The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 108, October, 1866

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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 108, October, 1866

Author: Various

Release date: April 28, 2008 [eBook #25216]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine Paolucci and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
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A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by Ticknor and Fields, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

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



[Pg 385]


There is a rushing southwest wind. It murmurs overhead among the willows, and the little river-waves lap and wash upon the point below; but not a breath lifts my hair, down here among the tree-trunks, close to the water. Clear water ripples at my feet; and a mile and more away, across the great bay of the wide river, the old, compact brick-red city lies silent in the sunshine. Silent, I say truly: to me, here, it is motionless and silent. But if I should walk up into State Street and say so, my truth, like many others, when uprooted from among their circumstances, would turn into a disagreeable lie. Sharp points rise above the irregular profile of the line of roofs. Some are church spires, and some are masts,—mixed at the rate of about one church and a half to a schooner. I smell the clear earthy smell of the pure gray sand, and the fresh, cool smell of the pure water. Tiny bird-tracks lie along the edge of the water, perhaps to delight the soul of some millennial ichnologist. A faint aromatic perfume rises from the stems of the willow-bushes, abraded by the ice of the winter floods. I should not perceive it, were they not tangled and matted all around so close to my head.

Just this side of the city is the monstrous arms factory; and over the level line of its great dike, the chimneys of the attendant village of boarding-houses peep up like irregular teeth. A sail-boat glides up the river. A silent brown sparrow runs along the stems of the willow thicket, and delicate slender flies now and then alight on me. They will die to-night. It is too early in the spring for them.

The air is warm and soft. Now, and here, I can write. Utter solitude, warmth, a landscape, and a comfortable seat are the requisites. The first and the last are the chiefest; if but one of the four could be had, I think that (as a writer) I should take the seat. That which, of all my writing, I wrote with the fullest and keenest sense of creative pleasure, I did while coiled up, one summer day, among the dry branches of a fallen tree, at the tip of a long, promontory-like stretch of meadow, on the quiet, lonely, level Glastenbury shore, over against the [Pg 386]Connecticut State Prison at Wethersfield.

Well, here on the river-shore, I begin; but I shall not tell when I stop. Doubtless there will be a jog in the composition. The blue sky and clear water will fade out of my words all at once, and a carpet and hot-air furnace, perhaps, will appear.


Then, a life. And so I entered this world: a being, sliding obscurely in among human beings. But whence, or whither? Those questions belong among the gigantic, terrible ones, insoluble, silent,—the unanswering primeval sphinxes of the mind. We can sit and stare at such questions, and wonder; but staring and wondering are not thought. They are close to idiocy: both states drop the lower jaw and open the mouth; and assuming the idiotic physique tends, if there be any sympathetic and imitative power, to bring on the idiotic state. If we stare and wonder too long at such questions, we may make ourselves idiots,—never philosophers.

I do not recollect the innocent and sunny hours of childhood.[A] As to innocence, the remark of a certain ancient and reverend man, though sour, was critically accurate,—that "it is the weakness of infants' limbs, and not their minds, which are innocent." It is most true. Many an impotent infantine screech or slap or scratch embodies an abandonment and ecstasy of utter uncontrolled fury scarcely expressible by the grown-up man, though he should work the bloodiest murder to express it. And what adult manifestation, except in the violent ward of an insane retreat, or perhaps among savages,—the infants of the world,—equals, in exquisite concentration and rapture of fury, that child's trick of flinging himself flat down, and, with kicks and poundings and howls, banging his head upon the ground? Without fear or knowledge, his whole being centres in the one faculty of anger; he hurls the whole of himself slap against the whole world, as readily as at a kitten or a playmate. He would fain scrabble down through the heart of the earth and kill it, rend it to pieces, if he could! If human wickedness can be expressed in such a mad child, you have the whole of it,—perfectly ignorant, perfectly furious, perfectly feeble, perfectly useless.

And as to the sunny hours, I believe those delights are like the phantasmal glories of elf-land. When the glamour is taken away, the splendid feasts and draperies, and gold and silver, and gallant knights and lovely ladies, are seen to have been a squalid misery of poor roots and scraps, tatters and pebbles and bark and dirt, misshapen dwarfs and old hags. Or else, the deceitful vision vanishes all away, and was only empty, unconscious time. Or am I indeed unfortunate, and inferior to other men in innate qualities, in social faculty, in truthfulness of remembrance?

Let me see. Let me "set it out," as an attorney would say. Let me state and judge those primeval, or preliminary, or forming years of my life.

How many were they? More at the North, than in the hot, hurrying South. As a rule, the Northerner should be twenty-five years old before assuming to be a man. For my own part, I have always had an unpleasant consciousness, which I am only now escaping from, of non-precocity, anti-precocity, in fact, postcocity. I have been relatively immature. In important particulars I have been, somehow, ten years behind men—boys if you like—of my own age. The particulars I mean are those of intercourse with other people.

The first ten years of my life seem to me now to have been almost totally empty. I can conjure up, not without some effort, a scanty platoon of small, dim images from school and Sunday school and church and home; but they are few and faint.

I remember a little dirty-faced rampant girl at an infant school in Pine[Pg 387] Street, who was wont to scratch us with such fell and witch-like malignity and persistence, that the teacher was fain to sew up her small fists in unbleached cotton bags,—Miss Roquil's school (I never found out that the name was Rockwell until ten years afterwards,—so phonetic is nature!) in Parade Street, where the huge, cunning Anakim of the first class used to cajole me, poor little man, always foolishly benevolent, into bestowing upon them all the gingerbread of my lunch, which I gave, and found a dim, vague sense of incorrectness remaining in my childish mind. They must have been boys of fourteen or fifteen; but I remember them as of giantly stature and vast age.

A grisly being haunted the neighborhood through which I had afterwards to pass to another school,—a great, hulking, brutal fellow, Tom Reddiford by name, from whom I apprehended unimaginable tortures. I crept back and forth in such dumb, nameless frights as frontier children may have felt, who, in old times of Indian war, passed through woods where the red hand of a Wyandot might grasp them out of any bush. I have not the least idea why this wretched Reddiford used to hunt me so, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains, unless out of pure beastly enjoyment of my childish frights. He did, once or twice, hustle me about, I believe, but never inflicted actual bodily harm. I told my parents; but they helped me not at all. Either they thought I was not really scared, or that the experience would do me good; but it was a mistake. My father should have searched out this young bully and effectually quieted him. Fright is a most beneficial thing for bullies, but a sadly harmful one for a little boy. How fervently I vowed to "lick" that Tom Reddiford, if I ever grew half as big as he! Very likely he has died in a brawl or a poor-house by this time. But his outrages burnt into my mind scars so deep that they are part of its structure. I will pay him off yet, if I meet him.

Another awful figure haunted the same neighborhood,—"Old Britt," a street sot,—an old, filthy, unshorn hog of a man, moving in a halo of rags and effluvium,—whom I used to meet lurching along the pavement, or sometimes prone by the roadside in a nauseous rummy sleep. Him I passed by with a wide circuit of fear and disgust and detestation.

My local attachments must have been stunted, like the roots of plants often transplanted. They twine close and strong about no place. How could they, when in my native city alone—not to mention the six other towns where I have sojourned, four of whose names begin with the syllable "New"—I can count twenty houses where I remember to have lived? The Wandering Jew is a parable for a tenant housekeeper that "moves" every spring; and I might be his son. Cursed be moving! What a long list of houses! There is the A—— house, which I dimly recollect, and where I think we had some beehives; the S—— house, where we boarded, and I fell down and broke a bone; the L—— house, where also we boarded, and there were many young girls. There I dreamed of an angel,—a person about eight feet long, flying along past the second-story side-windows, in the conventional horizontal attitude, so suggestive of a "crick in the neck," with great, wide wings, tooting through a trumpet as long as himself; and out of each temple, as I distinctly remember, grew a thing like a knitting-needle, with a cherry on the end. There was also the Cl—— house, where was a tree of horrible, nauseating red plums; the W—— house, quaint and many-gabled; the C—— house, where I had my last whipping. Ah, that whipping,—those other whippings! How resolutely did they each make me vow that the next ugly thing which I could safely do should surely be done! A whipping inflicted upon a child old enough to remember it is almost certainly a horrible mistake. No one knows how often it happens that a child's sense of personal insult or degradation, though incapable[Pg 388] of expression, is every whit as quick and deep as a man's.

Other houses I remember,—in broad streets, narrow streets,—in close-built blocks, in open outskirts,—even a mile or two away among the green fields,—lived in, boarded in. I am cheated in heart by injurious superfluity of houses. One home, remembered alone, would stand embowered forever,—if not among ancestral trees and vines, then in clustering memories far more lovely and more cherished. But what dignity or beauty or quiet or distinctness can attach to the score of tenements that scurry helter-skelter through my memory? It is little better than the vision of the drunken men-at-arms in the castle of the parodist:—

"Then straight there did appear, to each gallant Gorbalier,
Forty castles dancing near, all around!"

An unblest memory!

I believe I once stole a quantity of rather moist brown sugar, and hid it, a clumsy, sticky, brown-paper parcel, between my bed and the sacking. A chambermaid discovered the corpus delicti, and something was done,—I forget what. But I wish I had never done anything worse!

O dear! I used to have to go to church twice every Sunday, and to Sunday school before forenoon service beside. I cannot express the extreme dreariness to me, poor little boy, of perching on those uncomfortable, old-fashioned, grown-up seats, too high for my little legs, too wide for my short thighs, so that I sat backless above and dangling below. What had I to do with those grown-up sermons? Men's talk is babble to a child, as much as children's to a man. The wind that blew past my ears meant as much, and sounded better. Or what were the prayers to me, or the singing? This perfunctory, formal early piety of mine had much influence, long afterward, by natural reaction. Nothing can better shadow forth the weariness of those weekly jornadas del muerto than the fact that I found now and then an oasis of delight in pious stories for children, out of the Sabbath-school library. Thus we hear of starving men chewing upon an old boot, or famished desert-travellers sucking rapturously at a hole full of mud. I remember once being so absorbed in a story during sermon-time, that, coming to a word of new and queer physiognomy, and having forgotten all circumstance, I repeated it, according to my custom, quite aloud. "Cuddy," I said, in the middle of the silence of a pause in the sermon. Everybody stared quickly at me. I might as well have uttered a round oath. The awful shame that flushed me and crushed me cannot be imagined. My parents talked kindly, but seriously, to me for such an irreverence; yet I suspect that by themselves they laughed. This book was a story called "Erminia," with an East India voyage in it. I don't know why the name should stick so fast in my memory these thirty years.

My parents, alike inflexible in hygiene and morality, had reasons out of either realm against those stomachic reinforcements to religion which can mollify so sweetly the child's desert pathway through "meeting." Neither cooky, raisin, nor peppermint lozenge would they dispense. It would violate two important rules,—"Attend to the sermon," and "No eating between meals";—the latter law, otherwise of Medo-Persic stringency, having only this severe and secular exception: "My son, if you are hungry, you can eat a piece of good dry bread. You may have that."

So much the more lovely is the remembrance of that kind interceder, usually an occupant of the same pew with ourselves, who, regarding the minister the while with unmoved countenance, was wont ever and anon, with quiet hand, to insinuate within my childish grasp the beatifying lozenge, or the snow-white and aromatic sassafras or wintergreen "pipe." The sweet savor of those frequent gifts, sweeter for their half-secret, half-forbidden conferring, will never disappear[Pg 389] out of my memory. That candy, if I had the power, should be paid for with rewards (not one whit more worth, if loving-kindness in giving be any criterion), in a place where, we are told, "congregations ne'er break up, and Sabbaths have no end,"—and where, therefore, let us earnestly hope, their delights are superior to those of their earthly antetypes.

Behind us, all one year, there sat in church a platoon of imps. They were children of a red-eyed father, who must have been a drinker; they were curiously ugly in countenance; and they used at once to prove and practise their petty demonism by tormenting us who sat in the pew just before them. They slyly pulled our hair; poked us, and then, when we turned round, made frightful, malignant faces close to ours; talked loud in sermon-time; dropped crumbs down the backs of our necks; and whispered loudly in our scandalized ears that standing, supreme reproach and insult of my childish days—then confined to little boys, since adopted by the great Democratic party—of "Nigger! Nigger!"

We had not, perhaps, too many rules at home. (There were sometimes too many at school.) Some of them were well enough. We might not have both butter and molasses, or butter and sugar, on the same piece of bread. One luxury was enough. Flavors too compound coax toward the Epicurean sty; the most compound of all is doubtless that of the feast which the pig eateth. "Shut the door,"—a good rule. "No reading before breakfast, nor by firelight, nor by lamp-light, nor between daylight and dark,"—an indispensable rule for such book-devouring children as we were. But on the question of rules it is to be observed, that the thing to be desired is to train a child to understand or feel a principle, and to apply it, not merely to remember and obey a rule. The reason and the moral nature should be enlisted in support of the law. The theory of American mental and moral education is, Minimum, of formal law and brute force, maximum of intelligent self-control and kindly adaptation. Mere codes of rules, whether at home or at school, set the children at work, with all their sharp, unregenerate little wits, to pick flaws, draw distinctions, and quibble on interpretations. They become abominably shrewd in a degrading, casuistical strict-constructionism. In spite of everything, the little, cunning, irresponsible, non-moral beings will be successfully appealing to the letter of the law against the spirit, and warping and drying up all their tenderness of conscience, all their capability of broad and generous applications of right and noble principle.

I disliked fat meat and fat people. I used to like to be with the hired girls in the kitchen. I was entirely untouched by the often-repeated expositions made to me of the vulgarity of such habits, and of the low esteem in which I should be held in consequence. What is vulgarity to a child? Spontaneity, unconscious existence, has no vulgarities. Vulgarity comes of restraints and distortions; and a child's life is commonly for a time untouched by the girdling and compression of forms and conventionalities. Besides, to a child of positive traits, those persuasions are utterly forceless which, instead of being addressed to the prominent faculties, are directed to those comparatively deficient. It is no matter how well such considerations are suited to the character of the persuader, to a conventional human nature, to the a priori child. Thus, in the matter of kitchen-haunting, the appeal was made to my regard for the opinions of others. As I was naturally disregardful of the opinions of others, the appeal did not affect me.

Besides, we used to have hired girls as superior to the Biddies of to-day as a patriarch is to a laquais de place. Possibly hereditary friendly relations with a few individuals may have made us more fortunate than some other families. From whatever cause, we enjoyed through most of my childhood the ministrations of two or three[Pg 390] women of American race, of intelligence, character, and self-respect. It is scarcely possible that the vulgarity which my parents apprehended was anything worse than colloquial New England provincialism. It is possible that they may have feared lest in time the kitchen-door should introduce me to that Devil's school for boys, the city street.

These domestics were themselves competent housekeepers, and could have maintained good repute and creditable hospitality, had they possessed the means, even among the far-renowned "old-fashioned H—— housekeepers." My remembrances of them are scanty. There were Lois and Hannah, tall, thin, angular Yankee women, grave, trustworthy, and efficient. There was Emily, a dignified personage, portly and composed, an excellent and faithful woman and a good manager, unfailingly kind to us little folks, a wondrously skilful compounder of pies, cakes, and gingerbreads. She was wont to wear a white turban or similar head-dress of wreathed draperies; and often, with serious face, she puzzled me, and silenced my childish inquiries about the nature or purpose of ingredient or process, by saying that it was "Laro for meddlers." In those days I speculated deeply as to whether there did exist any such real substance as "Laro." In this mystic and apparently underived term, the a is broad, as in "ah!" It may be spelled "Lahro," for what I know.

I do remember, in particular, a tidy, laborious, parsimonious, pragmatical little Scotchwoman, Christiana. Once upon a time, in the days of allopathic rule, my mother compounded a mighty pitcher of senna mixture. This—its actual deglutition, by some blessed chance, not becoming necessary—she set up, with a housekeeper's saving instinct, on the pantry shelf, instead of pouring it into the gutter. So Christiana, thrifty soul, and still more saving, could not endure the wasting of so much virtue, and set herself stoutly to utilize the decoction by consuming it to her own sole use and behoof, which she accomplished by way of relaxation, so to speak, in single doses, at leisure times, within a few days. Her own and her employer's respective economies were fitly rewarded by an illness, through which my mother had to take care of her.

One morning, so early that it was not quite light, I hung about the kitchen table, slyly securing little lumps of the cold hasty-pudding which was being sliced in order to be fried for breakfast. Having snapped up a very nice one, as big as a walnut, lo and behold! when I chewed, it was lard. There was direful retching and hasty ejection. The disagreeable, cold, soft, greasy rankness of the morsel is extreme: if you don't believe it, try it. I think this affair may have been a cold-blooded scheme of the hired-girl. But it was years before I became so suspicious as to place this sad construction upon the occurrence, though I often remembered it.

Like all children, I was fond of candy, sweetmeats, and spices. Yet not of allspice or nutmeg, nor of mace, which tastes of soap. I have known of cases where parents claimed that their children were not fond of such things. Believe them not. I liked pie, but not pudding; the rich, heavy fruit-cake of weddings, good, honest gingerbread, the brisk, crispy heat of the brittle ginger-snap, but not "plain cake,"—absurd viand! It is of the essence of cake not to be plain. As well say, acid sweetness. Nor did I like the hereditary election-cake of my ancient State and city. Fat pork I could not swallow; nor onions nor cabbage,—gross, indelicate vegetables! And even now, as well present upon my table that other diabolic cabbage of the New England swamps,—in old legend said to have been conjured up out of the ground by the Indian pow-wows, to beautify and perfume the dank and gloomy resorts where Satan was wont to drill them in their hellish exercises,—as its grandchild, the big booby of the garden. For is it not deservedly, if disrespectfully, named a cabbage-head?[Pg 391] That is because it is the Vegetable Booby.

Naturally, I did not like that concoction so dear to the heart of good old-fashioned Connecticut folks, a biled-dish (accent on biled). This, O vast majority of ignoramuses, is corned beef and cabbage boiled together. As for onions, if I could not escape them in any other way, I would organize a party on the Great Wethersfield Question, and lead it, a Connecticut Cato, with the motto, "Censeo Wethersfieldiam delendam esse." Nor would I rest until that alliaceous metropolis was fairly tipped over into Connecticut River, and sent drowning down to Long Island Sound.

There is yet another cell in the cavern of memory,—a gloomy and horrid one,—the torture-chamber. It is the remembrance of sickness and its attendant pharmaceutic devils. O ye witch's oils, hell-broths red and black, pills, and electuaries! the unsuccessful experiments—instrumentalities of death too slow for the occasion, but masterly in their kind—of the Pandemoniac host in those Miltonian, infernal chemics which resulted in gunpowder and cannon-balls! What agonies from horrific stench and flavor, in close, dreary rooms, under hot, unwelcome blankets, do ye recall!

It is not that I complain of all those inexplicable diseases, opprobria medicinæ, so pusillanimously submitted to by civilized humanity and its physicians,—chicken-pox, measles, whooping-cough, mumps. I complain, indeed, of no diseases, but of their treatment. But let me not delay longer than is needful amid such distressful recollections. Three hateful decoctions were known to me by the phonetics, Lixipro, Lixaslutis, and Lixusmatic. I don't know what they were, and I don't want to know. Devil's elixirs were they all. Rubbub and magnesia,—endless imprecations rest upon that obnoxious red mixture! And chiefest of them all—Arimanes of the whole bad crew, though Agag is the only really suitable royal name I can think of—is that slow, greasy horror, whose superhuman excess of unutterable abomination no words can express, and even inarticulate ejaculations made on purpose cannot at all show forth,—as urk! huk! agh!—chiefest among them all, castor oil!

I hurry away from the awful scene. Let me be thankful that I swallowed but little calomel. Let me be thankful that, after a time, I could not swallow castor oil. Spasmodic regurgitations, as if one had attempted to load a gun having a live coal at the far end, closed perforce that chapter of torments. And soon thereafter arose the benign genius of homœopathy, with healing in its neat little white-paper wings. Beautiful Homœopathy, the real Angel in the House, if Mr. Coventry Patmore had only known it! Hast thou not long ago appeared, veiled in an allegory, before an unrecognizing world? Surely, what but homœopathic medicine was that wondrous talisman with which Adonbec El Hakim cured the Melech Ric? To be taken in a tumbler about two thirds full of water, as now; but in those early times, and for such a very large man, at one gulp, instead of by hourly teaspoonfuls. Or perhaps the manuscripts may have been corrupted in that passage by unscrupulous mediæval physicians of the school of Salerno, or other regular institutions.

I suppose I must have played a good deal; but there are reasons why this may not have been the case. The chief of them is, that whereas I have subsequently commonly attained a fair degree of excellence in what I have learned, I did not in the staple games of my childhood do so. In marbles, spinning top, and ball I was inferior,—indeed, scarcely at home in the technics of some of them. The games of marbles which I see now-a-days seem to centre upon the projection of the missile into a hole in the ground. In my day we used to play upon the surface of the earth; sometimes "in the big ring," where each combatant fired at the marbles grouped in the centre, from any point upon the external orbit;[Pg 392] sometimes "in the little ring," where the shot was made from the place where the projectile lodged last; sometimes "at chasings," where the players fired alternately, each at the marble of his adversary. Concerning this last game, I remember the following terms: "ebs," which, seasonably vociferated, that is, when it is the speaker's turn to play and before his adversary can say anything, serves as an incantation authorizing the speaker to deliver his fire from any point other than that where his marble lies, equally distant from the objective point; "clearings," in like manner, authorizing the preparation of a reasonably unobstructed line of fire; and "fen ebs," "fen clearings," and "fen everythings," to be pronounced before the other player speaks, and which, by virtue of the prohibitory syllable "fen" (défendre, Fr.), prevent respectively ebs, clearings, and everything,—that is to say, any elusion or amelioration of the existing conditions of fire.

In games of ball, to confess the truth, I was but feeble. Scarce, indeed, was I of average skill in any of them except the simplest two,—"bung-ends," and "one old cat." In the first of these, one boy throws the ball against the side of a house, or other perpendicular unelastic plane, while the other smites it with his club at the rebound. In the second, played as a trio, boy A throws the ball at boy B, standing opposite, whose duty is to smite, while boy C, behind B, catches B out in case of a miss.

I was pretty good at "tag" and "catch," games of running and dodging. In these, one boy is called "it," i. e. leader, or victim. He pursues the rest; and the games are alike, except that in "catch" he who is to be made "it" must be caught and held by him who is "it," whereas in "tag" a touch is sufficient to transfer the responsibility, and inaugurate the new choragus.

There. Such quaint scraps are all that is left me of my existence as a little child. I know men who say, that, within their own consciousness and memories, they have the witness and knowledge of a life even before that of this humanity. But, for my own part, I should never know, by anything in my own memory, that I had been a baby,—that I was or did anything before that first school where the ferocious little girl was handcuffed in unbleached-cotton bags, for scratching.

"The child is father of the man," saith the great poet of dry sentimentalizing. Therefore the man's endeavor to remember about his childhood might reasonably be expected to bring him into limbo patrum. But it is a dim and narrow field to grope in. It is not wandering in a darkened world,—it is feeling in a dark closet.

It was an unconscious brief advance from nothing to very little. Yes, but still there must have been some dim features of the dawning character. No doubt. The heedless, complying, unjudging benevolence, for instance, that gave away all my gingerbread to the young Anakim of Parade Street, was one. It was liable afterwards to invert, by reacting from such over-operation as that, into an equally unjudging disregard of the wants and needs of others.

And now, What was it? This is no foolish nor unimportant inquiry. If I could answer it sufficiently, I should at once supply the basis of whole systems of mental and moral art and science. Such whole systems indeed—for instance, the muddy distractions of the Scotch metaphysicians—have already been based upon the phantasms of wiggy old doctors who dived backward into themselves,—jumping down their own throats, as it were, in their search after knowledge, as did the seventh Arabian Brother in the Spectator (is it not?) "with seven candles in each hand, lighted at both ends,"—and said, "When I began to think, I must necessarily have thought thus and thus." This was all very scientific. But for usefulness it would have been better to inquire, not what they must have thought, but what they did think.

Indeed, hitherto the history of mental[Pg 393] philosophy is the history of the ignorance of man about himself; and since science must be built upon induction, and since phrenology has now established a classification—approximately correct and sufficient for working purposes—of the mental faculties, it is now quite in order to review the old inductions from the history of the individual, and to accumulate new ones. Even the mere trifles of these recollections of mine, some of them at least, must have an actual philosophical value, if only they are true and well enough stated.

Thank goodness, that, at any rate, I was not a remarkable child! It is the average record which has most value. The remarkable child is not a magnified child, but a distorted one; not a young giant, but a young monster.

No tract or little 24mo. would have been published about me by the American Sunday-School Union, if I had died young. No brilliant repartees by me are on record. No sweet remembrance is in blossom about me of a grim, unchildish pleasure in preferring the convenience or enjoyment of others to my own. In an instance where I remember to have tried to do as the good boys do in the story-books, by giving away my one cooky, the quick reaction into common sense sent me in grief to my mother, making use of natural tears and a specious plea of what I had done to get me another cooky, or perchance two. It was a dead failure. My mother knew too well the importance of the great moral lesson to let me reap material advantage from my good deed. She relegated me to the unfailing good dry bread, explaining how I could find abundant satisfaction within my own breast for doing a kind action,—how virtue was to be its own reward. I looked for the said reward, but could not see it. It was not satisfaction within my breast that I wanted, but within my stomach and on my palate. Benevolence will not supplement alimentiveness in the small boy. If I gathered any reward at all, it was in the hard wisdom of my resolve not to be caught in any such nonsense again.

I had not, as had a little monster of misplaced piety whose case is recorded in the good children's books, "at the early age of six made up my mind on all the great questions of the day." Yet I think I can remember yelling out "Hurra for Jackson!" because it was a good easy shout, although my father was a strong, steady Whig. There is practical democracy in that. First choice of shouts is much toward winning the battle.

I was not remarkable for early piety, sweetness of disposition, wit, beauty (I must certainly have been, as a child, skinny), or helpful kindness (except that irrational benevolence of mine).

I have been told that I learned to read, nobody knew how, all by myself, by the time I was four years old. How that may be I don't know; but I do know that I did not know how to read when I was twenty years old.

I was a "natural speller." It is no joke, but one of the proverbial fools' truths, which Dogberry enounces when he says that "reading and writing come by nature." They do. And so does spelling. Abundance of well-educated people never escape from occasional perturbations in orthography, just as they never learn a desirable handwriting, nor how to read silently fast and well, or well aloud. It is because they cannot; because they have not what Nature gave Neighbor Seacoal; because spelling and reading and writing are "gifts,"—they come by nature.

What I learned at school in those first ten years I do not know. Almost nothing. I have utterly forgotten what. I might have been much better taught. I might have been instructed in thinking. I do not mean that a child of eight or nine years old can or should be made to see, judge, and conclude upon new matters with the discovering and advancing power of a philosopher. But he may be made to perform his own proper little mental operations, no matter how small they are, on the same principle,—on the principle of actual[Pg 394] understanding, instead of mere sole memorizing.

All my instructors, whether they meant to do so or not, did in fact proceed as if they believed children's minds to be, not live fountains, but empty cisterns; not to be capable of thought; like an empty house, to be furnished for a tenant; needing to be fitted up with a store of lifeless forms, which the adult life, when it came, was to breathe vitality into and turn to living uses. I learned rules. "Here, little boy," they said, "swallow these oyster-shells. They will lie naturally and easily in your stomach until you grow up, because little boys' stomachs are adapted for the storage of oyster-shells; and when you are a man, and want oysters, put some in there." But does it stand to reason that children, who manipulate words and figures, and produce results without understanding the rules they apply,—just as a wizard's apprentice could evoke his master's demons without knowing the meaning of the awful syllables he recited, so that Southey's arcanum of Aballiboozobanganorribo might respectably serve as one of them,—does it stand to reason that these unhappy young jugglers will the better learn to do the same work intelligently afterwards? No; for they have to dislodge the bad habit which has pre-empted, before they can install the good one. As well undertake to train a new Mozart by making the bright little music-loving boy grind ten years on a barrel-organ with La ci darem in its bowels.

I remember a fondness for long, large, grown-up words; doubtless, in some measure, a result of my constant practice of reading grown-up people's books. It was a mere verbal memory, the driest of all the intellectual faculties. Scarcely a faint perfume of meaning lingered about the rattling piles of husks that I could say and spell.

What I learned at Sunday school and church was to be inexpressibly weary of them. What I learned at home I can perhaps define but little better. I gained no important result from any direct instruction. I gained something of good-boy behavior and decent manners, diligently trained into me. But what was most valuable in my home education was unconscious infiltration from a good home-atmosphere. This is an influence of incalculable importance, a thousand times outweighing all the schools. It is that for which God established the family; the one single possible real and efficient means of well bringing up the young. And whatever shades of repression, misunderstanding, ungeniality, restraint, may have sometimes troubled me, still I constantly feel and fully know that that pure, calm, quiet, bright, loving, intelligent, refined atmosphere of my home silently and unconsciously penetrated and vivified all my being. If now I should be told, "You are no very splendid exemplar of the results of such influences," I should still say, "Most true, unfortunately true; but what should I have been without them?"

I had brothers and sisters,—a few playmates; but neither they, nor any other human beings, not even my parents, seem to have been during those years, to any important extent, directly operative within or upon the sphere and character of my own real conscious existence. That life figures itself in my memory much like a magic circle, within which I was alone, and did my scanty little thinkings and imaginings alone. The rest of the living were outside, unreal,—phantoms moving to and fro, around and without, but never coming within that limit,—never entering into living communion with me. This constitutional solitude of mind has a useful office, perhaps not to be easily explained, but sometimes not otherwise to be performed.

This isolation was, in part, unnecessary. To a certain extent the necessity for it still remains. But in part it was artificial,—my unconscious reaction against an ill-adapted influence,—the resisting force of a trait which, like all those other early traits, has become visible to me, like the blind paths over bogs, now that I am a long way off.[Pg 395] This trait I have already spoken of. It was an insensibility to a certain motive, rather prominent among those commonly proposed to me for my own government of myself. This was variously framed thus:—It is not usual to do this; it is usual to do that; if you proceed so and so, it will seem singular; people will talk about it; you will offend people's usages and habits; you will seem singular and odd. Against such cautions I rebelled with a mute, indignant impulse, which I was not old enough to enounce or to argue. It was, however, the result of two characteristics;—one, the natural lack of instinctive desire for the good opinion of others; and the other, a corresponding instinct for living out my own life fully and freely, not so as to infringe upon the just rights of others, but not stinting or distorting or amputating myself, even though others set the example. It was the old fable reversed,—the fox disinclined to cut off his tail, even though all the other foxes had cut off theirs. And the fact that people older than I, and several of them, and for year after year, urged upon me the considerations I have spoken of, never availed. That key would not move the mechanism of my mind. It did not fit.

My childhood seems to me far more memorable for what it had not, was not, than for what it had and was. I do not believe this is because mine was an especially unfortunate or unhappy childhood. As I have hinted before, it was because childhood is empty,—an unconscious, imperfect life,—almost animal,—germinal,—a life in the egg, in the jelly, in the sap. The experiences of childhood are seed-leaves. They drop quickly away and utterly disappear, and even the scars where they grew cease to show on the stem. Probably I seemed to myself to enjoy life when I was a child. Children whom I see daily seem to do so. But thought is life. Mere enjoyment is dreaming. It may seem to cover hours or days or years of experience, but when we awake it has been only a point of time. But this pleasure-dream is worse than a sleep-dream. Over its costly actuality of time, cut out and dropped down out of life, the hither and thither ends of the shortened thread of existence must be knotted together into a cord of diminished length, strength, and value.

In sum: This child which I was was a semi-embryonic creature, mostly unconscious, whose ten years' career, now chiefly faded into entire blankness, showed not many mental traits. The chief were quick and retentive verbal memory, quick, undiscriminating, impulsive, unreasonable kind-heartedness, and an insensibility, even an instinctive opposition, to the approvings or disapprovings of others. Or the child might be stated thus: Nervous and sensitive organization, intellect predominant; in the intellect the perceptive faculties most active, and of these chiefly that which notices and compares exteriors; beside the intellect, a kind-heartedness without balance, and therefore too great; too little caution, and too little love of approbation. Around these features others have grown up, of course; but these were, so to speak, the primary strata of the formation, underlying the other elements, determining their tendencies, and cropping out through them.

This child was all but empty, unsubstantial, imperfect; incapable, then, of much life from within itself, little helped by thoughts or other aid from without. The efforts made by others to operate on it were faithful, kindly, well meant, but not adapted to its individuality. The fact is, that, so far as they had any supposed basis on system, it was on the Scotch empirical analysis of perception, conception, reason, will; a Procrustean mental philosophy which absolutely ignores individuality, and assumes that all human beings are alike. It is as good as the little boys' conventional system of portraiture. A round O, two dots, a perpendicular line between them, and a horizontal one across below, displays every face. Such was Christ and such was Judas; such was Messalina and such was Florence Nightingale. But there is a better philosophy of the mind.


[A] The paragraphs here following were written in the summer of 1862, and had been meditated or memorandumed long before. Thus they were not derived from the similar disquisitions of Gail Hamilton in the Atlantic for January, 1863. There is no danger that anybody will suspect that spirituelle lady of extracting her sunbeams out of my poor old cucumbers.

[Pg 396]


In Memoriam, January 12, 1866.

The snow-flakes floated many a star
To earth, from pale December's skies,
When a fair spirit from afar
Smiled through an infant's violet eyes.
And as she sweetly breathed, the hours
Wove, like a robe of gossamer,
All grace about her, while the flowers
Their tints and perfumes gave to her.
In after time, when violets grew,
And pale anemones veiled the land,
She drooped her modest eyes of blue,
And gave to Love her maiden hand.
Four times the holy angels came,
To greet her with a dear unrest;
And, in a mother's saintly name,
Left a young angel on her breast.
Eight lustrums pure celestial eyes
Beamed through her tender, loving gaze,
Commingling all the sweet surprise
Of heavenly with the earthly rays.
At last, her gentle face grew pale
As the anemones of spring;
And whiter than her bridal veil
Was that in which she took her wing.
And than that fixed despair more white,
Softly the stars, in feathery snows,
Came, covering with serener light
Her folded hands, her meek repose.
Pale stars, through which the Night looked down,
Until they wept away in showers
On those dear hands, which clasped the crown,
And closer still the cross, of flowers.
The snow-flakes melt on earth in tears;
The eternal stars in glory shine;
While in the shroud of desolate years
Dead Love awaits the immortal sign.

[Pg 397]


In looking over the papers of our deceased friend, the following diary was discovered. It being too lengthy to copy in full, we omit many of the incidents, as well as the "Account of the Ohio Prophetess," and some religious discussions, chiefly on doctrinal points.—J. S.


April 13, 18—.—Captain Welles was here this morning, advising daddy to buy a horse-cart. Frederic favors it; but daddy doesn't approve of newfangled contrivances. He says we can do as we always have done, viz., carry the grain to mill on horseback, or, when there's a heavy load, take the oxen.

Captain Welles's kindness to me is wonderful, considering that I can in no way favor him, being poor, and without knowledge, and wellnigh friendless. He talked with me to-day, while I was working on the fences, about my mind and my soul, and also about getting along in the world. He counselled me to keep a diary, mentioning many advantages arising therefrom. As what I write is only for my own eye, I will put down that he warned me against being vain of a comely face.

He was a sailor in the ship that brought over Mr. Murray, the preacher of that belief which daddy says is a sin to speak of. But Captain Welles has told me of many things he said on board the vessel, which sound heavenly; also of sermons he preached to the crew, that seem in no way blasphemous, as Aunt Bethiah says the new doctrines are.

They were shipwrecked on the Jersey coast, and experienced great suffering. Shortly after they gained the shore, a man came along, who cried out, as soon as he saw the preacher: "Why, you are the very man I've waited for so long! I have built a meeting-house on purpose for you!" This is very wonderful, when we think that Mr. Murray was never in our country before, and that the man was never out of it.

May 1.—Twenty years old to-day! Just ten years since daddy took me out of the poor-house! How kind they've all been to me! Frederic and Elinor and mammy, and, for the most part, Aunt Bethiah, though she is very precise. If I could only forget where I came from. Captain Welles says it is false pride; but that doesn't hinder its plaguing me. When a thorn pricks, it pricks, whether of a rose-bush or a bramble.

As long as I went to school the boys called me "Poor'us," "Poor'us," only when Frederic was by they didn't dare, for fear of his thrashing them, he was so stout and tall; and he has been growing ever since. Aunt Bethiah says it is reaching and tiptoeing up to the high shelves after company-cake, that makes him so tall. I heard her telling mammy that she fairly laid awake nights, contriving places where to hide things.

"Poor Freddy," says mammy, "he don't have no great of an appetite to eat."

"News to me," says Aunt Bethiah.

She's always on the look-out for him; but, with the whole house on her shoulders, she can't be everywhere. Last fall, while the shoemaker was here making up our winter shoes, Frederic got him to put squeaking leather into one of hers, and not into the mate of it. Then he could tell her step, for she would go "squeak," "——," "squeak," "——." Mammy knew, for her arm-chair wasn't a great ways off from the shoe-bench; but then Frederic's her idol, and all he does is right. Many's the nice bit she has tucked away for him, when[Pg 398] Aunt Bethiah's back was turned; and does yet, for all he's a man grown.

He laughs at his grandmother about her plasters and medicines; but he is as full of feeling as he is of fun. Gets up the coldest nights in winter, when she's taken worse, to run for the neighbors, crying, when he thinks nobody sees. Who would think, to see him in his capers, he could ever shed a tear? Nights, when the chores are done, he sits down close to mammy, till the candles are lit. When he was little, 't would be on a cricket, with his head in her lap, and saying his verses; and she would tell him of his pious mother, who had a lovely countenance, and who died young, being willing to go; or of his father, who mourned himself into the grave, for the loss of his dear young wife.

But now he has grown up, he relates to her whatever has happened through the day, if it is only the finding of a hen's nest. This serves to take up her mind, and gives her something to look forward to. After that he reads, or does odd jobs of mending; and, two nights a week, brushes up and goes a-courting. And he's only a year older than I am! I shall never go a-courting. "Poor'us," "Poor'us." Who would want a "poor'us?"

In a few weeks, Elinor will come home for good. Her father's relations have done well by her, and would be glad to keep her always. People say she has bad great advantages, and Hope she will not be spoiled; but that can't be. She was always good, and always will be.

May 5.—'T was just about such a day as this, ten years ago, that Aunt Bethiah came out into the porch, and found me leaning up against the meal-chest. Daddy had just brought me home. He wasn't blind then, though he wore a green shade. How scared I was at Aunt Bethiah!—she looked so tall, and dark, and—hard, like Greatheart's wife, if he ever had one. It doesn't seem possible that she can be mammy's own sister.

Daddy said, "Mammy, suppose we keep him?" And she made answer, that mebby I might save poor Freddy some steps. Then Aunt Bethiah said, "More men folks, more work," and that Frederic knew how to save his own steps. But I stayed, for daddy's mind was made up beforehand, and daddy always has his will, though it is in a gentle way.

Elinor was a little girl then. She sat down with me in the window-seat, and showed me her new primer, and whispered softly that Aunt Bethiah would like me, if I wiped my feet.

Poor mammy! How long she has been sick! She sits in the same chair and in the same corner that she did the night I was brought. Some women wouldn't think of anybody but themselves; but she has a care over the whole neighborhood. She's always steeping up herbs or spreading plasters for somebody. Should like to know how many weight of Burgundy pitch and Dr. Oliver's salve I've run to the doctor's for. I remember how I coughed that first night.

"What a dreadful cough that poor child's got!" said she. "Elinor, reach me the bellows, and hold the blade o' the knife to the fire, and warm it warm. He must have a plaster between his shoulders."

So she laid the bellows across her lap, and spread a plaster, and told me not to tear it off as soon as it began to tickle me, but to rub my back against the door. And there were doors enough, I thought, set round that big kitchen. Nine poor boys, with dreadful coughs, could have found room.

I remember how we used to climb up to the easterly room door, which had squares of glass set in the top, and look through at the best things that were kept shut up there. And how every Sunday night we used to go into the westerly room, and watch for the sun to go down, before we could step out of doors.

May 8.—Helped Frederic to-day to weed out mammy's herb-garden. He[Pg 399] keeps it neat as a pin, but has his fun out of it all the same. It is right under the window, where she can see growing her saffron and sage, peppermint, cumfrey, and all the rest. I don't know the names of half. Frederic calls them "health-root," "lullaby-root," "doctor's defiances," "step-quickeners," or whatever comes into his head.

Besides these, which he calls the regular practics, there are all the wild herbs to be gathered in. Mullein, motherwort, thoroughwort, golden-rod, everlasting, burdock-leaves, may-weed, must all be dried and hung up in the garret. Aunt Bethiah groans, but grabs them up with her long fingers, and has them out of the way in less than no time. Daddy calls it mammy's harvest.

Poor old man! How pitiful it is to see him groping about so, with his white face and silvery hair! Yet, to look at his countenance, nobody would say he was blind; for, though his eyes are closed, he seems to see with his whole face. I don't know how to write it down; but I mean, that the look which most people have only in their eyes seems to be spread over his whole countenance, and lights it up and makes it beautiful. Sometimes I turn my eyes away, for it seems as if I were looking at his soul,—and the soul is so mysterious!

May 12.—Frederic's great-uncle Frederic has died, and left him a little bag of silver dollars. He sat down on the floor, and made me sit down on the other side, and we rolled them to each other, just like little boys. He has given us one apiece, and put one in the drawer for Elinor. Elinor and I always used to keep our money together. When it is full, the box is to be broken open, and we shall buy the best books there are. Daddy has been asking when she will come back. By the 1st of June certainly. We've heard of several poor people finding a silver dollar under their plates. Frederic never can keep anything to himself.

May 20.—Frederic has been to Boston, and bought cloth for a tail-coat, and had it cut out by a Boston tailor. It is blue, and cost ten dollars a yard. Mary Swift has been here all the week, making it up. The buttons are gilt, and cost six dollars a dozen. A good many of the neighbors have been in to see it. Those who live farther off will have a chance to-morrow, when he goes to meeting.

May 22.—Yesterday was the Sabbath, and Frederic wore his coat to meeting. Aunt Bethiah took extra pains with his ruffles, so as to have everything correspond. He had on his new boots, with tassels on the tops, and they shone like glass bottles. He frizzed his front hair himself. But I had to braid his cue, and tie on the bow. Blue becomes him, on account of his fairness and his fresh color. I was never struck before with the resemblance of brother and sister; only she is more delicate looking.

She will be very proud of him. We all are, but try not to let it be seen. Mammy is, for all she counselled him to fix his attention on the discourse, and think only such thoughts as he would like to remember at the day of judgment. As we walked out of the yard, I caught sight of her twinkling black eyes over the window-curtain. Such a piece of work too as she makes getting up out of her chair! How handsome and noble he looked, fit for an emperor! Dreadful red, though, by the time we got sot down in meeting; for our pew is a good way up, and his boots squeaked, and we'd heard that all the singers were going early, to see him come into meeting, and Lucy sits in the seats.

After sundown took a pleasant walk through the woods, over to the schoolmaster's boarding-place, to carry back the two last books he lent me,—the poems of Burns and of Henry Kirke White.

Aunt Bethiah found one of them amongst the hay, when she was hunting for her setting-hen. She declares[Pg 400] that reading is a dreadful waste of time, and poetry-books are worse than all, and nothing but sing-song.

May 26.—I wish I knew whether there was any merit in me or not. Most people can tell, by the manners of others towards them. But I had such a mean start! No matter how well people treat me, it all, in my estimation, settles down to one thing,—"Poor'us."

It is either, "I will treat you well because you came out of the poor-house," or, "I will treat you well notwithstanding you came from the poor-house." Captain Welles tells me I can make myself just what I want to be; but Aunt Bethiah says that is dreadful wicked doctrine, and daddy rather agrees with her; but it seems to me there can't be any harm in doing my best.

I am very ignorant, and not only so, but I hardly even know what there is to learn. From the schoolmaster's books I get but scraps of knowledge. Supposing I never saw a flower, and somebody should bring me a leaf of a violet, or a clover-head. What should I know of tulips and pinks, or the smell of roses, or of all the flowers that grow in the fields and gardens? The books speak of music, of pictures, of great authors, of the wonders of the sea, of rocks, of stars. Shall I ever learn about all these?

May 30.—In a week Elinor comes. Mammy thinks she will be all run down, and is steeping up white-oak bark and cherry-tree twigs. Elinor will make up faces, I know; but mammy will make her take it. She didn't see Frederic when he dropped in the red pepper. I wouldn't have him know for anything that I skimmed it out.

Captain Welles has bought a chaise. There are now two in the place. His is green-bottomed. It has a most agreeable leathery smell, and a gentle creak which is very pleasant. The minister's is dark blue. They are set high, and the tops tip forward, serving to keep out both sun and rain. Poor Mrs. Scott was buried to-day.

June 7.—Elinor came yesterday, late in the afternoon. Frederic brought her from the tavern. The horse shied at an old coat thrown over a fence and came nigh throwing them both.

I expected to be very glad when Elinor got home, but I'm feeling many things besides gladness.

The people she's been staying with are fashionable and polite, and she has caught their ways, and I can't say but they hang prettily about her. Her aunt is a minister's wife, and akin to a judge, so she has seen the very best of company, and heard the talk of educated people.

But she was glad enough to get home, and said pretty things to us all. Aunt Bethiah says she looks very genteel. She has had her gowns altered to the new fashion, and had on her neck a handsome handkerchief which she worked at the boarding-school. She has also worked a long white veil, very rich, and has made a cape of silk-weed. Besides this, she has painted a light-stand. It is made of bird's-eye maple, and has a green silk bag hanging from underneath. They don't speak of these in daddy's hearing.

After supper, he took her up on his knee and stroked her hair, and said, "Now let us sing rock-a-by as we used to." So, with her head on his shoulder, he rocked and sang rock-a-by, while she laughed. At last she jumped up and ran off to see the bossy.

When she was gone, daddy heaved a deep sigh; but mammy cheered him up, telling how thankful they ought to be for the safe return of their child. 'T was touching to hear them talk, each telling the other how good she was, and how from a child she had followed their wishes.

And to see how tender mammy was of his feelings! Never praising her pretty face, or saying that she looked like her mother, but only speaking of what he could take comfort in too.

Nobody but we three were in the[Pg 401] room. At times they would keep silence. Then something long forgotten would come to mind,—some good thing she did, or said, or prayed, when a child,—and they would begin with, "And don't you remember," and so go on with the whole story. Truly pleasant were these memories of the past. Pleasant and sweet as the fragrance which was brought to us by the evening wind from far-off flowery fields.

A time of greater satisfaction I never experienced. Suddenly came in Aunt Bethiah and began to rattle the chairs, and to gather up whatever was lying about. Mammy asked me to shut down the window, for the wind seemed to have changed to the eastward. Frederic's girl came in the evening with some others,—good-looking girls enough. All flowers can't be roses.

In the night, I lay thinking, and thinking, and wishing for I knew not what, and sighing for I knew not what, and looking forwards and backwards till I was all in a whirl.

Is this, I said to myself, the little girl that used to hear me say my catechism? And then I remembered how we used to sit opposite each other on two crickets, while she put out the questions; and how her little toes peeped out, for it was the spring of the year, and she was wearing off her stockings ready to go barefooted. Her shoes were gone long before.

And I remembered, too, how, ever since we were little children, we had gone of summer mornings after wild roses for Old Becky to still; for mammy never could do without rose-water. She used to start us early, before the dew was off, for they were stronger then.

June 8.—I thought last night that we should never go after roses any more; but this morning, just as I was about to set off with the cows, I heard the house-door shut, and then a light step on the grass. I kept myself hid, and peeped through a knot-hole. She had a basket on her arm, and looked about, and took a few steps softly, this way and that, as if looking for somebody. At last I came out, innocent as a lamb. "Good morning, Elinor," says I. "Have you forgot the roses, Walter?" says she, a little bashful. As if I could forget the roses! The hills were all scattered over with children and young people; for it was a fine morning, and the roses were in their prime.

The sun shone, the children shouted, the birds sang, and the air was cool and fresh. It is good to be with the day at its beginning. Elinor laughed, and chatted, and danced up hill and down hill, and snapped her scissors, and snapped off the roses, and stuck the prettiest in her hair and in her apron-string, till at last I told her she looked like a rose-bush all in bloom.

June 11.—To-day Elinor and Frederic walked to meeting together. He had on his new things, and she had on a white chip hat with blue inside and outside, and blue ribbons tied under her chin, and a white gown, and a white mantle. Everybody in the meeting-house was looking at them, and several times the minister's eyes appeared to be directed that way. I could hardly tell preaching from praying, and once I let the pew-seat slam down in prayer-time. 'T would be better if they couldn't turn up at all, and then there wouldn't be such a rattling and clattering the minute the minister says, "Amen."

'T was a young preacher. I hope our minister won't exchange with him very often. He is too young to give satisfaction,—under thirty, I should judge.

August 10.—The summer is passing. It has brought me plenty of work and but little pleasure. Elinor has had much out-of-town company,—frolicking girls and sometimes their brothers. They often come out to rake hay or ride in the cart.

My diary has been neglected. I don't believe anybody writes down their unhappiest feelings, especially when[Pg 402] they don't know justly what they are unhappy about.

Something about Elinor. And what is it about Elinor? Do I want to become to her what Frederic is to Lucy? Do I want to make her "Mrs. Poor'us"? Do I want to drag her down and keep her plodding all her days, clad in a homespun gown, and she fit to be a lady in her silks and satins? What is it I would be at?

September 3.—Our summer company is gone, and Aunt Bethiah is glad. We are having longer evenings. When the candles are lit Frederic bids mammy good night and goes off. Sometimes she sits up and puts on her spectacles, and reads Watts's hymns loud to daddy. Aunt Bethiah pares apples and slices them, and Elinor strings them up with a darning-needle. I am tired and sit in the chimney-corner to rest.

Yesterday Mr. Colman preached again, and to-day he took supper at our house,—rainy, and out of his way too! He was unmannerly enough to address most of his remarks to a young person when her elders were present. So seldom, too, as daddy has a chance to talk with an out-of-town minister! He is not at all good-looking. His hair is yellowish and stands up stiff on his forehead, and his eyes are no color. I don't see how he can be agreeable to any young girl. But being a minister goes a good ways.

I knew mammy would ask him to stay to tea. As soon as anybody comes, no matter if it is only in the middle of the afternoon, she always says, "Now take your things right off. Come, Bethiah, clap on the tea-kettle, and we'll have tea airly." They say she was always just so about liking to have company.

October 18.—Mr. Scott has begun to come here evenings. He owns a house and farm and wood-lot. His wife left him no children, and he lives in a lonely house all alone; and poor enough company he must find himself.

He comes here and sits all the evening, talking with daddy and looking at Elinor. Poor hand at talking, though,—so dull and heavy both in looks and words. I wonder what countryman he is. Very dark and thick-set. That doesn't seem like any country in particular. Captain Welles would know; for his father picked him up among the wharves in London, a little ragged boy, running about.

But then who cares what he is? He needn't trouble himself about remembering the heads of the sermon to tell mammy. I always have done it, and can yet. If he's a mind to scratch his hands getting sarsaparilla and snapwood for her off his wood-lot, he may. Have no objection, either, to his bringing Elinor boxberry plums. I never read yet of any maiden losing her heart on boxberry plums; though, to be sure, he might bewitch them. He looks like that.

November 21.—So Winter is coming in earnest. Well, we are all ready for him. Garret and cellar, both barns and the crib, are full. Candy frolic this evening at Lucy's. Had part of the candy stolen coming home. Elinor said she had a good tell for me. What could it be? Made believe I didn't care; but do wish I knew. She said 't wasn't the first one she'd heard, either. Ever since we were children we've come and gone together; but when I was old enough to offer my arm, I didn't dare. If she hadn't been away so much, out of town to school, why I might have been more forward.

November 28.—Frederic seems rather dull of late. Mammy has tried to discover his ailments, so as to know what to steep up. But daddy, by questioning and guessing, has found out that both he and his girl are ready to be married, but have nowhere to live. Daddy brags now that he can find out more without eyes than we all can with, and asked mammy which of her herbs would suit his case. Mr. Scott is getting very bold in his attention, and goes about with the young people.[Pg 403] Last night he walked home on the other side of Elinor.

December 2.—It is all settled. Daddy knows how to manage Aunt Bethiah. Frederic and Lucy are to be published next Sabbath. They are going to housekeeping in our easterly front-room, and have a bedroom and one chamber. Another pair of andirons will be put in the kitchen fireplace, and another crane. Aunt Bethiah is in a great flurry about her dye-pot, and can't tell where to put it. I remember, the night I was brought, how mammy made me sit down on it and heat my feet hot.

Lucy has a few things. Frederic's got a little money laid by, and his folks will see that they have what is comfortable. Daddy is going to send me to buy half a dozen spoked chairs, painted blue, with flowers on the backs. Mammy has ordered me to get also a warming-pan.

Aunt Bethiah called me one side this afternoon and asked me, in a whisper, to buy for them a skillet and a pair of green belluses, with a sprig of flowers painted on them, and a brass nose. Who'd thought of a wedding setting her topsy-turvy!

Frederic is happy as a lord. Ever since he had his new clothes he has stood up at all the weddings, because no other fellow, for miles around, had a tail-coat. Now he will have a chance to stand up at his own.

December 13.—The schoolmaster called again this evening. He and Elinor converse well together. He brought me Thomson's "Seasons." He is a kind, thoughtful man, very entertaining. Told many stories of the different places where he had kept school. Very accommodating, too; for, our district being short for money, he has agreed to take his pay in spinning-wheels.

'T is a pleasure to listen while a man of knowledge talks, but a pain, afterwards, to feel the difference between us.

Aunt Bethiah was the first one that made me think about learning. "What! don't know his catechise?" said she. That was the first night I was brought here.

"Elinor can learn him that," said daddy. And Elinor was much younger than I. I hope the schoolmaster won't think anything of my telling him that I wouldn't put him to the trouble of bringing books to me, when I could just as well go after them.

December 14.—This afternoon, Frederic came running into the barn, and threw himself down upon the hay, laughing, and rolling over.

"What's the matter," says I.

"O dear," says he, "I've been overhearing Aunt Bethiah exalt Mr. Scott. She and Elinor were in the unfinished room, and the partition's thin.

"Says she: 'Elinor, I wonder at your being so offish with Mr. Scott. Now, he's a nice man, and well off, and why don't you like him?'

"'O, he don't bring me nigh boxberries enough,' says Elinor, laughing.

"'Laugh now, and cry by and by,' says Aunt B. 'You'll pick over a peck-measure and get a bitter apple at last. You are old enough to have more consideration. There he has got a house all finished off and furnished, English carpet in the spare room, and yellow chairs up chamber, brass andirons and fire-tongs, great wheel and little wheel, rugs braided, quilts quilted, kiverlids wove and counterpanes worked, sheets and piller-cases all made to your hand. Nothing to do, but step right into Mrs. Scott's shoes. Cow in the barn and pig in the sty, cellar all banked up, and knocker on the front door.'

"Elinor laughed so she couldn't speak. I stuffed my mittens into my mouth, and waited.

"'Besides,' she went on, 'he wouldn't be forever under foot, like most men, running in and out all day tracking the floor, and wanting to be waited upon. He eats his breakfast early, goes off with his men to the woods, and you[Pg 404] won't see him from morning to night. Nothing to do but snug up, and sit down and take comfort.'

"At this, I gave a great shout and run. But," said Frederic, growing quite serious, "Scott will get her, for all she laughs at him, because he's in earnest; and I never yet knew a man to be dead set upon having a girl, that he didn't get her."

And then he capered off, and left me to consider of his doctrine, as follows:—

"Because he is in earnest." Well, suppose two are in earnest about the same one. What then? It must depend on the kind, or degree. Captain Welles says Scott is set as the east wind. Let him be the very east wind itself, and welcome; and I'll be the sunshine, or a gentle breeze of May, or the sweet breath of summer. The old fable may come true again. No doubt, a man should be honest, even to his own diary. So I must put down here that these pretty words came out of one of the books the schoolmaster lent me. But the application I made myself.

Afterwards Elinor came out into the barn to find a knitting-core. I mean to make her one, like a beauty I saw Lucy have. 'T was made of light wood, painted white, with a wreath of flowers running round it, and varnished. I shall give it to her on New-Year's Day. What a mean present! I wish I could give her something grand, something gold.

Sunday, December 17.—Mr. Colman preached to-day. I can't deny that his sermon was good. He showed himself very glad to meet Elinor. To-morrow he will be over here. He never comes into the place but what he comes a-visiting at our house.

December 22.—Frederic was married this evening. I was about as happy as he, for Elinor and I stood up. Lucy would have her for bridesmaid; and Frederic made her choose who should be bridesman. 'T was three days ago he told me of it. I was sitting down on the cellar-door, in the sunshine. He came up and clapped me on the shoulder, and said he:—

"Come, Walter, brush up your best clothes, for Elinor has chosen you to stand up, and fuss enough she made about it, too. First, she wouldn't choose anyway. Decided. Then she'd a good deal rather not; then she begged me to pick one out myself; and at last she hung down her head and looked sheepish, and jammed the tongs into the ashes, and said, in a little faint voice, 'I guess I'll have Walter.' Now, you know you're a handsome chap, and I expect you'll look your best."

'T was a great wedding. Everybody was there. Lucy is a little, pale, gentle creature. "The lily and the damask rose," I heard the Squire's wife say to the Squire. Our minister being called away to an ordination, Mr. Colman stayed and performed the ceremony. He hung about long after 't was time for the minister to leave, and let the young folks enjoy themselves.

January 1, 18—.—To-day is New-Year's Day, and I gave Elinor the knitting-core, which I was afterwards sorry I did. She said 't was a beauty, and tucked it in her apron-string.

Mr. Scott sent her a white merino shawl, with a border of red flowers and green leaves. Aunt Bethiah thinks 't wasn't bought new, but was one Mrs. Scott kept laid away, and never wore.

Towards night, the stage-driver brought a small box, very heavy, marked with Elinor's name. It contained beautiful books, with beautiful pictures. She read the note which came with them, then looked at me and blushed.

The box was from Mr. Colman, That present of mine was mean enough.

February 2.—I have been reading in the schoolmaster's books tales setting forth the sentiment of love and its manifestations, by which it appeareth that the modest maiden aimeth to conceal her love, appearing oftentimes cold and unmoved, when the contrary is the case. These are truly most delightful[Pg 405] books, and I do esteem the reading of them a great privilege.

As I read, I say, Perhaps so doth Elinor. Just so good, and so sweet, and so fair is Elinor. And at the end I say, And with the same love, I hope will Elinor love me.

But shall I say, My dear love, take me and poverty? When she asks for bread, shall I give her a kiss? or for raiment, looks of tenderness? No. When I speak, it shall be to say, I have everything to make life comfortable; come, let us enjoy it together.

April 4.—Captain Welles talks of going to Ohio, with a few others, to take up land, and wants I should go. This seems a good way to get the money I want so much; though I should, of course, have to wait a few years for it. Daddy is anxious to have me do what is for my advantage. He will have to hire another man to work on the farm; for Frederic can't leave his trade now.

April 10.—It is decided that I shall go to Ohio.

They are all sorry to part with me. Elinor says nothing; but there is a heaviness in her countenance delightful to my soul. This morning she got a scolding from Aunt Bethiah for putting more sand on the floor, when it was on new yesterday, and only wanted to be herring-boned.

I shall leave and say nothing.

April 13.—Last night proved that I have some steadfastness.

After eating dinner at Captain Welles's I took a walk over the hills, thinking to find some Mayflowers. I had found a few, and was scratching away the dry leaves, when I heard a rustling quite near me. Then the bushes parted and showed me a lovely face,—the lovely, rosy face of Elinor, growing lovelier and rosier every minute. She had come to find Mayflowers too.

She wanted some very pink ones, and so we went wandering about, down in deep hollows, where the moss was damp, and by little sheep-paths, and through the woods, until at last I perceived the sun was setting, and we had scarcely any flowers.

Upon climbing a tree to discover whereabouts we were, I saw, a little below us, a scraggly, one-sided cedar-tree, which I knew to be a long way from home. The Beaver Brook road led directly past it.

We gained that road, walking quickly at first, but afterwards, more slowly. Daylight left us, and the stars came out. We walked on and on along the lonely road, walked slow, and scarcely spoke. For my resolution was taken. Elinor should not be bound by any promises or confessions. Only, just as we were stepping over the door-sill, I heard a little sigh, and these few words would blunder out, "When I come back from the West, I shall—want to tell—" But there I left off, and didn't go into the house, but walked about the place till nigh midnight.

Ohio, June 6, 18—.—Two years in the wilderness, and nothing gained. Gloom gathers around me. No little spot of blue sky can I discover. The hurricane has destroyed everything. I am sick, weak. O the deathly chills, the burning fever! O the lonesomeness, the heart-loneliness, of this dreary place! The lake, the sickening, freshwater lake, I can't endure. If I could but set foot on the hillside at the old place, and look out upon the great sea, and draw one long breath! If I could but stand on White Rock, with the spray dashing over me, and the wind, from across the broad Atlantic, rushing past! All night I dream of blue, sparkling waters, where little white-sailed boats are gliding so gently, gently off from the shore, and away into the distance. If I could but lay me down in one of these, and so float on and on, no matter where!

Why do I never dream of Elinor? Are we so utterly separated that even in visions I may not behold her face? What have I done, that God refuses me all joy? I don't know of being so[Pg 406] bad. But I suppose this not knowing is the very badness itself.

Captain Welles and the others don't show me their letters now. But haven't we more than five senses? Else how is it I know that in these letters is the neighborhood talk of her connection with Mr. Colman? She never mentions it; neither does Frederic. But that is because they have very kind hearts.

I will drag myself once more over these hills. Better wearisome motion than wearisome rest.

June 7.—Yesterday I wandered very far away among the hills, knowing well where I wanted to go, and where I should probably go; but circling round about as if to hide from myself my own intentions. I knew of people who had been there, but had never felt heart to go myself. I crossed a desolate plain, where a fire had passed. Every bush, stump, and tree was blackened. After this came green hills, with woods and grape-vines.

On the side of a hill there stood a hut, built up against a mass of rocks. This hut was what I came to find.

I walked softly up, and looked in at the open door. A dark-looking, beautiful young girl, with long hair, sat crouching in a corner. Close by her was a great shaggy dog.

I had heard of the Prophetess, but thought to find a wrinkled old woman, and this beautiful girl startled me. Startled, but not pleased me; for there was no young look in her face. Such strange eyes I never saw. 'T was as if an old person's face had been smoothed and rounded out, and the expression left there still. By her dress I saw that she was Indian.

The hut was a damp, gloomy place, extending far back into a cavern among the rocks. She arose and beckoned me to follow her farther in,—farther from the light and sunshine. There, in half darkness, half light, she stood, with her terrible eyes fixed upon mine. I longed to step back into the sunshine, for a chill had half taken hold of me; but some power kept me standing there,—neither could I turn my eyes from hers.

Presently I became conscious of a drowsiness. Her face, her whole figure, faded from my sight. Then, in the midst of the darkness, I perceived a spot of light, which soon took unto itself the semblance of a hand,—a pale hand, which held a damask rose, seemingly just plucked, full of fragrance and wet with dew.

While I gazed upon it, I saw that it faded and drooped, till at last its head hung lifeless upon the stalk. There only remained the pale, crumpled leaves. I wept at the sight, thinking of my own damask rose so far away.

But while I wept, the rose revived. A ray of light streamed in from above. The drooping leaves expanded; their color, even their fragrance, returned; and it sat upright upon its stalk, a perfect flower, wanting nothing save the dew-drops.

The vision passed, and after a pause there came strains of mournful music. O, so mournful, so sad, so hopeless! I seemed to hear in it groans of the dying. Tears streamed from my eyes; I sobbed like a child.

But after a little the chords were swept by a more joyous hand, and gave forth a charming melody,—strains ravishing and delightful beyond description. Again I wept, but now tears of joy. A heavenly rapture pervaded my whole being.

As the last strain melted away, consciousness returned. I was standing alone in the damp, chill cavern. The girl, with that same awful look in her face, was crouching in her corner. I tottered towards the open door, towards the sunshine, and sank, shivering, upon the ground. The girl brought me something in a cup to drink,—something dark and fiery. It put new life in my veins, and strength to my limbs.

August 18.—God be thanked for a sight of the old place once more. I could hug the very trees. The grass seems too good to walk on.[Pg 407]

God be thanked, too, for bringing me once more under the same roof with Elinor. Captain Welles was right. I could never have survived another winter at the West.

They were all glad to see me. As I went in, Elinor burst out crying. Daddy sat shelling beans.

"What are you crying for?" said he.

"Walter has come," she sobbed out.

"And what is that to be crying about?" said he.

But I saw, as he grasped my hand, that he too brushed away a tear.

Frederic and his Lucy cannot do enough for me. He tries to laugh, scold, tease, and coax me into health. Mammy is steeping up gin and mustard, which, they say, is a sure cure for the chills. Dearly beloved friends! They little know how soothingly their kindness falls upon the heart of the lonely one.

Elinor looks troubled.

They tell me of a great revival here, the like of which was never known.

I miss Aunt Bethiah. She has gone away to visit another sister of hers.

Lucy tells me that Mr. Scott has gone to England to discover his relatives, and that his going was hastened by a talk he had with Elinor. Poor fellow! No doubt his heart can ache, as well as other people's. Lucy says that Elinor was very tender of his feelings when she refused him.

August 2.—There is to be a four days' meeting here. A great many ministers are expected from abroad. Some mighty influence is sweeping over the place. The proud and haughty are bowed low before it. Little children leave their play, and persuade each other to come to Christ. They meet to pray and sing, likewise, very solemn hymns.

August 29.—This is the second day. The meeting-house was crowded full, way up into the galleries and negro seats. Four ministers in the pulpit, besides others in the front pews, and delegates back of them. It is wonderful to hear them tell of the workings of the Spirit in their own churches. The congregation was deeply moved. Many wept. I too feel my sinfulness. I too would come under this mighty influence, but cannot. My heart is like a stone within me. With life and warmth all around, I remain cold and dead.

Elinor rose for prayers. How she can be made any better is what I cannot understand.

September 2.—The meeting is over; but Mr. Colman remains to assist our minister to gather in the abundant harvest. In a few months, he goes to India as a missionary. I must say that his departure will add to my happiness, or at least take from my uneasiness.

Elinor is in great distress, calling herself a monster of iniquity. Mr. Colman labors with her incessantly. She cannot declare it to be the true feeling of her heart, that, for the glory of God, she is willing all her friends should be forever damned.

September 4.—Last night was spent, nearly the whole of it, in prayer and exhortation. I could plainly hear my dear girl sobbing and crying. Towards morning I heard a shout of joy, and immediately afterwards Elinor's voice, singing, in rapturous tones,

"I know that my Redeemer lives."

Then she broke forth into prayer. Her voice rose high and sweet. 'T was as if she was conversing with the angels around the throne of God. I trembled lest, in its ecstatic rapture, her soul should burst its fleshly bonds and soar away.

This afternoon she talked most earnestly with me. Her face was radiant with the warmth and joy of her heart.

September 21.—Mr. Colman wishes to marry Elinor, and take her with him to India.

O God, I beseech thee to spare me this great affliction! Remove not my only joy![Pg 408]

But will she do this? Has there not been, without words, an understanding between us two?

September 23.—I open my journal on purpose to write down, while I am calm, that I believe Mr. Colman to be a worthy, sincere man, and truly anxious for the spread of the Gospel. I wish to set this down, because I am sensible that at times my jealous feelings have caused me to misjudge him, and may do so again. He knows nothing of my hopes and fears. He is not to blame for wishing to brighten his days of exile with the sweetest face that ever smiled. It is natural, when you see a lovely flower, to wish to gather it and have it for your own. He does not know the flower is mine. I speak boldly, but it is only to myself.

September 25.—The Rev. Mr. D——, agent of the Missionary Society, preached last evening a powerful discourse. What a man he is! His soul is all on fire! And what language! There was deep silence in the congregation. They were with him among the heathen. They saw what he had seen. They heard what he had heard. They felt what he had felt. He closed with an earnest appeal for fresh laborers in the vineyard. From a high key he came suddenly down to a low, solemn tone, which suited well with the agitated state of the audience.

"Beware," said he, "of permitting earthly joys, earthly hopes, earthly loves, to come in the way of services due to Christ. Souls are perishing for want of heavenly food, and you withhold it. Thousands, millions, are on the broad road to destruction, and you refuse to extend a helping hand. And why? Because you would enjoy a few short years of earthly happiness. How mean, how worthless, how dearly bought, will appear these few short years, when, at the judgment-day, the souls of these miserable wretches shall cry out against you,—'We might have been saved! We might have been saved!' And still, as the endless ages of eternity roll on, the cry shall come up to you,—'We might have been saved! We might have been saved!'"

Elinor was greatly agitated, weeping often. Sitting next her, I could not help but take her hand in mine, to show my sympathy for her distress. I fear she will consider it a sacred duty to sacrifice herself. O, if she were a little, only a little less good! May God forgive me such a sinful wish! But I love her with an earthly love, and would not have her an angel, lest she soar away and leave me. Still, if I love her truly, ought I not to wish for her the highest holiness? For what shall I wish? For what shall I pray? My mind is perplexed.

I think I will speak to her. She may not have understood my looks, my actions. Yes, I must speak. My pride is gone. I will say: "Elinor, you are all the world to me. I am very poor. But don't leave me alone."

September 26.—This morning Frederic came up to me and clapped me on the shoulder (just in the way he did when he asked me to stand up with him), and said, in a low voice, "Walter, don't you like Elinor?"

The tears rushed to my eyes; I could not speak.

"Come," said he, "let us walk awhile together." And he took my arm in his.

It was very early. We walked miles into the woods. I told him everything.

When I had finished, he said: "Walter, marry Elinor. You must. She shall not leave us. She loves you better than anybody on earth. I guessed it before you went away; and while you were gone, I knew it. No matter about means. You are the same to me as a brother. All the farm shall be yours. My trade is enough for me. I have some money, too, that you can borrow, and repay at your leisure. I should have spoken of this long ago, if I had only known. Why did you keep so close? Ever since you came back, Lucy and I have watched, and she felt so sure that I ventured to speak. You[Pg 409] must speak before it gets fixed in her mind that it is a duty to go. For what she thinks she ought to do she will do, and always would.

"And now," he went on in a lighter tone, for Frederic can never keep serious long, "now that I have offered you my sister, I hope you won't reject her. Lucy and I take so much comfort together, just think what a houseful of happiness there will be when you and Elinor are married!"

"O Frederic," I said, as soon as I could speak, "you are too kind; but I am afraid I am not worthy. Besides being poor, I am not a Christian, and I have had but few advantages. And she—she is pure and lovely, and has a mind that is well informed, and the manners of a lady."

"Well," said he, "you want to be good, don't you? and you want to get learning?"


"And you love her with all your heart?"

"I do."

"Well. Now, Walter, I tell you what I think. If a man knows his ignorance and seeks for knowledge, if he feels his badness, and longs for goodness, and loves with all his heart, he is fit to marry the king's daughter, and inherit the throne."

September 27.—I went this evening into Lucy's room, and found Elinor there alone. I sat down near her.

She looked up, with a smile on her face, and said: "I have been wanting to see you, Walter, and tell you what a glorious path is opened before me. I believe myself to be a chosen instrument for carrying the Gospel to the heathen. And Mr. Colman" (this lower) "thinks me worthy to labor with him in the vineyard."

"And you will marry him?" I asked in a constrained voice.

"Yes," said she, faintly; "I have promised."

I arose and walked many times across the room. When power of speech came, I said, standing still near her: "Elinor, do you remember, the night before I went away, I wanted so much to tell you something? Let me tell it now. But you know. You must have known—you must have seen—I have been waiting to make myself worth offering. I am almost sure I can make you happy, and—have thought you loved me—a little. If I could only hear you say so!"

"Walter," she replied, "I must not seek for happiness. I have loved you, not a little." Here the bright color spread over her face; for while the woman spoke, the angel blushed. "I have loved you. O God, sustain me in this my trial hour!"

This little prayer dropped softly from her lips. I scarce caught the sound of it. Then she spoke in a firmer tone: "What have I to do with happiness or unhappiness? The path of duty lies straight before me. And therein I must walk, though thorns pierce my feet."

"But," I asked, "is it right to marry without—Elinor, do you love Mr. Colman?"

"With my soul I do. He was with me in the Valley of the Shadow of Death,—spiritual, not bodily death. With his help I obtained my heavenly joy. My soul is bound to his. I have loved you, Walter, more than"—and again came the bright blushes, speaking more sweetly than her lips—"more than you can ever know. But the greater the love, the greater the glory of crushing it out. The heavier the cross, the brighter will be the crown, and with the greater rapture shall I wake the music of my golden harp through the countless years of eternity. What is this life? A puff, a breath of air. In it we must prepare for the real life, which lies beyond. When the heavens are rolled up like a scroll, what will it avail me that I passed with one whom I loved with an earthly love this brief existence?"

I prayed for calmness to reason with her, but it was not given me. I sat down, and bowed my face upon my hands. Elinor knelt, and offered up a most touching prayer,—beseeching[Pg 410] strength for us both. As she finished, Lucy entered, and I went out without speaking.

It is now past midnight. Frederic has been up to see me. Lucy had a long talk with Elinor. It is a comfort, and still it is not a comfort, to know that she spends long solitary hours in self-communion, during which she strives to crush out the love for me, which, as she tells Lucy, fills all her heart. She had loved me almost from a child. She pined for me in my absence, and wept tears of joy at my return.

What a dear comforter is Frederic! He persuades me that before the time arrives she will grow more calm, and will view all these things differently. He advises me to be constantly near her, that my hold on her affections may not be loosened. Did ever man retire to sleep upon sweeter counsel?

October 5.—How shall I write? What words will express the anguish of my heart? O, how much of misery one short week may bring! My pen moves unguided, burning tears blind my eyes. And one week ago it had not happened. One week ago that pleasant face was still among us. But I cannot write.

October 6.—Since I cannot sleep, let me spend the dragging hours in writing the sad account. Let me sit face to face with my own misery, since only misery can I know.

Just one week ago yesterday it was that a man came hurrying through the place, telling that a ship of war was off Rocky Point Village, and that the British were expected to land in the night, to burn, steal, and may be kill. Help was wanted. Every able man prepared himself to hasten to the spot. Frederic and I got our guns and ammunition ready with all speed.

Lucy put up for us great stores of provisions. She was pale as ashes, but said no discouraging word. I rejoiced in the occasion; for, at the prospect of my life being in peril, Elinor could not hide her tenderness. "O Walter!" she whispered, as I stooped to say good by, "may God keep you safe!"

Just as we were stepping out of the house, mammy, all wrapped up in blankets, came out into the porch,—a thing she had not done before for years. Laying her hand on Frederic's arm, she said, in a trembling voice, "Now, Frederic, be sure and not go into any danger."

He laughed, as young folks do always at the fears of their elders, and then helped her back to her arm-chair.

Rocky Point Village was ten miles off. We were going by water,—that way being the shortest,—about twenty of us in a little pinky. We kept quite close to the land, and arrived there about midnight. The moon was just rising. People were collected from all the villages about. All were watching out for boats from the ship, but none came, and in the morning no ship was to be seen, even from the tall steeple. So it proved a false alarm.

After breakfast, some of the young men proposed going to Pine Island to eat up our good things, and to fill our baskets with beach-plums. This took up all the day.

We had to wait for the tide, so that, by the time we hoisted sail, it was late in the evening. The wind blew fresh, and was dead ahead; and when we had been an hour or two on our course, there was not one aboard but would have been glad to feel the solid land beneath his feet. The little pinky, her sails close reefed, tossed up and down, like an egg-shell. Black clouds spread over the sky, threatening rain and tempest.

Then it was that this terrible calamity took place. I was holding by the rail, comparing in my mind things outward with things internal. The soul, too, encountered storms and darkness.

All at once I perceived that the boom was swinging over, and sprang to get out of the way. As I sprang, I heard a cry, and caught sight of a man pitching headlong into the water.

"Walter! Walter!" That was the[Pg 411] cry, and then I knew it to be Frederic, and took a great leap into the darkness.

I strove to shout, but the water rushed into my mouth and ears, and I could make no sound. Once more I heard that cry,—"Walter! Walter!"—but fainter this time, and by it I knew I should never reach him. Still, when the next wave lifted me high, I gathered all my strength, and shouted, "Frederic, wait!"

The boat had been lowered, and that shout saved my own worthless life. But Frederic's was gone forever. O the dreadful words!

They dragged me into the boat, with scarce the breath of life left in me. The vessel lay to, and boats were kept out till morning. But our Frederic was seen no more. And he was the very best of us all.

O what a night! I was watched. They would not let me come near the rail. No doubt there was reason.

I shall never forget the morning. The wind had gone down; the sun rose bright, and burned into my brain; the waves were to me like live creatures, dancing and laughing around us. They seemed to say, "We've had our victim, and are now at peace with mankind. Pass on. Pass on."

As we neared the shore, I made great efforts to be calm; for at home were those to whom I must say, "Here I am safe, but Frederic is drowned."

What would they want of me?

It was still early when we landed. I could only creep along the path, holding on by the fence; for my feet were like leaden weights. My form bowed itself like an old man's. The fields, the trees, were not green, but ghastly.

The sumachs prevented my being seen from the house. As I drew near, I saw Lucy standing at the back door, looking down at the vessel.

Frederic had never left home before, since their marriage. Such a happy look as there was on her face!

I crept off to a clump of willows, and from there ran down the hill and across the Little Swamp to the minister's.

They were in the midst of family prayers. All of them started to their feet, asking what had happened. I had just strength enough to gasp out, "You must tell them. I can't. Frederic is drowned,"—and then fell down in a faint.

O what a desolate home is ours! Poor Lucy! Poor heart-broken young thing!

On that same night a strange thing happened here at home. Mammy could not be got off to bed. She was anxious, and would sit up. At length, (this was about midnight,) she leaned her head back, and seemed to fall into a sleep, so quiet that they could scarce hear her breath. Then a beautiful smile spread over her face. Her lips moved, and spoke, as they thought, Frederic's name. She awoke soon after, but has never since that hour been quite herself,—never seemed conscious of Frederic's loss. She speaks of him as of one gone a journey. Some talk of her exertions the night before, of her anxiety, or of a partial stroke. But I think, and shall always think, that Frederic's angel appeared to her, and, in some way, deadened her mind to the dreadful suffering his loss would occasion.

We have sent for Aunt Bethiah. We need her firmness now.

October 20.—Elinor is in a strange way. I have never seen her either weep, or smile, or work, or read, since that terrible day. I must take back part of that. She does smile, as she sits idle, playing with her fingers,—smiles and moves her lips like—But I cannot bear to write what she is like. I will never believe it. She was in a state of excitement, and this blow has staggered her. But she will recover. God will not deal with us so hardly.

Mr. Colman is away, making his preparations. He surely will not take with him this poor, helpless girl.

November 7.—O, he was so good, so lovely!—noble-looking, and in his very best days. Always was something[Pg 412] cheering or lively dropping from his lips. And to think that the last words he uttered were those cries of agony from the dark waters,—"Walter! Walter!"

All night I toss among the dreadful waves, with that cry ringing in my ears; or I strive to clutch at a man's form, as it pitches headlong; or take again that fearful leap, and, at the shock, wake in horror.

Such a dear friend as he was to me! I remember that last night he came to my chamber, so kind, so comforting. And what did I ever do for him? O, if I could only think of anything I ever did for him!

December 12.—The minister talked with me soothingly to-day of the love of God for his children. I feel to-night willing to trust all to Him.

Let the worst happen that can happen, I will bow my head in submission. What matters the few years' sadness of an obscure being? Nothing in the universe stands affected by my grief. Can I not bear what is mine own? Still, even Jesus prayed that the cup might pass.

January 9.—Mr. Colman is in the place. I am sorry. Let me try my best, I have to hate that man—a little. In my secret thoughts I call him my enemy. Did he think, because he was a preacher, that he could pick and choose,—that nothing was too good for him?

I must write down my bad thoughts sometimes. No doubt he is a good man, after all. But he must not meet Elinor now, not if he were a seraph.

January 10.—He came this afternoon, and I met him at the gate. He inquired for Elinor. I asked if he would like to see her, and drew him towards the window of the east room, Lucy's room (Lucy is with her mother). The shutters of this window were partly open. All the others were closed.

Elinor was at the farther end of the room. A little light came in from the window over the kitchen door, or we could hardly have seen her. She was sitting on a low stool, bending forward a little, her head drooping, her hands loosely clasped, and oh! so thin, so white, so lifeless, so like a blighted, wilted flower! What semblance was there of the rosy, smiling face that had so long brightened the old home?

Once she smiled, and then her lips moved as they do often. He shuddered at the sight. "She mourns for her brother," said he. "I will go in and speak to her some words of consolation."

"No, sir," said I. "What you see is not grief, but almost insanity. Shall I tell you the cause?"

Then I drew him from the house to a wide field near by, and as we walked talked to him mildly, but with some boldness.

I made known my love for her, and her own confession to Lucy. I made it plain to him that, in striving against nature, her mind had become unsettled, and so unable to bear that terrible shock. And, finally, I implored him not to take away so frail a being to perish among strangers.

I was surprised that he made no answer. He left me abruptly and walked towards the minister's. Was he offended?

January 11.—This morning a boy brought a note from Mr. Colman, requesting me to come and see him. I went as soon as I could leave home.

He came down to the door and asked me up into his chamber. After handing me a chair, he seated himself at the table, where he remained for some minutes with his head bowed. When he looked up, I was startled at the pale and sorrow-stricken look of his face.

"Young man," said he, "I have passed the night in self-examination, and now I wish to confess that I have deceived myself, injured you, and destroyed the peace of one precious to us both. In gaining a laborer for Christ, I hoped also to gain comfort for my own heart. Still," he added, earnestly, "I[Pg 413] was not wholly selfish. I really believed that, under God, she might become a mighty instrument for good. Who so fitted to teach the Gospel as the pure-hearted? I hoped to gain her love. She seemed—there was something in her manner that—but let it pass. I was walking in a dream. 'T was surely a dream, or I should have known that such happiness was not for me.

"Love met me once. It was in early youth. As fair, as lovely a being as God ever made yielded up to me her young heart, and then drooped and died. Years passed. I never thought to meet love again.

"It was while preaching here that I first saw Elinor. I was struck with the resemblance to her who once bloomed in just such loveliness. There was the same purity, the same sweetness, the same dewy freshness. Even the dress was similar,—the lovely blue and white, harmonizing so well with that fair beauty.

"My agitation was so great I could scarcely go on with the services. From that day my dead heart became alive again. Fountains of feeling, which I had deemed sealed forever, burst forth afresh. I dreamed I should walk in light, and not in darkness.

"But it is all past. False hopes shall mislead me no more. I will live solely for the glory of God, since such is His will. Was not that will made plain to me in my early youth? I have asked His forgiveness, and now," he added, extending his hand, "I ask yours. She will recover. With her your life will be blest.

"I will not even bid her farewell. But when health and strength return, when she is yours and you are hers, will you not sometimes speak together of me? Shall you be unwilling to cast for a moment a shadow across the brightness of life, by remembering a lonely man passing his days in exile, without one flower of love to cheer him?"

He was deeply agitated, and from the first had grown more and more earnest. I stood like one confounded. A minister of the Gospel was asking my forgiveness. He whom I had thought proud and haughty was shedding tears. The moment he humbled himself, I seemed to sink below him, O so far!

I told him this, and every feeling I had ever had against him. And, sitting there together, we had a long and friendly talk about Elinor and Frederic and the old people. Before I left, he handed me a letter addressed to Elinor, which he requested me, when she should recover, to give to her.

February 27.—To-day, upon going suddenly into Frederic's room, I found Elinor there, weeping. This was a welcome sight. She had found in the drawer a pair of his mittens,—gray, spotted with red; also a little box which he had given her, and a picture, with "To my sister" written on the back.

She was crouched upon the floor, with these spread out before her, weeping bitterly. I raised her up, speaking soothing words, and drew her towards the window, where the sun shone in, bright and warm.

It was long before she grew calm. I judged it best to say but little. But O the joy of knowing she is saved!

March 17.—To-day Elinor did many little things for mammy, who is now very feeble, and requires constant attention. It is long since she has risen from her bed, and she is for the greater part of the time in a sleep or stupor. Sometimes she revives a little, and seeing, perhaps, some neighbors or friends in the room, will say, "Now you must all stay to tea," or, "Is anybody sick in your neighborhood?" and then drop off again.

I watched Elinor, as she bent over the bed, with tears in my eyes, but joy in my heart. When I left the room, she followed me out, and sat down near me, and whispered, "Let us talk about him."

And then we spoke freely of our dear Frederic,—spoke of his noble heart,[Pg 414] of his goodness, of all his pleasant ways. Many little incidents of his life were remembered.

"Frederic is in heaven," I whispered.

"I know he is," she answered calmly, and as if she knew with a knowledge not of earth.

April 15.—Elinor has been growing more like herself ever since the day I found her crying in Frederic's room. She busies herself about the house, talks cheerfully with her grandfather, and does much for his comfort. Good old man! He said to me, the other day: "Walter, I am very wicked. I do not mourn for Frederic. My days here are but few; and I rejoice to think that, when I pass over the river, he will welcome me to the other shore. I strive against this happy thought, but it will come. I wanted to tell somebody of my wicked feelings."

"O, don't talk to me so!" I said, "don't call yourself wicked."

I shall always love Aunt Bethiah, she is so kind to him and to us all. She loved Frederic dearly, in her way. I have noticed that she never sets on the table, at meal-times, the things he used to like best.

June 9.—All my anxiety about Elinor is gone. The color and the smiles are coming back to her face, and the light to her eye. She is almost her old self again. Only, when people have suffered a great deal, some sign of it will always remain.

June 12.—Yesterday, I brought in to her a bunch of wild-roses. She put them in a tumbler, and carried them into mammy's room. This morning she came out with her basket. "Let us be children again," she said. "Let us go for some roses."

So we went over the hills; and, as we passed along the pasture-road, we found ourselves walking hand in hand.

Every day I think I will ask her to be my wife, and every day I put it off till another time. The reason is, that I fear to disturb this pleasant season. I don't know what she thinks about Mr. Colman. She has never mentioned his name.

There are more ways of telling things than by word of mouth. I set my love before her in a thousand ways, and she never throws it back upon me. I shall give her the letter to-morrow.

June 16.—Yesterday, after tea, we sat all together, in mammy's room, till almost dark. She was in an uneasy way, and daddy calmed her down by saying hymns to her,—the very ones she used to read to him. Elinor was making a wreath of oak-leaves for a young girl in the next house, who was going to have a party. I was picking out for her the fairest leaves, equal in size. Daddy said his verses in a sing-song way, so that mammy at last fell quietly asleep, and we spoke to each other softly, so as not to disturb her.

All at once daddy spoke out; and says he, in a slow, quiet way: "Blind folks, you know, hear very quick. I do myself, and sometimes even more than is spoken. For instance, to-night, when Walter says, 'Here is a beautiful leaf for you,' I can hear, 'I love you with all my heart.' And when Elinor says, 'And it will just match this one,' I can hear, 'You can't love me any more than I do you.' Now, children, what are you waiting for?"

Dear old man! I felt like throwing my arms right about his neck, and started up for that purpose. But Elinor came first, and so—

"Never mind me," says daddy, "I'm blind, you know."

Whereupon, I explained that Elinor had taken what was meant for him.

And when we grew a little calm he began to plan plans.

And after that we two took a long walk; and neither of us knew whither we went, or how long we stayed. But during the walk she confessed to me her belief, that God made the heart, as well as the soul, and would never require one to be crushed for the sake of[Pg 415] the other. She gave me Mr. Colman's letter. It was as follows:—


About one o'clock, I should think it was, that night, something happened, and, when daylight came, I hardly knew whether it had happened or not.

I had been lying awake some hours, recalling all my past life,—thinking over and over again how a poor, friendless boy had reached a great happiness; and every time I came to the happiness, tears of joy would fill my eyes, and I could not sleep, and did not wish to.

And while I lay in this blissful state, there came floating upon the air strains of the most heavenly music. The whole room was filled with melody. And with the music came the consciousness of its being familiar to me. Where had I heard those sweet strains before? They grew fainter. Raising my head, that no note might escape me, I awoke myself from a sort of trance into which I did not know of having fallen; for I was sure my eyes had not once been closed.

The last, faint sounds died away. Instantly there flashed upon my mind the remembrance of that strange music in the Western wilderness.


Great interest has been awakened, of late, by the promulgation of a new "Theory of Creation"; and non-scientific readers have met with numerous controversial articles in the journals, magazines, and newspapers of the day. The name of Darwin, after having been honorably known for a quarter of a century to the scientists of the world, has become familiar to us all as that of the author of this new theory. A word has been added to our vocabulary. "Darwinian" is now a distinctive epithet wherewith to individualize the new school of thought, and an appellation to designate its votaries. Notwithstanding the interest which Mr. Darwin's writings and the replies of his opponents have created, and the constant allusion to them in publications of all kinds; in spite of the active warfare they have incited; in spite of the sneers and sarcasms which have been launched by writers, lecturers, and preachers,—sure means of advertisement among the people,—few really and thoroughly comprehend Mr. Darwin's idea. A lecturer, alluding to it lately, says that it will be worthy of consideration when we see an ape turn into a man; and this is about the extent, we imagine, to which the great mass of people understand a theory which has been received as revelation by many of the first scientific men of the age,—men who have given their lives to patient, profound, untiring, unimpassioned study of nature, and who rank among the foremost thinkers of the world.

Leaving the argumentative detail to those whose learning is the only armory which can supply weapons adequate to the maintenance of the struggle, let us see if we cannot explain the idea which causes it; nor consider its verification to lie in the metamorphosis of an ape into a man.

Darwin's idea is generally conceived to be a new one. This is not strictly the case. The real foundation was laid long ago. It is the law of persistent force, acting on the universe. This is as old as Buddha, and was a dogma of Buddhism. It has been enunciated in some form or other for ages. But Darwin has infused into it a new vital[Pg 416] strength, has given it new application, has clearly explained its workings, has been its prophet to the people. To fully understand the history and progress of the Darwinian theory, we must look back many years, and trace the influence which theology has had upon the advance of scientific knowledge.

For centuries the Bible was understood to contain a perfect, exact, undoubted account of the origin of the world. It was believed by everybody that the world was made in six days. The very imperfect acquaintance which the ancients had with geology and physics allowed them to accept this relation unchallenged. Faith was far stronger than reason; and, during the long ages in which the Church ruled supreme, this statement was accepted and implicitly believed by the whole race of Christians. But as men began to grow more enlightened,—as, one by one, the secrets of nature were revealed to the students whose desire for knowledge overbore their tacit acceptance of tradition,—doubts began to arise as to the possibility of the truth of this long-cherished idea. When the printing-press came, and enabled these ardent explorers to communicate freely the results of their studious labors, the leaven of discredit, thus disseminated, began to work in the mass, and the reason of men began to rise beneath the superincumbent theological pressure which had so long weighed upon it. The multitude of facts gathered together by these careful students became, by and by, so vast, and the conclusions to which they led so indubitable, that the theologians were forced, out of simple common-sense, to revise their expoundings of the sacred writings.

When it was found that the earth was made up of vast depositions of matter which contained the remains of long-extinct creatures, whose fragments were buried in solid rocks, once soft, oozy mud; when it was found that other rocks, hundreds of feet in thickness, were wholly composed of the imperishable remains of other extinct animals, which once lived and died and were gathered together in waters which broke over the very spot where these rocks now rise; when it was found that untold millions of years were necessary for the formation of one single group of these rocks, among many equally vast; when it was found that, in the memory of man, during the lapse of at least five thousand years, the earth had undergone no appreciable change; when it was found that the earth was the result of the action of laws existent in matter,—an upheaving, a washing away, a hardening, a disintegrating through a period of time beyond the conception of man,—the theologians were forced to substitute periods for days. When the old walls which had circumscribed man's mind became so crumbled as to allow of egress, individuals broke through them and revelled in the freedom of intelligent thought. When these walls were demolished by those who had themselves erected them, they were leaped, in all directions, by ardent explorers; and naturalists, no longer restrained by tradition, rushed upon voyages of discovery into the teeming world before them.

For a while this emancipation exhausted itself in the contemplation of the physical world, and an inquiry into brute life. Speculations and theories might riot in a past which was a practical eternity. They had unlimited space wherein to project, backward, the structure of the universe. But this long-stretching past was to be peopled only by the lower orders of animal life. The rocks were found to be filled with stony remains of animals who perished when the sandstone, which built old crumbling castles, was sea-shore mud; the chalk hills which bore them were found to be made up of myriads of little creatures. These humble representatives of life might be, must be, credited with a remote antiquity. But man was not an animal. He was a being apart. Although he was liable to heat and cold, disease and death, although his body was made of the same materials as the brute's, and was subject to the[Pg 417] same laws of life, he was invested with an individuality which separated him from them. For a while the old influence of theological rule held even these venturous explorers to the ancient landmarks of human origin. By and by, the same impulse which had before led men to examine the proofs of physical creation induced them to consider the evidence of their own advent upon earth. Certain Scriptural statements did not appear reconcilable with each other. Cain went forth and builded a city; and there were artificers in brass and iron. Now Cain was only one of two men when he went forth. Whence came the citizens of that early settlement, and how did they understand the production of brass, a composite metal? How was it that man always met man wherever he went on the globe? Five thousand years ago the varied races were known to be distinct as now, and yet man was formerly said to be but about six thousand years old. Could one thousand years have produced the changes then evident, while five thousand succeeding years have scarce altered these different races? These and many other difficulties led thinkers to question whether man might not look much farther back into the past for his origin, and whether the same laws which had governed the birth, continuance, and distribution of other animals were not always in action to produce in him kindred results. The old belief, that all men descended from one man, began to be shaken; and good, honest, faithful Christians expressed their doubts of the matter. It was surmised that they were created in numbers. The old idea, that animals were all created in individual pairs, was found to be incompatible with the discovery of animal remains, in profusion, in rocks which were mud ages before any Adam could have existed to give them Hebrew names. Then, breaking away from the theological bonds, there sprang into active thought men of far-reaching minds, who began a thorough reconstruction of the whole theory of creation. The handwriting on the wall was Natural Law. All creation, man included, was but the result of one undeviating, unceasing, eternal, all-pervading law, and the state of the universe at any given moment was the state of evolution which that universe exhibited. Behind this law was the great inscrutable Spirit-power.

The infinite number of varied, aggregated facts stored up by man's patient study of this universe are irrelevant here, in a sketch of the progressive advance of his knowledge of creation. Those who desire to examine the evidence which has led to this verdict must go over the records themselves, or accept, out of their own convictions, the result of the examination. To entirely comprehend the Darwinian idea, one should be, to a certain extent, familiar with the principles of science. In other words, he should know more or less of what Darwin knows. He should be familiar with the general results of man's study in the different branches of science. He need not be an astronomer, a physicist, a geologist, a zoölogist, a botanist; but he should have a general acquaintance with the results of the labors of those who are such. He should, to a certain extent, understand the workings of Natural Law.

This is the great battle-ground on which the struggle is now taking place. The point at issue is, whether the physical changes of the material world, the introduction, continuance, and variation of organized beings, are due to the direct, special intervention of Deity, or whether they are the results of primeval laws, inherent in matter, and out of whose workings spring the phenomena of nature. The adherents to the former opinion maintain that the Deity has created all animals individually, or in individual species, by direct action, apart from natural forces, and indeed by an interference therewith. The votaries of the latter deny special creation, and maintain that all animals are, like the rest of the universe, the results of forces acting through all time, producing, by their diverse changing influences,[Pg 418] the variations which, as they have widened and strengthened, have resulted in the difference exhibited among animals. The first is the old traditional idea, having its foundation in belief, and drawing its support from the Scriptures. The last is the modern conviction, having its foundation in reason, and drawing its support from the study of nature. How are these differences among animate creatures—these wide contrasts of form, size, and habits—produced, if not by God's special creation? This is the question which Mr. Darwin and his school of thinkers are seeking to answer.

Some half a century ago, M. Lamarck, a French naturalist, propounded a theory which excited the derision of the whole world. He accounted for these variations by suggesting that, as any special want was felt by an animal, the body took on that structure which was required to relieve it. To give a broad illustration: if men needed to fly for the support of life, wings would gradually grow out from their shoulders. Ridiculous as this may be, it showed that thinkers were at that time endeavoring to account, on purely natural grounds, for what they considered natural, and not supernatural phenomena.

Some twenty years ago, a book made its appearance which startled the whole reading world, and caused as much dispute as Darwin has since done. This was "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation." It was anonymous, and the author has never acknowledged it: to this day he is unknown. This book was learned and lucid. It was received with delight by those who were still looking for some explanation of animal origin on natural grounds; and was derided quite as much as Lamarck's work by the adherents to the old traditional belief. Scouted by the great majority of naturalists, who still clung with tenacity to the notions of their predecessors, stigmatized as atheistic and abominable by theologians, it was first read with eagerness, and then put aside; and though it went through many editions, it is now almost forgotten. But this book was the beginning of Darwinism. It says:—

"We have seen powerful evidence that the construction of this globe and its associates, and, inferentially, that of all the other globes in space, was the result, not of any immediate or personal exertion on the part of Deity, but of natural laws which are expressions of his will. What is to hinder our supposing that the organic creation is also the result of natural laws, which are in like manner an expression of his will?"

Referring to the Deity as the great motive-power of all the universe, the author says:—

"To a reasonable mind the Divine attributes must appear, not diminished or reduced in any way, by supposing a creation by law, but infinitely exalted. It is the narrowest of all views of the Deity, and characteristic of a humble class of intellects, to suppose him acting constantly in particular ways for particular occasions. It, for one thing, greatly detracts from his foresight,—the most undeniable of all the attributes of Omnipotence. It lowers him towards the level of our own humble intellects. Much more worthy of him it surely is to suppose that all things have been commissioned by him from the first, though neither is he absent from a particle of the current of natural affairs in one sense, seeing that the whole system is continually supported by his providence.... When all is seen to be the result of law, the idea of an Almighty author becomes irresistible, for the creation of a law for an endless series of phenomena—an act of intelligence above all else we can conceive—could have no other imaginable source, and tells, moreover, as powerfully for a sustaining as for an originating power."

He sums up the hypothesis which he seeks to sustain thus:—

"I suggest, then, as an hypothesis already countenanced by much that is ascertained, and likely to be further sanctioned by much that remains to be known, that the first step was[Pg 419] an advance, under favor of peculiar circumstances, from the simplest forms of being to the next more complicated, and this through the medium, of the ordinary process of generation."

And further:—

"That the simplest and most primitive type, under a law to which that of like production is subordinate, gave birth to the type next above it; that this again produced the next higher, and so on to the very highest, the stages of advance being in all cases very small, namely, from one species to another; so that the phenomenon has always been of a simple and modest character."

In a Sequel which the author wrote, in answer to the numerous attacks made upon him, he has the following:—

"The probable fact is, that the modification takes place in an offshoot of the original tribe, which has removed into a different set of circumstances, these circumstances being the cause of the change; thus there is no need to presume that the original tribe is at all affected by any such modification."

The author thus supposes that the variations among animals were periodical and sudden, the results of some peculiar impetus given at special periods. Later knowledge—the study of nature by the light of greater experience—has exposed many errors in this work. Its crudities have been made apparent; but the thought which pervaded it was intrinsically right. The last passage quoted above foreshadows the more elaborate speculations of the later philosopher.

In 1859 appeared Darwin's work, "On the Origin of Species, by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life." Like its predecessors, it was a firebrand thrown into the scientific camp. Like his predecessors, the author drew down obloquy and anathemas from the clergy, sarcasm and vituperation from the laity, and a host of replies from writers of all grades. Like his predecessor, the author of the "Vestiges," he might have said, in the words of Agassiz:—

"The history of the sciences is present to tell us that there are few of the great truths now recognized which have not been treated as chimerical and blasphemous before they were demonstrated."

Darwin, as he himself tells us in his Preface, spent twenty years in a patient, laborious study of nature, having special reference to this topic,—the origin of species. Certain observations made in the course of his explorations in South America led him to the convictions which subsequent study only strengthened; and, after having spent years in the collection of facts bearing upon the subject, he gave his theory to the world in the volume mentioned, which was merely a digest of the facts. It is perhaps needless to say, that Charles Darwin is a naturalist of the highest rank; that he stands among the foremost men of the day as a clear-minded, trustworthy, accurate, profound thinker.

The Darwinian theory is erected on the primary foundation of a natural law acting through all time,—a persistent force which is applied to all creation, immutable, unceasing, eternal; which determined the revolutions of the igneous vapor out of which worlds were first evolved; which determines now the color and shape of a rose-bud, the fall of the summer leaves, the course of a rippling brook, the sparkle of a diamond; which gives light to the sun and beauty to a woman's eye. It rejects utterly the idea of special creation, and maintains that the globe, as it exists to-day with all its myriad inhabitants, is only one phase of that primeval vapor which by the force of that law has reached its present state. As a little microscopic egg becomes in time a full-grown, living, breathing, loving animal by the operation of natural laws which we term growth, so has the universe, with its denizens, become what it is by the workings of Natural Law.

The precise process by which sentient existence first became evolved from inorganic matter seems to be beyond[Pg 420] the scrutiny of man. It is so far without the scope of his experience, his speculation even, that it is futile to attempt to surmise it; although certain interesting phenomena have attended the experiments of naturalists, especially those of Professor Jeffries Wyman. Darwin takes the subject up at the appearance of animal life, and seeks to work out the causes of the present variation among animals, and to detect the modus operandi by which the law of evolution has produced the multiform changes now apparent. "Natural Selection" is his password into the great workshop of Nature. The three great agencies at work there are the tendency of all animals to transmit their peculiarities to their offspring, the tendency of all animals to vary from their ancestors under varying influences around them, and the constant changes taking place in their surroundings. "Natural Selection" are the words chosen to express the action of animals under these conflicting forces. The power of external influence upon structure is exhibited in the remarkable results of man's treatment of plants and animals. The varieties of pears and apples are of his producing; and the different breeds of domestic animals are the direct consequences of his influence. The most astonishing instance of his power is shown in pigeons, which are made, by skilful breeders, to assume a great variety of shapes, colors, and habits. To what is this change due? If a rock-pigeon were left to itself, it would produce only rock-pigeons, unless some new influences were brought to bear by natural causes. Man gives a rock-pigeon some peculiar food, subjects it to some peculiar treatment, and the creature begins at once to change; that is, to accommodate itself to the new circumstances by which it is surrounded. The plastic nature undergoes an alteration correspondent to the new state of existence. In a few generations these varieties are indefinitely multiplied; and then, by crossing these varieties, new ones are again produced. What is then the state of affairs? We have a series of birds which, were they discovered in new countries, would be considered to be new species. They differ in shape and color, in the number of their vertebræ and ribs, the number of wing and tail feathers, the number of scales on their toes, and various other anatomical peculiarities. Here then is proof that animals, when exposed to influences different from those which surrounded their ancestors, take on new forms and characteristics. This is man's work. But is not man one of the many agents in the work of the Great Prime Mover? Let us suppose that the peculiar circumstances which produced a pouter or a fan-tail were to remain in force for centuries; would not pouters or fan-tails continue to procreate, and thus a new species be added to the genus? What, then, becomes of special creation of every species of animal, if man in a few years can produce a dozen forms out of one, any one of which dozen is so distinct as to be deemed a new species, were it Nature's work and not man's? The fact is thus demonstrated that animals become varied in accordance with variations in their surroundings. This simple fact, once substantiated, is the key to the whole subject. Man's influence ceases when he leaves the animal to itself. But Nature never leaves the animal to itself. Her changes are slight and slow; but they never go back. They are permanent, only to be reaffected as the environment alters. When we consider the incalculable, inconceivable lapse of time through which organic life has been swayed by the never-ceasing action of the forces around it, we can imagine what a vast variety of animal forms may have been evolved from some one primal ancestor.

Darwin endeavors to explain, in detail, how this differentiation takes place. The largest or strongest get the best food or the most attractive females, and then transmit their strength or their peculiarities to their progeny. These peculiarities are the results of[Pg 421] the environment, and if this shall go on changing in the direction of these peculiarities, they will increase. Suppose that the climate should gradually grow colder; the result might be a denser growth of hair. Those which, by strength or otherwise, chanced to have denser hair than others, would more readily endure the change, and would transmit the habit to their young; others less fitted to endure the change would die out. In a short time the young would be born with the dense hair, as it is well known that any new habit assumed by animals is exhibited earlier and earlier in the young, as long as it is a necessity of life. These variations are never due to one single cause. Organized life is wrought upon by a wonderfully complex web of influences. Darwin has the following passage touching the action of vegetable and animal life upon each other.

"In Staffordshire, on the estate of a relation where I had ample means of investigation, there was a large and extremely barren heath, which had never been touched by the hand of man; but several hundred acres of exactly the same nature had been enclosed twenty-five years previously, and planted with Scotch fir. The change in the native vegetation of the planted part of the heath was most remarkable,—more than is generally seen in passing from one quite different soil to another; not only the proportional numbers of the heath plants were wholly changed, but twelve species of plants (not counting grasses and carices) flourished in the plantations, which could not be found on the heath. The effect on the insects must have been still greater, for six insectivorous birds were very common in the plantations which were not to be seen on the heath; and the heath was frequented by two or three distinct insectivorous birds. Here we see how potent has been the effect of the introduction of a single tree, nothing whatever else having been done, with the exception that the land had been enclosed, so that cattle could not enter. But how important an element enclosure is, I plainly saw near Farnham in Surrey. Here there are extensive heaths, with a few clumps of old Scotch firs on the distant hill-tops; within the last ten years large spaces have been enclosed, and self-sown firs are now springing up in multitudes, so close together that all cannot live. When I ascertained that these young trees had not been sown or planted, I was so much surprised at their numbers that I went to several points of view, whence I could examine hundreds of acres of the unenclosed heath, and, literally, I could not see a single Scotch fir, except the old planted clumps. But on looking closely between the stems of the heath, I found multitudes of seedlings and little trees, which had been perpetually browsed down by the cattle. In one square yard, at a point some hundred yards distant from one of the old clumps, I counted thirty-two little trees; and one of them, judging from the rings of growth, had during twenty-six years tried to raise its head above the stems of the heath, and had failed. No wonder that, as soon as the land was enclosed, it became thickly clothed with vigorously growing young firs. Yet the heath was so barren and so extensive that no one would ever have imagined that cattle would have so closely and effectually searched it for food.

"Here we see that cattle absolutely determine the existence of the Scotch fir; but in several parts of the world insects determine the existence of cattle. Perhaps Paraguay offers the most curious instance of this; for here neither cattle nor horses nor dogs have ever run wild, though they swarm southward and northward in a feral state; and Azara and Rengger have shown that this is caused by the greater number in Paraguay of a certain fly, which lays its eggs in the navels of these animals when first born. The increase of these flies, numerous as they are, must be habitually checked by some means, probably by birds. Hence if certain insectivorous birds (whose numbers are probably regulated by hawks or beasts[Pg 422] of prey) were to increase in Paraguay, the flies would decrease,—then cattle and horses would become feral; and this would certainly greatly alter (as indeed I have observed in parts of South America) the vegetation: this, again, would largely affect the insects; and this, as we just have seen in Staffordshire, the insectivorous birds, and so onwards in ever-increasing circles of complexity."

In the struggle for life, the strongest live; or, in other words, those best fitted to live in the environment endure. Animals and plants produce in vast excess of the possibility of life. A destruction of life is going on to an almost incredible amount. Were this not the case, the slowest breeders in existence would soon cover the earth so as to occupy every inch of space. Darwin reckons that the elephant, the slowest breeder, if allowed to go on unchecked, and to live his allotted term of years, would in five centuries produce fifteen millions of elephants from one pair. If every cod's egg had developed into a full-grown fish, the whole ocean would, ages ago, have been packed with them, like herrings in a box. In this destruction, the weaker animals and plants—those least fitted to thrive under the influences around—become the prey of others better fitted for the struggle, or die of their own lack of assimilative force. Thus, through untold ages of shifting outward circumstances, the plastic forms of organic life have been remoulded. A little obscure plant, the food of an insect, dies out; the insect itself, deprived of its food, dies out or migrates; the bird which fed upon it dies out or migrates; the bird of prey follows the like course. Migration introduces them to an entirely new state of existence, temperature, food, and antagonists. The migrating animals are replaced by others, which likewise experience new surroundings; and thus the extirpation of a single plant may determine a long series of changes. Instances of this kind are not uncommon. What must these changes have been throughout the remote ages which have turned sea-shore mud into uplifted mountain chains, and sunk long-stretching, sunny hills into the ocean depths!

Darwin constructs his theory of gradual differentiation on the evidence thus obtained. He takes a given specific animal form, and supposes that, owing to some external change in a given locality, it takes on some correspondent variation. But all of the individuals of the species may not be likewise affected. The circumstances may alter in one place and not in another. The result will be two varieties of animal. The variety goes on increasing in diversity, while the original still continues to produce its like. By and by the variety, having a greater tendency to vary, from its having already done so, undergoes a new differentiation, the difference being, in all cases, slight, and the time between the periods of maximum change being hundreds, thousands of years. One of the new varieties may by peculiar circumstances take on a special amplitude of growth, while the other, peculiarly circumstanced, may be contracted and dwarfed. One of the original varieties may by this time have disappeared. The original itself may have disappeared. Thus the connecting link between the two forms is lost. The more individualized form may go on accenting its own peculiar characters, and again be broken into new varieties, some of which may retain the old characters in circumscribed areas, while others may increase in greater abundance and occupy a much wider area. The wider the field of life, the more numerous the differing influences and the more diverse the conditions the animal must undergo. Thence arise more differentiations. After the lapse of some millions of ages, these constantly forking growths will have taken on a diversity to which that of the pouters and fan-tails is trifling.

Some forms may be less plastic than others, and give way less readily to the incident forces. These may remain unchanged for a far longer period than subsequent varieties, and be coexistent[Pg 423] with them. Some varieties may take on a cerebral growth as widely different and as strongly individualized as frame structure. Man himself is a striking instance. The Negro, the Malay, the Mongolian, are almost precisely what they were five thousand years ago. The Bushman, the Hottentot, the Patagonian, and the Digger Indian are to-day not much above the animals about them; while the Caucasian has gone on in a wonderful advancement, leaving the other races in the same state of development in which they were when the Caucasian was no farther advanced than they. And here is perhaps the place to allude to the derisive objection to Darwinism, that it makes man an improved monkey. Darwin's theory certainly gives to both some vastly remote common ancestor; but it does not maintain the metamorphosis of one into the other. It does not suppose that man was once a gorilla. It supposes that from out of some of the differentiations of some animal form arose the first man-like creature, and that, gradually changing, like other animal forms, some of the varieties eventually evolved into apes and orangoutangs, to stop there and die out like hosts of other forms now extinct. But from some strongly individualized variety sprang, with more rapid and advancing growth, the primitive man, who has, under complex influences, differentiated into the so-called races of mankind. We talk of man as being something infinitely above all animals. There is a vast difference between the highest and lowest species of the genus homo. Were the race confined to those lowest species, we imagine that European and American pride of nature would go before a grievous fall. These constantly succeeding changes are supposed to have taken place during the whole time that this earth has been fitted for animal life,—a period of time so long that the human mind is unable to grasp it.

One objection to this theory, strongly insisted on, is the absence of any evidence of connecting links between man and the lower animals, or between the strongly defined demarcations of the animal orders. The answer to this is, that little is known of the whole earth: much of it is submerged now that was once above the waters and served for a dwelling-place for organized beings. A great deal is known of the sequence of forms which have been unearthed from their stony sepulchres. The negative evidence is as weighty as the positive. Besides this, millions of air-breathing animals die, without leaving anything behind them to mark their existence. Preyed upon by other animals, devoured at their death by myriads of insects, exposed to the action of destructive chemical agents, they soon decay, and leave no trace behind. Who ever finds the dead bodies of the thousands of animals and birds which perish yearly? Who finds the remains of the familiar creatures which frequent our woods and meadows? For one which is accidentally buried so as to resist the destructive forces of air and water, millions are resolved into their primitive elements, and are annihilated as structural forms. And yet, because in portions of the vast deposits of rock the remains of certain ancient forms are discovered, it is asked that the Darwinians should furnish a perfect progressive sequence of fossils to elucidate the theory, and prove it beyond dispute. Recent discoveries have brought to light human remains in caves, where they are associated with bones of extinct animals. That they are of very ancient origin is beyond doubt,—older than any civilization, as we understand the term. But even they are doubtless modern, when we take into consideration the time that the earth has been as it now is. How many thousands of ages has it taken the Niagara Falls to cut their way through the solid rock back from Ontario to Erie? It is highly probable that the earth has been approximately the same as it now is for many millions of years. Reaching still farther back into the past, before this state of comparative quiescence, can we not find adequate time[Pg 424] for the gradual succession of organized beings on this earth, and for the structural differentiations which have finally resulted in the present position of things? Because we see one day succeed another with no change in the organic life around, because the written history of man records no vital change in his structure, men deny the possibility of antecedent variation. Man's written history is a thing of to-day. The builders of the Pyramids were our brothers. The five thousand years which have elapsed since the cultivated civilization of Egypt are but a day to the previous ages upon ages of man's existence before that civilization was dreamed of. The bones of untold myriads of human kind crumbled into dust before Egypt saw the rudest mud-hut that foreshadowed the temples of her prime.

The imperfectness of the geological record is certainly a great hindrance to the exact proof of the Darwinian theory, and is a strong weapon in the hands of its opponents. But while so much of the dim, remote past is attainable only by inference and deduction, the argument is decisive for neither side. One weighty argument for the Darwinians is the general plan upon which animals are constructed. All vertebrates have the same typical form. Take off the skins from some dozen air-breathing vertebrates, place the bodies in an upright attitude, and they are in general structure identical. The position of the head, eyes, and ears, the neck, the central vertebral column, the fore legs, which are arms in that position, the pelvis, the hind legs, all bear a close resemblance. Of course there are material differences; but they are evidently moulded upon one general plan. If there were a special creation for each species, why should they all necessarily have a kindred structure? To be sure the question may be answered, that they might as well be similar as dissimilar. But how much more in consonance with the known action of natural laws is it, to suppose that from some original type these various forms have gradually differentiated into their present diversity of structure; the original typical plan, the least variable characteristic, having maintained its individuality, while the more plastic appendages have been swayed by incident forces. This will logically and naturally account for the unlikeness, and yet the resemblance.

The Darwinian theory then is, that Natural Law or Persistent Force, acting through all time upon the universe, has evolved from certain primitive organic forms of a very low order of existence the present diversified races on the earth. It does not stop here. With the eye of prescience it sees the process going on far into the ages yet to come. What may be the result in that distant day, finite speculation may not determine. But the laws which have swayed the world sway it still, and will sway it forevermore. As in the past they have evolved order out of disorder, heterogeneous beauty out of homogeneous crudity, progressive individuality of being and thought out of chaotic vapor, so will they continue their evolving force through all time, till the boasted perfectness of this day of ours, perfect because it is our day, will be as primitive to the later denizens of this globe as the barbarity of the cave savages is to modern civilization.

A host of noble minds, each in its own peculiar province, is exploring the vast field of knowledge. Darwin, Spencer, Huxley, Tyndal, Lyell, Hooker, and many others, are giving their profound thought to the elucidation of the laws which govern the vast universe of which they are a part. Their intellects touch the scarce-seen planets; they turn over the stony pages of earth's autobiography; they anatomize to their ultimate atoms the structure of its organisms; they use the intelligence evolved from their own growth to search for the law which has determined that evolution. And they speak out their convictions manfully and earnestly. They proclaim what is to them a revelation of truth in the records which the past and the present offer to their understanding.[Pg 425] Herbert Spencer thus maintains the necessity of the expression of man's deepest convictions, in a passage instinct with nobleness of thought and dignity of utterance:—

"Whoever hesitates to utter that which he thinks the highest truth, lest it should be too much in advance of the time, may reassure himself by looking at his acts from an impersonal point of view. Let him duly realize the fact, that opinion is the agency through which character adapts external arrangements to itself,—that his opinion rightly forms part of this agency,—is a unit of force, constituting, with other such units, the general power which works out social changes,—and he will perceive that he may properly give full utterance to his innermost conviction, leaving it to produce what effect it may. It is not for nothing that he has in him these sympathies with some principles and repugnance to others. He, with all his capacities and aspirations and beliefs, is not an accident, but a product of the time. He must remember that, while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future; and that his thoughts are as children born to him, which he may not carelessly let die. He, like every other man, may properly consider himself as one of the myriad agencies through whom works the Unknown Cause; and when the Unknown Cause produces in him a certain belief, he is thereby authorized to profess and act out that belief. For, to render in their highest sense the words of the poet,

'Nature is made better by no mean,
But nature makes that mean: over that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes.'

"Not as adventitious, therefore, will the wise man regard the faith which is in him. The highest truth he sees he will fearlessly utter; knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right part in the world,—knowing that, if he can effect the change he aims at, well: if not, well also, though not so well."


Diogenes. Eve did not enter into the original plan; she was an unlucky afterthought. Listen to Milton:—

"O, why did God,
Creator wise, that peopled highest heaven
With spirits masculine...?"

You observe that there are no feminine angels in heaven?

Aristippus. So much the better for us, if we have them all here.

Diogenes. For the same reason, probably, we are told that there will be neither marrying nor giving in marriage hereafter.

Aristippus. Not at all. There will be so many more women in heaven than men, that any marriage, except of the Mormon kind, would be impossible.


"O, why did God
... create at last
This novelty on earth, this fair defect
Of nature?"

I have always wondered why.

Aristippus. You forget that it was Eve who first picked fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Diogenes. The only use she made of it was to get the idea of dress; and the primeval curse still clings to man, in the shape of milliners' bills.

Aristippus. Nevertheless we ought to be grateful to her for her enterprising spirit. Whatever her motives may have been, you must admit that her move was in the right direction. Where would we be now, had the future of[Pg 426] the race been left to Adam alone? And if woman did turn man out of Paradise, she has done her best ever since to make it up to him. Every pretty girl one sees is a reminiscence of the garden of Eden.


"This mischief had not then befallen,
And more that shall befell, innumerable
Disturbances on earth through female snares."

It was an excellent fancy of the ancients to make woman the incarnation of original sin,—the tempter and the temptation in one,—a combination of the apple and the serpent. King David, Herod, and even the terrible Bluebeard, might have behaved well in a world without women. It is proverbial that there is no quarrel without a woman in it.

Aristippus. Because, as Steele said, there is nothing else worth quarrelling about.

Hipparchia. Admirable! You remind me of the two shepherds in a pastoral who sing in alternate strains.

"Be mine your tuneful struggle to deride."

You, Diogenes, should recollect that woman is a fact you cannot get rid of, and that the only remedy for your complaints is to improve her condition. And you, Aristippus, like a thousand other sentimental conservatives, cannot hear the suggestion that woman might do something more in this world than she is now doing without giving tongue at once: "Woman's sphere is the home,"—"Woman's mission is to be beautiful, to cheer, and to elevate." Suppose she has no home, and is old and ugly; what then? I know nothing more cheering and elevating than intelligence and efficiency; and I have never heard that either was detrimental to beauty. Is your ideal a woman who is good for nothing?—

"Bred only and completed to the taste
Of lustful appetence, to sing, to dance,
To dress and troll the tongue and roll the eye"?

Aristippus. Not at all. I believe in the old Roman notion, that woman's domestic honor and chief praise is, Domi mansit, lanam fecit,—with the qualification, that lanam shall not mean worsted-work. I understand the Scriptural word "helpmeet," as applied to wife, in the New England sense of "help." She should, above all, be a creature not too bright and good to know how to prepare and serve up human nature's daily food. I have never seen without emotion the epitaph placed by a high legal dignitary in a neighboring State on the tomb of his first wife:—

"An excellent woman and a good cook."

And when I hear an able-bodied woman in easy circumstances speak of housekeeping as too much for her strength, or "too wearing," I set her down very low on my list of contemptibles, and ask her, mentally, "What the devil then are you good for?" But you and your friends, Hipparchia, would make a world all cubes, parallelopipedons, and pyramids,—an achromatic world, peopled with wise creatures who could demonstrate the usefulness of all they did, and the economy of the processes by which they did it. As there is no place in such a world for women as we know them, you wish to create Eve over again, or rather to call forth a female Adam. I object. Man cannot live by pure mathematics alone. Imagination is a faculty of the mind, as much as reason. Now, women are the imaginative side of the human race; not only imaginative themselves, but the cause of imagination in others. I like mountains and clouds, trees, birds, and flowers,—the raw material of poetry; but to me handsome women are more pleasant than all of them,—they are little poems ready made. I like their rustling dresses, their bright, graceful ways, the "flash of swift white feet" in ball-room; even their roguish airs and childlike affectations. And if some of them do not trim their souls quite as much as their gowns, or perhaps venture into society with minds naked to the verge of indecent ignorance, then I say to these, "Talk to me only with your eyes,"—and they can be more eloquent than any Demosthenes of your New England Athens. Women are younger[Pg 427] than men, and nearer to nature; they have more animal life and spirits and glee. Their lively, frolicsome, sunshiny chatter keeps existence from growing mouldy and stale. We have it on the authority of the wittiest of Frenchmen, that for the purposes of pleasant, every-day life, L'enjouement vaut mieux que l'esprit. If I wish to discuss a question of political economy, or of metaphysics, I can go to men; but the art of talking the men of to-day have lost. They either lecture, dispute, or twaddle. A Rabbinical story relates that twelve baskets of chit-chat fell from heaven, and that Eve secured nine while Adam was picking up the other three. Since then, Eve seems to have obtained possession of all.

What do you "earnest women" want? You have your own way in everything. I cannot take up a paper without reading something about lovely, delicate, refined females; or an item announcing that some ungallant fellow has been turned out of an omnibus because he would not offer his seat to an Irish lady, who had probably twice his muscular power and endurance.

Hipparchia. Hotel elegance, railway manners, and penny-a-liner sentiment are alike contemptible. Do you suppose that any sensible female cares for those second-hand phrases and vulgar civilities? This deference you boast of is a mere habit, worn threadbare: the feeling has died out. What does it really amount to, when, in this city, a woman, even of my age, cannot go alone to an evening lecture or to the theatre without the risk of an insult? English and French women have more liberty of action than we have, although the men do not offer them their seats on every occasion. I had rather take my chance with the crowd at a hotel ordinary, and have more independence in daily life. The time will come, I trust, when women will no longer be contented with the few empty and exaggerated compliments in which men pay them off,—"Angelic creatures!" "Poet's theme!" and so on,—stuff that springs from what Diogenes calls the spooney view of women, and only applicable to the young and handsome,—a very small minority. It is sad to see the graceless, the "gone-off," and the downright elderly smirk complacently at a few phrases which are only aimed at them in derision. The others, too, one would think, ought to care little for adulation that fades away with their good looks.

The supremacy of woman in this country is like that of the Mikado in Japan,—a sovereign sacred and irresponsible, but on condition of sitting still, and leaving the management of affairs, the real business of life, to others. It is the same theory of government with which the constitutionalists tormented the late Louis Philippe,—Le roi régne et ne gouverne pas. He was unwilling to accept such a position, and so am I. I cannot take a pride in insignificance and uselessness, although I confess with shame that most women do,—the result of which is, that we have not the kind of influence we ought to have, and that a real, hearty, genuine respect for women does not exist. In every man's heart there lurks a mild contempt for us, because of our ignorance of business, politics, and practical matters generally outside of the nursery and the milliner's shop. The best of you look upon us and our doings as grown people look at pretty children and their plays,—with a good-natured feeling of superiority, and a smile half pleasure and half pity. The truth is, that men have always despised us, from the earliest times. At first, we were mere slaves and drudges; then, playthings, if handsome and lively,—something to be brought on with the wine at a feast. Chivalry, which in newspaper rhetoric means devotion to women and respect, knew little of either, when it was alive and vigorous. The droits de bottage et de cuissage alone are enough to prove that. In our times, indeed, the savage view of woman as a slave has been softened by civilization into housekeeper and nurse; but it still lingers in[Pg 428] every man's feelings. Woman's mission in his eyes is simply babies; to which is superadded the duty of making the father comfortable. But the high prices of living are teaching people who have never heard of Malthus or of Mill the necessity of celibacy; and women must find something else to do than to rock a cradle.

Diogenes. Yes, unlimited issues on an insufficient capital lead to ruin. That ivy clinging to the oak view of the woman question still finds a place in print; but in practice I think the oaks are getting rather tired of it They find that the graceful wreaths of the ivy draw heavily upon their substance, and they would prefer a more self-sustaining simile.

Hipparchia. So much the better. I desire to see females support themselves.

Aristippus. Don't say female again, Hipparchia! I hate the word used in that sense, as much as Swift hated the word bowels. It is a term of natural history. A mare is a female; so is a cow, and so is a female dog. It would be curious to analyze the feeling that led euphuistic donkeys to choose it as a compromise word between lady and woman.

Hipparchia. They must have been male donkeys. All the terms of reproach you apply to us when you forget your chivalry manners, such as witch, shrew, termagant, slut, and so on, were all originally made by men for men,—at least so Archdeacon Trench tells us. You have gradually shuffled them off upon us; and worse yet, when you wish to describe in two words a pompous, prosing, dull-witted man, you call him an old woman. This is not just. Old women always have some imagination; and their gossip does not pretend to be the highest wisdom, which makes a great difference.

Diogenes. True! The elderly male fossil of the Silurian age,—the age of mollusks,—whose habitat is some still-water club, or public reading-room, where he babbles of the morning's news, is a thousand times more tiresome than any loquacious elderly lady. We excel in this as in everything. We beat you at your own weapons. Sewing seems to be instinctive with women; yet tailors tell me that they are obliged to give out their best work to men.

Hipparchia. Dress and want of method are two radical weaknesses women must extirpate if they ever hope to rise from their present secondary position. Their dress is the outward and visible sign of it,—the livery of their lower condition. Everything about it is absurd, from the spurious waterfall pinned to the back of their heads down to the train that sweeps the muddy pavement. Their hair is infested with beads, bits of lace and of ribbons, or mock jewelry. A bonnet is an epitome of fag-ends. The poor crazy creatures in the asylum, who pick up any rag, or wisp of straw, or scrap of tin, they may find, and wear it proudly upon their frocks, are not a whit more absurd.

Diogenes. Women go to and fro like that funny little crab we saw lately in Aquaria, who adorns his head and shoulders with bits of sea-weed, or any other stuff within his reach, and paddles about his tank self-satisfied and ridiculous. Women must and will trim, as spiders spin webs, and bees make honeycombs. They even trim bathing-dresses: one would think that nothing could redeem them from their hideousness. But they obey a law of their being. The special aptitudes of the lower animals are brought into play when no other reason can be given than the necessity for discharging an accumulation of the inward energy,—a saying of the physico-psychologists that is verified in this instance.

Hipparchia. A man's raiment is of plain color and of good, strong material,—ugly if you please, but durable and serviceable; but a woman puts on textures that cost hundreds of dollars and that a drop of water may ruin. Then fashions change daily. The bonnet idolized yesterday is offered up without a sigh if it refuses to adopt the[Pg 429] new shape,—cast into the flames, or thrown to wild Biddies to be worn to pieces.

Diogenes. The great M. Comte, with whose works you, Hipparchia, are no doubt familiar, divides philosophy into the three stages of Theological, Metaphysical, and Positive. This general theorem he completes by particular applications,—to costume among others. In this he distinguishes the three stages of Tattooing (including paint), Frippery, and Clothes. Man has reached the third stage, he says; woman is in the second, and not entirely out of the first.

Hipparchia. Everything about a woman's dress is uncomfortable. Everything is pinned on and false. There is nothing real but the trouble and the expense; and women whose love of appearances exceeds their incomes must work hard with their own needles. But they undergo it all without a murmur,—I may say, with pleasure.

Diogenes. "For 't is their nature to," as I remarked just now. Women are compounds of plain-sewing and make-believe, daughters of Sham and of Hem. I consider dress an epidemic disease,—a moral cholera that originates in the worst quarters of Paris. Every ship that comes from those regions is infected with French trollopism, and should be quarantined and fumigated until every trace of the contagious novelty has been expurgated.

Hipparchia. Could a stranger, ignorant of our customs, suppose it possible that beings capable of reason would habitually go out of a winter evening less clad by half than during the day? I say nothing of the propriety or good taste of this fashion. When Eve ate of the apple, she knew she was naked. I have often thought, as I looked at her dancing daughters, that another bite would be of service to them: it might open their eyes to their uncovered condition.

Diogenes. Let us put that reform down among those we mean to carry out last; unless, indeed, the neck of age commits the fault, then, I confess, I should like to complain to the Board of Health and have the nuisance abated. There is nothing sadder than to look at dressy old things, who have reached the frozen latitudes beyond fifty, and who persist in appearing in the airy costume of the tropics. They appear to think, as Goldsmith says, that they can conceal their age by exposing their persons.

Hipparchia. Their case is hopeless, I fear: we must teach sounder ideas on all these subjects to the young.

Aristippus. You have tried it already. Did not a wise woman come from the West preaching to her sisters that one of their lost rights was, to dress like men? What did Bloomerism amount to? A few forlorn creatures shortened their petticoats a few inches, adopted most of the ugly in a man's attire with none of the practical, and retained the follies of a woman's dress without the taste. Their shoes were neither stouter nor larger. They wore a thing on their heads more unsightly than a bonnet, and no better a protection against sun or rain. They made their jackets and their trouserettes of the same flimsy stuffs as before, and sprinkled an unusual quantity of incongruous and unsuitable trimmings over all. Luckily they have disappeared, and now are probably devoting their energies to some other right that does less violence to woman's nature. Do you suppose that you will be listened to when you preach from the text, "Take no thought for your body what ye shall put on"? How many lady free-thinkers in fashionable doctrines do you know? I see a superfluous ribbon even in your cap, Hipparchia; and, if I mistake not, your magisterial skirts are expanded by a wirework cage.

Diogenes. Men say knowledge is power; women think dress is power. Look at a woman who is certain that she is well dressed,—"the correct thing,"—how she walks along with stately steps, head well up, parasol held with two fingers at the present, and skirts expanding luxuriantly behind[Pg 430] her,—proud, self-satisfied, conscious of being stared at and admired. She feels like the just man made perfect,—who knows that he has done his duty, and that the by-standers also know it and respect him for it. Dress overgrows and smothers every other feeling in a woman's heart. Love, marriage, children, religion, the death of friends, are regarded as affording new and various opportunities for dress. The becoming is the greatest good. For finery and fashion women risk comfort, health, life, even reputation. What matter ignorance, ill-breeding, ill-nature, if she dress well? A camel's-hair shawl, like charity, will cover a multitude of sins. On the other hand, though she speak French and German, and understand all onomies and ologies, and the mysteries of housekeeping, and is treasurer of Dorcas societies, crèches, and dispensaries, and have not style, it profiteth her nothing. On this great question women never have a misgiving. You may find creatures so lost as to be castaways from fashion, but they believe in it. The scepticism of the age has left this subject untouched.

Hipparchia. The same amount of thought and labor applied to useful subjects would make them all that I desire them to be. A thorough reform in the education of woman is necessary for this. What is their education now? Even the girls of the richer class get next to none. They are taught to say "How d' ye do" in two languages, and to irritate the nervous system of their relations for some hours every day with a piano,—the most gigantic, useless, and expensive instrument of torture ever invented. These for serious work. A little drawing, worsted-work, and catechism are added as accomplishments; and then at eighteen—the age when a boy really begins his training—their education is completed, they are told; and they are turned into the world to devote their time and talents to trimmings, novels, and idle tittle-tattle.

Aristippus. There can be no objection to good gossip, or even to a little scandal, when its teeth have been drawn. If the noblest study of mankind is man, surely his sayings and doings cannot be improper subjects for conversation.

Hipparchia. Education is not the teaching of this thing or that. It is the training of the mind for the work of daily life. The few women of fortune who pride themselves on their cleverness get a parrot-like acquaintance with the contents of books, enunciate charmingly, and are very learned on the syntax and spelling of an invitation to dinner; but of the great topics of the day, political, social, economical, financial, scientific, mechanical, theological, they are utterly ignorant and careless. I know some brilliant exceptions, who show what women might be if they chose.

The consequence of no education, no thought, no practical experiences, and no real responsibility is, that, whenever moral questions are disconnected with feeling, a woman's moral standard is lower than a man's. Truth, rare in both sexes, is very rare in women; not that they love truth less, but that usually they love exaggeration more,—truth is so often commonplace and tiresome; they dress it up to hide its nakedness.

Aristippus. What does it matter? We all understand them when they say "Splendid!" "Shocking!" "Awful!" "Glorious!" in describing a walk or a tea-party. We believe in the vivacity of their impressions, if not in the accuracy of the terms they use. And besides, there are many things pleasant to listen to, even though we know them to be false.

"When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies."

Women have such a wonderful power of secreting adjectives that they cannot speak the truth when they try. There is no moral obliquity in the case. It is psychical incapacity.

Hipparchia. Ambition in a man is the resolution to become powerful, useful, great, rich. A woman means by ambition the desire to shine in the society she belongs to, or perhaps to work her[Pg 431] way into a set she considers better. And honor and virtue are, I think, used in a different sense.

Diogenes. Yes; the meaning is very much "localized."

Hipparchia. I admit that women have caught from the men a little of the dissatisfied, dyspeptic philosophy of this generation. But the men do not know what they want, and the ideas of the women are still more vague. They only know that they would like a change of some kind. Their imaginations are not contented with the commonplaces of every-day life. They long for more excitement, and to get it are willing, as Punch has it,

"To do or suffer ere they die
They know not what, they care not why."

But the "mission" must be exotic, meteoric, dazzling. Home missions present as little attraction as bonnets that do not come from Paris. The little opportunities for doing good that spring up about their feet are neglected. I know so many of those gifted, enthusiastic transcendental natures, at least in their own opinion, who cannot condescend to the meaner duties of life,—such as being faithful to their husbands, taking care of their children, and making themselves agreeable to their relatives.

Then really "earnest" women, who mean to be useful to their fellow-creatures, often do as much harm as good for the want of practical sense. Their dear little foundlings all die of measles, diphtheria, or scarlet-fever. They give their pet paupers a regular allowance, which supplies them bountifully with tobacco and grog. They quack pauperism, and increase the malady instead of curing it, because impulses of weakness miscalled feelings are consulted, instead of the hard, dry details of eleemosynary science; for science it is,—a branch of political economy. Benevolence like this is only another form of the love for excitement. Women will never take the trouble to consider the principle of things.

Diogenes. I have read somewhere a definition of woman,—"An unreasoning animal that pokes the fire on top."

Aristippus. Diogenes was converted to this hopeless condition of infidelity by a little French treatise, Le Mal qu'on dit des Femmes. I give him over to it. His doctrine, like unwholesome food, carries its punishment with it. But you, Hipparchia, have pulled woman to pieces for a purpose; and I should like to know on what practicable principle you propose to make her over again.

Hipparchia. Some one said wittily,—I think it was Mrs. Howe,—"Man carves his destiny; woman is helped to hers." Women have been kept so long in this state of dependence, that their characters have become dwarfed. The thirst for excitement that drives them restless from one amusement to another, and which finds relief in the extravagances of dress,—this passionate devotion to the frivolous and the absurd,—spring from the want of a reasonable employment for mind and body. My great principle is to exchange their passive condition for an active one. I would establish schools, where girls may receive a thorough education, such as is given to boys. In these schools, I should insist upon mathematical training as earnestly as Plato in his Republic. Women must be made to feel the magical power that numbers have in regulating the mind. Once get them really to believe that twice two make four, and can never make more or less,—once bring them to feel that a foot always means twelve inches, and that correct measurement is indispensable, even for seamstresses and cooks,—and the spirit of accuracy which now passes all their understanding will be with them and remain with them forever. Next, I should insist that the employments now monopolized by men should be thrown open to women. Why should we be excluded from all the well-paid trades and professions? Why should we not hold office, "commissioned, paid, and uniformed by the[Pg 432] state"? Do you think it fair to limit us to scrubbing and plain-sewing as the only means of earning a livelihood?

Aristippus. I admit that many occupations for which women are admirably calculated are carried on by men, and I hope that some day a more manly public opinion will make all such persons as ridiculous as a male seamstress is now. I do not envy the feelings of men who can invent, manufacture or sell baby-jumpers, dress elevators, hoop-skirts, or those cosmetics I see "indorsed by pure and high-toned females." But when you and your friend seek the positions of "night-patrols or inspectors of police," you run into ultraism, the parent of all isms; but, luckily a parent like Saturn, who destroys its offspring.

Hipparchia. Marriage is now to women what all trades and professions are to men. Spinsters are supposed to have no chance in life,—neither liberty of action nor of ideas. Hence, rather than not marry at all, a woman will marry anybody; and, like Shenstone's Gratia,

"Choose to attend a monkey here
Before an ape below."

This prejudice is almost as strong and as absurd as the Mormon notion that a woman cannot get to heaven unless she is sealed to some saint. It has driven hundreds of women, who might have been happy single, into a slavery for life from which there is no relief. A husband, if he find that the connubial paradise he dreamed of turns out to be the other place, has the world all before him where to choose; but the lady is "cabined, cribbed,—confined" possibly: it is in the course of things. But when new fields of employment are thrown open to women, those who cannot marry, or who do not wish to marry, will lead useful and pleasant lives, and cease to be "superfluous existences,—inartistic figures, crowding the canvas of life without adequate effect." But all our reforms centre in one great point, on which our eyes are hopefully fixed,—I mean, the right to vote. Give women a vote, and at once they will take a direct interest in the business of life. They will have something to think of, and something to do. It will be the best form of education. Mr. Lecky, in his interesting, though perhaps rather windy, "History of Rationalism," has a passage that expresses my opinion and my hope. "If the suffrage should ever be granted to women, it would probably, after two or three generations, effect a complete revolution in their habits of thought, which, by acting upon the first period of education, would influence the whole course of opinion." Mr. Mill, it is well known, is warmly in favor of it. He has been abundantly sneered at in England for this crotchet, as they call it,—although it is not easy to see why it should be ridiculous for women to vote in a country governed by a queen.

Aristippus. In this I am with you. I have always thought it absurd that the ignorant Irishman who drives the carriage of a rich widow should have a voice in the government of the country, and that the employer, whose money enables him to live, should have none. In Austria, women who hold real property in their own right have the right to vote. I would go a step further, and give the suffrage to every independent, self-supporting widow or single woman. Wives I would exclude,—not from the fear of adding to the stock subjects of domestic disputation,—the usual reason given,—but because they are not independent. The same reason should apply to daughters residing under the paternal roof. And, in all fairness, I would extend my rule to men. I would make, not a property, but an independence qualification. A man who lives on a dollar a day, if he owns it or earns it, should vote; but the son who depends upon a rich father for support, and the pauper who lives upon public charity, should not vote. Socially, both are minors. We might even say, that, financially, both are unweaned. Why should they not be minors politically? This plan would really be manhood suffrage.[Pg 433]

Hipparchia. Justice and wisdom are both upon our side. We must eventually succeed; and then the emancipation of woman will be complete, and her equality with man established. The resolution passed in our Convention, "that a just government and a true church are alike opposed to class and caste, whether the privileged order be feudal baron, British lord, or American white male," ought to be true, and will be true at a future day.

Diogenes. Vigorously expressed! The feudal baron, indeed, is an extinct species, and was hardly worth mentioning, unless to adorn your rhetoric and point your resolution. But let me tell you that the white male can show an older and a better patent of nobility than the British lord with whom you associate him. Is it not recorded in Genesis, that Adam was created first, and Eve from him?—a copy only, you observe; and a copy never comes up to the original. As Dryden has it:—

"He to God's image, she to his, was made;
So farther from the fount the stream at random strayed."

And in the same inspired history we read: "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."

Hipparchia. Nonsense! I thought that the argument from Scripture had died out with slavery polemics. You forget that every Eve has not an Adam. On what ground do you ask a single woman to occupy an inferior position? I admit that the married may sometimes do so with propriety.

Aristippus. On the ground of an inferiority, and of infirmities absolutely incurable. Between the female man of your theories and the real male man there is a great gulf you cannot pass over. A negro is a man,—we can imagine him a brother; but no effort of philanthropic self-abnegation can work the same miracle for a woman. When you preach the natural equality of the sexes, you injure your cause. The facts are too strong and too visible for you. A man can rest his claim to superiority on brute force, if on nothing else; and force is, after all, the ultimate basis of all government. I do not mean to underrate the cleverness of women. The first man was overreached by Eve; and the last woman will probably turn the head of the laggard who brings up the rear of the human race. If a wife is only half of the scissors, as Franklin suggests, she is often the half with the point. But feminine ability is not of the ruling kind. You dance, for instance, better than men, if the gymnastic capers of acrobats and tumblers can be called dancing at all; but you cannot wield a sledge-hammer as vigorously, and your excellent performances, numerous in literature, rarer in art, and still more rare in science, seem to me to be mostly of the dancing rather than of the sledge-hammer order.

But success would be your ruin. If you could establish the complete equality you long for, your relative inferiority would become so manifest as to be humiliating. In most of the vocations of men, women would be as ridiculous, morally, as they are physically in men's clothes. If a woman is nothing but a smaller man, the savage contempt for the sex is logical. Place two races together, of which the one is weaker, less energetic, less pugnacious than the other; and the result will inevitably be that the strong and the fierce will make the mild and the feeble do all their hard work. The barbarous ages would return again. We should sit by, like the Indian, smoking the pipe of laziness, while you were furnishing us with board, lodging, clothes, and tobacco. The Amazons, the earliest known advocates of women's rights, saw this point clearly; and consequently excluded men altogether from their communities, except at their yearly camp-meetings. Men worship women for their gentleness, affection, imagination, refinement,—for the fond, cosey, nestling way they have with them,—for their femininity (in one awkward word), the contrast and complement to the masculine character. There is a sex in soul quite as much as in body. In[Pg 434] the mythology, no god falls in love with Minerva. A mannish woman only attracts a feminine man. A woman's power lies in her petticoats, as Samson's strength lay in his hair. Cut them off, and you leave her at the mercy of every brutal Philistine, who now dares not be rude to her because she is sacred. Do you not see that, instead of gaining something, you will lose all?—sink into fifth-rate mannikins, with fewer opportunities,—boys in petticoats?

Diogenes. And we be obliged to set our amorous eclogues to the tune of Formosus Pastor Corydon?

Aristippus. I might quote a suggestive remark from Pepys's Diary, namely, that the only female animal which gives a name to both sexes is the goose. But, seriously, your chances of success are not brilliant,—at least for the present. There are two kinds of women, both of them excellent; but almost as distinct as diamonds and black lead, which are both pure carbon;—one is made to be admired, the other to be useful. The girl who wakes the poet's sigh is a very different creature from the girl who makes his soup. You have read of the loves of the Angels with the daughters of the Antediluvians. I sometimes think that the diamonds can claim descent from the high-bred race that sprang from those aristocratic relations. The late Monsieur Balzac, who handled this subject with ingenuity, was struck by this difference. He divided woman into two classes: woman, and the female of the order Mammalia, genus Bimanis, species Homo. In his essays he overlooks altogether the second class. But in it you must seek your disciples. The heaven-descended sisters will not go with you. You may try to make them useful and self-supporting; but you will lose your pains. They have only to show themselves, to receive the attention and applause that a man of genius must work a lifetime to earn. Their world is at their feet. Wealth, power, gratified vanity, are theirs without an effort. Madame de Staël said she would willingly give all her fame for one season of the reign of a youthful beauty. She, it is true, was a woman; but David Hume, a keen observer, and moderate in his statements, noticed that even a "little miss, dressed in a new gown for a dancing-school ball, receives as complete enjoyment as the greatest orator who triumphs in the splendor of his eloquence, while he governs the passions and resolutions of a numerous assembly." You ask them to give up these pleasures and these triumphs, and to abdicate their thrones,—to become implements instead of ornaments, and to help to bring down the high price of labor in the present scarcity of laborers; and you offer them in exchange the right to wear trousers, to drive an omnibus, or to wear a policeman's uniform! Do you think that they will listen to you? No,—not even the respectable members of the second class. The Cinderellas with no glass slippers and no protecting fairy might join with you, if they did not look up to the first class as their rulers and models. They feel instinctively that the glory of the Angelidæ illuminates even them; and they all, or almost all, have a faint yet abiding and comforting hope that some unheard-of miracle, or yet undiscovered cosmetic, may place them among the blessed.

You cannot, my dear Hipparchia, by any process of teaching, not even by magazine-articles, make a canary-bird into a useful barn-door fowl. It will wear yellow feathers, and it will sing and nibble at sugar.

[Pg 435]


Down by the sands, where the midland sea surges and draws off its feeble tides, and the sheltering beaches, the delight of antique mariners, tempt straying ruminants with their salt herbage, and no voracious spring-tide floods the beach, I made my first positive acquaintance with the Scarabæus pilularius, and guessed at the mystery of his worship in those Eastern lands where sand and sun are the rulers, and he their chief subject. Wonderful in his knowledge of statics and dynamics I found him; heroic in fight and magnanimous in victory, as ungrudging in his acceptance of defeat; and altogether a creature of rare and wonderful instincts.

A line of tracks, so similar to hieroglyphics as to justify an initiatory reverence in a Cadmian mind, drawn indefinitely across the smooth-spread yellow sand, led me, curious, to the arena of his achievements. A dozen similar tracks led from different directions, converging to a pile of dung, and here half a dozen Scarabæi, of as many sizes, were cutting and carving, and every now and then another came buzzing up from the leeward, flying in the eye of the wind, and dropped heavily on the sand, ready to make one of the busy crowd. I selected as subject of my observations the largest, a fellow of prodigious proportions and exemplary industry. He had commenced the excavation of a mass of the pilulary, making a circular cut downwards, and was half buried in the fosse which was to isolate a sufficient fragment. Round and round he went in a perfect arc, cutting deeper and deeper until he reached the sand below and the separation was complete. He traversed it to and fro, time after time, to be sure that the cut was direct and absolute; then, bracing his head against the sand foundation, he began pushing with his hind legs to move off the selected portion. I thought to help him, and carefully pushed it with a small reed until it rolled over on the sand, and he with it, innocuously hoist by his own petard.

Finding himself free on the level sand, he commenced to roll and round it, kneading the irregularities back and dragging upwards at the same time with his fore feet, so that in less than a minute after his liberation he had worked his lump into a close approximation to globular form, and had started on his voyage; but after a few turns he stopped, seemed to try the weight of his load, deliberately rolled it back into its original bed, and then began to excavate another portion, which he set himself to work into the original ball, which when weighed had been found wanting. The surface of the latter was thoroughly sanded by its revolutions, and adhesion was impossible; so he began working the new material under the coating of sand in so dexterous a way that he quickly completed the integration, and at the same time restored the globular form to the whole; then he started anew, to roll it off to its future depository.

The worst of his mechanical difficulties was overcome; but now began a series of struggles with Scarabæi unprovided with the objects of beetling ambition, and whose education seemed to have stopped at the days when power and possession were words nearer their root and each other than now,—when to justify piracy you must organize some sort of government.

I recognized in the deportment of these rovers of the sands another claim to the reverence of the early ages of human civilization,—another reason for their canonization by the Egyptians, in whose calendar is mentioned St. Scarabæus. For the moment any wandering and pilless Scarabæus met the hero of my story he made an examination of the size and general perfections of his work, going up the side opposite to that on which its lawful owner had established[Pg 436] his motive power; and, as the bolus was at least a dozen times the size of its owner, he sometimes took a considerable ramble before he met that important individual. But they no sooner met than the tug of war began. They fought like Ajax and Hector for the dead body of Patroclus. They clenched, wrestled, struggled, pushed, until the stronger got uppermost, when he employed all his remaining force to push the other off and keep him down. If nearly matched, sometimes the under one got a shoulder-lock on his adversary, and, by an Herculean effort, threw him over his head, and to a distance of two or three inches across the sand. This usually terminated the battle, and the whipped Scarabæus made his way off as rapidly as his legs would carry him. If the Scarabæus in possession could keep the other off the ball for a few seconds, the latter gave up the struggle and sought his fortunes on another field.

I had wisely chosen my hero so strong that there was little fear of his being ousted; so my sympathies were on the winning side. But once he met his master, and was pitched with terrific violence across the sand, striking on his head, to his evident stupefaction. When he recovered he gave up his property without demur, and started for another venture. Then I, the deus ex machina, stepped into the epic, pitched the usurper three times as far as he had thrown my friend, then rolled the "apple of discord" directly in the path of its rightful owner, and saw him commencing his task anew, with unabated energy. A little declivity stood in his way, and it was a Sysiphus-labor to get beyond it. Time after time, poising himself squarely and solidly on his head, and bracing himself after the manner of equestrian performers by his superior extremities, he walked backwards, pushing the ball before him, and gingerly meeting the tendency to escape, first on one side, and then on the other; finally, missing, it rolled down the whole slope, carrying him in dizzy revolutions with it; but without hesitation he recommenced his work undiscouraged.

Some I saw who seemed to have partners in their toils,—a smaller, demurer-looking Scarabæus,—working side by side and in peace with the greater originator, to get their burden into some quiet spot. What their relations were, and what they wanted to do with bolus, I don't know, and doubt if the wisest man in the court of the first of the Pharaohs did. Whether the Scarabæi are a nation of Amazons, and the hero I had chosen was a heroine, or whether the lesser partner was a patient waiter for conjugal content and the fruition of marital hopes, I of course can't tell. Perhaps Agassiz or Wyman could, but Moses, I am sure, couldn't; and as what he knew of the Scarabæus pilularius lies behind all he is to me in connection with my present subject of dissertation, I take the beetle from the Pharaonic point of view, and, looking over all I know of the reasons for reverence, and for being cut in stone, I make them these:—

Firstly, he was a scavenger, and the wise men taught the people to respect him as a means of preserving the race undiminished. The common people have always a profound contempt for the beings who do their dirty work, and contempt with them goes before enmity. In this the Egyptians would only show that they were a Southern people, and so had much dirty work to do. And in this connection I must say, that I consider that, an undeveloped people not being awake to fine distinctions, and being predisposed to despise everything differing from themselves, we must attribute all the respect paid the Scarabæus pilularius to the advice and influence of their wise men, who, so long as they were wise, would persuade them to protect every useful creature.

Secondly, the mechanical instincts of the Scarabæus pilularius must have always excited the interest of the geometers and mechanists at a time when geometry and mechanics were known in their simplest elements mainly, and considered the marvellous secrets of creation.[Pg 437] The absolute rotundity of the pedifacture of the insect must have seemed the result of a sense little less than preternatural, to people who were not accustomed to reason away all recognition of the preternatural. But that which was wonderful to me, the power of weighing so accurately the load he was to propel, must have been not a little amazing to them, less familiar than we have become, through subsequent researches in natural history, with the powers of the brute creation.

Thirdly, that the Scarabæus pilularius was a soldier and hero was less noteworthy in those days than in modern times; for then he was no man who was no soldier, and to be brave was only a human virtue, but was still marvellous in an insect.

And, if last, not least of the claims of our friend to reverence was the strange line of hieroglyph he left on the tabula rasa sea-washed, in column like the message written down an obelisk; and that the most high priest had no key to the cipher only made it more curious and more revered.

I do not know that anything so simple ever impressed me more strangely than the meeting for the first time on the solitary sands of Antium, amid thoughts of Egypt's queen and her sad loves, this line of curious figures, sand-written. And who shall say that the original Cadmus was not our Pilularius? Certainly he left a record of the life he led, and the journeys he took, long before the first emigration from the flood-fertilized lands around Thebes-on-Nile carried civilization into northern lands.

It may have been from this trick of his of writing on the sand that they took his image for the signet; or perhaps it was only that the broad under-surface of the stone or smalt of which they made the Scarabæus was too tempting to be left vacant, and the portable shape and size of the stone gave it the preference over the images of crocodile or cat. Be that as it may, it became the form universal for signets, and bore the monogram or polygram of kings unnumbered and of chiefs unknown, so that the fictle Scarabæus doubtless carries to-day more strange messages for us than did the great original to his first observers. Being as ignorant of what hieroglyphs tell as the man who died when Champollion was born, I do not venture a conjecture on the significance or value of the "cartouches" inscribed on the plane surface of the Scarabæus. There can be no doubt that they were tokens of rank, and mainly bore direct reference to the history or condition of the wearer, with occasional mystic sentences, perhaps serving at once as signet and amulet.

My purpose, however, is to treat only of certain artistic relations, and to me, therefore, the Egyptian Scarabæus is only of value as it leads to, and is connected with, the Etruscan. The former is utterly unartistic,—a rude, but tolerably accurate imitation of the Scarabæus pilularius, the specific character being sufficiently developed,—the whole value of the work, both in its figure and the incisions under it, being evidently in its significance, and all conditions required of it being sufficiently answered by intelligibility. This is, indeed, characteristic of all Egyptian so-called art. It is not art at all, it is only writing; and the transfer of the Scarabæus from Egypt to Etruria only forms another evidence of the inevitable antithesis existing between art and record. The identical types which on the Nile told the same story age after age, unchanging in their form as in their meaning, once in the hands of the Etruscan, entered on a course of refinement and artistic development into objects of beauty; but in this they entirely lost sight of their original meaning. This is strikingly the case with the Scarabæus which, under the hands of the Etruscan cutter, lost at once all specific character. He might be Scarabæus anything: he is not pilularius; and, instead of being made of basalt, porphyry, smalt, and very rarely of pietra dura, as in Egypt, he is engraved in carnelian, onyx, sardonyx, and all the rare and lovely varieties of pietra dura,—which, being essentially the same, change their names[Pg 438] with their colors,—but mainly in an opaque carnelian, admirably calculated to show off the beauty of the workmanship. The change from use to ornament is abrupt, and perceivable in the earliest Etruscan examples, and proves conclusively to me two disputed points; namely, that the Scarabæus pilularius and his allied notions came from Egypt to Etruria, and that the Etruscan and Egyptian races were utterly diverse in origin and antithetic in intellectual character. The eminent utilitarianism of the latter leaves no room for purely artistic effort, while the former literally non tetiget quod non ornavit. Even the pictorial and sculptural representations of the Egyptians were absolutely subservient to history or worship; but the Etruscans cared so little for their own history as to leave us almost no inscribed monuments, though the remains of their taste and skill stand side by side with what we have of Greek work. They seem, indeed, to have been a more absolutely artistic people even than the Greeks, in whom art was exalted by a certain union with intellectual culture, the result of which was, of course, a larger growth and nobler ideal than the more ornamental Etrurian mind could attain. This points to an Eastern origin more in kinship with the Persian than the Greek, and to-day only illustrated by the Persian ornamentation.

The Scarabæus then, instead of the rude, straightforward representation of the Egyptian workman, assumes a more elegant form, with elaborate sculpture of all the insect characteristics, the edges of the wings and the lines that divide them from the chest being exquisitely beaded and wrought, and the claws being relieved and modelled with the highest care and most artistic finish. The form of the image, in fact, generally resembles more the beautiful green beetle which I have often caught in the mountains around Rome, than his plebeian and utilitarian cousin, the Scarabæus pilularius. The contour of the stone beneath the Scarabæus proper is markedly distinguished from the insect portion, and ornamented with a relieved cornice, more or less elaborate according to the general finish of the stone. I have one in which this cornice of .073 inch in width contains an upper and a lower bead and a U moulding of which the parts are only one fourth the height of the cornice in breadth, and yet are cut with mathematical regularity and completeness. The bead that marks the junction of the wings and chest is divided into squares of .0045 inch in dimension. If this care is given to the less important part of the stone, what may we not expect from the intaglii which make the more important objects of the lapidary's work! A stone, three fourths of an inch in length, contains two full-length figures seated in conversational attitudes, the extended hand of one of which, with the thumb and four fingers perfectly defined, is only .063 inch in length.

The great inequality between the power of design and the executive skill and taste in mere ornamentation in the characteristic Etruscan work is comparable only to those Eastern products which I have before alluded to,—the Persian fabrics. The animals are drawn without any regard to anatomical or optical truth,—foreshortening taken by a royal road, and grace thrown overboard. The hog is generally shown as flatted out, the legs appearing two on each side of the body; and the members of all animals are stowed away with more direct reference to composition of masses than of animal organisms. I remember one of a horse, in which, there not being room for the four legs in their natural places, one was hung up at the side where a vacant space offered itself.

The earliest work seems to be done by a graving process, as if cutting were by lines; the later is evidently done by the drilling operation now in use, and the process is much more apparent, especially in the drill-like terminations. This was probably owing to the use of the diamond itself for the incision, instead of the steel point and diamond dust, as in modern times, and to the great difficulty in getting a point on the implement.[Pg 439]

The purely ornamental manner of treating the Scarabæus seems to indicate that it had neither religious nor historical value. Had the contrary been the case, we should inevitably have found some artistic quality sacrificed to their meaning, which is not the case with the intaglio more than with the insect representation. The subjects include all the objects known to familiar life, with all the incidents of martial experience,—horses, chariots, arms,—warriors wounded, defeated, dying, victorious, struggling. One I remember of a surgeon dressing the wound of a warrior, who throws up his hands in expression of the pain he suffers; another, of the Genius of Death coming to Hercules; another still, of two winged genii burying a warrior; one, of two warriors dividing the dead body of a third, etc., etc. The style of cutting gradually changes, probably under the influence of Greek artists,—who are known to have emigrated to Etruria from Corinth, exiled by their native tyrants,—and becomes quite Greek in delicacy of finish and grace of proportion; and the subject becomes almost entirely of Greek history or mythology,—the heroes of the Trojan war figuring largely.

Some of these are the perfection of intaglio: nothing in the gem-cutting of the Greeks could be more exquisite and purely beautiful than they are as intaglio. Yet, excellent as is the work, there is an essential difference between the Etruscan and Greek design, which no similarity of workmanship will ever conceal,—a difference as radical as that between Roman and Greek sculpture, and still more marked. The Etruscan, in its highest artistic development, preserves something of an Oriental fantasy and want of repose, and invariably falls short of the dignified and purely imaginative character of the Greek. It makes no exception to this rule, that there are Etruscan Scarabæi which have purely Greek intaglii, since we know that there were Greek artists of the highest rank among those who emigrated to Etruria, and that it was customary for one workman to make the Scarabæus, and another the incision. But these are rare, and the trained eye of an artist need not be more puzzled to determine the Greek or Etruscan character of an intaglio, than to distinguish a Florentine picture from a Venetian. The difference is radical,—that between the objective and subjective art,—between an Indian shawl and a bit of drapery by Paul Veronese.

As to the uses of the Scarabæus, we may be sure that they were at first intended as signets and mounted as rings in the simple and charming way of which we find so many examples in the Etruscan tombs, each end of a gold wire being passed through the perforated Scarabæus, and the extremities secured by being wound round the wire at the opposite side of the stone. As soon as they become mere ornaments, a more elaborate mounting is seen on those worn as rings; and they appear in bracelets, necklaces, etc., in such profusion and confusion of subject, and style and date of workmanship, as to show plainly that they had lost all superstitious value or personal significance, and had become, like diamonds and pearls, a part of the gold-worker's material.

What the wealth and luxuriousness of those cities, now more deeply buried than Thebes or Nineveh, must have been, we can only imagine from the few traditions preserved by Roman historians,—grudging the glory of rivals so long and masters so often, though finally subjects of the irresistible force of crescent empire,—and from the gold-work known after so many centuries of sepulture. We know that Porsenna built himself a tomb in the solid rock,—a labyrinth whose secret no searchers of modern times have yet found, though they have burrowed around Clusium like marmots; and that over this he raised himself a monument,—five towers of stone, on the top of which was laid a domed platform of brass, and above this still towers and other brass, and higher yet, towers and a crowning bronze dome; and that from the edges[Pg 440] of all these platforms hung thousands of bells, rung by the sea-breeze which every midday came up, and still comes, across the low Etrurian hills, to find the children she wafted from the land of the Parsee and Chaldee. It is hard to define a "civilization"; and we talk of the ages of gold and of bronze as if we knew the history of the whole world and its generations; but to me the few glimpses I get through the crevices of the ages that hide Etruria, as the hills of the Black Forest hide the fairies from the German child, indicate an age more fitting the epithet Golden than any since, and a nation the like of which, as of the good-folk, we shall see no more on earth. There were confederation without over-centralization; states side by side, without mutual hate or subjugation; wealth and power, without the corruption that destroys nations; and military prowess, without the unscrupulous ambition that cannot live and let live. They were instructors of Rome in all that Rome knew of civilization; many times masters of the imperial city, without ever envying it its existence; mild conquerors, and just lawgivers; and the City of the Seven Hills owed to the proximity of her seven Etrurian sisters all her early wisdom in politics, all her knowledge of the arts which refine and preserve; and to their love of those arts, and of the peace in which they flourish, the permission of her existence in those early centuries which preceded the fall of Veii.

It is not here the place to develop the moral of Etruscan history, or to investigate the political and social condition of the Etruscan people; though the links we have of the former, and the glimpses of the latter seen athwart the prejudices and mortified pride of the Roman historians, give the subject a fascinating interest. It is said that when the Roman armies invaded the territory of the northern Etruscan states, and their commander asked the name of the first city they approached, the unsuspecting subject of the Lars replied only,—not understanding the barbarian language,—Χαιρε, "Hail!" and ever since the city has been known as Cære (and to its present inhabitants as Cerevetere,—Cære vetus). Until the fatal dissension which permitted the Romans to conquer Veii, the Etruscan states calmly and steadily repelled all invasion,—rarely, as in the time of Porsenna, turning aside to retaliate on Rome,—and still pursued their peaceful career, the sages of Egypt and the artists and poets of Greece giving wisdom and grace to their daily lives,—their temples the richest, their domestic life the fairest, their political condition the most prosperous, and their commerce the widest of all Italy, if not of all Europe.

Of it all, we have only the grave into which art sought to carry an immortality of its own, and from which religion strove to banish the drear gloom of the uncertain by surrounding the dead with all the objects familiar to their daily lives and the incidents which were the most antagonistic in impression to the darkness and silence to which they abandoned the beloved ones only when conquest and destruction had concealed the portals of their tombs, and ancestor and descendant had yielded to the same oblivion. Among the most interesting tombs at Tarquinii is one painted round with a wedding feast, the bridegroom kissing his bride, the wine-cups and garlands, the dance and song with the timing pipes, in colors fresh and sharp to-day amid the grave-damps, giving the challenge strangely to the all-destroyer. One much later in style of decoration has a procession of spirits driven by two demons,—Dantesque in power and simplicity of conception and evident faith, but telling a stranger story, in its contrast with the former, than anything we know in the history of the time,—a change from the golden to the iron days of Etruria.

The marvellous treasures of these tombs,—though only the few which, by comparative insignificance or fortunate accident, have escaped the unintelligent ravage of Roman or of Goth,—are like the scale or bone of Agassiz's saurian; and a necklace of Scarabæi alternated[Pg 441] with the little pendent fantasies in gold, which we may see in the Campana collection, is the fragment from which we build Etruria, taking a little help from the time-defying walls, and a hint from the sarcophagus whose mutually embracing effigies of the two made one tell that position given to woman which made Rome what she was after the fraud of Romulus gave to Romans Etruscan wives.

The Etrurians were the gold-workers of all time. Like shawls of Cashmere, Greek statuary, Gothic architecture, and Saracenic tracery, Etruscan gold-work stands absolutely alone,—the result of an artistic instinct deeper than any rules or any instruction, and therefore not to be improved or repeated. It is characterized by the most subtile and lovely use of decorative masses and lines,—not for representation or imitation, which are not motives to enter into pure ornament, but for the highest effect of beautiful form and rich color, without giving the eye or mind any associative or intellectual suggestion. The vice of all modern ornamentation is, that it insists on mixing natural history with decoration. It cannot avoid preaching, as fairy stories now-a-days cannot stop without a moral for good children, and consequently is, like them, stupid and unreal. The best ornamentation is that which is farthest from imitation; and that, in gold-work, is the Etruscan. As we had occasion to say in the preceding pages, the Scarabæus marks the difference between the moralizing Egyptian mind and the beauty-loving Etruscan. And if we might point a moral in an article defiant of morals, it would be in comparing the black, blood-stained history of Egypt with the fair record of the Larthian people. Beauty is its own moral and its own redeemer, and a mind that loves it may be corrupted to decay, but cannot be led into brutality or sunk into obscurity. Of the magnificence of the living people we can scarcely judge, since all we have now is the gorgeous array of those who were robed for the eternal rest. Castellani, in his pamphlet on the antique gold-work (Dell' Oreficeria Antica, Discorso di August Castellani), says: "But the excavations of Etruria which have preserved, what with pictures, apparel, and fabrics, so many of the antique sacerdotal ornaments, add almost nothing to the little we know about the names and uses of them. Micali says that 'the mechanism of the whole Etruscan government was beyond doubt priestly in its institutions.' After such a declaration by one of the most accurate narrators of ancient Italian history, I should scarcely know what to add to convey an idea of the pomp in which the priestly class of Etruria lived and robed itself. We can conjecture that the great poitrel in the Etruscan museum in the Vatican, the two magnificent bridles of the Campana museum, all the collars of extraordinary size and the large bullæ of various forms and dimensions which come from the various collections, and the innumerable vases, pateræ, cups, and goblets of gold, silver, and bronze found in the sepulchres, were all implements, furniture, and ornaments devoted to the service of religion. And such a multitude of objects may give some indication both of the multiplicity of the mysteries and sacred functions, and of the treasures which must have been contained in the antique temples, plundered by the barbarians, and then destroyed by the intolerant zeal of ignorant disciples of a new, triumphant religion."

What the wealth of the favored Etruscan fanes must have been may be conjectured from the fact that Dionysius carried from one on the sea-coast treasures to the amount of $40,000,000.

Of the gold-working, Castellani's restorations and imitations will give us a tolerable idea, so far as workmanship is concerned, though he himself confesses to be unable to equal all its qualities. I translate an interesting passage.

"Having proposed to ourselves, then, to restore as far as we could, and, so to speak, to renew the antique gold-work, we first set ourselves to search[Pg 442] for the methods which the ancients must have used. It was observed that in the ornaments of gold all the parts in relief were by the ancients superimposed; that is to say, prepared separately and then placed in position by means of soldering or some chemical process, and not raised by stamping, casting, or chiselling. From this arises, perhaps, the something spontaneous, the freedom and artistic neglect which is seen in the works of the ancients, which appear all made by hands guided by thought, while the moderns impress, I would say, a certain perfect exactness on the things produced by them, which reveals the work of mechanical implements, and shows a want of the creative thought of the artist. Here, then, they sought to find means to compose and solder together so many pieces of gold of different forms, and of such minuteness, that, as we have said, it goes to the very extreme.

"We made innumerable experiments, and put in operation successively all the chemical agents, many metallic alloys, and the most powerful fluxes. We searched the writings of Pliny, of Theophilus, and of Cellini; the works of the Indian gold-workers and those of Genoa and of Malta were studied with all care; in short, there was forgotten no one of those sources whence we might hope for some hint. Finally, whence least we expected it came some real assistance.

"Hidden in the highest mountains of the Apennine range is a little town called St. Angelo in Vado, where are made gold and silver ornaments, with which the fair mountaineers decorate themselves. Here it appears that they preserve, at least in part, the oldest traditions of the art of working in gold and silver; and these workmen,... shut, so to speak, from all contact with modern things, make crowns of filigree strung with gilded pearls and ear-rings of that peculiar form which is called the 'navicella,' by such methods as perhaps the antique were made, so that these jewels resemble not a little those found in the Greek and Etruscan sepulchres, although for elegance of form and for taste they are far from equalling them....

"Not long since, when, examining with a lens the Etruscan jewels of our own collection, I discerned in the zones of the tiny grains (which are characteristic of the work of these patient artists) certain defects, such as those which are made in enamel by the melting of the gold. These observations suggested to me to try a new process, in order to reproduce this exceedingly fine grain-work, believed hitherto impossible to be even distantly imitated by modern gold-workers. I immediately commenced the new experiments, and the results were sufficiently satisfactory to enable me to say, at present, that the problem is nearly solved which for almost twenty years has defied us."

And even now Castellani's best grain-work is far from equalling in delicacy and perfection of workmanship some of the antiques in his own collection.

Our Scarabæus has got into magnificent company, and modern taste finds that he deserved it; and certainly, me judice, nothing can be more purely artistic than a fine Scarabæus, and the fascination that comes over whoever has ventured to dabble in that kind of wares is as dangerous as the chances of play. Be content with a single one! If you once get into comparison, you have abandoned yourself to the witchery of the unknown and unattainable perfection.

Engraved gems or simple intaglios in pietra dura seem to belong to Greek art rather than Etruscan. The style of finishing the stone was more in accordance with the simple and elegant ideal of the Greek intellect. The intaglio was all to the Greek artist, and anything more was labor worse than wasted. His intaglio ceased to be ornamentation, and passed into the category of ideal work. And there are intaglii of Greek workmanship which are as lovely as it is possible to conceive anything,—all the spirit and perfect proportion of the antique sculpture concentrated in an oval, an inch by three quarters of[Pg 443] an inch, executed with a delicacy which defies the naked eye to measure it!

A critical study of gems is an affair of years; yet, so far as all principles of design are concerned or characteristics of art, we may always consider the intaglii with the sculpture of the same epoch. The spirit and manner and perfections are the same. The first are, of course, the Greek; and a fine example is rarely found,—heads only, of Dioscorides or any equally famous artist, being valued at from $400 to $800, and even $1200 in the case of the Ariadne. The next in value are Etruscan, very fine examples being nearly as much esteemed as Greek, while the best Roman is, like Roman sculpture, but a far-off emulation in design, though often admirable in execution and finish. Very fine examples of either are not largely current, being taken up by collectors and consigned at once to public or private cabinets; but now and then one turns up, or is turned up by an unenterprising share-holder of the Campagna of Rome, or by some excavator or vineyard-digger in Sicily, Magna Græcia, or Greece proper, and, if it gets into commerce, finds its way generally to Rome, the centre of exchange for classical antiquities. The Scarabæi are mostly found in the Etruscan tombs, and occasionally outside the walls of the Etruscan cities,—swept out, may be, with the antique dust. But there are Roman imitations, made doubtless for some aristocratic descendant of the mythic Etrurian kings, like Mæcenas, proud of that remote if subjugated ancestry, and looking wistfully backward to the Arcadia of which his family traditions only preserved the record. The Roman lapidaries were not nice workmen, and their imitations are most palpable.

Then, in the fifteenth century, came other and better lapidaries, and of better taste, many of whose Scarabæi are of great value, though still not difficult to distinguish from the Etruscan, when we study the design. The modern demand for them has produced innumerable impositions in the shape of copies,—poor Scarabæi retouched to fine ones, still bearing the marks of antiquity, and others whose under surface, being originally left blank, is engraved by the hired workmen of the modern Roman antiquaries, by whom they are sold as guaranteed antiques. This is the most common and dangerous cheat, and one which the easy conscience of the Italian merchant regards as perfectly justifiable; for has not the stone all the aroma of antiquity? A little shade darker in iniquity is the selling of stones entirely recut from broken larger ones, so that, though the stone remains identical, the workman puts a new face on it; and even this the antiquary will sell you as a veritable antique. Then there is the unmitigated swindle of the pure imitation, oftentimes so perfect that the most experienced judges are deceived. There is in fact no absolute certainty in the matter. There are antiques of which no doubt can be entertained, with characteristics utterly inimitable; but there are others as certainly antique which have none of these, but, taken without reference to their placer, are not to be distinguished with absolute certainty. I remember a necklace in the Campana museum, which, in a large number of unmistakable Scarabæi, had one for which I would not have paid two scudi on the Piazza Navona, so like the modern imitations did it look. The only reliable criterion for the majority of cases is the spirit of the design in the intaglio. Castellani says: "Antique Etruscan, Greek, or Roman Scarabæi are at present very rare, and their high price tempts the moderns to counterfeit them. And to such a perfection have they carried their business that it is with difficulty the best-trained eye can discover the fraud. It is not the stone, not the polish, nor even the incision, but a peculiar smoothness and morbidezza, which distinguishes the antique; and which only they who for many years have studied such kinds of work, or who, either in the way of trade or otherwise, have seen and handled many of the gems, are able to perceive."[Pg 444]

A friend in Rome came to me one day with a request that I would go with him to see a Scarabæus which he had taken a fancy to, and had engaged to buy if it were counted genuine by good judges. It was a superb stone, a deep carnelian, nearly opaque, exquisitely elaborated, and with an intaglio which I doubt not was Greek. It was the most beautiful one I had ever seen, and I gave my opinion, such as it was, in favor of its antiquity. It was purchased, and afterwards shown to a well-known dealer, by whom it was pronounced a cheat; and on inquiry it was discovered that the seller had had a copy made of the original, and, while he offered the latter for sale, delivered the former, which was so carefully and perfectly copied as to puzzle the eye even of the best-instructed amateur.

A merchant of antiquities with whom I have occasional dealings—we will call him A. because that is not his initial—brought me one day a large intaglio, which had the appearance of an archaic Etruscan work. A. is known as one of the piu cognoscenti of Rome; and his dictum is worth any other two. He declared it an original antique of the rarest quality; and Odelli, the best gem-cutter in Rome, coincided in the opinion. He held it at two thousand francs, but would have sold it to me for eighteen hundred, I suppose. I didn't bite, and after a few weeks lured the collector of whom he had bought it—one of those who make it a business to haunt the markets, and visit distant cities and excavations, to purchase and sell again to the Roman antiquaries—to boast his prowess as compared with that of A., who had bitten him severely several times in their dealings; and, in the full tide of his self-glorification, I turned the conversation on the black agate, now become famous among the dealers. He could not resist the temptation, and told me all about it. "A. believes it to be antique, don't he?" "O, he is certain of it," said I. "Well, I'll tell you how it is: I bought the thing of the man who made it, and paid him three scudi for it. I took it to A. and offered it to him for six; but he refused it, thinking it to be a paste. I took it away again, and, having had it tested as a stone, offered it to him for twenty. After examining it and keeping it a few days, he offered me twelve. I said no,—eighteen. He said no. I said sixteen, and he offered me fourteen, which I took. The fact is," said he, "no one is able to say for certain if a stone is antique or not. A. has the best judgment in Rome, but you see how he is deceived." I bought of the same man a small engraved emerald, which he had just purchased of a peasant, and, without much examination, sold me for one scudo, as a basso-impero of ordinary quality. My eyes were better, and had seen, in what he thought a handful of flowers, a cross; and on cleaning it we found it to be an early Christian stone of much greater value than he supposed, to his great chagrin.

If the perfections of our Scarabæus give us a glimpse of Etruscan existence, we may perhaps gather from the gems some notion of what Rome was, beyond what historians have written, or the ruins of her palaces and tombs have shown. The quantity of intaglii alone, such as they are, which are dug up in the gardens and vineyards around Rome every year, is incredible to one who has not watched day by day the acquisitions of the antiquity shops, and the stalls of the Piazza Navona. Very few of them are of any artistic value; but the fact that so many were made use of is a marvel in itself, and implies a greater luxury than marble palaces even hint at. I one day remarked to a peasant who brought me some intaglii to sell, that the ancients must have worn a great many rings; and he replied, that in his country the richer people wore so many that they had to hold their hands up to keep them from falling off. On inquiry I found that he came from the Abruzzi, where it seems that the people still hold on to something of the antique customs; for we know that the Romans began the fashion of covering the fingers to that[Pg 445] extravagant degree, so that the number of rings possessed by a family of great wealth must have been almost inestimable. At every irruption of the barbarians, the villas that covered the Campagna for miles around Rome must have felt the first fury of their ravages; and as the stones contained in the ornaments were of no use to the plunderers, they were broken out and thrown away, many of them to be uncovered, more than a thousand years later, by the spade of the trencher in the vineyards. One of a number of peasants playing at bowls in one of the roads near Rome struck with his ball a point of hardened mud, which flew in pieces, disclosing an exquisite intaglio head of Nero in carnelian, in perfect condition, for which the finder received ten scudi.

The laborers in the fields have so far learned the value of the stones they find, that it becomes almost impossible anywhere in the vicinity of Rome to buy them of the finders, even at the most extravagant prices. Unable to distinguish in quality, and knowing that certain stones have brought such and such prices, they refuse to sell any for a smaller price, but retain them until the next festa, when they carry them in succession to all the mercanti di pietre in Rome, to see which will offer the highest price,—a kind of vendue which evinces greater trade-cleverness than the Italians get credit for, and which has the effect of bringing the dealers at once to their best terms. No matter what price you offer, they never accept it until they have tried the value it has for others. It is only when a stone has such great value that it justifies paying a price passing the imagination of the peasant, that the buyer can profit by buying from the first hand.

Of the finer kind of intaglii, there is little danger of buying counterfeits, since the art of gem-cutting is too low now to permit of such counterfeits as might be mistaken for first-rate antiques. Of the common kind, again, there are those which, cut with a certain conventionalism in design and a facility in execution which incessant repetition only can produce, cannot be imitated except at a cost utterly beyond their market value. Like the designs on the Etruscan vases, their main excellence is, that, being so good, they should be done so facilely. An imitator loses the rapidity and spirit of execution. The mass of imitations are of things only tolerably good, and of things whose characteristics are in the execution merely, as in the Roman and conventional Etruscan work.

I will close with one bit of advice to my readers. If your fancy finds any satisfaction in Scarabæi ed altri, let your acquisition stop with the first example,—take a sample brick from antiquity. If you once commence collecting them in ever so small a way, or with any excuse to your own pocket, you will find yourself subject to a fascination more irresistible than the love of money,—more absorbing than the search for the philosopher's stone. While you are in Rome, you will find yourself unable to keep your feet from ways that lead to the antiquaries, or your money out of the hands of a class (with two or three exceptions) of cheats. You will find the extravagances of one day coming to be the niggardness of the next; and feverish anxieties lest you should not succeed in getting this gem, and irritating regrets that you too soon bought that, will divide your tortured soul. And when you finally leave Rome, as you must some day, you will always harbor a small canker-worm of immitigable grief, that you did not purchase one stone you saw and thought too high-priced; and will pass thenceforward no curiosity-shop without looking in the windows a moment, in the hope of finding some gem strayed away into parts where no man knows its value. If you feel in you the capacity of loving them, let them alone.[Pg 446]


Long ere the Pale Face
Crossed the Great Water,
Passed, with her beauty,
Into a legend
Pure as a wild-flower
Found in a broken
Ledge by the sea-side.
Let us revere them,—
These wildwood legends,
Born of the camp-fire!
Let them be handed
Down to our children,—
Richest of heirlooms!
No land may claim them:
They are ours only,
Like our grand rivers,
Like our vast prairies,
Like our dead heroes!
In the pine-forest,
Guarded by shadows,
Lieth the haunted
Pond of the Red Men.
Ringed by the emerald
Mountains, it lies there
Like an untarnished
Buckler of silver,
Dropped in that valley
By the Great Spirit!
Weird are the figures
Traced on its margins,—
Vine-work and leaf-work,
Knots of sword-grasses,
Moonlight and starlight,
Clouds scudding northward!
Sometimes an eagle
Flutters across it;
Sometimes a single
Star on its bosom
Nestles till morning.
Far in the ages,
Rose of the Hurons,
Came to these waters.
[Pg 447] Where the dank greensward
Slopes to the pebbles,
Sat in her anguish.
Ice to her maidens,
Ice to the chieftains,
Fire to her lover!
Here he had won her,
Here they had parted,
Here could her tears flow.
With unwet eyelash,
Nursed her old father,
Oldest of Hurons,
Soothed his complainings,
Smiled when he chid her
Vaguely for nothing,—
He was so weak now,
Like a shrunk cedar
White with the hoar-frost
Sometimes she gently
Linked arms with maidens,
Joined in their dances:
Not with her people,
Not in the wigwam,
Wept for her lover.
Ah! who was like him?
Fleet as an arrow,
Strong as a bison,
Lithe as a panther,
Soft as the south-wind,
Who was like Wawah?
There is one other
Stronger and fleeter,
Bearing no wampum,
Wearing no war-paint,
Ruler of councils,
Chief of the war-path,—
Who can gainsay him,
Who can defy him?
His is the lightning,
His is the whirlwind.
Let us be humble,
We are but ashes,—
'T is the Great Spirit!
Ever at nightfall
Strayed from the lodges,
Passed through the shadows
[Pg 448] Into the forest:
There by the pond-side
Spread her black tresses
Over her forehead.
Sad is the loon's cry
Heard in the twilight;
Sad is the night-wind,
Moaning and moaning;
Sadder the stifled
Sob of a widow!
Low on the pebbles
Murmured the water:
Often she fancied
It was young Wawah
Playing the reed-flute.
Sometimes a dry branch
Snapped in the forest:
Then she rose, startled,
Ruddy as sunrise,
Warm for his coming!
But when he came not,
Back through the darkness,
Half broken-hearted,
Went to her people.
When an old oak dies,
First 't is the tree-tops,
Then the low branches,
Then the gaunt stem goes:
So fell Tawanda,
Oldest of Hurons,
Chief of the chieftains.
Wept not, but softly
Closed the sad eyelids;
With her own fingers
Fastened the deer-skin
Over his shoulders;
Then laid beside him
Ash-bow and arrows,
Pipe-bowl and wampum,
Dried corn and bear-meat,—
All that was needful
On the long journey.
Thus old Tawanda
Went to the hunting
Grounds of the Red Man.
Then, as the dirges
Rose from the village,
[Pg 449] Miantowona
Stole from the mourners,
Stole through the cornfields,
Passed like a phantom
Into the shadows
Through the pine-forest.
One who had watched her—
It was Nahoho,
Loving her vainly—
Saw, as she passed him,
That in her features
Made his stout heart quail.
He could but follow.
Quick were her footsteps,
Light as a snow-flake,
Leaving no traces
On the white clover.
Like a trained runner,
Winner of prizes,
Into the woodlands
Plunged the young chieftain.
Once he abruptly
Halted, and listened;
Then he sped forward
Faster and faster
Toward the bright water.
Breathless he reached it.
Why did he crouch then,
Stark as a statue?
What did he see there
Could so appall him?
Only a circle
Swiftly expanding,
Fading before him;
But, as he watched it,
Up from the centre,
Slowly, superbly
Rose a Pond-Lily.
One cry of wonder,
Shrill as the loon's call,
Rang through the forest,
Startling the silence,
Startling the mourners
Chanting the death-song.
Forth from the village,
Flocking together
Came all the Hurons,—
Striplings and warriors,
Maidens and old men,
Squaws with pappooses.
[Pg 450]
No word was spoken:
There stood the Hurons
On the dank greensward,
With their swart faces
Bowed in the twilight.
What did they see there?
Only a Lily
Rocked on the azure
Breast of the water.
Then they turned sadly
Each to the other,
Tenderly murmuring,
Soft as the dew falls
Down through the midnight,
Cleaving the starlight,
Echo repeated,



Sunday, April 9, 1843.—....After finishing my record in the journal, I sat a long time in grandmother's chair, thinking of many things.... My spirits were at a lower ebb than they ever descend to when I am not alone; nevertheless, neither was I absolutely sad. Many times I wound and rewound Mr. Thoreau's little musical box; but certainly its peculiar sweetness had evaporated, and I am pretty sure that I should throw it out of the window were I doomed to hear it long and often. It has not an infinite soul. When it was almost as dark as the moonlight would let it be, I lighted the lamp, and went on with Tieck's tale, slowly and painfully, often wishing for help in my difficulties. At last I determined to learn a little about pronouns and verbs before proceeding further, and so took up the phrase-book, with which I was commendably busy, when, at about a quarter to nine, came a knock at my study-door, and, behold, there was Molly with a letter! How she came by it I did not ask, being content to suppose it was brought by a heavenly messenger. I had not expected a letter; and what a comfort it was to me in my loneliness and sombreness! I called Molly to take her note (enclosed), which she received with a face of delight as broad and bright as the kitchen fire. Then I read, and re-read, and re-re-read, and quadruply, quintuply, and sextuply re-read my epistle, until I had it all by heart, and then continued to re-read it for the sake of the penmanship. Then I took up the phrase-book again; but could not study, and so bathed and retired, it being now not far from ten o'clock. I lay awake a good deal in the night, but saw no ghost.

I arose about seven, and found that the upper part of my nose, and the region round about, was grievously discolored;[Pg 451] and at the angle of the left eye there is a great spot of almost black purple, and a broad streak of the same hue semicircling beneath either eye, while green, yellow, and orange overspread the circumjacent country. It looks not unlike a gorgeous sunset, throwing its splendor over the heaven of my countenance. It will behoove me to show myself as little as possible; else people will think I have fought a pitched battle.... The Devil take the stick of wood! What had I done, that it should bemaul me so? However, there is no pain, though, I think, a very slight affection of the eyes.

This forenoon I began to write, and caught an idea by the skirts, which I intend to hold fast, though it struggles to get free. As it was not ready to be put upon paper, however, I took up the Dial, and finished reading the article on Mr. Alcott. It is not very satisfactory, and it has not taught me much. Then I read Margaret's article on Canova, which is good. About this time the dinner-bell rang, and I went down without much alacrity, though with a good appetite enough.... It was in the angle of my right eye, not my left, that the blackest purple was collected. But they both look like the very Devil.

Half past five o'clock.—After writing the above,... I again set to work on Tieck's tale, and worried through several pages; and then, at half past four, threw open one of the western windows of my study, and sallied forth to take the sunshine. I went down through the orchard to the river-side. The orchard-path is still deeply covered with snow; and so is the whole visible universe, except streaks upon the hillsides, and spots in the sunny hollows, where the brown earth peeps through. The river, which a few days ago was entirely imprisoned, has now broken its fetters; but a tract of ice extended across from near the foot of the monument to the abutment of the old bridge, and looked so solid that I supposed it would yet remain for a day or two. Large cakes and masses of ice came floating down the current, which, though not very violent, hurried along at a much swifter pace than the ordinary one of our sluggish river-god. These ice-masses, when they struck the barrier of ice above mentioned, acted upon it like a battering-ram, and were themselves forced high out of the water, or sometimes carried beneath the main sheet of ice. At last, down the stream came an immense mass of ice, and, striking the barrier about at its centre, it gave way, and the whole was swept onward together, leaving the river entirely free, with only here and there a cake of ice floating quietly along. The great accumulation, in its downward course, hit against a tree that stood in mid-current, and caused it to quiver like a reed; and it swept quite over the shrubbery that bordered what, in summer-time, is the river's bank, but which is now nearly the centre of the stream. Our river in its present state has quite a noble breadth. The little hillock which formed the abutment of the old bridge is now an island with its tuft of trees. Along the hither shore a row of trees stand up to their knees, and the smaller ones to their middles, in the water; and afar off, on the surface of the stream, we see tufts of bushes emerging, thrusting up their heads, as it were, to breathe. The water comes over the stone wall, and encroaches several yards on the boundaries of our orchard. [Here the supper-bell rang.] If our boat were in good order, I should now set forth on voyages of discovery, and visit nooks on the borders of the meadows, which by and by will be a mile or two from the water's edge. But she is in very bad condition, full of water, and, doubtless, as leaky as a sieve.

On coming from supper, I found that little Puss had established herself in the study, probably with intent to pass the night here. She now lies on the footstool between my feet, purring most obstreperously. The day of my wife's departure, she came to me, talking with the greatest earnestness; but whether it was to condole with me on my loss, or to demand my redoubled care for[Pg 452] herself, I could not well make out. As Puss now constitutes a third part of the family, this mention of her will not appear amiss. How Molly employs herself, I know not. Once in a while, I hear a door slam like a thunder-clap; but she never shows her face, nor speaks a word, unless to announce a visitor or deliver a letter. This day, on my part, will have been spent without exchanging a syllable with any human being, unless something unforeseen should yet call for the exercise of speech before bedtime.

Monday, April 10.—I sat till eight o'clock, meditating upon this world and the next,... and sometimes dimly shaping out scenes of a tale. Then betook myself to the German phrase-book. Ah! these are but dreary evenings. The lamp would not brighten my spirits, though it was duly filled.... This forenoon was spent in scribbling, by no means to my satisfaction, until past eleven, when I went to the village. Nothing in our box at the post-office. I read during the customary hour, or more, at the Athenæum, and returned without saying a word to mortal. I gathered from some conversation that I heard, that a son of Adam is to be buried this afternoon from the meeting-house; but the name of the deceased escaped me. It is no great matter, so it be but written in the Book of Life.

My variegated face looks somewhat more human to-day; though I was unaffectedly ashamed to meet anybody's gaze, and therefore turned my back or my shoulder as much as possible upon the world. At dinner, behold an immense joint of roast veal! I would willingly have had some assistance in the discussion of this great piece of calf. I am ashamed to eat alone; it becomes the mere gratification of animal appetite,—the tribute which we are compelled to pay to our grosser nature; whereas in the company of another it is refined and moralized and spiritualized; and over our earthly victuals (or rather vittles, for the former is a very foolish mode of spelling),—over our earthly vittles is diffused a sauce of lofty and gentle thoughts, and tough meat is mollified with tender feelings. But oh! these solitary meals are the dismallest part of my present experience. When the company rose from table, they all, in my single person, ascended to the study, and employed themselves in reading the article on Oregon in the Democratic Review. Then they plodded onward in the rugged and bewildering depths of Tieck's tale until five o'clock, when, with one accord, they went out to split wood. This has been a gray day, with now and then a sprinkling of snow-flakes through the air.... To-day no more than yesterday have I spoken a word to mortal.... It is now sunset, and I must meditate till dark.

April 11.—I meditated accordingly, but without any very wonderful result. Then at eight o'clock bothered myself till after nine with this eternal tale of Tieck. The forenoon was spent in scribbling; but at eleven o'clock my thoughts ceased to flow,—indeed, their current has been wofully interrupted all along,—so I threw down my pen, and set out on the daily journey to the village. Horrible walking! I wasted the customary hour at the Athenæum, and returned home, if home it may now be called. Till dinner-time I labored on Tieck's tale, and resumed that agreeable employment after the banquet.

Just when I was at the point of choking with a huge German word, Molly announced Mr. Thoreau. He wished to take a row in the boat, for the last time, perhaps, before he leaves Concord. So we emptied the water out of her, and set forth on our voyage. She leaks, but not more than she did in the autumn. We rowed to the foot of the hill which borders the North Branch, and there landed, and climbed the moist and snowy hillside for the sake of the prospect. Looking down the river, it might well have been mistaken for an arm of the sea, so broad is now its swollen tide; and I could[Pg 453] have fancied that, beyond one other headland, the mighty ocean would outspread itself before the eye. On our return we boarded a large cake of ice, which was floating down the river, and were borne by it directly to our own landing-place, with the boat towing behind.

Parting with Mr. Thoreau I spent half an hour in chopping wood, when Molly informed me that Mr. Emerson wished to see me. He had brought a letter of Ellery Channing, written in a style of very pleasant humor. This being read and discussed, together with a few other matters, he took his leave, since which I have been attending to my journalizing duty; and thus this record is brought down to the present moment.

April 25.—Spring is advancing, sometimes with sunny days, and sometimes, as is the case now, with chill, moist, sullen ones. There is an influence in the season that makes it almost impossible for me to bring my mind down to literary employment; perhaps because several months' pretty constant work has exhausted that species of energy,—perhaps because in spring it is more natural to labor actively than to think. But my impulse now is to be idle altogether,—to lie in the sun, or wander about and look at the revival of Nature from her deathlike slumber, or to be borne down the current of the river in my boat. If I had wings, I would gladly fly; yet would prefer to be wafted along by a breeze, sometimes alighting on a patch of green grass, then gently whirled away to a still sunnier spot.... O, how blest should I be were there nothing to do! Then I would watch every inch and hair's breadth of the progress of the season; and not a leaf should put itself forth, in the vicinity of our old mansion, without my noting it. But now, with the burden of a continual task upon me, I have not freedom of mind to make such observations. I merely see what is going on in a very general way. The snow, which, two or three weeks ago, covered hill and valley, is now diminished to one or two solitary specks in the visible landscape; though doubtless there are still heaps of it in the shady places in the woods. There have been no violent rains to carry it off: it has diminished gradually, inch by inch, and day after day; and I observed, along the roadside, that the green blades of grass had sometimes sprouted on the very edge of the snowdrift, the moment that the earth was uncovered.

The pastures and grass-fields have not yet a general effect of green; nor have they that cheerless brown tint which they wear in later autumn, when vegetation has entirely ceased. There is now a suspicion of verdure,—the faint shadow of it,—but not the warm reality. Sometimes, in a happy exposure,—there is one such tract across the river, the carefully cultivated mowing-field, in front of an old red homestead,—such patches of land wear a beautiful and tender green, which no other season will equal; because, let the grass be green as it may hereafter, it will not be so set off by surrounding barrenness. The trees in our orchard, and elsewhere, have as yet no leaves; yet to the most careless eye they appear full of life and vegetable blood. It seems as if, by one magic touch, they might instantaneously put forth all their foliage, and the wind, which now sighs through their naked branches, might all at once find itself impeded by innumerable leaves. This sudden development would be scarcely more wonderful than the gleam of verdure which often brightens, in a moment, as it were, along the slope of a bank or roadside. It is like a gleam of sunlight. Just now it was brown, like the rest of the scenery: look again, and there is an apparition of green grass. The Spring, no doubt, comes onward with fleeter footsteps, because Winter has lingered so long that, at best, she can hardly retrieve half the allotted term of her reign.

The river, this season, has encroached farther on the land than it has been[Pg 454] known to do for twenty years past. It has formed along its course a succession of lakes, with a current through the midst. My boat has lain at the bottom of the orchard, in very convenient proximity to the house. It has borne me over stone fences; and, a few days ago, Ellery Channing and I passed through two rails into the great northern road, along which we paddled for some distance. The trees have a singular appearance in the midst of waters. The curtailment of their trunks quite destroys the proportions of the whole tree; and we become conscious of a regularity and propriety in the forms of Nature, by the effect of this abbreviation. The waters are now subsiding, but gradually. Islands become annexed to the mainland, and other islands emerge from the flood, and will soon, likewise, be connected with the continent. We have seen on a small scale the process of the deluge, and can now witness that of the reappearance of the earth.

Crows visited us long before the snow was off. They seem mostly to have departed now, or else to have betaken themselves to remote depths of the woods, which they haunt all summer long. Ducks came in great numbers, and many sportsmen went in pursuit of them, along the river; but they also have disappeared. Gulls come up from seaward, and soar high overhead, flapping their broad wings in the upper sunshine. They are among the most picturesque birds that I am acquainted with; indeed, quite the most so, because the manner of their flight makes them almost stationary parts of the landscape. The imagination has time to rest upon them; they have not flitted away in a moment. You go up among the clouds, and lay hold of these soaring gulls, and repose with them upon the sustaining atmosphere. The smaller birds,—the birds that build their nests in our trees, and sing for us at morning-red,—I will not describe.... But I must mention the great companies of blackbirds—more than the famous "four-and-twenty" who were baked in a pie—that congregate on the tops of contiguous trees, and vociferate with all the clamor of a turbulent political meeting. Politics must certainly be the subject of such a tumultuous debate; but still there is a melody in each individual utterance, and a harmony in the general effect. Mr. Thoreau tells me that these noisy assemblages consist of three different species of blackbirds; but I forget the other two. Robins have been long among us, and swallows have more recently arrived.

April 26.—Here is another misty day, muffling the sun. The lilac shrubs under my study-window are almost in leaf. In two or three days more, I may put forth my hand and pluck a green bough. These lilacs appear to be very aged, and have lost the luxuriant foliage of their prime. Old age has a singular aspect in lilacs, rose-bushes, and other ornamental shrubs. It seems as if such things, as they grow only for beauty, ought to flourish in immortal youth, or at least to die before their decrepitude. They are trees of Paradise, and therefore not naturally subject to decay; but have lost their birthright by being transplanted hither. There is a kind of ludicrous unfitness in the idea of a venerable rose-bush; and there is something analogous to this in human life. Persons who can only be graceful and ornamental—who can give the world nothing but flowers—should die young, and never be seen with gray hairs and wrinkles, any more than the flower-shrubs with mossy bark and scanty foliage, like the lilacs under my window. Not that beauty is not worthy of immortality. Nothing else, indeed, is worthy of it; and thence, perhaps, the sense of impropriety when we see it triumphed over by time. Apple-trees, on the other hand, grow old without reproach. Let them live as long as they may, and contort themselves in whatever fashion they please, they are still respectable, even if they afford us only an apple or two in a season, or[Pg 455] none at all. Human flower-shrubs, if they will grow old on earth, should, beside their lovely blossoms, bear some kind of fruit that will satisfy earthly appetites; else men will not be satisfied that the moss should gather on them.

Winter and Spring are now struggling for the mastery in my study; and I yield somewhat to each, and wholly to neither. The window is open, and there is a fire in the stove. The day when the window is first thrown open should be an epoch in the year; but I have forgotten to record it. Seventy or eighty springs have visited this old house; and sixty of them found old Dr. Ripley here,—not always old, it is true, but gradually getting wrinkles and gray hairs, and looking more and more the picture of winter. But he was no flower-shrub, but one of those fruit-trees or timber-trees that acquire a grace with their old age. Last Spring found this house solitary for the first time since it was built; and now again she peeps into our open windows and finds new faces here....

It is remarkable how much uncleanness winter brings with it, or leaves behind it.... The yard, garden, and avenue, which should be my department, require a great amount of labor. The avenue is strewed with withered leaves,—the whole crop, apparently, of last year,—some of which are now raked into heaps; and we intend to make a bonfire of them.... There are quantities of decayed branches, which one tempest after another has flung down, black and rotten. In the garden are the old cabbages which we did not think worth gathering last autumn, and the dry bean-vines, and the withered stalks of the asparagus-bed; in short, all the wrecks of the departed year,—its mouldering relics, its dry bones. It is a pity that the world cannot be made over anew every spring. Then, in the yard, there are the piles of firewood, which I ought to have sawed and thrown into the shed long since, but which will cumber the earth, I fear, till June, at least. Quantities of chips are strewn about, and on removing them we find the yellow stalks of grass sprouting underneath. Nature does her best to beautify this disarray. The grass springs up most industriously, especially in sheltered and sunny angles of the buildings, or round the door-steps,—a locality which seems particularly favorable to its growth; for it is already high enough to bend over and wave in the wind. I was surprised to observe that some weeds (especially a plant that stains the fingers with its yellow juice) had lived, and retained their freshness and sap as perfectly as in summer, through all the frosts and snows of last winter. I saw them, the last green thing, in the autumn; and here they are again, the first in the spring.

Thursday, April 27.—I took a walk into the fields, and round our opposite hill, yesterday noon, but made no very remarkable observation. The frogs have begun their concerts, though not as yet with a full choir. I found no violets nor anemones, nor anything in the likeness of a flower, though I looked carefully along the shelter of the stone walls, and in all spots apparently propitious. I ascended the hill, and had a wide prospect of a swollen river, extending around me in a semicircle of three or four miles, and rendering the view much finer than in summer, had there only been foliage. It seemed like the formation of a new world; for islands were everywhere emerging, and capes extending forth into the flood; and these tracts, which were thus won from the watery empire, were among the greenest in the landscape. The moment the deluge leaves them, Nature asserts them to be her property, by covering them with verdure; or perhaps the grass had been growing under the water. On the hill-top where I stood, the grass had scarcely begun to sprout; and I observed that even those places which looked greenest in the distance were but scantily grass-covered when I actually reached them. It was hope that painted them so bright.[Pg 456]

Last evening we saw a bright light on the river, betokening that a boat's party were engaged in spearing fish. It looked like a descended star,—like red Mars,—and, as the water was perfectly smooth, its gleam was reflected downward into the depths. It is a very picturesque sight. In the deep quiet of the night I suddenly heard the light and lively note of a bird from a neighboring tree,—a real song, such as those which greet the purple dawn, or mingle with the yellow sunshine. What could the little bird mean by pouring it forth at midnight? Probably the note gushed out from the midst of a dream, in which he fancied himself in Paradise with his mate; and, suddenly awaking, he found he was on a cold, leafless bough, with a New England mist penetrating through his feathers. That was a sad exchange of imagination for reality; but if he found his mate beside him, all was well.

This is another misty morning, ungenial in aspect, but kinder than it looks; for it paints the hills and valleys with a richer brush than the sunshine could. There is more verdure now than when I looked out of the window an hour ago. The willow-tree opposite my study-window is ready to put forth its leaves. There are some objections to willows. It is not a dry and cleanly tree; it impresses me with an association of sliminess; and no trees, I think, are perfectly satisfactory, which have not a firm and hard texture of trunk and branches. But the willow is almost the earliest to put forth its leaves, and the last to scatter them on the ground; and during the whole winter its yellow twigs give it a sunny aspect, which is not without a cheering influence in a proper point of view. Our old house would lose much were this willow to be cut down, with its golden crown over the roof in winter, and its heap of summer verdure. The present Mr. Ripley planted it, fifty years ago, or thereabouts.

Friday, June 2.—Last night there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden. The beans have suffered very much, although, luckily, not more than half that I planted have come up. The squashes, both summer and winter, appear to be almost killed. As to the other vegetables, there is little mischief done,—the potatoes not being yet above ground, except two or three; and the peas and corn are of a hardier nature. It is sad that Nature will so sport with us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her; and then, when we are entirely in her power, striking us to the heart. Our summer commences at the latter end of June, and terminates somewhere about the first of August. There are certainly not more than six weeks of the whole year when a frost may be deemed anything remarkable.

Friday, June 23.—Summer has come at last,—the longest days, with blazing sunshine, and fervid heat. Yesterday glowed like molten brass. Last night was the most uncomfortably and unsleepably sultry that we have experienced since our residence in Concord; and to-day it scorches again. I have a sort of enjoyment in these seven times heated furnaces of midsummer, even though they make me droop like a thirsty plant. The sunshine can scarcely be too burning for my taste; but I am no enemy to summer-showers. Could I only have the freedom to be perfectly idle now,—no duty to fulfil, no mental or physical labor to perform,—I should be as happy as a squash, and much in the same mode; but the necessity of keeping my brain at work eats into my comfort, as the squash-bugs do into the heart of the vines. I keep myself uneasy and produce little, and almost nothing that is worth producing.

The garden looks well now: the potatoes flourish; the early corn waves in the wind; the squashes, both for summer and winter use, are more forward, I suspect, than those of any of my neighbors. I am forced, however, to carry on a continual warfare with the[Pg 457] squash-bugs, who, were I to let them alone for a day, would perhaps quite destroy the prospects of the whole summer. It is impossible not to feel angry with these unconscionable insects, who scruple not to do such excessive mischief to me, with only the profit of a meal or two to themselves. For their own sakes they ought at least to wait till the squashes are better grown. Why is it, I wonder, that Nature has provided such a host of enemies for every useful esculent, while the weeds are suffered to grow unmolested, and are provided with such tenacity of life, and such methods of propagation, that the gardener must maintain a continual struggle or they will hopelessly overwhelm him? What hidden virtue is there in these things, that it is granted them to sow themselves with the wind, and to grapple the earth with this immitigable stubbornness, and to flourish in spite of obstacles, and never to suffer blight beneath any sun or shade, but always to mock their enemies with the same wicked luxuriance? It is truly a mystery, and also a symbol. There is a sort of sacredness about them. Perhaps, if we could penetrate Nature's secrets, we should find that what we call weeds are more essential to the well-being of the world than the most precious fruit or grain. This may be doubted, however, for there is an unmistakable analogy between these wicked weeds and the bad habits and sinful propensities which have overrun the moral world; and we may as well imagine that there is good in one as in the other.

Our peas are in such forwardness that I should not wonder if we had some of them on the table within a week. The beans have come up ill, and I planted a fresh supply only the day before yesterday. We have watermelons in good advancement, and muskmelons also within three or four days. I set out some tomatoes last night, also some capers. It is my purpose to plant some more corn at the end of the month, or sooner. There ought to be a record of the flower-garden, and of the procession of the wild-flowers, as minute, at least, as of the kitchen vegetables and pot-herbs. Above all, the noting of the appearance of the first roses should not be omitted; nor of the Arethusa, one of the delicatest, gracefullest, and in every manner sweetest of the whole race of flowers. For a fortnight past I have found it in the swampy meadows, growing up to its chin in heaps of wet moss. Its hue is a delicate pink, of various depths of shade, and somewhat in the form of a Grecian helmet. To describe it is a feat beyond my power. Also the visit of two friends, who may fitly enough be mentioned among flowers, ought to have been described. Mrs. F. S—— and Miss A. S——. Also I have neglected to mention the birth of a little white dove.

I never observed, until the present season, how long and late the twilight lingers in these longest days. The orange hue of the western horizon remains till ten o'clock, at least, and how much later I am unable to say. The night before last, I could distinguish letters by this lingering gleam between nine and ten o'clock. The dawn, I suppose, shows itself as early as two o'clock, so that the absolute dominion of night has dwindled to almost nothing. There seems to be also a diminished necessity, or, at all events, a much less possibility, of sleep than at other periods of the year. I get scarcely any sound repose just now. It is summer, and not winter, that steals away mortal life. Well, we get the value of what is taken from us.

Saturday, July 1.—We had our first dish of green peas (a very small one) yesterday. Every day for the last week has been tremendously hot; and our garden flourishes like Eden itself, only Adam could hardly have been doomed to contend with such a ferocious banditti of weeds.

Sunday, July 9.—I know not what to say, and yet cannot be satisfied without marking with a word or two[Pg 458] this anniversary.... But life now swells and heaves beneath me like a brim-full ocean; and the endeavor to comprise any portion of it in words is like trying to dip up the ocean in a goblet.... God bless and keep us! for there is something more awful in happiness than in sorrow,—the latter being earthly and finite, the former composed of the substance and texture of eternity, so that spirits still embodied may well tremble at it.

July 18.—This morning I gathered our first summer-squashes. We should have had them some days earlier, but for the loss of two of the vines, either by a disease of the roots or by those infernal bugs. We have had turnips and carrots several times. Currants are now ripe, and we are in the full enjoyment of cherries, which turn out much more delectable than I anticipated. George Hillard and Mrs. Hillard paid us a visit on Saturday last. On Monday afternoon he left us, and Mrs. Hillard still remains here.

Friday, July 28.—We had green corn for dinner yesterday, and shall have some more to-day, not quite full grown, but sufficiently so to be palatable. There has been no rain, except one moderate shower, for many weeks; and the earth appears to be wasting away in a slow fever. This weather, I think, affects the spirits very unfavorably. There is an irksomeness, a restlessness, a pervading dissatisfaction, together with an absolute incapacity to bend the mind to any serious effort. With me, as regards literary production, the summer has been unprofitable; and I only hope that my forces are recruiting themselves for the autumn and winter. For the future, I shall endeavor to be so diligent nine months of the year that I may allow myself a full and free vacation of the other three.

Monday, July 31.—We had our first cucumber yesterday. There were symptoms of rain on Saturday, and the weather has since been as moist as the thirstiest soul could desire.

Wednesday, September 13.—There was a frost the night before last, according to George Prescott; but no effects of it were visible in our garden. Last night, however, there was another, which has nipped the leaves of the winter-squashes and cucumbers, but seems to have done no other damage. This is a beautiful morning, and promises to be one of those heavenly days that render autumn, after all, the most delightful season of the year. We mean to make a voyage on the river this afternoon.

Sunday, September 23.—I have gathered the two last of our summer-squashes to-day. They have lasted ever since the 18th of July, and have numbered fifty-eight edible ones, of excellent quality. Last Wednesday, I think, I harvested our winter squashes, sixty-three in number, and mostly of fine size. Our last series of green corn, planted about the 1st of July, was good for eating two or three days ago. We still have beans; and our tomatoes, though backward, supply us with a dish every day or two. My potato-crop promises well; and, on the whole, my first independent experiment of agriculture is quite a successful one.

This is a glorious day,—bright, very warm, yet with an unspeakable gentleness both in its warmth and brightness. On such days it is impossible not to love Nature, for she evidently loves us. At other seasons she does not give me this impression, or only at very rare intervals; but in these happy, autumnal days, when she has perfected the harvests, and accomplished every necessary thing that she had to do, she overflows with a blessed superfluity of love. It is good to be alive now. Thank God for breath,—yes, for mere breath! when it is made up of such a heavenly breeze as this. It comes to the cheek with a real kiss; it would linger fondly around us, if it might; but, since it must be gone, it[Pg 459] caresses us with its whole kindly heart, and passes onward, to caress likewise the next thing that it meets. There is a pervading blessing diffused over all the world. I look out of the window and think, "O perfect day! O beautiful world! O good God!" And such a day is the promise of a blissful eternity. Our Creator would never have made such weather, and given us the deep heart to enjoy it, above and beyond all thought, if He had not meant us to be immortal. It opens the gates of heaven, and gives us glimpses far inward.

Bless me! this flight has carried me a great way; so now let me come back to our old abbey. Our orchard is fast ripening; and the apples and great thumping pears strew the grass in such abundance that it becomes almost a trouble—though a pleasant one—to gather them. This happy breeze, too, shakes them down, as if it flung fruit to us out of the sky; and often, when the air is perfectly still, I hear the quiet fall of a great apple. Well, we are rich in blessings, though poor in money....

Friday, October 6.—Yesterday afternoon I took a solitary walk to Walden Pond. It was a cool, windy day, with heavy clouds rolling and tumbling about the sky, but still a prevalence of genial autumn sunshine. The fields are still green, and the great masses of the woods have not yet assumed their many-colored garments; but here and there are solitary oaks of deep, substantial red, or maples of a more brilliant hue, or chestnuts either yellow or of a tenderer green than in summer. Some trees seem to return to their hue of May or early June before they put on the brighter autumnal tints. In some places, along the borders of low and moist land, a whole range of trees were clothed in the perfect gorgeousness of autumn, of all shades of brilliant color, looking like the palette on which Nature was arranging the tints wherewith to paint a picture. These hues appeared to be thrown together without design; and yet there was perfect harmony among them, and a softness and a delicacy made up of a thousand different brightnesses. There is not, I think, so much contrast among these colors as might at first appear. The more you consider them, the more they seem to have one element among them all, which is the reason that the most brilliant display of them soothes the observer, instead of exciting him. And I know not whether it be more a moral effect or a physical one, operating merely on the eye; but it is a pensive gayety, which causes a sigh often, and never a smile. We never fancy, for instance, that these gayly-clad trees might be changed into young damsels in holiday attire, and betake themselves to dancing on the plain. If they were to undergo such a transformation, they would surely arrange themselves in funeral procession, and go sadly along, with their purple and scarlet and golden garments trailing over the withering grass. When the sunshine falls upon them, they seem to smile; but it is as if they were heart-broken. But it is in vain for me to attempt to describe these autumnal brilliancies; or to convey the impression which they make on me. I have tried a thousand times, and always without the slightest self-satisfaction. Fortunately there is no need of such a record, for Nature renews the picture year after year; and even when we shall have passed away from the world, we can spiritually create these scenes, so that we may dispense with all efforts to put them into words.

Walden Pond was clear and beautiful as usual. It tempted me to bathe; and, though the water was thrillingly cold, it was like the thrill of a happy death. Never was there such transparent water as this. I threw sticks into it, and saw them float suspended on an almost invisible medium. It seemed as if the pure air were beneath them, as well as above. It is fit for baptisms; but one would not wish it to be polluted by having sins washed into it. None but angels should bathe[Pg 460] in it; but blessed babies might be dipped into its bosom.

In a small and secluded dell that opens upon the most beautiful cove of the whole lake, there is a little hamlet of huts or shanties, inhabited by the Irish people who are at work upon the railroad. There are three or four of these habitations, the very rudest, I should imagine, that civilized men ever made for themselves,—constructed of rough boards, with the protruding ends. Against some of them the earth is heaped up to the roof, or nearly so; and when the grass has had time to sprout upon them, they will look like small natural hillocks, or a species of ant-hills,—something in which Nature has a larger share than man. These huts are placed beneath the trees, oaks, walnuts, and white-pines, wherever the trunks give them space to stand; and by thus adapting themselves to natural interstices, instead of making new ones, they do not break or disturb the solitude and seclusion of the place. Voices are heard, and the shouts and laughter of children, who play about like the sunbeams that come down through the branches. Women are washing in open spaces, and long lines of whitened clothes are extended from tree to tree, fluttering and gambolling in the breeze. A pig, in a sty even more extemporary than the shanties, is grunting and poking his snout through the clefts of his habitation. The household pots and kettles are seen at the doors; and a glance within shows the rough benches that serve for chairs, and the bed upon the floor. The visitor's nose takes note of the fragrance of a pipe. And yet, with all these homely items, the repose and sanctity of the old wood do not seem to be destroyed or profaned. It overshadows these poor people, and assimilates them somehow or other to the character of its natural inhabitants. Their presence did not shock me any more than if I had merely discovered a squirrel's nest in a tree. To be sure, it is a torment to see the great, high, ugly embankment of the railroad, which is here thrusting itself into the lake, or along its margin, in close vicinity to this picturesque little hamlet. I have seldom seen anything more beautiful than the cove on the border of which the huts are situated; and the more I looked, the lovelier it grew. The trees overshadowed it deeply; but on one side there was some brilliant shrubbery which seemed to light up the whole picture with the effect of a sweet and melancholy smile. I felt as if spirits were there,—or as if these shrubs had a spiritual life. In short, the impression was indefinable; and, after gazing and musing a good while, I retraced my steps through the Irish hamlet, and plodded on along a wood-path.

According to my invariable custom, I mistook my way; and, emerging upon the road, I turned my back instead of my face towards Concord, and walked on very diligently till a guide-board informed me of my mistake. I then turned about, and was shortly overtaken by an old yeoman in a chaise, who kindly offered me a drive, and soon set me down in the village.

[Pg 461]


This month of October completes the eighth century since the battle of Hastings, perhaps the most important action that the modern world has known, with the single exception of the conflict that checked the advance of the Saracens in Europe in the eighth century,—if the battle of Tours can properly be considered an event of modern history. The issue of the battle of Hastings determined the course of English history; and when we observe how influential has been the part of England ever since it was fought, and bear in mind that the English race, great as it is, can scarcely be said to have got beyond the morning-time of its existence, we find it difficult to exaggerate the importance of a conflict by which its career for eight hundred years has been deeply and permanently colored. There is not a great event in English or American annals which is not directly traceable to what was done in the year 1066 by that buccaneering band which William the Bastard led from Normandy to England, to enforce a claim that had neither a legal nor a moral foundation, and which never could have been established had Harold's conduct been equal to his valor, and had Fortune favored the just cause. The sympathies of every fair-minded reader of the story of the Conquest must be with the Saxons; and yet is it impossible to deny that the event at Hastings was well for the world. It is with Harold as it is with Hannibal: our feelings are at war with our judgment as we read their histories. It is not possible to peruse the noble account that Dr. Arnold has left us of the Carthaginian's splendid struggle against the Roman aristocracy without feeling pained by its result. The feelings of men are with the man, and adverse to the order before which his genius failed. So is it with respect to Harold. Hastings, like Zama, impresses us as having been a "dishonest victory," to borrow the words with which Milton so emphatically characterizes Chæronea. But "cool reflection" leads to other conclusions, and justifies the earthly course of Providence, against which we are so often disposed to complain. There can be no doubt, in the mind of any moral man, that the invasion of England by Duke William was a wicked proceeding,—that it was even worse than Walker's invasions of Spanish-American countries, and as bad as an unprovoked attack on Cuba by this country, such as would have been made had the pro-slavery party remained in power. But it is not the less true that much good came from William's action, and that nearly all that is excellent in English and American history is the fruit of that action. The part that England has had in the world's course for eight centuries, including her stupendous work of colonization, is second to nothing that has been done by any nation, not even to the doings of the Roman republic: and to that part Saxon England never could have been equal.

The race that ruled in England down to the day of Hastings—call it the Saxon race, if you like the name, and for convenience' sake—was a slow, a sluggish, and a stupid race; and it never could have made a first-class nation of the insular kingdom. There is little in the history of the Saxons that allows us to believe they were capable of accomplishing anything that was great. The Danish invasions, as they are called, were of real use to England, as they prevented that country from reverting to barbarism, which assuredly would have been its fate had the Anglo-Saxons remained its undisturbed possessors. "In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries," says Mr. Worsaae, "the Anglo-Saxons[Pg 462] had greatly degenerated from their forefathers. Relatives sold one another into thraldom; lewdness and ungodliness were become habitual; and cowardice had increased to such a degree that, according to the old chroniclers, one Dane would often put ten Anglo-Saxons to flight. Before such a people could be conducted to true freedom and greatness it was necessary that an entirely new vigor should be infused into the decayed stock. This vigor was derived from the Scandinavian North, where neither Romans nor any other conquerors had domineered over the people, and where heathenism, with all its roughness and all its love of freedom and bravery, still held absolute sway."[B]

The work which the Danes began was completed by the Normans; and it may well be doubted if the Normans ever could have effected much in England had they not been preceded by the Danes. The Danes were Northmen, as are the Swedes and Norwegians. By Normans are meant the governing race in Neustria, the duchy of Normandy. The Northmen who settled in Neustria, and who became the foremost people of those times,—they and their descendants,—did in a portion of France what their kinsmen the Danes were doing in England. Circumstances gave to the Normans a consequence in history that is denied to the Danes; but the influence of the latter was very great on English life, and on the course of English events; and Norman influence on that life, and over those events, was materially aided by the earlier action of the Danish invaders of England. The difference between the Northmen in France and the Northmen in England was this: the former, to a very great extent, became Frenchmen, while the latter did not become Englishmen. The former, from Northmen, became Normans, and took much from the people among whom they settled. The latter remained Northmen, for the most part, taking little or nothing from the English, while they bestowed a good deal upon them. But the Northmen who became Normans underwent changes that rendered it impossible that the Northmen in England should coalesce with them after Duke William's victory in 1066. The English Northmen were strongly attached to individual freedom, as all Northmen were originally; but the Normans had learned to be feudalists in France, and this necessarily made foes of men who by blood ought to have been friends. Many of those who offered the stoutest resistance to the Conqueror were Danes; and it was not until many years after Hastings that the English Northmen submitted to the French Normans. The English Northmen, nevertheless, were of real use to the Normans, by what they had effected long before the expedition of William was thought of, and when the Normans had not become the chief champions of feudalism. The immediate effect of Danish action on William's fortunes, too, was very great. The Saxon Harold was compelled to fight a battle with the Scandinavian invaders of England but twenty days before Hastings; and these invaders sought to place a Danish or Norwegian dynasty on the English throne. Harold was victorious in his conflict with the Northmen; but the weakness and exhaustion consequent on the exertions necessary to repel them were among the leading causes of his failure before the Normans.

The people who gave their name to what is called the Norman Conquest of England[C] were the most extraordinary race of the Middle Ages. This can be[Pg 463] said of them, too, without subscribing to the extravagant eulogies of their ardent admirers, who are too much in the habit of speaking of them in terms that would be misplaced were they applied to Athenians of the age of Pericles. The simple truth concerning them shows that they were superior in every respect to all their contemporaries, unless an exception be made on behalf of the Mussulmans of Spain. The Northmen who came first upon Southern Europe were mere barbarians, but there were among them men of great natural powers, as there were among those barbarians who overran the Roman empire; and they were able to take advantage of the wretched condition of Europe, as earlier barbarians had profited from the wretched condition of Rome. Of these men, Rollo was one of the most eminent; and beyond all others of the Northmen his action has had the largest influence on human affairs,—an influence, too, that promises to last; for it is working vigorously at this moment, though he has been more than nine centuries in his grave, and though to most persons he is as much a mythical character as Hercules, and more so than Romulus. We know that he was the founder of Normandy in the early part of the tenth century; and but for his action in obtaining a southern home for himself and his heathen followers, the conquest of England never could have been attempted in a regular manner; and the stream of English history must have run altogether differently, in a political sense, even had Northmen, as distinguished from Normans, succeeded in establishing themselves in that country. It was the French character of the Normans which rendered their subjugation of England so important an event, giving to it its peculiar significance, and causing it to bear so strongly on European, Asiatic, and American history. The Northmen became Christians and Normans. It is not uncommon to speak of them as if they retained their Norwegian characteristics in "the pleasant land of France," and were in the habit of looking back to the home of their youth, or of their fathers, with that sort of fondness and regret which were felt by those Englishmen who founded the American nation. This is all wrong. The Northmen had left the North for the same reason that other men leave their countries,—the only reason that ever causes them to do so,—because the North did not afford them means of support. Had they remained at home, they would have starved; and therefore they turned their backs on that home, and became plunderers. Some returned home, bearing with them much spoil; but others settled abroad, and thought no more of the North. They cut the connection entirely. Like an earlier "brood of winter," they found ample compensation for all they had left behind in "the brighter day and skies of azure hue" of Southern lands. They thought they had made a good exchange of "Northern pines for Southern roses."

Of these last, the Normans proper were the most noted, and they have the first place of all their race in the world's annals. They changed in everything, from soul to skin. They became Christians, and they took new names. Their original language was soon displaced by the French, and became so utterly lost that hardly more is known of it than we know of the Etruscan tongue. "The Danish language," says Sir Francis Palgrave, "was never prevalent or strong in Normandy. The Northmen had long been talking themselves into Frenchmen; and in the second generation, the half-caste Northmen, the sons of French wives and French concubines, spoke the Romane-French as their mothers' tongue." The same great authority says: "In the cities, Bayeux only excepted, hardly any language but French was spoken. Forty years after Rollo's establishment, the Danish language struggled for existence. It was in Normandy that the Langue d'oil acquired its greatest polish and regularity. The earliest specimens of the French language, in the[Pg 464] proper sense of the term, are now surrendered by the French philologists to the Normans. The phenomenon of the organs of speech yielding to social or moral influences, and losing the power of repeating certain sounds, was prominently observable amongst the Normans. No modern French gazette-writer could disfigure English names more whimsically than the Domesday Commissioners. To the last, the Normans never could learn to say 'Lincoln,'—they never could get nearer than 'Nincol,' or 'Nicole.'" The "chivalry" of Virginia and the Carolinas—our Southern Northmen—might cite this last fact in evidence of their tongues having a Norman twang. They never have been able to say "Lincoln," though they make a nearer approach to proper pronunciation of the word than was vouchsafed to the genuine Normans when they say "Abe Linkin." That the Normans cherished the thought of their Northern origin is a modern error. Sir F. Palgrave, with literal accuracy, assures us that they "dismissed all practical recollection in their families of their original Scandinavian ancestry. Not one of their nobles ever thought of deducing his lineage from the Hersers or Jarls or Vikings who occupy so conspicuous a place in Norwegian history, not even through the medium of any traditional fable. Roger de Montgomery designated himself as 'Northmannus Northmannorum'; but, for all practical purposes, Roger was a Frenchman of the Frenchmen, though he might not like to own it. This ancestorial reminiscence must have resulted from some peculiar fancy; no Montgomery possessed or transmitted any memorial of his Norman progenitors. The very name of Rollo's father, 'Senex quidam in partibus Daciæ,' was unknown to Rollo's grandchildren, and if not known, worse than unknown, neglected."[D]

Another unfounded notion respecting the Normans relates the purity of lineage. To read some historians, you might come to the conclusion that the Normans were an unmixed race, and that they prided themselves on the blueness of their blood, and were the most exclusive of peoples. Nothing of the kind. Like most peoples who have done much, the Normans were a mixed race. They took to themselves all who would come to them, who were worth the taking. The old Roman lay of the asylum on the Palatine Hill might almost serve as matter for a Norman sirvente, for the policy which it attributes to Romulus, and which was followed by his successors, was the policy adopted by Rollo, and which his successors maintained. Says Sir F. Palgrave, "When treating of the 'Normans,' we must always consider the appellation as descriptive rather than ethnographical, indicative of political relations rather than of race. Like William, the Conqueror's army, the hosts of Rollo were augmented by adventurers from all countries. Rollo exhibited a remarkable flexibility of character; he encouraged settlers from all parts of France and the Gauls and England, and his successors systematically obeyed the precedent." Most such adventurers in any age of the world must be of the most ancient of families, the families, to wit, of "robbers and reivers," the enlisted rascality of the earth, but none the worse workmen because their patron is St. Cain. There is a great deal of work to be done that can be done only by such fellows. It is sagely said that the world would be but ill peopled if none but the wise were to marry. It is certain that the world would get forward very slowly if none but the mild and the moral were active in its business. There is an immense amount of business to be accomplished that the mild cannot do, and which the moral will[Pg 465] not do. How can it be expected of mild men that they should cut human throats, when they cannot be trusted even to stick the sheep which they have no hesitation in eating? How unreasonable it would be to expect moral men to become soldiers,—and the soldier's trade is the only permanent pursuit, save the pursuits of the grave-digger and the hangman,—when so exemplary a personage as the great Duke of Wellington gravely said, on his oath and on his honor, that the army is no place for moral and religious men? The felons who flocked to Rollo's standard wellnigh a thousand years ago were recruited from the "dangerous classes" of those remote days, and were probably as useful in the task of civilizing the world as, according to the assertion of one of the most eminent of English divines and historians, are rough and lawless men in that of Europeanizing Polynesia.[E]

Dr. Lappenberg, whose authority is great in all that relates to the history of the Normans, confirms what is said by Sir F. Palgrave of the ignorance of the North and the indifference to it which characterized the Normans. Speaking of the Norman literature, he observes: "In vain we seek herein imitations of the old Norse poesy, or allusions to the history or customs of Scandinavia. There may, perhaps, exist more resemblance between the heroic sagas of the North and the romances of chivalry of the South of Europe, both having for subjects wonderful adventures, and the praise of heroism and beauty; but from this resemblance it cannot be concluded that the Anglo-Norman poets have borrowed their fictions from the Norman skalds. We have not a single proof that they were acquainted with any saga or any skaldic composition. All remembrance of their national poetry was as completely obliterated among the posterity of the Northmen in France, as if, in traversing the ocean, they had drank of the water of Lethe. This total oblivion of their original home they have in common with the West Goths, who in Castilian poesy have not left the faintest trace of their original manners and opinions. The same remark has been applied to the Vareger, who founded a royal dynasty in Russia, and to whom that country, as a Russian author remarks, is not indebted for a single new idea. The causes are here the same with those that effected a complete oblivion of their mother tongue, namely, their inferior civilization, their intermixture with the natives, their marriages with the women of the country, who knew no other traditions than those of their native land. In Normandy, too, the Christian clergy must have suppressed every memorial of the ancient mythology."[F] Further, "Whatever partiality the Normans may have entertained for history, they nevertheless betrayed an almost perfect indifference for their original country. The historians of Normandy describe the heathen North as a den of robbers. After an interval of two centuries, they knew nothing of the events that had[Pg 466] caused the founder of their ruling family to forsake the North; they did not even know where Denmark and Norway lay. Benoît de Ste More begins his chronicle with a geographic sketch, in which he takes Denmark for Dacia, and places it at the mouth of the Danube, between the extensive countries of the Alani and the Getæ, which are always covered with ice, and surrounded by a chain of mountains." The excellent chronicler's geographical notions seem to have been about as clear as those of Lolah, who tells Katinka that

"Spain's an island near
Morocco, betwixt Egypt and Tangier."

The earliest Norman chroniclers show that the Normans, or rather the Northmen, bore much ill-will toward the French; and this prejudice, it has correctly been said, "probably lasted as long as their Northern physiognomy, their fair hair, and other characteristics whereby they were distinguished from the French." But they soon became the flower of French races, and were regarded as Frenchmen in all the lands to which they were led by their valor, their enterprise, their ambition, and their avarice. They continued to avail themselves of the talents of other races long after Northmen had been converted into Normans, greatly to their own advantage, and considerably to the advantage of others. "Inclination, policy, interest," says Palgrave, "strengthened the impulse given by the diffusion of the Romane speech. Liberality was the Norman virtue. 'Norman talent,' or 'Norman taste,' or 'Norman, art,' are expressions intelligible and definite, conveying clear ideas, substantially true and yet substantially inaccurate. What, for example, do we intend when we speak of Norman architecture? Who taught the Norman architect? Ah, when you contemplate the structures raised by Lanfranc or Anselm, will not the reply conduct you beyond the Alps, and lead you to Pavia or Aosta,—the cities where these fathers of the Anglo-Norman Church were nurtured, their learning acquired, or their taste informed? Amongst the eminent men who gloriously adorn the Anglo-Norman annals, perhaps the smallest number derive their origin from Normandy. Discernment in the choice of talent, and munificence in rewarding ability, may be truly ascribed to Rollo's successors; open-handed, open-hearted, not indifferent to birth or lineage, but never allowing station or origin, nation or language, to obstruct the elevation of those whose talent, learning, knowledge, or aptitude gave them their patent of nobility."[G] The Normans won their fame, as the Romans their empire, through aid of various races, and by borrowing and assimilating whatever they found of good among all the peoples with whom they came in contact,—meaning by good what was useful for the promotion of their purposes.

The old Northmen in Neustria did not give way without a struggle, not for existence only, but for victory, of which at one time their prospect was by no means bad. The Danish party was strong in the time of Rollo, and it might have established itself over Normandy in the early years of his son, William I., who deemed his Norman sovereignty lost, and who at one time showed the white feather in a very unNorman-like manner, and in quite the reverse fashion to that adopted by Henri IV. at Ivry. At length he recovered his courage, and, delivering battle, he won a complete victory, which was ruinous to the vanquished. They were exterminated, and Riulph, their leader, was captured, and blinded by William's orders. It is supposed he died under the operation. William's cruelty is attributed to his earlier cowardice, and it is an old saw that no one is so cruel as a victorious coward; but cruelty was not so uncommon a thing in the year 933 that there should be any necessity for attributing the Norman's[Pg 467] savageness to the reaction from fear. He probably had called his cowardice caution. His success settled the character of Normandy, which became, or rather continued to be, a French country; and its people were Normans, the result of a liberal mixture of many races, from whom were to issue the rulers of many lands. The combat of the Pré de la Bataille took place just four generations before Hastings, and had its issue been different the current of history might have run in a very different direction from that in which it has set for eight centuries; but the consequences of such a change "must be left to that superhuman knowledge which the schoolmen call media scientia, and which consists in knowing all that would have happened had events been otherwise than they have been." The question at issue was whether the Normans should live as Frenchmen or disappear; and William's triumph secured the ascendency of the Romane party, who alone could establish Normandy. When his son, Richard sans Peur, became chief of the Normans, A. D. 943, Normandy was a power in Europe, and virtually a free state,—for its rulers were "independent as the kings of France, whose superiority they acknowledged, but whose behests they never held themselves bound to obey."

The Normans soon made themselves felt in Europe. They became the foremost of Christian communities, and were distinguished in arts and arms and letters. They were the politest people of their time, and in their manners and modes of life they presented strong contrasts to the general coarseness of the period in which they flourished. Their valor seemed to increase with their culture; and if they were admired by the few because of their intellectual superiority, they were dreaded by the many because of their dauntless bravery and the energy and success which characterized their military exploits. Though often fighting at great odds, they were rarely defeated. They furnished the most distinguished adventurers of an adventurous age. There is nothing more romantic than the history of the Norman family of Hauteville, which sent forth a number of men whose exertions in Southern Europe had great effect in the eleventh century. Foremost of his countrymen in courage and capacity was the adventurer Robert de Hauteville, better known as Robert Guiscard, substantially the founder of that Neapolitan kingdom which we have seen absorbed into the new kingdom of Italy. His daughter married a son of one of the Byzantine Emperors, who was dethroned; and Robert was thus enabled to enter on a series of Eastern conquests, which would have ended in the taking of Constantinople had not imperative circumstances compelled him to return to Italy. A few years later he resumed his Oriental schemes, but died before he could complete them, and when everything promised him success. Had a Norman dynasty been established at Constantinople, at the close of the eleventh century, by so able a man as Robert Guiscard, it is probable the Lower Empire would have renewed its life, and that the Normans would have become as influential in the East as their contemporary conquest of England had made them in the West. The feudal system, of which they were the great masters, might as easily have been introduced into Greece as it was into England, and with the effect of producing an order of men who would have proved themselves more than a match for any force that the Mussulman could have brought against the new nation. There would have been a regular flow of Normans and other hardy adventurers to Byzantium, and the Turks never would have been allowed to cross the Hellespont to establish themselves in Europe, and would have been fortunate had they been able to keep the Normans from crossing the Hellespont to establish themselves in Asia. Thousands of those fanatics who were so soon to cover the Syrian sands with their[Pg 468] bones, as Crusaders, would have been attracted to Greece, and would have done Christendom better service there than ever they were allowed to render it under the Godfreys and Baldwins and Raymonds, the Louises and Richards and Fredericks, who piously fought for the redemption of the Redeemer's sepulchre. Indeed the Holy Sepulchre could best have been freed from infidel pollution by operations from Greece, had Greece renewed her life under a dynasty worthy of the Greeks of old; and Asia, the Land of Light, might have been relieved from the thick darkness under which it has so long labored, had Norman genius and Norman valor been authoritatively employed to direct the Christian populations of the East, reinforced by the surplus adventurers of the West, against the Mussulmans. The West might have liquidated its debt to the East, by restoring Christianity to it.

All this was on the cards, had Robert Guiscard lived a few years longer,—and he was one of many sons of a poor and petty Norman baron, and superior to thousands of his countrymen only in the circumstance that he was more favored by Fortune. We are not to judge of what might have been effected by a Norman dynasty in Greece by the miserable failure of that Latin empire of which Greece was the scene in the thirteenth century, and which grew out of the capture of Constantinople by the French and the Venetians. That empire had not the elements of success in it; and it was established too late, and on foundations too feeble, to meet the demands of the time. Its founders lacked that legislative capacity with which the Normans were so liberally endowed. Though we cannot subscribe in full to Mr. Acton Warburton's enthusiastic estimate of the Norman race, we believe him to be substantially correct in what he says of their legislative genius. He dwells with unction on the strong tendency to institutions that ever characterized them. This tendency, he observes, strongly indicates "the profound sentiment of perpetuity, inherent in the Norman mind, to which everything was valueless that shared not in some degree its own enduring character. Abhorrent alike of despotism and license, they imparted this love of institutions wherever they came. In their days the world was passing through a fierce ordeal. A stern necessity lay on the whole system of things, a necessity which may be expressed in this brief formula,—the sword. In their several missions, if I may so speak, the Normans were forced to use the appointed instrument of the hour; but the readiness with which the sword was sheathed, the facility with which the soldier changed into the citizen, shows how deeply they felt that a state of hostilities, bloodshed, and disorder could not be the normal condition of man. And so we see them pass at once from the battle-field to the council-chamber. The fierce warrior of yesterday is the thoughtful legislator of to-day. The first interval of repose was ever employed in devising means for giving stability to their acquisitions, and a constitutional form to the society in which they were to be vested. Among the Teutons, such a task was never referred to the wisdom of any one leader, however successful,—any oligarchy of chiefs, however eminent. From time immemorial, the provisions from which their laws were derived, and on which their societies were based, were the emanations of free public opinion. Their armies were triumphant, because the soldier yielded up his will implicitly to his general; their societies were vigorous and stable, because, when the soldier became a citizen, he resumed that will again. No sooner had conquest and peace transmuted the army into a society, than the dominant sentiment appeared,—the sentiment of rational independence,—resulting, as the community formed, in liberal institutions."[H] Had this legislative spirit been applied to Greece at the close of the eleventh[Pg 469] century, the effect would have been to create there a powerful nation; and the Crescent never would have triumphed over the Cross in that land from which the West has drawn so much that is of the highest value in all its processes of intellectual culture.

There is a reverse to this picture of the Normans. They had some very bad qualities, for they had no higher claims to perfection than is found in the case of any other people. Mr. James Augustus St. John, speaking of the Norman princess Emma, who married the English Ethelred, says, after admitting her great personal beauty, that "her mental qualities were very far from corresponding with the charms of her person. Like all other Normans, she was greedy of gold, ambitious, selfish, voluptuous, and in an eminent degree prone to treachery."[I] This may stand for a portrait of the whole Norman race. Nor does it detract from their aristocratical spirit that they were ever fond of money, or from their chivalrous spirit that they were faithless when they supposed treachery would best promote their interests. Aristocracies are always money-seekers, and often money-grubbers; and they plunder all whom they have the power to spoil. Alieni uppetens is ever their motto, but sui profusus does always go with it. The American slavocracy were the aristocracy of this country, and they were far more "greedy of gold" than ever "Yankees" have been. Treachery is common to the chivalrous classes, and the history of chivalry is full of instances of its display by men who claimed a monopoly of honor. Our Southern "chivalry" were unfaithful to every compact they made, and it was their infidelity that brought about their fall. The dangers that now threaten the country exist only because the party vanquished in the late civil war are bent upon breaking the terms on which they were admitted to mercy. They are fond of calling themselves Normans, though we have not heard much of their Norman origin since their Hastings went against them; but in respect to treachery and cruelty, and disregard of the rights of the poor and the helpless, they are the match of all the barons of Normandy.

The Normans were often cruel, and some of their modes of punishing their defeated enemies—blinding them, and cutting off their feet and hands, and inflicting on them the most degrading of mutilations—might lead one to suppose they were of Eastern origin, were not such practices traceable to the Northmen. These practices imply a grossness of mind that is much at war with the common notion of the gentleness and cultivation of the Norman nobles. They were noted for their craft, their spirit of intrigue, and their readiness to get possession of the property of others by any and all means. The most unscrupulous modern devotee of Mammon would be ashamed of deeds that never disturbed the placid egotism of men who considered themselves the flower of humanity and the salt of the earth,—and whose estimate of themselves has seldom been called in question. The fairer side of their conduct with regard to money is visible in their sensible encouragement of "business" in all the forms which it then knew. "Annual Mercantile Fairs," says Sir F. Palgrave, "were accustomed in Normandy. Established by usage and utility, ere recognized by the law, their origin bespake a healthy energy. Foreign manufacturers were welcomed as settlers in the Burghs,—the richer the better. No grudge was entertained against the Fleming; and the material prosperity of the country and the briskness of commerce carried on in all the great towns, proves that the pack-horses could tramp along the old Roman roads with facility. Indeed, amongst the Normans the commercial spirit was indigenous.[Pg 470] The Danes and the folk of Danish blood were diligent traders. The greed of gain unites readily with desperate bravery. When occasion served, Drake would deal like a Dutchman. Any mode of making money enters into facile combination with the bold rapacity of the Flibustier." There was much material prosperity in Normandy at the close of the tenth century, or less than a hundred years after Rollo had established himself and his followers on French soil. The burgher class throve amazingly, and were the envy of all who knew their condition; and their military skill and valor were as famous as their success in the industrial arts, and their wealth, which was its consequence. Free they were, or they would have been neither rich nor valiant. The peasantry, too, were a superior people, who enjoyed much freedom, and who exhibited their bravery whenever there was call for its exhibition,—facts which show that they must have been well governed, and which tend to elevate our conception of the merits of their rulers.

There was no such thing as a caste of nobles in Normandy for very many years after that country passed into the hands of the Northmen. About two generations after the death of Rollo, Richard le Bon, one of the most popular of his descendants, set up the standard of exclusion, and created that Norman nobility of which the world has heard so much for eight hundred years. The clergy were too powerful in those days to be much affected by his action, and the burghers were too rich to be put down by a newly created nobility; but the peasantry were greatly injured by the change, as it created an order who were interested in oppressing them. They conspired, and their course bears some resemblance to that of the Fenians of our day. The "Commune" was a word as alarming to Richard le Bon and his nobility as "Fenian" was at first to the most bigoted of Orangemen. The Duke employed Raoul, Count of Ivri, to crush the Communists. Raoul was the son of a rich peasant, but he had no sympathy with his father's order. As in modern life the most determined aristocrat is often the man whose origin is the lowest, so was it nine centuries ago, in Normandy. Raoul was a sort of Claverhouse and Jeffreys in one person, and he "enjoyed the sport of dogging the Villainage. He fell upon the Communists;—caught them in the very fact,—holding a Lodge,—swearing in new members. Terrible was the catastrophe. No trial vouchsafed. No judge called in. Happy the wretch whose weight stretched the halter. The country was visited by fire and flame; the rebels were scourged, their eyes plucked out, their limbs chopped off, they were burnt alive; whilst the rich were impoverished and ruined by confiscations and fines." Such were the good old times, which never can return. Heaven be praised! Such was the origin of the Norman nobility, destined to become the patricians of the world. The cruelty with which the peasants were treated by the new nobles is a type of the system that ever was pursued by men of "the gentle Norman blood" toward a restless people. "The folk of Normandie" had no mercy on men who disputed, or even called in question, their right to unrestricted dominion.

The Cotentin was the most important part of Normandy,—was to Normandy what Normandy was to the rest of Europe. It has been well described as "not merely the physical bulwark of Normandy, but the very kernel of Norman nationality." It now forms a part of the Département de la Manche, and it holds Cherbourg in its bosom,—the Cæsaris Burgus of the Romans, which the French imperial historian of the first Cæsar is completing as a defiance to England, thus finishing what was long since begun under the old monarchy. Ages ago—even before the Romans had entered Gaul—what we call Cherbourg is believed to have attracted Gaulish attention because of its marine advantages. It is all but certain that the Romans fortified it. The Normans were children of the sea,[Pg 471] and they did not neglect it. The Normans of the Cotentin were the purest men of their race. They kept up that connection with the ocean from which some other Normans revolted; and they were led from the land to the sea by the same inducement that had sent their ancestors out of Scania,—the inability to find food there. "The population," we are assured, "was teeming, the sterile land could not feed them, but the roaring surges surrounded them. All loved the sea, and upon, the waves, and beyond the waves, they were ever seeking their fortunes. From Hauteville, nigh Coutances, came the conquerors of Apulia and Sicily. And when we call over Battle-Abbey Roll, or search the Domesday record, or trace the lineage of our [the British] aristocracy, we shall find that the lords of these same Cotentin castles, with scarcely an exception, served in the Conqueror's army, or settled in the realm they won." The plain English of which is, that they were the cleverest, the most active, and the most successful robbers of their day and nation.

England was too near Normandy not to be an object of the first interest to the Normans. At the close of the tenth century King Ethelred II. adopted a course that was destined to have the most memorable consequences. Richard le Bon bore himself toward the English much the same as the English of to-day bore themselves toward us in the Secession war. The Danes were then the worst enemies of England, and the Norman government so far anticipated the Palmerstonian policy of neutrality, which consists in favoring the enemies of those whom you hate, as to throw open its ports to the ravagers of Normandy's neighbor. "Without sharing the danger," observes Sir F. Palgrave, "Normandy prospered upon the prey which the Danskerman made in England. The Normans were a thriving and money-getting people. The great fair of Guipry attests their national tendency. The liberal policy of the Dukes is also forcibly illustrated by the remarkable treaty of peace concluded between Richard le Bon and Olave, the Norskman, securing to the rovers the right of free trade in Normandy. No certificate of origin was required when the big bales of English stuffs were offered to the chapman at the bridge-head of Rouen; and the perils of England were much enhanced by the entente cordiale—this expression has become technical, and therefore untranslatable—subsisting between Romane Normandy and the Northmen of the North."

There is something amusing in this extract; for it describes, as it were, and in advance, the state of things that existed during our late war. The Secessionists were our Danes, who, if they did not ravage our lands, cut up our commerce at a fearful rate, and not only found shelter and aid wherever the English flag flies in authority, but were furnished with ships by England and with men to work and to fight them, so that our last sea-fight was won over our old foe on that summer day when the Kearsarge sent the Alabama to look after the old Raven craft of the Northmen that may be lying under the old Norman waters, and did it, too, off the Cotentin shore, just where the conflict between Saxons and Normans began.

King Ethelred, like President Lincoln in the case of the English, was so unreasonable as to complain of the conduct of the Normans; and, again like our lamented chief, he could not find any excuse for piratical action in the fact that "the Normans were a thriving and money-getting people," and supposed they had the right to get money by encouraging robbery. But, unlike the American President, the Saxon king determined to have prompt and ample vengeance—if he could get it. He indulged in as much loud language as was uttered in Vienna last June, when Sadowa was yet an unknown, name. He was bent upon vengeance, stern and terrible. Now, vengeance is a commodity that is dear when it is procurable gratis, but sometimes it is not obtainable at any price. And so Ethelred found it, to his cost. Having[Pg 472] formed his resolution to invade Normandy, and lay it waste with fire and sword, and bring back Richard le Bon with him in chains to England, it remained only to execute his design. The English fleet sailed for the Cotentin, and landed a force which should have done great things. But if the Normans of the Cotentin were stout thieves, not the less were they stout soldiers. No greater error than that men must have clean consciences to be good warriors. The Normans rose to a man—and even to a woman—against the invaders. Knights and seamen and peasants and the peasants' wives, all armed; and the English were beaten so badly that they could not have been beaten worse, had their cause been utterly devilish. But few of them escaped,—probably those who had the sense to run first; and they got off in six ships, all the rest of the fleet falling into the hands of the Normans. The Norman Duke and the British Basileus proceeded to make peace, and the peace-making business led to a marriage, one of many royal marriages which have produced extraordinary consequences, and led to much fighting, as if there were a natural connection between wedlock and war. In private life, marriage not unfrequently leads to contention; in public life, contention often leads to marriage. Ethelred sought to "engraft the branch of Cerdic upon the stem of Rollo," in the hope of increasing the power of England. He asked for the hand of Emma, sister of Richard le Bon, and obtained it. This union was every way unfortunate, and prepared the road for the Conquest. The Normans who accompanied Emma to England, and those who followed her, are described as "subtle, intriguing, false, and capable of any act of treason which promised to further their own fortunes." They behaved as members of "superior races" generally behave in countries inhabited by "inferior races." They obtained power and place, and used their influence to the detriment of England. The king and queen did not live happily. One of their children was Edward the Confessor, who is popularly considered the very personification of the Saxon race, but who was half a Norman by birth, and wholly Norman by education; for the successes of the Danes compelled his family to become exiles, and his youth and earlier manhood were passed in Normandy.[J] When he became king, the Normans had matters pretty much their own way in England. He remembered that Robert, Duke of Normandy, father of William the Conqueror, had once made an attempt to restore the Saxon line in England, and that he failed only because his fleet was destroyed by a storm. Duke William's influence had aided in his elevation to the English throne. His gratitude was expressed at the expense of his people. Once crowned, Edward invited his Norman friends to England. That country soon swarmed with foreigners, with whom the king was more at home than he was with his own subjects. Their language, the Romane, was his language. It was the language of the higher classes, the language of fashion, "the court tune." Such strong places as then stood in England were garrisoned by foreigners, and other Normans were settled in the towns. The country was half conquered years before the year of Hastings.

Duke William visited England in 1051. He was most hospitably received, and it is supposed that what he saw caused him to form the plan that led to the Conquest. Edward admired his visitor; and on the death of Edward the Outlaw,—whom he had recalled from Hungary, with the intention of proclaiming him as heir to the crown,—he determined that William should be his successor. He bequeathed the English crown to the ruler of Normandy. Harold agreed to support[Pg 473] this arrangement. On his death-bed, Edward said to Harold and his kinsmen, "Ye know full well, my lords, that I have bequeathed my kingdom to the Duke of Normandy, and are there not those here whose oaths have been given to secure his succession?" The person to whom the crown should have gone was Edgar Atheling, son of Edward the Outlaw, and a lineal descendant of Ironside. Neither William nor Harold had any claim to the succession, whereas Edgar's claim was as good as that of the Prince of Wales to the throne of Great Britain is to-day. That Edward did not nominate Edgar must be attributed, in part at least, to the conviction that his nomination would be treated with contempt by the partisans of both William and Harold. He feared, it is probable, that the nomination of Edgar would give England up to the horrors of war, and that, after that prince should be disposed of by a union of Saxons and Normans against his claim, there would be another contest between the two factions of the victors. He was incapable of the grim humor of the Macedonian Alexander, who on his death-bed bequeathed his kingdom "to the strongest"; but his bequest was virtually of the same nature as that which so long before was made in Babylon. His death led to great funeral games, which are not yet over.

"Harold," says Palgrave, "afterward founded his title upon Edward's last will; many of our historians prove his claim, and the different statements are difficult to be reconciled; yet, taken altogether, the circumstances are exactly such as we meet with in private life. The childless owner of a large estate at first leaves his property to his cousin on the mother's side, from whose connections he has received much kindness. He advances in age, and alters his intentions in favor of a nephew on his father's side,—an amiable young man, living abroad,—and from whom he had been estranged in consequence of a family quarrel of long standing. The young heir comes to the testator's house, is received with great affection, and is suddenly cut off by illness. The testator then returns to his will in favor of his cousin, who resides abroad. His acute and active brother-in-law has taken the management of his affairs; is well informed of this will; and, when the testator is on his death-bed, he contrives to tease and persuade the dying man to alter the will again in his favor. This is exactly the state of the case; and though considerable doubts have been raised relating to the contradictory bequests of the Confessor, there can be no difficulty in admitting that the conflicting pretensions of William and Harold were grounded upon the acts emanating from a wavering and feeble mind. If such disputes take place between private individuals, they are decided by a court of justice; but if they concern a kingdom, they can only be settled by the sword."[K] And to the sword Harold and William remitted the settlement of the question.

The two men who were thus arrayed in deadly opposition to each other were not unworthy of being competitors for a crown. Harold belonged to the greatest Saxon family of his time, of which he had been the head ever since the death of his father, the great Earl Godwin, which took place in 1053. Earl Godwin was one of the foremost men of the ante-Norman period of England, though his character, as Mr. St. John observes, "lies buried beneath a load of calumny"; and he quotes Dr. Hook as saying that "Godwin was the connecting link between the Saxon and the Dane, and, as the leader of the united English people, became one of the greatest men this country has ever produced, although, as is the English custom, one of the most maligned." "Calm, moderate, and dignified, reining in with wisdom the impetuosity of his nature," says Mr. St. John, "he presented to those around him the beau ideal of an Englishman, with all his predilections and prejudices, the warmest attachment to[Pg 474] his native land, and a somewhat overweening contempt of foreigners. He was without question the greatest statesman of his age; and, indeed, statesmanship in England may almost be said to have commenced with him. Whether we look at home or abroad, we discover no man in Christendom worthy to be ranked with him, in genius or wisdom, in peace or war. His figure towers far above all his contemporaries; he constitutes the acme of the purely Saxon mind. No taint of foreign blood was in him.... Godwin's lot was cast upon evil days. The marriage of Ethelred with Emma originated a fatal connection between this country and Normandy, the first fruits of which, forcing themselves but too obviously on his notice, he prevented, while he lived, from growing to maturity. The efforts, public and secret, which he found it necessary to make in the performance of this patriotic task, laid him open to the charge of craft and subtlety. Let it be granted that he deserved the imputation; but it must be added, that, if foreign invasion and conquest be an evil, from that evil England was preserved as long as his crafty and subtle head remained above ground; and had he lived thirteen years longer, the accumulated and concentrated scoundrelism of Europe would have been dashed away in foam and blood from the English shore. Properly understood, Godwin's whole life was one protracted agony for the salvation of his country. He had to contend with every species of deleterious influence,—ferocious, drunken, dissolute, and imbecile kings, the reckless intrigues of monasticism at the instigation of Rome, and the unprincipled and infamous ambition of the Norman Bastard, who crept into England during this great man's exile, and fled in all haste at his return. What he had to contend with, what plots he frustrated, what malice he counteracted, what superstition and stupidity he rendered harmless, will never be known in detail. We perceive the indefinite and indistinct forms of these things floating through the mists of history, but cannot grasp and fix them for the instruction of posterity."[L] This portraiture may be somewhat too highly colored, but it is better painting than we get from Norman writers, who were no more capable of writing justly of Godwin and Harold, than Roman authors of Hannibal and Spartacus. Godwin was an abler man than his son and successor, and probably the latter would never have been able to aspire to royalty, and for a few months to wear a crown, had not the fortunes of his house been raised so high by his father. Nevertheless, Harold was worthy of his inheritance, and possessed rare qualities, such as made him not undeserving a throne, and of better fortune than he found at Hastings. He was patriotic, magnanimous, brave, humane, honorable, and energetic. His chief fault seems to have been a deficiency in judgment, which led him rashly to engage in undertakings that might better have been deferred. Such, at least, is the impression that we derive from his fighting the battle of Hastings, when he had everything to gain from delay, and when every day that an action was postponed was as useful to the Saxon cause as it was injurious to that of the Normans.

Harold's rival was the illegitimate son of Robert the Devil, as he is commonly called, because he has been, though improperly, "identified with a certain imaginary or legendary hero," but who was a much better man than his diabolic sobriquet implies. William's mother was Arletta, or Herleva, daughter of a tanner of Falaise. The Conqueror never escaped the reproach of his birth, into which bastardy and plebeianism entered in equal proportions. He was always "William the Bastard," and he is so to this day. "William the Conqueror," says Palgrave, "the founder of the most noble empire in the civilized world, could never rid himself of the contumelious appellation which bore indelible record[Pg 475] of his father's sin. In all history, William is the only individual to whom such an epithet has adhered throughout his life and fortunes. Was the word of affront ever applied to Alphonso, the stern father of the noble house of Braganza, by any one except a Castilian? Not so William;—a bastard was William at the hour of his birth; a bastard in prosperity; a bastard in adversity; a bastard in sorrow; a bastard in triumph; a bastard in the maternal bosom; a bastard when borne to his horror-inspiring grave. 'William the Conqueror' relatively, but 'William the Bastard' positively; and a bastard he will continue so long as the memory of man shall endure." Sir Francis seems to have forgotten the Bastard of Orleans. Nevertheless, and in spite of his illegitimacy, William became ruler of Normandy when he was but a child, his father abdicating the throne, and forcing the Norman baronage to accept the boy as his successor; and that boy thirty years later founded a royal line, that yet endures in full strength, Queen Victoria being the legitimate descendant of William of Normandy.[M] The training that William received developed his faculties, and made him one of the chief men of his age; and in 1066 he prepared to assert his right to the English crown.[Pg 476]

The Norman barons were at first disinclined to support their lord's claim upon England. Their tenures did not bind them to cross the sea. But at last they were won over to the support of his cause, on the promise of receiving the lands of the English. He called upon foreigners to join his army, promising them the plunder of England. "All the adventurers and adventurous spirits of the neighboring states were invited to join his standard," and his invitation was accepted. "William published his ban," says Thierry, "in the neighboring countries; he offered gold, and the pillage of England to every able man who would serve him with lance, sword, or crossbow. A multitude accepted the invitation, coming by every road, far and near, from north and south. They came from Maine and Anjou, from Poitiers and Brittany, from France and Flanders, from Aquitaine and Burgundy, from the Alps and the banks of the Rhine. All the professional adventurers, all the military vagabonds of Western Europe, hastened to Normandy by long marches; some were knights and chiefs of war, the others simple foot-soldiers and sergeants-of-arms, as they were then called; some demanded money-pay, others only their passage, and all the booty they might win. Some asked for land in England, a domain, a castle, a town; others simply required some rich Saxon in marriage. Every thought, every desire of human avarice presented itself. William rejected no one, says the Norman chronicle, and satisfied every one as well as he could. He gave, beforehand, a bishopric in England to a monk of Fescamp, in return for a vessel and twenty armed men."[N] The Pope was William's chief supporter. Harold and all his adherents were excommunicated, and William received a banner and ring from Rome, the double emblem of military and ecclesiastical investiture. Of the sixty thousand men that formed the Norman army, Normans formed the smallest portion, and most of their number were not of noble birth.

William sailed on the 28th of September, and landed his army on the 29th, without experiencing any resistance. Harold was in the North, contending with and defeating the Northmen, one of whose leaders was his brother Tostig. As soon as he received intelligence of William's landing he marched south, bent upon giving immediate battle, though his mother and his brother Gurth and other relatives, and many of his friends, strongly counselled delay. This counsel was good, for his force was to William's as one to four; and even a week's delay might have so far strengthened the Saxons as to have enabled them to fight on an approach to equal terms with the invaders. But Harold rejected all advice, and pressed forward to action so imprudently as to countenance, in a superstitious age, the notion that he was urged on by an irresistible power, which had decreed his destruction. Certainly he did not display much sagacity before battle, though both skill and bravery in it were not wanting on his part The battle of Hastings was fought on the 14th of October, 1066. The Normans were the assailants; but for six hours—from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon—they were repulsed; and had the Saxons been content to hold their ground, victory would have been theirs. But they left the position they had so valiantly maintained, to pursue the Normans, when the latter feigned to fly. Even then they fought with heroic resolution, and might have regained the day, had not Harold fallen. Soon after, the English position was stormed, and the king's brother, Gurth, was slain. The combat lasted till the coming on of darkness. Fifteen thousand of the victors are said to have fallen,—a number as great as the entire English army.[Pg 477]

The event of the battle of Hastings placed all England, ultimately, at the disposition of the Normans, though many years elapsed before the country was entirely conquered. Had the English possessed a good government, or leaders who enjoyed general confidence, their defeat at Hastings would not have reduced them to bondage, or have converted their country into a new world. But they, who were even slavishly dependent on their government for leading, had no government; and they were just as destitute of chiefs who were competent to assume the lead at so dark a crisis. Taking advantage of circumstances so favorable to his purpose, William soon made himself king, but had most of his work to do long after he was crowned. The battle of Hastings, therefore, was decisive of the future of England and of the British race. Saxon England disappeared; Norman England rose. The change was perfect, and quite warrants Lord Macaulay's emphatic assertion, that "the battle of Hastings, and the events which followed it, not only placed a Duke of Normandy on the English throne, but gave up the whole population of England to the tyranny of the Norman race,"—and that "the subjugation of a nation by a nation has seldom, even in Asia, been more complete." The nation that finally was formed by a union of the Saxons and the Normans, and which was seven or eight generations in forming, was a very different nation from that which had been ruled by the Confessor. It was a nation that was capable of every form of action, and had little in common with the Saxons of the eleventh century. It matters nothing whether the Conqueror introduced the feudal system into England, or whether he found it there, or whether that system is almost entirely an imaginary creation, as most probably is the fact. We know that the event called the Norman Conquest wrought great changes in England, and through England in the world; and that Napoleon III. reigns over the French, and Victor Emanuel II. over the Italians, that the House of Hohenzollern has triumphed over the House of Hapsburg, that President Johnson rules at Washington, and that Queen Victoria sits in the seat of Akbar or Aurungzebe, are facts which must all be attributed to the decision made by the sword at Hastings, no matter what may have been the particular process of events after that battle. It is possible that the misery consequent on the victory of the Normans has been exaggerated, though a great deal of suffering must have followed from it. But there can be no exaggeration of the general consequence of the success of the Normans. That determined the future course of the world, and will continue to determine it long after the Valley of the Amazon shall be far more thickly inhabited, and better known, than to-day is the Valley of the Danube.

There is one popular error with regard to the Norman Conquest which it may not be amiss to correct. It is taken for granted by most persons who have written on it, that the triumph of William was the triumph of an aristocracy over a people, and we often hear the Saxons spoken of as democrats who were subdued by aristocrats. This is an entirely erroneous view of the whole subject. So far as there was a contest at Hastings between aristocrats and democrats, the Normans were champions of democracy, and the Saxons of the opposite principle. The Saxon aristocracy was very powerful, and its power was steadily increasing for generations before the Conquest; and had there not been a foreign invasion, it is altogether probable that the English system soon would have become strictly oligarchical. One of the chief causes of Harold's failure was his inability to command the prompt support of some of the greatest nobles, as Earls Edwin and Morcar, who paid bitterly for their backwardness in after days. Something of this may be attributed to the weakness of his title to the crown, but the mere fact that such men could so powerfully influence events at[Pg 478] a time when the very existence of the country was at stake, is enough to show how strong were the insular aristocrats; and it was this selfish aristocracy that was destroyed by the Normans, most of whom were upstarts, the very scum of Europe having entered William's army. We doubt if ever there was a greater triumph effected by the poor and the lowly-born over the rich and the well-born, than that which was gained at Hastings, though it required some years to make it complete. "According to the common report," says Sir F. Palgrave, "sixty thousand knights received their fees, or rather their livings, to use the old expression, from the Conqueror. This report is exaggerated as to number; but the race of the Anglo-Danish and English nobility and gentry, the Earls and the greater Thanes, disappears; and with some exceptions, remarkable as exemplifying the general rule, all the superiorities of the English soil became vested in the Conqueror's Baronage. Men of a new race and order, men of strange manners and strange speech, ruled in England. There were, however, some great mitigations, and the very sufferings of the conquered were so inflicted as to become the ultimate means of national prosperity; but they were to be gone through, and to be attended with much present desolation and misery. The process was the more painful because it was now accompanied by so much degradation and contumely. The Anglo-Saxons seem to have had a very strong aristocratic feeling,—a great respect for family and dignity of blood. The Normans, or rather the host of adventurers whom we must of necessity comprehend under the name of Normans, had comparatively little; and not very many of the real old and powerful aristocracy, whether of Normandy or Brittany, settled in England. The great majority had been rude, and poor, and despicable in their own country,—-the rascallions of Northern Gaul: these, suddenly enriched, lost all compass and bearing of mind; and no one circumstance vexed the spirit of the English more, than to see the fair and noble English maidens and widows compelled to accept these despicable adventurers as their husbands. Of this we have an example in Lucia, the daughter of Algar, for Talboys seems to have been a person of the lowest degree." Ivo Talboys, or Taillebois, was one of the Conqueror's followers, and his chief gave him lands in the fen country, near the monastery of Croyland; and this chance of a locality may have had something to do with the reputation he has, for it brought him under the lash of the famous Ingulphus, Chronicler of Croyland, (if he was that Chronicler,) who charges him with all manner of crimes,—and with reason good, for he bore himself with great harshness toward the brethren of the great Croyland monastery,—an unpardonable offence. Low as he was by birth, Taillebois received the hand of Lucia, sister of the Saxon Earls Edwin and Morcar, and became very wealthy. From this union came "the great line whence sprang the barons of Kendal and Lancaster." The last descendant of this Norman baron of William's creation and of the Saxon Lucia died in 1861, a pauper in the workhouse of Shrewsbury,—Emily Taillebois, a girl of eighteen.

There were thousands of such fellows as Taillebois in William's army, and, though all were not so lucky as he, many of them drew good prizes in the lottery of war, and founded, at the expense of the noblest Saxons, families from which men are proud to be descended. Sir Walter has used this fact in "Ivanhoe," when he makes the usually silent Athelstane reply with so much eloquence to De Bracy's insolent remark that the princes of the House of Anjou conferred not their wards on men of such lineage as his. "My lineage, proud Norman," replied Athelstane, "is drawn from a source more pure and ancient than that of a beggarly Frenchman, whose living is won by selling the blood of the thieves whom he assembles under his paltry standard. Kings were my ancestors, strong in war and[Pg 479] wise in council, who every day feasted in their hall more hundreds than thou canst number individual followers; whose names have been sung by minstrels, and their laws recorded by Wittenagemotes; whose bones were interred amid the prayers of saints, and over whose tombs minsters have been builded." There can be no doubt that Saxons as far-descended as Scott represents Athelstane to have been were treated worse than he, and that Saxon ladies of the highest birth and greatest wealth experienced the fate of the conquered in much severer measure than it became known to Rowena. Scott has been accused of exaggerating the effects of the Conquest, but his glowing picture is by no means overcharged, if we look at the effect of that change on the higher classes of the vanquished people. The Saxons were very wealthy, and the invaders obtained an amount of spoil that astonished them, the accounts of which remind the reader of what was told of the extraordinary acquisitions made by the ruffians who formed the force of Pizarro in Peru. Years after the day of Hastings, we are told, William "bore back with him, to his eager and hungry country, the plunder of England, which was so varied in kind, so prodigious in amount, that the awe-stricken chroniclers maintain that all the Gauls, if ransacked from end to end, would have failed to supply treasures worthy to be compared with it. The silver, the gold, the vases, vestments, and crucifixes crested with jewels, the silken garments for men and women, the rings, necklaces, bracelets, wrought delicately in gold and resplendent in gems, inspired the Continental barbarians with rapture, and in their imaginations made England appear the Dorado of those times." One of the writers of that day states that "incredible treasures in gold and silver were sent from the plunder of England to the Pope, together with costly ornaments, which would have been held in the highest estimation even at Byzantium, then universally regarded as the most opulent city in the world." All this implies that the Saxon aristocracy were very rich, and it is far from unlikely that it was the desire to preserve their property that led them to offer so little resistance to William,—a fatally mistaken course, for the invading adventurers had entered England in search of other men's property, and were not to be kept quiet by the quietness of the owners thereof. The aristocracy alone could afford such plunder as that described, and that so much of it was obtained shows how extensive must have been the spoliation, and how thoroughly Saxon nobles were stripped of their possessions by the low-born ragamuffins who were induced by William's recruiting sergeants to enlist under his black banner.


[B] An Account of the Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland, and Ireland, by J. J. Worsaae, Sec. I. p. 6.

[C] "What we call purchase, perquisitio," says Blackstone, "the feudists called conquest, conquisitio; both denoting any means of acquiring an estate out of the common course of inheritance. And this is still the proper phrase in the law of Scotland, as it was among the Norman jurists, who styled the first purchaser (that is, him who bought the estate into the family which at present owns it) the conqueror, or conquereur, which seems to be all that was meant by the appellation which was given to William the Norman." Had Harold been victorious at Hastings, he would, according to the feudists, have been the Conqueror; that is, the man who brought England into his family.

[D] The History of Normandy and of England, Vol. I. pp. 703, 704. One of the greatest historical works of a country and an age singularly rich in historical literature, but incomplete, like the works of Macaulay, Niebuhr, and Arnold, and the last work of Prescott. The third and fourth volumes, posthumously published in 1864,—Sir Francis died in 1861,—are well edited by the author's son, Mr. Francis Turner Palgrave, who honorably upholds the honored name he inherits.

[E] Merivale, History of the Romans under the Empire; Vol. IV. p. 297, note: "The civilization of barbarians, at least their material cultivation, has been generally more advanced by instructors whose moral superiority was less strongly marked, than where the teachers and the taught have few common sympathies and points of contact. Thus, in our own times, rough whalers and brutal pirates have done more to Europeanize the natives of Polynesia than the missionaries."

[F] A History of England under the Norman Kings, etc., pp. 84, 85, and 87. Dr. Lappenberg is emphatic on the subject of the formation of the Norman race through the junction of various races. "Rolf [Rollo] and his companions were like those meteors which traverse the air with incredible swiftness," he says, "and in vanishing leave behind them long streams of fire which the eye gazes on with amazement. The Northmen who settled in Neustria gradually became lost among the French, a mixture of Gauls and Romans, Franks and Burgundians, West Goths and Saracens, friends and foes, barbarians and civilized nations. Ten sorts of language, and with them, perhaps, as many forms of government, were lost amid this mass of peoples. French and foreigners have visited Normandy in search of some traces of the old Scandinavian colonies, or at least of some testimonial of their long sojourn there, and one or other memorial characteristic of this daring people. All have admired the prosperity of the province, to which the fertility of the soil and its manufactures and commerce have contributed; but vainly have they sought for the original Northmen in the present inhabitants. With the exception of some faint resemblances, they have met with nothing Norsk."—pp. 65, 66.

[G] The History of Normandy and of England, Vol. I. pp. 704, 705. Lanfranc, who was made Archbishop of Canterbury by the Conqueror, was a native of Pavia, and Anselm, his successor, a native of Aosta.

[H] Rollo and his Race: or, Footsteps of the Normans, Vol. II. pp. 107-109.

[I] What Sir F. Palgrave says of the famous son of Robert Guiscard is applicable generally to the Normans: "Bohemond was affectionate and true to father, wife, and children, pleasant, affable, and courteous: yet wrapped up in selfishness, possessed by insatiate ambition and almost diabolical cruelty, proud and faithless, but in spite of all these vices so seductive as to command the admiration even of those who knew him to be a heartless demon."—History Vol. IV. p. 471.

[J] "The heart of Emma clung more and more to her native land. Her feelings were inherited by the children who were afterward born to her,—they imbibed them at their mother's breast. Their hearts were thoroughly alienated from England, and the Normans and Normandy became as their kindred and their home."—Palgrave, Vol. III. p. 112. Edward's wife was Editha, daughter of Earl Godwin, and sister of Harold.

[K] The History of Normandy and of England, Vol. III. pp. 293, 294.

[L] History of the Four Conquests of England, Vol. II. pp. 176-178.

[M] The legitimate descent of Queen Victoria from the Conqueror is sometimes disputed, because it is not correctly traced, in consequence of the line of descent being carried back through Henry VII., instead of being carried through his wife, née Elizabeth Plantagenet. It may not be uninteresting to state the royal pedigree, which is at times rather intricate, and full of sinuosities,—in part due to the occurrences of political revolutions, old English statesmen never having paid much regard to political legitimacy, which is a modern notion. Queen Victoria is the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, who was son of George III., who was son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, who was son of George II., who was son of George I., who was son of the Electress Sophia (by Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover), who was daughter of Elizabeth Stuart (by Frederick V., Elector Palatine and "Winter King" of Bohemia), who was daughter of James I. (Sixth of Scotland), who was son of Mary, Queen of Scots (by Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley), who was daughter of James V., who was son of Margaret Tudor (by James IV.), who was daughter of Elizabeth Plantagenet (by Henry VII.), who was daughter of Edward IV., who was son of Richard, Duke of York, who was son of Anne Mortimer (by Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge, son of Edmund, Duke of York, fifth son of Edward III.), who was daughter of Roger, Earl of Marche, who was son of Philippe (by Edmund, Earl of Marche), who was daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III., who was son of Edward II., who was son of Edward I., who was son of Henry III., who was son of John, who was son of Henry II., who was son of Matilda (by Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou), who was daughter of Henry I. (by Matilda of Scotland, sister of Edgar Atheling, and therefore of the Saxon blood royal), who was son of William the Conqueror. Thus Queen Victoria is descended legitimately from the Conqueror, not only through Lionel, Duke of Clarence, Edward III.'s third son, but also through that monarch's fifth son, Edmund, Duke of York, whose second son, the Earl of Cambridge, married the great-granddaughter of the Duke of Clarence. Had the great struggle of the English throne in the fifteenth century been correctly named, it would stand in history as the contest between the lines of Clarence (not York) and Lancaster. In virtue of her descent from Henry VII., Queen Victoria shares "the aspiring blood of Lancaster," which was so mounting that it brought the worst of woes on England. Henry VII. was the son of Margaret Beaufort (by Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond), who was the daughter of John, Duke of Somerset, who was the son of John, Earl of Somerset, who was the son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III.; but the mother of the Earl of Somerset was, at the time of his birth, not the wife, but the mistress of the Duke of Lancaster, though he married her late in life, and in various ways obtained the legitimation of the children she had borne him,—facts that could not remove the great fact of their illegitimacy, if marriage is to count for anything and which no good historian has treated with respect. Lord Macaulay calls the Tudors "a line of bastards," and ranks them with the "succession of impostors" set up by the adherents of the White Rose. Froude's great work has created a new interest in the question of the English succession, for he bases his peculiar view of the character of Henry VIII., and his justification of all his acts of heartless tyranny, on the necessities that grew out of that perplexing question, which troubled England for two centuries, thus forming a practical satire on that theory which represents that the peculiar excellence of hereditary monarchy is found in its power to prevent disputes for the possession of government, and to promote the preservation of society's peace,—a theory which has often been thrown into the teeth of republicans, and particularly since the occurrence of our unhappy civil troubles. Yet one would think that Gettysburg and Shiloh were not worse days than Towton and Barnet. Those persons who are interested in the English succession question, and who would see how wide a one it was, and how far and how long and variously it affected the politics of Continental Europe as well as those of England, should read the chapter on the subject in Miss Cooper's "Life and Letters of Arabella Stuart," a learned and lively work, and not the least meritorious of those admirable historical productions which we owe to the genius, the industry, and the honesty of Englishwomen,—Agnes Strickland, Caroline A. Halsted, Lucy Aiken, Mrs. Everett Green, Elizabeth Cooper, and others,—whose writings do honor to the sex, and fairly entitle their authors to be ranked with those accomplished ladies of the sixteenth century whose solid attainments have so long been matter of despairing admiration.

[N] Histoire de la Conquête de l'Angleterre par les Normans, Tom. I. pp. 237, 238.


The critic's first duty in the presence of an author's collective works is to seek out some key to his method, some utterance of his literary convictions, some indication of his ruling theory. The amount of labor involved in an inquiry of this kind will depend very much upon the author. In some cases the critic will find express declarations; in other cases he will have to content himself with conscientious inductions. In a writer so fond of digressions as George Eliot, he has reason to expect that broad evidences of artistic faith will not be wanting. He finds in "Adam Bede" the following passage:—

"Paint us an angel if you can, with a floating violet robe and a face paled[Pg 480] by the celestial light; paint us yet oftener a Madonna, turning her mild face upward, and opening her arms to welcome the divine glory; but do not impose on us any æsthetic rules which shall banish from the region of art those old women scraping carrots with their work-worn hands,—those heavy clowns taking holiday in a dingy pot-house,—those rounded backs and stupid weather-beaten faces that have bent over the spade and done the rough work of the world,—those homes with their tin cans, their brown pitchers, their rough curs, and their clusters of onions. In this world there are so many of these common, coarse people, who have no picturesque, sentimental wretchedness. It is so needful we should remember their existence, else we may happen to leave them quite out of our religion and philosophy, and frame lofty theories which only fit a world of extremes.... There are few prophets in the world,—few sublimely beautiful women,—few heroes. I can't afford to give all my love and reverence to such rarities; I want a great deal of those feelings for my every-day fellowmen, especially for the few in the foreground of the great multitude, whose faces I know, whose hands I touch, for whom I have to make way with kindly courtesy.... I herewith discharge my conscience," our author continues, "and declare that I have had quite enthusiastic movements of admiration toward old gentlemen who spoke the worst English, who were occasionally fretful in their temper, and who had never moved in a higher sphere of influence than that of parish overseer; and that the way in which I have come to the conclusion that human nature is lovable—the way I have learnt something of its deep pathos, its sublime mysteries—has been by living a great deal among people more or less commonplace and vulgar, of whom you would perhaps hear nothing very surprising if you were to inquire about them in the neighborhoods where they dwelt."

But even in the absence of any such avowed predilections as these, a brief glance over the principal figures of her different works would assure us that our author's sympathies are with common people. Silas Marner is a linen-weaver, Adam Bede is a carpenter, Maggie Tulliver is a miller's daughter, Felix Holt is a watchmaker, Dinah Morris works in a factory, and Hetty Sorrel is a dairy-maid. Esther Lyon, indeed, is a daily governess; but Tito Melema alone is a scholar. In the "Scenes of Clerical Life," the author is constantly slipping down from the clergymen, her heroes, to the most ignorant and obscure of their parishioners. Even in "Romola" she consecrates page after page to the conversation of the Florentine populace. She is as unmistakably a painter of bourgeois life as Thackeray was a painter of the life of drawing-rooms.

Her opportunities for the study of the manners of the solid lower classes have evidently been very great. We have her word for it that she has lived much among the farmers, mechanics, and small traders of that central region of England which she has made known to us under the name of Loamshire. The conditions of the popular life in this district in that already distant period to which she refers the action of most of her stories—the end of the last century and the beginning of the present—were so different from any that have been seen in America, that an American, in treating of her books, must be satisfied not to touch upon the question of their accuracy and fidelity as pictures of manners and customs. He can only say that they bear strong internal evidence of truthfulness. If he is a great admirer of George Eliot, he will indeed be tempted to affirm that they must be true. They offer a completeness, a rich density of detail, which could be the fruit only of a long term of conscious contact,—such as would make it much more difficult for the author to fall into the perversion and suppression of facts, than to set them down literally. It is very probable[Pg 481] that her colors are a little too bright, and her shadows of too mild a gray, that the sky of her landscapes is too sunny, and their atmosphere too redolent of peace and abundance. Local affection may be accountable for half of this excess of brilliancy; the author's native optimism is accountable for the other half. I do not remember, in all her novels, an instance of gross misery of any kind not directly caused by the folly of the sufferer. There are no pictures of vice or poverty or squalor. There are no rags, no gin, no brutal passions. That average humanity which she favors is very borné in intellect, but very genial in heart, as a glance at its representatives in her pages will convince us. In "Adam Bede," there is Mr. Irwine, the vicar, with avowedly no qualification for his profession, placidly playing chess with his mother, stroking his dogs, and dipping into Greek tragedies; there is the excellent Martin Poyser at the Farm, good-natured and rubicund; there is his wife, somewhat too sharply voluble, but only in behalf of cleanliness and honesty and order; there is Captain Donnithorne at the Hall, who does a poor girl a mortal wrong, but who is, after all, such a nice, good-looking fellow; there are Adam and Seth Bede, the carpenter's sons, the strongest, purest, most discreet of young rustics. The same broad felicity prevails in "The Mill on the Floss." Mr. Tulliver, indeed, fails in business; but his failure only serves as an offset to the general integrity and prosperity. His son is obstinate and wilful; but it is all on the side of virtue. His daughter is somewhat sentimental and erratic; but she is more conscientious yet. Conscience, in the classes from which George Eliot recruits her figures, is a universal gift. Decency and plenty and good-humor follow contentedly in its train. The word which sums up the common traits of our author's various groups is the word respectable. Adam Bede is pre-eminently a respectable young man; so is Arthur Donnithorne; so, although he will persist in going without a cravat, is Felix Holt. So, with perhaps the exception of Maggie Tulliver and Stephen Guest, is every important character to be found in our author's writings. They all share this fundamental trait,—that in each of them passion proves itself feebler than conscience.

The first work which made the name of George Eliot generally known, contains, to my perception, only a small number of the germs of her future power. From the "Scenes of Clerical Life" to "Adam Bede" she made not so much a step as a leap. Of the three tales contained in the former work, I think the first is much the best. It is short, broadly descriptive, humorous, and exceedingly pathetic. "The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton" are fortunes which clever storytellers with a turn for pathos, from Oliver Goldsmith downward, have found of very good account,—the fortunes of a hapless clergyman of the Church of England in daily contention with the problem how upon eighty pounds a year to support a wife and six children in all due ecclesiastical gentility. "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story," the second of the tales in question, I cannot hesitate to pronounce a failure. George Eliot's pictures of drawing-room life are only interesting when they are linked or related to scenes in the tavern parlor, the dairy, and the cottage. Mr. Gilfil's love-story is enacted entirely in the drawing-room, and in consequence it is singularly deficient in force and reality. Not that it is vulgar,—for our author's good taste never forsakes her,—but it is thin, flat, and trivial. But for a certain family likeness in the use of language and the rhythm of the style, it would be hard to believe that these pages are by the same hand as "Silas Marner." In "Janet's Repentance," the last and longest of the three clerical stories, we return to middle life,—the life represented by the Dodsons in "The Mill on the Floss." The subject of this tale might almost be qualified by the[Pg 482] French epithet scabreux. It would be difficult for what is called realism, to go further than in the adoption of a heroine stained with the vice of intemperance. The theme is unpleasant; the author chose it at her peril. It must be added, however, that Janet Dempster has many provocations. Married to a brutal drunkard, she takes refuge in drink against his ill-usage; and the story deals less with her lapse into disgrace than with her redemption, through the kind offices of the Reverend Edgar Tryan,—by virtue of which, indeed, it takes its place in the clerical series. I cannot help thinking that the stern and tragical character of the subject has been enfeebled by the over-diffuseness of the narrative and the excess of local touches. The abundance of the author's recollections and observations of village life clogs the dramatic movement, over which she has as yet a comparatively slight control. In her subsequent works the stouter fabric of the story is better able to support this heavy drapery of humor and digression.

To a certain extent, I think "Silas Marner" holds a higher place than any of the author's works. It is more nearly a masterpiece; it has more of that simple, rounded, consummate aspect, that absence of loose ends and gaping issues, which marks a classical work. What was attempted in it, indeed, was within more immediate reach than the heart-trials of Adam Bede and Maggie Tulliver. A poor, dull-witted, disappointed Methodist cloth-weaver; a little golden-haired foundling child; a well-meaning, irresolute country squire, and his patient, childless wife;—these, with a chorus of simple, beer-loving villagers, make up the dramatis personæ. More than any of its brother-works, "Silas Marner," I think, leaves upon the mind a deep impression of the grossly material life of agricultural England in the last days of the old régime,—the days of full-orbed Toryism, of Trafalgar and of Waterloo, when the invasive spirit of French domination threw England back upon a sense of her own insular solidity, and made her for the time doubly, brutally, morbidly English. Perhaps the best pages in the work are the first thirty, telling the story of poor Marner's disappointments in friendship and in love, his unmerited disgrace, and his long, lonely twilight-life at Raveloe, with the sole companionship of his loom, in which his muscles moved "with such even repetition, that their pause seemed almost as much a constraint as the holding of his breath." Here, as in all George Eliot's books, there is a middle life and a low life; and here, as usual, I prefer the low life. In "Silas Marner," in my opinion, she has come nearest the mildly rich tints of brown and gray, the mellow lights and the undreadful corner-shadows of the Dutch masters whom she emulates. One of the chapters contains a scene in a pot-house, which frequent reference has made famous. Never was a group of honest, garrulous village simpletons more kindly and humanely handled. After a long and somewhat chilling silence, amid the pipes and beer, the landlord opens the conversation "by saying in a doubtful tone to his cousin the butcher:—

"'Some folks 'ud say that was a fine beast you druv in yesterday, Bob?'

"The butcher, a jolly, smiling, red-haired man, was not disposed to answer rashly. He gave a few puffs before he spat, and replied, 'And they wouldn't be fur wrong, John.'

"After this feeble, delusive thaw, silence set in as severely as before.

"'Was it a red Durham?' said the farrier, taking up the thread of discourse after the lapse of a few minutes.

"The farrier looked at the landlord, and the landlord looked at the butcher, as the person who must take the responsibility of answering.

"'Red it was,' said the butcher, in his good-humored husky treble,—'and a Durham it was.'

"'Then you needn't tell me who you bought it of,' said the farrier, looking round with some triumph; 'I know who it is has got the red Durhams o'[Pg 483] this country-side. And she'd a white star on her brow, I'll bet a penny?'

"'Well; yes—she might,' said the butcher, slowly, considering that he was giving a decided affirmation. 'I don't say contrairy.'

"'I knew that very well,' said the farrier, throwing himself back defiantly; 'if I don't know Mr. Lammeter's cows, I should like to know who does,—that's all. And as for the cow you bought, bargain or no bargain, I've been at the drenching of her,—contradick me who will.'

"The farrier looked fierce, and the mild butcher's conversational spirit was roused a little.

"'I'm not for contradicking no man,' he said; 'I'm for peace and quietness. Some are for cutting long ribs. I'm for cutting 'em short myself; but I don't quarrel with 'em. All I say is, its a lovely carkiss,—and anybody as was reasonable, it'ud bring tears into their eyes to look at it.'

"'Well, its the cow as I drenched, whatever it is,' pursued the farrier, angrily; 'and it was Mr. Lammeter's cow, else you told a lie when you said it was a red Durham.'

"'I tell no lies,' said the butcher, with the same mild huskiness as before; 'and I contradick none,—not if a man was to swear himself black; he's no meat of mine, nor none of my bargains. All I say is, its a lovely carkiss. And what I say I'll stick to; but I'll quarrel wi' no man.'

"'No,' said the farrier, with bitter sarcasm, looking at the company generally; 'and p'rhaps you didn't say the cow was a red Durham; and p'rhaps you didn't say she'd got a star on her brow,—stick to that, now you are at it.'"

Matters having come to this point, the landlord interferes ex officio to preserve order. The Lammeter family having come up, he discreetly invites Mr. Macey, the parish clerk and tailor, to favor the company with his recollections on the subject. Mr. Macey, however, "smiled pityingly in answer to the landlord's appeal, and said: 'Ay, ay; I know, I know: but I let other folks talk. I've laid by now, and gev up to the young uns. Ask them as have been to school at Tarley: they've learn't pernouncing; that's came up since my day.'"

Mr. Macey is nevertheless persuaded to dribble out his narrative; proceeding by instalments, and questioned from point to point, in a kind of Socratic manner, by the landlord. He at last arrives at Mr. Lammeter's marriage, and how the clergyman, when he came to put the questions, inadvertently transposed the position of the two essential names, and asked, "Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded wife?" etc.

"'But the partic'larest thing of all,' pursues Mr. Macey, 'is, as nobody took any notice on it but me, and they answered straight off "Yes," like as if it had been me saying "Amen" i' the right place, without listening to what went before.'

"'But you knew what was going on well enough, didn't you, Mr. Macey? You were live enough, eh?' said the butcher.

"'Yes, bless you!' said Mr. Macey, pausing, and smiling in pity at the impatience of his hearer's imagination,—'why, I was all of a tremble; it was as if I'd been a coat pulled by two tails, like; for I couldn't stop the parson, I couldn't take upon me to do that; and yet I said to myself, I says, "Suppose they shouldn't be fast married," 'cause the words are contrairy, and my head went working like a mill, for I was always uncommon for turning things over and seeing all round 'em; and I says to myself, "Is 't the meaning or the words as makes folks fast i' wedlock?" For the parson meant right, and the bride and bridegroom meant right. But then, when I came to think on it, meaning goes but a little way i' most things, for you may mean to stick things together and your glue may be bad, and then where are you?'"

Mr. Macey's doubts, however, are set at rest by the parson after the service, who assures him that what[Pg 484] does the business is neither the meaning nor the words, but the register. Mr. Macey then arrives at the chapter—or rather is gently inducted thereunto by his hearers—of the ghosts who frequent certain of the Lammeter stables. But ghosts threatening to prove as pregnant a theme of contention as Durham cows, the landlord again meditates: "'There's folks i' my opinion, they can't see ghos'es, not if they stood as plain as a pikestaff before 'em. And there's reason i' that. For there's my wife, now, can't smell, not if she'd the strongest o' cheese under her nose. I never seed a ghost myself, but then I says to myself', "Very like I haven't the smell for 'em." I mean, putting a ghost for a smell or else contrairiways. And so I'm for holding with both sides.... For the smell's what I go by.'"

The best drawn of the village worthies in "Silas Marner" are Mr. Macey, of the scene just quoted, and good Dolly Winthrop, Marner's kindly patroness. I have room for only one more specimen of Mr. Macey. He is looking on at a New Year's dance at Squire Case's, beside Ben Winthrop, Dolly's husband.

"'The Squire's pretty springy, considering his weight,' said Mr. Macey, 'and he stamps uncommon well. But Mr. Lammeter beats 'em all for shapes; you see he holds his head like a sodger, and he isn't so cushiony as most o' the oldish gentlefolks,—they ran fat in gineral;—and he's got a fine leg. The parson's nimble enough, but he hasn't got much of a leg: it's a bit too thick downward, and his knees might be a bit nearer without damage; but he might do worse, he might do worse. Though he hasn't that grand way o' waving his hand as the Squire has.'

"'Talk o' nimbleness, look at Mrs. Osgood,' said Ben Winthrop.... 'She's the finest made woman as is, let the next be where she will.'

"'I don't heed how the women are made,' said Mr. Macey, with some contempt 'They wear nayther coat nor breeches; you can't make much out o' their shapes!'"

Mrs. Winthrop, the wheelwright's wife who, out of the fulness of her charity, comes to comfort Silas in the season of his distress, is in her way one of the most truthfully sketched of the author's figures. "She was in all respects a woman of scrupulous conscience, so eager for duties that life seemed to offer them too scantily unless she rose at half past four, though this threw a scarcity of work over the more advanced hours of the morning, which it was a constant problem for her to remove.... She was a very mild, patient woman, whose nature it was to seek out all the sadder and more serious elements of life and pasture her mind upon them." She stamps I. H. S. on her cakes and loaves without knowing what the letters mean, or indeed without knowing that they are letters, being very much surprised that Marner can "read 'em off,"—chiefly because they are on the pulpit cloth at church. She touches upon religious themes in a manner to make the superficial reader apprehend that she cultivates some polytheistic form of faith,—extremes meet. She urges Marner to go to church, and describes the satisfaction which she herself derives from the performance of her religious duties.

"If you've niver had no church, there's no telling what good it'll do you. For I feel as set up and comfortable as niver was, when I've been and heard the prayers and the singing to the praise and glory o' God, as Mr. Macey gives out,—and Mr. Crackenthorp saying good words and more partic'lar on Sacramen' day; and if a bit o' trouble comes, I feel as I can put up wi' it, for I've looked for help i' the right quarter, and giv myself up to Them as we must all give ourselves up to at the last: and if we've done our part, it isn't to be believed as Them as are above us 'ud be worse nor we are, and come short o' Theirn."

"The plural pronoun," says the author, "was no heresy of Dolly's, but[Pg 485] only her way of avoiding a presumptuous familiarity." I imagine that there is in no other English novel a figure so simple in its elements as this of Dolly Winthrop, which is so real without being contemptible, and so quaint without being ridiculous.

In all those of our author's books which have borne the name of the hero or heroine,—"Adam Bede," "Silas Marner," "Romola," and "Felix Holt,"—the person so put forward has really played a subordinate part. The author may have set out with the intention of maintaining him supreme; but her material has become rebellious in her hands, and the technical hero has been eclipsed by the real one. Tito is the leading figure in "Romola." The story deals predominantly, not with Romola as affected by Tito's faults, but with Tito's faults as affecting first himself, and incidentally his wife. Godfrey Cass, with his lifelong secret, is by right the hero of "Silas Marner." Felix Holt, in the work which bears his name, is little more than an occasional apparition; and indeed the novel has no hero, but only a heroine. The same remark applies to "Adam Bede," as the work stands. The central figure of the book, by virtue of her great misfortune, is Hetty Sorrel. In the presence of that misfortune no one else, assuredly, has a right to claim dramatic pre-eminence. The one person for whom an approach to equality may be claimed is, not Adam Bede, but Arthur Donnithorne. If the story had ended, as I should have infinitely preferred to see it end, with Hetty's execution, or even with her reprieve, and if Adam had been left to his grief, and Dinah Morris to the enjoyment of that distinguished celibacy for which she was so well suited, then I think Adam might have shared the honors of pre-eminence with his hapless sweetheart. But as it is, the continuance of the book in his interest is fatal to him. His sorrow at Hetty's misfortune is not a sufficient sorrow for the situation. That his marriage at some future time was quite possible, and even natural, I readily admit; but that was matter for a new story. This point illustrates, I think, the great advantage of the much-censured method, introduced by Balzac, of continuing his heroes' adventures from tale to tale. Or, admitting that the author was indisposed to undertake, or even to conceive, in its completeness, a new tale, in which Adam, healed of his wound by time, should address himself to another woman, I yet hold that it would be possible tacitly to foreshadow some such event at the close of the tale which we are supposing to end with Hetty's death,—to make it the logical consequence of Adam's final state of mind. Of course circumstances would have much to do with bringing it to pass, and these circumstances could not be foreshadowed; but apart from the action of circumstances would stand the fact that, to begin with, the event was possible. The assurance of this possibility is what I should have desired the author to place the sympathetic reader at a stand-point to deduce for himself. In every novel the work is divided between the writer and the reader; but the writer makes the reader very much as he makes his characters. When he makes him ill, that is, makes him indifferent, he does no work; the writer does all. When he makes him well, that is, makes him interested, then the reader does quite half the labor. In making such a deduction as I have just indicated, the reader would be doing but his share of the task; the grand point is to get him to make it. I hold that there is a way. It is perhaps a secret; but until it is found out, I think that the art of story-telling cannot be said to have approached perfection.

When you re-read coldly and critically a book which in former years you have read warmly and carelessly, you are surprised to see how it changes its proportions. It falls away in those parts which have been pre-eminent in your memory, and it increases in the small portions. Until I lately read "Adam Bede" for a second time, Mrs. Poyser was in my mind its representative figure; for I remembered a number of her[Pg 486] epigrammatic sallies. But now, after a second reading, Mrs. Poyser is the last figure I think of, and a fresh perusal of her witticisms has considerably diminished their classical flavor. And if I must tell the truth, Adam himself is next to the last; and sweet Dinah Morris third from the last. The person immediately evoked by the title of the work is poor Hetty Sorrel. Mrs. Poyser is too epigrammatic; her wisdom smells of the lamp. I do not mean to say that she is not natural, and that women of her class are not often gifted with her homely fluency, her penetration, and her turn for forcible analogies. But she is too sustained; her morality is too shrill,—too much in staccato; she too seldom subsides into the commonplace. Yet it cannot be denied that she puts things very happily. Remonstrating with Dinah Morris on the undue disinterestedness of her religious notions, "But for the matter o' that," she cries, "if everybody was to do like you, the world must come to a stand-still; for if everybody tried to do without house and home and eating and drinking, and was always talking as we must despise the things o' the world, as you say, I should like to know where the pick of the stock, and the corn, and the best new milk-cheeses 'ud have to go? Everybody 'ud be wanting to make bread o' tail ends, and everybody 'ud be running after everybody else to preach to 'em, i'stead o' bringing up their families and laying by against a bad harvest." And when Hetty comes home late from the Chase, and alleges in excuse that the clock at home is so much earlier than the clock at the great house: "What, you'd be wanting the clock set by gentlefolks' time, would you? an' sit up burning candle, and lie a-bed wi' the sun a-bakin' you, like a cowcumber i' the frame?" Mrs. Poyser has something almost of Yankee shrewdness and angularity; but the figure of a New England rural housewife would lack a whole range of Mrs. Poyser's feelings, which, whatever may be its effect in real life, gives its subject in a novel at least a very picturesque richness of color; the constant sense, namely, of a superincumbent layer of "gentlefolks," whom she and her companions can never raise their heads unduly without hitting.

My chief complaint with Adam Bede himself is that he is too good. He is meant, I conceive, to be every inch a man; but, to my mind, there are several inches wanting. He lacks spontaneity and sensibility, he is too stiff-backed. He lacks that supreme quality without which a man can never be interesting to men,—the capacity to be tempted. His nature is without richness or responsiveness. I doubt not that such men as he exist, especially in the author's thrice-English Loamshire; she has partially described them as a class, with a felicity which carries conviction. She claims for her hero that, although a plain man, he was as little an ordinary man as he was a genius.

"He was not an average man. Yet such men as he are reared here and there in every generation of our peasant artisans, with an inheritance of affections nurtured by a simple family life of common need and common industry, and an inheritance of faculties trained in skilful, courageous labor; they make their way upward, rarely as geniuses, most commonly as painstaking, honest men, with the skill and conscience to do well the tasks that lie before them. Their lives have no discernible echo beyond the neighborhood where they dwelt; but you are almost sure to find there some good piece of road, some building, some application of mineral produce, some improvement in farming practice, some reform of parish abuses, with which their names are associated by one or two generations after them. Their employers were the richer for them; the work of their hands has worn well, and the work of their brains has guided well the hands of other men."

One cannot help feeling thankful to the kindly writer who attempts to perpetuate their memories beyond the generations which profit immediately by their toil. If she is not a great dramatist,[Pg 487] she is at least an exquisite describer. But one can as little help feeling that it is no more than a strictly logical retribution, that in her hour of need (dramatically speaking) she should find them indifferent to their duties as heroes. I profoundly doubt whether the central object of a novel may successfully be a passionless creature. The ultimate eclipse, both of Adam Bede and of Felix Holt would seem to justify my question. Tom Tulliver is passionless, and Tom Tulliver lives gratefully in the memory; but this, I take it, is because he is strictly a subordinate figure, and awakens no reaction of feeling on the reader's part by usurping a position which he is not the man to fill.

Dinah Morris is apparently a study from life; and it is warm praise to say, that, in spite of the high key in which she is conceived, morally, she retains many of the warm colors of life. But I confess that it is hard to conceive of a woman so exalted by religious fervor remaining so cool-headed and so temperate. There is in Dinah Morris too close an agreement between her distinguished natural disposition and the action of her religious faith. If by nature she had been passionate, rebellious, selfish, I could better understand her actual self-abnegation. I would look upon it as the logical fruit of a profound religious experience. But as she stands, heart and soul go easily hand in hand. I believe it to be very uncommon for what is called a religious conversion merely to intensify and consecrate pre-existing inclinations. It is usually a change, a wrench; and the new life is apt to be the more sincere as the old one had less in common with it. But, as I have said, Dinah Morris bears so many indications of being a reflection of facts well known to the author,—and the phenomena of Methodism, from the frequency with which their existence is referred to in her pages, appear to be so familiar to her,—that I hesitate to do anything but thankfully accept her portrait. About Hetty Sorrel I shall have no hesitation whatever: I accept her with all my heart. Of all George Eliot's female figures she is the least ambitious, and on the whole, I think, the most successful. The part of the story which concerns her is much the most forcible; and there is something infinitely tragic in the reader's sense of the contrast between the sternly prosaic life of the good people about her, their wholesome decency and their noonday probity, and the dusky sylvan path along which poor Hetty is tripping, light-footed, to her ruin. Hetty's conduct throughout seems to me to be thoroughly consistent. The author has escaped the easy error of representing her as in any degree made serious by suffering. She is vain and superficial by nature; and she remains so to the end. As for Arthur Donnithorne, I would rather have had him either better or worse. I would rather have had a little more premeditation before his fault, or a little more repentance after it; that is, while repentance could still be of use. Not that, all things considered, he is not a very fair image of a frank-hearted, well-meaning, careless, self-indulgent young gentleman; but the author has in his case committed the error which in Hetty's she avoided,—the error of showing him as redeemed by suffering. I cannot but think that he was as weak as she. A weak woman, indeed, is weaker than a weak man; but Arthur Donnithorne was a superficial fellow, a person emphatically not to be moved by a shock of conscience into a really interesting and dignified attitude, such as he is made to assume at the close of the book. Why not see things in their nakedness? the impatient reader is tempted to ask. Why not let passions and foibles play themselves out?

It is as a picture, or rather as a series of pictures, that I find "Adam Bede" most valuable. The author succeeds better in drawing attitudes of feeling than in drawing movements of feeling. Indeed, the only attempt at development of character or of purpose in the book occurs in the case of Arthur Donnithorne, where the materials[Pg 488] are of the simplest kind. Hetty's lapse into disgrace is not gradual, it is immediate: it is without struggle and without passion. Adam himself has arrived at perfect righteousness when the book opens; and it is impossible to go beyond that. In his case too, therefore, there is no dramatic progression. The same remark applies to Dinah Morris. It is not in her conceptions nor her composition that George Eliot is strongest: it is in her touches. In these she is quite original. She is a good deal of a humorist, and something of a satirist; but she is neither Dickens nor Thackeray. She has over them the great advantage that she is also a good deal of a philosopher; and it is to this union of the keenest observation with the ripest reflection, that her style owes its essential force. She is a thinker,—not, perhaps, a passionate thinker, but at least a serious one; and the term can be applied with either adjective neither to Dickens nor Thackeray. The constant play of lively and vigorous thought about the objects furnished by her observation animates these latter with a surprising richness of color and a truly human interest. It gives to the author's style, moreover, that lingering, affectionate, comprehensive quality which is its chief distinction; and perhaps occasionally it makes her tedious. George Eliot is so little tedious, however, because, if, on the one hand, her reflection never flags, so, on the other, her observation never ceases to supply it with material. Her observation, I think, is decidedly of the feminine kind; it deals, in preference, with small things. This fact may be held to explain the excellence of what I have called her pictures, and the comparative feebleness of her dramatic movement. The contrast here indicated, strong in "Adam Bede," is most striking in "Felix Holt, the Radical." The latter work is an admirable tissue of details; but it seems to me quite without character as a composition. It leaves upon the mind no single impression. Felix Holt's radicalism, the pretended motive of the story, is utterly choked amidst a mass of subordinate interests. No representation is attempted of the growth of his opinions, or of their action upon his character: he is marked by the same singular rigidity of outline and fixedness of posture which characterized Adam Bede,—except, perhaps, that there is a certain inclination towards poetry in Holt's attitude. But if the general outline is timid and undecided in "Felix Holt," the different parts are even richer than in former works. There is no person in the book who attains to triumphant vitality; but there is not a single figure, of however little importance, that has not caught from without a certain reflection of life. There is a little old waiting-woman to a great lady,—Mrs. Denner by name,—who does not occupy five pages in the story, but who leaves upon the mind a most vivid impression of decent, contented, intelligent, half-stoical servility.

"There were different orders of beings,—so ran Denner's creed,—and she belonged to another order than that to which her mistress belonged. She had a mind as sharp as a needle, and would have seen through and through the ridiculous pretensions of a born servant who did not submissively accept the rigid fate which had given her born superiors. She would have called such pretensions the wrigglings of a worm that tried to walk on its tail.... She was a hard-headed, godless little woman, but with a character to be reckoned on as you reckon on the qualities of iron."

"I'm afraid of ever expecting anything good again," her mistress says to her in a moment of depression.

"'That's weakness, madam. Things don't happen because they are bad or good, else all eggs would be addled or none at all, and at the most it is but six to the dozen. There's good chances and bad chances, and nobody's luck is pulled only by one string.... There's a good deal of pleasure in life for you yet.'[Pg 489]

"'Nonsense! There's no pleasure for old women.... What are your pleasures, Denner, besides being a slave to me?'

"O, there's pleasure in knowing one is not a fool, like half the people one sees about. And managing one's husband is some pleasure, and doing one's business well. Why, if I've only got some orange-flowers to candy, I shouldn't like to die till I see them all right. Then there's the sunshine now and then; I like that, as the cats do. I look upon it life is like our game at whist, when Banks and his wife come to the still-room of an evening. I don't enjoy the game much, but I like to play my cards well, and see what will be the end of it; and I want to see you make the best of your hand, madam, for your luck has been mine these forty years now.'"

And, on another occasion, when her mistress exclaims, in a fit of distress, that "God was cruel when he made women," the author says:—

"The waiting-woman had none of that awe which could be turned into defiance; the sacred grove was a common thicket to her.

"'It mayn't be good luck to be a woman,' she said. 'But one begins with it from a baby; one gets used to it. And I shouldn't like to be a man,—to cough so loud, and stand straddling about on a wet day, and be so wasteful with meat and drink. They're a coarse lot, I think.'"

I should think they were, beside Mrs. Denner.

This glimpse of her is made up of what I have called the author's touches. She excels in the portrayal of homely stationary figures for which her well-stored memory furnishes her with types. Here is another touch, in which satire predominates. Harold Transome makes a speech to the electors at Treby.

"Harold's only interruption came from his own party. The oratorical clerk at the Factory, acting as the tribune of the dissenting interest, and feeling bound to put questions, might have been troublesome; but his voice being unpleasantly sharp, while Harold's was full and penetrating, the questioning was cried down."

Of the four English stories, "The Mill on the Floss" seems to me to have most dramatic continuity, in distinction from that descriptive, discursive method of narration which I have attempted to indicate. After Hetty Sorrel, I think Maggie Tulliver the most successful of the author's young women, and after Tito Melema, Tom Tulliver the best of her young men. English novels abound in pictures of childhood; but I know of none more truthful and touching than the early pages of this work. Poor erratic Maggie is worth a hundred of her positive brother, and yet on the very threshold of life she is compelled to accept him as her master. He falls naturally into the man's privilege of always being in the right. The following scene is more than a reminiscence; it is a real retrospect. Tom and Maggie are sitting upon the bough of an elder-tree, eating jam-puffs. At last only one remains, and Tom undertakes to divide it.

"The knife descended on the puff, and it was in two; but the result was not satisfactory to Tom, for he still eyed the halves doubtfully. At last he said, 'Shut your eyes, Maggie.'

"'What for?'

"'You never mind what for,—shut 'em when I tell you.'

"Maggie obeyed.

"'Now, which 'll you have, Maggie, right hand or left?'

"'I'll have that one with the jam run out,' said Maggie, keeping her eyes shut to please Tom.

"'Why, you don't like that, you silly. You may have it if it comes to you fair, but I sha'n't give it to you without. Right or left,—you choose now. Ha-a-a!' said Tom, in a tone of exasperation, as Maggie peeped. 'You keep your eyes shut now, else you sha'n't have any.'

"Maggie's power of sacrifice did not extend so far; indeed, I fear she[Pg 490] cared less that Tom should enjoy the utmost possible amount of puff, than that he should be pleased with her for giving him the best bit. So she shut her eyes quite close until Tom told her to 'say which,' and then she said, 'Left hand.'

"'You've got it,' said Tom, in rather a bitter tone.

"'What! the bit with the jam run out?'

"'No; here, take it,' said Tom, firmly, handing decidedly the best piece to Maggie.

"'O, please, Tom, have it; I don't mind,—I like the other; please take this.'

"'No, I sha'n't,' said Tom, almost crossly, beginning on his own inferior piece.

"Maggie, thinking it was of no use to contend further, began too, and ate up her half puff with considerable relish as well as rapidity. But Tom had finished first, and had to look on while Maggie ate her last morsel or two, feeling in himself a capacity for more. Maggie didn't know Tom was looking at her: she was seesawing on the elderbough, lost to everything but a vague sense of jam and idleness.

"'O, you greedy thing!' said Tom, when she had swallowed the last morsel."

The portions of the story which bear upon the Dodson family are in their way not unworthy of Balzac; only that, while our author has treated its peculiarities humorously, Balzac would have treated them seriously, almost solemnly. We are reminded of him by the attempt to classify the Dodsons socially in a scientific manner, and to accumulate small examples of their idiosyncrasies. I do not mean to say that the resemblance is very deep. The chief defect—indeed, the only serious one—in "The Mill on the Floss" is its conclusion. Such a conclusion is in itself assuredly not illegitimate, and there is nothing in the fact of the flood, to my knowledge, essentially unnatural: what I object to is its relation to the preceding part of the story. The story is told as if it were destined to have, if not a strictly happy termination, at least one within ordinary probabilities. As it stands, the dénouement shocks the reader most painfully. Nothing has prepared him for it; the story does not move towards it; it casts no shadow before it. Did such a dénouement lie within the author's intentions from the first, or was it a tardy expedient for the solution of Maggie's difficulties? This question the reader asks himself, but of course he asks it in vain. For my part, although, as long as humanity is subject to floods and earthquakes, I have no objection to see them made use of in novels, I would in this particular case have infinitely preferred that Maggie should have been left to her own devices. I understand the author's scruples, and to a certain degree I respect them. A lonely spinsterhood seemed but a dismal consummation of her generous life; and yet, as the author conceives, it was unlikely that she would return to Stephen Guest. I respect Maggie profoundly; but nevertheless I ask, Was this after all so unlikely? I will not try to answer the question. I have shown enough courage in asking it. But one thing is certain: a dénouement by which Maggie should have called Stephen back would have been extremely interesting, and would have had far more in its favor than can be put to confusion by a mere exclamation of horror.

I have come to the end of my space without speaking of "Romola," which, as the most important of George Eliot's works, I had kept in reserve. I have only room to say that on the whole I think it is decidedly the most important,—not the most entertaining nor the most readable, but the one in which the largest things are attempted and grasped. The figure of Savonarola, subordinate though it is, is a figure on a larger scale than any which George Eliot has elsewhere undertaken; and in the career of Tito Melema there is a fuller representation of the development of a character. Considerable as are our author's qualities as an artist, and largely as[Pg 491] they are displayed in "Romola," the book strikes me less as a work of art than as a work of morals. Like all of George Eliot's works, its dramatic construction is feeble; the story drags and halts,—the setting is too large for the picture; but I remember that, the first time I read it, I declared to myself that much should be forgiven it for the sake of its generous feeling and its elevated morality. I still recognize this latter fact, but I think I find it more on a level than I at first found it with the artistic conditions of the book. "Our deeds determine us," George Eliot says somewhere in "Adam Bede," "as much as we determine our deeds." This is the moral lesson of "Romola." A man has no associate so intimate as his own character, his own career,—his present and his past; and if he builds up his career of timid and base actions, they cling to him like evil companions, to sophisticate, to corrupt, and to damn him. As in Maggie Tulliver we had a picture of the elevation of the moral tone by honesty and generosity, so that when the mind found itself face to face with the need for a strong muscular effort, it was competent to perform it; so in Tito we have a picture of that depression of the moral tone by falsity and self-indulgence, which gradually evokes on every side of the subject some implacable claim, to be avoided or propitiated. At last all his unpaid debts join issue before him, and he finds the path of life a hideous blind alley. Can any argument be more plain? Can any lesson be more salutary? "Under every guilty secret," writes the author, with her usual felicity, "there is a hidden brood of guilty wishes, whose unwholesome, infecting life is cherished by the darkness. The contaminating effect of deeds often lies less in the commission than in the consequent adjustment of our desires,—the enlistment of self-interest on the side of falsity; as, on the other hand, the purifying influence of public confession springs from the fact, that by it the hope in lies is forever swept away, and the soul recovers the noble altitude of simplicity." And again: "Tito was experiencing that inexorable law of human souls, that we prepare ourselves for sudden deeds by the reiterated choice of good or evil that gradually determines character." Somewhere else I think she says, in purport, that our deeds are like our children; we beget them, and rear them and cherish them, and they grow up and turn against us and misuse us. The fact that has led me to a belief in the fundamental equality between the worth of "Romola" as a moral argument and its value as a work of art, is the fact that in each character it seems to me essentially prosaic. The excellence both of the spirit and of the execution of the book is emphatically an obvious excellence. They make no demand upon the imagination of the reader. It is true of both of them that he who runs may read them. It may excite surprise that I should intimate that George Eliot is deficient in imagination; but I believe that I am right in so doing. Very readable novels have been written without imagination; and as compared with writers who, like Mr. Trollope, are totally destitute of the faculty, George Eliot may be said to be richly endowed with it. But as compared with writers whom we are tempted to call decidedly imaginative, she must, in my opinion, content herself with the very solid distinction of being exclusively an observer. In confirmation of this I would suggest a comparison of those chapters in "Adam Bede" which treat of Hetty's flight and wanderings, and those of Miss Bronté's "Jane Eyre" which describe the heroine's escape from Rochester's house and subsequent perambulations. The former are throughout admirable prose; the latter are in portions very good poetry.

One word more. Of all the impressions—and they are numerous—which a reperusal of George Eliot's writings has given me, I find the strongest to be this: that (with all deference to "Felix Holt, the Radical") the author is in morals and æsthetics essentially a conservative.[Pg 492] In morals her problems are still the old, passive problems. I use the word "old" with all respect. What moves her most is the idea of a conscience harassed by the memory of slighted obligations. Unless in the case of Savonarola, she has made no attempt to depict a conscience taking upon itself great and novel responsibilities. In her last work, assuredly such an attempt was—considering the title—conspicuous by its absence. Of a corresponding tendency in the second department of her literary character,—or perhaps I should say in a certain middle field where morals and æsthetics move in concert,—it is very difficult to give an example. A tolerably good one is furnished by her inclination to compromise with the old tradition—and here I use the word "old" without respect—-which exacts that a serious story of manners shall close with the factitious happiness of a fairytale. I know few things more irritating in a literary way than each of her final chapters,—for even in "The Mill on the Floss" there is a fatal "Conclusion." Both as an artist and a thinker, in other words, our author is an optimist; and although a conservative is not necessarily an optimist, I think an optimist is pretty likely to be a conservative.



"You say the pedler was a hundred yards behind my husband. Which of the two men was walking fastest?"

Thomas Hayes considered a moment. "Well, Dame, I think the Squire was walking rather the smartest of the two."

"Did the pedler seem likely to overtake him?"

"Nay. Ye see, Dame, Squire he walked straight on; but the pedler he took both sides of the road at onst, as the saying is."

Prisoner. Forgive me, Thomas, but I don't know what you mean.

Hayes (compassionately). How should ye? You are never the worse for liquor, the likes of you.

Prisoner (very keenly). O, he was in liquor, was he?

Hayes. Come, Dame, you do brew good ale at Hernshaw Castle. Ye needn't go to deny that; for, Lord knows, 't is no sin; and a poor fellow may be jolly, yet not to say drunk.

Judge (sternly). Witness, attend, and answer directly.

Prisoner. Nay, my lord, 't is a plain country body, and means no ill. Good Thomas, be so much my friend as to answer plainly. Was the man drunk or sober?

Hayes. All I know is he went from one side o' the road to t' other.

Prisoner. Thomas Hayes, as you hope to be saved eternally, was the pedler drunk or sober?

Hayes. Well, if I must tell on my neighbor or else be damned, then that there pedler was as drunk as a lord.

Here, notwithstanding the nature of the trial, the laughter was irrepressible, and Mrs. Gaunt sat quietly down (for she was allowed a seat), and said no more.

To the surgeon who had examined the body officially, she put this question: "Did you find any signs of violence?"

Surgeon. None whatever; but then there was nothing to go by, except the head and the bones.

Prisoner. Have you experience in[Pg 493] this kind? I mean, have you inspected murdered bodies?

Surgeon. Yes.

Prisoner. How many?

Surgeon. Two before this.

Prisoner. O, pray, pray, do not say "before this"! I have great hopes no murder at all hath been committed here. Let us keep to plain cases. Please you describe the injuries in those two undoubted cases.

Surgeon. In Wellyn's the skull was fractured in two places. In Sherrett's the right arm was broken, and there were some contusions on the head; but the cause of death was a stab that penetrated the lungs.

Prisoner. Suppose Wellyn's murderers had thrown his body into the water, and the fishes had so mutilated it as they have this one, could you by your art have detected the signs of violence?

Surgeon. Certainly. The man's skull was fractured. Wellyn's, I mean.

Prisoner. I put the same question with regard to Sherrett's.

Surgeon. I cannot answer it; here the lungs were devoured by the fishes; no signs of lesion can be detected in an organ that has ceased to exist.

Prisoner. This is too partial. Why select one injury out of several? What I ask is this: could you have detected violence in Sherrett's case, although the fishes had eaten the flesh off his body.

Surgeon. I answer that the minor injuries of Sherrett would have been equally perceptible; to wit, the bruises on the head, and the broken arm; but not the perforation of the lungs; and that it was killed the man.

Prisoner. Then, so far as you know, and can swear, about murder, more blows have always been struck than one, and some of the blows struck in Sherrett's case, and Wellyn's, would have left traces that fishes' teeth could not efface?

Surgeon. That is so, if I am to be peevishly confined to my small and narrow experience of murdered bodies. But my general knowledge of the many ways in which life may be taken by violence—

The judge stopped him, and said that could hardly be admitted as evidence against his actual experience.

The prisoner put a drawing of the castle, the mere, and the bridge, into the witnesses' hands, and elicited that it was correct, and also the distances marked on it. They had, in fact, been measured exactly for her.

The hobnailed shoes were produced, and she made some use of them, particularly in cross-examining Jane Bannister.

Prisoner. Look at those shoes. Saw you ever the like on Mr. Gaunt's feet?

Jane. That I never did, Dame.

Prisoner. What, not when he came into the kitchen on the 15th of October?

Jane. Nay, he was booted. By the same token I saw the boy a cleaning of them for supper.

Prisoner. Those boots, when you broke into his room, did you find them?

Jane. Nay, when the man went his boots went; as reason was. We found naught of his but a soiled glove.

Prisoner. Had the pedler boots on?

Jane. Alas! who ever seed a booted pedler?

Prisoner. Had he these very shoes on? Look at them.

Jane. I couldn't say for that. He had shoon, for they did properly clatter on my bricks.

Judge. Clatter on her bricks! What in the world does she mean?

Prisoner. I think she means on the floor of her kitchen. 'T is a brick floor, if I remember right.

Judge. Good woman, say, is that what you mean?

Jane. Ay, an 't please you, my lord.

Prisoner. Had the pedler a mole on his forehead?

Jane. Not that I know on. I never took so much notice of the man. But, la, dame, now I look at you, I don't believe you was ever the one to murder our master.[Pg 494]

Wiltshire. We don't want your opinion. Confine yourself to facts.

Prisoner. You heard me rating my husband on that night: what was it I said about the constables,—do you remember?

Jane. La, dame, I wouldn't ask that if I was in your place.

Prisoner. I am much obliged to you for your advice; but answer me—truly.

Jane. Well, if you will have it, I think you said they should be here in the morning. But, indeed, good gentlemen, her bark was always worse than her bite, poor soul.

Judge. Here. That meant at Hernshaw Castle, I presume.

Jane. Ay, my lord, an' if it please your lordship's honor's worship.

Mrs. Gaunt, husbanding the patience of the court, put no questions at all to several witnesses; but she cross-examined Mrs. Ryder very closely. This was necessary; for Ryder was a fatal witness. Her memory had stored every rash and hasty word the poor lady had uttered, and, influenced either by animosity or prejudice, she put the worst color on every suspicious circumstance. She gave her damnatory evidence neatly, and clearly, and with a seeming candor and regret, that disarmed suspicion.

When her examination in chief concluded, there was but one opinion amongst the bar, and the auditors in general, namely, that the maid had hung the mistress.

Mrs. Gaunt herself felt she had a terrible antagonist to deal with, and, when she rose to cross-examine her, she looked paler than she had done all through the trial.

She rose, but seemed to ask herself how to begin; and her pallor and her hesitation, while they excited some little sympathy, confirmed the unfavorable impression. She fixed her eyes upon the witness, as if to discover where she was most vulnerable. Mrs. Ryder returned her gaze calmly. The court was hushed; for it was evident a duel was coming between two women of no common ability.

The opening rather disappointed expectation. Mrs. Gaunt seemed, by her manner, desirous to propitiate the witness.

Prisoner (very civilly). You say you brought Thomas Leicester to my bedroom on that terrible night?

Ryder (civilly). Yes, madam.

Prisoner. And you say he stayed there half an hour?

Ryder. Yes, madam; he did.

Prisoner. May I inquire how you know he stayed just half an hour?

Ryder. My watch told me that, madam. I brought him to you at a quarter past eleven; and you did not ring for me till a quarter to twelve.

Prisoner. And when I did ring for you, what then?

Ryder. I came and took the man away, by your orders.

Prisoner. At a quarter to twelve?

Ryder. At a quarter to twelve.

Prisoner. This Leicester was a lover of yours?

Ryder. Not he.

Prisoner. O, fie! Why, he offered you marriage; it went so far as that.

Ryder. O, that was before you set him up pedler.

Prisoner. 'T was so; but he was single for your sake, and he renewed his offer that very night. Come, do not forswear yourself about a trifle.

Ryder. Trifle, indeed! Why, if he did, what has that to do with the murder? You'll do yourself no good, madam, by going about so.

Wiltshire. Really, madam, this is beside the mark.

Prisoner. If so, it can do your case no harm. My lord, you did twice interrupt the learned counsel, and forbade him to lead his witnesses; I not once, for I am for stopping no mouths, but sifting all to the bottom. Now, I implore you to let me have fair play in my turn, and an answer from this slippery witness.

Judge. Prisoner, I do not quite see your drift; but God forbid you should be hampered in your defence.[Pg 495] Witness, by virtue of your oath, reply directly. Did this pedler offer you marriage that night after he left the prisoner?

Ryder. My lord, he did.

Prisoner. And confided to you he had orders to kill Mr. Gaunt?

Ryder. Not he, madam: that was not the way to win me. He knew that.

Prisoner. What! did not his terrible purpose peep out all the time he was making love to you?

No reply.

Prisoner. You had the kitchen to your two selves? Come, don't hesitate.

Ryder. The other servants were gone to bed. You kept the man so late.

Prisoner. O, I mean no reflection on your prudence. You went out of doors with your wooer; just to see him off?

Ryder. Not I. What for? I had nobody to make away with. I just opened the door for him, bolted it after him, and went straight to my bedroom.

Prisoner. How long had you been there when you heard the cry for help?

Ryder. Scarce ten minutes. I had not taken my stays off.

Prisoner. If you and Thomas Hayes speak true, that gives half an hour you were making love with the murderer after he left me. Am I correct?

The witness now saw whither she had been led, and changed her manner: she became sullen, and watched an opportunity to stab.

Prisoner. Had he a mole on his brow?

Ryder. Not that I know of.

Prisoner. Why, where were your eyes then, when the murderer saluted you at parting?

Ryder's eyes flashed; but she felt her temper tried, and governed it all the more severely. She treated the question with silent contempt.

Prisoner. But you pass for a discreet woman; perhaps you looked modestly down when the assassin saluted you?

Ryder. If he saluted me, perhaps I did.

Prisoner. In that case you could not see his mole; but you must have noticed his shoes. Were these the shoes he wore? Look at them well.

Ryder (after inspecting them). I do not recognize them.

Prisoner. Will you swear these were not the shoes he had on?

Ryder. How can I swear that? I know nothing about the man's shoes. If you please, my lord, am I to be kept here all day with her foolish, trifling questions?

Judge. All day, and all night too, if Justice requires it. The law is not swift to shed blood.

Prisoner. My lord and the gentlemen of the jury were here before you, and will be kept here after you. Prithee, attend. Look at that drawing of Hernshaw Castle and Hernshaw Mere. Now take this pencil, and mark your bedroom on the drawing.

The pencil was taken from the prisoner, and handed to Ryder. She waited, like a cat, till it came close to her; then recoiled with an admirable scream. "Me handle a thing hot from the hand of a murderess! It makes me tremble all over!"

This cruel stab affected the prisoner visibly. She put her hand to her bosom, and, with tears in her eyes, faltered out a request to the judge that she might sit down a minute.

Judge. To be sure you may. And you, my good woman, must not run before the court. By law a prisoner is innocent till found guilty by his peers. How do you know what evidence she may have in store? At present we have only heard one side. Be more moderate.

The prisoner rose promptly to her feet. "My lord, I welcome the insult that has disgusted your lordship and the gentlemen of the jury, and won me those good words of comfort." To Ryder: "What sort of a night was it?"

Ryder. Very little moon, but a clear, starry night.[Pg 496]

Prisoner. Could you see the Mere, and the banks?

Ryder. Nay, but so much of it as faced my window.

Prisoner. Have you marked your window?

Ryder. I have.

Prisoner. Now mark the place where you heard Mr. Gaunt cry for help.

Ryder. 'T was about here,—under these trees. And that is why I could not see him: along of the shadow.

Prisoner. Possibly. Did you see me on that side the Mere?

Ryder. No.

Prisoner. What colored dress had I on at that time?

Ryder. White satin.

Prisoner. Then you could have seen me, even among the trees, had I been on that side the Mere?

Ryder. I can't say. However, I never said you were on the very spot where the deed was done; but you were out of doors.

Prisoner. How do you know that?

Ryder. Why, you told me so yourself.

Prisoner. Then, that is my evidence, not yours. Swear to no more than you know. Had my husband, to your knowledge, a reason for absconding suddenly?

Ryder. Yes, he had.

Prisoner. What was it?

Ryder. Fear of you.

Prisoner. Nay, I mean, had he not something to fear, something quite different from that I am charged with?

Ryder. You know best, madam. I would gladly serve you, but I cannot guess what you are driving at.

The prisoner was taken aback by this impudent reply. She hesitated to force her servant to expose a husband, whom she believed to be living: and her hesitation looked like discomfiture; and Ryder was victorious in that encounter.

By this time they were both thoroughly embittered, and it was war to the knife.

Prisoner. You listened to our unhappy quarrel that night?

Ryder. Quarrel! madam, 'twas all on one side.

Prisoner. How did you understand what I said to him about the constables?

Ryder. Constables! I never heard you say the word.

Prisoner. Oh!

Ryder. Neither when you threatened him with your knife to me, nor when you threatened him to his face.

Prisoner. Take care: you forget that Jane Bannister heard me. Was her ear nearer the keyhole than yours?

Ryder. Jane! she is a simpleton. You could make her think she heard anything. I noticed you put the words in her mouth.

Prisoner. God forgive you, you naughty woman. You had better have spoken the truth.

Ryder. My lord, if you please, am I to be miscalled—by a murderess?

Judge. Come, come, this is no place for recrimination.

The prisoner now stooped and examined her papers, and took a distinct line of cross-examination.

Prisoner (with apparent carelessness). At all events, you are a virtuous woman, Mrs. Ryder?

Ryder. Yes, madam, as virtuous as yourself, to say the least.

Prisoner (still more carelessly). Married or single?

Ryder. Single, and like to be.

Prisoner. Yes, if I remember right, I made a point of that before I engaged you as my maid.

Ryder. I believe the question was put.

Prisoner. Here is the answer in your handwriting. Is not that your handwriting?

Ryder (after inspecting it). It is.

Prisoner. You came highly recommended by your last mistress, a certain Mrs. Hamilton. Here is her letter, describing you as a model.

Ryder. Well, madam, hitherto, I have given satisfaction to all my mistresses, Mrs. Hamilton among the rest. My character does not rest on her word only, I hope.[Pg 497]

Prisoner. Excuse me; I engaged you on her word alone. Now, who is this Mrs. Hamilton?

Ryder. A worshipful lady I served for eight months before I came to you. She went abroad, or I should be with her now.

Prisoner. Now cast your eye over this paper.

It was the copy of a marriage certificate between Thomas Edwards and Caroline Plunkett.

"Who is this Caroline Plunkett?"

Ryder turned very pale, and made no reply.

"I ask you who is this Caroline Plunkett?"

Ryder (faintly). Myself.

Judge. Why, you said you were single!

Ryder. So I am; as good as single. My husband and me we parted eight years ago, and I have never seen him since.

Prisoner. Was it quite eight years ago?

Ryder. Nearly, 'twas in May, 1739.

Prisoner. But you have lived with him since.

Ryder. Never, upon my soul.

Prisoner. When was your child born?

Ryder. My child! I have none.

Prisoner. In January, 1743, you left a baby at Biggleswade, with a woman called Church,—did you not?

Ryder (panting). Of course I did. It was my sister's.

Prisoner. Do you mean to call God to witness that child was not your's?

Ryder hesitated.

Prisoner. Will you swear Mrs. Church did not see you suckle that child in secret, and weep over it?

At this question the perspiration stood visible on Ryder's brow, her cheeks were ghastly, and her black eyes roved like some wild animal's round the court. She saw her own danger, and had no means of measuring her inquisitor's information.

"My lord, have pity on me. I was betrayed, abandoned. Why am I so tormented? I have not committed murder." So, catlike, she squealed and scratched at once.

Prisoner. What! to swear away an innocent life, is not that murder?

Judge. Prisoner, we make allowances for your sex, and your peril, but you must not remark on the evidence at present. Examine as severely as you will, but abstain from comment till you address the jury on your defence.

Sergeant Wiltshire. My lord, I submit that this line of examination is barbarous, and travels out of the case entirely.

Prisoner. Not so, Mr. Sergeant. 'T is done by advice of an able lawyer. My life is in peril, unless I shake this witness's credit. To that end I show you she is incontinent, and practised in falsehood. Unchastity has been held in these courts to disqualify a female witness, hath it not, my lord?

Judge. Hardly. But to disparage her evidence it has. And wisely; for she who loses her virtue enters on a life of deceit; and lying is a habit that spreads from one thing to many. Much wisdom there is in ancient words. Our forefathers taught us to call a virtuous woman an honest woman, and the law does but follow in that track; still, however, leaving much to the discretion of the jury.

Prisoner. I would show her more mercy than she has shown to me. Therefore I leave that matter. Witness, be so good as to examine Mrs. Hamilton's letter, and compare it with your own. The "y's" and the "s's" are peculiar in both, and yet the same. Come, confess, Mrs. Hamilton's is a forgery. You wrote it. Be pleased to hand both letters up to my lord to compare; the disguise is but thin.

Ryder. Forgery there was none. There is no Mrs. Hamilton. (She burst into tears.) I had my child to provide for, and no man to help me! What was I to do? A servant must live.

Prisoner. Then why not let her mistress live, whose bread she has eaten? My lord, shall not this false witness be sent hence to prison for perjury?[Pg 498]

Wiltshire. Certainly not. What woman on earth is expected to reveal her own shame upon oath? 'T was not fair nor human to put such questions. Come, madam, leave torturing this poor creature. Show some mercy; you may need it yourself.

Prisoner. Sir, 'tis not mercy I ask, but justice according to law. But since you do me the honor to make me a request, I will comply, and ask her but one question more. Describe my apartment into which you showed Thomas Leicester that night. Begin at the outer door.

Ryder. First there is the anteroom; then the boudoir; then there's your bedchamber.

Prisoner. Into which of those three did you show Thomas Leicester?

Ryder. Into the anteroom.

Prisoner. Then why did you say it was in my chamber I entertained him?

Ryder. Madam, I meant no more than that it was your private apartment up stairs.

Prisoner. You contrived to make the gentlemen think otherwise.

Judge. That you did. 'T is down in my notes that she received the pedler in her bedchamber.

Ryder (sobbing). God is my witness I did not mean to mislead your lordship: and I ask my lady's pardon for not being more exact in that particular.

At this the prisoner bowed to the judge, and sat down with one victorious flash of her gray eye at the witness, who was in an abject condition of fear, and hung all about the witness-box limp as a wet towel.

Sergeant Wiltshire saw she was so thoroughly cowed she would be apt to truckle, and soften her evidence to propitiate the prisoner; so he asked her but one question.

"Were you and the prisoner on good terms?"

Ryder. On the best of terms. She was always a good and liberal mistress to me.

Wiltshire. I will not prolong your sufferings. You may go down.

Judge. But you will not leave the court till this trial is ended. I have grave doubts whether I ought not to commit you.

Unfortunately for the prisoner, Ryder was not the last witness for the crown. The others that followed were so manifestly honest that it would have been impolitic to handle them severely. The prisoner, therefore, put very few questions to them; and, when the last witness went down, the case looked very formidable.

The evidence for the crown being now complete, the judge retired for some refreshment; and the court buzzed like a hum of bees. Mrs. Gaunt's lips and throat were parched and her heart quaked.

A woman of quite the lower order thrust forth a great arm and gave her an orange. Mrs. Gaunt thanked her sweetly; and the juice relieved her throat.

Also this bit of sympathy was of good omen, and did her heart good.

She buried her face in her hands, and collected all her powers for the undertaking before her. She had noted down the exact order of her topics, but no more.

The judge returned; the crier demanded silence; and the prisoner rose, and turned her eyes modestly but steadily upon those who held her life in their hands: and, true to the wisdom of her sex, the first thing she aimed at was—to please.

"My lord, and you gentlemen of the jury, I am now to reply to a charge of murder, founded on a little testimony, and a good deal of false, but, I must needs say, reasonable conjecture.

"I am innocent; but, unlike other innocent persons who have stood here before me, I have no man to complain of.

"The magistrates who committed me proceeded with due caution and humanity; they weighed my hitherto unspotted reputation, and were in no hurry to prejudge me; here, in this court, I have met with much forbearance; the learned counsel for the crown has made me[Pg 499] groan under his abilities; that was his duty; but he said from the first he would do nothing hard, and he has kept his word; often he might have stopped me; I saw it in his face. But, being a gentleman and a Christian, as well as a learned lawyer, methinks he said to himself, 'This is a poor gentlewoman pleading for her life; let her have some little advantage.' As for my lord, he has promised to be my counsel, so far as his high station, and duty to the crown, admit; and he has supported and consoled me more than once with words of justice, that would not, I think, have encouraged a guilty person, but have comforted and sustained me beyond expression. So then I stand here, the victim, not of man's injustice, but of deceitful appearances, and of honest, but hasty and loose conjectures.

"These conjectures I shall now sift, and hope to show you how hollow they are.

"Gentlemen, in every disputed matter the best way, I am told, is to begin by settling what both parties are agreed in, and so to narrow the matter. To use that method, then, I do heartily agree with the learned counsel that murder is a heinous crime, and that, black as it is at the best, yet it is still more detestable when 'tis a wife that murders her husband, and robs her child of a parent who can never be replaced.

"I also agree with him that circumstantial evidence is often sufficient to convict a murderer; and, indeed, were it not so, that most monstrous of crimes would go oftenest unpunished; since, of all culprits, murderers do most shun the eyes of men in their dark deeds, and so provide beforehand that direct testimony to their execrable crime there shall be none. Only herein I am advised to take a distinction that escaped the learned sergeant. I say that first of all it ought to be proved directly, and to the naked eye, that a man has been murdered; and then, if none saw the crime done, let circumstances point out the murderer.

"But here, they put the cart before the horse; they find a dead body, with no marks of violence whatever; and labor to prove by circumstantial evidence alone that this mere dead body is a murdered body. This, I am advised, is bad in law, and contrary to general precedents; and the particular precedents for it are not examples, but warnings; since both the prisoners so rashly convicted were proved innocent, after their execution."

(The judge took a note of this distinction.)

"Then, to go from principles to the facts, I agree and admit that, in a moment of anger, I was so transported out of myself as to threaten my husband's life before Caroline Ryder. But afterwards, when I saw him face to face, then, that I threatened him with violence, that I deny. The fact is, I had just learned that he had committed a capital offence; and what I threatened him with was the law. This was proved by Jane Bannister. She says she heard me say the constables should come for him next morning. For what? to murder him?"

Judge. Give me leave, madam. Shall you prove Mr. Gaunt had committed a capital offence?

Prisoner. I could, my lord; but I am loath to do it. For, if I did, I should cast him into worse trouble than I am in myself.

Judge (shaking his head gravely). Let me advise you to advance nothing you are not able and willing to prove.

Prisoner. "Then I confine myself to this: it was proved by a witness for the crown that in the dining-room I threatened my husband to his face with the law. Now this threat, and not that other extravagant threat, which he never heard, you know, was clearly the threat which caused him to abscond that night.

"In the next place, I agree with the learned counsel that I was out of doors at one o'clock that morning. But if he will use me as HIS WITNESS in that matter, then he must not pick and choose and mutilate my testimony. Nay, let[Pg 500] him take the whole truth, and not just so much as he can square with the indictment. Either believe me, that I was out of doors praying, or do not believe me that I was out of doors at all.

"Gentlemen, hear the simple truth. You may see in the map, on the south side of Hernshaw Castle, a grove of large fir-trees. 'T is a reverend place, most fit for prayer and meditation. Here I have prayed a thousand times and more before the 15th of October. Hence 'tis called 'The Dame's Haunt,' as I shall prove, that am the dame 'tis called after.

"Let it not seem incredible to you that I should pray out of doors in my grove, on a fine, clear, starry night. For aught I know, Protestants may pray only by the fireside. But, remember, I am a Catholic. We are not so contracted in our praying. We do not confine it to little comfortable places. Nay, but for seventeen hundred years and more we have prayed out of doors as much as in doors. And this our custom is no fit subject for a shallow sneer. How does the learned sergeant know that, beneath the vault of heaven at night, studded with those angelic eyes, the stars, is an unfit place to bend the knee, and raise the soul in prayer? Has he ever tried it?"

This sudden appeal to a learned and eminent, but by no means devotional sergeant, so tickled the gentlemen of the bar, that they burst out laughing with singular unanimity.

This dashed the prisoner, who had not intended to be funny; and she hesitated, and looked distressed.

Judge. Proceed, madam; these remarks of yours are singular, but quite pertinent, and no fit subject for ridicule. Gentlemen, remember the public looks to you for an example.

Prisoner. "My lord, 'twas my fault for making that personal which should be general. But women they are so. 'T is our foible. I pray the good sergeant to excuse me.

"I say, then, generally, that when the sun retires, then earth fades, but heaven comes out in tenfold glory; and I say the starry firmament at night is a temple not built with hands, and the bare sight of it subdues the passions, chastens the heart, and aids the soul in prayer surprisingly. My lord, as I am a Christian woman, 'tis true that my husband had wronged me cruelly and broken the law. 'T is true that I raged against him, and he answered me not again. 'T is true, as that witness said, that my bark is worse than my bite. I cooled, and then felt I had forgotten the wife and the Christian in my wrath. I repented, and, to be more earnest in my penitence, I did go and pray out o' doors beneath those holy eyes of heaven that seemed to look down with chaste reproach on my ungoverned heat. I left my fireside, my velvet cushions, and all the little comforts made by human hands, that adorn our earthly dwellings, but distract our eyes from God."

Some applause followed this piece of eloquence, exquisitely uttered. It was checked, and the prisoner resumed, with an entire change of manner.

"Gentlemen, the case against me is like a piece of rotten wood varnished all over. It looks fair to the eye; but will not bear handling.

"As example of what I say, take three charges on which the learned sergeant greatly relied in opening his case:—

"1st. That I received Thomas Leicester in my bedroom.

"2d. That he went hot from me after Mr. Gaunt.

"3d. That he was seen following Mr. Gaunt with a bloody intent.

"How ugly these three proofs looked at first sight! Well, but when we squeezed the witnesses ever so little, what did those three dwindle down to?

"1st. That I received Thomas Leicester in an anteroom, which leads to a boudoir, and that boudoir leads to my bedroom.

"2d. That Thomas Leicester went from me to the kitchen, and there, for a good half-hour, drank my ale (as it appears), and made love to his old sweetheart, Caroline Ryder, the false[Pg 501] witness for the crown; and went abroad fresh from her, and not from me.

"3d. That he was not (to speak strictly) seen following Mr. Gaunt, but just walking on the same road, drunk, and staggering, and going at such a rate that, as the crown's own witness swore, he could not in the nature of things overtake Mr. Gaunt, who walked quicker, and straighter too, than he.

"So then, even if a murder has been done, they have failed to connect Thomas Leicester with it, or me with Thomas Leicester. Two broken links in a chain of but three.

"And now I come to the more agreeable part of my defence. I do think there has been no murder at all.

"There is no evidence of a murder.

"A body is found with the flesh eaten by fishes, but the bones and the head uninjured. They swear a surgeon, who has examined the body, and certainly he had the presumption to guess it looks like a murdered body. But, being sifted, he was forced to admit that, so far as his experience of murdered bodies goes, it is not like a murdered body; for there is no bone broken, nor bruise on the head.

"Where is the body found? In the water. But water by itself is a sufficient cause of death, and a common cause too; and kills without breaking bones, or bruising the head. O perversity of the wise! For every one creature murdered in England, ten are accidentally drowned; and they find a dead man in the water, which is as much as to say they find the slain in the arms of the slayer; yet they do not once suspect the water, but go about in search of a strange and monstrous crime.

"Mr. Gaunt's cry for help was heard here, if it was heard at all (which I greatly doubt), here by this clump of trees; the body was found here, hard by the bridge; which is, by measurement, one furlong and sixty paces from that clump of trees, as I shall prove. There is no current in the mere lively enough to move a body, and what there is runs the wrong way. So this disconnects the cry for help, and the dead body. Another broken link!

"And now I come to my third defence.

"I say the body is not the body of Griffith Gaunt.

"The body, mutilated as it was, had two distinguishing marks; a mole on the brow, and a pair of hobnailed shoes on the feet.

"Now the advisers of the crown fix their eyes on that mole; but they turn their heads away from the hobnailed shoes. But why? Articles of raiment found on a body are legal evidence of identity. How often, my lord, in cases of murder, hath the crown relied on such particulars, especially in cases where corruption had obscured the features!

"I shall not imitate this partiality, this obstinate prejudice; I shall not ask you to shut your eyes on the mole, as they do on the shoes, but shall meet the whole truth fairly.

"Mr. Gaunt went from my house that morning with boots on his feet, and with a mole on his brow.

"Thomas Leicester went the same road, with shoes on his feet, and, as I shall prove, with a mole on his brow.

"To be sure, the crown witnesses did not distinctly admit this mole on him; but you will remember, they dared not deny it on their oaths, and so run their heads into an indictment for perjury.

"But, gentlemen, I shall put seven witnesses into the box, who will all swear that they have known Thomas Leicester for years, and that he had a mole upon his left temple.

"One of these witnesses is—the mother that bore him.

"I shall then call witnesses to prove that, on the 15th of October, the bridge over the mere was in bad repair, and a portion of the side rail gone; and that the body was found within a few yards of that defective bridge; and then, as Thomas Leicester went that way, drunk, and staggering from side[Pg 502] to side, you may reasonably infer that he fell into the water in passing the bridge. To show you this is possible, I shall prove the same thing has actually occurred. I shall swear the oldest man in the parish, who will depose to a similar event that happened in his boyhood. He hath said it a thousand times before to-day, and now will swear it. He will tell you that on a certain day, sixty-nine years ago, the parson of Hernshaw, the Rev. Augustus Murthwaite, went to cross this bridge at night, after carousing at Hernshaw Castle with our great-grandfather, my husband's and mine, the then proprietor of Hernshaw, and tumbled into the water; and his body was found gnawed out of the very form of humanity by the fishes, within a yard or two of the spot where poor Tom Leicester was found, that hath cost us all this trouble. So do the same causes bring round the same events in a cycle of years. The only difference is that the parson drank his death in our dining-room, and the pedler in our kitchen.

"No doubt, my lord, you have observed that sometimes a hasty and involuntary inaccuracy gives quite a wrong color to a thing. I assure you I have suffered by this. It is said that the moment Mr. Atkins proposed to drag my mere, I fainted away. In this account there is an omission. I shall prove that Mr. Atkins used these words: 'And underneath that water I undertake to find the remains of Griffith Gaunt.' Now, gentlemen, you shall understand that at this time, and indeed until the moment when I saw the shoes upon that poor corpse's feet, I was in great terror for my husband's life. How could it be otherwise? Caroline Ryder had told me she heard his cry for help. He had disappeared. What was I to think? I feared he had fallen in with robbers. I feared all manner of things. So when the lawyer said so positively he would find his body, I was overpowered. Ah, gentlemen, wedded love survives many wrongs, many angry words; I love my husband still; and when the man told me so brutally that he was certainly dead, I fainted away. I confess it. Shall I be hanged for that?

"But now, thank God, I am full of hope that he is alive, and that good hope has given me the courage to make this great effort to save my own life.

"Hitherto I have been able to contradict my accusers positively; but now I come to a mysterious circumstance that I own puzzles me. Most persons accused of murder could, if they chose, make a clean breast, and tell you the whole matter. But this is not my case. I know shoes from boots, and I know Kate Gaunt from a liar and a murderess. But, when all is said, this is still a dark, mysterious business, and there are things in it I can only deal with as you do, gentlemen, by bringing my wits to bear upon them in reasonable conjecture.

"Caroline Ryder swears she heard Mr. Gaunt cry for help. And Mr. Gaunt has certainly disappeared.

"My accusers have somewhat weakened this by trying to palm off the body of Thomas Leicester on you for the body of Mr. Gaunt. But the original mystery remains, and puzzles me. I might fairly appeal to you to disbelieve the witness. She is proved incontinent, and a practised liar, and she forswore herself in this court, and my lord is in two minds about committing her. But a liar does not always lie, and, to be honest, I think she really believes she heard Mr. Gaunt cry for help, for she went straight to his bedroom; and that looks as if she really thought she heard his voice. But a liar may be mistaken. Do not forget that. Distance affects the voice; and I think the voice she heard was Thomas Leicester's, and the place it came from higher up the mere.

"This, my notion, will surprise you less when I prove to you that Leicester's voice bore a family likeness to Mr. Gaunt's. I shall call two witnesses who have been out shooting with Mr. Gaunt and Tom Leicester, and have heard Leicester halloo in the wood, and taken it for Mr. Gaunt.[Pg 503]

"Must I tell you the whole truth? This Leicester has always passed for an illegitimate son of Mr. Gaunt's father. He resembled my husband in form, stature, and voice: he had the Gaunt mole, and has often spoken of it by that name. My husband forgave him many faults for no other reason—and I bought wares and filled his pack for no other reason—than this; that he was my husband's brother by nature, though not in law. 'Honi soit qui mal y pense.'

"Ah, that is a royal device; yet how often in this business have the advisers of the crown forgotten it?

"My lord, and gentlemen of the jury, I return from these conjectures to the indisputable facts of my defence.

"Mr. Gaunt may be alive, or he may be dead. He was certainly alive on the 15th of October, and it lies on the crown to prove him dead, and not on me to prove him alive. But as for the body that forms the subject of this indictment, it is the body of Thomas Leicester, who was seen on the 16th of October, at one in the morning, drunk and staggering, and making for Hernshaw Bridge, which leads to his mother's house; and on all his former visits to Hernshaw Castle he went on to his mother's, as I shall prove. This time, he never reached her, as I shall prove; but on his way to her did meet his death, by the will of God, and no fault of man or woman, in Hernshaw Mere.

"Call Sarah Leicester."

Judge. I think you say you have several witnesses.

Prisoner. More than twenty, my lord.

Judge. We cannot possibly dispose of them this evening. We will, hear your evidence to-morrow. Prisoner, this will enable you to consult with your legal advisers, and let me urge upon you to prove, if you can, that Mr. Gaunt has a sufficient motive for hiding and not answering Mr. Atkins's invitation to inherit a large estate. Some such proof as this is necessary to complete your defence; and I am sorry to see you have made no mention of it in your address, which was otherwise able.

Prisoner. My lord, I think I can prove my own innocence without casting a slur upon my husband.

Judge. You think? when your life is at stake. Be not so mad as to leave so large a hole in your defence, if you can mend it. Take advice.

He said this very solemnly; then rose and left the court.

Mrs. Gaunt was conveyed back to prison, and there was soon prostrated by the depression that follows an unnatural excitement.

Mr. Houseman found her on a sofa, pale and dejected, and clasping the jailer's wife convulsively, who applied hartshorn to her nostrils.

He proved but a Job's comforter. Her defence, creditable as it was to a novice, seemed wordy and weak to him, a lawyer; and he was horrified at the admissions she had made. In her place he would have admitted nothing he could not thoroughly explain.

He came to insist on a change of tactics.

When he saw her sad condition, he tried to begin by consoling and encouraging her. But his own serious misgivings unfitted him for this task, and very soon, notwithstanding the state she was in, he was almost scolding her for being so mad as to withstand the judge, and set herself against his advice. "There," said he, "my lord kept his word, and became counsel for you. 'Close that gap in your defence,' says he, 'and you will very likely be acquitted.' 'Nay,' says you, 'I prefer to chance it.' What madness! what injustice!"

"Injustice! to whom?"

"To whom? why, to yourself."

"What, may I not be unjust to myself?"

"Certainly not; you have no right to be unjust to anybody. Don't deceive yourself; there is no virtue in this; it is mere miserable weakness. What right have you to peril an innocent life merely to screen a malefactor from just obloquy?"[Pg 504]

"Alas!" said Mrs. Gaunt, "'tis more than obloquy. They will kill him; they will brand him with a hot iron."

"Not unless he is indicted; and who will indict him? Sir George Neville must be got to muzzle the attorney-general, and the Lancashire jade will not move against him, for you say they are living together."

"Of course they are; and, as you say, why should I screen him? But 't will not serve; who can combat prejudice? If what I have said does not convince them, an angel's voice would not. Sir, I am a Catholic, and they will hang me. I shall die miserably, having exposed my husband, who loved me once, O so dearly! I trifled with his love. I deserve it all."

"You will not die at all, if you will only be good and obedient, and listen to wiser heads. I have subpœnaed Caroline Ryder as your witness, and given her a hint how to escape an indictment for perjury. You will find her supple as a glove."

"Call a rattlesnake for my witness?"

"I have drawn her fangs. You will also call Sir George Neville, to prove he saw Gaunt's picture at the 'Packhorse,' and heard the other wife's tale. Wiltshire will object to this as evidence, and say why don't you produce Mercy Vint herself. Then you will call me to prove I sent the subpœna to Mercy Vint. Come now; I cannot eat or sleep till you promise me."

Mrs. Gaunt sighed deeply. "Spare me," said she, "I am worn out. O that I could die before the trial begins again!"

Houseman saw the signs of yielding, and persisted. "Come, promise now," said he. "Then you will feel better."

"I will do whatever you bid me," said she. "Only, if they let me off, I will go into a convent. No power shall hinder me."

"You shall go where you like, except to the gallows. Enough, 'tis a promise, and I never knew you break one. Now I can eat my supper. You are a good, obedient child, and I am a happy attorney."

"And I am the most miserable woman in all England."

"Child," said the worthy lawyer, "your spirits have given way, because they were strung so high. You need repose. Go to bed now, and sleep twelve hours. Believe me, you will wake another woman."

"Ah! would I could!" cried Mrs. Gaunt, with all the eloquence of despair.

Houseman murmured a few more consoling words, and then left her, after once more exacting a promise that she would receive no more visits, but go to bed directly. She was to send all intruders to him at the "Angel."

Mrs. Gaunt proceeded to obey his orders, and though it was but eight o'clock, she made preparations for bed, and then went to her nightly devotions.

She was in sore trouble, and earthly trouble turns the heart heavenwards. Yet it was not so with her. The deep languor that oppressed her seemed to have reached her inmost soul. Her beads, falling one by one from her hand, denoted the number of her supplications; but, for once, they were preces sine mente dictæ. Her faith was cold, her belief in Divine justice was shaken for a time. She began to doubt and to despond. That bitter hour, which David has sung so well, and Bunyan, from experience, has described in his biography as well as in his novel, sat heavy upon her, as it had on many a true believer before her. So deep was the gloom, so paralyzing the languor, that at last she gave up all endeavor to utter words of prayer. She placed her crucifix at the foot of the wall, and laid herself down on the ground and kissed His feet, then, drawing back, gazed upon that effigy of the mortal sufferings of our Redeemer.

"O anima Christiana, respice vulnera morientis,
pretium redemptionis."

She had lain thus a good half-hour, when a gentle tap came to the door.[Pg 505]

"Who is that?" said she.

"Mrs. Menteith," the jailer's wife replied, softly, and asked leave to come in.

Now this Mrs. Menteith had been very kind to her, and stoutly maintained her innocence. Mrs. Gaunt rose, and invited her in.

"Madam," said Mrs. Menteith, "what I come for, there is a person below who much desires to see you."

"I beg to be excused," was the reply. "He must go to my solicitor at the 'Angel,' Mr. Houseman."

Mrs. Menteith retired with that message, but in about five minutes returned to say that the young woman declined to go to Mr. Houseman, and begged hard to see Mrs. Gaunt. "And, dame," said she, "if I were you, I'd let her come in; 'tis the honestest face, and the tears in her soft eyes, at you denying her: 'O dear, dear!' said she, 'I cannot tell my errand to any but her.'"

"Well, well," said Mrs. Gaunt; "but what is her business?"

"If you ask me, I think her business is your business. Come, dame, do see the poor thing; she is civil spoken, and she tells me she has come all the way out of Lancashire o' purpose."

Mrs. Gaunt recoiled, as if she had been stung.

"From Lancashire?" said she, faintly.

"Ay, madam," said Mrs. Menteith, "and that is a long road; and a child upon her arm all the way, poor thing!"

"Her name?" said Mrs. Gaunt, sternly.

"O, she is not ashamed of it. She gave it me directly."

"What, has she the effrontery to take my name?"

Mrs. Menteith stared at her with utter amazement. "Your name?" said she. "'T is a simple, country body, and her name is Vint,—Mercy Vint."

Mrs. Gaunt was very much agitated, and said she felt quite unequal to see a stranger.

"Well, I'm sure I don't know what to do," said Mrs. Menteith. "She says she will lie at your door all night, but she will see you. 'T is the face of a friend. She may know something. It seems hard to thrust her and her child out into the street, after their coming all the way from Lancashire."

Mrs. Gaunt stood silent awhile, and her intelligence had a severe combat with her deep repugnance to be in the same room with Griffith Gaunt's mistress (so she considered her). But a certain curiosity came to the aid of her good sense; and, after all, she was a brave and haughty woman, and her natural courage began to rise. She thought to herself, "What, dares she come to me all this way, and shall I shrink from her?"

She turned to Mrs. Menteith with a bitter smile, and she said, very slowly, and clenching her white teeth: "Since you desire it, and she insists on it, I will receive Mistress Mercy Vint."

Mrs. Menteith went off, and in about five minutes returned, ushering in Mercy Vint, in a hood and travelling-cloak.

Mrs. Gaunt received her standing, and with a very formal courtesy; to which Mercy made a quiet obeisance, and both women looked one another all over in a moment.

Mrs. Menteith lingered, to know what on earth this was all about; but as neither spoke a word, and their eyes were fixed on each other, she divined that her absence was necessary, and so retired, looking very much amazed at both of them.

[Pg 506]


There are three passions to which public men are especially exposed,—fear, hatred, and ambition. Mr. Johnson is the victim and slave of all; and, unhappily for himself, and unfortunately for the country, there is no ground for hope that he will ever free himself from their malign influence.

It is a common report, and a common report founded upon the statements of those best acquainted with the President, that he lives in continual fear of personal harm, and that he anticipates hostile Congressional action in an attempt to impeach him and deprive him of his office. He best of all men knows whether he is justly liable to impeachment; and he ought to know that Congress cannot proceed to impeach him, unless the offences or misdemeanors charged and proved are of such gravity as to justify the proceeding in the eyes of the country and the world.

There is nothing vindictive or harsh in the American character. The forbearance of the American people is a subject of wonder, if it is not a theme for encomium. They have assented to the pardon of many of the most prominent Rebels; they have seen the authors of the war restored to citizenship, to the possession of their property, and even to the enjoyment of patronage and power in the government; and finally, they have been compelled, through the policy of the President, to submit to the dictation, and in some sense to the control, of the men whom they so recently met and vanquished upon the field of battle. The testimony of Alexander H. Stephens everywhere suggests, and in many particulars exactly expresses, the policy of the President.

Mr. Stephens asserts that the States recently in rebellion were always entitled to representation in the Congress of the United States; and Mr. Johnson must accept the same position; for, if the right were once lost, it is impossible to suggest how or when it was regained. It is also known that, while the Johnston-Sherman negotiations were pending, Mr. Davis received written opinions from two or more persons who were then with him, and acting as members of his Cabinet, upon the very question in dispute between Congress and Mr. Johnson,—the rights of the then rebellious States in the government of the United States. These opinions set up and maintained the doctrine that the Rebel States would be at once entitled to representation in the government of the country, upon the ratification or adoption of the pending negotiations. It may not be just to say that the President borrowed his policy from Richmond; but it is both just and true to say that the leaders of the Rebellion have been incapable of suggesting a public policy more advantageous to themselves than that which he has adopted. The President knows that the people have been quiet and impartial observers of these proceedings; that the House of Representatives has never in public session, nor in any of its caucuses or committees, considered or proposed any measure looking to his impeachment.

The grounds of his fear are known only to himself; but its existence exerts a controlling influence over his private and public conduct.

Associated with this fear, and probably springing from it, is an intense hatred of nearly all the recognized leaders of the party by which he was nominated and elected to office. Evidence upon this point is not needed. He has exhibited it in a manner and to a degree more uncomfortable to his friends than to his enemies, in nearly every speech that he has made, commencing with that delivered on the 22d of February last.[Pg 507]

Superadded to these passions, which promise so much of woe to Mr. Johnson and to the country, is an inordinate, unscrupulous, and unreasoning ambition. To one theme the President is always constant,—to one idea he is always true,—"He has filled every office, from that of alderman of a village to the Presidency of the United States." He does not forget, nor does he permit the world to forget, this fact. In some form of language, and in nearly every speech, he assures his countrymen that he either is, or ought to be, satisfied with this measure of success. But have not his own reflections, or some over-kind friend, suggested that he has never been elected President of the United States? and that there yet remains the attainment of this one object of ambition?

Inauguration day, 1865, will be regarded as one of the saddest days in American annals. We pass over its incidents; but it was fraught with an evil suggestion to our enemies, and it must have been followed by a firm conviction in the mind of Mr. Johnson that he could not thereafter enjoy the confidence of the mass of the Republican party of the country. He foresaw that they would abandon him, and he therefore made hot haste to abandon them. And, indeed, it must be confessed that there was scarcely more inconsistency in that course on his part, than there would have been in continuing his connection with the men who had elected him. His nomination for the Vice-Presidency was an enthusiastic tribute to his Union sentiments; beyond a knowledge of these, the Convention neither had nor desired to have any information. Mr. Johnson was and is a Union man; but he was not an anti-slavery man upon principle. He was a Southern State-Rights man. He looked upon the national government as a necessity, and the exercise of any powers on its part as a danger. His political training was peculiar. He had carried on a long war with slaveholders, but he had never made war upon slavery. He belonged to the poor white class. In his own language he was a plebeian. The slaveholders were the patricians. He desired that all the white men of Tennessee, especially, and of the whole South, should be of one class,—all slaveholders,—all patricians, if that were possible; and he himself, for a time became one. Failing in this, he was satisfied when all became non-slaveholders, and the patrician class ceased to exist. Hence, as far as Mr. Johnson's opinions and purposes are concerned, the war has accomplished everything for which it was undertaken. The Union has been preserved, and the patrician class has been broken down.

Naturally, Mr. Johnson is satisfied. On the one hand he has no sympathy with the opinion that the negro is a man and ought to be a citizen, and that he should be endowed with the rights of a man and a citizen; and, on the other hand, he shares not in the desire of the North to limit the representation of the South so that there shall be equality among the white men of the country. He is anxious rather to increase the political strength of the South. He fears the growing power of the North. The same apprehension which drove Calhoun into nullification, and Davis, Stephens, and others into rebellion and civil war, now impels Mr. Johnson to urge the country to adopt his policy, which secures to the old slaveholding States an eighth of the political power of the nation, to which they have no just title whatever. To the North this is a more flagrant political injustice than was even the institution of slavery. He once expressed equal hostility towards Massachusetts and South Carolina, and desired that they should be cut off from the main land and lashed together in the wide ocean. The President appears to be reconciled to South Carolina; but if the hostility he once entertained to the two States had been laid upon Massachusetts alone, he ought to have felt his vengeance satisfied when her representatives entered the Philadelphia Convention arm in arm[Pg 508] with the representatives of South Carolina, assuming only, what is not true, that the sentiment of Massachusetts was represented in that Convention. As a perfect illustration of the President's policy, two men from Massachusetts should have been assigned to each member from South Carolina, as foreshowing the future relative power of the white men of the two States in the government of the country. The States of the North and West will receive South Carolina and the other Rebel States as equals in political power and rights, whenever those States are controlled by loyal men; but they are enemies to justice, to equality, and to the peace of the country who demand the recognition of the Rebel States upon the unequal basis of the existing Constitution.

Of these enemies to justice, equality, and the peace of the country, the President is the leader and the chief; and as such leader and chief he is no longer entitled to support, confidence, or even personal respect He has seized upon all the immense patronage of this government, and avowed his purpose to use it for the restoration of the Rebel States to authority, regardless of the rights of the people of the loyal States. He has thus become the ally of the Rebels, and the open enemy of the loyal white men of the country. The President, and those associated with him in this unholy project, cannot but know that the recognition of the ten disloyal States renders futile every attempt to equalize representation in Congress. The assent of three fourths of the States is necessary to the ratification of an amendment to the Constitution. The fifteen old Slave States are largely interested in the present system, and they will not consent voluntarily to a change. The question between the President and Congress is then this: Shall the ten States be at once recognized,—thus securing to the old Slave States thirty Representatives and thirty electoral votes to which they have no title, or shall they be required to accept, as a condition precedent, an amendment to the Constitution which provides an equal system of representation for the whole country? It is not enough, in the estimation of the President, that the loyal people should receive these enemies of the Union and murderers of their sons and brothers as equals, but he demands a recognition of their superiority and permanent rule in the government by a voluntary tender of an eighth of the entire representative force of the republic. When before were such terms ever exacted of the conqueror in behalf of the conquered? If the victorious North had demanded of the vanquished South a surrender of a part of its representative power in the government, as a penalty for its treason, that demand would have been sustained upon the principles of justice, although the proceeding would have been unwise as a measure of public policy. As it is, the victorious North only demands equality for itself, while it offers equality to the vanquished South. Was there ever a policy more just, wise, reasonable, and magnanimous?

Yet the President rejects this policy, deserts the loyal men of the North by whom he was elected, conspires with the traitors in the loyal States and the Rebels of the disloyal States for the humiliation, the degradation, the political enslavement of the loyal people of the country. And this is the second great conspiracy against liberty, against equality, against the peace of the country, against the permanence of the American Union; and of this conspiracy the President is the leader and the chief. Nor can he defend himself by saying that he desires to preserve the Constitution as it was, for he himself has been instrumental in securing an important alteration. "The Constitution as it was" has passed away, and by the aid of Mr. Johnson.

Nor can he say that he is opposed to exacting conditions precedent; for he made the ratification of the anti-slavery amendment a condition precedent to his own recognition of their existence as States clothed with authority. Thus is he wholly without proper excuse for[Pg 509] his conduct. Nor can he assert that the Rebel States are, and ever have been, States of the Union, and always and ever entitled to representation and without conditions; for then is he guilty of impeachable offences in demanding of them the ratification of the constitutional amendment, in dictating a policy to the Southern States, in organizing provisional governments, in inaugurating constitutional conventions, in depriving officers elected or appointed by authority of those States of their offices, and, in fine, in assuming to himself supreme authority over that whole region of country for a long period of time. Thus his only defence of his present policy contains an admission that he has usurped power, that he has violated the Constitution, that he is guilty of offences for which he ought to be impeached. Thus do the suggestions which the President tenders as his defence furnish conclusive evidence that his conduct is wholly indefensible.

While then the President cannot defend his conduct, it is possible for others to explain it.

Its explanation maybe found in some one or in several of the following propositions:—

1. That the Rebel leaders have acquired a control over the President, through the power of some circumstance not known to the public, which enables them to dictate a policy to him.

2. That he fears impeachment, and consequently directs all his efforts to secure more than a third of the Senate, so as to render a conviction impossible.

3. That he seeks a re-election, and purposes to make the South a unit in his favor, as the nucleus around which the Democratic party of the North must gather in 1868.

4. That he desires to reinstate the South as the controlling force in the government of the country.

In reference to the first proposition, we are restricted to the single remark, that it is not easy to imagine the Rebels capable of making any demand upon the Executive which, in his present state of mind, he would not be prepared to grant. He has pardoned many of the leaders and principal men of the Rebellion, and some of them he has appointed to office. He has resisted every attempt on the part of Congress to furnish protection to the loyal men of the South, and he has witnessed and discussed the bloody horrors of Memphis and New Orleans with cold-blooded indifference. Early in his term of office he offered an immense reward for the person of Jefferson Davis; and now that the accused has been in the official custody of the President, as the head of the army, for more than fifteen months, he has neither proclaimed his innocence and set him at liberty, nor subjected him to trial according to the laws of the land. Davis is guilty of the crime of treason. Of this there can be no doubt. He is indicted in one judicial district. The President holds the prisoner by military authority; and the accused cannot be arraigned before the civil tribunals. Davis was charged by the President with complicity in the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. There is much evidence tending to sustain the charge; but the accused is neither subjected to trial by a military commission, nor turned over to the civil tribunals of the country. These acts are offences against justice; they are offences against the natural and legal rights of the accused, however guilty he may be; they are offences against the honor of the American people; they are acts in violation of the Constitution. If the elections of 1866 are favorable to the President, they will be followed by the release of Davis, and the country will see the end of this part of the plot.

Upon any view of the President's case, it is evident that he has thrown himself into the arms of the South, and that his personal and political fortunes are identified with Southern success in the coming contest. He claims to stand upon the Baltimore Platform of 1864, and to follow in the footsteps of President Lincoln. The enemies of President Lincoln are reconciled to this assumption,[Pg 510] by the knowledge that Mr. Johnson's counsellors are the Seymours, Vallandigham, Voorhees, and the Woods. Mr. Johnson, under these evil influences of opinion and counsel, has succeeded in producing a division of parties in this country corresponding substantially to the division which Demosthenes says existed in Greece when Philip was engaged in his machinations for the overthrow of the liberties of that country. "All Greece is now divided into two parties;—the one composed of those who desire neither to exercise nor to be subject to arbitrary power, but to enjoy the benefits of liberty, laws, and independence; the other, of those who, while they aim at an absolute command of their fellow-citizens, are themselves the vassals of another person, by whose means they hope to obtain their purposes."

The Republican party desires liberty, independence, and equal laws for all people; the Presidential party seeks to oppress the negro race, to degrade the white race of the North by depriving every man of his due share in the government of the country, and, finally, to subject all the interests of the Republic to the caprice, policy, and passions of its enemies.

The Presidential party is composed of traitors in the South who had the courage to fight, of traitors in the North who had not the courage or opportunity to assail their government, of a small number of persons who would follow the fortunes of any army if they could be permitted to glean the offal of the camp, and a yet smaller number who are led to believe that any system of adjustment is better than a continuance of the contest.

The Presidential party controls the patronage of the government; and it will be used without stint in aid of the scheme to which the President is devoted.

It only remains to be seen whether the courage, capacity, and virtue of the people are adequate to the task of overthrowing and crushing the conspiracy in its new form and under the guidance of its new allies. The Republican party carries on the contest against heavy odds, and with the fortunes of the country staked upon the result.

One hundred and ninety-one men have been recognized as members of the present House of Representatives. There are fifty vacancies from the ten unrecognized States; consequently a full House contains two hundred and forty-one members. One hundred and twenty-one are a majority,—a quorum for business, if every State were represented. Of the present House, it is estimated that forty-six members are supporters of the President's policy. If to these we add the fifty members from the ten States, the Presidential party would number ninety-six, or twenty-five only less than a majority of a full House. No view can be taken of the present House of Representatives more favorable to the Republican party,—possibly the President's force should be increased to forty-eight men. It is worthy of observation that neither the Philadelphia Convention nor the President has breathed the hope that the Republicans can be deprived of a majority of the members from the loyal States. The scheme is to elect seventy-one or more men from the loyal States, and then resort to revolutionary proceedings for consummation of the plot. The practical question—the question on which the fortunes of the country depend—is, Will the people aid in the execution of the plot contrived for their own ruin? Upon the face of things, we should say that it is highly improbable that the new party can make any important gains; indeed, it seems most improbable that the President can survive the effect of his own speeches. But we must remember that he is supported by the whole Democratic party, and that that party cast a large vote in 1864, and that in 1862 the Republican majority in the House was reduced to about twenty.

In the Thirty-eighth Congress the Democratic party had ten or fifteen more votes than are now needed to secure the success of the present plot. To be sure,[Pg 511] the elections of 1862 occurred at the darkest period of the war. The young men of the Republican party were in the army, and but a small number of them had an opportunity to vote. There was still hope that a peace could be made through the agency of the Democratic party. These circumstances were all unfavorable to the cause of the patriots.

The Democratic party is now weaker than ever before. Its identity with the Rebellion is better understood. The young men of the country, in the proportion of three to one, unite themselves with the Republican party. As an organization, considered by itself, the Democratic party is utterly powerless and hopeless.

The defection of Mr. Johnson, however, inspires the leaders with fresh courage. It is possible for them to enjoy the patronage of the government for two years at least, and it is barely possible for them to secure the recognition of the ten Rebel States, or, in other equivalent words, the ten Democratic States, to the Union.

This combination is formidable; but its dangerous nature is due to the facts that Mr. Seward's name and means of influence are still powerful in the State of New York, and that he has joined himself to the new party and become an instrument in the hands of designing men for the organization of another rebellion. Outside of New York Mr. Johnson's gains in the elections will be so small that the Union majority will remain substantially as in the present Congress; nor can we conceive that the gains in that State will be adequate to the necessities of the conspirators. It is probable that the undertaking will prove a failure; but it should never be forgotten that the country is in peril; that it is in peril in consequence of the uncertain political character of the State of New York; and that that uncertain character is justly attributable to the conduct of Mr. Seward. If, then, Mr. Johnson succeed in the attempt to change the character of this government by setting aside the Congress of the loyal States, Mr. Seward will be responsible, equally with Mr. Johnson, for the crime.

Reverting to the statement already made, that neither Mr. Johnson nor any of his supporters can even hope to secure a majority of the members elected from the States represented in the present Congress, it only remains for us to consider more specifically the scheme of revolution and usurpation in which these desperate men are engaged. The necessary preliminary condition is the election of seventy-one members of Congress from the twenty-six States. To these will be added fifty persons from the ten unrepresented States, making one hundred and twenty-one, or a majority of Congress if all the States were represented. This accomplished, the way onward is comparatively easy.

When the Thirty-ninth Congress reassembles in December next, Mr. Johnson and his Cabinet may refuse to recognize its existence, or, recognizing it as a matter of form, deny its legitimate authority.

He would summon the members of the Fortieth Congress to assemble in extra session immediately after the 4th of March. Fifty persons would appear claiming seats as representatives from the ten States. The Republicans would deny their right to seats,—the supporters of the President would maintain it. The supporters of the President, aided directly or indirectly by the army and police, would take possession of the hall, remove the Clerk, and organize the assembly by force.

Whether this could be done without bloodshed in Washington and elsewhere in the North remains to be seen; but as far as relates to the organization of the House, there can be no doubt of the success of the undertaking. We should then see a united South with the President at the head, and a divided North;—the army, the navy, the treasury, in the hands of the Rebels. This course is the necessity of Mr. Johnson's opinions and position. It is[Pg 512] the natural result of the logic of the Rebels of the South and of the Democratic party of the North. Mr. Johnson believes that the present Congress intends to impeach him and remove him from office. Admit that this fear is groundless, yet, if he entertains it, he will act as he would act if such were the purpose of the two Houses. Hence he must destroy the authority of Congress. Hence he arraigns its members as traitors. Hence he made the significant, revolutionary, and startling remark, in his reply to Reverdy Johnson as the organ of the Philadelphia Convention: "We have seen hanging upon the verge of the government, as it were, a body called, or which assumed to be, the Congress of the United States, but in fact a Congress of only a part of the States." This is a distinct, specific denial of the right of Congress to exist, to act, to legislate for the country. It is an impeachment of all our public doings since the opening of the war,—of all our legislation since the departure of Davis and his associates from Washington. It is an admission of the doctrine of Secession; for if the departure of Davis and his associates rendered null and void the authority of Congress, then the government, and of course the Union, ceased to exist. The constitutional amendment abolishing slavery is void; the loan-acts and the tax-acts are without authority; every fine collected of an offender was robbery; and every penalty inflicted upon a criminal was itself a crime. The President may console himself with the reflection that upon these points he is fully supported by Alexander H. Stephens, late Vice-President of the so-called Confederacy.

We quote from the report of his examination before the Committee on Reconstruction.

"Question. Do you mean to be understood, in your last answer, that there is no constitutional power in the government, as at present organized, to exact conditions precedent to the restoration to political power of the eleven States that have been in rebellion?

"Answer. That is my opinion.

"Question. Assume that Congress shall, at this session, in the absence of Senators and Representatives from the eleven States, pass an act levying taxes upon all the people of the United States, including the eleven, is it your opinion that such an act would be constitutional?

"Answer. I should doubt if it would be. It would certainly, in my opinion, be manifestly unjust, and against all ideas of American representative government."

Thus it is seen that these two authorities concur in opinion; although it must be confessed that the late Vice-President of the so-called Confederate States in urbanity of manner and in the art of diplomacy far surpasses the late Vice-President (as Mr. Johnson, if his logic does not fail him, must soon say) of the so-called United States.

Having thus impeached the existing Congress and denied its authority, the way is clear for the organization of a Congress into which members from the ten States now excluded shall be admitted.

Representatives who do not concur in these proceedings will have only the alternative of taking seats among the usurpers, and thus recognizing their authority, or of absenting themselves and appealing to the people. The latter course would be war,—civil war, with all the powers of the government, for the time being, in the hands of the usurpers. The absenting members would be treated as rebels, and any hostile organization would be regarded as treasonable. Thus would the Rebels be installed in power, and engaged in conducting a war against the people of the North and West.

If, on the other hand, the representatives from the West and North should deem it wiser to accept the condition, and await an opportunity to appeal to the country, how degrading and humiliating their condition! They might for a time endure it; but finally the people of the North would rise in their might, and renew the war with spirit[Pg 513] and power, and prosecute it until the entire Rebel element of the country should be exterminated. The success of Mr. Johnson in the elections is then to be followed by a usurpation and civil war. It means this, or it means nothing. The incidents of the usurpation would be, first, that the old Slave States would secure thirty Representatives in Congress and thirty electoral votes, or an eighth of the government, to which they have no title whatever unless the negroes should be enfranchised, of which there would be then no probability; and, secondly, that two white men in the South would possess the political power of three white men in the North. The results of the usurpation would be strife and civil war in the North, and, finally, the overthrow of the usurpers by force, to be followed, possibly, by an exterminating war against the Rebel population of the South.

Already has one of Mr. Johnson's agents announced the usurpation in substance, and tendered to the country a defence in advance of the commission of the crime. The defence is simple and logical. Congress refuses to receive the members from ten States. Those States have the same immediate right of representation as the other States. Congress is, therefore, a revolutionary body. Any proceeding which secures the right of all the States to be represented immediately is a constitutional proceeding. This is intelligible. Alexander H. Stephens is the author of this cardinal doctrine of the Presidential party. On the other hand, Congress maintains that enemies vanquished in war, though formerly citizens and equals, cannot dictate the terms of adjustment; nor even enjoy the privileges of a constitution which they have violated and sought to destroy, without a compliance with those terms which the loyal people may deem essential to the public safety.

The issue is well defined. Shall the Union be restored by usurpation, with its attendant political inequality and personal injustice to loyal people, and consequent civil war, or by first securing essential guaranties for the future peace of the country, and then accepting the States recently in rebellion as equals, and the people of those States as friends and citizens with us of a common country?

The question is not whether the Union shall be restored: the Republican party contemplates and seeks this result. But the question is, shall the Union be restored by usurpation,—by a policy dictated by the Rebels, and fraught with all the evils of civil war? The seizure of the government in the manner contemplated by Johnson and his associates destroys at once the public credit, renders the public securities worthless for the time, overthrows the banking system, bankrupts the trading class, prostrates the laborers, and ends, finally, in general financial, industrial, and social disorder.


Elements of International Law. By Henry Wheaton, LL. D., etc. Eighth Edition. Edited, with Notes, by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., LL. D. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co. 1866. 8vo. pp. 749.

Lord Westbury, in one of his masterly speeches on law reform, spoke with much truth, and in terms of severe censure, of the neglect with which public law has heretofore been treated in England, and the scanty contributions of English writers to it. And it is undoubtedly true, that, as the English language has no name by which to designate that branch of the law called by the civilians jus, and by the French publicists droit, so English libraries are without any great national work on this subject, although the English bar has produced innumerable treatises on municipal law, which[Pg 514] are high models of profound learning, acute logic, and luminous exposition; and Great Britain is still chiefly dependent for her international law upon the decisions of Lord Stowell and a few other judges, and the commentaries of the Continent and America.

But from an early period in our political history, international law has been a favorite study in the United States, both with jurists and statesmen. Our war of independence and the succeeding treaties gave rise to questions for solution by it of the greatest nicety, and thus attracted immediate attention to the whole science. To these there followed in quick succession our long-pending dispute with Great Britain upon her exercise of the oppressive claims of visitation and search, our position as a neutral nation during the long wars in Europe, our own war with England, and the wars between Spain and her revolted colonies. Such a succession of events, fruitful in international controversies, created a demand for the study of the law of nations such as is always sure to be supplied. The state papers of Mr. Madison and Mr. John Quincy Adams are a permanent monument to their familiarity with this subject. Contemporaneous with them were the unrivalled decisions of the Supreme Court when presided over by Chief Justice Marshall, and later have been published the works of Kent, Wheaton, Story, and other writers. All of these together comprise a treasure of learning of which we may well be proud.

Mr. Wheaton, by general consent, occupies the first place among our commentators. Inferior as a jurist to Chancellor Kent, he is not so high an authority upon any question which the latter carefully and thoroughly examined; but long study and training, first before the Supreme Court, when he was not only the reporter of its decisions during the international era, but was of counsel in most of the important cases involving international law, and afterwards in an extended and useful diplomatic career in Europe, gave him an unequalled familiarity with the whole subject; and he treated it in a much more elaborate manner than did Kent, who only discussed it as a branch of the more general science covered by his Commentaries. No better evidence of the value of Mr. Wheaton's book is needed than the high estimation in which it is held in Europe, and particularly in England, where, as the production of a common-law lawyer, it has a greater value than the works of Continental scholars, and for reasons of which we shall speak presently. Lord Lyndhurst early bore testimony to its great merits, and during the last few years it has been universally regarded as an authority of the highest standard. No other publicist has been so frequently cited in the controversies which have grown out of our late civil war. The translation of the book into Chinese is a most interesting fact, flattering to the author, and a proof of the progress which Western thought and civilization are making in the extreme East.

It is of Mr. Dana's edition of this valuable work that we are now called upon particularly to speak. As a new edition of the book was demanded, it was of the greatest importance that it should be placed in the hands of an editor competent to discuss, in a manner worthy of the distinguished commentator, those numerous and perplexing questions which have arisen since his death. The representatives of Mr. Wheaton were singularly fortunate in obtaining the aid of so prominent and so busy a man as Mr. Dana,—one who is himself a high authority on many branches of international law; for it is not an easy matter to prevail upon a leader of the bar, and especially one immersed in the cares of official as well as of professional duties, to undertake a laborious literary work, even if it be of a legal character. Of the editor it is a delicate matter to speak; but we can say without violating good taste, that few members of his profession unite at once, and to an equal degree with him, high professional acquirements, an enviable reputation as an orator and advocate, and the accomplishments of a varied and extensive scholarship, so that the words with which the President of Harvard College, at the recent Commencement, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, Virum eloquentium jurisperitissimum, jurisperitorum eloquentissimum, could be applied to him with far less disregard of strict truth than university dignitaries consider allowable on such occasions. A large practice for more than twenty years in the maritime courts has given Mr. Dana an extensive and intimate acquaintance with one part of the subject he has here undertaken; and his duties as United States District Attorney for Massachusetts, throughout the late war, obliged him to examine most carefully the whole law of prize, of neutral and contraband trade, and of blockade. The results of his labors comprise nearly[Pg 515] half of the volume before us, and deserve some higher appellation than notes. Nowhere, however, does Mr. Dana push himself before his author. He never seems to forget that his duty is to prepare a new edition of Wheaton's Commentaries, not to write a book of his own; and he is content modestly to illustrate the text, and to supply the omissions needed to bring the book down to the present day.

It is not necessary to say that, in a literary point of view, Mr. Dana has done his work well. His style is a model of terseness, vigor, and perspicuity, and yet the reader is constantly charmed by its chaste purity and grace. We can say of him what Macaulay said of Bacon, that he has a wonderful talent of packing thought close and rendering it portable. It is a long time since we have read a book in which so much matter was compressed into so small a space. The good taste and polished courtesy with which Mr. Dana treats of any controverted point cannot be too much praised; and his calmness and moderation in their discussion are judicial in their nature and extent, and give additional weight to his opinions.

We have been surprised to see notices of the work in which Mr. Dana is criticised for want of enthusiasm. If by this is meant that he lacks enthusiasm for his subject, the criticism is entirely misplaced. We doubt whether, without that, he could ever have been induced to edit this book; and on every page, and in almost every line, convincing proof can be found of the love and devotion which the editor feels for the law, and especially for this department of it, to the study and practice of which he has devoted so many years. It is this enthusiasm that renders the notes to us more interesting than the text. Things which Mr. Wheaton discusses as abstractions seem in Mr. Dana's hands to become living realities. In one the scholar's temperament predominates; in the other the lawyer's and the politician's. If, however, the criticism applies to the rigid impartiality which the editor brings to the discussion of those contemporaneous events concerning which the passions of men have been most recently and deeply aroused, we regard it as high praise. If Mr. Dana's views be wrong, it is not likely that the indulgence of a partisan enthusiasm would have corrected them; if they be right, the absence of all passion, the studied courtesy and tolerant moderation which mark every line of argument, add infinite strength to his conclusions.

The legal merits of Mr. Dana's annotations require other and higher tests. They depend upon the accuracy of his statements and reasoning, and the amount of assistance which those will obtain who seek it from him. To investigate this would require more space than we can now give, and rather falls within the province of a professional reviewer. A strong conviction of the soundness of his logic, however, involuntarily follows a careful perusal of these notes, and will have no little influence with those who feel it. This is partly owing to the passionless tone of his discussion, of which we have before spoken. The amount of historical and general political information which this book contains will give it value aside from its legal character, and demands for it a very general circulation.

The note upon the sources of international law is exceedingly instructive. Notwithstanding his long practice in admiralty and constant study of civil and foreign law, our editor adheres to his strong Saxon preference for actual judicial decisions as the best evidence of all law. The opinion of Continental writers is seen in its strongest light in a recent French author, who has pushed the doctrine as far as any one else, if not farther. After quoting several definitions of international law, Mr. Dana says:—

"Hautefeuille divides international law into two parts, which he calls primitif and secondaire,—the first containing, as he says, the principles, the absolute basis, of the law; and the second, the measures or provisions for calling up these principles and securing their execution. In the application of this theory, it will be found that the distinguished writer usually treats the primitive law, or the well or fountain of first principles, as of actual authority, where no express agreement departs from it; and so much of the practice of nations as consists in judicial decisions adopted, enforced, and acquiesced in, he considers as of less authority than the primitive law as it lies in the breast of the text-writers....

"Commentators seem agreed as to what are the sources of international law. They differ as to the relative importance and authority of these sources. Hautefeuille especially gives little weight to the decisions of prize courts, and places far before them the speculations of writers. It is noticeable that Continental writers incline the same way, although they may not go as[Pg 516] far; while Wheaton, Kent, Story, Halleck, and Woolsey in America, and Phillimore, Manning, Wildman, Twiss, and others in England, give a higher place to judicial decisions. This is attributable to the different systems of municipal law under which they are educated. In England and America, judicial decisions are authoritative declarations of the common law, i. e. the law not enacted by decrees of legislators, but drawn from the usages and practices of the people, and from reason and policy. They are at the same time the highest evidence of what the law is. Under those systems, writers are brought to the test of judicial decisions; and even those portions of the opinions of the court itself not necessary to the decision of the cause before it are termed obiter dicta, and are not authority, but stand on no higher ground than voluntary speculations of learned men as to what the law might prove to be in a supposed case. The Continental writers, on the other hand,—living under municipal systems in which judicial decisions hold no such place, and are neither precedents, authoritative declarations, nor authentic evidence of the law,—are led by their education to look to but one authoritative source of law,—the decrees of legislators; and, in the absence of these, naturally put the scientific treatises of learned men, systematic, and enriched with illustrations, above the special decisions of tribunals on single cases, which, by their systems, do no more than settle the particular controversy, without settling the principles evoked for its decision."

The editor then sums up the respective merits of these two methods of deducing the principles of international law at a length which prevents our quoting the whole for the benefit of our readers. In conclusion he says:—

"As an offset to this [the supposed impartiality of commentators], it is to be remembered that the commentator will often be a man of books and speculations, rather than of affairs; and that the judicial habit of determining actual controversies, in full view of both their nature and consequences, is most likely to evoke such rules of law as will be able to hold their place among the interests, policies, passions, and necessities of life.

"Attempts to deduce international law from a theory that each individual is by nature independent, and has, by an implied contract, surrendered some of his natural rights and assumed some artificial obligations, for the purpose of establishing society for the common advantage,—and that each state is, in like manner, independent, and has made like concessions for a like purpose of international advantages,—such attempts fall with the theories on which they rested. As no such state of things ever existed, and no such arrangements or compacts have ever been made, it is safer to draw principles of law from what is actual. Later writers, since philosophy has dropped the theory of the social compact, go upon the assumption, that men and communities are by nature what they have always been found to be; that the rights and duties of each man are, by Divine ordination, originally and necessarily, those at once of an individual and a member of society; and that the rights and duties of a state are, in like manner, those at once of an individual state and one among a number of states; and that neither class of these rights or duties is artificial, voluntary, or secondary.

"In considering, therefore, whether a certain rule should or should not be adopted, the test is not its capacity to be carried through a circuitous and artificial course, beginning in a supposed natural independence of the human being, and ending in another supposed entity compounded of all civilized states, but various elements enter into the solution of international questions, and in various degrees, as fitness to conduce to the highest and most permanent interests of nations as a whole, of nations taken separately, differing as nations do in power and pursuits and interests, and of the human beings that compose those societies. If the question involves high ethics, it must be met in the faith that the highest justice is the best interest of all. If it be a question chiefly of national advantage, and of means to an admitted end, it must be met by corresponding methods of reasoning."

M. Hautefeuille, particularly, finds little favor with Mr. Dana. Repeatedly rules laid down by him are dismissed with the bare remark, that "he is without support either by judicial decisions, treaties, the opinions of commentators of received authority, or diplomatic positions taken by nations"; or, as in another place, that the principle broached "is merely a suggestion of the learned commentator as a possible policy, and has no support either in the practice of nations or the works of publicists";—but the editor never condescends to meet the French writer upon his own field[Pg 517] of casuistry and speculation. And in this we think he is right. The discussion of rules existing only in a text-writer's belief in their abstract justice, would be entirely useless labor in any writer in the English language; for whatever may be the system of Continental Europe, neither the United States, nor Great Britain, nor any one of the future kindred nations that will grow out of the English colonies, will ever pay much regard to a doctrine so foreign to that noble system of law which, like their common tongue, will be a permanent proof of their common origin.

Two of the most admirable of Mr. Dana's notes are those on the "relations of the United States judiciary to the Constitution and statutes," and on "the United States a supreme government"; and they deserve careful perusal from all desirous of fully understanding our system of government. From the first we cannot refrain from making one extract, which may help to explain to our non-professional readers a difficult principle of law which we have never before seen so concisely and at the same time so clearly stated.

"In cases before it, the Supreme Court has no other jurisdiction over constitutional questions than is possessed by the humblest judicial tribunal, State or national, in the land. The only distinction is, that it is the court of final resort, from whose decision there is no appeal. The relations of all courts to the Constitution arise simply from the fact that, being courts of law, they must give to litigants before them the law; and the Constitution of the United States is law, and not, like most European political constitutions, a collection of rules and principles having only a moral obligation upon the legislative and executive departments of the government. Accordingly, each litigant, having the right to the highest law, may appeal from a statute of Congress, or any other act of any officer or department, State or national, and invoke the Constitution as the highest law. The court does not formally set aside or declare void any statute or ordinance inconsistent with the Constitution. It simply decides the case before it according to law; and if laws are in conflict, according to that law which has the highest authority, that is, the Constitution. The effect of the decree of the final court on the status of the parties or property in that suit is of course absolute, and binds all departments of the government. The constitutional principle involved in the decision, being ascertained from the opinion,—if the court sees fit to deliver a full opinion,—has in all future cases in courts of law simply the effect of a judicial precedent, whatever that may be. Upon the political department of the government and upon citizens the principle decided has, in future cases, not the binding force of a portion of the Constitution, but the moral effect due to its intrinsic weight and to the character of the tribunal, and the practical authority derived from the consideration that all acts inconsistent with it will be inoperative, by reason of the judicial power which any citizen may invoke against their operation."

Our space will not allow us to make further quotations. Among those notes which are especially interesting to the non-professional reader we may mention those on the much misunderstood Monroe doctrine; on naturalization; on the effect of belligerent occupation on slavery, and the President's Proclamation of Emancipation,—in which Mr. Dana maintains the same position that he has heretofore taken in his political speeches, and of the correctness of which there can be no doubt; the very excellent examination of the neutrality statutes and decisions, and the note on the case of the Trent,—a model of calm, judicial dissertation. The recent agitation of the subjects of all of these makes them matters of general interest, and we cannot but think that the timely publication of this edition of Mr. Wheaton's work will aid efficiently in the satisfactory settlement of some of them. True to the principles which he holds of the evidences of international law, Mr. Dana avoids spending much time in discussing questions still unsettled, satisfying himself with a clear statement of the present state of each controversy, and leaving it for the future attention of statesmen and jurists. Attached to the volume is a full and carefully prepared Index,—sufficient for all the requirements of any reasonably intelligent reader.

We cannot dismiss this book without alluding to the newspaper controversy which the editor of the two preceding editions has started, and seems determined to keep alive, even if he have no antagonist. We wish to do full justice to Mr. Beach Lawrence's services to the science of public law. His industry and the extent and variety of his information will always make his writings valuable as books of reference,—much as we think this value is lowered by his method of treatment and partisan[Pg 518] views. Some natural disappointment and irritation would be excusable in him on the announcement that a work, of which he imagined he enjoyed a monopoly, was receiving the attention of so formidable a rival; but this does not excuse the bad taste and bad temper with which he has published his complaints. Of the merits of his dispute with Mr. Wheaton's heirs we know little, and shall say nothing, except that they have been guided in their conduct by what they regarded as high legal opinion of their rights and obligations, and that, if Mr. Lawrence has been wronged, the courts of which he talks so much, but to which he seems to be so slow to appeal, will give him redress. But if it be considered becoming to drag ladies and their private circumstances before the public in the manner in which Mr. Lawrence has done it, there must be a grievous decline of the old chivalrous feeling in regard to women. Still more solemnly must we protest against his recent charges against Mr. Dana. In these he impugns the honor of a distinguished contemporary, charging him with gross and impudent piracy of the results of another's labors. If there be foundation for these charges, they ought to be made; but there are two ways of making them, and the course which Mr. Lawrence has taken in bringing them, at a time when Mr. Dana is absent from the country, and leaving them to rest solely on his own unsupported assertion—without citing or referring to any of the facts which he declares exist—is highly censurable. We have found no evidence of the truth of his charges in a cursory examination of a considerable part of both works; and a friend upon whose judgment we place full reliance, and who has carefully compared the labors of the two editors, assures us that there is nothing which at all substantiates them. Mr. Lawrence has needlessly involved his own character in this affair; and the public will demand from him proofs of a most flagrant violation of the rights of literary property, before it will be inclined to admit any palliation for the errors he has committed in conducting the controversy.

English Travellers and Italian Brigands. A Narrative of Capture and Captivity. By W. J. C. Moens. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Prison-Life in the South: at Richmond, Macon, Savannah, Charleston, Columbia, Charlotte, Raleigh, Goldsborough, and Andersonville, during the Years 1864 and 1865. By A. O. Abbott. New York: Harper and Brothers.

The narrative of Mr. Moens, so far as it relates to the general subject of brigandage in South Italy, will hardly present anything novel to those who have at all studied the history or character of that scourge. In fact, Italian brigandage is a very simple affair, about which it is hard to say anything new. Given a starving, beaten, superstitious population in a mountainous country, destitute of roads, and abounding in easy refuges and inaccessible hiding-places, and you have brigandage naturally. Given centuries of weak, cruel, and corrupt government, and you have the perpetuation of brigandage inevitably. From time immemorial, the social and political conditions in Naples have been deprivation and oppression; and cause and effect have so long been convertible, that it is often difficult to know one from the other. The prevalence of brigandage demands measures on the part of the government compared with the severity of which martial law is lax and mild; and the crime which provokes these harsh measures has revived again from the disaffection which they produce. All authorities on the subject are agreed that brigandage finds its shield and support in the fears of the people, and the complete system of espionage which the robbers are enabled to maintain through their accomplices in society. These are sometimes priests and persons of station, but more commonly peasants whose friends or relatives are brigands. During the French-republican rule of Naples, when Manhès was at the head of the troops assigned the duty of extirpating brigandage, the robbers were for once destroyed by the terrible measures taken against their accomplices. No one suspected of communicating with them in any way was spared. Men were shot for selling them food. Women and children taking food into the fields to eat while at work were shot, under an order forbidding this custom lest the provisions should fall into the hands of the robbers. For once, the authorities outbid the brigands for the terror of the wretched inhabitants, and annihilated them. But it was natural, in a country where every peasant is a possible brigand, and only waits for a lawless impulse or lawless deed to make him an actual brigand, that brigandage should flourish again as[Pg 519] soon as the rigid procedure against it was relaxed. The returning Bourbons found it on every hill; and though they combated it with fitful severity and unremitting treachery, they left it essentially unimpaired to the Italian government in 1860. It is by no means true—as Mr. Moens asserts upon the authority of Murray's Guide-Book—that the late Bourbon government did anything towards effectually suppressing brigandage. The brigands were put down in one place to spring up in another, and they swarmed everywhere after a lean harvest. They never were effectually suppressed, except by Manhès; and, as the Italian government has mercifully refused to adopt his course for their destruction, it is probable that they will exist until the country is generally opened with roads, and the people educated, and, above all, Protestantized. For it must never be forgotten that, since the union of Naples with Italy, brigandage has been fostered by the Bourbons and the Papists, and that the Italians have had to fight, not only the robbers in Naples, but Francis II. and Pius IX. at Rome.

To the readers of the newspapers, the name of Mr. Moens is known as that of the English gentleman who was taken by brigands in May of last year, on his return from a little pleasure excursion to Pæstum. He and his party—consisting of his wife and the Rev. Mr. Aynsley and wife—had trusted too implicitly in the notice given by their landlord that the road from Salerno to the famous temples was free from brigands, and guarded by troops. Near a little town called Battipaglia, the military having been withdrawn temporarily to permit the families of some captives to negotiate their ransom with the band of Giardullo, the band of Manzo swooped down upon the unhappy tourists, and carried off both the gentlemen of the party. The troops appeared almost immediately after the capture, but the brigands escaped with their prisoners, one of whom they released a few days later, that he might return to Naples, and raise the ransom demanded for himself and his friend. The book, from this point, is the relation of Mr. Moens's trials and adventures with the bandits, and Mrs. Moens's hardly less terrible efforts and anxieties for his release. It was decided by the band that their captive was a Milord, and they demanded a ransom of $200,000 for him, subsequently reducing the sum to $30,000, which was paid them in instalments, and which having received in full, they released their prisoner after a captivity of four months. All the negotiations for the ransom of Mr. Moens had to be carried on in defiance of Italian law, and by indulgence of its officers; for to supply the brigands with food or money is an offence punishable with twenty years in the galleys. Generous English friends at Naples interested themselves in the affair, and the aid which Mrs. Moens received from Italians in private and official station was no less cordial and constant. Indeed, the business of Mr. Moens's recapture became of almost international importance. All the Italian troops in the region were employed in pursuit of Manzo's band; and a British man-of-war was sent to a certain point on the coast, in the hope that the bandits could be induced to go on board by the promise of impunity, and transfer to England.

In the mean time Mr. Moens remained with his captors, sharing all their perils and privations, and making perforce the most faithful study ever made of their life. It must be confessed that the picture has few features attractive to people at peace with society. Most of the brigands are men who have placed themselves beyond the law by some hideous crime,—or misfortune, as they would call it in Naples,—and in other cases they are idle ruffians, who have taken to robbery because they like it. They generally look forward to a time when, having placed a sufficient amount of money at interest, they can surrender themselves to the authorities, pass a few comfortable years in prison, and issue forth ornaments to society. To be sure, this scheme is subject to chances. They are hunted by the soldiers, day and night, like wild beasts; and, if taken under arms, are shot without trial. Half the time they are without food, and suffer the agonies of hunger and thirst; and they are always without shelter, except such as trees or caverns can give. When they have anything, they "eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment,"—quarrelling over it a good deal, and trying to steal from one another. When they have nothing, they buckle their belts tighter, and bear it as best they may.

Mr. Moens, who fared no better than the rest, does not seem to have fared much worse. Indeed, he was much more comfortably situated than the ladies of the band, who, being dressed as men, were armed and obliged to fight like their comrades, and yet had no share of the spoils, but received many more cuffs and hard words[Pg 520] than we, who have only seen them in pictures, can well associate with the idea of brigandesses.

Being poor ignorant peasants originally, and being afterwards poor ignorant robbers, the brigands inflicted little unnecessary suffering upon their prisoner. Occasionally, to be sure, they struck him; but this was in hot blood, and he was allowed to strike back and restore the balance of justice. These wretched creatures, imbruted and stained with innumerable murders, seem to have had very little idea of the usages of civilized people in regard to captives; and any one who will compare the story of Mr. Moens with the narratives of the prisoners given in Mr. Abbott's book, will see how absurdly the bandits neglected their advantages. After all, it is your high-toned Southern gentleman, compact of the best blood of the Cavaliers and the Huguenots, and presenting in this unhappy hemisphere the finest reflection of the English nobleman's character, who understands best how to use a prisoner. There is nothing like having in your power from childhood a number of helpless human beings, to teach you how to treat a captured enemy; and we cannot help thinking that Mrs. Moens, who will not spare the American Unionists a sneer in the first chapter of her diary, would have understood us better if her husband had been in the hands of Captain Wirz instead of Captain Manzo. Had Mr. Moens been a soldier of the Union, taken while fighting to defend his country against rebellion, he would have been carried into the midst of a people inured to the practice of cruelty by slavery, and all the more abominable because they believed themselves Christian and civilized. There he would have been thrust into a roofless close, already densely thronged with thousands of famished, sick, and maddened men. He would have had no shelter from the blazing sun or drenching storm, except such as the happier wild creatures make themselves in holes and burrows. Guards, emulous in murder, would have been set over him, with instructions to shoot him, if he reached, in the delirium of famine, across a certain line to clutch a bone, or stooped to moisten his lips in a pool less filthy than those at which his comrades quenched their thirst within the bounds. In the mountains of Naples, the brigands gave him to eat and drink of their scanty fare, and shared with him the last crust and the last drop. In Georgia, in the midst of plenty, his keepers would have slowly starved him to death, and would have driven away, with threats and curses, any that offered to succor his distress. If he escaped, they would have hunted him with bloodhounds, and so brought him back; and if he sickened under his torture, they would have left him, naked and unsheltered, to languish with wasting disease and devouring vermin,—to die, or to rot and drop away piecemeal while yet alive.

Other writers on brigandage, besides Mr. Moens, relate anomalous facts concerning it, which can, perhaps, be matched only in this country, where alone the cruelty and impunity of Italian brigandage can be matched. It is well known that for a long time the heirs of Fra Diavolo received from the government a pension bestowed in recognition of that distinguished chief's services to humanity. The retired chief, Talarico, is now in the undisturbed enjoyment of the gains of brigandage upon his place near Naples; and Count Saint-Jorioz, in his interesting work, Il Brigantaggio alla Frontiera, Pontificia, declares that in some cases the employés of the Italian government in the Neapolitan provinces are men known to have been in other times manutengoli, or accomplices of brigands; nay, that sometimes the very courts of law have favored, instigated, and connived at brigandage. Similarly, in our own country, we find men guilty of the cruelties of Andersonville and Columbia, and stained with treason, in the enjoyment of offices and honors throughout the South, while the servants of the law lend themselves to violence and murder with a boldness unheard of in Naples, where there is some show of decency in these things. At least, we have not read of the sindaco and policemen of any town of the Abruzzi who have openly applauded and joined the brigands in hunting and slaughtering peaceable inhabitants, as happened lately in New Orleans and Memphis; and we feel quite sure that, if they had committed such an offence, it would not have been passed over in silence by the head of the Italian people. But, then, with all their errors, the Italians have not yet intrusted great power to the hands of a peasant of the class which produces brigands; whereas we have taken for our chief magistrate a man in whom everything generous and noble seems to have been extinguished by the hard conditions of a poor white's life at the South.