious engineer who was present, and saw these, examined them closely, and, calling the attention of Earl Spencer (the eminent agriculturist) to them, said, "My Lord, with them I can drain all England."

It was not until about 1830 that the subsoil-plough of Mr. Smith of Deanston was first contrived for special work upon the lands of Perthshire. Notwithstanding all the brilliant successes of Bakewell, long-legged, raw-boned cattle were admired by the majority of British farmers at the opening of this century, and elephantine monsters of this description were dragged about England in vans for exhibition. It was only in 1798 that the "Smithfield Club" was inaugurated for the show of fat cattle, by the Duke of Bedford, Lord Somerville, Arthur Young, and others; and it was about the same period that young Jonas Webb (whose life has latterly been illustrated by a glowing chapter from Elihu Burritt) used to ride upon the Norfolk bucks bred by his grandfather, and, with a quick sense of discomfort from their sharp backs, vowed, that, when he "grew a man, he'd make better saddles for them"; and he did, as every one knows who has ever seen a good type of the Brabaham flock.

The Royal Agricultural Society dates from 1838. In 1835 Sir Robert Peel presented a farmers' club at Tamworth with "two iron ploughs of the best construction," and when he inquired after them and their work the following year, the report was that the wooden mould-board was better: "We tried 'em, but we be all of one mind, that the iron made the weeds grow." And I can recall a bright morning in January of 1845, when I made two bouts around a field in the middle of the best dairy-district of Devonshire, at the stilts of a plough so cumbrous and ineffective that a thrifty New-England farmer would have discarded it at sight. Nor can I omit, in this connection, to revive, so far as I may, the image of a small Devon farmer, who had lived, and I dare say will die, utterly ignorant of the instructions of Tull, or of the agricultural labors of Arthur Young: a short, wheezy, rotund figure of a man, with ruddy face,—fastening the hs in his talk most blunderingly,—driving over to the market-town every fair-day, with pretty samples of wheat or barley in his dog-cart,—believing in the royal family like a gospel,—limiting his reading to glances at the "Times" in the tap-room,—looking with an evil eye upon railways, (which, in that day, had not intruded farther than Exeter into his shire,)—distrusting[Pg 335] terribly the spread of "eddication": it "doan't help the work-folk any; for, d' ye see, they've to keep a mind on their pleughing and craps; and as for the b'ys, the big uns must mind the beasts, and the little uns's got enough to do a-scaring the demed rooks. Gads! what hodds to them, please your Honor, what Darby is a-dooin' up in Lunnun, or what Lewis-Philup is a-dooin' with the Frenchers?" And the ruddy farmer-gentleman stirs his toddy afresh, lays his right leg caressingly over his left leg, admires his white-topped boots, and is the picture of British complacency. I hope he is living; I hope he stirs his toddy still in the tap-room of the inn by the pretty Erme River; but I hope that he has grown wiser as he has grown older, and that he has given over his wheezy curses at the engine as it hurtles past on the iron way to Plymouth and to Penzance.

The work was not all done for the agriculture and the agriculturist of England in the last century; it is hardly all done yet; it is doubtful if it will be done so as to close investigation and ripen method in our time. There was room for a corps of fresh workers at the opening of the present century; nor was such a corps lacking.

About the year 1808, a certain John Christian Curwen, Member of Parliament, and dating from Cumberland, wrote "Hints on Agricultural Subjects," a big octavo volume, in which he suggests the steaming of potatoes for horses, as a substitute for hay; but it does not appear that the suggestion was well received. To his credit, however, it may be said, that, in the same book, he urged the system of "soiling" cattle,—a system which even now needs its earnest expounders, and which would give full warrant for their loudest exhortation.

I notice, too, that, at about the same period, Dr. Beddoes, the friend and early patron of Sir Humphry Davy at the Pneumatic Institution of Bristol, wrote a book with the quaint title, "Good Advice to Husbandmen in Harvest, and for all those who labor in Hot Berths, and for others who will take it—in Warm Weather." And with the recollection of Davy's description of the Doctor in my mind,—"uncommonly short and fat,"[27]—I have felt a great interest in seeing what such a man should have to say upon harvest-heats; but his book, so far as I know, is not to be found in America.

A certain John Harding, of St. James Street, London, published, in 1809, a tract upon "The Use of Sugar in Feeding Cattle," in which were set forth sundry experiments which went to show how bullocks had been fattened on molasses, and had been rewarded with a premium. I am indebted for all knowledge of this anomalous tractate to the "Agricultural Biography" of Mr. Donaldson, who seems disposed to give a sheltering wing to the curious theory broached, and discourses upon it with a lucidity and coherence worthy of a state-paper. I must be permitted to quote Mr. Donaldson's language:—"The author's ideas are no romance or chimera, but a very feasible entertainment of the undertaking, when a social revolution permits the fruits of all climes to be used in freedom of the burden of value that is imposed by monopoly, and restricts the legitimate appropriation."

George Adams, in 1810, proposed "A New System of Agriculture and Feeding Stock," of which the novelty lay in movable sheds, (upon iron tram-ways,) for the purpose of soiling cattle. The method was certainly original; nor can it be regarded as wholly visionary in our time, when the iron conduits of Mr. Mechi, under the steam-thrust of the Tip-Tree engines, are showing a percentage of profit.

Charles Drury, in the same year, recommended, in an elaborate treatise, the steaming of straw, roots, and hay, for cattle-food,—a recommendation which, in our time, has been put into most successful practice.

Mowbray, who was for a long time the great authority upon Domestic Fowls and[Pg 336] their Treatment, published his book in 1803, which he represents as having been compiled from the memoranda of forty years' experience.

And next, as illustrative of the rural literature of the early part of this century, I must introduce the august name of Sir Humphry Davy. This I am warranted in doing on two several counts: first, because he was an accomplished fisherman and the author of "Salmonia," and next, because he was the first scientific man of any repute who was formally invited by a Board of Agriculture to discuss the relations of Chemistry to the practice of farming.

Unfortunately, he was himself ignorant of practical agriculture,[28] when called upon to illustrate its relations to chemistry; but, like an earnest man, he set about informing himself by communication with the best farmers of the kingdom. He delivered a very admirable series of lectures, and it was without doubt most agreeable to the country-gentlemen to find the great waste from their fermenting manures made clear by Sir Humphry's retorts; but Davy was too profound and too honest a man to lay down for farmers any chemical high-road to success. He directed and stimulated inquiry; he developed many of the principles which underlay their best practice; but he offered them no safety-lamp. I think he brought more zeal to his investigations in the domain of pure science; he loved well-defined and brilliant results; and I do not think that he pushed his inquiries in regard to the way in which the forage-plants availed themselves of sulphate of lime with one-half the earnestness or delight with which he conducted his discovery of the integral character of chlorine, or with which he saw for the first time the metallic globules bubbling out from the electrified crust of potash.

Yet he loved the country with a rare and thorough love, as his descriptions throughout his letters prove; and he delighted in straying away, in the leafy month of June, to the charming place of his friend Knight, upon the Teme in Herefordshire. His "Salmonia" is, in its way, a pastoral; not, certainly, to be compared with the original of Walton, lacking its simple homeliness, for which its superior scientific accuracy can make but poor amends. I cannot altogether forget, in reading it, that its author is a fine gentleman from London. Neither fish, nor alders, nor eddies, nor purling shallows, can drive out of memory the fact that Sir Humphry must be back at "The Hall" by half-past six, in season to dress for dinner. Walton, in slouch-hat, bound about with "leaders," sat upon the green turf to listen to a milkmaid's song. Sir Humphry (I think he must have carried a camp-stool) recited some verses written by "a noble lady long distinguished at court."[29]

In fact, there was always a great deal of the fine gentleman about the great chemist,—almost too fine for the quiet tenor of a working-life. Those first brilliant successes of his professional career at the Royal Institution of London, before he was turned of thirty, and in which his youth, his splendid elocution, his happy discoveries, his attractive manner, all made him the mark for distinguished attentions, went very far, I fancy, to carry him to that stage of social intoxication under which he was deluded into marrying a wealthy lady of fashion, and a confirmed blue-stocking,—the brilliant Mrs. Apreece.

Little domestic comfort ever came of the marriage. Yet he was a chivalrous man, and took the issue calmly. It is always in his letters,—"My dear Jane," and "God bless you! Yours affectionately." But these expressions bound the tender passages. It was altogether a gentlemanly and a lady-like affair. Only once, as I can find, he forgets himself in an honest repining; it is in a letter to his brother, under date of October 30, 1823:[30]—"To add to my annoyances, I[Pg 337] find my house, as usual, after the arrangements made by the mistress of it, without female servants; but in this world we have to suffer and bear, and from Socrates down to humble mortals, domestic discomfort seems a sort of philosophical fate."

If only Lady Davy could have seen this Xantippe touch, I think Sir Humphry would have taken to angling in some quiet country-place for a month thereafter!

And even when affairs grow serious with the Baronet, and when, stricken by the palsy, he is loitering among the mountains of Styria, he writes,—"I am glad to hear of your perfect restoration, and with health and the society of London, which you are so fitted to ornament and enjoy, your 'viva la felicità' is much more secure than any hope belonging to me."

And again, "You once talked of passing this winter in Italy; but I hope your plans will be entirely guided by the state of your health and feelings. Your society would undoubtedly be a very great resource to me, but I am so well aware of my own present unfitness for society that I would not have you risk the chance of an uncomfortable moment on my account."

The dear Lady Jane must have had a penchant for society to leave the poor palsied man to tumble into his tomb alone!

Yet once again, in the last letter he ever writes, dated Rome, March, 1829, he gallantly asks her to join him; it begins,—"I am still alive, though expecting every hour to be released."

And the Lady Jane, who is washing off her fashionable humors in the fashionable waters of Bath, writes,—"I have received, my beloved Sir Humphry, the letter signed by your hand, with its precious wish of tenderness. I start to-morrow, having been detained here by Doctors Babington and Clarke till to-day.... I cannot add more" (it is a letter of half a page) "than that your fame is a deposit, and your memory a glory, your life still a hope."

Sweet Lady Jane! Yet they say she mourned him duly, and set a proper headstone at his grave. But, for my own part, I have no faith in that affection which will splinter a loving heart every day of its life, and yet, when it has ceased to beat, will make atonement with an idle swash of tears.

There was a British farmer by the name of Morris Birkbeck, who about the year 1814 wrote an account of an agricultural tour in France; and who subsequently established himself somewhere upon our Western prairies, of which he gave account in "Letters from Illinois," and in "Notes on a Journey in America, from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois," with maps, etc. Cobbett once or twice names him as "poor Birkbeck,"—but whether in allusion to his having been drowned in one of our Western rivers, or to the poverty of his agricultural successes, it is hard to determine.

In 1820 Major-General Beatson, who had been Aid to the Marquis of Wellesley in India, published an account of a new system of farming, which he claimed to have in successful operation at his place in the County of Sussex. The novelty of the system lay in the fact that he abandoned both manures and the plough, and scarified the surface to the depth of two or three inches, after which he burned it over. The Major-General was called to the governorship of St. Helena before his system had made much progress. I am led to allude to the plan as one of the premonitory hints of that rotary method which is just now enlisting a large degree of attention in the agricultural world, and which promises to supplant the plough on all wide stretches of land, within the present century.

Finlayson, a brawny Scot, born in the parish of Mauchline, who was known from "Glentuck to the Rutton-Ley" as the best man for "putting the stone," or for a "hop, step, and leap," contrived the self-cleaning ploughs (with circular beam) and harrows which bore his name. He[Pg 338] was also—besides being the athlete of Ayrshire—the author of sundry creditable and practical works on agriculture.

But the most notable man in connection with rural literature, of this day, was, by all odds, William Cobbett. His early history has so large a flavor of romance in it that I am sure my readers will excuse me for detailing it.

His grandfather was a day-laborer; he died before Cobbett was born; but the author says that he used to visit the grandmother at Christmas and Whitsuntide. Her home was "a little thatched cottage, with a garden before the door. She used to give us milk and bread for breakfast, an apple-pudding for dinner, and a piece of bread and cheese for our supper. Her fire was made of turf cut from the neighboring heath; and her evening light was a rush dipped in grease."[31] His father was a small farmer, and one who did not allow his boys to grow up in idleness. "My first occupation," he tells us, "was driving the small birds from the turnip-seed, and the rook from the pease; when I first trudged a-field, with my wooden bottle and my satchel swung over my shoulders, I was hardly able to climb the gates and stiles; and at the close of the day, to reach home was a task of infinite difficulty."

At the age of eleven he speaks of himself as occupied in clipping box-edgings and weeding flower-beds in the garden of the Bishop of Winchester; and while here he encounters, one day, a workman who has just come from the famous Kew Gardens of the King. Young Cobbett is fired by the glowing description, and resolves that he must see them, and work upon them too. So he sets off, one summer's morning, with only the clothes he has upon his back, and with thirteen halfpence in his pocket, for Richmond. And as he trudges through the streets of the town, after a hard day's walk, in his blue smock-frock, and with his red garters tied under his knees, staring about him, he sees in the window of a bookseller's shop the "Tale of a Tub," price threepence; it piques his curiosity, and, though his money is nearly all spent, he closes a bargain for the book, and, throwing himself down upon the shady side of a hay-rick, makes his first acquaintance with Dean Swift. He read till it was dark, without thought of supper or of bed,—then tumbled down upon the grass under the shadow of the stack, and slept till the birds of the Kew Gardens waked him.

He finds work, as he had determined to do; but it was not fated that he should pass his life amid the pleasant parterres of Kew. At sixteen, or thereabout, on a visit to a relative, he catches his first sight of the Channel waters, and of the royal fleet riding at anchor at Spithead. And at that sight, the "old Armada," and the "brave Rodney," and the "wooden walls," of which he had read, come drifting like a poem into his thought, and he vows that he will become a sailor,—maybe, in time, the Admiral Cobbett. But here, too, the fates are against him: a kind captain to whom he makes application suspects him for a runaway, and advises him to find his way home.

He returns once more to the plough; "but," he says, "I was now spoiled for a farmer." He sighs for the world; the little horizon of Farnham (his native town) is too narrow for him; and the very next year he makes his final escapade.

"It was on the 6th of May, 1783, that I, like Don Quixote, sallied forth to seek adventures. I was dressed in my holiday clothes, in order to accompany two or three lasses to Guildford fair. They were to assemble at a house about three miles from my home, where I was to attend them; but, unfortunately for me, I had to cross the London turnpike-road. The stage-coach had just turned the summit of a hill, and was rattling down towards me at a merry rate. The notion of going to London never entered my mind till this very moment; yet the step was completely determined on before the coach came to the spot where I stood. Up I got, and was in London about nine o'clock in the evening."[Pg 339]

His immediate adventure in the metropolis proves to be his instalment as scrivener in an attorney's office. No wonder he chafes at this; no wonder, that, in his wanderings about town, he is charmed by an advertisement which invited all loyal and public-spirited young men to repair to a certain "rendezvous"; he goes to the rendezvous, and presently finds himself a recruit in one of His Majesty's regiments which is filling up for service in British America.

He must have been an apt soldier, so far as drill went; for I find that he rose rapidly to the grade of corporal, and thence to the position of sergeant-major. He tells us that his early habits, his strict attention to duty, and his native talent were the occasion of his swift promotion. In New Brunswick, upon a certain winter's morning, he falls in with the rosy-faced daughter of a sergeant of artillery, who was scrubbing her pans at sunrise, upon the snow. "I made up my mind," he says, "that she was the very girl for me.... This matter was at once settled as firmly as if written in the book of fate."

To this end he determines to leave the army as soon as possible. But before he can effect this, the artillery-man is ordered back to England, and his pretty daughter goes with him. But Cobbett has closed the compact with her, and placed in her hands a hundred and fifty pounds of his earnings,—a free gift, and an earnest of his troth.

The very next season, however, he meets, in a sweet rural solitude of the Province, another charmer, with whom he dallies in a lovelorn way for two years or more. He cannot quite forget the old; he cannot cease befondling the new. If only the "remotest rumor had come," says he, "of the faithlessness of the brunette in England, I should have been fastened for life in the New-Brunswick valley." But no such rumor comes, and in due time he bids a heart-rending adieu, and recrosses the ocean to find his first love maid-of-all-work in a gentleman's family at five pounds a year; and she puts in his hand, upon their first interview, the whole of the hundred and fifty pounds, untouched. This rekindles his admiration and respect for her judgment, and she becomes his wife,—a wife he never ceases thereafter to love and honor.

He goes to France, and thence to America. Establishing himself in Philadelphia, he enters upon the career of authorship, with a zeal for the King, and a hatred of Dr. Franklin and all Democrats, which give him a world of trouble. His foul bitterness of speech finds its climax at length in a brutal onslaught upon Dr. Rush, for which he is prosecuted, convicted, and mulcted in a sum that breaks down his bookselling and interrupts the profits of his authorship.

He retires to England, opens shop in Pall-Mall, and edits the "Porcupine," which bristles with envenomed arrows discharged against all Liberals and Democrats. Again he is prosecuted, convicted, imprisoned. His boys, well taught in all manner of farm-work, send him, from his home in the country, hampers of fresh fruits, to relieve the tedium of Newgate. Discharged at length, and continuing his ribaldry in the columns of the "Register," he flies before an Act of Parliament, and takes new refuge in America. He is now upon Long Island, earnest as in his youth in agricultural pursuits. The late Dr. Francis of New York used to speak of his visits to him, and of the fine vegetables he raised. His political opinions had undergone modification; there was not so much declamation against democracy,—not so much angry zeal for royalty and the state-church. Nay, he committed the stupendous absurdity of carrying back with him to England the bones of Tom Paine, as the grandest gift he could bestow upon his mother-land. No great ovations greeted this strange luggage of his; I think he was ashamed of it afterwards,—if Cobbett was ever ashamed of anything. He became candidate for Parliament in the Liberal interest; he undertook those famous "Rural Rides" which are a rare jumble of sweet rural scenes[Pg 340] and crazy political objurgation. Now he hammers the "parsons,"—now he tears the paper-money to rags,—and anon he is bitter upon Malthus, Ricardo, and the Scotch "Feelosofers,"—and closes his anathema with the charming picture of a wooded "hanger," up which he toils (with curses on the road) only to rejoice in the view of a sweet Hampshire valley, over which sleek flocks are feeding, and down which some white stream goes winding, and cheating him into a rare memory of his innocent boyhood. He gains at length his election to Parliament; but he is not a man to figure well there, with his impetuosity and lack of self-control. He can talk by the hour to those who feel with him; but to be challenged, to have his fierce invective submitted to the severe test of an inexorable logic,—this limits his audacity; and his audacity once limited, his power is gone.

But I must not forget that I have brought him into my wet-day galaxy as a farmer. His energy, his promptitude, his habits of thrift, would have made him one of the best of farmers. His book on gardening is even now one of the most instructive that can be placed in the hands of a beginner. He ignores physiology and botany, indeed; he makes crude errors on this score; but he had an intuitive sense of the right method of teaching. He is plain and clear, to a comma. He knows what needs to be told; and he tells it straightforwardly. There is no better model for agricultural writers than "Cobbett on Gardening." There is no miserable waste of words,—no indirectness of talk; what he thinks, he prints.

His "Cottage Economy," too, is a book which every small landholder in America should own; there is a sterling merit in it which will not be outlived. He made a great mistake, it is true, in insisting that Indian-corn could be grown successfully in England. But being a man who did not yield to influences of climate himself, he did not mean that his crops should; and if he had been rich enough, I believe that he would have covered his farm with a glass roof, rather than yield his conclusion that Indian-corn could be grown successfully under a British sky.

A great, impracticable, earnest, headstrong man, the like of whom does not appear a half-dozen times in a century. Being self-educated, he was possessed, like nearly all self-educated men, of a complacency and a self-sufficiency which stood always in his way. Affecting to teach grammar, he was ignorant of all the etymology of the language; knowing no word of botany, he classified plants by the "fearings" of his turnip-field. He was vain to the last degree; he thought his books were the best books in the world, and that everybody should read them. He was industrious, restless, captious, and, although humane at heart, was the most malignant slanderer of his time. He called a political antagonist a "pimp," and thought a crushing argument lay in the word; he called parsons scoundrels, and bade his boys be regular at church.

In June, 1835, while the Parliament was in session, he grew ill,—talked feebly about politics and farming, (to his household,) "wished for 'four days' rain' for the Cobbett corn," and on Wednesday, (16th June,) desired to be carried around the farm, and criticized the work that had been done,—grew feeble as evening drew on, and an hour after midnight leaned back heavily in his chair, and died.

I must give a paragraph, at least, to the Rev. James Grahame, the good Scotch parson, were it only because he wrote a poem called "British Georgics." They are not so good as Virgil's; nor did he ever think it himself. In fact, he published his best poem anonymously, and so furtively that even his wife took up an early copy, which she found one day upon her table, and, charmed with its pleasant description of Scottish braes and burn-sides, said, "Ah! Jemmy, if ye could only mak' a book like this!"[Pg 341] And I will venture to say that "Jemmy" never had rarer or pleasanter praise.

Shall we read a little, and test the worth of good Mistress Grahame's judgment? It is a bit of the parson's walk in "The Sabbath":—

"Now, when the downward sun has left the glens,
Each mountain's rugged lineaments are traced
Upon the adverse slope, where stalks gigantic
The shepherd's shadow thrown athwart the chasm,
As on the topmost ridge he homeward hies.
How deep the hush! the torrent's channel, dry,
Presents a stony steep, the echo's haunt.
But hark a plaintive sound floating along!
'Tis from yon heath-roofed shieling; now it dies
Away, now rises full; it is the song
Which He who listens to the hallelujahs
Of choiring seraphim delights to hear;
It is the music of the heart, the voice
Of venerable age, of guileless youth,
In kindly circle seated on the ground
Before their wicker door."

Crabbe, who was as keen an observer of rural scenes, had a much better faculty of verse; indeed, he had a faculty of language so large that it carried him beyond the real drift of his stories. I do not know the fact, indeed; but I think, that, notwithstanding the Duke of Rutland's patronage, Mr. Crabbe must have written inordinately long sermons. It is strange how many good men do,—losing point and force and efficiency in a welter of words! If there is one rhetorical lesson which it behooves all theologic or academic professors to lay down and enforce, (if need be with the ferule,) it is this,—Be short. It is amazing the way in which good men lose themselves on Sunday mornings in the lapse of their own language; and most rarely are we confronted from the pulpit with an opinion which would not bear stripping of wordy shifts, and be all the more comely for its nakedness.

George Crabbe wrote charming rural tales; but he wrote long ones. There is minute observation, dramatic force, tender pathos, but there is much, of tedious and coarse description. If by some subtile alchemy the better qualities could be thrown down from the turbid and watery flux of his verse, we should have an admirable pocket-volume for the country; as it is, his books rest mostly on the shelves, and it requires a strong breath to puff away the dust that has gathered on the topmost edges.

I think of the Reverend Mr. Crabbe as an amiable, absent-minded old gentleman, driving about on week-days in a heavy, square-topped gig, (his wife holding the reins,) in search of way-side gypsies, and on Sunday pushing a discourse—which was good up to the "fourthly"—into the "seventhly."

Charles Lamb, if he had been clerically disposed, would, I am sure, have written short sermons; and I think that his hearers would have carried away the gist of them clean and clear.

He never wrote anything that could be called strictly pastoral; he was a creature of streets and crowding houses; no man could have been more ignorant of the every-day offices of rural life; I doubt if he ever knew from which side a horse was to be mounted or a cow to be milked, and a sprouting bean was a source of the greatest wonderment to him. Yet, in spite of all this, what a book those Essays of his make, to lie down with under trees! It is the honest, lovable simplicity of his nature that makes the keeping good. He is the Izaak Walton of London streets,—of print-shops, of pastry-shops, of mouldy book-stalls; the chime of Bow-bells strikes upon his ear like the chorus of a milkmaid's song at Ware.

There is not a bit of rodomontade in him about the charms of the country, from beginning to end; if there were, we should despise him. He can find nothing to say of Skiddaw but that he is "a great creature"; and he writes to Wordsworth, (whose sight is failing,) on Ambleside, "I return you condolence for your decaying sight,—not for anything there is to see in the country, but for the[Pg 342] miss of the pleasure of reading a London newspaper."

And again to his friend Manning, (about the date of 1800,)—"I am not romance-bit about Nature. The earth and sea and sky (when all is said) is but as a house to dwell in. If the inmates be courteous, and good liquors flow like the conduits at an old coronation,—if they can talk sensibly, and feel properly, I have no need to stand staring upon the gilded looking-glass, (that strained my friend's purse-strings in the purchase,) nor his five-shilling print, over the mantel-piece, of old Nabbs, the carrier. Just as important to me (in a sense) is all the furniture of my world,—eye-pampering, but satisfies no heart. Streets, streets, streets, markets, theatres, churches, Covent Gardens, shops sparkling with pretty faces of industrious milliners, neat seamstresses, ladies cheapening, gentlemen behind counters lying, authors in the street with spectacles, lamps lit at night, pastry-cooks' and silver-smiths' shops, beautiful Quakers of Pentonville, noise of coaches, drowsy cry of mechanic watchmen at night, with bucks reeling home drunk,—if you happen to wake at midnight, cries of 'Fire!' and 'Stop thief!'—inns of court with their learned air, and halls, and butteries, just like Cambridge colleges,—old book-stalls, 'Jeremy Taylors,' 'Burtons on Melancholy,' and 'Religio Medicis,' on every stall. These are thy pleasures, O London-with-the-many-sins!—for these may Keswick and her giant brood go hang!"

And again to Wordsworth, in 1830,—"Let no native Londoner imagine that health, and rest, and innocent occupation, interchange of converse sweet, and recreative study, can make the country anything better than altogether odious and detestable."

Does any weak-limbed country-liver resent this honesty of speech? Surely not, if he be earnest in his loves and faith; but, the rather, by such token of unbounded naturalness, he recognizes under the waistcoat of this dear, old, charming cockney the traces of close cousinship to the Waltons, and binds him, and all the simplicity of his talk, to his heart, for aye. There is never a hillside under whose oaks or chestnuts I lounge upon a smoky afternoon of August, but a pocket Elia is as coveted and as cousinly a companion as a pocket Walton, or a White of Selborne. And upon wet days in my library, I conjure up the image of the thin, bent old gentleman—Charles Lamb—to sit over against me, and I watch his kindly, beaming eye, as he recites with poor stuttering voice,—between the whiffs of his pipe,—over and over, those always new stories of "Christ's Hospital," and the cherished "Blakesmoor," and "Mackery End."

(No, you need not put back the book, my boy; 't is always in place.)

I never admired greatly James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd; yet he belongs of double right in the coterie of my wet-day preachers. Bred a shepherd, he tried farming, and he wrote pastorals. His farming (if we may believe contemporary evidence) was by no means so good as his verse. The Ettrick Shepherd of the "Noctes Ambrosianæ" is, I fancy, as much becolored by the wit of Professor Wilson as any daughter of a duchess whom Sir Joshua changed into a nymph. I think of Hogg as a sturdy sheep-tender, growing rebellious among the Cheviot flocks, crazed by a reading of the Border minstrelsy, drunken on books, (as his fellows were with "mountain-dew,") and wreaking his vitality on Gaelic rhymes,—which, it is true, have a certain blush and aroma of the heather-hills, but which never reached the excellence that he fondly imagined belonged to them. I fancy, that, when he sat at the laird's table, (Sir Walter's,) and called the laird's lady by her baptismal name, and—not abashed in any presence—uttered his Gaelic gibes for the wonderment of London guests,—that he thought far more of himself than the world has ever been inclined to think of him. I know that poets have a privilege of conceit, and that those who are not poets sometimes assume[Pg 343] it; but it is, after all, a sorry quality by which to win the world's esteem; and when death closes the record, it is apt to insure a large debit against the dead man.

It may not be commonly known that the Ettrick Shepherd was an agricultural author, and wrote "Hogg on Sheep," for which, as he tells us, he received the sum of eighty-six pounds. It is an octavo book, and relates to the care, management, and diseases of the black-faced mountain-breed, of which alone he was cognizant. It had never a great reputation; and I think the sheep-farmers of the Cheviots were disposed to look with distrust upon the teachings of a shepherd who supped with "lords" at Abbotsford, and whose best venture in verse was in "The Queen's Wake." A British agricultural author, speaking of him in a pitiful way, says,—"He passed years of busy authorship, and encountered the usual difficulties of that penurious mode of life."[32]

This is good; it is as good as anything of Hogg's.

I approach the name of Mr. Loudon, the author of the Encyclopædias of Gardening and Agriculture, with far more of respect. If nothing else in him laid claim to regard, his industry, his earnestness, his indefatigable labor in aid of all that belonged to the progress of British gardening or farming, would demand it. I take a pride, too, in saying, that, notwithstanding his literary labors, he was successful as a farmer, during the short period of his farm-holding.

Mr. Loudon was a Scotchman by birth, was educated in Edinburgh, and was for a time under the tutelage of Mr. Dickson, the famous nurseryman of Leith-Walk. Early in the present century he made his first appearance in London,—published certain papers on the laying-out of the public squares of the metropolis, and shortly after was employed by the Earl of Mansfield in the arrangement of the palace-gardens at Scone. In 1813 and '14 he travelled on the Continent very widely, making the gardens of most repute the special objects of his study; and in 1822 he published his "Encyclopædia of Gardening"; that of Agriculture followed shortly after, and his book of Rural Architecture in 1833. But these labors, enormous as they were, had interludes of other periodical work, and were crowned at last by his magnum opus, the "Arboretum." A man of only ordinary nerve and diligence would have taken a ten years' rest upon the completion of only one of his ponderous octavos; and the wonder is the greater, that London wrought in his later years under all the disadvantages of appeals from rapacious creditors and the infirmities of a broken constitution. Crippled, palsied, fevered, for a long period of years, he still wrought on with a persistence that would have broken many a strong man down, and only yielded at last to a bronchial affection which grappled him at his work.

This author massed together an amount of information upon the subjects of which he treated that is quite unmatched in the whole annals of agricultural literature. Columella, Heresbach, Worlidge, and even the writers of the "Geoponica," dwindle into insignificance in the comparison. He is not, indeed, always absolutely accurate on historical points;[33] but in all essentials his books are so complete[Pg 344] as to have made them standard works up to a time long subsequent to their issue.

No notice of the agricultural literature of the early part of this century would be at all complete without mention of the Magazines and Society "Transactions," in which alone some of the best and most scientific cultivators communicated their experience or suggestions to the public. Loudon was himself the editor of the "Gardener's Magazine"; and the earlier Transactions of the Horticultural Society are enriched by the papers of such men as Knight, Van Mons, Sir Joseph Banks, Rev. William Herbert, Messrs. Dickson, Haworth, Wedgwood, and others. The works of individual authors lost ground in comparison with such an array of reports from scientific observers, and from that time forth periodical literature has become the standard teacher in what relates to good culture. I do not know what extent of good the newly instituted Agricultural Colleges of this country may effect; but I feel quite safe in saying that our agricultural journals will prove always the most effective teachers of the great mass of the farming-population. The London Horticultural Society at an early day established the Chiswick Gardens, and these, managed under the advice of the Society's Directors, have not only afforded an accurate gauge of British progress in horticulture, but they have furnished to the humblest cultivator who has strolled through their inclosures practical lessons in the craft of gardening, renewed from month to month and from year to year. It is to be hoped that the American Agricultural Colleges will adopt some similar plan, and illustrate the methods they teach upon lands which shall be open to public inspection, and upon whose culture and its successes systematic reports shall be annually made. Failing of this, they will fail of the best part of their proper purpose. Nor would it be a fruitless work, if, in connection with such experimental farm, a weekly record were issued,—giving analyses of the artificial manures employed, and a complete register of every field, from the date of its "breaking-up" to the harvesting of the crop. Every new implement, moreover, should be reported upon with unwavering impartiality, and no advertisements should be received. I think under these conditions we might almost look for an honest newspaper.

Writing thus, during these in-door hours, of country-pursuits, and of those who have illustrated them, or who have in any way quickened the edge with which we farmers rasp away the weeds or carve out our pastoral entertainment, I come upon the names of a great bevy of poets, belonging to the earlier quarter of this century, that I find it hard to pass by. Much as I love to bring to mind, over and over again, "Ivanhoe" and "Waverley," I love quite as much to summon to my view Walter Scott, the woodsman of Abbotsford, with hatchet at his girdle, and the hound Maida in attendance. I see him thinning out the saplings that he has planted upon the Tweed banks. I know how they stand, having wandered by the hour among them. I can fancy how the master would have lopped away the boughs for a little looplet through which a burst of the blue Eildon Hills should come. His favorite seat, overshadowed by an arbor-vitæ, (of which a leaf lies pressed in the "Scotch Tourist" yonder,) was so near to the Tweed banks that the ripple of the stream over its pebbly bottom must have made a delightful lullaby for the toil-worn old man. But beyond wood-craft, I could never discover that Sir Walter had any strong agricultural inclination; nor do I think that the old gentleman had much eye for the picturesque; no landscape-gardener of any reputation would have decided upon such a site for such a pile as that of Abbotsford: the spot is low; the views are not extended or varied; the very trees are all of Scott's planting: but the master loved the murmur of the Tweed,—loved[Pg 345] the nearness of Melrose, and in every old bit of sculpture that he walled into his home he found pictures of far-away scenes that printed in vague shape of tower or abbey all his limited horizon.

Christopher North carried his Scotch love of mountains to his home among the English lakes. I think he counted Skiddaw something more than "a great creature." In all respects—saving the pipes and the ale—he was the very opposite of Charles Lamb. And yet do we love him more? A stalwart, hearty man, with a great redundance of flesh and blood, who could "put the stone" with Finlayson, or climb with the hardiest of the Ben-Nevis guides, or cast a fly with the daintiest of the Low-Country fishers,—redundant of imagination, redundant of speech, and with such exuberance in him that we feel surfeit from the overflow, as at the reading of Spenser's "Faërie Queene," and lay him down with a wearisome sense of mental indigestion.

Nor yet is it so much an indigestion as a feeling of plethora, due less to the frothiness of the condiments than to a certain fulness of blood and brawn. The broad-shouldered Christopher, in his shooting-jacket, (a dingy green velveteen, with pocket-pouches all stuffed,) strides away along the skirts of Cruachan or Loch Lochy with such a tearing pace, and greets every lassie with such a clamorous outbreak of song, and throws such a wonderful stretch of line upon every pool, and amazes us with such stupendous "strikes" and such a whizzing of his reel, that we fairly lose our breath.

Not so of the "White Doe of Rylstone"; nay, we more incline to doze over it than to lose our breath. Wilson differs from Wordsworth as Loch Awe, with its shaggy savagery of shore, from the Sunday quietude and beauty of Rydal-Water. The Strid of Wordsworth was bounded by the slaty banks of the "Crystal Wharf," and the Strid of Wilson, in his best moments, was as large as the valley of Glencoe. Yet Wordsworth loved intensely all the more beautiful aspects of the country, and of country-life. No angler and no gardener, indeed,—too severely and proudly meditative for any such sleight-of-hand. The only great weight which he ever lifted, I suspect, was one which he carried with him always,—the immense dignity of his poetic priesthood. His home and its surroundings were fairly typical of his tastes: a cottage, (so called,) of homely material indeed, but with an ambitious elevation of gables and of chimney-stacks; a velvety sheen of turf, as dapper as that of a suburban haberdasher; a mossy urn or two, patches of flowers, but rather fragrant than showy ones; behind him the loveliest of wooded hills, all toned down by graceful culture, and before him the silvery mirrors of Windermere and Rydal-Water.

We have to credit him with some rare and tender description, and fragments of great poems; but I cannot help thinking that he fancied a profounder meaning lay in them than the world has yet detected.

John Clare was a contemporary of Wordsworth's, and was most essentially a poet of the fields. His father was a pauper and a cripple; not even young Cobbett was so pressed to the glebe by the circumstances of his birth. But the thrushes taught Clare to sing. He wrote verses upon the lining of his hat-band. He hoarded halfpence to buy Thomson's "Seasons," and walked seven miles before sunrise to make the purchase. The hardest field-toil could not repress the poetic aspirations of such a boy. By dint of new hoardings he succeeded in printing verses of his own; but nobody read them. He wrote other verses, which at length made him known. The world flattered the peasant-bard of Northamptonshire. A few distinguished patrons subscribed the means for equipping a farm of his own. The heroine of his love-tales became its mistress; a shelf or two of books made him rich; but in an evil hour he entered upon some farm-speculation which broke down; a new poem was sharply criticized or neglected; the novelty of his peasant's song was over.[Pg 346] Disheartened and gloomy, he was overwhelmed with despondency, and became the inmate of a mad-house, where for forty years he has staggered idiotically toward the rest which did not come. But even as I write I see in the British papers that he is free at last. Poor Clare is dead.

With this sad story in mind, we may read with a zest which perhaps its merit alone would not provoke his little sonnet of "The Thrush's Nest":—

"Within a thick and spreading hawthorn-bush,
That overhung a mole-hill large and round,
I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns, of rapture, while I drank the sound
With joy; and oft, an unintruding guest,
I watched her secret toils from day to day,—
How true she warped the moss to form her nest,
And modelled it within with wood and clay,
And by-and-by, like heath-bells gilt with dew,
There lay her shining eggs as bright as flowers,
Ink-spotted over, shells of green and blue;
And there I witnessed, in the summer hours,
A brood of Nature's minstrels chirp and fly,
Glad as the sunshine and the laughing sky."

There are pretty snatches of a Southern May in Hunt's poem of "Rimini," where

"sky, earth, and sea
Breathe like a bright-eyed face that laughs out openly.
'T is Nature full of spirits, waked and springing:
The birds to the delicious tune are singing,
Darting with freaks and snatches up and down,
Where the light woods go seaward from the town;
While happy faces striking through the green
Of leafy roads at every turn are seen;
And the far ships, lifting their sails of white
Like joyful hands, come up with scattery light,
Come gleaming up true to the wished-for day,
And chase the whistling brine, and swirl into the bay."

This does not sound as if it came from the prince of cockneys; and I have always felt a certain regard for Leigh Hunt, too, by reason of the tender story which he gives of the little garden, "mio picciol orto," that he established during his two years of prisonhood.[34]

But, after all, there was no robustness in his rural spirit,—nothing that makes the cheek tingle, as if a smart wind had smitten it. He was born to handle roses without thorns; I think that with a pretty boudoir, on whose table every morning a pretty maid should arrange a pretty nosegay, and with a pretty canary to sing songs in a gilded cage, and pretty gold-fish to disport in a crystal vase, and basted partridges for dinner, his love for the country would have been satisfied. He loved Nature as a sentimental boy loves a fine woman of twice his years,—sighing himself away in pretty phrases that flatter, but do not touch her; there is nothing to remind, even, of the full, abounding, fiery, all-conquering love with which a full-grown man meets and marries a yielding maiden.

In poor John Keats, however, there is something of this; and under its heats he consumed away. For ripe, joyous outburst of all rural fancies,—for keen apprehension of what most takes hold of the susceptibilities of a man who loves the country,—for his coinage of all sweet sounds of birds, all murmur of leaves, all riot and blossoming of flowers, into fragrant verse,—he was without a peer in his day. It is not that he is so true to natural phases in his descriptive epithets, not that he sees all, not that he has heard all; but his heart has drunk the incense of it, and his imagination refined it, and his fancy set it aflow in those jocund lines which bound and writhe and exult with a passionate love for the things of field and air.

I close these papers, with my eye resting upon the same stretch of fields,—the wooded border of a river,—the twinkling roofs and spires flanked by hills and sea,—where my eye rested when I began this story of the old masters with Hesiod and the bean-patches of Ithaca. And I take a pleasure in feeling that the[Pg 347] farm-practice over all the fields below me rests upon the cumulated authorship of so long a line of teachers. Yon open furrow, over which the herbage has closed, carries trace of the ridging in the "Works and Days"; the brown field of half-broken clods is the fallow (Νεος) of Xenophon; the drills belong to Worlidge; their culture with the horse-hoe is at the order of Master Tull. Young and Cobbett are full of their suggestions; Lancelot Brown has ordered away a great straggling hedge-row; and Sir Uvedale Price has urged me to spare a hoary maple which lords it over a half-acre of flat land. Cato gives orders for the asparagus, and Switzer for the hot-beds. Crescenzi directs the walling, and Smith of Deanston the ploughing. Burns embalms all my field-mice, and Cowper drapes an urn for me in a tangled wilderness. Knight names my cherries, and Walton, the kind master, goes with me over the hill to a wee brook that bounds down under hemlocks and soft maples, for "a contemplative man's recreation." Davy long ago caught all the fermentation of my manure-heap in his retort, and Thomson painted for me the scene which is under my window to-day. Mowbray cures the pip in my poultry, and all the songs of all the birds are caught and repeated to the echo in the pages of the poets which lie here under my hand; through the prism of their verse, Patrick the cattle-tender changes to a lithe milkmaid, against whose ankles the buttercups nod rejoicingly, and Rosamund (which is the nurse) wakes all Arden (which is Edgewood) with a rich burst of laughter.

And shall I not be grateful to these my patrons? And shall I count it unworthy to pass these few in-door hours of rain in the emblazonment of their titles?

Nor must I forget here to express my indebtedness to those kind friends who have from time to time favored me with suggestions or corrections, in the course of these papers, and to those others—not a few—who have lent me rare old books of husbandry, which are not easily laid hold of.

I have discussed no works of living authors, whether of practical or pastoral intent: at some future day I may possibly pay my compliments to them. Meantime I cannot help interpolating in the interest of my readers a little fragment of a letter addressed to me within the year by the lamented Hawthorne:—"I remember long ago your speaking prospectively of a farm; but I never dreamed of your being really much more of a farmer than myself, whose efforts in that line only make me the father of a progeny of weeds in a garden-patch. I have about twenty-five acres of land, seventeen of which are a hill of sand and gravel, wooded with birches, locusts, and pitch-pines, and apparently incapable of any other growth; so that I have great comfort in that part of my territory. The other eight acres are said to be the best land in Concord, and they have made me miserable, and would soon have ruined me, if I had not determined nevermore to attempt raising anything from them. So there they lie along the roadside, within their broken fence, an eyesore to me, and a laughing-stock to all the neighbors. If it were not for the difficulty of transportation by express or otherwise, I would thankfully give you those eight acres."

And now the fine, nervous hand, which wrought with such strange power and beauty, is stilled forever! The eight acres can well lie neglected; for upon a broader field, as large as humanity, and at the hands of thousands of reapers who worked for love, he has gathered in a great harvest of immortelles.


[27] Life of Sir Humphry Davy, London, 1839, p. 46.

[28] See letter of Thomas Poole, p. 322, Fragmentary Remains of Sir Humphry Davy.

[29] Salmonia, p. 5, London, Murray, 1851.

[30] Fragmentary Remains, p. 242.

[31] Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine.

[32] Agricultural Biography, etc. London, 1854. Printed for the Author.

[33] I ought, perhaps, to make definite exception in the case of a writer so universally accredited. In his "Encyclopædia of Gardening," he speaks of the "Geoponica" as the work of "modern Greeks," written after the transfer of the seat of empire to Constantinople; whereas the bulk of those treatises were written long before that date. He speaks of Varro as first in order of time of Roman authors on agriculture; yet Varro was born 116 b. c., and Cato died as early as 149 b. c. Crescenzi he names as an author of the fifteenth century; he should be credited to the fourteenth. He also commits the very common error in writers on gardening, of confounding the Tuscan villa of Pliny with that at Tusculum. These two places of the Roman Consul were entirely distinct and unlike.

[34] Lord Byron and his Contemporaries, Vol. II. p. 258.

[Pg 348]


It is pleasant to see how much the present war has done towards effacing the traditional jealousy between regular officers and volunteers. The two classes have been so thoroughly intermingled, on staff-duties and in the field,—so many regular officers now hold in the volunteer service a rank higher than their permanent standing,—the whole previous military experience of most regulars was so trifling, compared with that which they and the volunteers have now shared in common,—and so many young men have lately been appointed to commissions, in both branches, not only without a West-Point education, but with almost none at all,—that it really cannot be said that there is much feeling of conscious separation left. For treating the two as antagonistic the time has clearly gone by. For judiciously weighing their respective services in the field the epoch has not come, since the reign of history begins only when that of telegrams and special correspondents has ended. It is better, therefore, to limit the comparison, as yet, to that minor routine of military duty upon which the daily existence of an army depends, and of which the great deeds of daring are merely exciting episodes.

At the beginning of the war, and before the distinction was thus partially effaced, the comparison involved very different elements. In our general military inexperience, the majority were not disposed to underrate the value of specific professional training. Education holds in this country much of the prestige held by hereditary rank in Europe, modified only by the condition that the possessor shall take no undue airs upon himself. Even then the penalty consists only in a few outbreaks of superficial jealousy, and the substantial respect for any real acquirements remains the same. So there was a time when the faintest aroma of West Point lent a charm to the most unattractive candidate for a commission. Any Governor felt a certain relief in intrusting a regiment to any man who had ever eaten clandestine oysters at Benny Haven's, or had once heard the whiz of an Indian arrow on the frontier, however mediocre might have been all his other claims to confidence. If he failed, the regular army might bear the shame; if he succeeded, to the State-House be the glory.

Yet there was always another party of critics, not less intelligent, who urged the value of general preparations for any duty, as compared with special,—who held that it was always easier for a man of brains to acquire technical skill than for a person of mere technicality to superadd brains, and that the antecedents of a frontier lieutenant were, on the whole, a poorer training for large responsibilities than those of many a civilian, who had lived in the midst of men, though out of uniform. Let us have a fair statement of this position, for it was very sincere and had much temporary influence. The main thing, it was argued, was the knowledge of human nature and the habit of dealing with mankind in masses,—the very thing from which the younger regular officers at least had been rigidly excluded. From a monastic life at West Point they had usually been transferred to a yet more isolated condition, in some obscure outpost,—or if otherwise, then they had seen no service at all, and were mere clerks in shoulder-straps. But a lawyer who could manœuvre fifty witnesses as if they were one,—a teacher used to governing young men by the hundred,—an orator trained to sway thousands,—a master-mechanic,—a railway-superintendent,—a factory-agent,—a broker who could harness Wall Street and drive it,—a financier who could rule a sovereign State with a rod of (railway) iron,—such men as these, it was plausibly reasoned, could give an average army-officer all the advantage of his special training, at the[Pg 349] start, and yet beat him at his own trade in a year.

These theories were naturally strengthened, moreover, by occasional instances of conspicuous failure, when volunteer troops were intrusted to regular officers. These disappointments could usually be traced to very plain causes. The men selected were sometimes men whose West-Point career would hardly bear minute investigation,—or who had in civil pursuits forgotten all they had learned at the Academy, except self-esteem,—or who had been confined to the duties of some special department, as quartermasters or paymasters, and were really fitted for nothing else,—or who had served their country by resigning their commissions, if not by holding them,—or who had contrived, first or last, to lose hopelessly their tempers or their digestions, or their faith, hope, and charity. Beyond all this lay the trouble, that the best regular officer from the very fact of his superior training was puzzled to know how much to demand of volunteer troops, or what standard to enforce upon them. It was a problem in the Differential Calculus, with the Army Regulations for a constant, and a raw volunteer regiment for a variable, and not a formula in Davies which suited the purpose. Unfortunately, these perplexities were quite as apt to end in relaxation as in rigor, so that the regiments thus commanded sometimes slid into a looseness of which a resolute volunteer officer would have been ashamed.

These were among the earlier results. Against them was to be set the fact, that, on the whole, no regiments in the field made progress so rapid, or held their own so well, as those placed under regular officers. And now that three years have abolished many surmises, and turned many others into established facts, it must be owned that the total value of the professional training has proved far greater, and that of the general preparation far less, than many intelligent observers predicted. The relation between officer and soldier is something so different in kind from anything which civil life has to offer, that it has proved almost impossible to transfer methods or maxims from the one to the other. If a regiment is merely a caucus, and the colonel the chairman,—or merely a fire-company, and the colonel the foreman,—or merely a prayer-meeting, and the colonel the moderator,—or merely a bar-room, and the colonel the landlord,—then the failure of the whole thing is a foregone conclusion. War is not the highest of human pursuits, certainly; but an army comes very near to being the completest of human organizations, and he alone succeeds in it who readily accepts its inevitable laws, and applies them. An army is an aristocracy, on a three-years' lease, supposing that the period of enlistment. No mortal skill can make military power effective on democratic principles. A democratic people can perhaps carry on a war longer and better than any other; because no other can so well comprehend the object, raise the means, or bear the sacrifices. But these sacrifices include the surrender, for the time being, of the essential principle of the government. Personal independence in the soldier, like personal liberty in the civilian, must be waived for the preservation of the nation. With shipwreck staring men in the face, the choice lies between despotism and anarchy, trusting to the common sense of those concerned, when the danger is over, to revert to the old safeguards. It is precisely because democracy is an advanced stage in human society, that war, which belongs to a less advanced stage, is peculiarly inconsistent with its habits. Thus the undemocratic character, so often lamented in West Point and Annapolis, is in reality their strong point. Granted that they are no more appropriate to our stage of society than are revolvers and bowie-knives, that is precisely what makes them all serviceable in time of war. War being exceptional, the institutions which train its officers must be exceptional likewise.

The first essential for military authority lies in the power of command,—a[Pg 350] power which it is useless to analyze, for it is felt instinctively, and it is seen in its results. It is hardly too much to say, that, in military service, if one has this power, all else becomes secondary; and it is perfectly safe to say that without it all other gifts are useless. Now for the exercise of power there is no preparation like power, and nowhere is this preparation to be found, in this community, except in regular army-training. Nothing but great personal qualities can give a man by nature what is easily acquired by young men of very average ability who are systematically trained to command.

The criticism habitually made upon our army by foreign observers at the beginning of the war continues still to be made, though in a rather less degree,—that the soldiers are relatively superior to the officers, so that the officers lead, perhaps, but do not command them. The reason is plain. Three years are not long enough to overcome the settled habits of twenty years. The weak point of our volunteer service invariably lies here, that the soldier, in nine cases out of ten, utterly detests being commanded, while the officer, in his turn, equally shrinks from commanding. War, to both, is an episode in life, not a profession, and therefore military subordination, which needs for its efficiency to be fixed and absolute, is, by common consent, reduced to a minimum. The white American soldier, being, doubtless, the most intelligent in the world, is more ready than any other to comply with a reasonable order, but he does it because it is reasonable, not because it is an order. With advancing experience his compliance increases, but it is still because he better and better comprehends the reason. Give him an order that looks utterly unreasonable,—and this is sometimes necessary,—or give him one which looks trifling, under which head all sanitary precautions are yet too apt to rank, and you may, perhaps, find that you still have a free and independent citizen to deal with, not a soldier. Implicit obedience must be admitted still to be a rare quality in our army; nor can we wonder at it. In many cases there is really no more difference between officers and men, in education or in breeding, than if the one class were chosen by lot from the other; all are from the same neighborhood, all will return to the same civil pursuits side by side; every officer knows that in a little while each soldier will again become his client or his customer, his constituent or his rival. Shall he risk offending him for life in order to carry out some hobby of stricter discipline? If this difficulty exist in the case of commissioned officers, it is still more the case with the non-commissioned, those essential intermediate links in the chain of authority. Hence the discipline of our soldiers has been generally that of a town-meeting or of an engine-company, rather than that of an army; and it shows the extraordinary quality of the individual men, that so much has been accomplished with such a formidable defect in the organization. Even granting that there has been a great and constant improvement, the evil is still vast enough. And every young man trained at West Point enters the service with at least this advantage, that he has been brought up to command, and has not that task to learn.

He has this further advantage, that he is brought up with some respect for the army-organization as it is, with its existing rules, methods, and proprieties, and is not, like the newly commissioned civilian, disposed in his secret soul to set aside all its proprieties as mere "pipe-clay," its methods as "old-fogyism," and its rules as "red-tape." How many good volunteer officers will admit, if they speak candidly, that on entering the service they half believed the "Army Regulations" to be a mass of old-time rubbish, which they would gladly reëdit, under contract, with immense improvements, in a month or two,—and that they finally left the service with the conviction that the same book was a mine of wisdom, as yet but half explored![Pg 351] Certainly, when one thinks for what a handful of an army our present military system was devised, and with what an admirable elasticity it has borne this sudden and stupendous expansion, it must be admitted to have most admirably stood the test. Of course, there has been much amendment and alteration needed, nor is the work done yet; but it has mainly touched the details, not the general principles. The system is wonderfully complete for its own ends, and the more one studies it the less one sneers. Many a form which at first seems to the volunteer officer merely cumbrous and trivial he learns to prize at last as almost essential to good discipline; he seldom attempts a short cut without finding it the longest way, and rarely enters on that heroic measure of cutting red-tape without finding at last that he has entangled his own fingers in the process.

More thorough training tells in another way. It is hard to appreciate, without the actual experience, how much of military life is a matter of mere detail. The maiden at home fancies her lover charging at the head of his company, when in reality he is at that precise moment endeavoring to convince his company-cooks that salt-junk needs five hours' boiling, or is anxiously deciding which pair of worn-out trousers shall be ejected from a drummer-boy's knapsack. Courage is, no doubt, a good quality in a soldier, and luckily not often wanting; but, in the long run, courage depends largely on the haversack. Men are naturally brave, and when the crisis comes, almost all men will fight well, if well commanded. As Sir Philip Sidney said, an army of stags led by a lion is more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag. Courage is cheap; the main duty of an officer is to take good care of his men, so that every one of them shall be ready, at a moment's notice, for any reasonable demand. A soldier's life usually implies weeks and months of waiting, and then one glorious hour; and if the interval of leisure has been wasted, there is nothing but a wasted heroism at the end, and perhaps not even that. The penalty for misused weeks, the reward for laborious months, may be determined within ten minutes. Without discipline an army is a mob, and the larger the worse; without rations the men are empty uniforms; without ammunition they might as well have no guns; without shoes they might almost as well have no legs. And it is in the practical appreciation of all these matters that the superiority of the regular officer is apt to be shown.

Almost any honest volunteer officer will admit, that, although the tactics were easily learned, yet, in dealing with all other practical details of army-life, he was obliged to gain his knowledge through many blunders. There were a thousand points on which the light of Nature, even aided by "Army Regulations," did not sufficiently instruct him; and his best hints were probably obtained by frankly consulting regular officers, even if inferior in rank. The advantage of a West-Point training is precisely that of any other professional education. There is nothing in it which any intelligent man cannot learn for himself in later life; nevertheless, the intelligent man would have fared a good deal better, had he learned it all in advance. Test it by shifting the positions. No lawyer would trust his case to a West-Point graduate, without evidence of thorough special preparation. Yet he himself enters on a career equally new to him, where his clients may be counted by thousands, and every case is capital. The army is a foreign country to civilians; of course you can learn the language after your arrival, but how you envy your companion, who, having spoken it from childhood, can proceed at once to matters more important!

Yet the great advantage of the regular army does not, after all, consist merely in any superiority of knowledge, or in the trained habit of command. Granting that patience and labor can readily supply these to the volunteer, the trouble remains, that even in labor and patience the regular officer is apt to have[Pg 352] the advantage, by reason of a stronger stimulus. The difference is not merely in the start, but in the pace. No man can be often thrown into the society of regular officers, especially among the younger ones, without noticing a higher standard of professional earnestness than that found among average volunteers; and in this respect a West-Point training makes little or no difference. The reason of the superiority is obvious. To the volunteer, the service is still an episode; to the regular, a permanent career. No doubt, if a man is thoroughly conscientious, or thoroughly ambitious, or thoroughly enthusiastic, a temporary pursuit may prove as absorbing as if it were taken up for life; but the majority of men, however well-meaning, are not thorough at all. How often one hears the apology made by volunteer officers, even those of high rank,—"Military life is not my profession; I entered the army from patriotism, willing to serve my country faithfully for three years, but of course not pretending to perfection in every trivial detail of a pursuit which I shall soon quit forever." But it is patriotism to think the details not trivial. If one gives one's self to one's country, let the gift be total and noble. These details are worthy to absorb the whole daily thought, and they should absorb it, until more thorough comprehension and more matured executive power leave room for larger studies, still in the line of the adopted occupation. If a man leaves his office or his study to be a soldier, let him be a soldier in earnest. Let those three years bound the horizon of his plans, and let him study his new duty as if earth offered no other conceivable career. The scholar must forswear his pen, the lawyer his books, the politician his arts. An officer of whatever rank, who does not find occupation enough for every day, amid the quietest winter-quarters, in the prescribed duties of his position and the studies to which they should lead, is fitted only for civil pursuits, and had better return to them.

Without this thoroughness, life in the army affords no solid contentment. What is called military glory is a fitful and uncertain thing. Time and the newspapers play strange tricks with reputations, and of a hundred officers whose names appear with honor in this morning's despatches ninety may never be mentioned again till it is time to write their epitaphs. Who, for instance, can recite the names of the successive cavalry-commanders who have ridden on their bold forays through Virginia, since the war began? All must give place to the latest Kautz or Sheridan, who has eclipsed without excelling them all. Yet each is as brave and as faithful to-day, no doubt, as when he too glittered for his hour before all men's gaze, and the obscurer duty may be the more substantial honor. So when I lift my eyes to look on yonder level ocean-floor, the fitful sunshine now glimmers white on one far-off sail, now on another; and yet I know that all canvas looks snowy while those casual rays are on it, and that the best vessel is that which, sunlit or shaded, best accomplishes its destined course. The officer is almost as powerless as the soldier to choose his opportunity or his place. Military glory may depend on a thousand things,—the accident of local position, the jealousy of a rival, the whim of a superior. But the merit of having done one's whole duty to the men whose lives are in one's keeping, and to the nation whose life is staked with theirs,—of having held one's command in such a state, that, if at any given moment it was not performing the most brilliant achievement, it might have been,—this is the substantial triumph which every faithful officer has always within reach.

Now will any one but a newspaper flatterer venture to say that this is the habitual standard in our volunteer service? Take as a test the manner in which official inspections are usually regarded by a regimental commander. These occasions are to him what examinations by the School Committee are to a public-school teacher. He may either deprecate and dodge them, or he may[Pg 353] manfully welcome them as the very best means of improvement for all under his care. Which is the more common view? What sight more pitiable than to behold an officer begging off from inspection because he has just come in from picket, or is just going out on picket, or has just removed camp, or was a day too late with his last requisition for cartridges? No doubt it is a trying ordeal to have some young regular-army lieutenant ride up to your tent at an hour's notice, and leisurely devote a day to probing every weak spot in your command,—to stand by while he smells at every camp-kettle, detects every delinquent gun-sling, ferrets out old shoes from behind the mess-bunks, spies out every tent-pole not labelled with the sergeant's name, asks to see the cash-balance of each company-fund, and perplexes your best captain on forming from two ranks into one by the left flank. Yet it is just such unpleasant processes as these which are the salvation of an army; these petty mortifications are the fulcrum by which you can lift your whole regiment to a first-class rank, if you have only the sense to use them. So long as no inspecting officer needs twice to remind you of the same thing, you have no need to blush. But though you be the bravest of the brave, though you know a thousand things of which he is utterly ignorant, yet so long as he can tell you one thing which you ought to know, he is master of the situation. He may be the most conceited little popinjay who ever strutted in uniform; no matter; it is more for your interest to learn than for his to teach. Let our volunteer officers, as a body, once resolve to act on this principle, and we shall have such an army as the world never saw. But nothing costs the nation a price so fearful, in money or in men, as the false pride which shrinks from these necessary surgical operations, or regards the surgeon as a foe.

It is not being an officer to wear uniform for three years, to draw one's pay periodically, and to acquit one's self without shame during a few hours or days of actual battle. History will never record what fine regiments have been wasted and ruined, since this war began, by the negligence in camp of commanders who were brave as Bayard in the field. Unless a man is willing to concentrate his whole soul upon learning and performing the humblest as well as the most brilliant functions of his new profession, a true officer he will never become. More time will not help him; for time seldom does much for one who enters, especially in middle life, on an employment for which he is essentially unfitted. It is amusing to see the weight attached to the name of veteran, in military matters, by persons who in civil life are very ready to exchange a veteran doctor or minister for his younger rival. Military seniority, though the only practicable rule of precedence, is liable to many notorious inconveniences. It is especially without meaning in the volunteer service, where the Governor of Maine may happen to date a set of commissions on the first day of January, and His Excellency of Minnesota may doom his contemporary regiment to life-long subordination by accidentally postponing theirs to the second day. But it has sufficient drawbacks even where all the appointments pass through one channel. The dignity it gives is a merely chronological distinction,—an oldest-inhabitant renown,—much like the university-degree of A. M., which simply implies that a man has got decently through college, and then survived three years. But if a man was originally placed in a position beyond his deserts, the mere lapse of time may have only made him the more dangerous charlatan. If he showed no sign of military aptitude in six months, a probation of three years may have been more costly, but not more conclusive. Add to this the fact that each successive year of the war has seen all officers more carefully selected, if only because there has been more choice of material; so that there is sometimes a temptation in actual service, were it practicable, to become Scriptural in our treatment, and put the[Pg 354] last first and the first last. In those unfortunate early days, when it seemed to most of our Governors to make little difference whom they commissioned, since all were alike untried, and of two evils it was natural to choose that which would produce the more agreeable consequences at the next election-time,—in those days of darkness many very poor officers saw the light. Many of these have since been happily discharged or judiciously shelved. The trouble is, that those who remain are among the senior officers in our volunteer army, in their respective grades. They command posts, brigades, divisions. They preside at court-martials. Beneath the shadow of their notorious incompetency all minor evils may lurk undetected. To crown all, they are, in many cases, sincere and well-meaning men, utterly obtuse as to their own deficiencies, and manifesting (to employ a witticism coeval with themselves) all the Christian virtues except that of resignation.

The present writer has beheld the spectacle of an officer of high rank, previously eminent in civil life, who could only vindicate himself before a court-martial from the ruinous charge of false muster by summoning a staff-officer to prove that it was his custom to sign all military papers without looking at them. He has seen a lieutenant tried for neglect of duty in allowing a soldier under his command, at an important picket-post, to be found by the field-officer of the day with two inches of sand in the bottom of his gun,—and pleading, in mitigation of sentence, that it had never been the practice in his regiment to make any inspection of men detailed for such duty. That such instances of negligence should be tolerated for six months in any regiment of regulars is a thing almost inconceivable, and yet in these cases the regiments and the officers had been nearly three years in service.

It is to be remembered that even the command of a regiment of a thousand men is a first-class administrative position, and that there is no employer of men in civil life who assumes the responsibility of those under his command so absolutely and thoroughly. The life, the health, the efficiency, the finances, the families of his soldiers, are staked not so much on the courage of a regimental commander as upon his decision, his foresight, and his business-habits. As Richter's worldly old statesman tells his son, "War trains a man to business." If he takes his training slowly, he must grow perfect through suffering,—commonly the suffering of other people. The varied and elaborate returns, for instance, now required of officers,—daily, monthly, quarterly, annually,—are not one too many as regards the interests of Government and of the soldiers, but are enough to daunt any but an accurate and methodical man. A single error in an ordnance requisition may send a body of troops into action with only twenty rounds of ammunition to a man. One mistake in a property-voucher may involve an officer in stoppages exceeding his yearly pay. One wrong spelling in a muster-roll may beggar a soldier's children ten years after the father has been killed in battle. Under such circumstances no standard of accuracy can be too high. And yet even the degree of regularity that now exists is due more to the constant pressure from head-quarters than to any individual zeal. For a large part of this pressure the influence of the regular army is responsible,—those officers usually occupying the more important staff-positions, and having in some departments of service, especially in the ordnance, moulded and remoulded the whole machinery until it has become almost a model. It would be difficult to name anything in civil life which is in its way so perfect as the present system of business and of papers in this department. Every ordnance blank now contains a schedule of instructions for its own use, so simple and so minute that it seems as if, henceforward, the most negligent volunteer officer could never make another error. And yet in the very last set of returns which the[Pg 355] writer had occasion to revise,—returns made by a very meritorious captain,—there were eight different papers, and a mistake in every one.

The glaring defeat of most of our volunteer regiments, from the beginning to this day, has lain in slovenliness and remissness as to every department of military duty, except the actual fighting and dying. When it comes to that ultimate test, our men usually endure it so magnificently that one is tempted to overlook all deficiencies on intermediate points. But they must not be overlooked, because they create a fearful discount on the usefulness of our troops, when tried by the standard of regular armies. I do not now refer to the niceties of dress-parade or the courtesies of salutation: it has long since been tacitly admitted that a white American soldier will not present arms to any number of rows of buttons, if he can by any ingenuity evade it; and to shoulder arms on passing an officer is something to which only Ethiopia or the regular army can attain. Grant, if you please, (though I do not grant,) that these are merely points of foolish punctilio. But there are many things which are more than punctilio, though they may be less than fighting. The efficiency of a body of troops depends, after all, not so much on its bravery as on the condition of its sick-list. A regiment which does picket-duty faithfully will often avoid the need of duties more terrible. Yet I have ridden by night along a chain of ten sentinels, every one of whom should have taken my life rather than permit me to give the countersign without dismounting, and have been required to dismount by only four, while two did not ask me for the countersign at all, and two others were asleep. I have ridden through a regimental camp whose utterly filthy condition seemed enough to send malaria through a whole military department, and have been asked by the colonel, almost with tears in his eyes, to explain to him why his men were dying at the rate of one a day. The latter was a regiment nearly a year old, and the former one of almost two years' service, and just from the old Army of the Potomac.

The fault was, of course, in the officers. The officer makes the command, as surely as, in educational matters, the teacher makes the school. There is not a regiment in the army so good that it could not be utterly spoiled in three months by a poor commander, nor so poor that it could not be altogether transformed in six by a good one. The difference in material is nothing,—white or black, German or Irish; so potent is military machinery that an officer who knows his business can make good soldiers out of almost anything, give him but a fair chance. The difference between the present Army of the Potomac and any previous one,—the reason why we do not daily hear, as in the early campaigns, of irresistible surprises, overwhelming numbers, and masked batteries,—the reason why the present movements are a tide and not a wave,—is not that the men are veterans, but that the officers are. There is an immense amount of perfectly raw material in General Grant's force, besides the colored regiments, which in that army are all raw, but in which the Copperhead critics have such faith they would gladly select them for dangers fit for Napoleon's Old Guard. But the newest recruit soon grows steady with a steady corporal at his elbow, a well-trained sergeant behind him, and a captain or a colonel whose voice means something to give commands.

This reference to the colored troops suggests the false impression, still held by many, that special opposition to this important military organization has been made by regular officers. There is no justice in this. While it is very probable that regular officers, as a class, may have had stronger prejudices on this point than others have held, yet it is to be remembered that the chief obstacles have not come from them, nor from military men of any kind, but from civilians at home. Nothing has been more remarkable than the facility with which the expected aversion of the army everywhere[Pg 356] vanished before the admirable behavior of the colored troops, and the substantial value of the reinforcements they brought. When it comes to the simple question whether a soldier shall go on duty every night or every other night, he is not critical as to beauty of complexion in the soldier who relieves him.

Some regular officers may have been virulently opposed to the employment of negroes as soldiers, though the few instances which I have known have been far more than compensated by repeated acts of the most substantial kindness from many others. But I never have met one who did not express contempt for the fraud thus far practised by Government on a portion of these troops, by refusing to pay them the wages which the Secretary of War had guarantied. This is a wrong which, but for good discipline, would have long since converted our older colored regiments into a mob of mutineers, and which, while dishonestly saving the Government a few thousand dollars, has virtually sacrificed hundreds of thousands in its discouraging effect upon enlistments, at a time when the fate of the nation may depend upon a few regiments more or less. It is in vain for national conventions to make capital by denouncing massacres like that of Fort Pillow, and yet ignore this more deliberate injustice for which some of their own members are in part responsible. The colored soldiers will take their own risk of capture and maltreatment very readily, (since they must take it on themselves at any rate,) if the Government will let its justice begin at home, and pay them their honest earnings. It is of little consequence to a dying man whether any one else is to die by retaliation, but it is of momentous consequence whether his wife and family are to be cheated of half his scanty earnings by the nation for which he dies. The Rebels may be induced to concede the negro the rights of war, when we grant him the ordinary rights of peace, namely, to be paid the price agreed upon. Jefferson Davis and the London "Times"—one-half whose stock-in-trade is "the inveterate meanness of the Yankee"—will hardly be converted to sound morals by the rebukes of an administration which allows its Secretary of War to promise a black soldier thirteen dollars a month, pay him seven, and shoot him if he grumbles. From this crowning injustice the regular army, and, indeed, the whole army, is clear; to civilians alone belongs this carnival of fraud.

If, in some instances, terrible injustice has been done to the black soldiers in their military treatment also, it has not been only, or chiefly, under regular officers. Against the cruel fatigue duty imposed upon them last summer, in the Department of the South, for instance, must be set the more disastrous mismanagements of the Department of the Gulf,—the only place from which we now hear the old stories of disease and desertion,—all dating back to the astonishing blunder of organizing the colored regiments of half-size at the outset, with a full complement of officers. This measure, however agreeable it might have been to the horde of aspirants for commissions, was in itself calculated to destroy all self-respect in the soldiers, being based on the utterly baseless assumption that they required twice as many officers as whites, and was foredoomed to failure, because no esprit de corps can be created in a regiment which is from the first insignificant in respect to size. It is scarcely conceivable that any regular officer should have honestly fallen into such an error as this; and it is very certain that the wisest suggestions and the most efficient action have proceeded, since the beginning, from them. It will be sufficient to mention the names of Major-General Hunter, Brigadier-General Phelps, and Adjutant-General Thomas; and one there is whose crowning merits deserve a tribute distinct even from these.

When some future Bancroft or Motley writes with philosophic brain and poet's hand the story of the Great Civil War, he will find the transition to a new era in our nation's history to have been fitly marked by one festal day,—that of the[Pg 357] announcement of the President's Proclamation, upon Port-Royal Island, on the first of January, 1863. That New-Year's time was our second contribution to the great series of historic days, beads upon the rosary of the human race, permanent festivals of freedom. Its celebration was one beside whose simple pageant the superb festivals of other lands might seem but glittering counterfeits. Beneath a majestic grove of the great live-oaks which glorify the South-Carolina soil a liberated people met to celebrate their own peaceful emancipation. They came thronging, by land and water, from plantations which their own self-imposed and exemplary industry was beginning already to redeem. The military escort which surrounded them had been organized out of their own numbers, and had furnished to the nation the first proof of the capacity of their race to bear arms. The key-note of the meeting was given by spontaneous voices, whose unexpected anthem took the day from the management of well-meaning patrons, and swept all away into the great currents of simple feeling. It was a scene never to be forgotten: the moss-hung trees, with their hundred-feet diameter of shade; the eager faces of women and children in the foreground; the many-colored headdresses; the upraised hands; the neat uniforms of the soldiers; the outer row of mounted officers and ladies; and beyond all the blue river, with its swift, free tide. And at the centre of all this great and joyous circle stood modestly the man on whose personal integrity and energy, more than on any President or Cabinet, the hopes of all that multitude appeared to rest,—who commanded then among his subjects, and still commands, an allegiance more absolute than any European potentate can claim,—whose name will be forever illustrious as having first made a practical reality out of that Proclamation which then was to the President only an autograph, and to the Cabinet only a dream,—who, when the whole fate of the slaves and of the Government hung trembling in the balance, decided it forever by throwing into the scale the weight of one resolute man,—who personally mustered in the first black regiment, and personally governed the first community where emancipation was a success,—who taught the relieved nation, in fine, that there was strength and safety in those dusky millions who till then had been an incubus and a terror,—Brigadier-General Rufus Saxton, Military Governor of South Carolina. The single career of this one man more than atones for all the traitors whom West Point ever nurtured, and awards the highest place on the roll of our practical statesmanship to the regular army.


I am confident, that, at the annunciation of my theme, Andover, Princeton, and Cambridge will skip like rams, and the little hills of East Windsor, Meadville, and Fairfax, like lambs. However divinity-schools may refuse to "skip" in unison, and may butt and batter each other about the doctrine and origin of human depravity, all will join devoutly in the credo, I believe in the total depravity of inanimate things.

The whole subject lies in a nutshell, or rather an apple-skin. We have clerical authority for affirming that all its miseries were let loose upon the human race by "them greenins" tempting our mother to curious pomological speculations; and from that time till now—Longfellow, thou reasonest well!—"things are not what they seem," but are diabolically otherwise,—masked-batteries, nets, gins, and snares of evil.[Pg 358]

(In this connection I am reminded of—can I ever cease to remember?—the unlucky lecturer at our lyceum a few winters ago, who, on rising to address his audience, applauding him all the while most vehemently, pulled out his handkerchief, for oratorical purposes only, and inadvertently flung from his pocket three "Baldwins" that a friend had given to him on his way to the hall, straight into the front row of giggling girls.)

My zeal on this subject received new impetus recently from an exclamation which pierced the thin partitions of the country-parsonage, once my home, where I chanced to be a guest.

From the adjoining dressing-room issued a prolonged "Y-ah!"—not the howl of a spoiled child, nor the protest of a captive gorilla, but the whole-souled utterance of a mighty son of Anak, whose amiability is invulnerable to weapons of human aggravation.

I paused in the midst of toilet-exigencies, and listened sympathetically, for I recognized the probable presence of the old enemy to whom the bravest and sweetest succumb.

Confirmation and explanation followed speedily in the half apologetic, wholly wrathful declaration,—"The pitcher was made foolish in the first place." I dare affirm, that, if the spirit of Lindley Murray himself were at that moment hovering over that scene of trial, he dropped a tear, or, better still, an adverbial ly upon the false grammar, and blotted it out forever.

I comprehended the scene at once. I had been there. I felt again the remorseless swash of the water over neat boots and immaculate hose; I saw the perverse intricacies of its meanderings over the carpet, upon which the "foolish" pitcher had been confidingly deposited; I knew, beyond the necessity of ocular demonstration, that, as sure as there were "pipe-hole" or crack in the ceiling of the study below, those inanimate things would inevitably put their evil heads together, and bring to grief the long-suffering Dominie, with whom, during my day, such inundations had been of at least bi-weekly occurrence, instigated by crinoline. The inherent wickedness of that "thing of beauty" will be acknowledged by all mankind, and by every female not reduced to the deplorable poverty of the heroine of the following veracious anecdote.

A certain good bishop, on making a tour of inspection through a mission-school of his diocese, was so impressed by the aspect of all its beneficiaries that his heart overflowed with joy, and he exclaimed to a little maiden whose appearance was particularly suggestive of creature-comforts,—"Why, my little girl! you have everything that heart can wish, haven't you?" Imagine the bewilderment and horror of the prelate, when the miniature Flora McFlimsey drew down the corners of her mouth lugubriously, and sought to accommodate the puffs and dimples of her fat little body to an expression of abject misery, as she replied,—"No, indeed, Sir! I haven't got any—skeleton!"

We who have suffered know the disposition of graceless "skeletons" to hang themselves on "foolish" pitchers, bureau-knobs, rockers, cobble-stones, splinters, nails, and, indeed, any projection a tenth of a line beyond a dead level.

The mention of nails is suggestive of voluminous distresses. Country-parsonages, from some inexplicable reason, are wont to bristle all over with these impish assailants of human comfort.

I never ventured to leave my masculine relatives to their own devices for more than twenty-four consecutive hours, that I did not return to find that they had seemingly manifested their grief at my absence after the old Hebraic method, ("more honored in the breach than the observance,") by rending their garments. When summoned to their account, the invariable defence has been a vehement denunciation of some particular nail as the guilty cause of my woes.

By the way, O Christian woman of the nineteenth century, did it ever enter[Pg 359] your heart to give devout thanks that you did not share the woe of those whose fate it was to "sojourn in Mesech and dwell in the tents of Kedar"? that it did not fall to your lot to do the plain sewing and mending for some Jewish patriarch, patriot, or prophet of yore?

Realize, if you can, the masculine aggravation and the feminine long-suffering of a period when the head of a family could neither go down-town, nor even sit at his tent-door, without descrying some wickedness in high places, some insulting placard, some exasperating war-bulletin, some offensive order from head-quarters, which caused him to transform himself instantly into an animated rag-bag. Whereas, in these women-saving days, similar grievances send President Abraham into his cabinet to issue a proclamation, the Reverend Jeremiah into his pulpit with a scathing homily, Poet-Laureate David to the "Atlantic" with a burning lyric, and Major-General Joab to the privacy of his tent, there to calm his perturbed spirit with Drake's Plantation Bitters. In humble imitation of another, I would state that this indorsement of the potency of a specific is entirely gratuitous, and that I am stimulated thereto by no remuneration, fluid or otherwise.

Blessed be this day of sewing-machines for women, and of safety-valves and innocent explosives for their lords!

But this is a digression.

I awoke very early in life to the consciousness that I held the doctrine which we are considering.

On a hapless day when I was perhaps five years old, I was, in my own estimation, intrusted with the family-dignity, when I was deposited for the day at the house of a lordly Pharisee of the parish, with solemnly repeated instructions in table-manners and the like.

One who never analyzed the mysteries of a sensitive child's heart cannot appreciate the sense of awful responsibility which oppressed me during that visit. But all went faultlessly for a time. I corrected myself instantly each time. I said, "Yes, Ma'am," to Mr. Simon, and "No, Sir," to Madam, which was as often as I addressed them; I clenched little fists and lips resolutely, that they might not touch, taste, handle, tempting bijouterie; I even held in check the spirit of inquiry rampant within me, and indulged myself with only one question to every three minutes of time.

At last I found myself at the handsome dinner-table, triumphantly mounted upon two "Comprehensive Commentaries" and a dictionary, fearing no evil from the viands before me. Least of all did I suspect the vegetables of guile. But deep in the heart of a bland, mealy-mouthed potato lurked cruel designs upon my fair reputation.

No sooner had I, in the most approved style of nursery good-breeding, applied my fork to its surface, than the hardhearted thing executed a wild pirouette before my astonished eyes, and then flew on impish wings across the room, dashing out its malicious brains, I am happy to say, against the parlor-door, but leaving me in a half-comatose state, stirred only by vague longings for a lodge with "proud Korah's troop," whose destination is unmistakably set forth in the "Shorter Catechism."

There is a possibility that I received my innate distrust of things by inheritance from my maternal grandmother, whose holy horror at the profanity they once provoked from a bosom-friend in her childhood was still vivid in her old age.

It was on this wise. When still a pretty Puritan maiden, my grandame was tempted irresistibly by the spring sunshine to the tabooed indulgence of a Sunday-walk. The temptation was probably intensified by the presence of the British troops, giving unwonted fascination to village-promenades. Her confederate in this guilty pleasure was a like-minded little saint; so there was a tacit agreement between them that their transgression should be sanctified by a strict adherence to religious topics of conversation. Accordingly they launched boldly[Pg 360] upon the great subject which was just then agitating church-circles in New England.

Fortune smiled upon these criminals against the Blue Laws, until they encountered a wall surmounted by hickory rails. Without intermitting the discussion, Susannah sprang agilely up. Quoth she, balancing herself for one moment upon the summit,—"No, no, Betsey! I believe God is the author of sin!" The next she sprang toward the ground; but a salient splinter, a chip of depravity, clutched her Sunday-gown, and converted her incontinently, it seems, into a confessor of the opposing faith; for history records, that, following the above-mentioned dogma, there came from hitherto unstained lips,—"The Devil!"

Time and space would, of course, be inadequate to the enumeration of all the demonstrations of the truth of the doctrine of the absolute depravity of things. A few examples only can be cited.

There is melancholy pleasure in the knowledge that a great soul has gone mourning before me in the path I am now pursuing. It was only to-day, that, in glancing over the pages of Victor Hugo's greatest work, I chanced upon the following:—"Every one will have noticed with what skill a coin let fall upon the ground runs to hide itself, and what art it has in rendering itself invisible; there are thoughts which play us the same trick," etc., etc.

The similar tendency of pins and needles is universally understood and execrated,—their base secretiveness when searched for, and their incensing intrusion when one is off guard.

I know a man whose sense of their malignity is so keen, that, whenever he catches a gleam of their treacherous lustre on the carpet, he instantly draws his two and a quarter yards of length into the smallest possible compass, and shrieks until the domestic police come to the rescue, and apprehend the sharp little villains. Do not laugh at this. Years ago he lost his choicest friend by the stab of just such a little dastard lying in ambush.

So also every wielder of the needle is familiar with the propensity of the several parts of a garment in the process of manufacture to turn themselves wrong side out, and down side up; and the same viciousness cleaves like leprosy to the completed garment so long as a thread remains.

My blood still tingles with a horrible memory illustrative of this truth.

Dressing hurriedly and in darkness for a concert one evening, I appealed to the Dominie, as we passed under the hall-lamp, for a toilet-inspection.

"How do I look, father?"

After a sweeping glance came the candid statement,—


Oh, the blessed glamour which invests a child whose father views her "with a critic's eye"!

"Yes, of course; but look carefully, please; how is my dress?"

Another examination of apparently severest scrutiny.

"All right, dear! That's the new cloak, is it? Never saw you look better. Come, we shall be late."

Confidingly I went to the hall; confidingly I entered; since the concert-room was crowded with rapt listeners to the Fifth Symphony, I, gingerly, but still confidingly, followed the author of my days, and the critic of my toilet, to the very uppermost seat, which I entered, barely nodding to my finically fastidious friend, Guy Livingston, who was seated near us with a stylish-looking stranger, who bent eyebrows and glass upon me superciliously.

Seated, the Dominie was at once lifted into the midst of the massive harmonies of the Adagio; I lingered outside a moment, in order to settle my garments and—that woman's look. What! was that a partially suppressed titter near me? Ah! she has no soul for music! How such ill-timed merriment will jar upon my friend's exquisite sensibilities![Pg 361]

Shade of Beethoven! A hybrid cough and laugh, smothered decorously, but still recognizable, from the courtly Guy himself! What can it mean?

In my perturbation, my eyes fell and rested upon the sack, whose newness and glorifying effect had been already noticed by my lynx-eyed parent.

I here pause to remark that I had intended to request the compositor to "set up" the coming sentence in explosive capitals, by way of emphasis, but forbear, realizing that it already staggers under the weight of its own significance.

That sack was wrong side out!

Stern necessity, proverbially known as "the mother of invention," and practically the step-mother of ministers' daughters, had made me eke out the silken facings of the front with cambric linings for the back and sleeves. Accordingly, in the full blaze of the concert-room, there sat I, "accoutred as I was," in motley attire,—my homely little economies patent to admiring spectators: on either shoulder, budding wings composed of unequal parts of sarcenet-cambric and cotton-batting; and in my heart—parricide I had almost said, but it was rather the more filial sentiment of desire to operate for cataract upon my father's eyes. But a moment's reflection sufficed to transfer my indignation to its proper object,—the sinful sack itself, which, concerting with its kindred darkness, had planned this cruel assault upon my innocent pride.

A constitutional obtuseness renders me delightfully insensible to one fruitful source of provocation among inanimate things. I am so dull as to regard all distinctions between "rights" and "lefts" as invidious; but I have witnessed the agonized struggles of many a victim of fractious boots, and been thankful that "I am not as other men are," in ability to comprehend the difference between my right and left foot. Still, as already intimated, I have seen wise men driven mad by a thing of leather and waxed-ends.

A little innocent of three years, in all the pride of his first boots, was aggravated, by the perversity of the right to thrust itself on to the left leg, to the utterance of a contraband expletive.

When reproved by his horror-stricken mamma, he maintained a dogged silence.

In order to pierce his apparently indurated conscience, his censor finally said, solemnly,—

"Dugald! God knows that you said that wicked word."

"Does He?" cried the baby-victim of reral depravity, in a tone of relief; "then He knows it was a doke" (Anglicè, joke).

But, mind you, the sin-tempting boot intended no "doke."

The toilet, with its multiform details and complicated machinery, is a demon whose surname is Legion.

Time would fail me to speak of the elusiveness of soap, the knottiness of strings, the transitory nature of buttons, the inclination of suspenders to twist, and of hooks to forsake their lawful eyes, and cleave only unto the hairs of their hapless owner's head. (It occurs to me as barely possible, that, in the last case, the hooks may be innocent, and the sinfulness may lie in capillary attraction.)

And, O my brother or sister in sorrow, has it never befallen you, when bending all your energies to the mighty task of "doing" your back-hair, to find yourself gazing inanely at the opaque back of your brush, while the hand-mirror, which had maliciously insinuated itself into your right hand for this express purpose, came down upon your devoted head with a resonant whack?

I have alluded, parenthetically, to the possible guilt of capillary attraction, but I am prepared to maintain against the attraction of gravitation the charge of total depravity. Indeed, I should say of it, as did the worthy exhorter of the Dominie's old parish in regard to slavery,—"It's the wickedest thing in the world, except sin!"

It was only the other day that I saw depicted upon the young divine's countenance,[Pg 362] from this cause, thoughts "too deep for tears," and, perchance, too earthy for clerical utterance.

From a mingling of sanitary and economic considerations, he had cleared his own sidewalk after a heavy snow-storm. As he stood, leaning upon his shovel, surveying with smiling complacency his accomplished task, the spite of the arch-fiend Gravitation was raised against him, and, finding the impish slates (hadn't Luther something to say about "as many devils as tiles"?) ready to coöperate, an avalanche was the result, making the last state of that sidewalk worse than the first, and sending the divine into the house with a battered hat, and an article of faith supplementary to the orthodox thirty-nine.

Prolonged reflection upon a certain class of grievances has convinced me that mankind has generally ascribed them to a guiltless source. I refer to the unspeakable aggravation of "typographical errors," rightly so called,—for, in nine cases out of ten, I opine it is the types themselves which err.

I appeal to fellow-sufferers, if the substitutions and interpolations and false combinations of letters are not often altogether too absurd for humanity.

Take, as one instance, the experience of a friend, who, in writing in all innocency of a session of the Historical Society, affirmed mildly in manuscript, "All went smoothly," but weeks after was made to declare in blatant print, "All went snoringly!"

As among men, so in the alphabet, one sinner destroyeth much good.

The genial Senator from the Granite Hills told me of an early aspiration of his own for literary distinction, which was beheaded remorselessly by a villain of this type. By way of majestic peroration to a pathetic article, he had exclaimed, "For what would we exchange the fame of Washington?"—referring, I scarcely need say, to the man of fragrant memory, and not to the odorous capital. The black-hearted little dies, left to their own devices one night, struck dismay to the heart of the aspirant author by propounding in black and white a prosaic inquiry as to what would be considered a fair equivalent for the farm of the father of his country!

Among frequent instances of this depravity in my own experience, a flagrant example still shows its ugly front on a page of a child's book. In the latest edition of "Our Little Girls," (good Mr. Randolph, pray read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest,) there occurs a description of a christening, wherein a venerable divine is made to dip "his head" into the consecrating water, and lay it upon the child.

Disembodied words are also sinners and the occasions of sin. Who has not broken the Commandments in consequence of the provocation of some miserable little monosyllabic eluding his grasp in the moment of his direst need, or of some impertinent interloper thrusting itself in to the utter demoralization of his well-organized sentences? Who has not been covered with shame at tripping over the pronunciation of some perfectly simple word like "statistics," "inalienable," "inextricable," etc., etc., etc.?

Whose experience will not empower him to sympathize with that unfortunate invalid, who, on being interrogated by a pious visitor in regard to her enjoyment of means of grace, informed the horror-stricken inquisitor,—"I have not been to church for years, I have been such an infidel,"—and then, moved by a dim impression of wrong somewhere, as well as by the evident shock inflicted upon her worthy visitor, but conscious of her own integrity, repeated still more emphatically,—"No; I have been a confirmed infidel for years."

But a peremptory summons from an animated nursery forbids my lingering longer in this fruitful field. I can only add an instance of corroborating testimony from each member of the circle originating this essay.

The Dominie loq.—"Sha'n't have anything to do with it! It's a wicked thing! To be sure, I do remember, when[Pg 363] I was a little boy, I used to throw stones at the chip-basket when it upset the cargo I had just laded, and it was a great relief to my feelings too. Besides, you've told stories about me which were anything but true. I don't remember anything about that sack."

Lady-visitor loq.—"The first time I was invited to Mr. ——'s, (the Hon. —— ——'s, you know,) I was somewhat anxious, but went home flattering myself I had made a creditable impression. Imagine my consternation, when I came to relieve the pocket of my gala-gown, donned for the occasion, at discovering among its treasures a tea-napkin, marked gorgeously with the Hon. —— ——'s family-crest, which had maliciously crept into its depths in order to bring me into disgrace! I have never been able to bring myself to the point of confession, in spite of my subsequent intimacy with the family. If it were not for Joseph's positive assertion to the contrary, I should be of the opinion that his cup of divination conjured itself deliberately and sinfully into innocent Benjamin's sack."

Student loq. (Testimony open to criticism.)—"Met pretty girl on the street yesterday. Sure I had on my 'Armstrong' hat when I left home,—sure as fate; but when I went to pull it off,—by the crown, of course,—to bow to pretty girl, I smashed in my beaver! How it got there don't know. Knocked it off. Pretty girl picked it up and handed it to me. Confounded things, any way!"

Young divine loq.—"While I was in the army, I was in Washington on 'leave' for two or three days. One night, at a party, I became utterly bewildered in an attempt to converse, after long desuetude, with a fascinating woman. I went stumbling on, amazing her more and more, until finally I covered myself with glory by the categorical statement that in my opinion General McClellan could 'never get across the Peninsula without a fattle; I beg pardon, Madam! what I mean to say is, without a bight.'"

School-girl loq.—"When Uncle —— was President, I was at the White House at a state-dinner one evening. Senator —— came rushing in frantically after we had been at table some time. No sooner was he seated than he turned to Aunt to apologize for his delay; and, being very much heated, and very much embarrassed, he tugged away desperately at his pocket, and finally succeeded in extracting a huge blue stocking, evidently of home-manufacture, with which he proceeded to wipe his forehead very energetically and very conspicuously. I suppose the truth was that the poor man's handkerchiefs were "on a strike," and thrust forward this homespun stocking to bring him to terms."

School-girl, No. 2, loq.—"My last term at F., I was expecting a box of 'goodies' from home. So when the message came, 'An express-package for you, Miss Fanny!' I invited all my specials to come and assist at the opening. Instead of the expected box, there appeared a misshapen-bundle, done up in yellow wrapping-paper. Four such dejected-looking damsels were never seen before as we, standing around the ugly old thing. Finally, Alice suggested,—

"'Open it!'

"'Oh, I know what it is,' I said; 'it is my old Thibet, that mother has had made over for me.'

"'Let's see,' persisted Alice.

"So I opened the package. The first thing I drew out was too much for me.

"'What a funny-looking basque!' exclaimed Alice. All the rest were struck dumb with disappointment.

"No! not a basque at all, but a man's black satin waistcoat! and next came objects about which there could be no doubt,—a pair of dingy old trousers, and a swallow-tailed coat! Imagine the chorus of damsels!

"The secret was, that two packages lay in father's office,—one for me, the other for those everlasting freedmen. John was to forward mine. He had taken up the box to write my address on it, when the yellow bundle tumbled off the desk at his feet and scared the wits out of his[Pg 364] head. So I came in for father's secondhand clothes, and the Ethiopians had the 'goodies'!"

Repentant Dominie loq.—"I don't approve of it at all; but then, if you must write the wicked thing, I heard a good story for you to-day. Dr. —— found himself in the pulpit of a Dutch Reformed Church the other Sunday. You know he is one who prides himself on his adaptation to places and times. Just at the close of the introductory services, a black gown lying over the arm of the sofa caught his eye. He was rising to deliver his sermon, when it forced itself on his attention again.

"'Sure enough,' thought he, 'Dutch Reformed clergymen do wear gowns. I might as well put it on.'

"So he solemnly thrust himself into the malicious (as you would say) garment, and went through the services as well as he could, considering that his audience seemed singularly agitated, and indeed on the point of bursting out into a general laugh, throughout the entire service. And no wonder! The good Doctor, in his zeal for conformity, had attired himself in the black cambric duster in which the pulpit was shrouded during week-days, and had been gesticulating his eloquent homily with his arms thrust through the holes left for the pulpit-lamps!"


I think I must be personally known to most of the readers of the "Atlantic." I see them wherever I go, and they see me. Beneath a shelter-tent by the Rapidan, in a striped railroad-station in Bavaria, at the counter of Trübner's bookstore in London, and at Cordaville, in Worcester County, Massachusetts, as we waited for the freight to get out of the way, I have read the "Atlantic" over their shoulders, or they over mine. The same thing has happened at six hundred and thirty-two other improbable places. More than this, however, my words and works in the great science of Domestic Economy have travelled everywhere before me, not simply like the Connecticut of the poet,

"Bringing shad to South Hadley, and pleasure to man,"[35]

but extending all over the civilized world. Not that I am the author of the clothes-wringing machine, or of the spring clothes-pin,—my influence has been more subtile. I have propounded great central axioms in housekeeping and the other economies, which have rushed over the world with the inevitable momentum of truth. It was I, for instance, who first discovered and proclaimed the great governing fact that the butter of a family costs more than its bread. It was I who first announced that you cannot economize in the quality of your paper. I am the discoverer of the formula that a family consumes as many barrels of flour in a year as it has adult members, reducing children to adults by the rule of three. The morning after our marriage I raised the window-shade, so that the rising sun of that auspicious day should shine full upon our parlor-Brussels. I said to Lois, "Let us never be slaves to our carpets!" The angel smiled assent; and on the wings of that smile my whisper fluttered over the earth. It brooded in a thousand homes else miserable. Light was where before was chaos. Sunshine drove scrofula from ten thousand quivering frames, and millions of infant lips would this day raise Lois's name and mine in their Kindergarten[Pg 365] songs, did they only know who were their benefactors.

Standing thus in the centre of the sphere of the domestic economies, I have, of course, read with passionate interest the "House and Home Papers" in the "Atlantic." It is I, as I am proud to confess, who have, violated all copyright, have had them reprinted, as Tract No. 2237 of the American Tract Society, No. 63 of the American Tract Society of Boston, and No. 445 of the issues of the Sanitary Commission, and am now about to introduce them surreptitiously into the bureaus of these charities, so that the colporteurs, of every stripe, may at last be certain that they are conferring the first of benefits upon their homeless fellow-creatures. It is I who every night toil through long streets that I may slide these little tracts, messengers of blessing, under the front-doors of wretched friends, who are dying without homes in the gilded miseries of their bowling-alley parlors. Where they have introduced the patent weather-strip, I place the tract on the upper door-step, with a brick-bat, which keeps it from blowing away. But I observe that it is no part of the plan of those charming papers, more than it was of the "Novum Organon" or of the "Principia," to descend into the details of the economies. I suppose that the author left all that to the "Domestic Economy" of her excellent sister, and, as far as the details of practice go, well she might. But between that practical detail by which one sister cooks to-day the dinners on a million tables, and the æsthetic, moral, and religious considerations by which the other sister elevates the life of the million homes in whose dining-rooms those tables stand, there is room for a brief exposition of the principles on which those dinners are to be selected.

It is that exposition which, as I sit superior, I am to give, ex cathedra, after this long preface, now.

I shall illustrate the necessity of this exposition by an introduction to follow the preface, after the manner of the Germans, before we arrive at the substance of our work, which will be itself comprised in its first chapter. This introduction will consist of two illustrations. The first relates to the planting of potatoes. When I inherited my ancestral estate, known as "Crusoe's Well," I resolved to devote it to potatoes for the first summer. I summoned my vassals, and we fenced it. I bought dung and manured it. I hired ploughmen and oxen, and they ploughed it. I made a covenant with a Kelt, who became, quoad hoc, my slave, and gave to him money, with which I directed him to buy seed-potatoes and plant it.

And he,—"How many shall I buy?"

I retired to my study, consulted London, Lindley, and Linnæus,—the thick Gray, the middling Gray, and the child's Gray,—Worcester's Dictionary, and Webster's, in both of which you can usually find almost anything but what should be there,—Johnson's "Dictionary of Gardening," and Gardner's "Dictionary of Farming,"—and none of these treatises mentioned the quantity of potatoes proper for planting a given space of land. Even the Worcester and Webster failed. I was reduced to tell the Kelt to ask the huckster of whom he bought. All the treatises went on the principle—true, but inadequate—that "any fool would know." Any fool might, probably does,—but I was not a fool.

The next year, having built my house and taken Lois home, the bluebirds sang spring to us one fine morning, and we went out to plant our radish-seeds. With fit forethought, the seed had been bought, the ground manured and raked, the string, the dibble, the woman's trowel, the man's trowel, the sticks for the seed-papers, and the papers were all there. Lois was charming, in her sun-bonnet; I looked knowing in my Canadian oat-straw. We marked out the bed,—as the robins, meadow-larks, and bluebirds directed. Lois then looked up article "Radish" in the "Farmer's Dictionary," and we found the lists of "Long White Naples," "White Spanish,"[Pg 366] "Black Spanish," "Long Scarlet," "White Turnip-Root," "Purple Turnip," and the rest, for two columns, which we should and should not plant. All that was nothing to us. We were to plant radish-seeds, which we had bought, as such, from Mr. Swett. How deep to plant them, how far apart or how near together, the book was to tell. But the book only said, "Everybody knows how to plant radishes."

Now this was not true. We did not know.

These two illustrations, as the minister says, are sufficient to show the character of the deficiency which I am now to supply,—which young housekeepers of intelligence feel, when they have got their nests ready and begin to bill and coo in-doors. There are many things which every fool knows, which people of sense do not know. First among these things is, "What will you have for dinner?"—a question not to be answered by detailed answers,—on the principle of the imaginary Barmacide feasts of the cook-books,—but by the results of deep principles, which underlie, indeed, the whole superficial strata of civilized life. Did not the army of the Punjaub perish, as it retreated from Ghizni to Jelalabad, not because the enemy's lances were strong, but because one day it did not dine?

I am not going to tell the old story of that "sweet pretty girl" who, after a week of legs of mutton, ordered a "leg of beef." I sympathize with her from the bottom of my heart. Her sister will be married to-morrow. To her I dedicate this paper, that she may know, not what she shall order,—that is left to her own sweet will, less fettered now that her life is rounded by her welding it upon its other half than it was when she wandered in maiden meditation fancy-free,—not, I say, what she shall order for her dinner and for Leander's, but the principle on which the order is to be given.

"But, my dear Mr. Carter," says the blushing child, as she reads, "we have got to be so dreadfully economical!"

Fairest of your sex, there was never one of your sex, since Eve finished the apple, lest any should be wasted, nor of my sex, since Adam grimly champed the parings, thinking he was "in for it," who should not be economical. A just economy is the law of a luxurious life. "Dreadful economy" is the principle which is now to be unfolded to you.

Economy in itself is one of the most agreeable of luxuries. This I need not demonstrate. Everybody knows what good fun it is to make a bargain. Economy becomes dreadful, only when some lightning-flash of truth shows us that our painful frugality has been really the most lavish waste.

So Lois and I, for nine years, lived without a corkscrew. We would buy busts and chromoliths with our money instead,—we would go to the White Mountains, we would maintain an elegant æsthetic hospitality, as they do in Paris, with the money we should save by doing without a corkscrew. So I spoiled two sets of kitchen-forks by drawing corks with them, I broke the necks of legions of bottles for which Mr. Tarr would have credited me two cents each, and many times damaged, even to the swearing-point, one of the sweetest tempers in the world,—all that we might economize on this corkscrew. But one day, at the corner-shop, I saw a corkscrew in the glass show-case, lying on some pocket-combs and family dye-stuffs. I asked the price, to learn that it cost seventeen cents. The resolution of years gave way before the temptation. I bought the corkscrew, and from that moment my income has equalled my expenses. So you see, my sweet May-bud, just trembling on the edge of housekeeping, that true economy consists in buying the right thing at the right time,—if you only pay for it as you go.

"But, my dear Mr. Carter, I don't know what the right thing is!"

Sweet heart, I knew it. And your husband knows no more than you do,—although[Pg 367] he will pretend to know, that he may look cross when the bills come in. Read what follows; hide the "Atlantic" before he comes home; and you will know more than he knows on the most important point in human life. Vainly, henceforth, will he quote Greek to you, or talk pompous nonsense about the price of Treasury certificates, if you know at what price eggs are really cheap, and at what price they are really dear.

Listen, and remember! Then hide the "Atlantic" away.

When I engaged in the study of Hebrew, which was at that time a "regular" at college, (for why should I blush to own that I am in my one hundred and tenth year?) as I toiled through the rules and exceptions in dear old Stephen Sewall's Hebrew Grammar, I ventured to ask him, one desperately hot June day, whether he could not tell us, were it only for curiosity's sake, which rule would come into play in every verse, and which would be of use only once or twice in the whole Bible. "Ah, Carter," said the dear old fellow, (he taught his beloved language with his own book,) "it is all of use,—all!" And so we had to take it all, and find out as we could which rules would be constant servitors to us, and which occasional lackeys, hired for special occasions. Just so, dear Hero, do you stand about your housekeeping. You wall be fretting yourself to death to economize in each one of one hundred and seven different articles,—for so many are you and Leander to assimilate and make your own special phosphate and carbon, as this sweet honey-year of yours goes on. Of that fret and wear of your sweet temper, child, there is no use at all. Listen, and you shall learn what are to be the great constants of your expense,—what Stephen Sewall would have called the regular verbs transitive of your being, doing, and suffering,—and how many of the one hundred and seven are only exceptional Lamed Hhes, at which you can guess or which you can skip, if the great central movements of your economies go bravely on.

I do not know, of course, whether Leander is fond of coffee, and whether you drink tea or no. I can only tell you what is in our family, and assure you that ours is a model family. Such a model is it, that Lois has just now counted up the one hundred and seven articles for me,—has shown me that they all together cost us nine hundred and twenty-six dollars and thirty-two cents in the year 1863, and how much each of them cost. Now our family consists,—

1. Of the baby, who is king.

2, 3. Of two nurses, who are prime-ministers, one of domestic affairs, one of private education.

4, 5. Of a cook and table-girl, who are chancellor and foreign secretary. These four make the cabinet.

6-8. Three older children; these are in the government, but not in the cabinet.

9 and 10. Lois and I,—who pay the taxes, fight common enemies, and do what the others tell us as well as we can.

This family, you observe, consists of six grown persons, and three children old enough to eat, who are equivalent to a seventh. I may say, in passing, that it therefore consumes just seven barrels of flour a year.

To feed it, as Lois has just now shown you, cost in the year 1863 nine hundred and twenty-six dollars and thirty-two cents. That is the way we chose to live. We could have lived just as happily on half that sum,—we could have lived just as wretchedly on ten times that sum. But, however we lived, the proportions of our expense would not have varied much from what I am now to teach you, dear Hero (if that really be your name).

Butter is the biggest expense-item of all. Of our nine hundred and twenty-six dollars and thirty-two cents, ninety-one dollars and twenty-six cents went for butter. Remember that your butter is one-tenth part of the whole.

Next comes flour. Our seven barrels cost us seventy dollars and eighty-three cents. We bought, besides, six dollars[Pg 368] and seventy-six cents' worth of bread, and six dollars and seventy-one cents' worth of crackers,—convenient sometimes, dear Hero. So that your wheat-flour and bread are almost a tenth of the whole.

Next comes beef, in all forms, ninety dollars and seventy-six cents; there goes another tenth. The other meats are, mutton, forty-seven dollars and sixty-seven cents; turkeys, chickens, etc., if you call them meat, sixty-one dollars and fifty-six cents; lamb, seventeen dollars and fifty-three cents; veal, eleven dollars and fifty-three cents; fresh pork, one dollar and seventy-three cents. (This must have been for some guest. Lois and I each had a grandfather named Enoch, and have Jewish prejudices; also, fresh pork is really the most costly article of diet, if you count in the doctor's bills. But for ham there is ten dollars and twenty-two cents. Ham is always available, you know, Hero. For other salt pork, I recommend you to institute a father or brother, or cousin attached to you in youth, who shall carry on a model farm in the country, and kill for you a model corn-fed pig every year, see it salted with his own eyes, and send to you a half-barrel of the pork for a gage d'amour. It is a much more sentimental present than rosebuds, dearest Hero,—and it lasts longer. That is the way we do; and salt pork, therefore, does not appear on our bills. But against such salt pork I have no Hebrew prejudice. Try it, Hero, with paper-sliced potatoes fried for breakfast.) All other forms of meat sum up only two dollars and twenty-three cents. And now, Hero, I will explain to you the philosophy of meats. You see they cost you a quarter part of what you spend.

Know, then, my dear child, that the real business of the three meals a day,—of the neat luncheon you serve on your wedding-silver for Mrs. Dubbadoe and her pretty daughter, when they drive in from Milton to see you,—of the ice-cream you ate last night at the summer party which the Bellinghams gave the Pinckneys,—of the hard-tack and boiled dog which dear John is now digesting in front of Petersburg,—the real business, I say, is to supply the human frame with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen in organized forms. It must be in organized matter. You might pound your wedding-diamonds for carbon, you might give water from Jordan for oxygen and hydrogen, and the snow-flakes of the Jungfrau might serve the nitrogen for Leander's dinners, but, because these are not organized, Leander's cheek would pale, and his teeth shake in their sockets, and his muscles dwindle to packthreads, as William Augustus's do in the Slovenly-Peter books, and he would die before your eyes, Hero! Yes, he would die! Do not, in your love of him, therefore, feed him on your diamonds. Give him organized matter. Now, in doing this, you have been wise in spending even a tenth of your substance on wheat. For wheat is almost pure food; and wheat contains all you want,—more carbon than your diamonds, more oxygen and hydrogen than your tears, more nitrogen than the snow-flake,—but not nitrogen enough, dear Hero.

"More nitrogen!" gasps Leander, "more nitrogen, my charmer, or I die!" This is the real meaning of the words, when he says, "Let us have roast-beef for dinner," or when he asks you to pass him the butter.

Although beef, then, has little more than a quarter as much food in it as wheat has, you must have some beef, or something like it, because Leander, and you too, my rosy-cheek, must have nitrogen as well as carbon.

I beg you not to throw the "Atlantic" away at this point, my child. Do not say that Mr. Carter is an old fool, and that you never meant to live on vegetables. A great many people have meant to, and have never known what was the matter with them, when the real deficiency was nitrogen. Besides, child, though wheat is the best single feeder of all, as I have told you, because in its gluten it has so much nitrogen, this is[Pg 369] to be said of all vegetables, that, so far as we live on them, we exist slowly; to a certain extent we have to ruminate as the cows do, and not as men and women should ruminate, and all animal or functional life goes more slowly on. Now, Hero, you and Leander both have to lead a rapid life. Most people do in the autumn of 1864. So give him meat, dear Hero, as above.

As for my being an old fool, my dear, I have said I am one hundred and nine, which is older than old Mr. Waldo was, older than everybody except old Parr. And after forty, everybody is a fool—or a physician.

Let us return, then, to our mutton,—always a good thing to return to, especially if the plates are hot, as yours, Hero, always will be. For mutton, besides such water as you can dry out of it, contains twenty-nine per cent. of food,—for meat, a high percentage.

Let us see where we are.

Our butter costs us one-tenth.

Our flour and wheat-bread cost us almost one-tenth.

Our beef costs us one-tenth.

Our other meats cost us a tenth and a half of what we spend for eating and drinking.

"Where in the world does the rest go, Mr. Carter? Here is not half. But I could certainly live very well on these things."

Angel, you could. But if you lived wholly on these, you would want more of them. You see we have said nothing of coffee and tea,—the princes or princesses of food,—without which civilized man cannot renew his brains. In such years as these, Hero, when our brave soldiers must have coffee or we can have no victories, coffee costs me and Lois fifty dollars,—cheap at that,—for, without it, did we drink dandelion like the cows, or chiccory like the asses, how were these brains renewed?

"Tea and coffee are the same thing," says Liebig; at least, he says that Theine, the base of tea, and Caffeine, the base of coffee, are the same. What I know is, that, when coffee costs fifty dollars a year, tea costs thirty dollars and eighty-nine cents.

For tea and coffee, Hero, allow about another tenth,—the cocoa and cream will bring it up to that.

Our sugar cost us fifty-four dollars and twenty-two cents; our milk fifty dollars and sixty-two; our cream ten dollars seventy-seven.

"Buy your cream separate," says Hero, "if you have as good a milkman as Mr. Whittemore."

You have not as many babies as we, Hero. When you have, you will not grudge the milk or the sugar. Lots of nourishment in sugar! Sugar and milk are another tenth.

I do not know if you are a Catholic, Hero; but I guess your kitchen is; and so I am pretty sure that you will eat fish Fridays. I know you are a person of sense, so I know you will often delight Leander, as he rises from the day's swim which, for your sake, Hero, he takes across the cold Hellespont of life,—(all men are Leanders, and all women should be their Heros, holding high love-torches for them,)—as he rises, I say, with "a sound of wateriness," I know you will often delight him with oysters, scalloped, fried, or plain, as entremets to flank his dinner-table. For fish count two per cent., for oysters two more, for eggs three or four, and for that stupid compound of starch which some men call "indispensable," and all men call "potato," count three or four more. My advice is, that, when potatoes are dear, you skip them. Rice-croquets are better and cheaper. There goes another tenth.

Tea and coffee, etc., one-tenth.

Sugar and milk, one-tenth.

Fish, eggs, potatoes, etc., one-tenth.

Thus is it, Hero, that three-quarters of what you eat will be spent for your bread and butter, your meat, fish, eggs, and potatoes, your coffee, tea, milk, and sugar,—for twenty-one articles on a list of one hundred and seven. Fresh vegetables, besides those named, will take one-fifth of what is left: say five per cent. of[Pg 370] the whole expense. The doctor will order porter or wine, when your back aches, or when Leander looks thin. Have nothing to do with them till he does order them, but reserve another five per cent. for them. The rest, Hero, it is mace, it is yeast, it is vinegar, pepper, and mustard, it is sardines, it is lobster, it is the unconsidered world of trifles which make up the visible difference between the table of high civilization and that of the Abyssinian or the Blackfoot Indian. Let us hope it is not much cream-of-tartar or saleratus. It is grits and grapes, it is lard and lemons, it is maple-sugar and melons, it is nuts and nutmeg, or any other alliteration that you fancy.

Now, pretty one, I can see you smile, and I can hear you say,—"Dear old Mr. Carter, I am very much obliged to you. I begin to see my way a little more clearly." Of course you do, child. You begin to see that the most desperate economy in lemons will not make you and Leander rich, but that you must make up your mind at the start about beef and about butter. Hear, then, my parting whisper.

Disregard the traditions of economy. What is cheap to-day is dear to-morrow. Do not make a bill-of-fare, and, because everything on it tastes very badly, think it is cheap. Salt codfish is cheap sometimes, and sometimes very dear. Venison is often an extravagance; but, of a winter when the sleighing is good, and when the hunters have not gone South, it is the cheapest food for you. Eggs are dear, if they tempt you to cakes that you do not like. But no eggs can be sent to our brave army, so, if you do choose to make a bargain with your Aunt Eunice at Naugatuck Neck to send you four dozen by express once a week, they will be, perhaps, the cheapest food you can buy. What you want, my child, is variety. However cheaply you live, secure four things: First, a change of fare from day to day, so as to have a good appetite; Second, simplicity, each day, in the table, so as to lose but little in chips; Third, fitness of things there, as hot plates for your mutton and cold ones for your butter, so that what you have may be of the best; and, first, second, third, and last, love between you and Leander. This last sauce, says Solomon, answers even for herbs. And you know the Emperors Augustus and Nebuchadnezzar both had to live on herbs,—I am afraid, because love had been wanting in both cases. If you have a stalled ox, you will need the same sauces,—much more, unless it is better dressed than the only one I ever saw, which was at Warwick, when Cheron and I were going to Stratford-on-Avon. It was not attractive. You will need three of these four things, if you are rich. Rich or poor, buy in as large quantities as you can. Rich or poor, pay cash. Rich or poor, do not try to do without carbon or nitrogen. Rich or poor, vary steadily the bills-of-fare. Now the minimum of what you can support life upon, at this moment, is easily told. Jeff Davis makes the calculation for you. It is quarter of a pound of salt pork a day, with four Graham hard-tack. That is what each of his soldiers is eating; and though they are not stout, they are wiry fellows, and fight well. The maximum you can find by lodging at the Brevoort, at New York,—where, when I last went to the front, I stopped an hour on the way, and, though I had no meals, paid two dollars and eighty cents for washing my face in another man's bedroom. A year of Jeff Davis's diet would cost you and Leander, if you bought in large quantities, sixty dollars. A year at Rye Beach just now would cost you two or three thousand dollars. Choose your dinner from either bill; vary it, by all the gradations between. But remember, child, as you would cheer Leander after his swim, and keep within your allowance, remember that what was dear yesterday may be cheap to-day,—remember to vary the repast, therefore, from Monday round to Saturday; eschew the corner-shop, and buy as large stores as Leander will let you; and always keep near at hand an unexhausted supply of Solomon's condiment.



"All hail, thou Connecticut, who forever hast ran,
Bringing shad to South Hadley, and pleasure to man!"

[Pg 371]


MAY 19, 1863.

While Sherman stood beneath the hottest fire
That from the lines of Vicksburg gleamed,
And bomb-shells tumbled in their smoky gyre,
And grape-shot hissed, and case-shot screamed;
Back from the front there came,
Weeping and sorely lame,
The merest child, the youngest face
Man ever saw in such a fearful place.
Stifling his tears, he limped his chief to meet;
But when he paused, and tottering stood,
Around the circle of his little feet
There spread a pool of bright, young blood.
Shocked at his doleful case,
Sherman cried, "Halt! front face!
Who are you? Speak, my gallant boy!"
"A drummer, Sir:—Fifty-Fifth Illinois."
"Are you not hit?" "That's nothing. Only send
Some cartridges: our men are out;
And the foe press us." "But, my little friend"—
"Don't mind me! Did you hear that shout?
What if our men be driven?
Oh, for the love of Heaven,
Send to my Colonel, General dear!"
"But you?" "Oh, I shall easily find the rear."
"I'll see to that," cried Sherman; and a drop
Angels might envy dimmed his eye,
As the boy, toiling towards the hill's hard top,
Turned round, and with his shrill child's cry
Shouted, "Oh, don't forget!
We'll win the battle yet!
But let our soldiers have some more,
More cartridges, Sir,—calibre fifty-four!"

[Pg 372]



Why my companion, the Rev. Dr. Jaquess, Colonel of the Seventy-Third Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, recently went to Richmond, and the circumstances attending his previous visit within the Rebel lines,—when he wore his uniform, and mixed openly with scores of leading Confederates,—I shall shortly make known to the public in a volume called "Down in Tennessee." It may now, however, be asked why I, a "civil" individual, and not in the pay of Government, became his travelling-companion, and, at a time when all the world was rushing North to the mountains and the watering-places, journeyed South for a conference with the arch-Rebel, in the hot and dangerous latitude of Virginia.

Did it never occur to you, reader, when you have undertaken to account for some of the simplest of your own actions, how many good reasons have arisen in your mind, every one of which has justified you in concluding that you were of "sound and disposing understanding"? So, now, in looking inward for the why and the wherefore which I know will be demanded of me at the threshold of this article, I find half a dozen reasons for my visit to Richmond, any one of which ought to prove that I am a sensible man, altogether too sensible to go on so long a journey, in the heat of midsummer, for the mere pleasure of the thing. Some of these reasons I will enumerate.

First: Very many honest people at the North sincerely believe that the revolted States will return to the Union, if assured of protection to their peculiar institution. The Government having declared that no State shall be readmitted which has not first abolished Slavery, these people hold it responsible for the continuance of the war. It is, therefore, important to know whether the Rebel States will or will not return, if allowed to retain Slavery. Mr. Jefferson Davis could, undoubtedly, answer that question; and that may have been a reason why I went to see him.

Second: On the second of July last, C. C. Clay, of Alabama, J. P. Holcombe, of Virginia, and G. N. Sanders, of nowhere in particular, appeared at Niagara Falls, and publicly announced that they were there to confer with the Democratic leaders in reference to the Chicago nomination. Very soon thereafter, a few friends of the Administration received intimations from those gentlemen that they were Commissioners from the Rebel Government, with authority to negotiate preliminaries of peace on something like the following basis, namely: A restoration of the Union as it was; all negroes actually freed by the war to be declared free, and all negroes not actually freed by the war to be declared slaves.

These overtures were not considered sincere. They seemed concocted to embarrass the Government, to throw upon it the odium of continuing the war, and thus to secure the triumph of the peace-traitors at the November election. The scheme, if well managed, threatened to be dangerous, by uniting the Peace-men, the Copperheads, and such of the Republicans as love peace better than principle, in one opposition, willing to make a peace that would be inconsistent with the safety and dignity of the country. It was, therefore, important to discover—what was then in doubt—whether the Rebel envoys really had, or had not, any official authority.

Within fifteen days of the appearance of these "Peace Commissioners," Jefferson Davis had said to an eminent Secession divine, who, late in June, came through the Union lines by the Maryland back-door, that he would make peace on no other terms than a recognition of Southern Independence. (He might, however, agree to two governments,[Pg 373] bound together by a league offensive and defensive,—for all external purposes one, for all internal purposes two; but he would agree to nothing better.)

There was reason to consider this information trustworthy, and to believe Mr. Davis (who was supposed to be a clear-minded man) altogether ignorant of the doings of his Niagara satellites. If this were true, and were proven to be true,—if the great Rebel should reiterate this declaration in the presence of a trustworthy witness, at the very time when the small Rebels were opening their Quaker guns on the country,—would not the Niagara negotiators be stripped of their false colors, and their low schemes be exposed to the scorn of all honest men, North and South?

I may have thought so; and that may have been another reason why I went to Richmond.

Third: I had been acquainted with Colonel Jaquess's peace-movements from their inception. Early in June last he wrote me from a battle-field in Georgia, announcing his intention of again visiting the Rebels, and asking an interview with me at a designated place. We met, and went to Washington together. Arriving there, I became aware that obstacles were in the way of his further progress. Those obstacles could be removed by my accompanying him; and that, to those who know the man and his "mission," which is to preach peace on earth and good-will among men, would seem a very good reason why I went to Richmond.

Fourth,—and this to very many may appear as potent as any of the preceding reasons,—I had in my boyhood a strange fancy for church-belfries and liberty-poles. This fancy led me, in school-vacations, to perch my small self for hours on the cross-beams in the old belfry, and to climb to the very top of the tall pole which still surmounts the little village-green. In my youth, this feeling was simply a spirit of adventure; but as I grew older it deepened into a reverence for what those old bells said, and a love for the principle of which that old liberty-pole is now only a crumbling symbol.

Had not events shown that Jeff. Davis had never seen that old liberty-pole, and never heard the chimes which still ring out from that old belfry? Who knew, in these days when every wood-sawyer has a "mission," but I had a "mission," and it was to tell the Rebel President that Northern liberty-poles still stand for Freedom, and that Northern church-bells still peal out, "Liberty throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof"?

If that was my mission, will anybody blame me for fanning Mr. Davis with a "blast" of cool Northern "wind" in this hot weather?

But enough of mystification. The straightforward reader wants a straightforward reason, and he shall have it.

We went to Richmond because we hoped to pave the way for negotiations that would result in peace.

If we should succeed, the consciousness of having served the country would, we thought, pay our expenses. If we should fail, but return safely, we might still serve the country by making public the cause of our failure. If we should fail, and not return safely, but be shot or hanged as spies,—as we might be, for we could have no protection from our Government, and no safe-conduct from the Rebels,—two lives would be added to the thousands already sacrificed to this Rebellion, but they would as effectually serve the country as if lost on the battle-field.

These are the reasons, and the only reasons, why we went to Richmond.


We went there in an ambulance, and we went together,—the Colonel and I; and though two men were never more unlike, we worked together like two brothers, or like two halves of a pair of shears. That we got in was owing, perhaps, to me; that we got out was due altogether[Pg 374] to him; and a man more cool, more brave, more self-reliant, and more self-devoted than that quiet "Western parson" it never was my fortune to encounter.

When the far-away Boston bells were sounding nine, on the morning of Saturday, the sixteenth of July, we took our glorious Massachusetts General by the hand, and said to him,—

"Good bye. If you do not see us within ten days, you will know we have 'gone up.'"

"If I do not see you within that time," he replied, "I'll demand you; and if they don't produce you, body and soul, I'll take two for one,—better men than you are,—and hang them higher than Haman. My hand on that. Good bye."

At three o'clock on the afternoon of the same day, mounted on two raw-boned relics of Sheridan's great raid, and armed with a letter to Jeff. Davis, a white cambric handkerchief tied to a short stick, and an honest face,—this last was the Colonel's,—we rode up to the Rebel lines. A ragged, yellow-faced boy, with a carbine in one hand, and another white handkerchief tied to another short stick in the other, came out to meet us.

"Can you tell us, my man, where to find Judge Ould, the Exchange Commissioner?"

"Yas. Him and t'other 'Change officers is over ter the plantation beyont Miss Grover's. Ye'll know it by its hevin' nary door nur winder [the mansion, he meant]. They's all busted in. Foller the bridle-path through the timber, and keep your rag a-flyin', fur our boys is thicker 'n huckelberries in them woods, and they mought pop ye, ef they didn't seed it."

Thanking him, we turned our horses into the "timber," and, galloping rapidly on, soon came in sight of the deserted plantation. Lolling on the grass, in the shade of the windowless mansion, we found the Confederate officials. They rose as we approached; and one of us said to the Judge,—a courteous, middle-aged gentleman, in a Panama hat, and a suit of spotless white drillings,—

"We are late, but it's your fault. Your people fired at us down the river, and we had to turn back and come overland."

"You don't suppose they saw your flag?"

"No. It was hidden by the trees; but a shot came uncomfortably near us. It struck the water, and ricochetted not three yards off. A little nearer, and it would have shortened me by a head, and the Colonel by two feet."

"That would have been a sad thing for you; but a miss, you know, is as good as a mile," said the Judge, evidently enjoying the "joke."

"We hear Grant was in the boat that followed yours, and was struck while at dinner," remarked Captain Hatch, the Judge's Adjutant,—a gentleman, and about the best-looking man in the Confederacy.

"Indeed! Do you believe it?"

"I don't know, of course"; and his looks asked for an answer. We gave none, for all such information is contraband. We might have told him that Grant, Butler, and Foster examined their position from Mrs. Grover's house,—about four hundred yards distant,—two hours after the Rebel cannon-ball danced a break-down on the Lieutenant-General's dinner-table.

We were then introduced to the other officials,—Major Henniken of the War Department, a young man formerly of New York, but now scorning the imputation of being a Yankee, and Mr. Charles Javins, of the Provost-Guard of Richmond. This latter individual was our shadow in Dixie. He was of medium height, stoutly built, with a short, thick neck, and arms and shoulders denoting great strength. He looked a natural-born jailer, and much such a character as a timid man would not care to encounter, except at long range of a rifle warranted to five twenty shots a minute, and to hit every time.

To give us a moonlight view of the Richmond fortifications, the Judge proposed to start after sundown; and as it[Pg 375] wanted some hours of that time, we seated ourselves on the ground, and entered into conversation. The treatment of our prisoners, the status of black troops, and non-combatants, and all the questions which have led to the suspension of exchanges, had been good-naturedly discussed, when the Captain, looking up from one of the Northern papers we had brought him, said,—

"Do you know, it mortifies me that you don't hate us as we hate you? You kill us as Agassiz kills a fly,—because you love us."

"Of course we do. The North is being crucified for love of the South."

"If you love us so, why don't you let us go?" asked the Judge, rather curtly.

"For that very reason,—because we love you. If we let you go, with slavery, and your notions of 'empire,' you'd run straight to barbarism and the Devil."

"We'd take the risk of that. But let me tell you, if you are going to Mr. Davis with any such ideas, you might as well turn back at once. He can make peace on no other basis than Independence. Recognition must be the beginning, middle, and ending of all negotiations. Our people will accept peace on no other terms."

"I think you are wrong there," said the Colonel. "When I was here a year ago, I met many of your leading men, and they all assured me they wanted peace and reunion, even at the sacrifice of slavery. Within a week, a man you venerate and love has met me at Baltimore, and besought me to come here, and offer Mr. Davis peace on such conditions."

"That may be. Some of our old men, who are weak in the knees, may want peace on any terms; but the Southern people will not have it without Independence. Mr. Davis knows them, and you will find he will insist upon that. Concede that, and we'll not quarrel about minor matters."

"We'll not quarrel at all. But it's sundown, and time we were 'on to Richmond.'"

"That's the 'Tribune' cry," said the Captain, rising; "and I hurrah for the 'Tribune,' for it's honest, and—I want my supper."

We all laughed, and the Judge ordered the horses. As we were about to start, I said to him,—

"You've forgotten our parole."

"Oh, never mind that. We'll attend to that at Richmond."

Stepping into his carriage, and unfurling the flag of truce, he then led the way, by a "short cut," across the cornfield which divided the mansion from the high-road. We followed in an ambulance drawn by a pair of mules, our shadow—Mr. Javins—sitting between us and the twilight, and Jack, a "likely darky," almost the sole survivor of his master's twelve hundred slaves, ("De ress all stole, Massa,—stole by you Yankees,") occupying the front-seat, and with a stout whip "working our passage" to Richmond.

Much that was amusing and interesting occurred during our three-hours' journey, but regard for our word forbids my relating it. Suffice it to say, we saw the "frowning fortifications," we "flanked" the "invincible army," and, at ten o'clock that night, planted our flag (against a lamp-post) in the very heart of the hostile city. As we alighted at the doorway of the Spotswood Hotel, the Judge said to the Colonel,—

"Button your outside-coat up closely. Your uniform must not be seen here."

The Colonel did as he was bidden; and, without stopping to register our names at the office, we followed the Judge and the Captain up to No. 60. It was a large, square room in the fourth story, with an unswept, ragged carpet, and bare, white walls, smeared with soot and tobacco-juice. Several chairs, a marble-top table, and a pine wash-stand and clothes-press straggled about the floor, and in the corners were three beds, garnished with tattered pillow-cases, and covered with white counterpanes, grown gray with longing for soapsuds and a[Pg 376] wash-tub. The plainer and humbler of these beds was designed for the burly Mr. Javins; the others had been made ready for the extraordinary envoys (not envoys extraordinary) who, in defiance of all precedent and the "law of nations," had just then "taken Richmond."

A single gas-jet was burning over the mantel-piece, and above it I saw a "writing on the wall" which implied that Jane Jackson had run up a washing-score of fifty dollars!

I was congratulating myself on not having to pay that woman's laundry-bills, when the Judge said,—

"You want supper. What shall we order?"

"A slice of hot corn-bread would make me the happiest man in Richmond."

The Captain thereupon left the room, and shortly returning, remarked,—

"The landlord swears you're from Georgia. He says none but a Georgian would call for corn-bread at this time of night."

On that hint we acted, and when our sooty attendant came in with the supper-things, we discussed Georgia mines, Georgia banks, and Georgia mosquitoes, in a way that showed we had been bitten by all of them. In half an hour it was noised all about the hotel that the two gentlemen the Confederacy was taking such excellent care of were from Georgia.

The meal ended, and a quiet smoke over, our entertainers rose to go. As the Judge bade us good-night, he said to us,—

"In the morning you had better address a note to Mr. Benjamin, asking the interview with the President. I will call at ten o'clock, and take it to him."

"Very well. But will Mr. Davis see us on Sunday?"

"Oh, that will make no difference."


The next morning, after breakfast, which we took in our room with Mr. Javins, we indited a note—of which the following is a copy—to the Confederate Secretary of State.

"Spotswood House, Richmond, Va.
"July 17th, 1864.
"Hon. J. P. Benjamin,
"Secretary of State, etc.

"Dear Sir,—The undersigned respectfully solicit an interview with President Davis.

"They visit Richmond only as private citizens, and have no official character or authority; but they are acquainted with the views of the United States Government, and with the sentiments of the Northern people relative to an adjustment of the differences existing between the North and the South, and earnestly hope that a free interchange of views between President Davis and themselves may open the way to such official negotiations as will result in restoring peace to the two sections of our distracted country.

"They, therefore, ask an interview with the President, and awaiting your reply, are

"Truly and respectfully yours."

This was signed by both of us; and when the Judge called, as he had appointed, we sent it—together with a commendatory letter I had received, on setting out, from a near relative of Mr. Davis—to the Rebel Secretary. In half an hour Judge Ould returned, saying,—"Mr. Benjamin sends you his compliments, and will be happy to see you at the State Department."

We found the Secretary—a short, plump, oily little man in black, with a keen black eye, a Jew face, a yellow skin, curly black hair, closely trimmed black whiskers, and a ponderous gold watch-chain—in the northwest room of the "United States" Custom-House. Over the door of this room were the words, "State Department," and round its walls were hung a few maps and battle-plans. In one corner was a tier of shelves filled with books,—among which I noticed Headley's "History," Lossing's[Pg 377] "Pictorial," Parton's "Butler," Greeley's "American Conflict," a complete set of the "Rebellion Record," and a dozen numbers and several bound volumes of the "Atlantic Monthly,"—and in the centre of the apartment was a black-walnut table, covered with green cloth, and filled with a multitude of "state-papers." At this table sat the Secretary. He rose as we entered, and, as Judge Ould introduced us, took our hands, and said,—

"I am glad, very glad, to meet you, Gentlemen. I have read your note, and"—bowing to me—"the open letter you bring from ——. Your errand commands my respect and sympathy. Pray be seated."

As we took the proffered seats, the Colonel, drawing off his "duster," and displaying his uniform, said,—

"We thank you for this cordial reception, Mr. Benjamin. We trust you will be as glad to hear us as you are to see us."

"No doubt I shall be, for you come to talk of peace. Peace is what we all want."

"It is, indeed; and for that reason we are here to see Mr. Davis. Can we see him, Sir?"

"Do you bring any overtures to him from your Government?"

"No, Sir. We bring no overtures and have no authority from our Government. We state that in our note. We would be glad, however, to know what terms will be acceptable to Mr. Davis. If they at all harmonize with Mr. Lincoln's views, we will report them to him, and so open the door for official negotiations."

"Are you acquainted with Mr. Lincoln's views?"

"One of us is, fully."

"Did Mr. Lincoln, in any way, authorize you to come here?"

"No, Sir. We came with his pass, but not by his request. We say, distinctly, we have no official, or unofficial, authority. We come as men and Christians, not as diplomatists, hoping, in a frank talk with Mr. Davis, to discover some way by which this war may be stopped."

"Well, Gentlemen, I will repeat what you say to the President, and if he follows my advice,—and I think he will,—he will meet you. He will be at church this afternoon; so, suppose you call here at nine this evening. If anything should occur in the meantime to prevent his seeing you, I will let you know through Judge Ould."

Throughout this interview the manner of the Secretary was cordial; but with this cordiality was a strange constraint and diffidence, almost amounting to timidity, which struck both my companion and myself. Contrasting his manner with the quiet dignity of the Colonel, I almost fancied our positions reversed,—that, instead of our being in his power, the Secretary was in ours, and momently expecting to hear some unwelcome sentence from our lips. There is something, after all, in moral power. Mr. Benjamin does not possess it, nor is he a great man. He has a keen, shrewd, ready intellect, but not the stamina to originate, or even to execute, any great good or great wickedness.

After a day spent in our room, conversing with the Judge, or watching the passers-by in the street,—I should like to tell who they were and how they looked, but such information is just now contraband,—we called again, at nine o'clock, at the State Department.

Mr. Benjamin occupied his previous seat at the table, and at his right sat a spare, thin-featured man, with iron-gray hair and beard, and a clear, gray eye full of life and vigor. He had a broad, massive forehead, and a mouth and chin denoting great energy and strength of will. His face was emaciated, and much wrinkled, but his features were good, especially his eyes,—though one of them bore a scar, apparently made by some sharp instrument. He wore a suit of grayish-brown, evidently of foreign manufacture, and, as he rose, I saw that he was about five feet ten inches high, with a slight stoop in the shoulders. His manners[Pg 378] were simple, easy, and quite fascinating: and he threw an indescribable charm into his voice, as he extended his hand, and said to us,—

"I am glad to see you, Gentlemen. You are very welcome to Richmond."

And this was the man who was President of the United States under Franklin Pierce, and who is now the heart, soul, and brains of the Southern Confederacy!

His manner put me entirely at my ease,—the Colonel would be at his, if he stood before Cæsar,—and I replied,—

"We thank you, Mr. Davis. It is not often you meet men of our clothes, and our principles, in Richmond."

"Not often,—not so often as I could wish; and I trust your coming may lead to a more frequent and a more friendly intercourse between the North and the South."

"We sincerely hope it may."

"Mr. Benjamin tells me you have asked to see me, to"——

And he paused, as if desiring we should finish the sentence. The Colonel replied,—

"Yes, Sir. We have asked this interview in the hope that you may suggest some way by which this war can be stopped. Our people want peace,—your people do, and your Congress has recently said that you do. We have come to ask how it can be brought about."

"In a very simple way. Withdraw your armies from our territory, and peace will come of itself. We do not seek to subjugate you. We are not waging an offensive war, except so far as it is offensive-defensive,—that is, so far as we are forced to invade you to prevent your invading us. Let us alone, and peace will come at once."

"But we cannot let you alone so long as you repudiate the Union. That is the one thing the Northern people will not surrender."

"I know. You would deny to us what you exact for yourselves,—the right of self-government."

"No, Sir," I remarked. "We would deny you no natural right. But we think Union essential to peace; and, Mr. Davis, could two people, with the same language, separated by only an imaginary line, live at peace with each other? Would not disputes constantly arise, and cause almost constant war between them?"

"Undoubtedly,—with this generation. You have sown such bitterness at the South, you have put such an ocean of blood between the two sections, that I despair of seeing any harmony in my time. Our children may forget this war, but we cannot."

"I think the bitterness you speak of, Sir," said the Colonel, "does not really exist. We meet and talk here as friends; our soldiers meet and fraternize with each other; and I feel sure, that, if the Union were restored, a more friendly feeling would arise between us than has ever existed. The war has made us know and respect each other better than before. This is the view of very many Southern men; I have had it from many of them,—your leading citizens."

"They are mistaken," replied Mr. Davis. "They do not understand Southern sentiment. How can we feel anything but bitterness towards men who deny us our rights? If you enter my house and drive me out of it, am I not your natural enemy?"

"You put the case too strongly. But we cannot fight forever; the war must end at some time; we must finally agree upon something; can we not agree now, and stop this frightful carnage? We are both Christian men, Mr. Davis. Can you, as a Christian man, leave untried any means that may lead to peace?"

"No, I cannot. I desire peace as much as you do. I deplore bloodshed as much as you do; but I feel that not one drop of the blood shed in this war is on my hands,—I can look up to my God and say this. I tried all in my power to avert this war. I saw it coming, and for twelve years I worked night and day to prevent it, but I could not. The North was mad and blind; it would not let us govern[Pg 379] ourselves; and so the war came, and now it must go on till the last man of this generation falls in his tracks, and his children seize his musket and fight his battle, unless you acknowledge our right to self-government. We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for Independence,—and that, or extermination, we will have."

"And there are, at least, four and a half millions of us left; so you see you have a work before you," said Mr. Benjamin, with a decided sneer.

"We have no wish to exterminate you," answered the Colonel. "I believe what I have said,—that there is no bitterness between the Northern and Southern people. The North, I know, loves the South. When peace comes, it will pour money and means into your hands to repair the waste caused by the war; and it would now welcome you back, and forgive you all the loss and bloodshed you have caused. But we must crush your armies, and exterminate your Government. And is not that already nearly done? You are wholly without money, and at the end of your resources. Grant has shut you up in Richmond. Sherman is before Atlanta. Had you not, then, better accept honorable terms while you can retain your prestige, and save the pride of the Southern people?"

Mr. Davis smiled.

"I respect your earnestness, Colonel, but you do not seem to understand the situation. We are not exactly shut up in Richmond. If your papers tell the truth, it is your capital that is in danger, not ours. Some weeks ago, Grant crossed the Rapidan to whip Lee, and take Richmond. Lee drove him in the first battle, and then Grant executed what your people call a 'brilliant flank-movement,' and fought Lee again. Lee drove him a second time, and then Grant made another 'flank-movement'; and so they kept on,—Lee whipping, and Grant flanking,—until Grant got where he is now. And what is the net result? Grant has lost seventy-five or eighty thousand men,—more than Lee had at the outset,—and is no nearer taking Richmond than at first; and Lee, whose front has never been broken, holds him completely in check, and has men enough to spare to invade Maryland, and threaten Washington! Sherman, to be sure, is before Atlanta; but suppose he is, and suppose he takes it? You know, that, the farther he goes from his base of supplies, the weaker he grows, and the more disastrous defeat will be to him. And defeat may come. So, in a military view, I should certainly say our position was better than yours.

"As to money: we are richer than you are. You smile; but admit that our paper is worth nothing,—it answers as a circulating-medium; and we hold it all ourselves. If every dollar of it were lost, we should, as we have no foreign debt, be none the poorer. But it is worth something; it has the solid basis of a large cotton-crop, while yours rests on nothing, and you owe all the world. As to resources: we do not lack for arms or ammunition, and we have still a wide territory from which to gather supplies. So, you see, we are not in extremities. But if we were,—if we were without money, without food, without weapons,—if our whole country were devastated, and our armies crushed and disbanded,—could we, without giving up our manhood, give up our right to govern ourselves? Would you not rather die, and feel yourself a man, than live, and be subject to a foreign power?"

"From your stand-point there is force in what you say," replied the Colonel. "But we did not come here to argue with you, Mr. Davis. We came, hoping to find some honorable way to peace; and I am grieved to hear you say what you do. When I have seen your young men dying on the battle-field, and your old men, women, and children starving in their homes, I have felt I could risk my life to save them. For that reason I am here; and I am grieved, grieved, that there is no hope."

"I know your motives, Colonel Jaquess, and I honor you for them; but what can[Pg 380] I do more than I am doing? I would give my poor life, gladly, if it would bring peace and good-will to the two countries; but it would not. It is with your own people you should labor. It is they who desolate our homes, burn our wheat-fields, break the wheels of wagons carrying away our women and children, and destroy supplies meant for our sick and wounded. At your door lies all the misery and the crime of this war,—and it is a fearful, fearful account."

"Not all of it, Mr. Davis. I admit a fearful account, but it is not all at our door. The passions of both sides are aroused. Unarmed men are hanged, prisoners are shot down in cold blood, by yourselves. Elements of barbarism are entering the war on both sides, that should make us—you and me, as Christian men—shudder to think of. In God's name, then, let us stop it. Let us do something, concede something, to bring about peace. You cannot expect, with only four and a half millions, as Mr. Benjamin says you have, to hold out forever against twenty millions."

Again Mr. Davis smiled.

"Do you suppose there are twenty millions at the North determined to crush us?"

"I do,—to crush your government. A small number of our people, a very small number, are your friends,—Secessionists. The rest differ about measures and candidates, but are united in the determination to sustain the Union. Whoever is elected in November, he must be committed to a vigorous prosecution of the war."

Mr. Davis still looking incredulous, I remarked,—

"It is so, Sir. Whoever tells you otherwise deceives you. I think I know Northern sentiment, and I assure you it is so. You know we have a system of lyceum-lecturing in our large towns. At the close of these lectures, it is the custom of the people to come upon the platform and talk with the lecturer. This gives him an excellent opportunity of learning public sentiment. Last winter I lectured before nearly a hundred of such associations, all over the North,—from Dubuque to Bangor,—and I took pains to ascertain the feeling of the people. I found a unanimous determination to crush the Rebellion and save the Union at every sacrifice. The majority are in favor of Mr. Lincoln, and nearly all of those opposed to him are opposed to him because they think he does not fight you with enough vigor. The radical Republicans, who go for slave-suffrage and thorough confiscation, are those who will defeat him, if he is defeated. But if he is defeated before the people, the House will elect a worse man,—I mean, worse for you. It is more radical than he is,—you can see that from Mr. Ashley's Reconstruction Bill,—and the people are more radical than the House. Mr. Lincoln, I know, is about to call out five hundred thousand more men, and I can't see how you can resist much longer; but if you do, you will only deepen the radical feeling of the Northern people. They will now give you fair, honorable, generous terms; but let them suffer much more, let there be a dead man in every house, as there is now in every village, and they will give you no terms,—they will insist on hanging every Rebel south of ——. Pardon my terms. I mean no offence."

"You give no offence," he replied, smiling very, pleasantly. "I wouldn't have you pick your words. This is a frank, free talk, and I like you the better for saying what you think. Go on."

"I was merely going to say, that, let the Northern people once really feel the war,—they do not feel it yet,—and they will insist on hanging every one of your leaders."

"Well, admitting all you say, I can't see how it affects our position. There are some things worse than hanging or extermination. We reckon giving up the right of self-government one of those things."

"By self-government you mean disunion,—Southern Independence?"[Pg 381]


"And slavery, you say, is no longer an element in the contest."

"No, it is not, it never was an essential element. It was only a means of bringing other conflicting elements to an earlier culmination. It fired the musket which was already capped and loaded. There are essential differences between the North and the South that will, however this war may end, make them two nations."

"You ask me to say what I think. Will you allow me to say that I know the South pretty well, and never observed those differences?"

"Then you have not used your eyes. My sight is poorer than yours, but I have seen them for years."

The laugh was upon me, and Mr. Benjamin enjoyed it.

"Well, Sir, be that as it may, if I understand you, the dispute between your government and ours is narrowed down to this: Union or Disunion."

"Yes; or to put it in other words: Independence or Subjugation."

"Then the two governments are irreconcilably apart. They have no alternative but to fight it out. But it is not so with the people. They are tired of fighting, and want peace; and as they bear all the burden and suffering of the war, is it not right they should have peace, and have it on such terms as they like?"

"I don't understand you. Be a little more explicit."

"Well, suppose the two governments should agree to something like this: To go to the people with two propositions: say, Peace, with Disunion and Southern Independence, as your proposition,—and Peace, with Union, Emancipation, No Confiscation, and Universal Amnesty, as ours. Let the citizens of all the United States (as they existed before the war) vote 'Yes,' or 'No,' on these two propositions, at a special election within sixty days. If a majority votes Disunion, our government to be bound by it, and to let you go in peace. If a majority votes Union, yours to be bound by it, and to stay in peace. The two governments can contract in this way, and the people, though constitutionally unable to decide on peace or war, can elect which of the two propositions shall govern their rulers. Let Lee and Grant, meanwhile, agree to an armistice. This would sheathe the sword; and if once sheathed, it would never again be drawn by this generation."

"The plan is altogether impracticable. If the South were only one State, it might work; but as it is, if one Southern State objected to emancipation, it would nullify the whole thing; for you are aware the people of Virginia cannot vote slavery out of South Carolina, nor the people of South Carolina vote it out of Virginia."

"But three-fourths of the States can amend the Constitution. Let it be done in that way,—in any way, so that it be done by the people. I am not a statesman or a politician, and I do not know just how such a plan could be carried out; but you get the idea,—that the people shall decide the question."

"That the majority shall decide it, you mean. We seceded to rid ourselves of the rule of the majority, and this would subject us to it again."

"But the majority must rule finally, either with bullets or ballots."

"I am not so sure of that. Neither current events nor history shows that the majority rules, or ever did rule. The contrary, I think, is true. Why, Sir, the man who should go before the Southern people with such a proposition, with any proposition which implied that the North was to have a voice in determining the domestic relations of the South, could not live here a day. He would be hanged to the first tree, without judge or jury."

"Allow me to doubt that. I think it more likely he would be hanged, if he let the Southern people know the majority couldn't rule," I replied, smiling.

"I have no fear of that," rejoined Mr. Davis, also smiling most good-humoredly. "I give you leave to proclaim it from every house-top in the South."[Pg 382]

"But, seriously, Sir, you let the majority rule in a single State; why not let it rule in the whole country?"

"Because the States are independent and sovereign. The country is not. It is only a confederation of States; or rather it was: it is now two confederations."

"Then we are not a people,—we are only a political partnership?"

"That is all."

"Your very name, Sir, 'United States,' implies that," said Mr. Benjamin. "But, tell me, are the terms you have named—Emancipation, No Confiscation, and Universal Amnesty—the terms which Mr. Lincoln authorized you to offer us?"

"No, Sir, Mr. Lincoln did not authorize me to offer you any terms. But I think both he and the Northern people, for the sake of peace, would assent to some such conditions."

"They are very generous," replied Mr. Davis, for the first time during the interview showing some angry feeling. "But Amnesty, Sir, applies to criminals. We have committed no crime. Confiscation is of no account, unless you can enforce it. And Emancipation! You have already emancipated nearly two millions of our slaves,—and if you will take care of them, you may emancipate the rest. I had a few when the war began. I was of some use to them; they never were of any to me. Against their will you 'emancipated' them; and you may 'emancipate' every negro in the Confederacy, but we will be free! We will govern ourselves. We will do it, if we have to see every Southern plantation sacked, and every Southern city in flames."

"I see, Mr. Davis, it is useless to continue this conversation," I replied; "and you will pardon us, if we have seemed to press our views with too much pertinacity. We love the old flag, and that must be our apology for intruding upon you at all."

"You have not intruded upon me," he replied, resuming his usual manner. "I am glad to have met you, both. I once loved the old flag as well as you do; I would have died for it; but now it is to me only the emblem of oppression."

"I hope the day may never come, Mr. Davis, when I say that," said the Colonel.

A half-hour's conversation on other topics—not of public interest—ensued, and then we rose to go. As we did so, the Rebel President gave me his hand, and, bidding me a kindly good-bye, expressed the hope of seeing me again in Richmond in happier times,—when peace should have returned; but with the Colonel his parting was particularly cordial. Taking his hand in both of his, he said to him,—

"Colonel, I respect your character and your motives, and I wish you well,—I wish you every good I can wish you consistently with the interests of the Confederacy."

The quiet, straightforward bearing and magnificent moral courage of our "fighting parson" had evidently impressed Mr. Davis very favorably.

As we were leaving the room, he added—

"Say to Mr. Lincoln from me, that I shall at any time be pleased to receive proposals for peace on the basis of our Independence. It will be useless to approach me with any other."

When we went out, Mr. Benjamin called Judge Ould, who had been waiting during the whole interview—two hours—at the other end of the hall, and we passed down the stairway together. As I put my arm within that of the Judge, he said to me,—

"Well, what is the result?"

"Nothing but war,—war to the knife."

"Ephraim is joined to his idols,—let him alone," added the Colonel, solemnly.

I should like to relate the incidents of the next day, when we visited Castle Thunder, Libby Prison, and the hospitals occupied by our wounded; but the limits of a magazine-article will not permit. I can only say that at sundown we passed out of the Rebel lines, and at ten[Pg 383] o'clock that night stretched our tired limbs on the "downy" cots in General Butler's tent, thankful, devoutly thankful, that we were once again under the folds of the old flag.

Thus ended our visit to Richmond. I have endeavored to sketch it faithfully. The conversation with Mr. Davis I took down shortly after entering the Union lines, and I have tried to report his exact language, extenuating nothing, and coloring nothing that he said. Some of his sentences, as I read them over, appear stilted and high-flown, but they did not sound so when uttered. As listened to, they seemed the simple, natural language of his thought. He spoke deliberately, apparently weighing every word, and knowing well that all he said would be given to the public.

He is a man of peculiar ability. Our interview with him explained to me why, with no money and no commerce, with nearly every one of their important cities in our hands, and with an army greatly inferior in numbers and equipment to ours, the Rebels have held out so long. It is because of the sagacity, energy, and indomitable will of Jefferson Davis. Without him the Rebellion would crumble to pieces in a day; with him it may continue to be, even in disaster, a power that will tax the whole energy and resources of the nation.

The Southern masses want peace. Many of the Southern leaders want it,—both my companion and I, by correspondence and intercourse with them, know this; but there can be no peace so long as Mr. Davis controls the South. Ignoring slavery, he himself states the issue,—the only issue with him,—Union, or Disunion. That is it. We must conquer, or be conquered. We can negotiate only with the bayonet. We can have peace and union only by putting forth all our strength, crushing the Southern armies, and overthrowing the Southern government.


Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin. By James Parton. New York: Mason Brothers. Two Volumes. 8vo.

To appreciate the importance of this work, we must remember that it covers more than three-fourths of a century full of great events, if not of great men; that it begins with Boston and Philadelphia as small provincial towns, and leaves them the thriving capitals of independent States; that it finds colonial energy struggling with metropolitan jealousy and ignorance; that it follows the struggle through all its phases, until the restrictions of the mother became oppression, and the love of the children was converted into hatred; that it traces the growth and expansion of American industry,—the dawn of American invention, so full of promise,—the development of the principle of self-government, so full of power,—the bitter contest, so full of lessons which, used aright, might have spared us more than half the blood and treasure of the present war.

To appreciate the difficulty of this work, we must remember that the inner and the outer life of the subject of it are equally full of marvels; that, beginning by cutting off candle-wicks in a tallow-chandler's shop in Boston, he ended as the greatest scientific discoverer among those men renowned for science who composed the Royal Society of London and the Academy of Sciences of Paris; that, with the aid of an odd volume of the "Spectator," used according to his own conception of the best way of using it, he made himself master of a pure, simple, graceful, and effective English style; that the opinions and maxims which he drew from his own observation and reflection have passed into the daily life of millions, warning, strengthening, cheering, and guiding; that he succeeded in[Pg 384] the most difficult negotiations, was a leader of public opinion on the most important questions, and, holding his way cheerfully, resolutely, and lovingly to the end, left the world wiser in many things, and in some better, for the eighty-four years that he had passed in it.

Nor must we forget, that, among the many things which this wonderful old man did, was to tell us half the story of his own life, and with such unaffected simplicity, such evident sincerity, and such attractive grace, as to make it—as far as it goes—the most perfect production of its class. Then why attempt to do it over again? is the question that naturally springs to every lip, on reading the title of Mr. Parton's book.

Mr. Parton has anticipated this question, and answered it. "Autobiography is one of the most interesting and valuable kinds of composition; but autobiography can never be accepted in lieu of biography, because to no man is the giftie given of seeing himself as others see him. Rousseau's Confessions are a miracle of candor: they reveal much concerning a certain weak, wandering, diseased, miserable, wicked Jean Jacques; but of that marvellous Rousseau whose writings thrilled Europe they contain how much? Not one word. Madame D'Arblay's Diary relates a thousand pleasant things, but it does not tell us what manner of person Madame D'Arblay was. Franklin's Autobiography gives agreeable information respecting a sagacious shopkeeper of Philadelphia, but has little to impart to us respecting the grand Franklin, the world's Franklin, the philosopher, the statesman, the philanthropist. A man cannot reveal his best self, nor, unless he is a Rousseau, his worst. Perhaps he never knows either."

The basis of Mr. Parton's work is, as the basis of every satisfactory biography must be, the writings of its subject. "After all," he says, "Dr. Jared Sparks's excellent edition of the 'Life and Works of Franklin,' is the source of the greater part of the information we possess concerning him.... The libraries, the public records, and the private collections of England, France, and the United States, were so diligently searched by Dr. Sparks, that, though seven previous editions of the works of Franklin had appeared, he was able to add to his publication the astonishing number of six hundred and fifty pieces of Dr. Franklin's composition never before collected, of which four hundred and fifty had never before appeared in print. To unwearied diligence in collecting Dr. Sparks added an admirable talent in elucidating. His notes are always such as an intelligent reader would desire, and they usually contain all the information needed for a perfect understanding of the matter in hand. Dr. Sparks's edition is a monument at once to the memory of Benjamin Franklin and to his own diligence, tact, and faithfulness." We take great pleasure in copying this passage, both because it seems to illustrate the spirit which Mr. Parton brought to his task, and because the value of Mr. Sparks's labors have not always been so freely acknowledged by those who have been freest in their use of them.

To a careful study of those volumes Mr. Parton has added patient and extensive research among the newspapers and magazines of the time, and, apparently, a wide range of general reading. Thus he has filled his work with facts, some curious, some new, and all interesting, as well in their bearing upon the times as upon the man. He is a good delver, a good sifter, and, what is equally important, a good interpreter,—not merely bringing facts to the light, but compelling them to give out, like Correggio's pictures, a light of their own. He possesses, too, in an eminent degree, the power of forming for himself a conception of his subject as a whole, keeping it constantly before his mind in the elaboration of the parts, and thus bringing it vividly before the mind of the reader. Franklin's true place in history has never before been assigned him upon such incontrovertible evidence.

If we were to undertake to name the parts of this work which have given us most satisfaction, we should, although with some hesitation, name the admirable chapters which Mr. Parton has devoted to Franklin's diplomatic labors in England and France. In none of his good works has that great man been more exposed to calumny, or treated with more barefaced ingratitude by those who profited most by them, than in bringing to light the dangerous letters of Hutchinson and Oliver. Even within the last few years, the apologetic biographer of John Adams repeats the accusation[Pg 385] of moral obliquity in a tone that would hardly have been misplaced in a defence of Wedderburn. Mr. Parton tells the story with great simplicity, and, without entering into any unnecessary disquisition, accepts for his commentary upon it Mr. Bancroft's wise, and, as it seems to us, unanswerable conclusion. "Had the conspiracy which was thus laid bare aimed at the life of a minister or the king, any honest man must have immediately communicated the discovery to the Secretary of State: to conspire to introduce into America a military government, and abridge American liberty, was a more heinous crime, of which irrefragable evidence had now come to light."

Never, too, was philosopher more severely tried than Franklin was tried by the colleagues whom Congress sent him, from time to time, as clogs upon the great wheel which he was turning so skilfully. And this, too, Mr. Parton has set in full light, not by the special pleading of the apologist, but by the documentary researches of the historian.

There are some things, however, in this work which we could have wished somewhat different from what they are. Mr. Parton's fluent and forcible style sometimes degenerates into flippancy. We could cite many instances of felicitous expression, some, also, of bad taste, and some of hasty assertion. "Clubable" is hardly a good enough word to bear frequent repetition. "This question was a complete baffler" is too much like slang to be admitted into the good company which Mr. Parton's sentences usually keep. We were not aware that "Physician, heal thyself" was a stock classical allusion. We do not believe—for Dante and Milton would rise up in judgment against us, even if the vast majority of other great men did not—that "it is only second-rate men who have great aims." We do not believe that the style of the "Spectator" is an "easily imitated style"; for, of the hundreds who have tried, how many, besides Franklin, have really succeeded in imitating it? We do not believe that Latin and Greek are an "obstructing nuisance," or that the student of Homer and Thucydides and Demosthenes and Plato and Aristotle and Cæsar and Cicero and Tacitus is merely studying "the prattle of infant man," or "adding the ignorance of the ancients to the ignorance he was born with." We believe, on the contrary, that it was by such studies that Gibbon and Niebuhr and Arnold and Grote acquired their marvellous power of discovering historical truth and detecting historical error, and that from no modern language could they have received such discipline.

But we not only agree with the sentiment, but admire the simple energy of the expression, when he says that "Franklin was the man of all others then alive who possessed in the greatest perfection the four grand requisites for the successful observation of Nature or the pursuit of literature,—a sound and great understanding, patience, dexterity, and an independent income." Equally judicious and equally well-expressed is the following passage upon the Penns:—"Thomas Penn was a man of business, careful, saving, and methodical. Richard Penn was a spendthrift. Both were men of slender abilities, and not of very estimable character. They had done some liberal acts for the Province, such as sending over presents to the Library of books and apparatus, and cannon for the defence of Philadelphia. If the Pennsylvanians had been more submissive, they would doubtless have continued their benefactions. But, unhappily, they cherished those erroneous, those Tory notions of the rights of sovereignty which Lord Bute infused into the contracted mind of George III., and which cost that dull and obstinate monarch, first, his colonies, and then his senses. It is also rooted in the British mind, that a landholder is entitled to the particular respect of his species. These Penns, in addition to the pride of possessing acres by the million, felt themselves to be the lords of the land they owned, and of the people who dwelt upon it." And in speaking of English ideas of American resistance:—"Englishmen have made sublime sacrifices to principle, but they appear slow to believe that any other people can." And, "George III. sat upon a constitutional throne, but he had an unconstitutional mind." It would be difficult to find a more comprehensive sentence than the following:—"The counsel employed by Mr. Mauduit was Alexander Wedderburn, a sharp, unprincipled Scotch barrister, destined to scale all the heights of preferment[Pg 386] which shameless subserviency could reach."

It would be easy to multiply examples, but we have given, we believe, more than enough to show that we look upon Mr. Parton's "Franklin" as a work of very great value.

The Maine Woods. By Henry D. Thoreau, Author of "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers," "Walden," "Excursions," etc., etc. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.

The steadily growing fame of Thoreau has this characteristic, that it is, like his culture, a purely American product, and is no pale reflection of the cheap glories of an English reprint. Whether he would have gained or lost by a more cosmopolitan training or criticism is not the question now; but certain it is that neither of these things went to the making of his fame. Classical and Oriental reading he had; but beyond these he cared for nothing which the men and meadows of Concord could not give, and for this voluntary abnegation, half whimsical, half sublime, the world repaid him with life-long obscurity, and will yet repay him with permanent renown.

His choice of subjects, too, involves the same double recompense; for no books are less dazzling or more immortal than those whose theme is external Nature. Nothing else wears so well. History becomes so rapidly overlaid with details, and its aspects change so fast, that the most elaborate work soon grows obsolete; while a thoroughly sincere and careful book on Nature cannot be superseded, and lives forever. Its basis is real and permanent. There will always be birds and flowers, nights and mornings. The infinite fascinations of mountains and of forests will outlast this war, and the next, and the race that makes the war. The same solidity of material which has guarantied permanence to the fame of Izaak Walton and White of Selborne will as surely secure that of Thoreau, who excels each of these writers upon his own ground, while superadding a wider culture, a loftier thought, and a fine, though fantastic, literary skill. All men may not love Nature, but all men ultimately love her lovers. And of those lovers, past or present, Thoreau is the most profound in his devotion, and the most richly repaid.

Against these great merits are to be set, no doubt, some formidable literary defects: an occasional mistiness of expression, like the summit of Katahdin, as he himself describes it,—one vast fog, with here and there a rock protruding; also, an occasional sandy barrenness, like his beloved Cape Cod. In truth, he never quite completed the transition from the observer to the artist. With the power of constructing sentences as perfectly graceful as a hemlock-bough, he yet displays the most wayward aptitude for literary caterpillars'-nests and all manner of disfigurements. The same want of artistic habit appears also in his wilful disregard of all rules of proportion. He depicts an Indian, for instance, with such minute observation and admirable verbal skill that one feels as if neither Catlin nor Schoolcraft ever saw the actual creature; but though the table-talk of the aboriginal may seem for a time more suggestive than that of Coleridge or Macaulay, yet there is a point beyond which his, like theirs, becomes a bore.

In addition to these drawbacks, one finds in Thoreau an unnecessary defiance of tone, and a very resolute non-appreciation of many things which a larger mental digestion can assimilate without discomfort. In his dealings with Nature he is sweet, genial, patient, wise. In his dealings with men he exasperates himself over the least divergence from the desired type. Before any over-tendency to the amenities and luxuries of civilization, in particular, he becomes unreasonable and relentless. Hence there appears something hard and ungenial in his views of life, utterly out of keeping with the delicate tenderness which he shows in the woods. The housekeeping of bees and birds he finds noble and beautiful, but for the home and cradle of the humblest human pair he can scarcely be said to have even toleration; a farmer's barn he considers a cumbrous and pitiable appendage, and he lectures the Irish women in their shanties for their undue share of the elegancies of life. With infinite faith in the tendencies of mineral and vegetable nature, in human nature he shows no practical trust, and must even be severe upon the babies in the Maine log-huts for playing with wooden dolls instead of[Pg 387] pine-cones. It is, indeed, noticeable that he seems to love every other living animal more unreservedly than the horse,—as if this poor sophisticated creature, though still a quadruped and a brother, had been so vitiated by undue intimacy with man as to have become little better than if he wore broadcloth and voted.

Yet there was not in Thoreau one trait of the misanthrope; his solitary life at Walden was not chosen because he loved man less, but because he loved Nature more; and any young poet or naturalist might envy the opportunities it gave him. But his intellectual habits showed always a tendency to exaggeration, and he spent much mental force in fighting shadows, Church and State, war and politics,—a man of solid vigor must find room in his philosophy to tolerate these matters for a time, even if he cannot cordially embrace them. But Thoreau, a celibate, and at times a hermit, brought the Protestant extreme to match the Roman Catholic, and though he did not personally ignore one duty of domestic life, he yet held a system which would have excluded wife and child, house and property. His example is noble and useful to all high-minded young people, but only when interpreted by a philosophy less exclusive than his own. In urging his one social panacea, "Simplify, I say, simplify," he failed to see that all steps in moral or material organization are really efforts after the same process he recommends. The sewing-machine is a more complex affair than the needle, but it simplifies every woman's life, and helps her to that same comparative freedom from care which Thoreau would seek only by reverting to the Indian blanket.

But many-sided men do not move in battalions, and even a one-sided philosopher may be a boon to think of, if he be as noble as Thoreau. His very defects are higher than many men's virtues, and his most fantastic moralizings will bear reading without doing harm, especially during a Presidential campaign. Of his books, "Walden" will probably be permanently reckoned as the best, as being the most full and deliberate exhibition of the author's mind, and as extracting the most from the least material. It is also the most uniform in texture, and the most complete in plan, while the "Week" has no unity but that of the chronological epoch it covers,—a week which is probably the most comprehensive on record, ranging from the Bhagvat-Geetha to the "good time coming,"—and the "Excursions" no unity but that of the covers which comprise them, being, indeed, a compilation of his earliest and latest essays. Which of his four volumes contains his finest writing it would really be hard to say; but in structure the present book comes nearest to "Walden"; it is within its limits a perfect monograph of the Maine woods. All that has been previously written fails to portray so vividly the mysterious life of the lonely forest,—the grandeur of Katahdin or Ktaadn, that hermit-mountain,—and the wild and adventurous navigation of those Northern water-courses whose perils make the boating of the Adirondack region seem safe and tame. The book is also more unexceptionably healthy in its tone than any of its predecessors, and it is pleasant to find the author, on emerging from his explorations, admitting that the confines of civilization afford, after all, the best residence, and that the wilderness is of most value as "a resource and a background."

There yet remain for publication Thoreau's adventures on Cape Cod; his few public addresses on passing events, especially those on the Burns Rescue and the John-Brown affair, which were certainly among the very ablest productions called forth by those exciting occasions; his poems; and his private letters to his friend Blake, of Worcester, and to others,—letters which certainly contain some of his toughest, and perhaps also some of his finest writing. All these deserve, and must one day receive, preservation. He who reads most books reads that which has a merely temporary interest, and will be presently superseded by something better; but Nature has waited many centuries for Thoreau, and we can hardly expect to see, during this generation, another mortal so favored with her confidence.

Jennie Juneiana: Talks on Women's Topics. By Jennie June. Boston: Lee & Shepard. 12mo. pp. 240.

Great are the resources of human invention, and the tiresome passion for alliterative[Pg 388] titles may possibly have culminated in some name yet more foolish than that of this little green and gold volume. If so, the rival has proved too much for the trump of Fame to carry, and has dropped unnoticed. In the present case, the title does perhaps some injustice to the book, which is not a silly one, though it contains very silly things. It seems to be written from the point of view afforded by a second-rate New-York boarding-house, and by a person who has never come in contact with any refined or well-bred people. With this allowance, it is written in the interest of good manners and good morals, and with enough of natural tact to keep the writer from getting far beyond her depth, although she does talk of "Goethe's Mignion" and "Miss Werner,"—whoever these personages may be,—and of "the substantial fame achieved by the unknown author of 'Rutledge.'" It is written in the prevalent American newspaper-style,—a style which is apt to be graphic, piquant, and dashing, accompanied by a flavor, slight or more than slight, of flippancy and slang,—a style such as reaches high-tide in certain "popular" native authors, male and female, and in ebbing strands us on "Jennie June."

Of course, writing from the windows of Mrs. Todgers, "Jennie" manifests the usual superfluous anxiety of her kind not to be called strong-minded. She is prettily indignant at the thought of female physicians: there is nothing improper in having diseases, but to cure them would be indelicacy indeed. Girls out of work, who wish for places in shops, are only "patriotic young ladies who desire to fill all the lucrative situations at present occupied by young men." She would even banish Bridget from the kitchen and substitute unlimited Patricks, which will interest housekeepers as being the only conceivable remedy worse than the disease. Of course, a female lecturer is an abomination: "Jennie" proves, first, that a "strong-minded woman" must be either unmarried or unhappy in marriage, and then turns, with rather illogical wrath, upon Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown, for being too domestic to make speeches since their marriage. To follow the court phraseology, "This reminds us of a little anecdote." When the fashion of long, flowing wigs was just vanishing in Boston, somebody wore one from that town down to Salem, where they were entirely extinct. All the street-boys ran after him all the morning, to ask him why he wore a wig. He, wishing to avoid offence, left it in the house at dinner-time; and was pursued all the afternoon by the same boys, with the inquiry why he did not wear a wig. These eloquent women find it equally hard to please their little critic by silence or by speech. The simple truth probably is, that they hold precisely the same views which they always held, and will live to trouble her yet, when the epoch of the nursery is over. The majority of women's-rights advocates have always been wives and mothers, and, for aught we know, excellent ones, since that dear, motherly old Quakeress, Lucretia Mott, first broached the matter; and the great change in our legislation on all the property-rights of that sex is just as directly traceable to their labors as is the repeal of the English corn-laws to the efforts of the "League." If, however, "Jennie" consoles herself with the reflection that the points made in this controversy by the authors of "Hannah Thurston" and "Miss Gilbert's Career" are not much stronger than her own, she must remember her favorite theory, that all foolishness sounds more respectable when uttered from masculine lips.

1. Woman and her Era. By Eliza W. Farnham. In Two Volumes. New York: A. J. Davis & Co.

2. Eliza Woodson; or, The Early Days of one of the World's Workers. A Story of American Life. New York: A. J. Davis & Co.

In the three and a half centuries since Cornelius Agrippa, no one has attempted with so much ability as Mrs. Farnham to transfer the theory of woman's superiority from the domain of poetry to that of science. Second to no American woman save Miss Dix in her experience as a practical philanthropist, she has studied human nature in the sternest practical schools, from Sing-Sing to California. She justly claims for her views that they have been maturing for twenty-two years of "experience so varied as to give it almost every form of trial which could fall to the intellectual[Pg 389] life of any save the most favored women." Her books show, moreover, an ardent love of literature and some accurate scientific training,—though her style has the condensation and vigor which active life creates, rather than the graces of culture.

The essence of her book lies in this opening syllogism:—

"Life is exalted in proportion to its organic and functional complexity;

"Woman's organism is more complex and her totality of function larger than those of any other being inhabiting our earth;

"Therefore her position in the scale of life is the most exalted,—the sovereign one."

This is compactly stated and quite unequivocal, although the three last words of the conclusion are a step beyond the premises, and the main fight of her opponents would no doubt be made on her definition of the word being. The assumption that either sex of a given species is a distinct "being" cannot probably be slid into the minor premise of the argument without some objection from the opposing counsel. However, this brings us at once to the main point, and the chapter called "The Organic Argument," which opens with this syllogism, is really the pith of the book, and would, perhaps, stand stronger without the other six hundred pages. In this chapter she shows the strength of a system-maker, in the rest the weaknesses of one; she feels obliged to apply her creed to everything, to illustrate everything by its light, to find unexpected confirmations everywhere, and to manipulate all the history of art, literature, and society, till she conforms them all to her standard. She recites, with no new power, historical facts that are already familiar; and gives many pages to extracts from very well known poets and very ill known prose-writers, to the exclusion of her own terse and vigorous thought. All this is without a trace of book-making, but is done in single-hearted zeal for views which are only damaged by the process.

These are merely literary defects; but Mrs. Farnham really suffers in thought by the same unflinching fidelity to her creed. It makes her clear and resolute in her statement; but it often makes her as one-sided as the advocates of male supremacy whom she impugns. To be sure, her theory enables her to extenuate some points of admitted injustice to woman,—finding, for instance, in her educational and professional exclusions a crude effort, on the part of society, to treat her as a sort of bird-of-paradise, born only to fly, and therefore not needing feet. Yet this authoress is obliged to assume a tone of habitual antagonism towards men, from which the advocates of mere equality are excused. Indeed, the technical Woman's-Rights movement has always witnessed a very hearty coöperation among its advocates of both sexes, and it is generally admitted that men are at least as ready to concede additional rights as women to ask for them. But when one comes to Mrs. Farnham's stand-point, and sees what her opinion of men really is, the stanchest masculine ally must shrink from assigning himself to such a category of scoundrels. The best criticism made on Michelet's theory of woman as a predestined invalid was that of the sensible physician who responded, "As if the Almighty did not know how to create a woman!"—and Mrs. Farnham certainly proves too much in undertaking to expose the blunders of Deity in the construction of a man. Assuming, as she invariably does, the highest woman to be the typical woman, and the lowest man to be the typical man, she can prove anything she pleases. But even this does not content her; every gleam of tenderness and refinement exhibited by man she transfers by some inexplicable legerdemain of logic to the feminine side, and makes somehow into a new proof of his hopeless inferiority; and she is landed at last in the amazing paradox, that "the most powerful feminine souls have appeared in masculine forms, thus far in human career." (Vol. II. p. 360.)

In short, her theory involves a necessity of perpetual overstatement. The conception of a pure and noble young man, such as Richter delineates in his Walt or Albano, seems utterly foreign to her system; and of that fine subtilty of nature by which the highest types of manhood and womanhood approach each other, as if mutually lending refinement and strength, she seems to have no conception. The truth is, that, however much we may concede to the average spiritual superiority of woman, a great deal also depends on the[Pg 390] inheritance and the training of the individual. Mrs. Farnham, like every refined woman, is often shocked by the coarseness of even virtuous men; but she does not tell us the other side of the story,—how often every man of refinement has occasion to be shocked by the coarseness of even virtuous women. Sexual disparities may be much; but individual disparities are even more.

Mrs. Farnham is noble enough, and her book is brave and wise enough, to bear criticisms which grow only from her attempting too much. The difference between her book and most of those written on the other side is, that in the previous cases the lions have been the painters, and here it is the lioness. As against the exaggerations on the other side, she has a right to exaggerate on her part. As against the theory that man is superior to woman because he is larger, she has a right to plead that in that case the gorilla were the better man, and to assert on the other hand that woman is superior because smaller,—Emerson's mountain and squirrel. As against the theory that glory and dominion go with the beard, she has a right to maintain (and that she does with no small pungency) that Nature gave man this appendage because he was not to be trusted with his own face, and needed this additional covering for his shame. As against the historical traditions of man's mastery, she does well to urge that creation is progressive, and that the megalosaurus was master even before man. It is, indeed, this last point which constitutes the crowning merit of the book, and which will be permanently associated with Mrs. Farnham's name. No one before her has so firmly grasped this key to woman's historic position, that the past was an age of coarse, preliminary labor, in which her time had not yet come. This theory, as elucidated by Mrs. Farnham, taken with the fine statement of Buckle as to the importance of the intuitive element in the feminine intellect, (which statement Mrs. Farnham also quotes,) constitutes the most valuable ground logically conquered for woman within this century. These contributions are eclipsed in importance only by those actual achievements of women of genius,—as of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rosa Bonheur, and Harriet Hosmer,—which, so far as they go, render all argument superfluous.

In this domain of practical achievement Mrs. Farnham has also labored well, and the autobiography of her childish years, when she only aspired after such toils, has an interest wholly apart from that of her larger work, and scarcely its inferior. Except the immortal "Pet Marjorie," one can hardly recall in literature a delineation so marvellous of a childish mind so extraordinary as "Eliza Woodson." The few characters appear with an individuality worthy of a great novelist; every lover of children must find it altogether fascinating, and to the most experienced student of human nature it opens a new chapter of startling interest.

The Cliff-Climbers; or, The Lone Home in the Himalayas. A Sequel to "The Plant-Hunters." By Captain Mayne Reid, Author of "The Desert Home," "The Boy-Hunters," etc., etc. With Illustrations. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.

Beloved of boys, the adventurous Mayne Reid continues from year to year his good work as a story-teller. Since he held the youthful student a spellbound reader of "The Desert Home," he has sent abroad a dozen volumes, all excellent in their way, for the entertainment of his ever-increasing audience. He has not, however, dealt quite fairly by his boy-friends. He kept them waiting several years for the completion of "The Plant-Hunters," and it is only now that he has found time to add "The Cliff-Climbers" as a sequel to that fascinating story. While we thank him for the book that gives us farther acquaintance with those stirring individuals, Karl and Caspar, we cannot help reminding him how long ago it is since we read "The Plant-Hunters," and wished for more.[Pg 391]



Poetry of the Age of Fable. Collected by Thomas Bulfinch. Boston. J. E. Tilton & Co. 18mo. pp. x., 251. $2.00.

Phantom Leaves. A Treatise on the Art of producing Skeleton Leaves. Boston. J. E. Tilton & Co. 12mo. pp. 96. $1.50.

Wax Flowers: How to make them. With New Methods of sheeting Wax, modelling Fruit, etc. Boston. J. E. Tilton & Co. 12mo. pp. 116. $1.50.

The Bridal Eve. By Mrs. Emma D. E. N. Southworth. Philadelphia. T. B. Peterson & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 446. $1.50.

The Potomac and the Rapidan. Army Notes, from the Failure at Winchester to the Reinforcement of Rosecrans. By Alonzo H. Quint, Chaplain of the Second Massachusetts Infantry. Boston. Crosby & Nichols. 12mo. pp. 407. $1.75.

Hotspur. A Tale of the Old Dutch Manor. By Mansfield T. Walworth, Author of "Lulu." New York. G. W. Carleton. 12mo. pp. 324. $1.25.

The Peninsular Campaign and its Antecedents, as developed by the Report of Major-General George B. McClellan and other Published Documents. By J. G. Barnard, Lieutenant-Colonel of Engineers and Brigadier-General of Volunteers, and Chief Engineer in the Army of the Potomac from its Organization to the Close of the Peninsular Campaign. New York. D. Van Nostrand. 8vo. pp. 94. $1.00.

Songs of the Soldiers. Arranged and edited by Frank Moore. New York. G. P. Putnam. 18mo. pp. xvi., 318. $1.00.

Self-Sacrifice. By the Author of "Margaret Maitland." Philadelphia. T. B. Peterson & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 375. $1.50.

Out in the World. A Novel. By T. S. Arthur. New York. G. W. Carleton. 12mo. pp. 312. $1.50.

Watson's Manual of Calisthenics: A Systematic Drill-Book without Apparatus; for Schools, Families, and Gymnasiums. With Music to accompany the Exercises. Illustrated from Original Designs. By J. Madison Watson. New York and Philadelphia. Schermerhorn, Bancroft, & Co. 8vo. pp. 144. $1.25.

Eliza Woodson; or, The Early Days of one of the World's Workers. A Story of American Life. Second Edition. New York. A. J. Davis & Co. 12mo. pp. 426. $1.25.

The Hour which cometh and now is: Sermons preached in Indiana-Place Chapel, Boston. By James Freeman Clarke. Boston. Walker, Wise, & Co. 12mo. pp. vi, 348. $1.50.

Expository Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism. By George W. Bethune, D. D. In Two Volumes. Vol. II. New York. Sheldon & Co. 12mo. pp. 535. $2.25.

Over the River; or, Pleasant Walks into the Valley of Shadows, and Beyond. A Book of Consolations for the Sick, the Dying, and the Bereaved. By Thomas Baldwin Thayer. Boston. Tompkins & Co. 12mo. pp. 272. $1.25.

Naomi Torrento. The History of a Woman. By Gertrude F. De Vingut. New York. John Bradburn. 8vo. pp. 275. $2.00.

The Battle-Fields of our Fathers. By Virginia F. Townsend. New York. John Bradburn. 12mo. pp. 368. $1.50.

Precedents of American Neutrality, in Reply to the Speech of Sir Roundell Palmer, Attorney-General of England, in the British House of Commons, May 13, 1864. By George Bemis. Boston. Little, Brown, & Co. 8vo. paper. pp. viii., 83. 50 cents.

Rhode Island in the Rebellion. By Edwin M. Stone, of the First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery. Providence. George H. Whitney. 12mo. pp. xxxviii., 398.

The Coward. A Novel of Society and the Field in 1863. By Henry Morford. Philadelphia. T. B. Peterson & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 520. $2.00.

The Dead Shot; or, Sportsman's Complete Guide: Being a Treatise on the Use of the Gun, with Rudimentary and Finishing Lessons in the Art of shooting Game of all Kinds, Pigeon-Shooting, Dog-Breaking, etc. By Marksman. New York. W. A. Townsend. 16mo. pp. 282. $2.00.

Overland Explorations in Siberia, Northern Asia, and the Great Amoor River Country; Incidental Notices of Manchooria, Mongolia, Kamschatka, and Japan, with Map and Plan of an Overland Telegraph around the World, viâ Behring's Strait and Asiatic Russia to Europe. By Major Perry McD. Collins, Commercial Agent of the United States of America for the Amoor River, Asiatic Russia. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. iv., 467.[Pg 392]

Life with the Forty-Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers. By Henry T. Johns, late Quartermaster's Clerk Forty-Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers. Pittsfield. Published for the Author. 12mo. pp. 391. $1.25.

Woman and her Era. By Eliza W. Farnham. New York. A. J. Davis & Co. 12mo. Two Vols. pp. 318, 466. $3.00.

A Woman's Philosophy of Woman; or, Woman Affranchised. An Answer to Michelet, Proudhon, Girardin, Legouvé, Comte, and other Modern Innovators. By Madame D'Héricourt. New York. G. W. Carleton. 12mo. pp. 317. $1.50.

The New Internal Revenue Law, approved June 30, 1864, with Copious Marginal References, a Complete Analytical Index, and Tables of Taxation. Compiled by Horace E. Dresser. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 8vo. paper, pp. 122. 50 cents.

Personal and Political Ballads. Arranged and edited by Frank Moore. New York. G. P. Putnam. 32mo. pp. xvi., 368. $1.00.

Enoch Arden, etc. By Alfred Tennyson, D. C. L., Poet-Laureate. Boston. Ticknor & Fields. 16mo. pp. 204. $1.25.

Dramatis Personæ. By Robert Browning. Boston. Ticknor & Fields. 16mo. pp. 262. $1.50.

"Babble-Brook" Songs. By J. H. McNaughton. Boston. O. Ditson & Co. 16mo. pp. 237. $1.25.

The Early Dawn; or, Sketches of Christian Life in England in the Olden Time. By the Author of "Chronicles of Schönberg-Cotta Family." With Introduction by Professor Henry B. Smith, D. D. New York. M. W. Dodd, No. 506 Broadway. 12mo. pp. 397. $1.75.

The Forest Arcadia of Northern New York. Embracing a View of its Mineral, Agricultural, and Timber Resources. Boston. T. O. H. P. Burnham. 16mo. pp. 224. $1.50.

Azarian: An Episode. By Harriet Elizabeth Prescott, Author of "The Amber Gods," etc. Boston. Ticknor & Fields. 16mo. pp. 251. $1.25.

Man and his Relations: Illustrating the Influence of the Mind on the Body; the Relations of the Faculties to the Organs, and to the Elements, Objects, and Phenomena of the External World. By S. B. Brittan, M. D. New York. W. A. Townsend. 8vo. pp. xiv., 578. $3.50.

A Summer Cruise on the Coast of New England. By Robert Carter. Boston. Crosby & Nichols. 16mo. pp. 261. $1.00.

The Cliff-Climbers; or, The Lone Home in the Himalayas. A Sequel to "The Plant-Hunters." By Captain Mayne Reid, Author of "The Desert Home," "The Boy-Hunters," etc., etc. With Illustrations. Boston. Ticknor & Fields.